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Let me start by saying, first of all, that I am a (fairly) hard polytheist. I won't go so far as to say that every single deity name that comes up in mythology is, in fact, a separtate and individual deity. I think that some of them are alternate names for some gods, or that some of them are shades of another god.

For a bit more clarity on that last thought, I'll paste a comment that I made to A blog post on the subject

I get what you’re saying here. It sounds like you’re trying to say in much deeper terms that all of the gods are some of the gods, no?

I also agree that in many cases, a god will appear across pantheons, in different names but that not all gods that appear similar are the same. Most of what I believe about specific deities is pretty much limited to Greek and Roman/Pre-Roman Italic because that’s what I know best and even then, most of it is based only on what I’ve read of mythology, history and religion and based on that, what I’ve decided makes sense to me- though I hope this is a little better than just pulling it out of my ass. I believe that the Greek Apollo and the Roman Apollo are the same god while Artemis and Diana are not the same goddess and Leto and Latona might be the same but I don’t know. I don’t think that Ares and Mars are the same god, or that Aphrodite and Venus are the same goddess. I also don’t think that Apollo is Soranus or Veiovis or Bellenos or Lugh or most of the other gods of which people frequently say he is a cognate- and I am absolutely certain that he is not Helios or Aesklepios though I’m pretty sure that he is Paeon (and to make it more confusing, that Aesklepios might also be), but I think they are all related in varying degrees of closeness. I also think he’s related in some manner to Heimdall and- at least in my extremely limited knowledge- Bragi.


So...there are many separatre, disstinct gods- it's just that not every single name ever is a distinct god. Many, maybe even most are, some aren't.

I am also a panentheist. I believe that the divine is within everything. When I say that I believe the Divine is within everything, I mean that I believe that there is some "stuff" that I call "The Divine" of which there is a little bit in everything. I also believe that this is the basic building block of life for the gods, other non-corporeal beings, and probably for the souls/spirits of such things that have souls or spirits (I'm not an animist, I think I'm semi-animistic, but as far as what exact things I beieve to have spirits versus what doesn't, I haven't exactly made up my mind. Some thing are obvious, others..not so much- but that's wandering a little off-topic here, so maybe some other time.) Please don't misunderstand me- I'm not an emanationist. I don't believe in "The One" or "The all" or whatever you want to call the idea of a single, supreme entity even beyond the gods from which they, uh, emanate. When I say that I believe The Divine is "the basic buildig block of life" for the gods, I mean it in the same sense that carbon is called "the basic building block of life" for physical life. I don't believe that the gods emanate from this one source any more than I believe that plants and adnimals emanate from a cloud of carbon.

I believe in their literal existence. The gods are not "energies" or "thoughtforms" or "archetypes"- this one drives me crazy. the gods are not archetypes. A specific deity may fulfil an archetype, but that's different. An archetype is not a specific example, but a general idea, a stock character. "Love Goddess" and Thunder God" are archetypes. Aphrodite and Zeus are examples which fulfill the archetype.

I said in my last post that I believe that the gods are the supreme beings, I could just copy and paste my second to last paragraph from that post here...but you've probably already read it if you're reading this and if not, if you care to read the bit I elebotrated on that, you can just go back and look.

I don't know if the gods are necissarily male or female, "young" or "old", or each other's mothers and fathers and sons and daughters but I don't think it's not possible that these things are true of them. I also don't think that it's wrong to ascribe human wants, needs and emotions to them. These may be human traits, but I don't think that the gods would reveal themselves in this way if there were no meaning and purpose to it. Of course, I also think it's very possible that humans got all of these traits from the gods themselves.

I believe that the gods are above us, they are to be worshipped and respected and loved. They are not our equals, they are not below us. They can be worked with, but they are not to be used.

This is where I get ranty. As I frequent a number of online pagan forums, I see a lot of things that annoy me. One of the big ones is how people treat the gods. People saying "I dno't worship the gods because I don't bow down to anyone" or "I useed Aphrodite for my Beltane spell last week" or "Hey, I don't know anything about them, butI think it would be a brilliant idea to call Hathor and Quetzalcoal for my Equinox ritual, wanns join in?" all just make me want to bang my head against the most covenient brick wall- and then grab them and do the same to them. Seriously...learn what words mean and learn a little respect for the gods. And learn a thing or two about them while you're at it. Because nothing says clueless like "Apollo's my favorite god because I'm gay and he's gay!" or "Apollo and Artemis go together so they're like the perfect Wiccan lord and lady!!!"

Okay, it looks like I managed to keep the rant pretty short. Tay me.

Da List )
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I didn't think that when I said that thirty days doesn't necessarily mean thirty consecutive days that it would start right away, but there ya go. I'm going to double up today, since I have two posts mostly-written. I think they will probably finish themselves while I write. Also, I'm thinking about changing one of the days- probably the last one because I can't think of any others offhand that I really want to cut right now, but I've been thinking for a few days that I want to write about places that have or have had some significance to me in a spiritual context.

If you could read my thoughts, this is exactly the sort of thing that you would be subjected to frequently. I don't imagine that most people would want to be able to read my thoughts.

