Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

Specific paths such as Heathenism, blended traditions, polytheist reconstructionism, etc.

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Process and Problems in Spirit Flight

Since coming to Paganism in 1998, the otherworlds have piqued my curiosity and stirred my sense of the magical. I view the worlds of the gods and spirits as interwoven with yet distinct from our own in meaningful ways, much like the ocean and the Earth’s water cycles are interwoven with the land and air through rivers and streams, and even underground water, rain, and humidity. The otherworlds are more “worlds” than “other” but there is still something unique and distant enough about them to require astral travelers to enact procedures that allow them to change their location. Basically, the spirit or soul or consciousness has to leave where it is and journey or simply shift to another place.

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Minoan Bell Jar Goddesses: All the funny hats

When someone says "Minoan" many people immediately think of the snake goddess figurines from Knossos. But there are other goddess figurines from ancient Crete that are just as interesting, maybe more so. Case in point: the Poppy Goddess shown at the top of this post.

She wears a crown with three poppy seed pods that have visibly been scored so the latex will ooze out, part of the process for making opium, which the Minoans appear to have used ritually. Like all the other bell jar goddess figurines (so called because of the shape of their skirts), she has her arms raised in a gesture that looks a lot like the Minoan sacred horns.

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The magic of: Crocus

The magic of: Crocus

(Crocus vemus)

Often one of the first signs that spring is on the way, these pretty little flowers grow in woodlands, meadows and are cultivated in gardens. The crocus brings with it the promise of spring, new projects, new ideas and new ventures and if you are looking for it – new love.

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Asatru FAQ: Caregiving?

Frequently Asked Question: How do I deal with a family member in hospice care?

My answer:

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This past year, working full time as a priestess

Hello all!

So I had realized recently, I hadn't updated this precious space in quite a long time - nor even my own personal blogs. Where had I gone? 

Well..the story is a bit complicated. Last year, 2017, was a huge transitioning year for me. 

I moved to Japan in May 2017. And since then, it has been a lot of time of trying to settle into my new home, my new environment. Even the weather when I landed was quite different, and made me very weak comparing to coming from Canada's cold winter. I also missed, and still do miss my family a lot back in North America, which is the only downside to living here, and that also weighed heavily on me.

While here in Japan, I began to work full time as a priestess at the Konkokyo Shrine of Yokosuka, and assist with monthly ceremonies as well as private ones, in which there were many.
In addition, since Yokosuka is a naval base town, despite not knowing Japanese entirely fluently yet, I still was blessed to be busy with both translation work and also interacting with the local American community here. It was and is really great, and I love it here, but before I realized it, my time was getting busier and busier! I hardly had time to go online at all; only to check a few emails and messages, or answer direct questions.

The Fall itself felt like a blur, and in November, late Fall season, we held our Grand Ceremony, which is one of the two biggest ceremonies of the year. (The other is in May, or late Spring). After that, Winter came and New Years season came around, the busiest season of the year for shrines since everyone comes to pray for a happy and safe New Year, and in addition for the Year-End purification ceremonies, and Mochitsuki (mochi making event) in January.

And now..that brings us to here! And things have finally come to a settle I think. At least, I'm managing things a lot better and understand the work flow of the shrine here, and the general schedule. As well as being used to the home here, and the local city is familiarized to me as well. 

So, while I do have some long-term work I need to do, such as continuing to answer emails and questions, shrine work, which includes a website and print materials I need to make for this year and will take some time, and in addition of course the ceremonies - and studying more Japanese - between all these things, I also want to make a commitment to post more articles regularly! 

So thank you all and to those who have been patient with me! I deeply appreciate it.

Since 2015, I've been in a kind of nonstop busy mode. Priestess training was back in 2015, 2016 had a lot of travel to Japan, and now 2017 just flew by doing work here - 2018 I'm hoping is a lot more stable year where I can be settled into a good work flow schedule smoothly.

And I hope by 2019, I'll have a better handle on everything to do some hobbies I want to pursue, such as dollmaking, and doing more art and creative writing. But I want to get important things done first, or I can't enjoy other hobbies personally!

In any case, I know this update isn't entirely educational or Shinto related...but I think sharing some insight just into what I learned working as a priestess full time is like, I'll share here a bit! Hopefully you'll find it interesting at least. After this, I do plan to go back to usual educational articles, so please look forward to them!

