Image

Imbolc, the Early Transition

Imbolc is one of my favorite holidays. The hopefulness it brings, celebrating the first stirrings of a Spring about to burst forth, has always been needed, in my life and in the communities that celebrate it. In my younger days I used to have the winter-time Seasonal Affective Disorder, so the smallest hint of green, warmth, or strong light during winter was like a life preserver, promising that happiness was coming and that life would not feel like this forever. People need hope. Communities need to feel that better times are coming, if they’re struggling… that they can reach a transition point and revolution can sweep through.

I remember one suffering winter day around this time of year, in high school, when I walked outside at lunch-time and spied a patch of grass peeking out of the snow, looking surprisingly green… I stepped onto it and, on contact, felt a strong and instant relief. A weight dropped off me, or something heavy drained right out of my body and soul… and riotous, green life welled up within me, energizing me and making me feel amazingly alive and alert. I felt a physical, mental, and spiritual transition as it happened, in the sacred space of a small island of grass in a sea of snow. I think a friend was with me, standing nearby on the snow or the concrete, but I was paying full attention to this experience, which had taken me by surprise. I thanked the grass or the spirit of the green for the gift, instinctively (I’ve always been an animist, even when I thought I was a monotheist), and went on with my day and the rest of that winter in a happier state, and I have always carried the memory with me.

Imbolc makes me think of that gift of healing and hope, along with other similar feelings I’ve had at Imbolc through the years. The transition of winter into spring, at this early and quiet point, this subtle shift, is powerful… quite powerful to those who feel the cold and the dark in their bones, after a long “white death.”

Rebirth is conceived at such a point. And life spirals upward, ever-changing, ever-growing even with its periods of dying back. The light returns, the green germinates, the new life takes hold. Death and corruption are not forever, in a living world like ours, in a Mother’s strong embrace.

Harness this energy to transition into some new beginning for yourself, for your community, and have a hopeful nascent Spring.

PaganExp_Banner_Feb

Advertisements
Image

Community

——————————————

The Pagan Experience’s Monday Musing: Any writing for the letters C or D: As with the format of the Pagan Blog Project that The Pagan Experience has replaced… this week, write about any topic that starts with the letter C or D.

——————————————

I was going to write up Druidry, but I started to and realized that I couldn’t think very well due to having the flu this week, and since it’s dear to my heart, I’d like to give it the attention it deserves. So I will most likely be writing about that later. For today, I think I’ll take it easy and riff on C for Community (and circle/choir/church/coven/coterie, hehe).

For the past year I’ve been attending the Pagan-friendly and non-creedal Unitarian Universalist church in order to connect with community. It’s like church and also not. I am practically allergic to the word church, but to me this is really more of a social club for intelligent and compassionate people. The “sermons” (at least where I attend) are more in the realm of philosophy and social justice, and the music is always fantastic and uses inclusive language. I love the sorts of people it draws (professors, librarians, activists, liberal Christians, Pagans, Buddhists, humanists…people who love knowledge and love the world), and I love the organization’s ethos, so I chose to seek community there. There used to be a chapter of CUUPS (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans) in the area, but currently there is none. I know some of the other UU Pagans, some of whom ran the local Spiral Scouts circle that my kids went to.

I grew up in a strongly communal setting, where my neighborhood was kind of like an extended family, and I was aware that my entire state (Utah) was full of such neighborhoods (wards) that were all affiliated with our church and shared the same religion/culture. And my family itself was huge… clans of six kids (or more) who all had six kids… I have somewhere around 70 first cousins and 36 nieces and nephews. I am used to existing in large groups (even though I’m an introvert.) The way they practiced community often didn’t include healthy boundaries (and the patriarchal authoritarianism…) but it doesn’t have to be like that. Continue reading

Image

Earth Our Mother

——————————————

The Pagan Experience’s Monday Musing: Earth– The word “earth” has multiple meanings. What does it mean to you? How do you use its definitions to support your work?