The structure of the universe is a subject of curiosity for me. Particle physics and string theory are subjects that I've read a bit about and have wanted to read more but haven't gotten around to it yet. If, as the Big Bang theory tells us, the universe exploded into being from a single point and continues to expand outwards, then clearly there must be a perimeter somewhere, right?

If this is true, I imagine the universe to be something like the town of Seahaven in the movie The Truman show- but on a much, y'know, grander scale. If you haven't seen the movie and want to know, or if you need me to clarify what ideas from the movie I'm talking about- just so you know, I sum the entire thing up in two sentences..... ) If you could take a boat (or a spaceship) out far enough, you would reach the "wall" of the universe. What's the wall made of? what's on the other side? Is it possible to get out? How big is the universe? How much does it weigh? (If on the other hand, it's not true, this is all a bunch of pointless blather.) Here's an idea: what if the spark of fire is the big bang that sets a whole new universe into being? Does that mean that you become a god every time you flick your Bic?

How ridiculous is that? Is it any more ridiculous than a giant bird coming along and laying an egg from which the cosmos hatches? And how is the idea that the universe once took up the space of a single point until it exploded any less absurd?

I don't think it is, but only the latter is at all accepted as a scientific possibility. Science explains how things work, it explains the forces of nature. It doesn't explain the forces behind the forces. We all know that Zeus isn't literally up there, riding around on a cloud, picking out a lightning bolt, taking aim and hurling it at the ground. At least not on this plane of existence. But can we say for sure that He isn't literally doing so on the plane of the gods, that that's not hmm...meta-force? behind the natural phenomenon that we know as lightning? Maybe natural phenomena in this realm is a result of the activity of the gods in their realm bleeding over here. Maybe when Nyx laid the cosmic egg, its first crack in hatching over there caused the big bang. Maybe all stories of creation are literally true in that realm- maybe a whole bunch of different huge events happened all at once, and the outpouring of energy was just so unimaginably massive that it caused this explosion in a void of nothingness that set this realm into being.

It makes sense to me. I've never really been concerned with trying to reconcile how so many different people can have so many different explanations for how the world came into being, so this isn't my desperately grasping at straws. In fact, i didn't really even have this last idea in mind at all when I started writing this. I've long held the idea that I illustrated above with the example of Zeus, but it never went so far as the origins of the universe until now, and as I look back on what I'm typing here, it really makes a lot of sense to me.

Continuing on...

I believe that the gods are the supreme beings- at the very least that they are the highest beings that we humans are aware of, but I don't really believe that there are any higher than that, aware of them or not. Above the gods, I believe there is only "The Divine"- which I will explain more in my next post. No, I'm not an emanationist. From the gods, it goes on down the line, but I couldn't really put an exact order or hierarchy on what "the line" is- where demi-gods versus deified mortals versus nymphs fall, I don't know. The order doesn't affect me, and how or how much it affects them is their affair. I just know that I am human and the gods are above me.

I believe that there are many worlds in parallel, they're all occupying the same space It's like projecting more than one movie onto the same screen at the same time. Sometimes two different characters in two different movies say the same word at the same time, or the same character appears in two movies at once or the same song plays on both soundtracks. When this happens, the worlds bleed through into each other.

I think that's all I have to say on cosmology. For the moment at least.

Da List )

Me too!

Sep. 27th, 2010 06:25 pm
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Thirty Days of Paganism Meme

I'm gonna do this thing too. I should get the first entry posted tonight, but if I don't, then tomorrow. "Thirty days" does not guarantee thirty consecutive days.

1. Beliefs - Why Paganism?
2. Beliefs - Cosmology
3. Beliefs - Deities
4. Beliefs - Birth, death and rebirth
5. Beliefs - Magic, spellcraft, mysticism and various woo shit
6. Beliefs - The power of prayer/reciprocity
7. Beliefs - Patronage and other deeper relationships
8. Beliefs - Holidays
9. Deity Gender- who cares?
10. Patrons - Apollo (and other Apollo-related gods)
11. Pantheon - Dionysos
12. Pantheon - Hermes
13. Pantheon - Gods and spirits of Sparkly Things In The sky
14. Pantheon - Titans and Protogenoi
15. Pantheon (anti) - Artemis and Brigid
16. On not being "Earth-Centered" or "Nature-Based"
17. My ways of worship
18. Community- Not quite an outsider but don't really belong anywhere
19. Paganism and my family/friends
20. Paganism and my relationship
21. Other paths I've explored
22. Paganism and major life events
23. Ethics
24. Personal aesthetics with magic and ritual
25. Favoured ritual/magical tools, and why
26. Any "secular" pastimes with religious significance, and why
27. How your faith has helped you in difficult times
28. One misconception about Paganism you'd like to clear up
29. The future of Paganism
30. Advice for seekers
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I did the same thing as Gavin today. By now, you've probably seen her post about a devotional hair-wrap as something that isn't easily forgotten about. I used some gold/tan variegated embroidery floss and added one spot to attach/detach a charm.