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A photo of when I danced kibimai, a type of ancient kagura (sacred dance) I offered to Kamisama in the Konkokyo Shrine of Toronto, April 2017, before I left for Japan




Before I moved to Yokosuka, I did priestess work in Toronto. However, since it's in Toronto and Canadian culture is much different than Japan, services were only held every other Sunday, since it was the day of the week most had off in Canada, and other days people would be working and unable to visit. We also had to schedule around the western holidays like Easter, Christmas, and so on which also made having more regular ceremonies a bit difficult. In contrast, in Japan, we go by Japanese holidays which match up with the traditional rituals and ceremonies in the shrine, so it's much easier for the people to come more often.

So in other words...while I worked in Toronto - it was quite easier workload in comparison. I had the whole week, sometimes two free weeks, and then just had the one day I had to do priestess work. Of course it was a little sad for me, but it was also why I had a lot more free time to do blogging, or even other part-time work. 

I got an idea of what it was like to work as a full fledged priestess from the monthly ceremonies in Toronto - I helped a little with offerings, preparing tamagushi, and practicing ritual. I also did these intensely during priestess training, so things were as usual and not too unfamiliar. It was a lot like refining the skills. My teacher in Toronto is still the best teacher I have, and I respect him greatly now. I feel very blessed I got to train and learn under him.

However, since moving to Japan here and working more regularly in priestess work - I realized especially what my teacher meant when he said I still had a lot to learn! The workload is completely different in Japan, and since the shrine here is 120 years old, there were a lot of older knowledge of our shrine tradition I learned as well, and my mind and knowledge expanded so much more. 

The house and living area is right next to the shrine itself, so in addition I work essentially every day shrine keeping. It's a whole different experience. Whereas before in Toronto I could relax fully at home and not be concerned about visitors, just caretake my own kamidana - here I need to be sure to wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed (no pajamas!), open the shrine, and then watch for shrine visitors (sanpaisha) if they come and to greet them. Of course; I can afford now to have lazy days and sleep in, since 3 other priests and priestess work here (My partner and his parents) and I am not the Head Priest, but Associate Priestess, so my responsibilities are a lot lighter.

But I realized very seriously that if I was alone, I'd have to be much more serious about it, and be sure to get proper rest and a good schedule. We are open every day of the year, from 8am to 8pm, so I learned quickly the importance of having a very good schedule and managing everything - from personal hygiene, to chores around the house, to making meals, and managing the shrine and shrine work. It was so much more than I expected! 

As well, I gained a deeper respect for those who manage shrines alone. We don't get a salary or anything from a head shrine, so we are self-sustaining - and that means as well learning how to do accounting and managing money, and budgeting properly for things like offerings or ritual tools, to not overspend or even underspend too (buying the right amount and variety for Kamisama is also a factor for important ceremonies). 

In addition, at our shrine in particular, we also have a large garden, - which grows sakaki branches for tamagushi, vegetables such as cucumbers, and many, many oranges and persimmons - which is beautiful and I realized the bounty of nature, but as well, it's also another task to manage to caretake of the trees and plants, and trim and harvest accordingly. 

In making offerings, I also learned how to treat each food item carefully. We should try to place them the way they grow in nature, the proper way to cut and wash them, and the proper way to stack them with stability. Food offerings are still one of the hardest areas to master!

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A mixed fruits and vegetables offerings I did for the mitama no kami, or ancestral divine spirits, about a week ago. I learned afterwards I should have spread the eggplants more, and cut the top of the leeks cleaner, to improve and perfect the form.


Despite all of this hard work, I really, really enjoy it, and love to learn all the new things I am! And very happy to do things with care and sincerity towards kami-sama. I was actually moved to tears at one point, to see how deeply everything is carefully made, cleaned, arranged, organized, and run in the shrine for kami-sama, mitama no kami, and the people who visit the shrine and who are parishioners of the shrine. I understood a strong sense of community and sincerity, and I was and am very grateful to learn as well.

As in, it's not just the form or method how to do things as a priestess, but what's very important moreso is the heart, spirit, and sincerity behind it. I feel like I really learned that this year, and I think I will begin to understand it even more the longer I work here. 

