D is for Diet

So, going backwards, this is the D post that was supposed to happen last Friday…

Diet.

I wish to make a confession. I’ve somehow become a food fundamentalist. It goes beyond enthusiasm, to borderline fascism. I am working to step back from the edge of extremism, taking a more moderate Buddhist approach to hospitality, practicing a radical acceptance of what is offered to me, in order to preserve my relationships and my sanity. A fundamental part of my pagan path is the endeavor to live in right relationship with the Earth. My own practice of this belief has led me to obsessive label-reading when it comes to purchasing a new product. I pursue research on to what degree corporations consider environmental effects of what they produce. I avoid high fructose corn syrup and fast food like the plague (and all other fake food, for that matter). It started with being pescetarian through college, moving toward being an omnivore but eating only grass fed, free range meat, to phasing out as much canned food as reasonable and buying as much dried food in bulk as possible, eliminating the white foods (white flour, refined sugar, white rice). Still, I want to do more. I want to someday eliminate plastics from my diet, transition to getting most of my food from the land I live on, and teach other people how to move toward a more sustainable lifestyle, for themselves. To reach others, I have to keep working on being approachable, and avoid conveying to others that what they’re doing isn’t working – it all works, to some extent, but I feel beholden to the law, ‘Do No Harm’ when it comes to my choices of food. Some harm is inevitable, of course: life feeds on life, as the great philosopher M.J. Keenan once growled (see “Cry of the Carrots”). For me, a lot of doing no harm is avoiding unnecessary suffering in the process of going about life.

This ongoing transition is huge for me, considering the place from whence I started. In high school I guzzled Dr. Pepper and inhaled Doritos (mmm, MSG) with all the other teens (wondering why I had such low energy levels and couldn’t think straight in chemistry class). Over the course of the dozen years that I have claimed the Pagan Path, I’ve undergone a transformation in consciousness that has also worked to shift my habits, step by step.

I am a cradle environmentalist, not because my parents were hippies, but because as a child, I witnessed oil spills, toxic dumping, and deforestation (and maybe watched too many episodes of Captain Planet); these events horrified me. I knew even at that early age, that the things we did to the planet, we did to ourselves. These global events, plus my exposure early on to the Cherokee world view, shaped the rest of my life path. My biological family (with a few exceptions) generally practice habits that are not in alignment with my present values. Growing up, we ate a lot of canned food (my parents have shifted to eating mostly frozen food that’s still pre-cooked and possibly worse in terms of health consequences). My grandmother baked exclusively with white flour and white sugar (I didn’t learn the difference between refined grains and whole grains until a middle school science class). I remember eating a whole Big Mac to myself at age 5. I would avoid eating vegetables, opting instead for fortified cereal (except on the rare occasion I could eat out of our neighbor’s vegetable garden). When I embarked on the pagan path, I asked the Goddess to open me up to awareness of my relationship with the Earth; as a consequence, I began to see where the waste was going and where it ended up, and all the waste that went into creating the food I eat, instead of just what was there.

To me, it seems clear that the American/ Western way of life is diametrically opposed to honoring the Earth. As of the year 2000, the average American was eating almost 200 pounds of meat per year (that’s over 50 pounds more than what we ate in 1950, the steak and potatoes era!). Also in 2000, we ate almost 30 statistical pounds of cheese per man, woman, and child, and just over 85 pounds of corn-based sweeteners. Needless to say, these dietary habits are unprecedented by the rest of the world. In 2010, we consumed 31 million tons of plastic waste (12% of overall Municipal Solid Waste). To add insult to injury, we toss out 1/3 of the food that we have available to us.  There is an island of trash forming in the North Pacific because we cannot seem to comprehend the effects of our own waste. I recycle what I can, but feel thwarted when I’m given a gift wrapped in non-recyclable packaging, or buy something only to realize later it contains poison in the form of artificial coloring.

When I first started out a dozen years ago as a baby pagan, I assumed that every pagan was committed to honoring the Earth, and I had strong notions of what that meant. After all, we all ascribe to an Earth-based spiritual path, right? Needless to say, I became jaded with organized paganism in any form for many years, after encountering a group who consumed enough paper and plastic goods to keep up with the rest of our disposable culture, with no talk of change. This happened right out of high school; I became solitary for the next seven years, in part because of not having an example of pagan activism to inspire me to start my own group when I moved to a place with no significant organized pagan presence. I became cynical, thinking that all publically open pagans in my generation were just like the Sunday-Christians of my upbringing (Pagan at the sabbats, could-give-a-crap any other day). It was only when I moved to the San Francisco Bay area and discovered a coven that is openly engaged in activism and community service that I felt able to participate in group ritual again. Over time, I have begun to process a lesson I have known intellectually for a very long time: everyone is on their own healing and growing path. We all have to start somewhere, and just because a person seems lackadaisical about something on the surface, doesn’t mean they are guilt-free about their lifestyle choices underneath.