The charm is the seven stones that I associate with Apollo (Rutilated quartz, Larvikite, Citrine, Iolite, Garnet, Sunstone and blue tourmaline. Here, aquamarine stands in for the blue tourmaline, as it is mindblowingly expensive and the only blue tourmaline I have are some practically microscopic chip beads that already have a sorta-plan for. Aquamarine works- we had some on hand, and hey...Apollo is associated with water, so...yeah. The little spacers are just some copper-metal lined clear glass seed beads that I love. They're very Apollo.

And that's me, totally looking like an evil teenager.

Apollo hair

Apollo hair charm

Thanks so much to Gavin for helping and taking the pictures!

This reminds me, I want to do a blog post on the stones that I associate with Apollo.
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So tonight, I ventured over to the 24-hour Rite Aid, a short walk from the apartment. Before I left, I checked the weather to get the temperature. Weather Channel website said it was foggy. I went out and saw no fog. I call shenanigans. Very quickly though, I realized that, despite not being foggy, it *felt* foggy- you know how it feels when you go outside on a foggy night? Yeah, like that, except no fog in sight.

Initially, I was thinking about fog and foggy nights, which led me to remember some foggy evenings back in Lancaster, and wondering what happened to a small book of photos I had taken- many of them from a rainy, foggy night (including one that led just about everyone who saw it to make some comment about there needing to be a Bat Signal shining into the sky) and that led to me thinking of one of the few things that I actually miss about Lancaster being the random little alleys which often contain little shops or interesting corners and how there's nothing like that here in Baltimore...and somehow that made me think of one of the places that I really liked there, which I just won't find anywhere else- St James cemetery, which is this little cemetery in the middle of Lancaster, on the walled in grounds of an old Episcopal church (one of the oldest Episcopal churches in the country...a number of historical figures such as George Ross are buried on the grounds...sadly, there are no good pictures online to post.)

I don't know how my thoughts progressed from one to the other, really but it went from St James cemetery to thinking about the grove, and one of the things that I really miss about the grove. I was thinking about how I used to often sleep over at the grove, either the night before or the night after a ritual, and how, much as I am not a morning person, one thing I really liked doing there was waking up early and lighting all the candles, getting things ready before people showed up.

At the time, I thought of it more as a clergy-related thing, that I was doing this for the people who would later be there- and likely it was partially that. But now that I think of this, I really think it was more a matter of doing it for the various and assorted gods and spirits that were there. This was the one case, aside from rituals, where despite not really having a connection to most of them, I actually actively felt them around me, and felt that I was really doing something.

So now I'm thinking more about how to bring that to us here...we've had our own little temple room here in the apartment, but we just haven't been treating it so fully as a temple as we could. I think it will be easier to do after moving, if we really actively work on setting up the new place with this in mind, I think this could make a significant difference.

In other news, while at Rite Aid, I was accosted by another customer. She was trying to find something- I have no idea what she was talking about, she just kept talking about something called "shine". This particular Rite Aid is severely understaffed- no matter what time of day you go in, you can count on waiting 15-20 minutes in line and if I knew what she was talking about, I would have just told her if I knew. But I didn't, and I tried to tell her that I didn't work there and she started freaking out and threatening to get me fired. I thought for a minute that she was going to physically attack me. Thankfully, a security guard was nearby and told her that she had to calm down or he would call the cops. It took a few minutes, and I had to explain to him what had happened. I escaped a bit weirded out, but otherwise unscathed.

In yet other news, I've now got a dreamwidth account. Just in the "still checking it out" stage, what I use it for is yet to be determined but fear not, I'm not going to make my LJ readership subscribe to yet another service that they don't want to add to read my stuff.
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Why bother worshiping a god if you can't accept what they are and are just going to try to cut and bend them into something that you do like? Why do people do this? Why not just...I dunno, find gods that you can accept? Especially when it's a matter of trying to cut out that deity's major area of provenance- seriously "Well, I'm a pacifist and I've managed to find a way to see Athena as a goddess of mental conflict instead of war and I think if I can do the same thing to Ares I could worship him too but while I'm trying to think up ways to pretend he's something nice and clean and personally palpable to me I'm going to make an offering to him because he asked for it- and while I'm at it I'm going to ask him to put a stop to the war!"

This isn't even acknowledging that there are aspects that you don't like and only really dealing with those that you do (hell, I can at least have some respect for someone who can acknowledge that there are aspects of a given deity that they don't like instead of pretending they don't exist.)

Oh, and please don't try to tell me that anti-violence is just sooooooo ingrained in you that you had to rescue a bug from drowning in your backyard pool when you were four years old. Seriously, that has fuck-all to do with anti-violent morality and everything to do with the actions of an innocent child.

Gah, people make my brain bleed. Why don't you just go find some unicorns to run around with or something?
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http://www.redding.com/news/2009/dec/08/redding-womans-christmas-carol-initiative-picks/

Merry Hyatt has found allies in her quest to put an initiative on the ballot next year requiring public schools to play Christmas carols.

Hyatt, who moved to Redding four months ago, said she joined the Redding Tea Party Patriots and recruited several members to help her collect the 433,971 signatures needed by March 29.

Hyatt said she has partnered with a couple of churches in Redding and one in Wildomar in Southern California to collect signatures. All the signature pages must be turned in together to the Shasta County registrar, she said.

