Self Doubt in Practice

Pagan Perspective is still on their holidays break (or at least I’m pretty sure that’s what’s going on there), so there’s no new question to work with again this week.   So this week, I again decided to snag a question from one of the pagan/witchy type groups I’m a member of on Discord and use that instead.

CoprinopsisPicacea

Topic for the Week of 12/30:  About what in your practice do you tend to doubt yourself? What form does this doubt take, and how do you respond to it?

Even though I have an education in botany, and I am very versed in how to handle and work with plants and the like that can be dangerous and/or poisonous…. there is still doubt in myself in this area.  I do use ingredients from such organisms in my spells and castings, sometimes pretty regularly, and there is an inherent danger in this not just from the potential of the obvious physical contact, but the releasing of spores, trichomes (these are the hairs on certain plants), or saps among other things.

Because of this self-doubt, I am extremely careful in my handling of any and all parts of such plants and organisms.  I take extra time and extra care, as well as extra precautions  and safe-guards to make sure I don’t accidentally end up hurting myself or anyone in my home during or after this part of my spellwork.

How this self doubt manifests is a good thing, and I hope that I never lose the self doubt involved in this practice, as it ensures that everyone I care about is safe. I can only hope that anyone else out there incorporating these dangerous and poisonous ingredients in their spell craft is just as careful.

 

Impact of One’s Path

So… I think that Pagan Perspective is taking a week off this week, as there’s no new question to work with.   Due to this, I decided to snag a question from one of the pagan/witchy type groups I’m a member of on Discord and use that instead.

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Topic for the Week of 12/16: How has your religion impacted your overall well-being? Has it changed how you see the world and other people?

The first part of this question is immeasurable for me. I get a great sense of peace and overall well being from connecting with nature, and the communion of that practice. It is a part of me at my very core, a part of not just who I am but of my internal makeup and my soul.  Because of that, it’s impossible for me to differentiate myself from that enough to really clearly delineate my path from myself and my well-being.  They are simply too integrated to be able to separate them.

I also can’t really say if my path has changed my outlook on the world or other people, as I’ve been (essentially) on the same path my entire life.  Yes, I transitioned from Wicca to a non-theistic Paganism when I left my parent’s home, but not a lot of my inner beliefs really changed in that shift, as I never really connected with deity in the first place.

What I can say is that the deeper I go into my spirituality, the healthier my emotional and mental health become… which in turn improves my outlook on just about everything.

 

Art Upon the Path

This week’s question from the Pagan Perspective YouTube channel is about finding your path.

Topic for the Week of 12/2: “Do you do any art related to your path that you would like to share? Or is there art by others that is meaningful to you?”

Jewelry

Jewelry design and creation is one of my favorite hobbies, and one that I ended up turning into a business.

I use this creative outlet to express my love for nature and color and… symmetry.  I love creating beautiful things, and while doing so, filling them with positive intention.

Those pieces I create and the intentions set within them are then sent out into the world to bring a bit of joy, pleasure, and/or happiness to those that see, wear, and own these pieces.

With this hobby, I seek to spread out small touches of positivity out around the globe, one piece at a time.  I find a sense of peace and joy in doing so, and feel that in some small way I am contributing to a better world.  My creations are now spread across more than sixty countries, and I hope that with piece that I ship out, I send out just a little more positive energy into the world to be enjoyed and shared.

As for art from others that is meaningful to me… there is a reason that I own so many cartomancy decks.  I connect to the imagery in the cards, which means that there are many, many artists out there that create art that is meaningful to me.

I have also mentioned before the poem “The Dash” written by Linda Ellis.  This too is a type of art that I admire, and this one piece in particular really touched my soul.

 

The Right Path

This week’s question from the Pagan Perspective YouTube channel is about finding your path.

Topic for the Week of 11/25: What let’s you know you have chosen the right path?

Is it strange that I’m having trouble formulating a reply to this question when I am so certain of my (somewhat unconventional even in the pagan community) path?

The thing is… it’s my heart and my gut that tell me I’m on the right path. I feel it deep inside where the soul lives.

I think that to get to that point, though, you have to get to a point of acceptance of the knowledge that everyone’s path is going to be different. Spirituality isn’t a “cookie cutter” experience, but rather highly individualistic. There is no right or wrong other than what is right for you (and of course, you know, legalities).

Once you can accept that each and every person is a unique snowflake and their spirituality is going to echo that individuality, then as you start exploring different practices, beliefs, faiths, and dogmas… you will find that some just feel right… and others don’t.

Take what resonates with you instead of trying to fit into a mold someone else had decided should be yours, and you will find it easier and easier to identify those things that work for you.

