Rites of Passage

I’ll never forget reading a book about rites of passage in one of my college classes.
The entire class, in fact, was about rituals and rites and how we humans make sense of the world.  I read about some more culturally disturbing rituals, in which young men are required to “take their elder’s seed” into their mouths to receive the knowledge and strength of their elders (they perform oral sex on their fathers, uncles, and grandfathers).  But overall, the threads of that class — how a ritual is structured, the purpose of a ritual, and all of those things — I see them running through my daily life.

I witnessed a Ph.D. defense yesterday.  Well, the public part. They do the actual defense in private, but I had an opportunity to watch him tell a room full of people about his research. Although much like a normal presentation, an oral dissertation presentation has an additional layer of both nerves and giddiness. It’s not uncommon to hear jokes intended to up the ante, like, “We’ll leave all the questions to your committee,” or, “I’m sure they’ll talk about that later.”

Rites of passage are all around us.  From the training videos at national corporations like Target and McDonalds to the elaborate customs and decorations involved in handfastings and weddings, there are often symbols tied up in our everyday activities.

This line of argumentation or description may be helpful to you in your encounters with the non-pagan world. One of the more common arguments from others is that magic isn’t real, or even worse, magic is evil. Magic, if you remember, is the simple act of demanding change from the world. Any time that someone declares “I do” or “I will” in response to a question or statement, they are engaging in magic. From the court room to the DMV, magic and rituals are all around us. Pagans should not be demonized for calling what they do, what it is. The only difference is that the rituals associated with paganism are less common than the rituals associated with church on Sunday.

Advocating for a friend

Hi everyone -

We can’t all be JUST pagan all the time. We’re so much more than our religions, although they may certainly drive us towards certain lifestyles. As such, although this is a blog about pagan stuff, I wanted to share my friend’s endeavor with you. My friend is a scientist who’s trying to get some crowd-funding for her research project, to finish her Ph.D, and save a rare butterfly. If you can, please give her video (below) a watch, and if you’re interested, please donate. Every little bit, even just $5, can help her help these butterflies.

Brightest Blessings,

Lynn

Reiki is no religion: Learning Reiki and its value system

Some people, probably not Pagan, tend to shy away from energy healing systems like Reiki because they’re afraid that it’s a religion, not a spiritual practice. If they dig a little deeper, however, they’ll find that they are mistaken.

Reiki operates on a simple principle: Healing energy goes where it’s permitted to go. Under this model, anyone can become a Reiki practitioner. A Reiki practitioner is anyone who has the skills to direct the energy, and who has access to the energy. Reiki has a long history of attunement: every Reiki practitioner can trace their “attunement lineage” back to Mikai Usuo, the founder or “discoverer” of Reiki energy.

The story goes that Usuo discovered the energy while meditating and, along with it, found several symbols meant to “unlock” access and attune others. The symbols help you send energy to a person, even across distance, and also “unlock” someone else so that they, too, can access the energy. 

I was initiated into Reiki sometime in 2008 and became a Reiki master in 2009. I do use it, occasionally, but as part of my push to raise funds for running this and other websites, I’ve begun to offer a Reiki healing service through Fiverr. For just $5, you can get a distance healing session along with free attunement to Reiki and a manual explaining how to use your new energy.

So why is Reiki not a religion? Because Reiki practitioners have one motive: heal. There is no supernatural being involved except in the pantheistic sense of the Universe being sacred and powerful. There is no homage to a specific god, be it Japanese or Judeo-Christian, nor is there an emphasis on theism in order for Reiki to work.

So, even if you’re a little weirded out by energy healing practices, I encourage you to give Reiki a try. The feeling of someone caring for you, if nothing else, is a great way to spend a few minutes. Unlike chakra alignment and other energy healing practices, Reiki has no dogma attached to it other than “Feel better! Now!” 

Personalized Tarot Card Readings

It’s been a long time since I’ve picked up my tarot card deck, but I feel like they have something to tell me.  That, and, let’s face it, divination is always a great skill to develop.

I’m doing two things with my tarot card deck this month (March), and I want you to know about them.  First, I am offering tarot card readings for only $5 exclusively through Fiverr.com .  All proceeds go to this site’s maintenance and development, so if you have some money to spare, be sure to check it out.

Second, I am developing a class on tarot cards.  This class, when ready, will also debut through Fiverr.  I’ve prepared the first section, a 10-minute audio podcast on seven different tarot card spreads as well as the basic structure for conducting a tarot card reading.  The other planned sections are a section for each arcana, the meanings of each number / card identity, and some sample tarot readings.

Do you have any thoughts about the class or the readings? Any advice?  I want to make tarot reachable for EVERY one.  We all know my stance on the mystical, and how I’m not-so-secretly a Wiccan Atheist, but I think there’s value in tarot because it lends a meditative quality to everyday problems and also activates the creative centers of our brains.

Enjoy your Friday!

Early Morning Reflections

I woke up this morning because  my cat kept jumping on me and I couldn’t take it anymore.  You see, she likes things on a schedule and we feed her every morning between 5 and 7.  It was right around seven and so I crawled out of bed to feed her and I saw these dark shadows on the floor. They happened to be dog poop.

There’s an important lesson to be had here, and the lesson is that sometimes, you wake up to find that a dog has literally shit on your floor and your morning.  Now, luckily for me, I own a dog, so all in all, it wasn’t too out of the question to find some shit on the floor.

And in the end, yes. The shit is irritating.  Annoying.  But it’s not necessarily an inherent bad or evil thing.  In the end, it’s just poop.

I guess my point is that we often spend a lot of time being angry at things like dog shit that just happen.  There’s nothing you can do about them, yet you find yourself seething at the gods and universe for the shit on your floor.

Shit happens. Don’t blame the the universe. Just move on.

Invocations of Dionysus and Athena

Great Dionysus, 
Keeper of wine and fruit and merriment
I call upon you, great god of mystery
To join us in our celebration
And bring us down your wisdom, joy, and love
So mote it be.

Lady Athena, 
You who burst forth from your father’s skull
Mother of weaving and wisdom and war
I call to you now and invite you into our circle
And ask for the gift of your loving knowledge
So mote it be.

When God Talks Back (A Review)

I’ve been reading the book, When God Talks Back by TM Luhrmann as of late. I’m not all the way through it, but what I’ve read is interesting. And fascinating.

The author spends a lot of time with evangelical Christians to study how they pray and communicate with God.  What she finds is very similar to the relationships with the sacred described by other spiritual traditions.  Through active prayer and meditation, these people enhance their mental imagery and feel a sense of peace and love and joy come over them, and sometimes experience (hallucinate) god as being real in physical form.

It reminds me of my conversion moment.  I was a child, drifting to sleep, but still awake, when all of a sudden, I was overcome. I felt like I was being hugged by the best invisible force in the world. I was warm and cuddly and the happiest I had ever been.  And I understood that sensation as the sacred power of the universe come to greet me. 

Regardless of what you believe, those “conversion moments” can be powerful and drive you towards a blind faith.  I would offer the following advice: 

You can explore your mind, create a social connection with yourself, and still have divine experiences without attributing it to anything but your brain’s awesome power.  That being said, gods and goddesses and even Jesus are a powerful construct designed to help your brain get there.  So, if a part of you believes, let it go wild. Maybe you’ll feel as though you can “see the words [of prayer] written on their faces” or hear God’s voice behind you. As long as God isn’t telling you to hurt someone, you go on with your fine self!