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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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I'm currently going through an emotionally painful time in my life, which includes plenty of tears, and I'm not ashamed or afraid to admit that. It has got me thinking about a lot more about my future, my place in this universe, and not only what my spiritual path means to me, but where it's headed. I foresee a lot of change this year in my life, and it scares me. Recently, while having one of my less formal 'morning chats' with one of the goddesses, I broke down and began to cry at the overwhelming pressure and fear.

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Bless you Peter. I too have known the despair you feel now. I am so glad you felt the arms of the divine power holding you through
  • Peter Beckley
    Peter Beckley says #
    Thank you, Carol.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

There is lots of talk in modern Paganism about 'holding space'. It's an idea I rather love - the focused intention and purpose of a (usually ritual) act. But how often do we consciously realize the holding of space in the everyday as well? How far do we become beholden to it as we take it for granted?

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  • Janneke Brouwers
    Janneke Brouwers says #
    "If you take out the oven, the bed, the bath... surely space just IS, until our intention gives it purpose." There is a great conc

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

One of the most frustrating things that a professional reader can encounter is a client who expects them to do something that the reader does not know how to do. Just like any other trade, different readers work in different ways. Dr Phil and Dr Oz are both reputable doctors, but I wouldn't recommend going to Dr. Phil for open heart surgery!

It's very much the same with readers, too. I do not specialize in finding lost objects, and it is very frustrating when I get a client who wants to know where she put her engagement ring. This creates friction and tension, where, with a bit of forethought, it need not have happened.

Genuine professional readers -- and there are some who are not genuine nor, in my opinion, professional! -- want to help. Yes, they need to earn a living, but they genuinely want to assist you with your current problems. Remote viewers are awesome for helping you find lost things, but they may not have a thorough knowledge of the Tarot. Tarot readers might be able to read the cards with diamond clarity, but if this does not make them good remote viewers.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

It's been a while, but I'm back again, lovely readers! I'm currently hard at work on my second book (amongst other projects, as you'll see below), but I will certainly continue to post here as and when I can. Comments and topic requests always welcome.


At this time of year, it's easy to understand why our ancestors (both actual and spiritual), those wise women and cunning men, were considered remote, unusual, untouchable, even fearsome.

As Autumn moves into Winter here in the UK, we feel our natural, animal pull to dig in, hibernate, take time within the darkness to assess the previous year and anticipate the time to come - but I doubt any busy society has ever really allowed that to happen, except when they have no choice. Stoke up the fire, head to the pub or communal house, light and laughter against the outside world.

(Photo - 'Autumn in the New Forest', from Glastonbury Goddess Temple)

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I am sometimes teased in a gentle way for always going on about grounding and breathing.  My friend Jude would like a photo of me, looking sternly over the tops of my spectacles and pointing to the ground. I write it so often as my status update on Facebook that people must grow tired of my constant carping about it.

Yet, even as I type these words and smile at these memories, I feel my big feet stretching, the heels digging into the carpet below my feet.  I start the process of grounding that I was taught so long ago that it has become second nature to me.  Tiny roots begin to grow from my heels and wend their way through the carpet and the sub-flooring and past the basement and sink at last into the cool moist earth. As they move into the soil, they widen and strengthen, heading into the darkness of the Earth's rich breast.

I imagine the cares of the day flowing down from my belly and into the strong foundation of the planet I call home. The roots continue on their way as I begin to breathe deeply, each breath filling my lungs all the way to the bottom. Belly full of breath, roots down deep.  If I take a moment to check my pulse, I will feel that it is slow, strong, steady.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

(I'm going to double up for a week or so, and post these notes on Samhain prep at my home site and here.  Those of you who are kind enough to read both may feel you're seeing double for a bit. )

As I'm readying myself for this hard and sacred time, I'm reviewing my daily practice and wondering if it is optimum for keeping me focused and open.

Do you have a personal daily practice? Or perhaps I should say a personal spiritual practice--many modern Pagans find it difficult to fit a daily practice into their busy lives.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

A couple of weeks ago—which partially explains my absence from this hallowed place—Mother Grove Goddess Temple ordained a group of women as temple clergy. The women—and in this case they were all women—were already priestesses but they went through a long process of study and practicum to make them clergy.  They can perform all the rites of passage (including the legal one of marriage), can teach and speak on behalf of the Temple and its programs and philosophy.

It was a powerful ritual at a local herb school, because the Temple is small. There were candles and simple black robes. There were special guests and people making speeches. There was a choir and a reception. There was an audible gasp in the congregation when the women’s stoles were placed on their shoulders and they turned to face out. At that point, they were introduced one-by-one as “Reverend.”

Formal, legal.  Just like other religions do.

