Pagan Trends, Absolute Truths, and Trusting Yourself

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Trends change rapidly in the Pagan community. We often see “an indisputable fact” ricochet to its exact opposite within years. These “truths” cause immense discord. How can we navigate these treacherous waters without disavowing our own personal wisdoms? We all find our way of doing it. If I share mine, perhaps that might make finding yours easier.

So, a story:

Way back when, most American Pagans insisted traditional craft was nonexistent. People became downright nasty in their disdainful insistence there is no traditional witchcraft. Nowadays, many Pagans discuss traditional craft, what it is, how to do it, and where to learn it.

The party line back then was that anyone who claimed a traditional craft lineage was a liar. The person in question might be completely discredited.

To the best of my understanding back then: a big name Pagan dishonestly validated the material he taught by saying he’d gotten it from his grandmother, a traditional witch, but he lied about her being a witch.

People just decided, if he was lying, everybody else must be. Good grief!

Ok, let me continue this tale by adding how it affected me personally:

I was raised in a longstanding European-based shamanic family tradition. This was hardly a secret to some of the Pagans I knew. But, in case it’s useful context for the rest of my story, I didn’t have a best selling book yet, so the number of people who knew anything about me were far far fewer than later became the case.

You can imagine, amidst all the vitriol and possibility of being totally discredited, I was thoughtful about when to mention my traditional witchery to a Pagan. I wanted to avoid the near certainty of being branded liar in the larger Pagan community.

Close friends knew my family background, and I’d tell others when it was important. In fact, when the bestseller did come out, its back cover mentioned my mom was a Sicilian witch. To do otherwise would’ve insulted her and all my witch ancestors. But I also used discretion. For example, skirting my family history in casual conversation.

What I’m saying is: navigating the dangerous seas of trending “absolute truths” was challenging—for one thing, it can be frightening to buck popular opinion—but I found ways to maintain integrity while also guarding my emotional equilibrium. We can keeps our spirits whole. Here are two navigation skills that worked for me:

One is knowing it is vital to trust your own beliefs and respect the value of your own experiences, despite people who try to hit you over the head with trends to make you feel ignorant or otherwise not as “authentic” a Pagan as they are.

The second navigation skill is discretion. I want to practice discretion about whether to say something.

Nowadays, most people use the word discretion to mean holding silence. But discretion can also mean wisely considering the best course of action, judging each situation according to its specific circumstances. I’m using the latter definition here. So, in terms of our topic, discretion might lead one to speak—to good purpose—or to remain appropriately mum.

It’s vital to speak up for your beliefs when there’s good reason. Losing self-respect does not constitute successful navigation of treacherous waters.

As to choosing silence, let’s start with the example of avoiding arguments with people who aren’t going to listen.

Back when mentioning a family tradition might completely discredit you with many people, I was at a dinner party where someone who was constantly on power trips declared, in a high and mighty tone, that as a scholar she was devoted to naysaying the possibility of a family tradition. She did not know I came from one. I didn’t tell her. (A friend in the know did surreptitiously wink at me. That was lovely support.)

Most people who jump on trending absolutes will neither listen nor engage in a courteous, informative exchange of ideas, because they’ll rush to prop up wobbly egos with pseudo-knowledge. They’ll just try to browbeat you into feeling you’re wrong, though that may not be their conscious motivation, bless them. Wasting your time in a verbal entanglement amounts to letting someone’s pseudo-truth get the better of you. Your time is sacred.

Yet if she had been honestly interested, and merely misinformed about whether traditional witchcraft existed, I might have discussed my family.

Important aside: Though I avoided an argument at the dinner party, I admit my record’s not perfect with that sort of thing. Luckily, seeing how it depleted and upset me helps me not repeat the mistake any more. A hard won lesson, but one that frees me from other people’s opinionated insistences.

This blog is long but the following feels vital. Another example of discretion and silence:

(Please note, I’m going to use traditional witchery as an example in this essay again. That’s a coincidence. The examples have no relation. So don’t think you need to connect the dots between examples.)

More than once, a segment of the Pagan community inflated their position to one of dominance by stating “superior” pseudo-truths, and I could have deflated their posturing by disclosing a bit of traditional witchcraft’s sacred lore.

