Is It Okay…?

This week’s question from the Pagan Perspective YouTube channel is about the questions people ask as they are becoming acclimated to a new belief system and/or faith.

Topic for the Week of 2/10:  from Jenni B – “Is It Okay…” in your path!
“The main questions I keep seeing in some of the groups I’m in are ‘is it ok…’ questions. ‘Is it ok to buy my own tarot deck?’ has been coming up a lot recently. ‘Is it ok to have a temporary altar?’ , ‘is it ok to keep my altar in a box/ cupboard /particular room?’. One that really boggled my brain recently was ‘is it ok to cut my own hair’ …??? It might be interesting to have the hosts answer the general question of ‘is it ok…?’ within their tradition. Most of the time people who ask these sort of questions in the groups will get the answers ‘yes if it works for you’ or ‘yes if it isn’t hurting anyone’. I don’t know if there is much difference between the answers people would get from the traditions represented on the channel but it seems to be a common anxiety out there for a lot of people. “

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Is it okay to buy my own tarot deck?
Is it okay to not read reversals?
Is it okay to not cut the deck before pulling tarot cards?
Is it okay to not cleanse my cards?
Is it okay to have a temporary altar?
Is it okay to keep my altar in a box/ cupboard /particular room?
Is it okay to not have an altar?
Is it okay to cut my own hair?
Is it okay that I don’t feel connected to deity?
Is it okay to include personal items in ritual?
Is it okay to not chant, sing, or rhyme in ritual?
Is it okay to cast spells without intricate, detailed rituals?
Is it okay to not use candles/incense/crystals/etc in ritual and/or spellwork?
Is it okay to use plastic/glass/etc in rituals and/or spellwork?

I’ve run into all of these questions and many more.   The thing is?   I don’t see faith as rigid.  That is whether that faith is in tarot, in religion, in spellwork, etc.  It’s not rigid.

Yes, certain rules of nature are rigid.  Certain ethics (for me) are rigid.

But none of the questions above fall into those categories.  In every single case?  In my belief system it would be completely up to the individual and what feels right for them.

There is a massive amount of autonomy in my faith.  It’s about what feels right to you. What fits you.  For me that includes a good deal of respect for the earth, the green, and nature’s creatures.  For me, this involves strict adherence to my the directives of both my moral compass and my intuition.   If my gut says no?  Then it’s no.  Period.  Whether I wish the answer was yes or not, whether I feel like it should be yes or not, whether other people insist it’s okay or not.  If my gut says no?  The answer is no.

This goes beyond how I practice, where I practice, or what I use in my practice.  It goes into everyday life and everyday choices, because if I can’t trust my intuition in ALL times and ALL things, it won’t speak as loudly when I need it to.

So my answer to “Is it’s okay… ?” is two fold.  Do you feel that it is a morally and ethically sound decision?   And does your gut say yes?  Or no?

If the answer is no?  Then maybe it’s time to examine things more closely and figure out why.  Or maybe just take it as “no” and look for a method/path/way of doing things that fits better for you.

Dedication Rituals

This week’s question from the Pagan Perspective YouTube channel is about dedication rituals, and honestly?  I had to look that shit up. Seriously.

Topic for the Week of 2/3:  Did any of you do dedication rituals, and what are your experiences and thoughts on them?

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Okay, so what I understand is that this is a type of ritual where you dedicate yourself to a specific deity/deities or a specific religious path.   Sort of like a baptism, but in relation to pagan beliefs, deity, or paths.

The closest that I have come to something like this was early on after I’d left my parent’s home and was living on my own, and had decided to discard the use of deity in my practice.   That summer I hiked up into the Olympic National Park via the Hoh Rainforest access point.

Deep within the forests here, I had stripped free of my clothing at a spot deep within the threads of the liminal spaces there and laid myself down upon the forest floor among the cedars, ferns, and moss.  In the deep, damp embrace of the forest, draped in the shadows of dense vegetation, I closed my eyes and sought the earth.

Like a grounding exercise, I threaded my energy into the soil beneath me like roots digging into the earth.  I let my energy expand and flow, opening myself up to the energies around me and connecting myself fully to the environment I was in.

I sought what was real and true for me.  I sought direction and connection, and I found both.   I didn’t sleep, but I was there for a few hours, and once done I picked myself up and dressed, then set up camp for the night.

Is this a dedication ritual?  I’m not sure.  But it’s the closest I can think of to something that might qualify.

 

My Meditation Practice, and Some Advice for Beginners

This week’s question from the Pagan Perspective YouTube channel is about a whole bunch of things concerning the new year, including goals and what I’m currently into.  I pretty much answered all this last week, so today’s question is coming from one of the Discord servers I am a member of instead.

Topic for the Week of 1/27:  What are some ways in which you meditate? What are some techniques and tips you could give to beginners? What helps you stay focused?

