I have before, and will again, addressed the dangers of some of the ingredients in common cosmetics. And I have and will always encourage others to make a point to use safe products. I do my best to only use products which are safe for both me and the environment, and many think I'm crazy for it... But maybe, just maybe, this video will open some eyes! She does a much better job at making this point than I have ever done!
This is a great time to do divination and dreamwork. Find a way to incorporate the watery energy of the Blessing Moon into your spell crafting and ritual. Enjoy the relaxing feeling of July's full moon and use it in your personal meditation.
I am in the process of reading the Idiots Guide to Christianity. I was raised Christian but in a very small branch. So just as I am always trying to encourage people to learn about paths outside their path, I am striving to do the same. And I must be honest here, while much of what I am learning is simply giving me more confidence in my own path, there are lessons here that even I can take to heart. The book is not 100% accurate - I've found a few flaws - but over all it gives a good overview of the differences in beliefs and practices of the different Denominations and Sects.
This last chapter that I've been reading talkes a lot about the Pietist Movement and the Denominations which have come out of it. One of the comments that was made was that "Above all else Christians need to do more than simply claim to be Christians and go to church, Christians need to live in a way which reflects their faith." Now, this is actually something I have ALWAYS said. To me, my faith is apparent in just about everything I do - if, of course, you know what you're looking for that is.
I have a hard time understanding what I call "Sabbat Pagans" (as apposed to Sunday Christians) who live a life that counters the beliefs they claim to have most of the time and then turn around and hold big elaborate Sabbats celebrations. Almost as if they are in it for the ale instead of the spirituality or connection.
In my view, if you truly believe something it's something you don't waiver from. For example, I believe the best person to raise my children is their parents, so I do not work outside the home unless my husband (their father) is able to care for my children. Am I giving up something I love to live by my beliefs? Yes. But if I truly believed that, why would I not live by it when it's so easily possible. Obviously who watches my kids has nothing to do with my faith, but the same principal should apply.
Quite some time ago I posted something about Being Pagan Every Day, and it was all about how to better incorporate things like Meditation & Devotionals in to your life. But I think your faith should be visible outside of your personal time with the divine. It should be something that's visible in how you talk to people, which charities you choose to or not to support, which job you choose or don't choose and so on. It should be a part of you to the point that you don't need to consider it before you make choices, it should simply be a part of how you make those choices.
You know that old saying "Actions Speak Louder Than Words"? Well, it's very true. You can claim to be Christian, Pagan, Islamic or whatever else, but it's your actions which really speak volumes about your true beliefs.
Now, many people are going to say in order to identify one's faith by their actions we need to make generalizations about what those faiths believe or "should" act like. To which I have to say, this isn't about acting a part. It's not about assumptions on what one faith should or does act like or believe. It's about making YOUR beliefs and YOUR faith apparent in YOUR life. It doesn't matter what faith you say you are, what matters is that regardless of your words, your true beliefs, thoughts and feelings will come through in your actions...
So, I suggest we all take a look at our actions and see how they reflect the beliefs we think we have. If they don't quite mesh, then if nothing else, maybe you need to better evaluate what you say you believe.
Many books on witchcraft and magick skip over the Theban Alphabet. And I myself have yet to even attempt to master it. I'm way to anal about such things and wouldn't be able to just be able to use it without having first perfected it in my own hand. But, that doesn't mean I don't feel it has it's place and use. In fact, mastering it is something I would love to do at some point.
But what is Theban? While not technically a "dead language" it's considered a magickal alphabet. As far as anyone knows it has never been tied to any culture or language, but instead has been used by witches and other magickal practitioners to both hide the truth of their writings and to enhance the power of those writings or objects which may be inscribed. The actual origins of the alphabet are long lost. However, it's said to have been invented by Honorius of Thebes and is sometimes called the "Runes of Honorius." In most cases though, you'll hear it referred to simply as "The Witch's Alphabet."
Over the years it's been used as a way to hide secret messages, inscribe objects, write spells and other things. It serves two main purposes - 1. to disguise the meaning of texts and 2. to enhance the mystical quality of the text or item itself.
