Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Come to the Goddess Talk

The Pagan Experience - Wk 4- Apr. 29 – Any writing for the letters G or H - I am keeping this familiar format on week 4 for those who have joined me from the Pagan Blog Project.

US citizens are probably familiar with the expression "come to Jesus". For example, if you know a young person who is acting up, you might say "Come here, you and I need to have a come to Jesus". As Pagans, I think we need to have a come to the Goddess chat.

As many of you know, I am both the High Priestess of a shamanistic witchcraft tradition, as well as an interfaith priestess with an interfaith and secular spiritual community. This week, I'm mad as Hades. Not into rants? Don't want to hear a truth? Leave now.

I see the USA becoming a battleground for large corporations, many of whom who are using religion as a polarizing force in their ongoing mission to strip the world of resources and crush the masses beneath their gilded heels.

I see our government, which began in response to religious and political tyranny, teetering between positive cultural change and regressive faith-based policy. We were specifically chartered as a secular government, yet we are still seeing debates about religious laws.

As a nation, we are actively fighting Islamic extremists, and supporters of this war decry their sharia law. Yet they want to institute the same thing here. Legislators and judges are trying to pass laws that say they don't have to do their job if it contradicts their religious beliefs. Their job is to serve the public - ALL OF THE PUBLIC. Any legislation that interferes with this mission is directly and starkly unconstitutional.

Iowa recently did a brave thing in having in having a Wiccan priestess give the invocation to begin a day of legislative work. Rep. Liz Bennett invited the speaker, and she has this to say about religious freedom and our government:

"When we say we believe in religious freedom and we believe in religious liberty, that means that we don't endorse one religion over another as a government," Bennett said. "And in fact, when you look at other countries who do show preference or endorsement for one religion over another, you can see it's not a very good situation. That's something the founders of our nation knew."

The fact that this occurred is a beautiful step forward. It was received respectfully by some, but others chose to turn their back or absent themselves from the proceedings. Others even organized prayer protests at the Capitol building in response. As if the very hearing of words from another faith would somehow besmirch them. As if their religion, which happens to be the majority religion in this case, holds the only truth in the world, and only they have the right to speak in public. I have so many problems with this, but that is truly another post unto itself.

In the midst of all this, we Pagans continue to bicker, exclude and bully. I chatted with a friend this week. It turned into a mutual venting session, which I think that we both really needed at the time. We both are community leaders, and we both are passionate about our need to unite as a community. She shared with me her frustrations about lack of support, gossiping, apathy, and exclusion. I was shocked and saddened. It seems to me that this conflict was about ego and pettiness. It seems that some people would rather be in the limelight and in control, rather than supporting my friend's sincere and altruistic goals for our community as a whole.

Look here, people: we cannot afford the infighting right now. There is no room for your ego here, in this tumultuous age of environmental crisis, political instability and war. We do not have the luxury of wasting our energy on gossip. Our apathy and cynicism is killing almost every attempt to unite and elevate us as a community.

I don't care what path you follow. I don't care what tradition to which you belong. I don't care how much training you have. I don't care how many degrees you have, what garter you wear. I don't care about your pins, your crowns, or your special robes. I don't care what you call yourself.

Ask yourself this one question: am I inside the Big Tent of Paganism? Before you say no, read the article. John Beckett has done a great job of describing what this blanket term means and how it is valuable to all of us: "Druids and Wiccans, Heathens and Hellenists, Thelemites and chaos magicians, shamans and seers, kitchen witches and tree huggers – there’s room for everyone."

So you're in the tent? Congratulations. That makes you part of a controversial minority faith, which honestly, is a dangerous place to be in some parts of the world, including mine. It should not be dangerous to you within the community. I myself have experienced the exclusion, the lack of welcome, the cliques, the judgments, the back-door deals. I've heard stories from so many Pagans over the years, both from newbies and experienced practitioners alike.

Why do we decry the poor behavior of other faiths, yet treat our own community with scorn and derision? Why do we hate being judged, but we ourselves judge our brothers and sisters? Why do we whine about the lack of gathering spaces, but refuse to support those trying to create them? Why do we kvetch about the difficulty of finding groups and resources, but hamstring the attempts of those who wish to unite us?

