A Tale of Two Deer

After some of the horror that we’ve seen in the US these past days, I thought it might be time for a little bit of a nicer story.

The company I work for exists in buildings that were built right next to a state certified wetland, therefore there is a good amount of the property that the company can’t build on.  Instead of letting this land go totally wild, the company maintains trails throughout the land for the employees to use.  There is also a nice side open field the company has created to allow associates to come and picnic, or use for cross country skiing or even training for trail runs, which I’ve seen associates do before.  The land is privately owned however, so you must be a company employee in order to utilize it.

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Back in July, however, something peculiar showed up in the open field.  Two baby deer, waiting for their momma.  The employees left them alone, with the exception of getting pictures.  Overall, we thought momma was very smart, leaving her two babies in a field where humans frequent.  That would be a perfect place for them to be safe from predators.

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Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.  After seeing the babies over and over, we realized momma had been the deer that was hit several weeks previously.  These babies were orphaned.  But as we kept seeing them in the field, they went from simply sitting to eating grass and finding places to sit in the shade when it just got too hot in the sun.  21077281_10213512057256774_4321863583240579355_n.jpgSome weeks would go by and I’d see them every day out on my walk.  Other weeks, I’d see them once or twice.  Every time I’d see them, I’d talk to them for a few minutes before I continued on my journey around the walking trail.  I worried a little bit about what they would have to eat, but with the creek and wetlands, apple trees and fruit bushes on the property I figured they would be OK.  And none of the associates that work here tried to pet them; instead, we all took pictures, and went on with our business.  The only real roads they have to cross now are the small ones that link the parking lots for the multiple buildings together, and those all have a very low speed limit.

The deer have a pretty nice size of property in addition to our area too.   Many other businesses on our side of the road were built around the wetland, which means the deer have solid woods for roughly half a city block around my company’s property.  And it’s all private; so there will be no hunting in this area.

There was a lull in our sightings of the babies in August and September.  I had hoped they were OK, but felt that it was best that we didn’t see them.  Perhaps they had learned about how to behave like proper deer, and hide when the humans came around.  But about two weeks ago; another associate I work with spotted what we thought were the baby deer on one of the trails.  He pointed them out to me.  When I looked at them, I realized those weren’t our baby deer.  One had a serious amount of antlers.  And they were much more wary of us humans than the babies were.  I think one of them had to be daddy.  And perhaps daddy had picked up on raising the babies where momma had left off.

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This week, I was able to spot both of them again.  As you can see by the photos, they still aren’t afraid to be seen.  Sometimes they stay together, but sometimes they wander on their own as well.  IMG_5003.JPGTheir spots have gone, and they are getting bigger by the day.  I think the day will come soon when we don’t see them at all anymore; they’ll take their daddy’s advice and keep away  from the humans.  The day I took the final picture of them above, I did stick around to see what they would do when they saw a moving car.  And wisely, they quickly made for the foliage around them instead of sticking around to see where the car would go.  So they are still OK with humans, for now, but don’t like cars, and that is very good news.

I hope that I’ll get the occasional chance to see them as they continue to grow.  But even if I didn’t, I’ve very much enjoyed the times I did see them.

 

 

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Prayers for Odin and Loki…..a.k.a. Time For What’s Personal to Become More Public

Yesterday I presented a circle casting for a ritual I’m planning next week.  I very much wanted the rite to be somewhat general in its layout so that the participants could take away things from it that they needed, but not feel like they were pushed into something that felt like a specific rite from a specific spectrum of paganism (e.g., a ‘Heathen’ or ‘Wiccan’ rite).  I also didn’t want it to feel like things were simply ‘pulled’ from those specific spectrums.

So a lot of the rite are things that I have written specifically for this ceremony.  But when it came time to write an invocation to divinity, I found I was blocked from writing anything down, but couldn’t figure out why.  So after some prayers and mental soul-searching, the prayers below came out.  After that, I was able to write the rest of my ceremony.

I’m still not sure if what I’ve written are more invocations or dictations of what these two Gods mean to me, but they both had to come out before I could write anything to any other deity.  I’m ecstatic at how they turned out.  I truly do enjoy both and their personal feel to me.  They feel very powerful and profound.  But after looking them over and preparing to transfer them from the scrap paper to my poem collection, I realized that my requirements to these Gods was not yet finished.

I needed to share both of these prayers here, on this blog.

Even as I type this post, I am still fighting doing this.  And the excuses are continuing to flying around in my head for why I shouldn’t do it.  Today is the autumnal equinox.  I should be posting about that instead of doing this.  I just posted yesterday, I should wait and post this next week or later because I don’t like doing a lot of posts and then nothing at all for weeks on end.  And the one that is really stopping me; these prayers are too personal to publish.