The initiative would require schools to provide children the opportunity to listen to or perform Christmas carols, and would subject the schools to litigation if the rule isn't followed.

Schools currently are allowed to offer Christmas music as long as it is used for academic purposes rather than devotional purposes and isn't used to promote a particular religious belief, according to an analysis by the California Legislative Analyst's Office.

"Bottom line is Christmas is about Christmas," said Erin Ryan, president of the Redding Tea Party Patriots. "That's why we have it. It's not about winter solstice or Kwanzaa. It's like, 'wow you guys, it's called Christmas for a reason.' "

Ryan said Hyatt's initiative falls under the umbrella of causes the group supports, which concern limited government, following the constitution and fiscal responsibility.

But some groups say the initiative represents quite the opposite.

"I have two words to say about Ms. Hyatt's proposal: blatantly unconstitutional," said Rob Boston, senior policy analyst for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which is based in Washington, D.C., and has a local chapter in Sacramento.

Boston said he heard about the initiative in the news, which isn't surprising considering national newspapers such as The New York Times have published articles on Hyatt's efforts.

"In the unlikely event she got enough signatures to put it on the ballot and the even more unlikely event California passed it, it would be struck down by the courts," Boston said. "The courts have been very clear that public schools aren't supposed to be in the business of promoting or advocating religion."

Boston said he thinks Hyatt's initiative represents a larger issue of religious conservatives being unhappy with the changes resulting from American society becoming more diverse.

"The frustration some religious conservatives have is they want a mythological religious America that probably never existed," he said.

Hyatt, a substitute teacher who moved to Redding from Riverside, said her motivation for the initiative was to help restore children's moral compasses by inviting Jesus to school Christmas parties.

"He's the prince of peace; he's the only one who can get these kids to stop being so violent," she said in November.

Hyatt said she believes it is Americans' First Amendment right to worship.

"It's our right to have freedom to worship," she said. "That's why we came to this country. They came to be Christians and they're trying to take that away. They're out of line; we're not."

Boston said he believes proponents of Hyatt's initiative have unrealistic expectations.

"They're looking to the public schools system or the government to provide them a religious experience at Christmas," he said. "If you want a full-throttle religious Christmas experience, it's at church ... there's no shortage of those."


If kids want to sing Christmas songs, assuming they're not disrupting normal school activity, by all means let them. But for fuck's sake, public schools are not church. I'm not terribly worried about this passing into law, but it still pisses me off that someone thinks that she has the right not only to shove her religion onto other people but that she can coerce a public institution to do the work for her.

Christmas is a specific holiday, it is called Christmas for a reason. Yes, just like they said- it is. But Kwanzaa and Hanukkah and the Winter Solstice are also called those things for a reason.

Things like this just tie me up with inability to express how stupid they are. No one's preventing anyone from celebrating Christmas, why the fuck is it such a big deal if some people want to do something different at the same time of year? And where the fuck do you get off shoving your activities down other people's throats? Just.....gah....Get the hell over it already. Go to church to sing religious songs or sing them in your own fucking home, or even in the town square if you really want to. I won't stop you. But don't try to force everyone else to do what you want to do.

AND READ THE FUCKING CONSTITUTION, PEOPLE. Keep in mind that it applies to EVERYONE, not just you and the people that agree with you.

I have a new theory: The so-called "War on Christmas" was invented by people who want to shove their stuff on everyone else as an imaginary threat against which they can "fight back". Who's with me?

Thank you to the majority of people who DON'T try to impose your winter holiday and your god and views thereof and what might prevent violence on others.

Incidentally, it's the religiously-themed Christmas songs that annoy me the least. Some of them I even like. (In small, seasonally-appropriate doses.)
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so I've had this idea kicking around for a few days and am thinking more and more of details of how to approach it and I think I'm starting to zero in a bit more on what to do.

Basically, I've been considering my fascination with random, usually fairly obscure deities who have little to no mythology and sometimes not more than a few cursory mentioned in ancient texts. I see a name, a few lines of information, and I want to know more but...there is no more, so I sometimes ponder what their mythology may be like and what stories there might be.

So...that's the project. Writing about what their stories might have been. Speculative Mythology is the term that's formulated in my brain.

For this and a couple of other things, I think I'm going to start a second blog, to keep Pain and Light a devotional blog for Apollo.

Watch this space for details.

Speaking of which, I have a new post over at http://painandlight.wordpress.com
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I FINALLY decided that I'm going to go back and start working on ADF's initiate's program. Going to start with the trance segment...Gavin's got a copy here of one of the books on the list (Diana Paxson's Trance-Portation) and a group of folks over on The Cauldron forum are starting a discussion thread to work through it and discuss it, so it seems like a good place to start. I'll probably also start with some of the Bardic stuff since some of things I've written in the last year fall under that, as well as bits of mythology and divination.
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On Tuesday evening, I was walking to the train to go to work. From where I was to the nearest train stop was about a twenty-minute walk. When I had last glanced out a window before leaving where I was, the sky was clear with jsut a few clouds. In the twenty minutes or so from that point until I got outside, the sky had suddenly become heavy with very dark, ominous clouds- large patches of a very green tint to many of them suggested strong tornado potential- though that didn't bother me too much, since it is a fairly rare thing for tornadoes to touch down within large cities. The clouds though were pretty impressive. I tried to take some pictures with my cell phone camera but they didn't come out very well. There was this one large swirl of clouds that curved across the sky like an immense, sweeping arm- that and another cloud formation that I can't really easily describe also looked like strong indicators of tornado potential.