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  • Betty
    Betty says #
    I wish I could become clergy, but I don't know how. I'm self employed so I can't afford to go to seminary, but I do take classes h
  • Theresa Wymer
    Theresa Wymer says #
    Good for them. Congratulations to all the new clergy members!
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Congratulations to all the new Reverends!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

In the essay Photo of boy in public housing with an iPad prompts debate over what the poor should have, blogger Jarvis DeBerry describes the moral outrage expressed by some readers over a little boy occupying himself with an iPad in a poor neighborhood. Further outrage, as well as outrage over this outrage, was expressed in the comments section and reflects the ongoing dilemma of what to do about the poor and our understanding of what is fair.

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  • Angela 	Gamblin
    Angela Gamblin says #
    After having read some of the posts in reply to that image over on DeBerry's blog, I was truly struck by those comments of people
  • Carol Maltby
    Carol Maltby says #
    "Fair" probably starts with knowing the context of the photo, and knowing what assumptions we are making that may or may not have
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Questions of redistributive (I prefer the term "restorative") justice vs. meritocracy actually *do* come back to religion. If you

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

A cross-post this week, if I may - between here at my first blog 'home', and the wonderfully eclectic 'Witches & Pagans' site (because if you can't 'moonlight' as a Pagan, then who can?).

I am very aware that I haven't written anything at either location for a couple of weeks. I could give excuses - ultimately, the days have flown past and life has been more important. I'm sure we all know how that goes. Instead, take a wander with me, if you will.

Regular readers know that one of my favourite places for inspiration is as I walk the dog across the hilltop where I live. This evening I wandered the streets, looking out at the fierce clouds parting after an intense rain and thunder-storm just a few hours ago, the remnants of a rainbow, and the slightly 'stunned' feeling of a normal, modern, country village after a violent and unavoidable incident of Nature. The grass is rich and green, the snails appear to have made a small bypass across the path outside one particular row of houses, and the occasional early bat is swooping overhead.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Once upon a time, in the not so distant past, “you are not the boss of me” was muttered any time two or more of us were gathered together. Wicca had erupted into a new tradition every few days, Druids were behind every oak tree and the rise of the Recons made everyone proud and bristly with new knowledge of old matters. We ate the prolific casseroles of endless potluck feasts and we went to each other’s rituals when that was allowed.  Afterwards we’d gather with folks of our own trads and we’d compare circle castings and elemental pairings, and gossip about the size of the high priestess’s crown.

The same thing goes on still, of course. We each choose the path that is laid for us and we seek out a tradition—old or new—that seems to fit what we believe, really believe, down deep inside. We go through the Seeker stage to the Neophyte stage. We read all those simple 101 books and go to workshops and public rituals. We buy or make flowing gowns and tunics and sport a big pentacle from Spencer’s gifts. We learn to pronounce “Samhain” correctly and at some point we choose a tradition that really fits or we proudly declare ourselves Solitaries. If we are very lucky, we have a succession of good teachers. There may be a circle or coven or grove in which we learn the arts of leadership and we begin to teach the next generation of Earth-loving, opinionated folk who are not going to be bossed around.

Lately though I’ve noticed a change in our crabby and electronic world. Instead of quibbling about whether it’s proper to work within a circle or if one can stand in a lineaged Wiccan tradition while also being a Sumerian Recon, we’ve gotten awfully pissy about right and wrong and…correct.  No longer content to go our separate ways and merely gossip about those goofy (fill in the blank), we seem to expend rather a lot of electronic air in actually trying to convert each other.

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  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    I could not help laughing as I read this, thinking that anyone who tries to convert you probably doesn't try moe than once! Good p
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    You'd be surprised. :>)
  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    Wonderful post, Byron!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
It's All Connected

Living on our Pagan homestead, one of the things I've come to appreciate more than ever before is the changing of the seasons, and witnessing it on such an intimate level. I've only been able to discover this deeper exposure to it since our "Exodus". Well, it's no secret that the seasons are changing now that we're half way through August. The days are getting shorter, but what I notice more is that the morning shadows cover my gardens later each week. Also, some plants are beginning to die back, after having served their purpose and finally giving into the brutal drought we're experiencing.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

One of the key foundations of modern (and ancient) Paganism is also one of the most contentious. We find it very hard to talk about, it seems, and yet it's fairly key to many people's personal practice. When I've talked about it in the past, it almost seems like I'm breaking a taboo, with the words themselves being 'dirty' or embarrassing. And yet, learning from my passionate and heartfelt Heathen friends, that embarrassment is itself disrespectful, dishonourable and, ultimately, rather foolish.

Who are your Gods and Goddesses? What does Deity mean to you, and how does it influence and affect your Paganism? From the Platonic 'ultimate Male/Female' images (tallying with 'All Gods/Goddesses are One') to the pantheistic, international eclectic transference of pretty much any deity with any other no matter where you yourself live, talking about Deity is a tricky business. Especially because ultimately, nobody can really tell you you're wrong. Or right. Except, perhaps, those Gods themselves.

