Boys... On a Goddess Path?!?

I belong to a couple of Pagan Parenting groups on numerous Social Networks. And I'm always a little surprised when I come across parents who aren't sure how to incorporate their sons in to their practice.  Recently this question was posted in one of my groups:  "Paganism is such a woman's religion, so how do I incorporate by boys?"  And I have read many similar questions over the years.

To me, these questions tend to answer themselves... If you view Paganism as something which is about women, it's going to be hard to include your sons, husbands or other men. But to me, Paganism is not all about women. Many Pagan paths do focus on the feminine and the Goddess/Goddesses. But the male aspect and the God are just as important. Nature is about Balance, and you can't have one without the other...  If we lack the feminine we lack life... If we lack the masculine we lack life... Personally I can see how many would see a lack of masculine focus in many a modern day Pagan path, but there is simply no need for that.

In my practice the male is as important as the female and neither aspect is more sacred that the other. However, even I, have a stronger connection to the Goddess aspects than I do to the God, simply because I am female. I can not, for instance, connect to the Father aspect of the God, the way I can to the Mother aspect of the Goddess, because I am not a Father...  But for the most part my practice and overall beliefs, have equal placement for both male and female.

Because of this, I see no issue including my sons when it comes to things like Sabbat celebrations. While I don't include them in ritual or anything that's overly religious (because of our interfaith home) I do include them in story and craft times which celebrate different mythologies and each area of the nature cycle.

Simple ways to include children - regardless of gender - include stories, basic crafts, nature walks, dance and songs, music (drums, rain sticks, bells and rattles are all great), rhymes or chants, dream journalism, basic herbalism, art, basic geology, gardening, cooking, learning about different Gods, Goddesses, Spirits and/or Fae... And numerous other things... For us, I like to focus on teaching my children to live Green and Clean and to celebrate the seasonal cycle.

Paganism doesn't HAVE to focus on either gender... And because each child is going to connect differently it's sometimes best to simply focus on neutrality and allow them to find their own connections to the divine. It's not so important that they have a direct connection to the Great Goddess at 4 years old. It's more important that they learn to honor the gifts she gives them. At 4 or 5 or even 10 it is difficult for them to even completely understand the concept of a God or Goddess. Hell, I know people who have issues understanding the concept of a God or Goddess at 20 or 40 years old... But learning to live in harmony with the world around them and honoring the gifts they have - food & water, sunlight, the moon cycles, animals, plants, rain, and so on - than it is for them to connect to an abstract idea of a God or Goddess.

If you do feel the need to impress God or Goddess on your child. Then you may want to brush up on the mythology surrounding the God(s) in addition to that of the Goddess(s).  And make a point to put time aside to celebrate the God aspect in addition to the Goddess.

In my own practice I do a daily devotional to the Great God first thing in the morning, and to the Great Goddess before bed. For me, I view the sun as male and the moon as female, so I use the balance of day and night to represent the balance of male and female in my daily practice. This, among other things, is a good way to help children remember to include both aspects in their day to day beliefs and practices...

If you choose to include your child in rituals, or host "child rituals" for them, you may want to ensure that you always include the male aspect as well as the female. If you invoke the Goddess, also invoke the God. When you talk about the age or condition of the Goddess, make a point to mention the God as well. Always include a representation of the God as well as the Goddess on a child's alter...

By making a point to include the God or Masculine aspects of your beliefs in your day to day and ritual life you will have no issue including your sons, husbands and other males in your celebrations.

Please don't take this to be my speaking out against Goddess worship in any way. As I said I, myself, have a stronger bond with the Goddess and female aspects of life than I do the male. If it were up to me, it would always be night, but again, we need to have balance, the dawn must come at some point...  And if your practice is currently Goddess centered and you feel fulfilled with it, then there is no need to change. But if you have a son or you want to include your husband, you may want to shift at least some of your focus to the Gods or male aspects simply so you can better include everyone better.

Saving Our Water - Part 2

I hope, if you are old enough to read my blog, that you already know the importance of water, so I'm going to skip over all the reasons why we can't go without it. If however, you need that information, or you don't understand the importance of water to our world and our lives, please head over to Google and do some searching and reading on the subject prior to continuing to read this.