But beyond that...well, I've never really gotten a sense of Zeus before, and I had this sudden "knowing" that he was behind all this- it didn't feel anything like what I feel in the presence of the gods that are more familar to me, like Apollo, Hermes or Dionysus- I can only really describe it as feeling as if there was a distant, over-arching sentience to the sky, and one of the thoughts I had was that the long, sweeping arm of clouds that I saw was one of Zeus's arms.

The last stretch of my walk to the train stop took me down a long, winding hill which was rather busy with traffic at the time, and rain was starting to fall and I didn't have an umbrella on me, and REALLY didn't want to be stuck out in the sort of rain that was on the way. So I did the best thing I could think of- I had a drink in my backpack side pocket, pulled that out, and poured a bit out, asking him to let me get to the train stop- or at the very least to the bridge before it (the walk to that train stop takes me under a raised section of Interstate 83 and over a stream it's pretty cool, so that's either six or eight lanes of highway there, can't remember exactly- provides considerable shelter. I was about a hundred feet from there when the rain started to get heavier and just made it as it really started pouring. Thankfully, l I only had to wait a few minutes before it let up and I could continue to the train stop, another fifty yards away or so. Thunder, lightning and the occasional splatter of rain continued and trains going in my direction were rather heavily delayed for reasons unknown to me, but only for a brief few minutes did I have to duck under an overhang again, and for a decent chunk of the time, I was able to talk to Gavin on the phone. Unfortunately, while I was sitting at the train stop, most of this had left my head on all but a very basic intellectual level and in the midst of training a new guy at work and being ridiculously tired for a few days, I forgot about all this until I was on my way back to work this gorgeous, sunny afternoon, and I wrote this:


Hail Zeus, Labrandeus, whose furious storms race across the sky!
Hail Zeus, Skotitos, whose swirling clouds gather and darken the sky!
Hail Zeus, Keraunios whose crashing thunder echoes through the sky!
Hail Zeus, Astrapaios whose flash of lightning tears the sky!
Hail Zeus, Ombrios whose falling rain pours down from the sky!
Hail Zeus, Euenemos whose fair winds come again to clear the sky!
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http://forum.hellenistai.com

[livejournal.com profile] newdance recently decided to put together a Hellenic web forum because there are so few of them. The Cauldron and Mystic Wicks have Hellenic Sub-forums. The Cauldron's is pretty good, though it's not very big and the one on Mystic Wicks, despite being an extremely active forum overall (I think it's actually the largest pagan forum that I know of- it has over 26,000 members) is extremely slow and for a while there, discussions were getting largely dominated by a few people. Other than that, there's one forum that's mostly Greek-language and one English-language forum that sends most people running- either of their own accord or because they've been banned- very quickly.

And he made me moderator. (Be afraid, be very afraid.)

So for anyone who is interested in Hellenic religion (strict reconstruction, Hellenic neopaganism, syncretism, etc, there are several different sub-forums as well as a whole list of sub-forums for specific deities) come on and check it out. Religion is the main focus, but there are also sub-forums for philosophy, culture, language and history. Come check it out.
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From one of my hometown newspapers (Lancaster has three, though come June there will only be two as the morning and afternoon paper combine):

Editor, New Era:

I believe felicitations and best wishes are in order for all the atheists who are reading this paper today.

I understand that atheists are feeling left out because Christians and Jews have all their special holidays. But atheists don't realize that they also have a day set aside for them.

King David said the fool has said in his heart there is no God. So, here is your day, atheists. Most of the world is celebrating the day with you.

Happy April Fools' Day!

Anna Mae Ressler
Ephrata


*sigh* Who writes stuff like this? Seriously. (Apparently Anna Mae Ressler of Ephrata does.) I hope you're happy with your smug, superior self. But what would you say to Jesus if he asked you about it? Unless they were getting it completely wrong in Sunday school, the Jesus I was taught about, I think he'd be frowning at this.

To the Christians out there who don't feel the need to be such jerks, thank you. some of your co-religionists could learn a thing or two from you.
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I will sing of the earth-shaking Poseidon, son of Cronus, brother of Thundering Zeus. Dark-haired mighty land-rumbler, your quakes cause the mountains to be born, their jagged new peaks thrusting towards the sky while old ones shatter and fall. Great Lord of the sea which dashes against rocky cliffs and laps the sandy shore, your strength can crush a ship to splinters or cradle it upon your rolling waves.

It is in your honor that voyagers make sacrifice, that you may protect them as they cross your vast expanses and with your blessings, colonists sent forth by the Far-Shooter may reach new lands unharmed.

Hail to you, Poseidon, who rules the harsh and gentle seas! I pray that you will grant honor to my song.