But I’m not getting out of this, and I already know that.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that perhaps I’ve not been ‘putting myself out there’ as much as I should be, or how they want me to.  I’ve talked months before on this blog about building a religious path for myself; one that has specific prayers, specific traditions and offerings that speak to who I am, what I believe and whom I serve.  I’ve also put myself out there as serving the pagan community as a whole.  But I’ve stayed away from labeling myself as anything other than a pagan. These prayers, with their kennings and truths very much do that.  They are an open book to how I view myself and my relationship with these Gods.

So without further excuses, I offer the prayers here.  Feel free to comment and discuss.  I know I’ll be thinking about this exercise for some time as I figure out my adversity to doing it.

Invocation to Loki
Hail to Thee!
Laugaz, my light
Lover, my longing
Fire Jotun, my power
Mind tester, my teacher
Sight minder, my vision
Bound God, my burden
Flame hair, my delight
Cinder maker, my wrath
Hail to you, my Loki

 

Invocation to Odin
Hail, All Father
Song singer, my voice for you
Wisdom seeker, may I learn your cunning
Teacher, may I learn your teachings
Warrior, may I grow in prowess
One Eyed, may I seek to know and understand
Yule Figure, may I learn joy and unknowing
Rune God, may I learn the Runes
Shapeshifter, may I learn the Seidh
Slain God – may I learn to give of myself
May I ever be your daughter

 

A New Circle Casting

I will be helping to officiate an Autumnal Equinox ritual next weekend.  This one is a challenge to me as the participants aren’t of one specific group.  Instead we will have participants who fit under multiple labels within the pagan spectrum.  So I decided to come up with a different way to create sacred space that still allowed everyone to join in, but wasn’t as much of a constraint as a thrice’ round, bound circle.

The following poem is a call and response style.  All participants will say the lines that repeat, with the officiant speaking the additional verbiage.   I’d love to know what you think!

In this place, in this time,
In this circle, gathered round
Connecting with the ancient time
We now charge this sacred ground

Here we meet, in this hour
In this circle, gathered round
We celebrate the sacred power
We now charge this sacred ground

Kindred spirits, hear our call
In this circle, gathered round
Bless this space, one and all
We now charge this sacred ground

Now we stand, all within
In this circle, gathered round
Our celebration to begin
We now charge this sacred ground

 

 

Photo from Deviant Art

How The Mother Became Clothed in Life

I sat at the edge of the shore, watching the sun rise above the water, As I watched the sun, I felt the Great Mother stir.  She reached out, and I felt her energy again as I have these long days of summer.  Her voice filled my head as she started to tell me a story.

“Long before the sounds of the waves, or the light of the stars or the rustling of trees.  Long before all of these, all was silent. No life grew upon me.  The only warmth I felt was from within.  My womb was barren, and I was alone.

I yearned for that which I could nurture.  I yearned for beauty, for the quiet peace and strength of life.  But there was none.  And I cried in my loneliness, tears of stone seeping through my skin.

And Father heard me.

He reached out his rays, for he knew the potential deep within me.  His light blessed me, it brought me ecstasy.  He healed my pain and filled my womb.  His gentleness sparked my heart, and together we created the four winds.

The Wind of the North brought insight and strength in the quiet time
The Wind of the East brought forth new beginnings and intuition
The Wind of the South brought passion and courage
The Wind of the West brought transformation

Father was happy with these things, and he embraced me still.  And together, we clothed my body.

The Ice of the North Wind formed on top of me
The East Wind pushed the ice onto my flesh and shaped me
The South Wind melted the ice and soothed my sores
The West Wind moved the water to its new home

And thanks to the winds, the green came!  They were beautiful!  Greens, the things that grew!  I had not known that I had the strength to hold such beauty gently upon me!

But the North Wind blew again, and the green was afraid because they were not strong. So the East Wind told them, “Do not fear my brother of the North, for I will make you new again!” The Greens trusted the East Wind and released their seed to rest on my flesh, comforted in the knowledge that they would come again.  And the East Wind blessed the seed and spread it around.

The North Wind cooled my flesh and the greens passed on.  But I carefully protected the seed from the cold.  And because the East had blessed it, the seed was ready when the South Wind blew his warmth.  The West Wind also brought it’s powerful wind to clear the space of the dead green to allow the seed to grow.

As the East Wind had promised the Greens, the seeds started to grow.  And as the seed, grew, colors appeared!  Not only had the Greens returned, but this time they were also golds and reds and pinks and yellows!  Colors I did not know I could give birth to – beauty beyond what I could ever imagine!