——————————————

[Link to my chosen background music for this post. Opens in a new tab. Won’t auto-play.]

As with Terra and Gaia, Earth/Hertha/Nerthus is a personified goddess. I think civilization has always acknowledged her as Mother. We keep calling her by goddess names, even in monotheist eras.

I find it a little odd that we also call soil “earth”. Mother as the sum of her parts – the physical matter of her body, but reduced to the rocky sediment. But really, ocean is as much “earth” as soil is. Air, lava, and living organic matter are, too. You and I are “earth”.  So this wording from our language draws my eye to the separateness and stage-set attitude of Western Civilization being “on the earth” rather than “in the earth”. On a ground or stage, rather than deep within the biosphere… itself deep within the universe. Above, on top of, dominating, walking on… Planet as mostly inanimate prop to play out the lofty human drama, instead of the reality that Pagans know of planet as living home and community to which we belong and mother from which we emerged… inseparable from ourselves.

I see soil as deep and fecund, and the ground as a lot more than a simple surface. Continue reading

Image

Be A Good Ancestor

——————————–

The Pagan Experience’s Monday Musing: Humanity– How do you define “humanity”? What is your contribution to the collective space of humanity? How does your spiritual path support this definition and contributions?

——————————–

I define “humanity” as broadly as possible… all of the humans (maybe even the proto-humans and someday the post-humans?) who have ever lived and are living and will live. Ancestors, cohort, and descendants, mine and yours, and our shared ones.

My contribution to the collective space of humanity is also broad. I do everything I can to improve the world for humanity. I fight for sustainability, I work to understand and to heal the parts of culture that are harming people, I pay attention to my values and how they actually play out in the world, I contribute to the collective consciousness and try to clarify information and keep a steady signal of compassion and best practices going. I try to teach what I’ve learned and keep learning more. My studies and my writing are mostly dedicated to my commitment to my beloved world, my beloved fellow humans. I want to live a life that is a gift to everyone. I want to help make a world where everyone can live in peace and health and feel loved and have a chance to contribute whatever they were born to express. I love you all, as a whole and individually, even if I’ll never meet or see you. Even if you have done terrible things. You are my family. I owe you my best. I want my best for you, as I want your best for me and everyone. Continue reading

Image

Autonomy

——————————–
The Pagan Experience prompt for week 4: Any writing for topics starting with the letters A or B– We are keeping this familiar format on week 4 of each month for those who have joined from the Pagan Blog Project.
——————————–

A is for Autonomy.

I was born in a family that has been Mormon for generations. Some of my ancestors were involved in the founding of that religion in New York, in the 19th century. Many of my Great Great Grandparents came to the Mountain West from the Eastern U.S. or from Europe to settle Zion (Mormon utopia) after they were converted. Some of them became polygamists. I am descended from first wives, second wives, third wives… One Great Great Great Grandfather legally married one of Joseph Smith’s plural wives to hide their marriage from the government, and then passed her off to one of the future prophets of the church (Heber C. Kimball) after Smith’s death.

Even after the utopia plan didn’t go so well and the cult had to officially renounce polygamy (and practice it in secret for awhile) to gain statehood for Utah (much reduced in size from their original plan for the state of Deseret) the theocracy lived on, and lives on to this day. Even in areas of influence outside of Utah’s borders, like some of Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, etc. you get a culture and even local governments (Mormons vote Mormon) that are dominated by this patriarchal, authoritarian religion.

So I grew up in this culture that covers a huge chunk of the West. Even traveling all over the Western U.S. never quite felt like leaving home. As far as I knew, for a long time, this was how the world worked. Other people in other places that didn’t have The Gospel (Gentiles, we called them) were all kinds of misled by Satan and wicked worldly influences. But we had the Truth™ and our way was the only right way.

It never occurred to me that I should belong to myself, or that people could do religion in a way that suits them, instead of as instructed by the hierarchy. Continue reading