It’s emotionally difficult for me to hear people give credence to Earth-based spirituality, only to find out they make little or no conscious effort to eliminate fake foods and unnecessary waste from their diet, choosing to eat fast food because it’s convenient and guzzle soda because they ‘need the caffeine,’ with no regard to the harm they are doing to their bodies or the planet. I’ve had to work a lot on my tendencies to be sanctimonious or zealous, and I still have a lot of work to do in that department. It’s not very endearing of me to people if I give them harsh criticism, or if I cause them to feel like what they are doing ‘isn’t good enough.’ I am striving for what E.O. Wilson calls ‘dynamic disequilibrium’ (which sounds a lot like the D/Lakota concept of the Red Road – allowing good and bad to exist as they appear in your world, and not trying to veer too far in one direction or another, thus maintaining travel upon the Red Road). At the end of the day, my methods of self expression are my own, so I can’t own other people’s opinions of me, either. I can only work on walking the Red Road.

Over time, I have become rather strict with myself about what enters the Temple of My Body. I’ve encountered a need to cultivate ease and relaxation around people who are uninformed about their unhealthy diets (you would be surprised at how many of you who try to make healthy choices are really eating fake foods, or the widespread unawareness of how plastic leeches into food), rather than being judgmental of others’ choices. That said, I feel like this blog is an appropriate space to encourage people to engage in some self examination. Take a minute to calculate your carbon footprint. How could it be smaller? How much plastic do you consume? Break it down into small steps. Make more things yourself. Slow down in life. Consider your purchases – do you really need it, or just want it? Is it the most sustainable option available to you? Can you make it yourself? What do you feel you can’t live without? Are those things necessary, or are you just addicted? Be honest. Make your own private list. No one else is looking. Give yourself love and forgiveness for your transgressions against Mother Earth. Remember that just because you have everlasting love from Her, is no excuse to continue in complacency on your path of self indulgence and wastefulness.

Remember also that corporations have no other motive than to make money, and you cannot trust what they say at face value. Ask the Goddess to reveal Her Truth to you, and do your own research. 

Sources:

http://www.usda.gov/factbook/chapter2.pdf

http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/plastics.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_Garbage_Patch

http://www.rosenlake.net/er/Lugenbehl.html

http://www.realfooduniversity.com/paleoprimal-lifestyle-sustainable-meat-production/

http://blog.friendseat.com/food-waste-study-worldwide

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D is for Deity/Divinity/Diversity

Yes, I’m still participating in the Pagan Blog Project; I have some catching up to do on my second “C” and first “D” posts, but I decided to post the current week and catch up later.

Deity, Divinity.

The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.

­-Lao Tzu

All gods are one god, and all goddesses are one goddess, and there is one initiator.

-Dion Fortune

I thought at first this would be an easy article to write: after all, I have a direct, personal relationship with many Deities, as well as the Universal Divine Principle (well, as personal a relationship as can be had, I guess). I believe that we all carry our own inherent, non-negotiable Divinity, through which we can perform magickal miracles, healing, divination, and other divine acts of compassion. I seek to celebrate all the diverse practices that honor the Divine/s. There are so many diverse views on the Gods and Goddesses, that it’s hard not to draw comparisons between different beliefs and point out ways in which I agree or disagree with those perspectives. I’ll try to stick with explaining my own beliefs and practices rather than making comparisons that risk sounding like I think others’ beliefs are wrong (’cause that’s just not true; I simply don’t share everyone else’s beliefs. That’s the point of diversity in paganism, after all, right?). I believe in the concept of Maya (reality as illusion). At the end of the day, I feel that everything we think we know is merely belief, and that we can truly know nothing for certain except what our own experiences tell us. You know?

