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.

Two Prayers for the Sacred Marketplace

This is a follow up to last week’s blog.

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I wrote this prayer to help me be the best possible merchant of sacred goods and services. I never say it unless I follow it with “Merchant Prayer to Oxala,” which is below. Context for both prayers are in last week’s blog. But first, the prayer above, in case you cannot see it in its graphic:

Hermes, Mercury, Exu, open the road and gate to my profession today, that I may serve. Open the road and gate within my heart today, that I may serve. Open the road and gate, today, for the person whose needs and goals are well met by my particular shamanic skill set. Guide my day in the divine marketplace, today. Help me be a sacred merchant, today. Help me try and try and try, today, for to be a professional shaman who is well-serving community means to ever be resurrected, both in my private life and daily in my commitment to the market place.

I, personally, almost never pray to Exu without prayer to Oxala. So I wrote an Oxala prayer to say after my Exu merchant prayer. You might recognize phrases and concepts from my past writing, because I’m committed to refining, building on, and expanding on my spirituality. The version of the prayer in the graphic is a briefer version than the text below it:
OXlaPryr1

Merchant Prayer to Oxala

Oxala, please,
help me surrender to you.
Help me surrender to you.
Help me surrender to you.

Oxala, please,
help me know in my cells, each moment, that surrender to you is power and peace.
Help me know in my cells, each moment, that surrender to you is power and peace.
Help me know in my cells, each moment, that surrender to you is power and peace.

Please, clear the roads of obstructions.
Clear the roads of enemies.
Clear the roads.

Please, smooth the roads,
making my passage easy to travel.

Please, help me know in my cells, each moment, that surrendering to you allows me your smooth easy roads along which I can travel in power, peace, and success.

Oxala, you made all creation. Please help me know in my cells, each moment, that, surrendering to you, your power of creation is mine.

Grant me the wisdom that, no matter what I ask you for, I accept the moment I am in—the moment you actually send me—and know it, in my cells, as ideal.

Grant me peace.

———————
Here’s a description of my shamanic counseling sessions, and you can schedule online: http://www.outlawbunny.com/pastoral-counseling/

The Ecstatic Path, Serving Community, & False Ego

The Ecstatic Path, Serving Community, and False Ego
A few thoughts, May Day, 2012

Detail, Root Woman, Digital Art, OutlawBunny.

The occult shop I worked in during the 80s had lockers out back, behind the building. Our customers would buy candles, which we would dress (for example, anoint with magical oils), bless, and then burn in the lockers. Some customers requested prosperity blessings, some asked for healing, some for other things.
 
It was such an odd priesthood by some standards, if not utterly dismissed and invalidated. The bunch of grungy lockers with wax dripping all over them was part of something many would consider hokey, outright ridiculous. But it was the real deal—powerful magic, and of service to community.
 
Priesthood (ministry, call it what you will) takes many sincere forms. Some have more prestige than others. But whether one receives a lot of acclaim or none at all, the Gods know when the heart is filled with juicy desire to serve. And this desire fuels our joy constantly. And the Gods bless such a heart. And the Gods know when, instead, the heart is heavily burdened, made sad by a self-deceiving ego-drive to be at the top of the heap. And the Gods bless this heart, too.

Root Woman, OutlawBunny. If you’re interested in a print of this picture, click on it to go to my Talismanic Art Bazaar.

There is no heap. There is only the joyous dance of life and the chance to serve within it. May all we humans learn at deeper and deeper levels to dive into life fully, not mistaking titles and pomp for ecstasy and caring. And may we always know that ecstasy and caring go hand in hand, like lovers. 

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With its recent relaunch, this site is now split between three servers. (I know there are other options, it’s a long and grassroots story.)

http://www.stardrenched.com is mostly for the site’s blog, events announcements, and new additions to the site’s Grimoire. 

Clicking anywhere on the above nav bar, except blog, brings you to the site’s original domain. Among other things, it has all Grimoire entries prior to 2012.

Way back, there wasn’t space for everything (this site is ancient), so some side pages got put on feri.com 

This blog explains it a bit more.

I recently announced the “revitalized site” as “launched” but it’ll take months, maybe  years, to polish the new look, finish updating text, etc. 

I continue to blog at my other site. Two blogs with two separate RRS feeds. Welcome, old visitors and new!