I stayed mute about the lore. I was blessed to have received it, so would not disclose it merely to prove a point to people who would not have viewed it as precious information but who would have pawed it.

They’d have greedily grabbed at it as mere words—exploited it as verbal fodder they could parrot to appear in-the-know and first string. (Heh, at least I got to feel smug about keeping my mouth shut. … Ok, I admit, feeling superior wasn’t good for me.)

Had I said anything authentic, nobody would have cared. The agenda on their table was to show how important and “wise” you were. That was not an agenda I wanted to be part of, even though telling them traditional material would’ve moved me to the top of the food chain. But climbing up would have actually, as the old expression goes, dragged me down to their level. … Goddess, I was tempted anyway. … Maybe smugness about my silence was my solace.

My story about being silent is relevant to discretion stopping fake truths from derailing your personal hard-won beliefs, in the following ways:

Opening my mouth would have been my ego reacting to theirs, as well as meeting their attempt to move up in a hierarchy with a similar attempt of my own. Both of those would have betrayed my personal belief in not living in ego or falling prey to power struggles.

It also would have wasted my time and life force, instead of me going about my merry business, living happily according to my own ecstatic truths.

Responding to someone’s power play with one of our own can be incredibly tempting, but also incredibly damaging to ourselves. Ego-driven magic and power-hungry grabs put someone on the slippery slope of chasing chimera more and more, less and less living joyously in the beautiful world the Goddess created for us.

Had I shared the lore for the purposes of my ego, I also would have debased that material. Reduced to mere words in order to feed my ego, the power of that beautiful material would’ve been lost to me, crumbled into dust like Faerie gold.

There’s one more way someone’s pseudo-truth would’ve gotten the better of me if I’d blabbed sacred knowledge for the sake of ego and dominance. I would’ve betrayed my following personal truth: I hold my religion sacred by only using it for honorable purposes. To do otherwise, I would truly have failed navigating the rocky seas of community-enforced pseudo-truths and sunk to the depths.

When magic and spirituality become tools to create unhealthy hierarchy—aka dominate others—they go sour. So does the spirit of the practitioner in question. His soiled shamanic path is handed down to his students, its very essence feeding their worst aspects, perhaps subtly but thoroughly. A nightmare for the community.

When magic and spirituality remain tools to serve, in respect for our differences, those tools become more powerful and capable. So do our spirits. Free of contentious opinions and excess verbiage, our innate magic fills each day, often silently. We become blessed by—and a blessing for—community.

I hope some of my above opinions are useful to you.

I teach traditional craft. My Gods bless me with wise students: They are wise in so many ways, but one is that we all respect each other. Honoring our differing views as assets allows each of us to uniquely contribute to the group’s magic and well-being. This in turn allows each of us to benefit from all the participants’ strengths.

If you’d like to join us, I teach mostly via group phone calls—aka teleseminars. Subscribe to my free newsletter, which tells you about upcoming classes: http://www.well.com/user/zthirdrd/InfoForm.htm

Have a magical day.

Goddess Womb Dreamcatcher

GdsWmbDC1S The only lore I’ve read about dreamcatchers is specific to dreams and nightmares. I sensed a deeper layer about visions—and an even deeper layer about the Goddess. To convey everything I channeled, I crafted a poem and a sculpture. I call them both “Goddess Womb Dreamcatcher.”

The poem and sculpture also convey my thanksgiving to Goddess.

To make the sculpture, I felted wool into organic shapes like leaves, vines, flowers, and a feather. I attached the shapes to a V-shaped stick, so the Dreamcatcher would be reminiscent of a woman’s reproductive system.

The poem is below, but first a detail of the Dreamcatcher: the wool sculpted feather.

GdsWmbDC2S

Shout out to the folks at Living Felt, where I purchase my wool: they sell quality felting supplies, created without cruelty to sheep, and provide exceptional customer service.

OK, this is the poem, (prayer, affirmation, contemplation, story, brilliant insights, brilliant application of said insights, visualization, ritual, etc.,):

Goddess Womb Dreamcatcher

All visions spring from the Goddess’ belly.
They travel down
until they meet a feather,
then tumble from between Her legs,
onto my mind.

I give thanks.

My mind is a womb upside down, though my mind is right side up.
My womb is a mind upside down, though my womb is right side up.
I am whole if I live in paradox.