The two quotes that open this article pretty much summarize my feelings of Deity; but as the Divine Principle is one, so is all of existence. We are all each other, on some level. We all break down to the same parts. To me, this idea does not negate the reality of each individual found within the community of Divine Beings. We are still unique, diverse, our own beings. To me, it is simply a reminder. We are all one. Everything that exists outside us, in the universe, exists within Us. There is no “them.” There is no external threat. We have no enemies. We are all together in this grand Spiral Dance of life, death, and rebirth.

I was raised in a rather evangelical Christian church that asserted that God was singular in His divinity, that we were wholly separate beings, as His creations, even though His Spirit (which, since it was a Trinitarian church, the Spirit was the same as God) resided within us (but that didn’t make us God). One Sunday when I was about ten, after an evening service where we had heard a sermon about how God is in everything, I turned to my mother and said, “So, we’re all God’s children, right? Every person who has ever lived?” My mother affirmed that statement, so I continued with, “Since we’re all made by God and God reaches out to us all, every god and goddess that has ever been worshipped, couldn’t they just all be expressions of God, and those people just didn’t know it?”

My mother laid a hand on my shoulder, and gave me a cold look. “No, Faye, that’s impossible, and you shouldn’t say things like that in church.” I feel blessed to have preserved this memory throughout all my other trials as a Child of Earth born into patriarchy.

Her statement left me feeling confused, wounding me and leaving a scab that I would keep picking at for seven years until I discovered the idea of Pantheism, that everything is divine, and Animism, that asserts that everything has its own spirit. I identified with those concepts as soon as I read about them.

Over the years, I have identified my ultimate spiritual goal. As believed by many Eastern Mystic and indigenous peoples traditions, I desire ultimately to reunite with the Universal Divine Principle that originates all life. To unify with that principle I must reach some kind of understanding of it, peace with it: I guess you could call it a personal Samadhi.

I work with deities for the same reason that I keep friendships. I can’t know the whole of the Universe without knowing and relating to its many facets. It occurred to me through a helpful friend that Deities are on their own learning and growing path; they are not infallible, they have not reached the ‘end of the road’ so to speak. They are also seeking Unification with the Divine Principle. My experiences have informed me that the deities of Compassion have reached Unification and have stayed behind to help others do the same.

Deities need us, just as we need them. Yes, they are the forces behind Nature, but they also need us to be their hands in the world, to be their voice, to enact their Love to others in the World. I have come across obscure deities over time, and they seem to have lost their strength of identity over the aeons, fading into oneness with the raw forces of nature they represent. Some cling to their identity with anger at being ignored for too long, craving the power of worship to restore their strength. I do not feel that the Deities made us in Their image to worship them, but that they sprang forth from the Divine Principle, and we sprang forth from them, and as we took on our human form, so they formed with us, and became the Named Beings we knew then, and know today. Kind of how, when we have children, they are in our image, but not because we willed that into being. There is always an element of chance that mixes up the DNA. As our children grow, we in turn are shaped by our interactions with them. This is how I have seen it happen with Deities. They are our Divine Parents in the sense that they ushered us forth into being, but they are not the grand orchestrators of the minutiae of our existence.

If you strongly disagree with this idea, that Deities need us as we need them, try asking your primary Goddess or God what their ultimate goal is, and with an open heart and open mind, try to really dig with them to get to the roots of their Desire. They just might surprise you.

You are Goddess.

You are God.

I am Goddess.

I am God.

We are Goddess.

We are God.

Blessed be.

I’ve Been Tagged!

The Domestic Pagan tagged me what feels like aeons ago, but I finally answered the questions and created my own!

The rules are:

1. Post the rules.

2. You must post 11 random things about yourself.

3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post.

4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.

5. Go to their blog and tell them that you tagged them.

6. No stuff in the tagging section about “you are tagged if you are reading this. You have to legitimately have to tag 11 people.

(Rules 7-11 didn’t previously exist, but I thought that since everything is based on 11’s, that should be the number of rules, too!~FMC)

7. Take at least one deep breath every day.

8. Remember that nothing is really solid because space exists between atoms and sub-atomic particles.

9. Remember you are Divine.

10. Drink plenty of water, every day.

11. Nourish your body, to the best of your ability.

11 Random Things About Me

1. I practice yoga and meditation (passive and active); I am always seeking more knowledge of traditional chants and mantras from around the world.

2. I resonate most with the elements air and water (go figure: my sun’s in Libra, moon’s in Aquarius, and my ascendant is Cancer-so go figure).