You may wonder how can it actually empower or enhance the magickal quality of something? I have talked before about how magick works and how focused energy alters our reality. When you use your regular alphabet you are able to almost write without thinking. But when you have to focus on every letter and on what you're writing to make sure you don't screw it up, you're putting twice the focus on that item, writing or purpose. It's simply a way to reinforce the focus that should already be there.
Before you decide to use it you want to get comfortable with it. Write it out a few times letter by letter. Create a hand written ledger in your BOS. Or send yourself little notes. The more you use it the more you will be comfortable with it. Once you are able to use it in place of your regular ABCs for all kinds of things. I hope to be able to both write and read it at some point so that I can write all my spell work with it... But that's a long time off yet...
Recently my oldest son attended a Pre-Kindergarten program to make sure he was ready to start school this coming school term. At the end of the three week long program the kids were all given a book bag and a number of books as a gift. In those books was a book entitled "The Crayon Box that Talked." As with the rest of the books I assumed it was some cute story to help get the kids interested in reading - and in part I was correct. Tonight, when I send my sons to pick out their bed time story this was the book they wanted to hear... I sat with my boys and read them this 10 or so page story about talking crayons and once I was done with it I was just in love with this story.
One thing that I preach and home to teach my children as well as others above all else is love and tolerance for your fellow man. This, however, is a subject that is more difficult than most to teach. Sure, you can tell a 5 year old that he should tolerate others, but he isn't going to have a clue what you are talking about. And you can tell them we are all the same, but at some point they are going to notice that we are in fact all different, and then think you are crazy... So how to address such an issue with children becomes a trial that many parents simply choose to face when the issue comes up, rather than prior to an issue arising.
The issue here is that as Pagans, our children are, in most cases, going to be the only ones in a class full of more mainstream beliefs. They are already "different" than other students. Now, of course most young children don't understand the idea of Christian being different than Pagan, but as we all know, their parents do, and children don't hide their belief differences - And shouldn't have to. So eventually in nearly every young Pagans school years the issue of their beliefs being different from someone elses is going to come up. If you live in an area with a number of different religions, races or cultures all meshing together, thing could be even more "in your face" than simply being different because of faith. So while EVERY parent should be teaching these lessons, I feel like Pagan parents, being an minority in most cases, need to make sure they are making a double effort.
So, back to the book... While this book doesn't ever mention race, religion or tolerance it doesn't have to. The story is about a box of crayons, each a different color. And none of them get along or like each other because they are all different colors - all different. But then, a little girl takes them home and draws a beautiful picture with them. Once they see how wonderful the picture is when all their colors come together they decide to love one another... It's a very short story, only about 10 pages. And it never seems to be more than just a cutesy story. BUT, the lesson is very clear, and one that children will love to hear over and over again - of course because they don't know they are learning anything.
It's an absolutely wonderful way to tackle a very basic, very necessary and yet rather scary topic. No one ever wants to be the parent that points out that there are black, brown, white and yellow people out there... No one wants it to be their kid that says "Hey Mommy, look a black man" or "Is that the White Guy you told me about mommy?" And we all know, when we have the "all races are equal" lesson the next time we leave the house, that's what the kids are going to want to talk about every time they see someone different walk by. And being kids don't EVER use their indoor voices for that kind of thing, it's most likely going to be an embarrassing moment for every parent at one point or another. But this book really allowed me to bring up the subject organically and approach it without having to actually spell out all the differences the other kids or people could have. Really a great addition to any child's library!
For most schools around the US, we are in the middle of Summer Vacation, but for some reason this has recently become a hot topic. So, I figured I might as well address it now, rather than later.
Many people are under the belief that Prayer has been banned in schools. This is, in fact, not quite accurate. School or Teacher led prayers are not permitted in Public Schools, but prayer itself is not under a ban. In fact students have the right to pray all they wish, many sports teams have prayers in the locker room before going out on the field, and even many school run "groups" allow prayer. It is in fact something that most students will face at one time or another in their education.
But does it have a place? Should we ban it all together? And how does it affect those who participate? Or those that don't?
