The issue of Marriage Equality is up before the Supreme Court, and will potentially be decided sometime in the coming month. It’s been reported that Catholics are being urged to pray in an effort to help sway the votes in their direction… so seems like a good time to put our own energy out there and make sure that we are the ones who will come out on top!!
So all day on June 8th, no matter where you are - take some time out of your day and focus on the US Supreme Court deciding that Marriage Equality should be a reality for EVERYONE!! Full on ritual, or just a few moments of focused energy… every little bit counts, and if we all come together we can make this happen!!
A little piece of religious studies education.
Some world holidays from late autumn to winter:
Diwali: The “festival of lights.” Hindus celebrate the rescue of Sita by her brave husband Rama, lighting candles to guide them home through the dark night. Feasting and family gatherings abound.
Chanukah: The “festival of lights.” Jews celebrate a miracle of YHWH that allowed the Menorah to burn for eight nights during the re-dedication of the temple. Feasting, candles, gift giving, family time, etc.
Saturnalia: A Roman feast dedicated to the fertility deity, Saturn. Celebrated as the Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus, the Sun God, during the late Roman period. Gift giving, partying, feasting, and wax candles.
Mōdraniht: An Anglo (Celtic?) midwinter festival mentioned by Bede. Probably a time of making sacrifices to the Matronae asking for their blessings and warmth during the long nights. Feasting, community and family time, and probably lights, since, you know, there’s a pattern going here.
Yule (traditional): A Germanic/Scandinavian Midwinter festival honoring fertility deities such as Freyr and Thor. Feasting, lighting fires, community merrymaking, swearing oaths for the new year, and possibly an increase in spiritual activity between the realms of the living and the dead (Odin’s Wild Hunt).
Alban Arthan: “Light of Winter.” A Celtic/Welsh winter solstice celebration marking the longest night and subsequent return of light (the clash of the Holly King and the Oak King). Feasting, mistletoe, and, in Welsh tradition, the birthday of Pryderi by Rhiannon. Sometimes called Meán Geimhridh (Midwinter).
Soyal: A festival celebrated by the Hopi and Zuni nations to welcome back the sun into the world after the longest night. Community blessing, singing, dancing, feasting, and sometimes gifts of kachina replicas for children. A time of setting intentions for the coming season.
Goru: A celebration of the Dogon people of Mali honoring the arrival of humankind via the sky God Amma who arrived in the “Ark of the World.” Offerings to ancestors, feasting, and community gatherings.
Yalda: A Persian winter solstice celebration with Zoroastrian roots. A time of eating special foods, lighting candles, and gathering together with one’s family. When celebrated as part of the religion of Mithraism, this morning after the longest night was believed to be the birthday of Mithra, the angel of light and truth.
Feast of Rozhanitsa: A Russian/East Slavic feast in honor of the antlered winter goddess, Rozhanitsa. Offerings of sweet honey and bread, the making of colorful embroidery, and the gifting of white, deer shaped cookies.
Ziemassvētki: A Latvian/Baltic festival celebrating the birth of Dievs, the high God of light in the Latvian religion. The lighting of fires, community singing and celebration, and a feast for the spirits of the dead believed to arrive on this night in a sleigh.
Şeva Zistanê: “The Night of Winter.” A Kurdish festival honoring the rebirth of the sun. Later seen as a day of victory for God and the angels. Feasting, candles, and the giving of sweets to children.
Christmas: A Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus, the son of God, and the star that shone over his birthplace in Bethlehem guiding travelers to him. Feasting, family gatherings, singing special festival songs, lighting candles and trees, and gift giving.
Mawlid: A late winter festival celebrated in some regions of the Islamic world commemorating the birth of the Prophet. A nighttime festival celebrated with community gatherings, feasting, and public sermons. Earlier celebrations in regions with Sufic influence included animal sacrifice and the lighting of torches.
Kwanzaa: An African American holiday celebrating the blessings of the harvest season and a renewed sense of shared cultural heritage. Decorating the home, lighting candles, feasting, music, and giving respect and offerings to the ancestors.
Yule (Neopagan): A winter solstice celebration commemorating the birth/return of the God (of Light). Feasting, the lighting of the Yule log, and enjoying the warmth of the community during the longest night.
Festivus: For “the rest of us.” A Seinfield-inspired festival for celebrating the winter holiday without the pressures of religion or commercialism.