3. I have passed two kidney stones, an experience which had long term effects on how I see my body, for the better. Now I follow Susun S. Weed’s Seven Rivers of Healing as a guide for healing myself. It’s opened my health up to miraculous healing.

4. I work with deities (including Jesus), nature spirits, fey folk, angelic forces, and whoever else is helpful and constructive and willing to work with me, including the occasional demon (yep, Jesus knows about that, too).

5. I am discerning whether or not it is on my path to become a certified root worker through Cat Yronwode’s correspondence class. It seems intense, but definitely worth it. The big question is whether this course is the right thing for me, in the near future.  I’m lucky to have a personal account of how the work progressed, written by Doc Greywolf, that outlines many challenges and points of preparedness on his path (the curriculum is NOT reproduced here; if you’re interested in more info about the course, go to Cat Yronwode’s site).

6. I run my own business as a Tarot reader: Real Life Intuition. I have worked for a Psychic hotline (it was okay, but I would be hesitant to call one, knowing that the requirements stress quota over skill).

7. I am interested in living from the land and being in a community as self-sustaining as possible (in terms of being able to meet its own needs through cooperation with others as opposed to participating in the naturally exploitive system of capitalism/corporatism), in alignment with my goal to live in right relationship with the Earth.

8. I believe that everything happens for a reason. Not some “Divine Plan,” or anything, just that – we seem to have the experiences that we need for us at the time. The more we consciously acknowledge and ask for the things we need, the more likely it will be for us to draw it to ourselves.

9. I first became interested in Tarot as a means by which to contact spirits (of all kinds). I don’t speak of that side of my work very much because people tend to think I’m crazy.

10. People say they love me for my authenticity. People say they dislike me because of the manner in which I express my opinions.

11. I am consistently working to expand my own world view. Because of this, I tend to judge how well I like other people based on how flexible their world view is. Sometimes, I don’t check my tongue and come across as judgmental (my Sun in Libra is conjunct Mercury: I’m a bit too eager to loudly declare what I do and do not think is fair).

11 Questions Asked by Domestic Pagan

1. What is the defining moment of your life? Camping outside with friends and family, howling at the moon.

2. What song could you listen to over and over? Hyperballad, by Bjork.

3. What was the first music album that you ever owned? I don’t remember my first tape, but the first albums I purchased for myself were No Need to Argue by the Cranberries, and Smashing Pumpkins’ single, Perfect (bought at the same time). The first two vinyl record albums I ever bought were Days of Future Past (Moody Blues) and Let it Be (The Beatles) (I also bought them together).

4. Where is your favorite place in the world? Out in the wilderness. Preferably somewhere around here:

5. What is your dream car? An invisible hover craft that is powered by unicorn-poop (since we’re speaking of dreams).

6. Do you have any unusual talents or skills? I can astral project, or enter trance visualization, almost at will. This has the disadvantage of causing me to be a little disconnected from the mundane world at times. I’m working on that with lots of grounding.

7. What is your earliest memory? Sitting in my baby carrier underneath a Christmas tree (my first Christmas), feeling frustrated that I couldn’t reach the ornament closest to me.

8. If you were the opposite sex for a day, what would you do? The three really obvious things: masturbate, pee standing up, and… you can guess where this is going. Plus, I would dress up in my best David Bowie garb. 😉

9. If you could have any superpower, what would you choose and why? Shape shifting, so I could disguise myself as world leaders and power brokers to instigate world peace.

10. Why do you blog? I really just have to get it out of my system, sometimes. I wish to document my life, and blogging is easy to share.

11. Sum up your life using only 6 words: Mystifying creative musical walker between worlds.

My Eleven Questions for You:

1. What gem/semi-precious stone/crystal would you be, and why (if you’re stumped, try talking about what crystal/semi-precious stone/gem you most resonate with)?

2. If you could be a god/dess from any pantheon for a day, who would you choose to be?

3. Which of the four elements do you have the strongest affinity with, and why?

4. What deity are you working with this year that you haven’t before?

5. If you could rewind ten years and tell your Younger Self any one thing, what would it be?

6. As the deity you mentioned in your answer to question #2, what would you do with all your power for that day?

7. Which subject would you teach if you were an instructor at Hogwarts (if you’re unfamiliar, you can create your own subject to teach at a school of witchcraft and wizardry)?

8. What is your favorite book about paganism, magick, and/or witchcraft?

9. Do you work with divination? If so, how did you first discover it?

10. What is your favorite affirmation?

11. If you could go back and have a debate with any historical person, who would you choose and what would you debate with them about?