SocioEconomics and Eco-Justice

This week’s question from the Pagan Perspective YouTube channel is about how socioeconomics and eco-justice tie into our beliefs and path.

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Topic for the Week of 11/11:

from soul seeker:
“I am wondering if and how your path supports socioeconomic justice and eco-justice?”

from Rebekah Getchell:
“…in reading the book ‘For Earths Sake’ I found the argument and perspective that the domination of nature and women go hand in hand in our patriarchal society. it submits as evidence pointing to this fact, that we refer to nature in a feminist view, mother nature, mother earth, the now stopped practice of naming hurricanes after women. It supposes that we cannot fix one without fixing the other. Curious your thoughts and beliefs about this idea and argument.”

Okay so honestly?  I’m kind of confused by this question.  I did some research on the topic and it sounds to me like this is primarily a question on how my personal path supports equality and outreach to assist and lift up into equality those that qualify as minorities and the less fortunate.  (The word “eco-justice” confused me as well, because I was thinking ecology… but it’s in reference to economy.)

The thing is?  I am very disconnected from my community.  Aside from supporting balance and minorities through the way that I vote, supporting public services and small businesses in struggling areas,  etc. I don’t really have a lot of contact with others.

I do enjoy spending time sharing my path through online to those that can reach out through that medium, and providing ideas and perspectives in those areas online where I share such information.   These include places like Discord, where I often run into people new to the path that are unable to find learning resources through their local environment.

As for no longer naming hurricanes after women.  This is incorrect.  They have simply begun including the names of men into the practice as well.

As for the “mother” nature view.   I am devout to the energies of creation, evolution, and balance.  These energies are neither male or female.   I lately got myself nipped by a woman in a chat that justified the fact that there are hundreds of exclusively “sacred feminine” tarot decks out there and no “sacred masculine” tarot out there by the fact that women have been suppressed for centuries.

I disagree with this viewpoint, because if we are seeking balance in these things, then at this point we have swung out of balance far and beyond rectifying the imbalance between how the two genders are treated and the equality that is lacking.    So yes, maybe “mother” nature is not fostering balance in this area…. but I think that there are a lot of women out there that are very much pushing for what is not balance, but restitution and atonement for those hundreds of years in the past.

I may be male, but I as a Korean man in America?  I am also very much a minority.  (Not to mention I looked like a tall twelve year old until in my 20s, which means that I dealt with that issue as well.)  I know how that feels, and I know it can breed resentment.   But I do feel that there needs to be less of an expectation of being “owed” recompense, and more of a focus on balance and equality.

It feels like I’ve gotten off topic, but I have a little confusion as to the topic as a whole to begin with, I think.  I guess because I never considered my faith and practice as something that was a part of this particular topic.   I hope that my answer made some sense, though.

Seasons and Holidays

This week’s question from the Pagan Perspective YouTube channel is about the holidays we choose to celebrate.

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Topic for the Week of 11/04:  “How did or do you decide what holidays to celebrate?”

Although in the wheel of the year there are eight holidays, I really only dependably celebrate two of them from year to year.  My family, as I was growing up, has always celebrated all eight.

In my case, the holidays mark seasonal transitions, and although I appreciate them and even enjoy spending time recognizing them through hiking and other activities in order to appreciate the transitions from one season to the next?   I don’t celebrate all eight holidays on a dependable year-to-year basis.

I guess, then, that I should first begin by defining “celebrate” since I did just mention that recognize each shift in seasons regardless of “celebrating them” in a traditional sense.

So, for the purpose of this post, celebrating means to include ritual and/or activities that are performed on a specific day or days surrounding the holiday in question.

The holidays that my family celebrates are Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Midsummer, Lammas, and Mabon.   Of these holidays, I dependably celebrate Samhain and Beltane every year without fail.   These are the two points in the year where the veil within liminal spaces is at its thinnest, and for me they are not just the most powerful days of the year, but also the most sacred.

So there you have it!  Although I consider the entire transition of season to season sacred and enjoyable, and appreciate them all in my own way.   As far as holidays go?  I really only go “all out” to celebrate just two of them.

Post Script Edit:    As you just pointed out to me, I also celebrate both Thanksgiving (US) and Christmas (in a far less religious way).

These two are celebrated for specific reasons.

Thanksgiving involves visiting my mother’s house, and is celebrated because it’s a holiday she loves.  A core part of her faith involves feeding others, and there is a lot of ritual and spellcraft that goes into the cooking on that day in her home.   Each year, my sister and I visit her because this day is so very important to her (and the food is so goddamn good doesn’t hurt either).