It has to stop. Right here, right now, with each of us. I wrote a blog post last year about suggestions for good Pagan citizenship. Check it out. Have suggestions of your own? Comment on this post. I truly welcome your feedback and input.

To summarize: be good to each other. Stop the drama, the gossip and the infighting. Show up, speak up and DO SOMETHING NOW. Join your local Pagan Alliance. Go to a local festival or retreat. Fight the apathy and let's make some magic happen!

Remember, we are all in this together, and we are stronger together. I believe in this community. I know we can do this!

With perfect love and perfect trust,

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day!

This is a most beautifully written and powerful statement. As citizens of the Earth, I think that no matter what faith or path we follow, this is the most important work we can do at this point in history. Every day, more and more devastating environmental impact is felt from the actions of humanity. While the Earth is self-correcting, that ability may not be limitless. Let's not find out, shall we?
I am proud to sign it in my own name and in the name of Clan of the Wildlings. Thank you to Beth Owl's Daughter for sharing. Will you join us? 
A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment
Who we are
Paganism is a family of spiritual paths rooted in ancestral religions throughout the world and predating recorded history. As explained by the Pagan Federation, Paganism includes polytheistic and pantheistic nature-worshipping religions, and often includes deities of all genders, ancestor veneration, and celebrations in tune with our Earth. A full discussion of the many varieties of Paganism is beyond the scope of this statement, but we, the signatories, value life and the natural world as sacred. Thus, Pagan thought leads us to live in harmony with the rhythms of our great Earth.
Nature is sacred
We receive, acknowledge and embrace the sacred in and as nature, though our individual relationships with the natural world are diverse. We recognize that nature encompasses humanity and the planet, and that we are neither above nor separate from the rest of nature. We recognize the ancient wisdom that closeness to nature brings closeness among humanity and all living beings; and when we live as if we are separate from nature, we diminish our compassion for ourselves and for others. Therefore, we affirm the necessity of living sustainably as part of nature.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

TOMORROW NIGHT: Lyrid Meteor Shower

The celestial realms are putting on a show over the next couple of days. While not the most spectacular of the year's meteor showers, it is easy to view. No special equipment is needed. The Lyrids are also unpredictable, so it may be that we see quite a show!

In North Carolina, my home base, the shower will peak Wednesday, April 22, from 11:30pm through about 4:30am on Thursday, April 23.

To watch, find a safe, open space away from city lights. Lie back and look at the northeastern quadrant of the sky.

More information here and here.

Blessed be, stargazers!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Paddling in the Sea of Consciousness

The Pagan Experience - Wk 3- Apr. 20 – Deity and the Divine - When we speak of Deity and the Divine there are many ways to perceive their energy. Do you identify Deity as archetypal energy, part of a larger Limitless Source, purely anthropomorphic or a synthesis of much more?

In the slap of waves rocking the hull of my boat, I feel it.
In the swirl of water curling around my paddle blade, I see it.
In the soughing of the tall pines, I hear it.
In the fecund pungency of the swamp, I smell it.
In the soaking spring rain that trickles into my mouth, I taste it.
In the muscular flight of a bald eagle and the vigilant watch of its mate perched in a tall pine, it flashes.

Consciousness. Divinity. The life force shining from a million million eyes, beating in every infinite heart, its flowing breath filling a million million lungs, on and on, endlessly, cycling through uncounted lives and incarnations. This is the energy of creation, of life forever striving to survive and thrive, to express itself in innumerable bodies, forces, elements, continents, planets, star systems, galaxies.

Ancient turtles abide, sunning themselves on a fallen tree in the lake
While the camouflaged heron hunts, patiently awaiting a meal
I float closer and closer in stillness and silence, excitement barely contained
Watching in awe this scene that could have taken place in any century, in any epoch or age
This dance of life and death and rebirth, this symphony of Divine expression playing itself out on Earth
This intricately interwoven, jewel studded web of energy, of life
This biotic community to which I belong, my thread too in the web, woven true by the Fates, and by my own hand, by my own mind, by my own consciousness.