I give thanks.

All life is woven within Her womb.
She’s the spinner who spun Herself into being.
I offer the life and art I weave to Her.

I give thanks.

NesltrSqTShe is the dreamer and the dream.
There is no Dreamcatcher but Her.
I send Her my dreams as an offering.

I give thanks.

The Goddess protects me—
captures both nightmares and sweet dreams,
taking them into Herself,
then birthing only the beauty
into my waking day.

I give thanks.

Yes, She’s Nightmare as well
—cackling menace in my powerless hours,
which are both sleeping and waking.
Even in those times, She holds all creation
—including the whole of me—
as the weaving of life that’s safe in Her womb.

I give thanks.

She bestows on me Her complete Self:
all creation and all beyond creation.
My ideal: give Her no less of myself,
offer my entirety
to Her and Her dreams.

I give thanks.

NwsltrOrTr

Druid (Elven) Chant

Yule14BlackThis is a seasonal chant. It can be used not only for the Winter Solstice, but also for winter months subsequent to Yule.

If you recite it, please tell me what happens. Walking through falling snow, I channeled this poem. When the Goddess gave me a line, I chanted it immediately, while continuing my passage beneath a gray snowy sky. The experience was a gift from the Goddess, and doubly joyful when, reaching home, I managed to get a version of it in writing, because now I can share it with you, my fellow seeker (as well as use it again myself). Sharing our journeys blesses me utterly. So it would be wonderful to know your experience with this chant.

And, by the way, it works perfectly well without the snow storm, LOL. You do not need falling snow to use this chant.

Druid (Elven) Winter Solstice Chant
Francesca De Grandis, 2014

With the falling snow,
stars plummet to ground.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

I, elf, know my losses.
I, elf, know my losses.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

I, elf, know my pains.
I, elf, know my pains.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

I, elf, am not trapped by any sorrow.
I, elf, am not destined to mythic melancholy
or an inevitable tragedy of erroneous lore.

Yule25BlackAaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

Stars descend with the falling snow.
The chill and the heat bless me.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

All the power of the stars is mine.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

My powers are from the dark Mother Goddess.
My powers are from the blazing newborn King.
My powers are from the earth’s molten core.
My powers are from the fiery silver stars.
My powers are from the Dragon flame—all cauldron fires are mine.

By my powers, I easily manifest utter connection to my Gods.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

weebossideBy my powers, I easily manifest self.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

By my powers, I easily manifest beauty.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

By my powers, I easily manifest self-love.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

By my powers, I easily manifest usefulness to others.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

By my powers, I easily manifest peace.

Yule29BlackAaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

By my powers, I easily manifest fun.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

By my powers, I easily manifest happiness.

By my powers, I easily manifest wealth.

By my powers, I easily manifest health.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

I easily manifest connection to all my self.

I easily manifest connection to all things.

I easily manifest integration within myself.

I easily manifest integration within the World Tree.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

I easily manifest Faerie.

Aaaaahhhhhhhh.
Wooooooooooo.
Aaaaahhhhhhhh.
Wooooooooooo.

Om.
Om.
Om.

purchsbanr2

Ostara Art Eggs

PaintedEgg1Ostara Art Eggs
My Spring Equinox Altar

What is going to be on your Ostara altar? Sharing our altar journeys with each other unites our spirits—it is a way we can celebrate Sabbats together long-distance.

In my case, preparing an Ostara altar this year involved art work.

Let’s start with the Ostara pendant I made, to the right. … Um, okay, it is jewelry, not an altar piece. … But I myself can be an Ostara altar!

I love ornamented eggs, but didn’t think I’d have time to make Ostara eggs this year.

imageThen, I couldn’t resist when I found tiny egg-shaped unfinished wood beads. I’d been looking for them forever. These are 7/8.” See photo to the right.

PaintedEgg2
They are tiny—I love tiny.

I painted one green and the other purple.

Then I ornamented them with various Jones Tones foils.

Next, I coated them with a protective clear finish.

I made each into a pendant by putting it on a jewelry pin, along with other with beautiful little beads. Joking aside about being an altar, I adorn myself in praise of my Gods.