Christmas on the other hand, is not a religious holiday for me.  Instead it is something fun.  It’s a chance to give friends and loved ones gifts, show appreciation and gratitude, and get gifts from them in turn.  It’s a time for absolutely spectacular crooners music and amazing scents and sparkling lights.  I do decorate (alibi sparingly usually), and we do exchange gifts, but it’s more like the holiday is an excuse to do these things rather than a spiritual experience.

So you’re right.   Although they are not pagan holidays, nor spiritual in the sense of the other holidays that I sometimes incorporate into my year, they are absolutely holidays that I celebrate.

 

Coming Out as Pagan

This week’s question from the Pagan Perspective YouTube channel is about coming out as Pagan later in life.

sunbeam

Topic for the Week of 10/28: So how to start a conversation of coming out of the broom closet if I became a pagan later in life and I need to tell my husband? How can I bring this up. This is the right path for me. But I’m scared. (Neither of us are church goers either).

Obviously, this topic doesn’t really apply to me all that much, as I was raised pagan and have never been in the closet about my beliefs (aside from briefly while traveling for personal safety reasons).

That said, I do actually have an opinion on this and I’d like to share that here, but I would like to precursor my opinion by stating that IF coming out with your faith to others is going to put you in danger?  I don’t think it’s a good idea.

If it is not going to put you in danger, though?  I think it’s important to be your authentic self with those you love.   Even if you aren’t shouting from the rooftops what you are (which doesn’t really happen all that often unless it’s someone coming out of the closet, before they realize that most people outside of their loved ones really don’t care LOL), I think that letting your loved ones know what is near and dear to your heart is important.  One of those things should (naturally) be your faith.

If they can’t accept that, it’s really their problem.  Not yours.  Let them deal with it, process it, and find a way past it.   If they love you, even if it matters?  It won’t matter.   That is to say that yes, they might have an issue with it, but it won’t change how they feel about you.   If it does?  Well then they don’t really love you after all.

That takes bravery tho, yes?  Because some people don’t want to find out if there really are conditions to being loved by those that they love.

It doesn’t change my opinion tho.   We need people in our lives that accept us and love us for who we are, not for who they want us to be.

As for how you bring it up, it really depends on who you’re telling.  Some people process things better when it comes from an off-hand comment and they can then ask questions.  Other people need the “sit down and have a heart to heart” approach.  You know your loved ones best, and if you think about it, should know which approach they’ll respond best to.

And lastly… do not confuse fear of telling someone your path with doubt on if the path is right for you.   They are two separate issues.

If you’re not sure if it’s the right path yet, but you still want to tell them?  I suggest approaching it along the line of “I have started to explore…..” or “I’ve begun to have an interest in….”   That way you are not committing to the path, but still giving them a heads up about what’s going on.

 

Deepening Experiences of Deity

This week’s question from the Pagan Perspective YouTube channel is about connecting with deity.

deity

Topic for the Week of 10/21: “I have recently been getting more focused on spirituality in my practice and have since discovered that I feel greatly called to follow and to learn all I can from the Goddess Hekate. My problem is that I am having trouble finding any source of information on her. Outside of meditation and exploration of what little I can find of her in mythology, I don’t know how to deepen my relationship with her. If you have any recommendations on how I could get closer to the Goddess with the limited resources I have, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.” – from Arlin

Okay, so this is going to probably be a pretty short one. I’ve been kind of sitting on this question all week this week, and because I’m a non-thiest, I’m having a bit of difficulty coming up with a response.

That said, I’m all for seeing things from different perspectives.  And, in this way, I don’t see this much different than my own quest to get closer to nature and the energies I work with and revere.

So my advice on this would be to seek out the activities that better connection to the deity (or entity) in question that you want to work with.   For me, this is deeply incorporated in my life from the gemstones I work with in my jewelry designs to the farm work I do at one of my jobs, the nursery work I do at another of my jobs, the hikes I regularly take out into the rainforest to spend time in nature without distraction, etc.

I would say that most deities have certain things they are known for and enjoy.  If you want to worship Hekate, for example, she is known for her associations with magic, witchcraft, the night, moon, ghosts and necromancy.

So this reasoning mentioned above, therefore, would indicate to become closer with her and connect stronger with her, you would do things such as syncing up your magical workings to the moon’s phases, exploring (or at least educating yourself in) mediumship, practicing your magical workings at night, or focusing on the death aspect of her representations and incorporating things like dead leaves, corn husks, and other representations of death into your worship and workings.  One of the hosts for the Pagan Perspective also suggested composting, which I think is brilliant.

