The thought of ancestor worship makes me flinch. It is not that I do not respect my ancestors or think that they are not deserving of honor, because they do. It is the phrase “worship” that gives me pause. The only ones deserving of worship are the gods.
Sometimes I like to go to visit Gods and Goddesses from neighboring friendly pantheons. After attending my first Kirtan chant three years ago, I was introduced to the Hindu God Ganesh, the elephant-headed remover of obstacles. I was instantly drawn to him and "Gan Gan Ganapati" quickly became by personal favorite chant. It resonated on a deeper level of my subconscious. After some research, I discovered that Ganesh has his very own ten day festival every year in India, Ganesh Chaturthi. According to About.com Guide, Sharell Cook, it culminates with a huge celebration on the last day called, Anata Chaturdasi day. Cook notes that the festivities are dependant "on the cycle of the moon." The dates fall a little differently annually, but for 2013 "Ganesh Fest" runs September 9 - September 19. The website, http://goindia.about.com/od/festivalsevents/p/ganeshfestival.htm had some inspiring suggestions for setting up an altar and honoring Ganesh in your own home.
According to Subhamoy Das, also from the goindia site, Ganesh likes offerings of "coconuts, flowers, and camphor." You could also decorate your altar with figures of Ganesh and the color red.
Later in the article, "Ganesh Chaturthi, How to celebrate the great Ganesha festival," by Das, Swami Sivananda recommends, "On the Ganesh Chaturthi day, meditate on the stories connected with Lord Ganesha early in the morning, during the Brahmamuhurta period. Then, after taking a bath, go to the temple and do the prayers of Lord Ganesha. Offer Him some coconut and sweet pudding. Pray with faith and devotion that He may remove all the obstacles that you experience on the spiritual path. Worship Him at home, too. You can get the assistance of a pundit. Have an image of Lord Ganesha in your house. Feel His Presence in it."...
This is part two in a series of blogs that will focus on meditation and contemplative practices in Paganism. If you have not read part one, I encourage you to do so. Let's start with some more ideas and definitions about meditation.
Sannion has written a delightful post at http://thehouseofvines.com/2013/06/09/what-does-a-sannion-do/ about an average day in his devotional life. I know that I always find it interesting to know what my colleagues and friends do for their Gods, and how they both order and balance the demands of devotion but until reading this, it hadn't occurred to me to write anything about my own average devotional day (though I have occasionally been asked what I do). Well, I"m going to do that now, stealing an idea from Sannion (whom I hope will not mind too much!). There is of course, one caveat to all of this (as Sannion also points out in his post): what i write here is what I do. It may not be what those of you reading are called to do. The thing here is to ask yourselves how you can deepen and better *your* practices. If this helps, then I'm glad. If not, let me know what you're doing devotionally--it might inspire me and others reading this.
Now, i'm essentially pretty lazy. So this is what I do on a general day, not a day where I have special ritual obligations, House rituals, oracle work, client appointments, or where i may have to go to school, etc. This is just a basic run of the mill day. I generally get up around eight am. Sometimes I have morning appointments so it might be later or a bit earlier. I greet the Gods, the Orisha, the house spirits and my ancestors. groggily. I bath and dress (and what i wear is dependent on what my ritual, Deity, and client obligations might be throughout the day) and head downstairs for coffee. I make my breakfast and also offerings to the ancestors....
There's been a lot of talk lately in the blogging world about the idea of 'Pagan Community'. I've written a little about it, from my point of view of course. But more ideas are coming as the year moves forward, and it's interesting to see how things are developing, based on both the evolution of the Pagan 'world' and the everyday one.
Generally speaking, Pagans are a social bunch. We like to get together and chat, whinge a bit, put the world to rights over a drink or two, and generally feel the comfort of like-minded folk. Nothing wrong with this at all.
But there are also those of us who prefer solitary practice, working alone, perhaps communicating over the Internet with specific friends, but more comfortable walking our own path in our own way, thank you.
This post falls outside of the normal boundaries for my blog, but I decided I wanted to share it nonetheless. I won’t burden you with the details, but I just experienced a three week stretch full of such a varied array of stresses and struggles the like of which compares with the worst I’ve experienced. This is saying quite a bit because I have clear memories back to about 18 months of age. Despite walking in the deep vale near the brink of my personal abyss, I still had to manage the mundane tasks of work, fulfill my ministerial duties as priest, offer counsel as a reader, and more. I have passed through this challenge and have gained insight through the experience. The pearl that was gained and my summary for this set of experiences is:
Just over a week into the new year and that means it's time to put some plans into action, and look at the year ahead. One of which is steering this blog's content in a more useful direction by providing practical information on how I bring "my" Paganism into my everyday life as well as further explaining more about my spiritual practice, our homesteading adventures, observations of the world and Pagan community, and how that all fits together, even if not perfectly.
Believe it or not, today is a great day for thinking about 'blue' moons! While I don't consider them anything special, plenty of people do. I do admit, however, that it's an extra opportunity to do some full moon-based magick! The funny thing about blue moons is that most people have no idea how to tell when one is going to happen without looking it up in an almanac or the internet.
This is going to be a fairly short and sweet post. I’ve been getting the same question via email again and again –and it’s a good question, don’t’ get me wrong---so I figure I should probably answer it. Lately everyone is asking me what to do with offerings be it to the ancestors, the Gods, or the house spirits once you’ve put them out.
It really is a good question the answer to which I tend to take for granted as a given. It’s not though and since most of us don’t grow up (yet) in families that make regular offerings, there’s no reason that we should automatically know what to do with them. There’s so much about religious traditions and culture that we learn by observation, experience, and osmosis as we grow after all, and we’re not yet at that point as a community. I think in time we will be, but for now, thank the Gods for books, blogs, and teachers!
That being said, here’s what I was taught about disposing of offerings. Ideally, one can do any of the following:...
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)
Like many Pagans, I am a lover of literature. It was in books that I first discovered the Gods. I devoured tales of Artemis and Apollo and Isis and Anubis and Brigid. And -- like many -- the first thing I did after my (re)discovery of the Gods was build an altar.
I felt most drawn to the Hellenic Gods, but I had no real guidelines for the proper construction of a Greek-style altar. I found a basic diagram in Scott Cunningham's Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, and used that as a template: bust of Apollo and a gold candle on the right, bust of Artemis and a silver candle on the left, bowl of dried flowers, small cup of earth, small cup of water.
Over the years, my altar has expanded and changed multiple times, as my spiritual path has matured and as I have moved around the country. Currently, my main altar includes icons for Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Hekate and Gaea, along with a hand-made clay icon of Odin (in thanks for a vision of Him, which I am still mulling over)....