Just wrote this one today. It's been a while since I wrote one of these. I've got a decent start on one for Dionysus too I think.
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So I'm working on a ritual that we're going to be holding at the grove at the end of the month for a festival invented by [livejournal.com profile] erl_queen, Theoxenia Delphinia, which is in honor of all of the deities historically associated with Delphi.

So at the moment, I'm trying to learn more about the deities that I'm not as familiar with...Pan, the Korykian Nymphs, Trophonios, Athena, Poseidon, Gaia, and Zeus. For the moment at least, I'm reading about Zeus.

I will never have the same sort of relationships with these deities that I do with Apollo, and probably never even so much as I do with Dionysus and Hermes, but branching out and learning more is good, eh?

I am excited to be doing a group Hellenic ritual again. It has been too long.
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If you actually read this post (and I won't blame you at all if you don't), please, I beg of you, do not try to address my issue of figuring out the ADF stuff with respect to what's going on in my own brain, that's not what I'm writing about here, and for reasons you will see below, I am liable to knee-jerk and rip your head off. Nothing personal but people have really aggravated me today.

In reference to this post: http://community.livejournal.com/adf/143425.html

So recently, in my attempts to figure out why I'm waffling so much on ADF and the IP for the last year, it finally dawned on me how much my experience with getting my DP approved has bothered me. I know I bitched about it plenty. I know I've said it made me mad, but I don't think I've really realized just how much until now. There is another person on my friends list, who shall remain anonymous unless he chooses to identify himself, who has been having communications issues with the clergy training program and has been writing about it on occasion. I've followed these writings wit interest. And after knowing other people who have had issues in the higher study programs too, one of the big issues in my mind is that I pretty much know that it's going to be the DP over again and on a grander scale- since the DP was one big submission, but the IP is multiple segments submitted separately. It's a lot more writing, so a lot more potential for repeat performances.

Finally, last night I got it in my head to make a post to [livejournal.com profile] adf. Now...I think I did a reasonable job of being very clear that I did not expect the impossible and that I understand that this is all volunteer-based. I also think I did a decent enough job of making it perfectly clear that The issue that I was posting about was the *only* question that I could not answer for myself.

So I express concern about such points as:

Having submitted my work already approved, but when it got re-reviewed (which to my understanding was just to be a once-over to make sure that everything was okay since I was the first DP for Caryn to review), the reviewer (Whose name I don't know and after this debacle, don't expect I ever will) had questions about my work but didn't bother to ask me- who wrote it all in the first place- or Caryn- who okayed it but took it to Raven Mann who also didn't bother to ask me or Caryn, but took it to the clergy council- well, took the questions, but not the actual work being questioned.)

Once I submitted my DP for review yet again for the CTP, I was asked to do some additional work on three essays, but no specifics given, basically just "add to this kthxbye". On the first two, I guess I got lucky, they were accepted without question on re-submission. The third, however, came back to me three times. The first two times, no specifics were given and it was weeks between sending them off and hearing back, never even got a "Received your essay, will review it as soon as possible" notice. Finally, on the third try, I was told what was wanted.

Now, for running on volunteer power, you'd think people would want to be as efficient as possible right? I mean, wouldn't it make sense to have added the one additional sentence to the first request for additional work on the essay so I could get right to the point to begin with? There would be a couple of times that they wouldn't have had to reread the essay, a couple of times that they wouldn't have had to think about it, a coupe of times where they wouldn't have to email it back to me. But no, they wasted their time and mine, and at the time, because of this one essay and the crappy communication, I was ready to give up. If I wasn't accepted wen I was, that would have been it.

I don't want to go through this again. I know someone working on the CTP who would submit her work and not hear anything for months, and get no reply when she emailed asking for a status update. I know someone working on it who gets his work rejected with no explaination why when it is comparable to other work that was accepted. I don't want to be in this spot.

So I made the post linked above, and the reaction is to blast me over the volunteer issue, to lecture me about how people have their own lives and how they can only do so much. Bitch, please. I don't expect a volunteer to work miracles. I expect that if I'm doing a study program and someone has volunteered to review my work that they will at the very least acknowledge when they receive it and let me know that they will be getting to it. I expect that if something happens to delay things, that they will have the courtesy to let me know. A two-sentence email "Hey, I was going to sit down with this last night but my kid got sick, I'll need a few more days" takes roughly thirty seconds to write (at least as I type) and lets me know that they're not ignoring me. Hey, if something comes up, I understand, but where my work is concerned, I expect to be kept in the loop.

This is not unreasonable. This isn't brain surgery, people. Hell, it isn't even rocket science.

Then there were several people who asked me what it was that I wanted out of ADF anyway. This was completely beside the point. I don't need help figuring that out. I mentioned my questioning of what I'm doing to give an idea of why I was posing what I did.

Another individual...and this one really pissed me off, came back with "Oh, maybe you just had a bad personal experience" and proceeded to tell me about her own experience and how she had to wait, but hew reviewer actually bothered to COMMUNICATE with her and ASK her the questions that they had oh my god someone was doing their fucking job, even if it was a little slow. Well golly geee yee fucking ha it must be nice! Oh, and it was a learning experience for you, it made you think. Well then I guess you're just a better dedicant than me. Here, please have a fucking cookie, would you prefer snickerdoodle or chocolate fucking chip?