And many, many more that I have regrettably missed (and hopefully not too many that I have buggered up here).
The long nights of winter and promise of the returning sun inspired countless cultures to gather together, celebrate the warmth of their community through feasting and partying, and light fires to sustain them through the long night. Some customs have influenced others, but nobody owns the rights to this season. There are countless unique cultural celebrations inspired by the astronomical phenomena of the winter season.
Nobody is a “thief” for celebrating their traditional or chosen winter holiday (and believe me, I’m not just talking to the Christians when I say this). Likewise, nobody is trying to “be different” or “ruin it for everyone else” by celebrating something less mainstream during this season. These are all holidays. There are tons of them. They have similarities, and they have differences.
But they’re all equally valid.
Hello. I find myself in a number of a tough spots concerning my spirituality.
I am a male eclectic who tends to consult the female divine before the male, with an emphasis on the Norse gods of my ancestors, though I also worship Lilith.
But this has created a number of problems for me, as I live in a strongly christian family and community.
My worship of Lilith has led to me being likened to a virtual satanist by members of my parent’s church, and I am often ignored completely by those people, even when I volunteer my time and effort to help them set up sound or computer equipment as an act of good will. Nobody speaks to me unless they have no other choice, yet when I was a christian, they were the nicest possible people to me.
My parents are a little better, but they still repeatedly try to convert me to Christianity by trying to guilt me, or worse yet by calling the stories of my Norse ancestors, which I cherish as much as any christian cherishes the word of Christ, “fictional tales”, which I find deeply insulting on a number of levels. I love the gods and stories of my ancestors, and I wish that my parents could respect that, if only when I was around, at the very least.
It’s sad, because I feel I should be able to speak to my own parents about spiritual matters without facing constant ridicule.
Despite my friends who are all supportive of my path, I feel very alone, and I would like to know how I might approach these situations in a manner that is kinder and more respectful than how I have been treated so far.
Not sure how old you are, and if you are still living at home then I’ll speak to that as well a bit later on, however if you’ve tried being nice and/or the “smile and nod” approach whenever they start denigrating your beliefs, then it’s probably time to be more forceful about it all. Make it very clear that if they can’t respect you and your beliefs, that they need to either keep it to themselves, or if they can’t manage that, then (if you feel strongly enough about it) you need to tell them that you want nothing to do with them - at least until they can stop being rude and disrespectful to you. It may seem harsh, but if you don’t - they will likely keep harping at you over it. It’s understandable, as in their minds they are attempting to save you from “Hell”, so on the one hand, we should (in some small way) appreciate their concern. Of course on the other, we aren’t in need of that “saving”, so it’s annoying at the very least, and at worst abusive and hurtful.
The flip side, would be to continue trying to educate them, so that they can understand that you aren’t a Satanist (or that even if you were - that’s not a bad thing). I would also maybe make it clear as well, that there is very little difference between the Bible, and something like the Eddas and other Sagas - in terms of provable facts (certain things may have basis in history, but on the whole, not so much). So if they feel that your sacred texts, are just a bunch of stories, turn the tables on them, and see how they like it. If they complain that you are being disrespectful to them, or about their beliefs - mention that they’ve been doing the same to you, and if they don’t like how it feels, then at least now they know how you’ve been feeling. Hopefully they will get the point and stop.
Of course in the end they still may not stop, and unfortunately there’s just not much that can be done about it, other than to (as I mentioned previously) limit contact. Personally if I was helping out at a church, and they were being rude or disrespectful to me, I’d stop volunteering my time there. There’s no need to put up with that sort of thing. It’s probably worth mentioning as well though, that this is one of the unfortunate pitfalls of being open about our beliefs. So once we’ve made that choice to tell others, then we have to accept that it’s probably going to be a bumpy ride - at least for a while.
If you are still living at home, or are underage, things are a bit more tricky. The key is to be really calm and respectful about it - since it’s their house… their rules, however I would explain to them how the way they’ve been treating you makes you feel, and that you would appreciate it if they would please stop. If they are not open at all to being understanding of your situation, you may seriously need to consider going back into the “broom closet”. There is a point where it’s not worth it to be open, and if it’s negatively impacting your life, then that may be the best option. It’s definitely not fair to us (I’ve had to do it before), but if it makes things a bit more manageable, then it’s something to think about. This doesn’t mean you have to turn around and pretend to embrace their beliefs either - we definitely do not advocate lying to one’s parents, but if you remove any outward signs of your beliefs/practices, then whatever assumptions they want to make are up to them.