For most of us in the "modern world" water is not something we think about. We don't have to worry about how we're going to get it today, if we're going to run out of it or if our supply is clean. We simply walk in to the kitchen, turn on the sink and stick our glass under it... But, we are the lucky ones, and unfortunately, we're the minority.

Both world wide, as well as right here in our own country, water has been, and continues to be, something that is in fact a prized substance. When I say "lack of water" most people flash to a third world area where running water simply doesn't exist. Unfortunately though, a lack of water, or a lack of clean water is NOT limited to areas of "third world" or even developing countries. Instead, it's becoming a growing problem even in the US and other very modern countries as well.

If the issue was simply a lack of water, the answer would simply be - truck it in or even pipe it in... Unfortunately THAT seems to be the biggest issue of all. Like oil in the past, water privatization is becoming a growing plight on people all around the world.

In recent years the biggest offense in the US has been Detroit, who's water company has become notorious for over charging, prematurely closing and even falsely charging customer accounts. One woman I saw interviewed had her water turned off because she was $800 behind on her bill, even though she had been making payments. Now, the first thought you're having is "If you own $800, of course they will shut you off." And you're not completely wrong. BUT, the issue was not that she was shut off, but that in the process of trying to have her account turned back on - a TWO YEAR process - her bill had ballooned to over $8000, even though it was turned off.

Now, I don't know about you, but I don't think my water bills over the last 10 years would equal $8000. So the idea of acquiring $8000 in charges when you don't even have access to water is completely mind blowing to me. What's more is the fact that this type of over charging is completely legal! How can that be? Well, it's fairly simple. Private companies have the right to charge just about whatever they choose for goods. In this case, that "good" is water. They have the right to charge customers whatever they feel is a proper price, and they also have the right to add additional fees - such as overage fees, late fees, shut off fees, and whatever else - to open accounts, and as long as there is money owed on an account, they have the right to refuse to close it - which would prevent it from acquiring new fees...

If we leave the US we start to see more and more stories about how the privatization of water is literally a deadly idea. Each and every day nearly 4000 children world wide die simply for a lack of access to clean water. And for the most part, those deaths are NOT because these children live in areas where clean water is hard to access. Instead it's because the individuals who live in these areas do not have an income which allows them to access "luxuries" like clean water...

Water companies throughout Spain, Tanzania, Bolivia, India and numerous other areas have made a habit of charging poor families amounts which often equal months or even years worth of income simply to have the ability to tap in to the water pipes and/or sewage pipes which often flow within feet of their homes.

Unfortunately, unlike oil, water is not something we can live without. You can't simply start walking or change to an electric alternative, the way you can with oil. Water is something that we all need. Because of that, it's rather difficult to "rebel" against the companies which seem to think that water is a commodity to be bottled, piped, and sold for profit.

BUT, you can in fact you can limit your water use, and do your best to stop your own family from over using or wasting the water that you have. You can also, if you were so inclined to, make donations to those non-profit groups who are dedicated to helping these families. AND you also have the right to take action by taking concerns to your government officials, and to the water companies themselves. Stop buying bottled water, and even, if you are lucky enough to live in an area where it's available, start drinking natural spring water...  All of these actions can, at least in a small way, make a difference in the big picture!

Being Bewitched

I grew up watching Bewitched, like so many others did. I remember thinking Darren was such a dick for treating his wife that way. Just from talking to others through the years about the show I know I'm not the only one that felt that way. But we do need to remember that it was a different time when that show was aired. A time when women weren't equal and witchcraft was even less acceptable than it is today. Still, I struggle with the idea that Darren tried so hard to force Samantha to be someone she wasn't.

But the truth is, for as much as I don't understand it, I went and started playing the role of suppressed witch anyways... I have an incredibly wonderful husband. He's kind and gentle, giving and hard working. He loves his kids and I more than he loves himself, and he would work non-stop if it meant we could have the things we want. And although he doesn't agree with many of the things I stand for, he usually backs me up, at least in public - although he may have a few things to say in private from time to time...  AND, for as wonderful as he is, he's afraid of witches, magick and even his own gifts...