Another person accused me of being antagonistic. Listen, if you have a better way to describe my experience and express concern about how many other people are having similar experiences and about the possibility of going through it all again than please...do feel free to rewrite my post with sunshine and butterflies and send it to me so I can repost it to your liking. Because I can't think of a better way to say what I had to say. I was very clear that I understand that people have lives to deal with and all that. I was very clear as to what my concerns are. I was very calm and civil and I even went back and edited myself several times to make sure that I wasn't sounding like I intended to rip people up for this.

I thank the people who actually had constructive and understanding things to say, or who will when they're able to respond. It's good to know that some people are actually bothering to read what I've said and respond to that, not what they've imagined it to be in their little brains.

Bleh.

Dec. 18th, 2008 07:17 am
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I've spent a lot of brain-hours over the last few months hung up on the question of whether or not I still belong in ADF. I've been feeling very teenage-angsty-no-one-understands-me about it (this may very well not be true, but it is how I feel.). I might or might not write more later today or something. I've started a dozen posts on this in the past and never finished any of them.

The only thing I've really decide on is that I'm going to renew my grove membership, and since ADF is part of that, I'll renew my membership while I'm deciding what to do. But really, I don't know and it's bothering me.

I read somewhere that if you can't decide what you want, it's probably sleep. Those sound like very wise words right about now.
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Someone posted this question on a forum that I frequent. when I first saw it, I ignored it because well, unless you're working in a system with some measurable benchmarks (degrees in Traditional Wicca, for example) there's no way of reasonably answering this. Then after a while, the thought of terms of "advancement" and not "being advanced" came t mind, along with yet more thinking about the last year, and how so much has changed for me spiritually. It definitely didn't come cheap and easy. This was my answer:

Let me just state, first off, that I have no idea what "advanced" really is. I have found that my religious practice and views are not particularly similar to a vast majority of other pagans that I've encountered (referring now to my strictly personal religious practice, not my group affiliation with ADF) and I seem to hold some rather unusual views and experiences of my gods, so that narrows down more there, so there's not much to compare to, even if I were interested in comparing. As a result, in my little world, "advanced" is entirely self-referential, I am farther along now than I was a month ago or a year ago. It's advancement, not being advanced.

In the last year, I would say that I've advanced much. Shortly after the fall equinox last year, a lot of things started changing drastically for me. I was introduced much more closely- and dramatically- to a couple of gods. I gained a completely new view of Apollo, to whom I've been devoted for some time now, not a view that I'd never known before, but one with which I was previously only aware of on a strictly intellectual basis, I gained a very sudden, up close, personal and traumatic familiarity with that view, with that, my life changed rather drastically in a few months time.

A year later, my life is far better in many ways. I'm living in a much better place. I'm involved in a romantic relationship with elements that I never believed in before it happened to me. I'm so much happier overall. While I was never particularly unhealthy, I know that I am healthier than I was, physically and mentally.

All it cost me was a chunk of my self-identity, my "place" (Where I thought I was, what I thought I was doing, I was beginning ADF's Clergy Training Program after about eight years of being called to serve as clergy and then taking the steps to train as such, then realize I was doing the wrong thing), my sense of belonging to my grove, where I had been involved heavily for three years, a bout of depression and mourning, a large chunk of what had been my social life, and for a time, my happiness. I felt lost and aimless for months.

I have a difficult time relating to a lot of people in many ways. Not because OMG Im sooooo speshul, but because I think I'm coming from a very different place than a lot of people. I can't think of too many people who would be at all interested in living my life. Basically, my religion is the primary thing in my life. (That includes my relationship with my girlfriend One of the first things that we determined at the beginning of the relationship was that religion came before anything else fpr each of us, including each other. This probably sounds crazy to a lot of folks, possibly even harsh or cruel, but it works out for both of us, and is a condition that rarely needs to be invoked.) Sometime in the middle of last winter, I realized with a bit of a start one day that were I Christian with the sort of devotion I hold, I would very possibly be strongly considering becoming a nun. Knowing that no similar option is available to me, and growing more and more discontent with my job and some of the things that were happening there, that threw me into a period of time where everything was wrong, nothing was right and well, as I said, I was just lost.

This wasn't the first time I've had to deal with complete and drastic change like that brought on by religious/spiritual things. The cost was rather heavy, involved a lot of stress and upheaval. After a while, certain things fell into place, other things came up, they got all crazy and then they calmed down again. The last two months have been very low-stress and happy, but I'm not expecting that to last forever, I know the process is going to repeat and I'm going to have to deal with more of it on the way to wherever I'm going.

So...at what cost? For me, it was just about everything that's important to me, some of it on a temporary basis, some of it permanently.
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So...I've been thinking.

Yeah, I know. Don't do that, it always leads to trouble. Oh well, too late, what's done is done.