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I personally do not use music during meditation most of the time because I am an aural synesthete, so music can become extremely distracting and I don’t consider the “riding of sound” to be a meditation in and of itself (although, of course it is… it’s just not for me personally).

I do a variety of meditation techniques including incorporating it into my yoga/physiotherapy, body scans, five senses scans, guided meditation (primarily using the Calm app), visualization techniques, etc. (Not all at once, obviously.) It really depends on how I feel each day as to which one I use.

For beginners to meditation…

1) Start small. Five minutes a day. Ten minutes a day. It doesn’t have to be some marathon session. Just set aside those five or ten minutes and do it.

2) EVERYONE struggles with focus. Don’t try so hard to block everything out. Instead, consider yourself like a window screen. The outside distractions flow through you like a breeze but do not move you.

3) Again, EVERYONE struggles with focus. Our minds wander. It’s natural. One of the main purposes of meditation is to exercise your mind’s ability to find calm. You do this not by staying in that focused and clam state 100% of the time, but by bringing yourself back to it each time you notice that your mind has strayed. By setting aside what your mind has wandered to and coming back to center, you are essentially doing a mental push-up.

4) Try different types of meditation. Everyone is different. Maybe chanting helps you focus… maybe not. Maybe visualization is your thing… or maybe not. Maybe you need a guided meditation to assist in your focus, or maybe the guided ones irk you. It’s completely individual, so don’t be afraid to experiment to find what feels best to you.

5) Not everyone focuses on their breath. It’s true that it’s very common as a focus, but it’s not for everyone. I personally find that I have better results focusing on my solar plexus and how I am feeling there (which is what I consider the seat of the soul and definitely have fluctuations concerning).

For my own focusing challenges… I personally struggle with “I should be doing this right now” and the constant fidget to get moving again.  I deal with this by reminding myself that this is TEN minutes.  That’s all it is.  Ten minutes out of the thousands and thousands of minutes in a day.   Ten minutes to set everything aside and take a break.  It might be the ONLY break I get all day, so enjoy it while it’s there in my grasp.

 

Using Visualization in Spellcraft

This week’s question from the Pagan Perspective YouTube channel is about visualization and how it’s used in one’s practice and in everyday life.

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Topic for the Week of 1/13: Although the word makes us think only of vision and our sense of sight, the practice of visualization involves any and all senses, not just sight but also scent, sound, touch, and even taste…”

There are multiple questions included in the continuation of the topic for this week, so I am going to break those questions up below, because I think it’ll be easier to answer that way, rather than taking the whole thing on at once.   So…

1) Do you practice this skill or use it in your path?

Oh hell yes.  All the time.  Anyone that reads a book and imagines what’s going on in the book in your head, or writes fiction, or daydreams about this or that is doing visualization.

In spellcrafting, especially, it is an extremely valuable tool used to set intentions and direct energy into those intentions.

It is also an excellent method of meditation.  One of my favorite meditations when I was first starting out at meditation was to visualize peeling and eating an orange, as it is one that has a very distinctive and strong ability to incorporate all five senses.

2) What do you actually DO when you ‘visualize’ something?

Visualization triggers the parts of the brain that have to do with receptors for each of your senses.   So it’s not just “thinking” about doing something, but awakening those parts of the brain that register sensation and… well, playing with them.

3) Do you find that it comes easily to you, or do you struggle with it?

I’ve been doing visualization all my life, both in my practice and path, as well as in the day to day.  So it’s not really something I think about anymore, to be honest.

4) Are certain inner senses easier to use than others? For example some people may find inner sight difficult, but hear things easily, and so on.

Because of my synesthesia, the hearing one always feels a bit weird because with visualizations it doesn’t always kick in as it does with actual auditory input.   But other than that… not really.  I would say that visualization-wise, my sense of smell is the weakest.

5) What do your physical eyes ‘see’ when you visualize something?

They don’t.   I don’t hallucinate when visualizing.  Whatever I’m visualizing plays out in my mind, not in the physical world in front of me.

6) Do you have any tips for others working on this skill? For those who struggle, what are other things that can be done instead?

I think a lot of people don’t realize that creative writing is a type of visualization.  That reading a work of fiction is a type of visualization.   They think that it’s some esoteric skill they can’t tap into, but have been doing it all along and not realizing it.   Use those ways of visualizing that are familiar to you and take steps to begin reaching beyond them.

Instead of reading a book, make up a story in your head.  Pay attention to what you’re doing in your head beyond just producing words, yeah?  Do you see your character doing those things?   Can you feel what that character feels?   That is visualization.   Practice and pay attention, yeah?

7)  Does struggling with visualization prevent growth in our practice?

I believe it could.   Without visualization, the energy placed into intention setting wouldn’t have the same kind of -drive- behind it.  That drive is what pushes the energy forward into creating the results you seek, so I sort of wonder if spellcasting without it would even work?   I’m not sure, as this isn’t a problem I deal with personally.