Well, simply put, banning prayer altogether would be impossible! That's like banning faith among school students, you can't ban someone's inner thoughts. So what schools have done is not banned prayer as a whole, but banned SCHOOL LEAD prayers. Today only, Christian or other Religiously run schools have prayers BUT, at one point Public Schools did as well. Many of you may have even been present for such activities. I was not in school, prior to this ban on prayer, and in fact my parents weren't even born, but it was common when my grandparents were in school.
Prayer was in fact something which was widely seen as a benefit for students at one point. However, in the early 1900's the issue became one which began to gather steam. Through the 18th, 19th and early 20th century it was common practice for public schools to open with a prayer or even a Bible reading. And as you can guess, religious minorities would object, but as they were in fact the minority they were greatly ignored. That is, they were ignored until 1962 & 63 which was two landmark cases that put an end to school or state sponsored prayers. The Engel v. Vitale (1962) and the Abington school District v. Schempp (1963) established the current ban on prayer in schools. However, it wasn't until 1971's Lemon v Kurtzman that the court system established the "Lemon Test" which gives both schools and courts a guideline on what is and isn't permitted.
This "Lemon Test" states that in order to be constitutional under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment any practice sponsored within state run schools or any other state run activities must meet three criteria.
Have a clearly secular purpose
Must neaither adcance nor inhibit religion
Must not result in an excessive entanglement between government and religion
Since School led prayer in fact violates all three of these "rules." It simply can't be allowed.
But aren't there benefits to prayer? Well, yes, some studies have shown that prayer in times of stress, including Midterms, has been proven to help participants focus and remain clear headed. It's also been shown to increase the confidence of those who have strong beliefs in prayer. Both of these are in fact positive aspects. HOWEVER, these studies were done on participants who were praying in silence, not during public or led prayers.
What's the difference? Well, silent prayer takes concentration and focus, public or led prayers in fact do not. So is it the prayer it self which gives us the positive responses or is it the ability to take a moment, focus and concentrate on something positive? It seems to be the focus and concentration more than anything else, and I say this because similar studies have shown that silent affirmations and meditation have similar affects to silent prayer. Since openly led prayers do not require the same level of concentration or focus, and in fact can inhibit it, they simply don't have the same benefits.
But, really, who does School led prayer hurt? Well, more than you may think. Many of us simply think, well, you can always just ignore it. And sure, you can ignore it, or you can leave the room. But when we are talking about young children being different in a way like that can often lead to bullying or "shunning" by fellow students. It also has the ability to stop one from creating that positive focus that I mentioned with the silent prayer, which can result in lower grades.
So why is this such a hot topic? I mean, it was settled by the courts in the 60's right? Well, not quite. Recently there has been more and more of a movement to reinstate state-sponsored prayer, including school prayers. In response numerous schools have allowed for a "moment of silence" to allow students to pray silently should they choose to. Personally, I find this to be a wonderful compromise!
Since the early 90's the courts have been flooded by lawsuits and movements trying to once again reinstate a led prayer however. Many controversies revolve around prayer at extracurricular activities, graduations and outings rather than actually in class prayers. But as I see it, one step will lead to more and once again open the door for bible reading and openly stated prayers before class.
There have been roomers of courts which have ruled in favor of student said prayers during graduation, I have yet to find one which is credible. But, in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe in 2000, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling invalidating prayers conducted over the PA system prior to games and other activities.
Since it would be impossible for a school system to serve the interests of each and every students religious needs, it's truly best for them to simply stay out of it. If your local schools start to bring up the subject, or rather other parents, it's important to make the point that just while Christian parents would not want their children subjected to Pagan, Jewish, Islamic or whatever other religious groups prayers or chants, students who belong to those other groups shouldn't be subjected to Christian prayers. While the majority of proponents for school prayers are largely Christian, there are in fact those who are not, in which case the argument may need tweaked.
What it comes down to is Public schools serve the masses, Religion does not. Schools and other Public establishments need to remain religiously neutral in order to best serve all those involved. Should you choose to encourage your children to meditate, pray or whatever while in school, it CAN help their performance and allow them to access some benefits. BUT, this should be something that remains individual and silent so as to not inhibit the beliefs or practices of someone elses child.