But all of us on the waters feel the energies shift
Ozone fills the air, and the clouds build, their ominous gray wall crowding out the sun, covering the immaculate blue sky, twilight come early by the gathering storm
In unspoken agreement, we paddle faster, blades flashing in the gray green waters
A breeze blows the lake waters into riffles that vibrate our hulls, rising and falling on swelling waves
We fly past the fallen tree, animals nowhere to be seen, hearts squeezed by wary tension
This is the energy of destruction, the storm that cleanses the waters and the lands, the flood that fertilizes the fields, the fire that rejuvenates the forest, the ending that is a beginning, the merciful death that ends suffering, the willing death that feeds new life, its terrible beauty too a part of the dance, a vital part of the balance, the shadow that defines the light.

This is the Divine - its endless and limitless consciousness in every face, its energy shaping every landscape, directing every flowing river, every blowing breeze, its timeless force that goes on and on, all things manifesting in its limitless stream of possibility. It is the love that binds us, it is the strength that carries us, it is life, it is us. 

Aho! Blessed be!

Copyright April 19, 2015 Tanaria Lightbearer. All rights reserved. Do not copy, excerpt or print. Re-posting with attribution and link to original post welcome.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Declaration of the Four Sacred Things

This morning I had a delicious practice in my workroom. I watched the night fade into dawn as I prayed, meditated, chanted, and practiced Yoga. I'd love to share that with you, but I can't find words to express that beauty. Instead, I share with you the Declaration of the Four Sacred Things, from Starhawk's Fifth Sacred Thing.

You've read it, right? No? Go read it immediately, if not sooner! I love this book and its beautiful vision of a community living in harmony with the Earth and with each other. Where all spiritual paths are honored. Where all people are cared for and nurtured. Where they make decisions with the whole ecosystem in mind. I'm re-reading it for the umpteenth time, and it's just as touching now as the first time.

Declaration of the Four Sacred Things

The Earth is a living, conscious being. In company with cultures of many different times and places, we name these things as sacred: air, fire, water, and earth.
Whether we see them as the breath, energy, blood, and body of the Mother, or as the blessed gifts of a Creator, or as symbols of interconnected systems that sustain life, we know that nothing can live without them.
To call these things sacred is to say that they have a value beyond their usefulness for human ends, that they themselves become the standard by which our acts, our economics, our laws, and our purposes must be judged. No one has the right to appropriate them or profit from them at the expense of others. Any government that fails to protect them forfeits its legitimacy.
All people, all living things, are part of the earth life, and so are sacred. No one of us stands higher or lower than any other. Only justice can assure balance; only ecological balance can sustain freedom. Only in freedom can that fifth sacred thing we call spirit flourish in its full diversity.
To honor the sacred is to create conditions in which nourishment, sustenance, habitat, knowledge, freedom, and beauty can thrive. To honor the sacred is to make love possible.
To this we dedicate our curiosity, our will, our courage, our silences, and our voices. To this we dedicate our lives.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


The Pagan Experience - Wk 2- Apr. 13 – Ritual - What is your definition of the word “ritual”? What are your rituals- mundane and spiritual? How do they inform each other? Is ritual a necessary component to spiritual practice?

Ritual is defined by the dictionary as "a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order." In a broader sense, a ritual can be any series of actions that are performed regularly.

The word ritual also implies a certain level of meaningfulness or reverence, even when used in the broader sense. That suits me down to the roots. My personal brand of shamanistic witchcraft has been heavily influenced by Eastern philosophy. I believe that there is no separation between the mundane and the magical, the everyday and the sacred. This whole Earth is my temple, and every step I take is a prayer. I'm into mindfulness - each moment is important, and truly is all we have.

My life is full of ritual. In fact, with all the transitions and changes in my life in recent years, you might even say that ritual is my anchor point. My daily rituals keep me centered amidst the ebb and flow of life. I have written before about my dinacharya, my daily routine. To summarize, I begin each day with prayer, Yoga, meditation and general self-care. I bless each meal. I end the day with meditation and gratitude.

Since I wrote those posts, my routine has shifted slightly. I'm meditating in the morning more now. I'm also writing more in the morning. My evening practice has all but disappeared, being devoted more to winding down, checking the last emails and spending time with family. Of course, these last few months  have been very transitional, so I'm working to get back on track. Whether I will find equilibrium at my old routine, or something new, I do not yet know. It's gardening season, so all bets are off.