Yes, that's right, I married a Christian muggle who would dance for joy if I somehow forgot my path... Unlike Darren he doesn't in any way try to force me to change who I am, and he did know who and what I was long before we got married - I didn't spring it on him like Samantha did. But he's no less uncomfortable knowing that his wife is dancing naked in the moonlight than Darren was when he discovered his mother-in-law had swished her hand and alters life as he knows it - AGAIN!

So, needless to say, it keeps things interesting. And it takes some bending, on both parts. My husband does his best to keep his mouth shut and I do my best to keep it out of his line of site. If you're living with a muggle like I am, one who is less than accepting, you know what I'm talking about. For those who are living with someone who is more Darren like, then here are MY suggestions on co-existing...
  • Be open and honest with your partner. Don't think that hiding things, or keeping secrets is going to make issues disappear, if anything, it will only make things worse. 
  • Don't try and force your beliefs on your partner. Their beliefs may counter yours but they are still entitled to their beliefs. It's important to remember that many people fear witches and Pagans because they don't understand us, and that changing those beliefs can take time.
  • Agree to boundaries. If your partner is of a different faith, the idea of having an alter in every room or of having a drum circle in your living room every full moon may be more than they can handle. But, they may be more willing to agreeing to watch the children while you meet with your coven. 
  • Do your best to keep your home a neutral ground. No huge pentacles on the wall, and no chanting over dinner... 
  • Take time! My husband and I have been married for 6 years, and in that time we have come to respect one another's beliefs and even find common grounds on many occasions. But it's taken time for us to get this far. And it's taken love... 
  • Above all else, remember that you are more than a witch, and more than a Pagan. And that your partner loves you for all the other parts, they will learn to love the witch part, as long as you keep reminding them why they fell in love with the rest of you in the first place!
Bewitched Forever!
Blessed Be!

Saving our Water - Part 1 - Calling for a Boycott...

Generally I don't believe in boycotting companies. For the most part this is because when we boycott a company we are hurting the little guy more than we are the company. However, in cases where a companies actions are hurting even tiny are peoples, I think it becomes imperative that we use our dollar to vote against the harmful actions of companies.

In this case, I'm calling for a boycott of Coca Cola. A company who chooses to use their money to completely decimate the remaining ground water in India. Over the last decade, India's water tables have dropped between 10 and 15 FEET PER YEAR! Farmers and Villagers who depend on wells and other naturally occurring water ways for their families and lands, are now being forced to go without.

The water sources in these areas of the world are from the trickle down of snow capped mountains that has occurred over millions of years. Now, this precious element of life is being sucked up and trucked out. Coca Cola uses 3 liters of water for every 1 liter they bottle. And shipping what they do bottle out of the area in to other countries and other areas around India where land owners can afford to purchase it.

In a country where less than one third of the inhabitants earn enough to have luxuries like electricity and windows, depleting natural water ways is in fact killing people.

Now, Coca Cola has a few arguments that they feel are valid. So, lets see what those are...

First, they claim that the drought in the areas surrounding their plants is because of a lack of rain, and not because they are using to much. To this I say, if Coca Cola wasn't sucking up the water that is there, the rain fall that they get (which has NOT been exceedingly low) would be sufficient.

Second the argue that they use a much lower amount of water that farmers do to water their crops. Which I'm sorry, is the most ridiculous argument I have ever heard! If you passed 3rd grade science you understand that when you water plants, excess water trickles back down in to the local water system, feeding the rivers, wells, and streams. And when you pump it up, stick it in bottles and ship it out of the area however, the water does NOT recycle itself back in to the system, it's just gone.

Third, Coca Cola claims that the people who live in these areas are "happy to see the economic upswing" to their areas. Unfortunately this is FAR from the truth. While those few who work for the company obviously enjoy a few perks, the majority of those in the area don't share this joy. In fact, numerous Coca Cola Plants in these areas have been forced to close after violent riots killed workers.

To make things worse, Coca Cola is not stopping with India. In fact familiar stories are now coming out of China and Mexico.