Meditation, as well, is an excellent way to connect to the ethereal.  Using Hekate as your focus in meditation and/or incorporating the things she is associated with into your meditation practice may also assist in a closer connection to your deity of choice (in this case, Hekate).

I think it’s also important to remember that if you are doing these things and working to find that connection, and you feel that perhaps you just are not getting anywhere?  This may not be the deity for you and you may want to look into others that may suit you better and be more interested in working with you.

 

Patrons, Angels, and Guiding Spirits

This week’s question from the Pagan Perspective YouTube channel is about patrons, angels, and guiding spirits.

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Topic for the Week of 10/14: “I don’t have a succinct question but I’d love to hear people talk about patrons, holy guardian angels, tutelary spirits, head spirits and that sort of thing. Do you think they’re all the same or are they different things with different roles? How many (if any) do you acknowledge and work with?”

Honestly, I am open to the possibility that they all exist.  I am also open to the possibility that they are all the same thing and that people just relate to them differently   I am also open to the possibility that they are NOT all the same thing, and that each is a different thing with a different role.

In my own personal practice, I do not work with angels, demons, patrons, gods, goddesses, spirits of the deceased, and have no idea what a tutelary spirit or head spirit is (although I did consult google briefly before this post, but… it wasn’t clearly defined in what I found).

What I do work with is energy.  I work with (and revere) elemental energies, and I work with what I see as the core energy that is within everyone and everything, which I refer to as the “energies of creation, evolution, and balance”.

I also acknowledge 1) the existence of spirits of the deceased that occasionally linger or stay behind for some reason, and 2) Fae.

With the spirits of the deceased, I do not work with them.  I do not want to work with them and feel that it is not a part of my wheelhouse.  That’s not to say that I haven’t had experiences, but these are acknowledged and not explored.  I have no interest in delving into that area of things, regardless of if I have potential ability to do so.

Concerning the Fae… It is much the same, but with a feeling of kinship and gratitude.  I am familiar with liminal spaces, especially those that are very much connected to raw nature.  I enjoy them immensely and feel very, very much at home within them.

In these spaces, there are Fae energies present and these are welcome in that sense of kinship and gratitude that I’ve mentioned, but I do not work with them in my practice or my spellcraft.  For me, it is much the same as why I don’t work with animals in my practice and spellcraft.  They are living entities with free will, their own motivations, and their own choices to make.  I would never push my will upon them in that way, even if they stepped forward to volunteer for it.  It just doesn’t feel right.

 

Gender, Identity, and Paganism

This week’s question from the Pagan Perspective YouTube channel is about gender, as well as how gender factors into your pagan practice and beliefs.

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Topic for the Week of 10/7: 

Part 1 from Jack Place:Your thoughts on transgender people and the difference between bio sex and mental sex.

Honestly?  I don’t really care.  I’m Pansexual and see people, not gender.  My only issue is when it comes to pronouns.  I really hate the whole pronoun thing, because there is so much room for confusion, mistake, and accidental offense.

Part 2 from MintyDandyDannie: Supposing that there is a third gender as many believe and feel, how would you react? Would it still fit in with your current beliefs? Or would it create a need for movement? How do you feel about the concept of a third gender that is not related to male or female in any way?

For this part of this week’s question, I think need to start out by explaining why the second part of the question is phrased as it is, and why it would even matter.

In many pagan practices (such as Wicca, for example), there is worship of the God and Goddess.  This includes mythos that follows the wheel of the year where the goddess and god are intertwined from conception to birth to growth, to adulthood and conception again, rinse and repeat.  In these religions, adding in a third gender could, I suppose, upset the balance.

Obviously, as I’ve mentioned this before, this is not my path.  My path deals with nature, the elements, and the energies of creation, evolution, and balance. There is no deity.

Yes, there is a yin and yang to the balance of all things, but although it is often “classified” as masculine and feminine, it has nothing to do with gender.  Those terms are used for in discussion of these energies more due to “stereotypical stereotypes” than accuracy. (And, isn’t that one hell of a term?)  All people and all things have both the “masculine” and “feminine” energy within them.  The terms are archaic, and yet it is because they are archaic that they are universally understood when used… and thus continue to be used.

In my tarot practice (both in reading and teaching), as well as my practice as a whole, I have moved to using the terms “projective” and “receptive” (or yin/yang depending on the situation and usage).  I think this better expresses my perceptions without confusing things with the mention of gender.   If there was a third gender?  That gender would also have projective and receptive energies within them, just as everyone and everything else does.  Therefore, it would really have no effect at all on  my beliefs or practice.