Aside from the daily routine, there are many little things I do at random times that add meaning and a sense of the sacred to my life. I put magic into my cooking, infusing the meals I cook for myself and my family with healing and love. I sing to my plants. I take time every day to connect with my kitties. My partner likes to walk our property with me, taking note of each new bloom. I visit my favorite woods and rivers regularly so that I can watch the progression of the seasons in each place and to recharge my spirit. I make offerings to my favorite tree.

On the spiritual side of things, I mark and celebrate the seasons. I lead my Clan in rituals to honor the Full Moon, the eight great Sabbats and our five patrons and matrons. Because we are an eclectic coven, our rituals range from full-on formal circles to informal events like devotional hikes. This being our first turn of the Wheel together, we are still evolving and settling into a routine. I have so many ideas that I am excited to bring into being.

This question of how my mundane and spiritual rituals inform each other…it is a difficult one. I find myself writing this post and not knowing where to put certain items. Is recharging my crystals under the light of the Full Moon a mundane ritual or a spiritual one? Again, my view is one of unity. My intent is to make my life more and more of a seamless blend each year. I live on a homestead out in the country, and my view truly is to infuse the necessary with the sacred. The mundane WITH the spiritual.

The last question, is ritual a necessary component of spiritual practice…I say that it's a necessary component to MY spiritual practice. Yoga philosophy sums it up well: the things we do each day form scars or grooves (samskara), which itself is ritual whether we like it or not. I choose to do this consciously. To make my habits ones that uplift and support my purpose and path.

I would never dream of dictating another person's journey. Perhaps it includes ritual, perhaps not. Perhaps those rituals are secular rather than religious. It is not for me to say what is right for another. 

That being said, rituals and ceremonies were created out of a universal human need. Artifacts have been found from our earliest times for which no utilitarian function is known, their use being purely ceremonial. Scientists imply that our transition to sentient humanity as we know it today began with our need for meaning, for spirituality, for ritual. 

Rituals take us across the threshold of the stages of our lives. They heal us of trauma. They lift us up and help us to carry on through times both good and bad. They give us a sense of belonging and strengthen community. Rituals punctuate the daily grind with celebration, devotion and a joyous sense of occasion. Rituals are the percussion in the song of our lives. 

“Life is a ritual of love
Life is a ritual of union, and 
Life is a dance of the divine” 
― Vishwas ChavanSoulBliss: a poetic tale of cosmic love

Monday, April 6, 2015


The Pagan Experience - WK 1- Apr. 6 – Water - We are beings of water, but do we really honor it as element, physiologic need and the beginnings of our lives as humans? How do you honor water? How will you ensure its ebb and flow?

We all come from the Goddess, and to Her we must return/Like a drop of rain, flowing to the ocean.

From the waters of our mother’s womb, we emerge into the world. Just like the human body, the flow of water is the life of the Earth. The water of Earth flows in an endless cycle of rain, flowing rivers, evaporation, excretion and recycling. In this way, all waters are one.

Water can heal and give life. Water, too, can take it away. Of all the elements, water is one of the strongest. What can resist the tsunami, the flash flood or the slow drip of erosion?

My relationship with water is that of a respectful, wary ally. I am happiest when I am near water. Truly, my ideal landscape is a mountainous, hilly wood with a river or lake. I love to hear the sound of water, whether it be the waves of the sea or the burble of a rocky creek. The otter is my spirit guide for the watery realms.

For me, the lesson of water has been about acceptance and flow. I envision our lives as a large river. The flow of the river is powerful, and it goes where it wants to go. From our perspective on the river’s surface, we can’t see where the river is going. We sometimes bob along like a bit of flotsam in a flood, and other times paddle our own boat.

The times when we are floating along totally out of control I liken to living an unconscious life. We are either unaware of our power to shape our destiny, or are living in a disempowered state in which we do not believe that we can make any changes. Perhaps we are depressed, living with a feeling that it does not matter what comes our way. We simply float along, accepting whatever comes.