Do they have other options? Of course they do! Although these options are more expensive for Coca Cola to set up, over time they would NOT be of a much greater expense and they would provide the company with a much higher volume of water to use. One of these options would be to stop using fresh water and use purified salt water. Plants set up alone ocean shores would allow them to pull ocean water, purify it, and produce their products. Is this an ideal option? No, but frankly, I don't believe there is an ideal option for both sides of the issue. The ideal option would be for people to stop drinking soda and bottled water, but I don't see this happening. And that's certainly not an option which would benefit Coca Cola... 

What can be done? How can YOU help change this situation? Well, there are two very simply actions you can take.

First, stop spending money on Coca Cola products. Companies like Coca Cola and others depend on profit, and without sales, they can't profit - again, refer to your 3rd grade education for that lesson. Take away that profit, and you take away the companies power.

Second, let Coca Cola know WHY you are taking this action! It's important for consumers who choose to boycott, this or other companies, to inform the company as to WHY they are taking action against them. Why? Because when companies see a loss of profit without knowing why, they are less likely to stop the actions which led people away in the first place.

You can contact Coca Cola by mail or phone:
The Coca-Cola Company
P.O. Box 1734
Atlanta, GA 30301, USA
1.800.GET COKE (800.438.2653)
Please let them know that the lives of people are more important that profit!

What I Learned From Charmed...

The week of Christmas I discovered the entire series of Charmed on Netflix for "Watch Now." Now, mind you, I own the series in it's entirety, but for some reason the Watch Now version is just easier to watch than the DVDs (go figure!)... Anyways, I started watching it from the beginning and I'm just now finishing up the last season. And I have to say I am just as sad for my marathon to come to an end as I was when the actual show went off the air. It's rare that there is a show that affects me - or hooks me - the way Charmed did, and has again. Plus, it's great to have some Witch Friendly entertainment for a change!

So as my marathon ends I'm thinking over all the "great times" I had watching them save the world over and over again. And, I'll admit, dreaming I had their powers... Now, before someone jumps on the "seriously, it's fiction" bandwagon I know it's not real, I know it's not possible... And I know there are quite a few points in the show that have put a great many Wiccans and Pagans off... Frankly, I don't care!

I love the show and would LOVE to have Prue's Telekinetic power, Piper's Freezing power, Phoebe's Premonition & Empathy, and of course Paige's Orbs - not to mention her waist line!  I mean, how awesome would it be to just be able to open a giant family BOS and read a few lines of poetry and BOOM you look different, you're in a different place or time or talking with your long passed and very missed family member? Don't lie, you wish as much as I do that it worked that way!

But, who says fiction has to be without it's lessons? I would have to say I've learned quite a bit from the show. Of course there are the lessons about making time for family and not trying to shove everything in to one day, but there are more Magickal lessons throughout as well...