Religion. Yeah, I know I haven't written much about that in several months. Not that it hasn't been on my mind...it has, constantly. It never leaves. (Well, maybe it does for a few minutes when...oh nevermind, y'all don't want to hear me bitch about how frustrated I get when something gets stuck in my teeth and I can't get it out and don't have a toothbrush handy or a toothpick or dental floss and OMG I really hate raspberry seeds sometimes...uh, yeah :-P)

Anyways. So it's recently occurred to me that the grove's Lughnassagh ritual is this weekend. No, I lie, I knew that for a while now, but what's just occurred to me is that the next ritual after that is the fall equinox.

I've had myself in a kind of limbo with grove involvement for quite a while now. Cut because reading this will take almost as long )
Ye, gads it's been crazy. I still don't have it all figured out, but I'm a lot more okay with things than I have been in a while.

And if I can manage to get it in before I leave the office, there might be another post on the woo filter to save those who don't care to read such things from rolling their eyes right out of their heads.
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This is messed up.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25284886/

(If you follow the link, there is a picture of a kid's arm, with what is clearly a scar, and clearly in the shape of a cross. It's not a gory picture, for those who want to see for themselves. Unless you're extremely squeamish, this visual is quite mild.)

Teacher in trouble for burning crosses on kids,
Board votes to fire him, says he was preaching Christianity

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio - A school board in central Ohio voted Friday to move ahead on firing a science teacher accused of preaching his Christian beliefs in class and using a device to burn the image of a cross on students' arms.

The Mount Vernon school board voted 5-0 to pass a resolution of intent to terminate the contract of middle school teacher John Freshwater.

Board attorney David Millstone said Freshwater is entitled to a hearing to challenge the dismissal. A lawyer for Freshwater said he will request such a hearing.

A report by independent investigators found that Freshwater also taught creationism in his science class and was insubordinate in failing to remove a Bible and other religious materials from his classroom.

School board members gathered a day after consulting firm H.R. On Call Inc. released its report. The community is about 40 miles northeast of Columbus.

The report comes one week after a family filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Columbus against Freshwater and the school district, saying Freshwater burned a cross on their child's arm that remained for three or four weeks.

They're family values, friend says
Freshwater's friend Dave Daubenmire defended him.

"With the exception of the cross-burning episode ... I believe John Freshwater is teaching the values of the parents in the Mount Vernon school district," he told The Columbus Dispatch for a story published Friday.

Several students interviewed by investigators described Freshwater, who has been employed by the district for 21 years, as a great guy.

But Lynda Weston, the district's director of teaching and learning, told investigators that she has dealt with complaints about Freshwater for much of her 11-year term at the district, the report said.

Science tool used to make crosses
A former superintendent, Jeff Maley, said he tried to find another position for Freshwater but couldn't because he was certified only in science, the report said.

Freshwater used a science tool known as a high-frequency generator to burn images of a cross on students' arms in December, the report said. Freshwater told investigators he simply was trying to demonstrate the device on several students and described the images as an "X," not a cross. But pictures show a cross, the report said.

Other findings show that Freshwater taught that carbon dating was unreliable to argue against evolution.


So what I want to know is...why isn't a bigger deal being made about the fact that he burned these kids? They're scarred. They were probably in pain. How did he convince anyone to participate in this? Why would a teacher knowingly burn their students???? Oh, and after all that, the superintendent tried to find him another job???? (On rereading, the finding another job looks like it was before the branding incident)

Okay, then comes the religion aspect of this nonsense. He burned what is clearly a cross on these kids. and then all the other religious details. Okay...keeping a copy of the bible in the classroom...that's a fine line there, but if the teacher was just reading it on a lunch break or something...not such a big deal. But I don't think that's what he was doing. Public schools, science class. Hello! McFly!
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Last night, grove solstice ritual. I wouldn't call it my ideal ritual (No one's fault, really. while some have come much closer in the past, I would highly doubt that any collaboration would be. But it's a grove ritual, not mine.) but it wasn't bad. Maybe it was because I've been largely uninvolved since the fall, Or maybe it's me overall, or maybe somewhere in between, but it wasn't quite the same. I wasn't quite as in it as I've been in the past. There were some moments of annoyance (Kids in ritual not usually a big deal to me, but if they're not going to stay reasonably under control and make a whole lot of noise about it, it's probably best not to have them right in the middle of things. Kids do that, they make noise.)

All told, it went mostly well, but I just wasn't able to be in it spiritually. The only points where I was really wholly into it were when I made a quick offering to Apollo, and a little later on, a silent request. And that really wasn't so much being in the ritual as it was being in those moments (ha, how ironic, the ritual was about living in the moment....)

I did write a couple of off the cuff, short hymns for the ritual patrons, as well as a brief poem. Not my best work, but I wanted to have a few things prepared because it drives me crazy when a majority of the offerings in a ritual completely ignore the deities to be honored. I'll probably clean them up, maybe expand them a bit and post them. either way, they'll go into the book of hymns that I've slowly been writing to the gods, which I started "officially" as an offering to the Greek gods at the fall equinox. I read those, and sang a song that I had suddenly remembered from back in girl scouts that I had forgotten until just then.

At the moment, I'm feeling slightly blah and ambiguous about a lot of things, a whole lot of "I don't know"...but there is a lot that I've found of late that interests me greatly, so hopefully that won't last long....

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