PaitendEgg1AI think some of the wee beads are Swarovski crystals but am not sure because I upcycle a lot, so do not always know what I am using.

Whatever they are, they sparkle, and this faerie loves sparkly things.

Below is another piece that will be on my altar:

Ostara Egg Cosmic Egg—Abundance and Chaos Meditation. If you would like this on your altar, click on it to go to my shop.

Ostara Egg Cosmic Egg—Abundance and Chaos Meditation. If you would like this on your altar, click on it to go to my shop.

When I thought to myself that I’d have no time to decorate eggs, I’d forgotten that I’d already painted the above Celtic knot work talisman, probably in January. Do you ever get so caught up in creating that you forget what you have created? Let me know, please. I made this during a painting binge. Later I channeled material about it, which you can read at http://etsy.me/1pyFsvf

Traditional lore tells us that the cosmic egg explodes into chaos at spring equinox, creating the cosmos.

More knotwork: I painted this Birthing Goddess in 2013, probably during the winter. So this is the first spring equinox I can have Her on my altar.

If you would like this Goddess image on your altar, click on it to go to my shop. There, you will also find an essay I wrote, because painting Her brought up a lot for me.

If you would like this Goddess image on your altar, click on it to go to my shop. There, you will also find an essay I wrote, because painting Her brought up a lot for me.

She has the cosmic egg in Her belly. BirthingGoddessDetailWOB

My altar will also hold other pieces of my art, plus ritual objects I’ve acquired over the years—including other people’s art, such as a beautifully crafted wand, and a well-made blade. Art takes many forms.

I only speak for myself when I say that placing my and other people’s art on an altar feeds my pagan heart and imbues my Sabbats celebrations with power.

What is going to be on your altar? Is there a story about creating or acquiring those pieces? Sharing our altar plans and altar stories can be an actual joint celebration of the rituals done at our respective altars.

Hiding, Healing, Power. Pt 3

Dear site visitor, I want you to see the Faerie tale illustrations at their best. When WordPress shrinks a pic to fit the page, it blurs. Please click on a painting to see it unblurred; it makes a real difference.

 

 

 

Hiding, Healing, Power. Part Three
Written and painted in March and/or early April, 2012.

Part one: http://stardrenched.com/2012/06/13/hiding-healing-power/
Part two: http://stardrenched.com/2012/06/27/hiding-healing-power-pt-2/ 

Part Three
When she grew up, something else wonderful happened. That little girl grew up to be Goddess Diana—Great Mother, Light-Bearer.

Faerie art, Francesca De Grandis

Diana, Great Mother Goddess. Available as a limited first edition print. For more info, click on the picture.

A child became a deity, yes. Yes, she did. Let yourself hide.

Hiding is not always about shame or fear. It might be a time of preparation or privacy, a time of beauty or empowerment, a time of nurturance or growth.
 
Faerie art, Francesca De GrandisHiding can be motivated by discretion.

A hiding child became a deity, a bearer of light, a light held high. The woman no longer hiding.
 
That little girl was always god. But she needed discretion to find it.

Diana lived with her cat who was secretly a Faerie. (See Aradia, Gospel of the Witches, for lore about Diana and her Fey Cat.)

The woman, the Goddess, hung a welcome sign on her front door. People came to see her. (Mind you, she still hid a lot of the time, and we will get to that in a moment.) She healed people with her light. Or tickled them with it. She used her light to guide others to their own shiny brilliance and to that of the Gods.

Here is the welcome sign she hung up. Faerie art, Francesca De Grandis
Faerie art, Francesca De GrandisDiana is Goddess of Witches. This warm, protective deity has given me tremendous solace and healing many times over the years.

Often, her visitors hid with her. That was fun.

And sometimes—often, in fact—she still hid all by herself. Well, her cat was with her. As were other gods. They are always nearby.

Tucked in her home, she traveled to wonderful places.

Faerie art, Francesca De GrandisHer visitors went on great adventures with her, traveling between the stars.

Faerie art, Francesca De Grandis

Where You and Diana Go if You Visit Her. Available as a limited first edition print. For more info, click on the picture.

 When someone is hiding, I look twice to find the god. The end.

Faerie art, Francesca De Grandis

Storyteller (the author, self-portrait). Available as a limited first edition print. For more info, click on the picture

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