So, lets explore some of what my favorite magickal sister have to teach!
  1. Misuse of Magick can have quite intense consequences! The purpose of magick is to create change in our world. Change is a good thing, but to much change can be dangerous. And more often than not, meddling in things we aren't meant to meddle in is only going to cause issues and drama, whether that meddling is done magically or mundanely.
  2. Our emotions have as much to do with our "power" as anything else does!  Nothing can throw a spell or other magickal workings out of whack the way hormones or crazy emotions. It's best to wait until we have a clear head than to go doing blessings while we're angry or depressed.
  3. Every day is a blessing! Of course the majority of us don't have demons breaking in waiting to be vanquished twice a week, but that doesn't make our life any less precious or wonderful. We need to remember every day that what we have can be gone any time, and that we're lucky to have it.
  4. Good and Evil are a Balance!  I'm pretty sure there aren't Elders, and the "Source of All Evil" sounds like a lame attempt to rename some Devil. But as I talked about in my Utopia post, Good and Bad NEED to balance one another out. Without a balance, we're all in trouble. So we should focus on learning to focus on the blessings and to take the bad times in stride, because without one, we don't get the other!
  5. Spells don't have to rhyme!   So many newbies think if it doesn't rhyme it's no good... Well, guess what, it doesn't have to! 
  6. Tempo helps keep your words on track!  Our brains remember songs over poetry every time, so if you're having trouble remembering your wording, make it a song! I sing all my rituals!
  7. It's okay to feel a bit nervous the first time your coven goes skyclad!   We live in a world where nudity, especially in front of others, is generally frowned upon. Most people are naked for all of two things - sex and showers - and since we tend to grow up with this kind of thinking it's often hard to separate from it. If you're not comfortable, then wear your clothes, or a robe, but there is no feeling like dancing naked in the moon light...
  8. When we work to help others, we work to help ourselves!  Whether it be by donating food to the homeless or doing a blessing ritual for a sick friend helping someone else creates positivity within us and within our world, and this positivity can only affect us in a positive manner!
  9. Our loved ones are going to mess up!  From time to time, everyone screws up... That's part of being human. And thankfully, unlike the sisters, our loved ones aren't going to be turning in to Demons or being dropped in the middle of the underworld, but by no means does that mean they won't ever upset us. Because they will. We, need to remember that the love we have for one another is stronger than whatever misdeed they have done, or that we think they have done, and do our best to restore peace. Until peace is restored in the relationship, it can't be within us...
  10. If you loose touch with those who love you, you loose part of yourself!  Okay, so this isn't really a magickal rule, but it's one that, as magickal beings, we need to remember more than anyone else. The less in touch we are with our inner self, our true self, the less we will have the focus needed for magickal workings!
I'm sure there are more - like don't fall in love with a ghost - but those aren't going to fit the lives of most of us! lol  So go on, watch your Charmed guilt free, because you aren't wasting time, your learning important lessons! lol

Living Life As Your Spiritual Self

In a recent discussion online I brought up the fact that we can not delete religious education from schools entirely. It's impossible to properly teach subjects such as History, Art, and Literature without touching on religion to some extent. This is because the idea of one's actions, job, and personal life being separate from their faith is an entirely new idea - only about the last 100 years or so actually.

To some point, this idea is a good one, but in other ways, it's greatly separated people from their faith, and not always for the better. More than ever people find it increasingly difficult to connect to their Higher Power. This isn't because their Higher Power is any further away or more unreachable than ever before, but because we have gotten out of the habit of including our faith in every aspect of our life.

If we look back through history, we can see both the benefit and the downfall of including faith in ones identity. The downfalls seem to scream out at us from just about any history book or show, while the benefits seem to be more subtle. But in fact, it's not quite so black and white. While it's easy to say "The Inquisition is enough reason to separate person-hood and faith" the fact is it has been the separation of faith and government which has stopped things like Religious Inquisitions, Witch Burnings and similar activities in the developed world and not a separation of one's faith and one's self.

Instead of looking, however, at the overly religious governments throughout history, we need instead to look at the daily lives of individuals. Even in our not so distant past - lets say 80 years ago - it was not uncommon for entire families to attend church for early morning services each and every morning, for in home alters to be a common statement, and for family prayers to take place before every meal and before bed. In SOME homes things like family prayer and religious study are still common place. However, most children are not brought up seeing their faith as a part of who they are. In some ways this is a good thing - in other ways, it's not at all!

As a woman who grew up having a religion which she did not agree with being shoved - by force quite often - down her throat every day of her life, I know first hand the battles and the dangers of this type of thing. My own children are not being raised with a specific religion in their life. So in no way am I saying it's important to push religion on anyone. Instead I would like to show the difference between life styles.

The point I am trying to make above all others is the fact that at one point, things like taking time for your Gods, making offerings and including their faith in to their every day basic activities - like making dinner and cleaning. Through the years there has become a separation, or a line drawn between one's "Spiritual Self" and "Every Day Self."  Now, when you're talking about one's "Spiritual Self" and one's "Political Self" this boundary is a good thing; as it's important to remember that our Spiritual self should never be applied to or forced on someone else's life. But to keep your spiritual self outside of your every day life will keep you from being the fully fulfilled YOU...