The Moonbeam before her maiden voyage.
When we are awake and empowered, we are paddling our own boat. We cannot fight the river directly and go in a completely different direction than the flow. That sort of fearful, controlling mindset can get us killed on the river. This is often the time when we are focused on a specific desire and wish to control how it manifests, disregarding the signs along the way that what we think we want at the moment may not be what we truly need. I have found that these are the times when the river rages, turning over the boat and dumping me into the rapids.

But there is another way. We can paddle our boat with our desires in mind, working WITH the flow. Nudging, guiding and keeping that eventual goal in mind, we paddle on, unattached to small diversions, oxbows and obstacles. Working with the flow, we become a part of the river ecosystem. We suddenly have time to enjoy the view. We can eddy out and take a rest when needed. We pay attention when the ripples indicate hidden perils. This represents emotional upsets or insights. Other times, the river is clear and calm, and all we have to do is float and enjoy the sun on our faces and the wind in our hair.

Flow. Do not resist. Guide your craft. Enjoy the ride. Be mindful of what is beneath the surface. Respect the power of the waters. These are the lessons of water.

Me? I’m a paddler, through and through. I have spent many a happy hour on the lake, on the sea, on the river. I’ll paddle or sail anything that floats, though I do prefer craft without motors. This year, my partner and I built ourselves pirogues, which are flat bottomed canoe-like boats from Cajun country. My boat is called the Moonbeam, and she is nimble, responsive and I still can barely believe that I built her with my own hands.

On a more mundane though no less important level, I honor water in my daily life. I carry a stainless steel water bottle everywhere I go. I stay hydrated. I provide clean drinking water for pets and pollinators. I am mindful of my usage of water at home and out in public. When camping or enjoying the outdoors, I practice good hygiene and minimal impact. That means digging latrines well away from water sources, and refraining from using phosphate-laden cleaners to wash dishes or bodies. 

I strive to be as Miyamoto Musashi recommends – the master is like water. Water takes the shape of its container, but it is an irresistible force (paraphrased). I flow with the Universe, while using my will to shape and guide my craft. I adapt, holding true to my vision, my honor, my goal. I let go, let go and let go again. I surrender. 

Water, great giver of life, flowing from the womb of the Goddess, ocean of dreams, well of healing love, I honor you. Blessed be!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Seed Moon Eclipse Dance

My place is in the wild wood
next to the pond
united with the elements

the sweet spring wind moves across the waters
and I taste Her breath
the fiery sun beats down upon me
and I feel His love
curious turtles surface to watch me
I see life returning from Her watery womb
I stand strong upon the awakening Earth
and I know my power


I am one with the elements
I know the place where I belong
all this beautiful Earth is my home

so if you seek me, look you to the sky
for you may find me there,
circling lazily with the sacred vulture
look you to the wood
for you may find me there,
running with His deer
look you to the waters
for you may find me there,
swimming among the fishes
look you to the land,
for there you will find my heart
beating with love for this Earth


I am alive
I am strong
I am Goddess
I am grateful

Blessed be!


Copyright April 4, 2015 Tanaria Lightbearer. All rights reserved. Do not copy, excerpt or print. Re-posting with attribution and link to original post welcome.

Friday, April 3, 2015

On Fasting

This Full Seed Moon has filled me with energy, and that means it's time for a Double Bonus The Pagan Experience Post! This post is inspired by my sister witch Amanda's writing about the topic - I wrote her a reply so long that I realized it is a post unto itself. So here we are, an extra bonus post for the tail end of March.

I've experimented quite a bit with fasting throughout my Pagan career. When I was a baby Pagan, I took this aspect of practice very seriously. I read that fasting was a good preparation for ritual, so I fasted for at least 24 hours before each and every ritual. For my first initiation, I think we did 3 days. We allowed ourselves water and plain brioche. Not much brioche, just enough to keep us coherent. It was tough at age 13, and it was also my first attempt.

I have also experimented with fasting for health reasons. Fasting is helpful after an illness, especially a stomach virus. Reintroducing foods slowly and mindfully helps our GI tracts to heal and repopulate with healthy flora. I have also fasted after over-indulging at Yule, or as a personal spring cleaning before Ostara.