Now with night the New Year comes.
All who honor elder kinsfolk
Dance the dead to earthly drums.
Souls respected safeguard living;
House we’ll hold and hallow hearth;
Blessings be on those who bide here,
blessings be on those who bide here,
And indeed on all the Earth.
I believe in primarly celtic gods. Thus the styling of the celtic pentagram speaks to me. The pentegram represents the five elements, the interweaving represents the interconnected-ness of these elements as a whole
‘Celtic’ is a meaningless term, unless you’re talking about linguistic groups. There’s no such thing as a ‘Celtic’ culture. It’s more accurate to say there were nations and peoples who spoke Celtic languages.
The pentacle is used by many different groups. But there’s not anything inherently ‘Celtic’ about it. Pantheons and cosmology varied across peoples greatly, and the Classical Elements are Greek in origin. It’s fine to appreciate and work with those elements (I’m assuming you work in some form of Wiccan-ish neopaganism), and to enjoy knotwork. But the implication that the pentacle is somehow Celtic is misleading.
And FWIW, knotwork is Christian-era decoration, by and large.
Triple Goddess Spirals:
Again, a celtic representation of the triple moon goddess. It is also considered the spiral of life and that connects to everything. It shows how eternal life moves in circles as in birth, growth and death (madien/mother/crone)
Of course, you can interpret any three-lobed symbol as representing a trinity of any kind. However, this symbol (the triskele) is more often seen as a representation of Land, Sea, and Sky. The Irish didn’t used the classical elements of the Greeks, and instead their cosmology falls into three realms. I’m with you on the life moves in cycles, all things are connected…right up until you added stuff about a moon goddess and the M/M/C archetype.
There is no ‘Celtic Moon Goddess’. There are many different pantheons of gods under that ‘Celtic’ language umbrella I mentioned before: Irish, Welsh, Scottish, Manx, Gaulish…and likely a few I’m missing. Whether or not they have female deities who are associated with the moon is really varied. Soft polytheism has really bled all over this idea. The idea that all gods are one, and that girl=moon, and boy=sun, falls down when you encounter female sun deities and male moon deities. People want a ‘Celtic moon goddess’, so they cram deities under that label whether it’s appropriate or not. It’s why it pays to read something other than ‘Wicca 101’ books - knowing actual history helps you spot the misinformation and revisionist history rife in neo-pagan writing.
Maiden/Mother/Crone, or the Triple Goddess, is a modern construct. It originated with Robert Graves. You’ll run into problems with it because historically deities do not fit into this archetype, and were never meant to. If you encounter tripartite deities in places like Ireland, they’re typically sisters. Nothing about an age difference there. And in other cases, like the Greeks, people have rewritten history to make it work: Hekate was always portrayed in Hellenic religion as a young woman, not an aged crone.
This is the connection of two peoples mind, body, and soul. I’m not sure why this speaks to me at all since im not in love or anything but the knots connect to me.
Again, ‘Celtic’ knotwork is typically a Christian-era design. The knots themselves don’t have any ancient meanings; they are simply decorative patterns. The Norse used knotwork, too, albeit in much different styles. If knots mean anything to anyone, it’s the meaning they themselves have given things.
My ex and I were handfast 4 years ago. The relationship changed this year. I would like to have a handparting to bring closure and move on. My ex says she performed a ceremony that released us from the handfast. I requested a 2 person ceremony, but she does not want to participate in it. The wording in our handfast document does not have the words “for a year and a day or as long as love shall last” . It has stronger language “that lasts a lifetime”, through all the years, and “all your tomorrows”…
Any advice? She has moved on. I want to move on as well, but feel in limbo without a closure. I want to release her from the handfast with a similar ceremony as the original handfast
So… the following is based on the original email that I received. I’ll add a bit more at the bottom, regarding the additional details that were sent as well.
This is probably the number one reason why I advise that any sort of oaths or vows made should be very carefully considered before they are undertaken. Also to be extremely careful with exactly how they are worded, because while certain things may sound romantic, or dedicated and make for a lovely ceremony - the implications are far reaching and we will generally be required to carry out what we’ve pledged. Having to later go back and break our word, or beg the Gods to release us, can definitely get a bit tricky. Even if you do manage to find that release, there will, in many cases still be some lingering energy between the two (or more) parties involved, even if it is diminished.