Your "Spiritual Self" is, and always should be, a part of who you are - every day, at every moment. As Pagans many of us set time aside for Sabbats, Esbats and other Celebrations. To me, this is quite comparable to the "Sunday Christian" or "Holiday Christians" who only see a need to make time for God on Holy Days. But, because the majority of us did not grow up Pagan or even grow up learning how to make our spiritual self a part of our mundane self - and because some of us grew up being forced in to uncomfortable religious observation that countered who we are, it has because rather difficult for many of us to learn how to incorporate the spiritual in to our day to day life.

First, it's important to remember that making our spirituality a part of our day to day life does not require a full on ritual every day. I have never once met anyone that did a daily ritual - although I suppose you could. Instead we need to learn how to focus on allowing our spiritual self to shine through - not replace, not be in addition to, but to be subtly present.  Something as basic as chanting a blessing as we vacuum can be a perfect example of this as it's a combination of the spiritual and the mundane without going out of our way to replace the mundane with the spiritual.

Some other ideas could include - Shopping with our commitment to protecting nature in mind, honoring our faith through the foods we eat and feed our children, decorating our home with elements that honor our spirituality, using story or craft time with our children to teach them, saying, singing or chanting a blessing as we cook or serve meals... And the list goes on and on... I'm NOT talking about adding one more thing to your to-do list! You have enough to do! Although I am not against making time for reading, personal study or devotions - in fact I highly recommend it - but that's another post...

Again I think it's important to look at history for examples of how one's spiritual and mundane self can be one. If we take a look at the art, music, and even medicine and homes of the past - both recent and ancient - we see the constant inclusion of faith. The Japanese's belief in Feng Shui is a perfect example here as their spiritual beliefs are included even in how they decorate their homes, businesses and property. In ancient Rome it was not uncommon to see beautiful frescoes with portrayals of the Gods & Goddesses or small alters and offering areas throughout even the most average home. This is something that most of today's home owners would see as unnecessary or even "over the top." And to some point, I would agree that an 8 foot mural of the Green Man in your bed room may be a little over the top, the point is to make those aspects of your life a part of your every moment.

Before I close I want to address the WHY... Why is it important to include the Spiritual Self in the Mundane life? Simply put because when we neglect the Spiritual Self, we are neglecting the SELF. Living a life where our Spirituality becomes something we have to "make time for" or something "to do" stops us from being able to fulfill our complete self and thus stops us from every living to our full potential. Just as if we ignore the fact that our physical body needs to eat we could become ill or even die, if we ignore the fact that we need to feed our spiritual body we are allowing a large part of who we are to "die." An act which will be visible in many aspects of both our spiritual and our mundane lives.

A case for science future...

Over the years the topic of Magick or Witchcraft have come up in "Muggle" company.  And often the fact that Science hasn't been able to prove it one way or another is used as a reason to not believe or even to discredit belief in such things. The same can be said for conversations about Faeries, Gods, Demons and so on. People in today's world want PROOF! And increasingly so, without proof, there is a lack of belief.

Personally, I am a firm believer in science - although I don't always agree that progress is good. Science has given us everything from the Printing Press to the Internet and without these things, out life wouldn't be any different from the lives of the Cave Man. Just with a rather large lack of caves. lol  So I'm generally thankful for Science. I like the fact that if I am sick, I have a better chance of being diagnosed, treated and healed today than ever before. I also like the fact that when it's 3 am and the baby is awake, I have the ability to just hit Power and watch 30 year old television shows to keep me from falling asleep. Science has brought us great great things and made our lives, for the most part, better than they were - or at least different, easier, more convenient...

BUT, even with all the advancements which science has made, the cold hard fact is this - We STILL do not have all the answers! So when people say to me "Science hasn't proven it, so I don't believe it" my general answer is "In the 1800's science hadn't proven cancer existed, it didn't mean it didn't..."

So the next time you are trying to bring yourself to believe in something, yet see yourself falling back on the idea that "There is no proof." Remember that it's impossible to know what the science of the future may find, discover, name or classify... And it's for this reason that we should never - and I do mean NEVER - discredit belief, faith, or anything else simply because it's not been proven to be so.

Check out what else I'm writing!