I learned being a priestess wasn't just ritual work or making offerings - but it was so much more. It wasalso making offerings with care and consideration, even right down to details like how to wash and clean and cut them (even using a special, kami-sama offering-only knife).

It was learning how to do many different things, such as gardening, harvesting, accounting, budgeting, learning how to cook with the offerings we eat after so nothing goes to waste, learning how to make sacred items properly, learning different types of ceremonies, even my work in coding, graphic design and social media was and is needed to work on having and updating information online - it ends up being a kind of jack of all trades job. That is, this is all behind the scenes to the very important spiritual work which is our main focus.

In the end, all of it is done for the community and kami-sama, which makes me so happy. I feel so glad and grateful to be able to serve the community and kami-sama - that we are a shrine where not only people can come together and rest and have a connection with kami-sama, but also for our shrine tradition in particular, to come and talk about any problem or issue on their mind (a rite called toritsugi mediation). Organizing and running the shrine well contributes to everything to go harmoniously, and it's amazing to me how it all comes together.

This year, I want to start doing the old, ancient prayers at sunrise - such as Ooharae no Kotoba, and Amatsu Norito, as our shrine tradition used to do 100 years ago. I want to make our shrine shine even brighter and have more spiritual strength by returning and nurturing to the roots. Thankfully, it seems kami-sama also agrees, as the past year we have had a lot of things from the past return - including a very old Tenchi Kakitsuke, or Divine Reminder from the Universe, made by a shrine parishioner from a long time ago!

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The old Tenchi Kakitsuke. The meaning of the black background and white kanji, is that "even in the darkness, the reminder from the universe will shine through". It has such a strong spiritual power I feel!


So, those are the things I learned deeply especially this year about priestess work. For anyone who is considering to become a Shinto priest, or especially a Shinto priest in the Konkokyo tradition, there is so much to think about and manage...but I think in the end, it's very much worth it.

To see the smiling faces of everyone and their bright spirits - and to feel the power of kami-sama and the gentle power from the shrine and nature around us, I think it is all worth it, and any kind of physical and/or spiritual work that has to be done daily I'm so grateful to do every day!

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  • Mivi
    Mivi says #
    I'm so proud of you. I always love hearing about how your training is going. I cannot be as rigorous in studies since I don't liv

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Radical Hope

Last night I read the news about Cape Town, and then dreamed that my garden died.

I live in a condo in Los Angeles, so my garden is small and fragile and mostly in containers: calendula and tulsi and borage and lemon balm in pots and window boxes, selfheal that's dying no matter what I do, jasmine and passionvine that twine around each other in bombastic friendship, nasturtiums that cascade in a curtain of friendly little circles. Baby blue eyes and violet seedlings growing in a flat. Cleveland sage in a pot, since the soil is mostly clay, and sagebrush and California fuschia in the ground, since they can tolerate that clay. I had to fight with my building manager to put plants in the bare dirt behind the building, even though I'm on the HOA board; status quo bias is so strong that people trust ugly cracked ground more than they trust small, quiet plants. (I won the rest of the board over partly by telling them my unit's property values are suffering because of the eyesore that is the dirt. In reality I don't care much about the property values, but a witch uses the tools in her toolbox; she shapeshifts when she needs to.)

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The First Day of Spring?

I have a question, one that has perplexed me for several years. 

Tomorrow is the first day of February, marking the festival of Imbolc. The days are lengthening, the night time grows shorter. We're halfway through winter. Or are we?

I know that 21st of December is supposed to be the first day of winter, but this makes absolutely no sense to me. If we look at the year as half of it where the nights are longer than the days and half of it when the days are longer than the nights, then surely, the date that the nights get shorter can't be the mid point? 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Virginia Carper
    Virginia Carper says #
    There is a divide between modern meteorology and traditional practices. The Chinese calendar and the Medieval European one had spr
  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    Traditionally, the cross-quarter holidays were the beginnings of the seasons. Thus, the winter solstice is "midwinter", and the su
  • Charlie Rainbow Wolf
    Charlie Rainbow Wolf says #
    Hi Mark! I totally understand that this is indeed the beginning of spring, as far as the wheel of the year goes. My question is

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