Sunday, October 26, 2014

Singing to the Sea

Rippling sands shine
Framing a network of pools
Stranded by the tide
-JAN 2014
This weekend I've been blessed to enjoy a mini-retreat at the beach. I had no agenda, no obligations, no plan. This has turned out to be a beautiful thing for me. The year has been long, and  large life changes and emotional upsets have accompanied the many blessings and joys.

I have offered my respect and prayers to Poseidon and Aphrodite. I thanked Them for hosting me at their shore and asked them to be kind. I have sung to the sea, meditated on the sand, practiced yoga and simply soaked in the healing power of the ocean.

It may be that I get to visit the sea more often next year. I pray that it is so. Right now my heart is full and my feet are sandy. I feel rested and renewed, with fresh inspiration to share with my students.

Blessed be!

Friday, October 17, 2014

So it Begins

In just a few weeks, my coven will celebrate its first official event, the November full moon.

After a long period of internet inquiries that did not progress past an initial introduction, we've got a couple of prospective members.

Ordinarily, I would think of waiting until they had done some study in the tradition, or until we were more sure that everyone is a good fit. But I've had enough of waiting.

One of my teachers once told me that the only way to get started is to begin.

So we're jumping in. Writing the ritual already and having such a blast. I am so excited!

So mote it be!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

30 Days of Deity Devotion: Day 10


Well, that was a rather long hiatus! Things have been busy. Which is no excuse, yet is the truth of it. Today I'm going to talk about offerings to Artemis that I am developing. As with the rest of the 30 Days of Deity Devotion prompts, I'm not interested in regurgitating information that is already easily available.

But first, let's get a handle on what we're talking about. What is the difference between a prayer, a devotional practice and an offering?

Prayer=Prayer covers all communication between the physical world and the spiritual realm.

Devotion=Devotion is a gift of oneself or one’s activities to the Divine, and one’s willingness to offer oneself to the Divine.

Offering=Similar to devotion in that you are offering a gift to the Deity in question, which could be yourself or an action you take, but what I have read indicates that this is specific to a temple setting. Most of us don't have a temple, so I would say we can expand the definition to include offerings made at an altar specific to the Deity or a ritual specific to the Deity. There is also a tie between offerings and sacrifices. Click through to the link to read more about contemporary sacrificial practices.

So then. We are talking about making an offering to a specific Deity, in my case, Artemis. I hope to one day build a temple to Artemis. Until that day, I'll be making offerings to Her during ritual, during hunts and at my personal altar.

Let's start with the fruits of the hunt. In ancient times, animal offerings were often the carcass. The clergy and worshippers would share the meat while the skin, blood, bones and such were left on the altar for the gods. Often the offering was burnt.

In general, what I have done so far is to dedicate the hunt to Artemis. I have not performed a formal ritual using any physical part of the animal for Her. Perhaps in the future I will do so, and it seems to me that the heart would be an appropriate offering. Practicality is a factor for me - I don't have a way to put a carcass on the altar without things getting messy.

I'm really interested in developing movement-based offerings to Artemis. I have already worked with a devotional Yoga practice for Her. That has been rich and rewarding, and I plan to continue and expand this practice.

For other offerings, what I have in mind is to use the lunisol pattern. For non-food offerings like flowers and incense, we'll wave the item in the lunisol pattern a set number of times before putting it on the altar. My other idea is to inscribe the lunisol shape on the floor or ground, then walk or dance in the pattern a set number of times.

I'm also looking into making two types of ancient cakes as offerings to Artemis. Elaphos were a stag-shaped honey and sesame cake offered at the festival of Elaphebolia. Honey and sesame? Sounds tasty to me! This seems to me to be a good all-purpose food item. The second is the amphiphon, about which I have read conflicting information. Some sources say it was a cheese cake, which I do like. Others talk of it being a cake decorated with torches on both sides. This was used at the full moon in the Greek month of Mounikos. I'm thinking of either making cupcakes with candles, or maybe individual portions of cheesecake. For special occasions, of course. I can't eat cheesecake very often!

Sidebar: it seems to be close to impossible to figure out how the Greek calendar translates to our modern calendar. Anyone who knows the secret, please comment on this post!

Aside from wild game, movement and cakes, we can also offer more general items. Every Deity seems to have a list of sacred plants and whatnot. I'll have to work on this. This is actually an aspect of worship with which I have not yet worked very much. I suppose I ought to ask Her what she wants.

Generally, I feel pushed to offer up my most excellent efforts to Artemis. Normally I feel like being the best person, priestess, hunter, explorer, archer and all-around badass is what she really wants. I've never yet gotten the impression that Artemis is interested in a bunch of frou-frou on an altar somewhere. But you never know, I suppose. I haven't asked!

What say you, internets? What do you offer to Artemis?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Introducing the NC Pagan Elders Council

At the recent Central North Carolina Pagan Pride Day, I hosted a roundtable discussion on Nourishing Healthy Elder Culture. See my previous post for details about the weekend. It was a delight! We had about a dozen attendees, a great turnout for a first time initiative. The biggest need expressed by the group was for connection. This resonated strongly with me, both on a personal level and on the level of my vision for the community.

Connection among the Pagan community at large is vital for our survival and well-being. We are an incredibly diverse group, and many of us are still in the shadows. We don't even know the extent of our faith in many areas. Most groups are small, with limited resources. It is my opinion that every chance we get, we need to participate in alliances and group events. In my local area, the Triangle Area Pagan Alliance is one such organization. Pagan Pride Day is another good example.

Connection between the generations is also an important thing for us to promote as the Pagan community matures. Contemporary Paganism started picking up steam in the mid-20th century, and many of the leaders are now Elders in fact as well as function. Many others are raising families and are moving toward Eldership as well. Meanwhile, young people continue to be drawn toward our path. All of the age groups have needs, and all can help each other. Connecting the generations is the way to coordinate that assistance, as well as support the growth and continuity of our traditions and wider community.

I am pleased to announce the formation of the North Carolina Pagan Elders Council. We will begin small and see where this initiative takes us. I created a secret Facebook group to use as a forum. Next week, I will be attending the Pagan Pride Day planning meeting for the 2015 event. At that meeting, I will be proposing an Elder-led ritual at next year's Pagan Pride Day festival and an official Elders Council.

The Elders Council will be a discussion circle for all the generations to come together and discuss how we can foster healthy multi-generational support in our communities. Everyone will have a chance to speak. We will learn from each other. We will make new connections.

Our roundtable attendees also expressed a desire for celebration, which led to the idea for the Elder-led ritual. I think this is a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate and honor our Elders, as well as to give them visibility in our community. The details of the ritual will be determined by the participants as next year's Pagan Pride Day draws closer.

All are welcome, Elder, Younger and all those in between. If you would like to join us, email me to be added to the Facebook group. If you are outside North Carolina, consider forming your own Elders Council. I'd be happy to discuss and support your efforts. If you are doing this in your community already, please comment on this post or drop me a line. Let's work together to heal the generations and improve the health of our communities!