Friday, January 29, 2016

Imbolc is Coming

In our tradition, Imbolc is the festival of midwinter. It is a celebration of the returning light, of the growing God, the promise of spring, and a time of dedication and initiation. Here in the depths of winter, we look into the fire and make our promises to the Gods and to ourselves. What intentions are we nurturing in this turn of the Wheel? Who do we want to become? 

The days have lengthened. For most of us, it's still light out when we finish work for the day. I don't know about you, but that cheers me up mightily.

Here at the Clan stronghold, great things are afoot. We have two dedicants finishing their first year of study. That means initiations at our Imbolc ritual - what a joyous prospect! Our little Clan is growing. We have weathered our first year. Our numbers are still small, but our members are dedicated and strong, creative and intelligent - beautiful women and developing shamanic witches all.  For all of this, I give thanks.

Meanwhile, we have one dedicant who came in partway through the year, and a new student waiting in the wings. That means that we will have two training classes going at once - Shamanic Witchcraft 101 (open to the public) and Shamanic Witchcraft 201 (closed to the public). What an exciting time it is!

It's also a time of intense concentration and work for me as a high priestess. I know exactly what my Imbolc dedication will be; I'm already doing it. The work of tradition creation and evolution is my task. I am loving this adventure, and blessed with inspiration and guidance from across the veil. For this, I give thanks. Several of my close allies in this Earthly realm are helping me by listening to me vent, acting as a sounding board, and giving their opinions of my ideas. For this, I give thanks.

Things have certainly evolved as I've gone along. Last year, we used Christopher Penczak's work as a textbook. This year, we will use a few books for specific topics. Eventually, I can see that our own book is needed. One step at a time. Slowly, slowly.

So if you've been wondering where all the new posts on this blog have gone...this is where. They've fallen by the wayside for a bit. I'll be back, and I'll be checking in as I have time. May your Imbolc celebrations be bright!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Ethics in Community

The Pagan Experience - This month the focus is on ETHICS… As a member of the human species we are faced with choices everyday. The responses we make are most often guided by our definition of values, standards and what we consider to be just and ethical behavior.
Add the complexity of walking a spiritual path and he topic of Ethics becomes one that reaches deeply into the fabric of who we wish to be and who we believe ourselves to be.
So, use this month’s writing to share, listen and explore your ethical landscape…
As we walk our path, making choices according to our personal code of ethics, we of course interact with others. We interact with family, friends, co-workers, business community and spiritual community. Today I'd like to share a few of my thoughts on ethical considerations around participating in Pagan community.

  1. Respect copyright laws. Contemporary Paganism is an evolving community of many traditions. Most of the time, the work that we now create is influenced by and/or based on the earlier work of others. It's important to ask permission of writers and artists before we use their work in works of our own. If you can't get permission, be sure to credit the author/creator. If you have obtained permission, be sure to use the material in the approved way, and credit the author properly.
  2. Collaboration instead of competition. Since we are such a small community, with many divisions within it, it's important for us to band together when possible, especially on community projects. Say you're interested in running a festival or a big event. Before you run out and create a new one, why not see if you can get involved in an existing one? Community festivals, expos and parties almost always can use more help and expertise, whereas creating something similar to an existing event will cause conflict and hard feelings, as well as divide the resources of an already small community.
  3. Be an encourager and helper. Want to see more awesome books, workshops, events, and works of art tailored to our community? Encourage your friends and acquaintances. Help them in any way you can. We have plenty of critics, but we always need more networkers and cheerleaders. Maybe you can't help directly, but maybe you know someone who could. Make the introduction. We never know what connections will be important. 
  4. Buy local. This goes along with #3. If we want awesome products, events, classes and such, we MUST support our local artists, writers, teachers, and so on. As one of those people, I can't stress this enough. Not only do these people desperately need our business to survive and pay their bills, it's also demoralizing when friends and acquaintances say how much they love our creations/services, but then do not buy them. 
  5. Consider your words carefully. Many people have written about the destructive power of gossip. I think we all can agree that it's a bad idea. But I'd like to take it one step further, or perhaps just change the conversation about our words in community. Consider what you say in light of how it will affect others. Are you willing to stand by what you said in front of your coven, your friends, the community at large? If not, refrain. Silence is sometimes the best policy.
  6. Make new friends. Have a great coven and great friends? Awesome. But do you know the other players in the community? Have you ever spoken to someone from a different path than yours? What about another coven in a similar tradition? What about that quiet new person sitting alone in the corner? Say hi, include them. Don't re-create middle school and it's ridiculous cliques. Get out there and get to know your community at large, more than just your own circle. Remember the saying "the greater the circle, the more the love grows". It's hard to fear or dislike people you know personally. Go meet them!
  7. Participate. I've written about this before, but I'll write about it again, and again, and again, until it's no longer relevant. Go out there and participate in that class, that sweat lodge, that festival, that book discussion group, that community party. Armchair quarterbacks don't win the game - you have to be in it to win it.
  8. Be an ambassador for the community. When you are out and about in the general public, try as much as possible to embody the values of our faith, and our community. Yes, I know that Contemporary Paganism is a huge community without a common set of beliefs. Yes, I know that you may or may not be out in public. Do what you can, when you can. Let people know that we're human beings like everyone else. We work, we have families, we pay our bills, we vote, and oh yeah, we're Pagan. 
  9. What happens in Circle, stays in Circle. Whether it's a deep emotional sharing that occurred during or after ritual, or the Pagan identity of an acquaintance, it's vital that we support and protect each other by preserving confidentiality.
These are suggested actions, of course, but they are based on ethical principles as applied to a community setting. Those values could be stated thusly:
  • Respect for others
  • Healthy Community
  • Inclusion
  • Ambassadorship
Can we all agree to those? I know I'm quite passionate about community building, and I know that is sometimes annoying to those who know me. But I really and truly think it's important that we unite, that we continue to work on our beloved community, and that we leave it better than we found it.  Join me, and when in doubt, just be excellent to each other.

Read more here and here.