Several times I used the Master Cleanse (the maple lemonade). Sometimes it was successful, other times not. I struggle with low blood sugar, though I have no official diagnosis. I still don't fully understand why I was able to complete the Master Cleanse some years and not others.

I'm also familiar with fasting as a Yoga practitioner. The Yoga Sutras tell us to eat just enough - to fill our stomachs halfway with Sattvic (pure/balanced, most vegetables) foods, then a quarter more with water, and to leave the last quarter empty. Yoga practitioners are encouraged to fast as a means of getting closer to God, but not to the point that one becomes emaciated. The Yoga tradition also includes tales of Yogis who are able to live without food and water altogether. Is it true? Who can say?

So as Pagans, why should we fast? First off, I would never say that anyone *should* fast. We all follow different traditions and different Gods. Across world religions, there are many different reasons that people fast, and many different ways that this is practiced. Go check out this awesome infographic for a summary.

Overall, I would say that most religions fast as a form of voluntary sacrifice to the Divine, as a means of building discipline and as a form of personal purification. All of these things are helpful for Pagans, but I say this with reservations.

It seems to me that many of the religions that advocate fasting associate food with pleasure and pleasure with dissolution, gluttony or even evil. I agree that over-indulging regularly is not healthy on any level. But as a Pagan, I see the fruits of the Earth as beautiful gifts that should be enjoyed, with full gusto and pleasure. The Charge of the Goddess tells us “Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth; 
for behold, 
all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.”  That is one of my very favorite passages. Some versions of the Charge also include: “Nor do I demand aught in sacrifice; 
for behold, 
I am the Mother of all living, 
and my love is poured out upon the earth.”

That’s my kind of deity. A loving one, one who does not wish us to deny ourselves or require us to prove our worth. The Goddess loves all with an unconditional and perfect love. She recognizes our inherent worth and potential. Sin does not exist anywhere in the Pagan equation, at least not in my tradition. For me, this is an essential point. 

At this point, my personal conclusion is that fasting is a useful technique when used in moderation. I know that it's much harder for me to have any type of peak experience when I am glutted with food, especially rich foods like fatty meat, dairy, sauces, etc. Fasting puts me in a different headspace, and it makes transitioning to ritual consciousness easier. Hunger – it’s an automatic altered state!

What works for me is to do short fasts (24 hr) when I want to abstain from food altogether, and an Ayurvedic monodiet when I want to do a longer fast. Also, any type of fast will work much better when I manage my energy demands. So no long days of massage while fasting, for example. Fasting during tax time or other mentally demanding work would also be difficult.

NOTE: I always drink water when fasting. I don’t see how voluntary dehydration is a good idea. Humans can live for a long time without food, but we die quickly when dehydrated. Be careful with yourself!

I fast for ritual preparation, vision quests, before initiations, and occasionally as a devotional practice. I used to like to fast on every Full Moon day. These days, with my busy workload, fasting is pretty infrequent. I just can't get through a day of massage or teaching Yoga on a fast like I could when I had a sedentary job!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Blood Moon Rising

Saturday morning is the time to rise and see the Blood Moon, which is really a lunar eclipse. This is a powerful event, a time of great possibility. The last full lunar eclipse I witnessed, I fell in love.

Apparently we are in a cycle of seeing several of them, from last year to this year. This is called a lunar tetrad. This also has prophetic connections in Abrahamic traditions, among whom some believe this is a sign that heralds the end of the world.

In Pagan traditions, we often call the full moon nearest the Autumnal Equinox the Blood Moon or Hunter's Moon. This is to honor the sacrifice of life for the harvest that happens at this time. So our usual usage of the term Blood Moon is distinct from tomorrow's full lunar eclipse. This page has some information and ideas for the blood moon eclipse.

As a student of Yoga, I know where I'll be: on my mat. The path of Hatha Yoga strives to bring one into balance and harmony with the sun and the moon. We work with balancing the solar and lunar energies within. Saturday morning, the Sun, the Moon and the Earth will literally be in alignment.

It is a time to witness. A time to honor the celestial bodies. A time for devotion to the Old Gods. A time for magic. A time of rebirth!

What is possible at such a moment? Everything.

May your Blood Moon be magical and transformative!

Blessed be.