Obviously having a parting ceremony together would be the most ideal. However as that is not possible, if you can find out from your ex, the exact ritual she used - the next best thing would be for you to follow that in the same way, saying the same words, so that you are both on the exact same page as far as words and deeds. At the very least try to find out the wording she used, for dissolving the union, not that you can’t use your own if absolutely necessary, but it would be a good reinforcement if you are echoing what has already been said.
If you end up having to write your own parting ritual from scratch, be sure to acknowledge the original words that you spoke. You may find it easier to change the nature of the vow - from romantic love to the love of friendship, rather than attempting to break the bond entirely. You can find some good advice for how to structure your own ceremony here, as well as a sample ritual here (though it would obviously need to be modified for solitary use). The key thing is to symbolically part ways - either by cutting or burning the cord that was used in your handfasting (if there was one), or other symbols of your time together. Being sure to release any residual negative feelings (as much as possible), and allow yourself to know that the time has come to move on. Something to keep in mind as well, if any Gods were called on to bless the original handfasting, you will need to petition them in your ritual as well, asking that they release you from any vows made before them. It would likely be a good idea to make sure that you have some sort of offerings for them, to make that part go a little smoother.
Overall, let this serve as a reminder to us all, to always have a care with our words. Even though we may have absolute faith that we can keep such vows at the time that they are made (obviously we wouldn’t consider making them if we didn’t think we could), the truth is that the universe is ever changing, and everyone in it has to change and grow with it (or choose not to as those around us change and grow) - in either case what was true 5 years ago, may not be true today, or even 10 years down the road. So when we do magical workings, especially anything that involves binding or joining, or dedicating ourselves to a person, or a God, or any other entity or spirit - we need to make sure that we aren’t committing ourselves to something that we will later find ourselves in a position of having to back out of. There are reasons why handfastings use the phrase “or a year and a day or as long as love shall last” - it’s the out clause, that keeps one from being in the position of being an oathbreaker.
From the additional details that you provided…
You did mention that there was a “year and a day” intent in your original ceremony… this is really good. While it’s definitely still worth having a parting ceremony, there is a lot less “baggage” than as would be if it had not contained that intention. Basically even with the other stronger wording that you mentioned originally, by adding in the renewal clause (as it were), you both are free to not exercise your option to renew - which is what has occurred. So in this case rather than having to make a high pressured “sales pitch” to the universe and/or Gods in hopes they will release you from a seemingly unbreakable bond - it’s more a matter of just formally stating your intent to end the relationship, working through and letting go of any harsh feelings, and allowing yourself to look positively to the future.
I don’t understand. Are you not capable of forming your own opinion? The way that she talks about Christians..I don’t agree with. The way she views the God and the Goddess, I sometimes dot agree with. There are a couple of things I don’t agree with. But for the most part, she has accurate and very…
I always find there to be useful information in every book. No matter how others view the authors.
It is very important to experience before forming an opinion
If you’re implying that the people who have problems with SRW simply haven’t read her writings, or perhaps read them -hard enough -, you’d be mistaken. And some of us have been at the muzzle end of her negative behaviors online - encounters with her person and personality, not just her writings.
While no experience is ever wasted, time certainly can be. Most people don’t have time or interest in plowing through hundreds of pages of dross just to find one gem.
Informing people about the flaws in books and other media is an attempt to save people time, and to keep misinformation and revisionist history from confusing people who don’t have the depth of field and experience to know that it’s misinformation, and revisionist history. New pagans don’t have depth of field yet. And without that experience, they can have a difficult time reading critically through the materials available to them.
Forewarned is forearmed. If you could save a person from falling on an icy path by warning them that it’s there, you likely would, correct? This is no different.
Me, I’ve experienced SRW’s charming personality first-hand. She encouraged teens to lie to their parents and harass shopkeepers to get what they want, deletes or outright banned people from her forums for daring to disagree with her politely, and she’s a paradigm pirate of the worst order. She’s claimed Wiccan initiation in the past, which she doesn’t have. Her writing doesn’t meet any standard I have regarding factual accuracy.
For me, at least, her books aren’t worth the time and energy to comb through looking for something useful. It’s finding a pearl in pigshit - no matter how pretty the pearl, it and you still wind up covered in shit.
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