The Judgement of Paris (Classical)

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Cat: Like Elani, you are articulating one of the major cutting edges of contemporary Paganism -- what *do* we believe? I, for one,
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Wonderful post. I think about the Gods in general, and my patron/matron Gods, all the time. But too often I forget to stop, liste

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Your Garden Could Use Some TLC

Some Pagans sure do like to get into everyone's business, don't they? Now that all the hubbub over who's a fat Pagan has died down (thank you any gods that will listen!), we're now onto who's a Pagan based upon which source materials they're referencing to find spiritual growth and their purpose in this world. Are you kidding me?

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Today is Lammas-tide, Lughnasadh, the festival of the grain harvest. Across the land, fields full of golden wheat, barley and numerous others have been growing tall, a feast for the eyes as they bend in the breeze, a feast for the birds, bees, mice and other creatures that run between the rows.

In centuries past, it would be entire communities who came out to help with the harvest, threshing, binding and preparing the crop to last them the winter. Fuel is needed for heat, nourishment and sustenance for livestock - without a successful harvest, a lean winter means walking the path between life and death.

These days, it's more the rumble of heavy-duty farming machinery at work that is heard as the harvest is gathered in - but it's no less valuable for that. Despite the knowledge that we can import food, fuel and whatever we need from other places, there's still the essential connection between us and the land as personified in the life of our fuel-stuffs. We celebrate it, we recognise and remember it. Children make corn-dollies, singers remember John Barleycorn.

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  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore says #
    I ventured to make "corn" dollies from corn husks, only to realize that they are made from the wheat or barley. Amazing what can b

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

The unexpected death of a friend this week brought into sharp relief the differences between traditions around death and grief, not only between different communities but also between different generations. How we handle the dead and our sorrow shows a lot about our culture.

For the Anglo-Saxons, much of what we know of their material culture -- apart descriptions in poems and histories -- come from discovered burials. But burial wasn't always the norm. We have a magnificent pagan shipboard funeral of a king in the opening lines of Beowulf. For a long time people dismissed it as a rather fanciful thing.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    My condolences on your loss, Kate; I thank you for sharing your wisdom and reflections with our community.
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Thanks so much, Anne. The power of community in bad times reflects the strength of its joy in good times. And the fluctuation betw
  • Kate Laity
    Kate Laity says #
    Thank you, my dear. It's never easy, but the weight becomes more familiar as we age, alas. It's the first time I have felt 'away'

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I've returned today from performing a Handfasting with my partner - not unusual at this time of year. But this was our first on a beach.

Yes, this is Britain. Yes, we've just had semi-monsoon conditions for the last few months. Summer was rumoured to have been cancelled. So much could have gone wrong.

It was beautiful. Golden sands, blue sky, bright sun, lush green grasses and flowers on the path leading from the couple's home to the beach itself... everyone commented that you couldn't have wished for a better day.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Paganism is one of the most democratic of spiritualities, right? It allows each of us to maintain and explore our own relationship with deity, practice pretty much as we like, and generally find like-minded people to work with along the way.
Except that it's not that simple (of course). We like to think that it's all sweetness, light and friendship, but as with any human philosophy, there are speed-bumps on the road that we're travelling.
 
Something that I've been really coming up against in recent months is the issue of hierarchy. If Pagans can each hold their own method of worship, then why do we even need leaders? Perhaps rather naively, I used to assume that each person understood that following a spiritual path involved investigation, constant challenging of the self and their chosen Way - otherwise it'd be far simpler to just find one of those other faiths with a set doctrine and follow that (less thought and effort required all round).
 
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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

It's almost Solstice time - Summer here in the U.K. Which means, inevitably, that there's simultaneous water-limiting hosepipe bans in one part of the country, and flooding in another.

You may wonder why the British talk so much about the weather? Because it's a force unto itself. But we're a Nature-based spirituality on this page, so we can get away with it, right?

Anyway. With the Summer Solstice comes the inevitably publicity around Stonehenge, and the many thousands of people who go there to watch the sunrise. I've never been to that huge free-for-all, but have often been asked about it (this was last year). It's an event that people associate with Druids, after all.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Cat, you make me laugh! Your response to the journalist who wanted to film three days in your life is exactly what I told a realit

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

If I seem food obsessed, please understand that in the normal stretch of human history, I am quite normal. My blog postings often come back to the kitchen, the hearth. And when that is the case, it is because this is where my explorations of what it means to be nourished have lead me. In our modern culture, what you eat only matters if it will make you fat. Appearance is an obsession of the wider culture, one which Pagans have, for the most part, been successful at resisting. What matters to us is connection, integrity, and celebration.

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  • Larksong
    Larksong says #
    Hi Selina, Great article. When your ready for your next post I've installed a new blog system. Its working, thou I'm still working

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