My 11 Tagged Bloggers (I’m borrowing Domestic Pagan’s technique of listing everyone, here)- if you wish not to have been tagged, message me and I can remove you. There’s no repercussion for turning this down. There’s no deadline on this, by the way, either. Please tag me in a comment when you complete this, so I can look at your 11 random things and your questions (please, no tags back!).

1. Because It’s Kismet

2. Way of the Rabbit

3. The Wilde Garden

4. Ladybug’s Adventures

5. Lorelei Moon Willow

6. Confessions of a Kitchen Witch

7. Witch Blog

8. The WishBringer

9. Quirky Knit Girl

10. Dreams From the West Wind

11. The Chaos Witch

C is for Creation Stories

Something I love about paganism: it is ancient and new all at once. We reconnect with our ancestors in very meaningful ways. For the people who wish to recreate the Ancient Ways down to the last detail, rituals can become bound by the limited knowledge available. My favorite reconstructionists embrace imagination, using ancient folk songs and circle dances, alongside spontaneously created acts of reverence, to make magick and loosen the bonds of limited information.

It is said by the masters, that Magick is simply powerfully focused imagination. Magick is a personal encounter with the power of our Selves to create something out of nothing. Artists of all sorts tend to be more intuitive than average because they engage in magical exercises without calling them such. Over time, we have created and collected stories, in the veins of culture, passed down from mouth-to-mind over countless generations. We told stories about everything: why the seasons change; why the rains fall; why animals have certain relationships with each other; why creatures have different attributes (ex., “How the Monkey Got His Tail”). Our imaginings paved the way for deeper understanding. We would not have complex scientific systems of theory without having sung the first ballad, created and recited the first Edda, or told the first fable. Throughout time, these stories wove a web of connections to the center of being. At the heart of this web grew the Creation Story.

The archetypal Creation Story is now a patchwork of countless cultures and tribes, some long forgotten, others more prominently known. The interwoven vines of our great ancestral Tree of Lore traces the lineage of our observational relationship with the world around us. My favorite stories are modern retellings of ancient stories that feature egalitarian relationships between God and Goddess. In my personal research, I have encountered many myths that seem to have been retold at one point by a male conqueror. I find that these stories hinder my relationship with the Deities I am trying to contact. (I would be curious to know how other people feel about those stories, whether anyone else wants to re-interpret classical Greek myth so that Zeus and Hera no longer hate each other, and so on…).

In January, I gave a talk at Skyview High school on Witchcraft, Wicca, and Paganism, and read a creation story called “The Goddess Dances the World Awake” as told by Starhawk in Circle Round. I think I can post it here, since I’m giving her the credit – you can find more from all three of the authors of Circle Round at (http://www.starhawk.org/writings/circleexcerpt.html)

The Goddess Dances the World Awake: A Creation Story
retold by Starhawk

Long ago, before anything was, the Goddess awoke alone in the vast dark and emptiness. She had as yet no name and no form, but she felt an urge to move. She stretched, she rocked, she began to dance. Whirling and twirling, she wheeled and spiraled through space.

Her dance set in motion a great wind that followed her, playing catch, trying to caress her. The Goddess danced with the wind, and the wind took form, becoming the God in the shape of a great serpent, Ophion. Ophion wrapped his coils around the Goddess, trying to become one with her, loving her with all his being.

Suddenly the Goddess felt something stirring inside her, as if her dance had come alive. Something wanted to be born. She reached out, and her arms became wings. As a giant dove, she flew aloft while Ophion coiled himself into a nest for her. She settled onto his back and laid a huge, huge egg.

Ophion guarded the egg, sheltering it from below as the Goddess brooded it from above. At last the egg cracked open and the whole universe fell out–suns and stars and galaxies, planets and moons and the green living earth, all spiraling and spinning, whirling and twirling through space in the Goddess’s dance.

So that’s how the world came to be. And the whole universe is still spiraling and spinning, whirling and twirling to this very day, in the dance of life!

Links to Creation Stories from Around the World

The University of Georgia, Department of Geology has this helpful index of creation myths from a slew of worldwide traditions: http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/CS/CSIndex.html

Hopi Creation Story: http://www.bigorrin.org/archive97.htm

I just found this site, but I like what I have read, so far: http://www.mother-god.com/matriarchal-history.html

What is your favorite Creation Story?