And that is why the East Wind brings life and intelligence.
The South Wind brings passion, courage and warmth.
The West Wind brings transformation and change.
And the North Wind brings the cold and rest.

I was very happy and cared for my Greens and Colors carefully, but Father was not done. He said, “You will birth even more wonder.”  Father kissed me yet again and more life came!  Four leggeds and two leggeds and the winged ones, the slippery ones and even the many leggeds came forth!  And I loved them all.

Yet as they grew, I knew that they needed more guidance.  So I asked the Winds to help me guide these creatures.  And the Winds agreed, and they speak their truth into the hears of the living creatures.  They teach the songs and tell the creatures what greens can help to bring balance and health, what greens can soothe and what songs and words to say, what dances to dance, and they teach the creatures to be happy.”

I smiled, my heart full upon hearing Machi-Ma speak her story, my eyes filled with wonder and delight.  She continued on:

“Now, I am old, but I am still clothed in wonder and in beauty.  And I am happy that I give birth to so many wonderful things.  But now the time is come that many cannot hear the Winds anymore.  They do not understand why they hurt and are sore.  If they only opened up their heart to the Winds and heard their laws and stories again they would be happy.

I hurt for those that cannot understand.  But I do not grieve any loss.  For my strength runs very deep and will always be there for the ones who feel it.  And should their hearts soften, the Winds will still speak to them of the ways of life and transformation.

There will be change, as there always is, and the Winds will continue to speak their song to all hearts, and someday, all of my life will listen again.”

 

Insight And Premonition: A Poem Of Sight

Tired and weary I went
Up is down and down is up
To seek some sort of peace
Or an ear for my lament

The journey was not soothing
Joyful colors gave no solace
Signs of life noted, not happily
I simply tread on, smiles unstirring

I reached the place of choosing
And spoke my questions all
In the hopes I would find answers
And actions of the Gods, approving

The seer came out, awakened
And stared deeply within
My mind and the world known was reviewed
Until the voice rang out, unshaken

“The life you choose is your own.
They have chosen for themselves.
Dearest one, you know it cannot change
What has grown cannot be unsown”

“Reach out to those that hurt
Find solace in the joining
Share the strength together
Accept that all still play a part”

“Guard thy magic well
Attend to thy wounds carefully
Time for change will be at hand
But for now, hurts will still prevail.”

“I know you wish for more
Perhaps a nicer tale of change?
Know it sits, patiently waiting
Soon to be set for your ever more”

“I hear thy mind race for answers
Trying to make sense or find meaning
Perhaps no sense is what is meant, for now
Instead use thy heart to heal thy cancer”

The seer said nothing further
It was not the comfort I sought
Instead, everything & nothing was said
And now I must leave, ever the wiser

Bias Problems?

I got a lot of response from friends on the post I wrote about not bashing the new age movement.  And while some people felt I had made some good points, I got the idea that overall many people read and dismissed what I had to say as being either naive or simply dismissed me personally as being too ‘New Age’ to think critically about the issues in the first place.  I had expected that.  I also expected people to leave hurtful comments about the post (which luckily, I did not get).

Overall, there was a bit of good discussion about the post.  And while I was going back and forth several times with other members of the pagan community, someone else popped up and made the comment that the arguments in the pagan community never change.

I laughed off the comment with him as I agree that there will always be arguments in the pagan community about labels and issues, but I disagreed with him about the particular discussion.  Instead, I framed what I was engaging in with these other pagans was a discussion with other peers of the pagan community about the points I had brought up.  He then disagreed and brought up his points as to why this was an argument; I gave my side, the others involved gave their sides, and neither of us budged.  He concluded again that based on that definition, we were in an argument.

I reread the posts, and he was right.  And my heart sank.

Now in all fairness, I had no idea what to expect when I put that post out there.     But when I reread the posts, I did see the underlying theme of “I dare you to try to convince me that whatever you say is something I should consider” with some of the participants, so thus, it was in many ways, an argument.  So I gave up.

I was in an argument, and that really bothered me.  The post wasn’t supposed to become something to defend against.  It wasn’t supposed to be me defending my ideals and my right to my own beliefs, nor to defend what I meant by recognizing that even New Age ideals had a bit of truth to them.   It was simply me trying to get another facet of a situation out in the open for people to consider.

Perhaps I am naïve.  In the late 80s/early 90s, the pagan community that I was a part of were mostly open to new ideas.  We were all growing; and information wasn’t easy to come by.  All we had were books and each other.  So, if someone had an idea, most of the time people would listen, consider the idea, then either admit it wasn’t right for them or perhaps continue the discussion to see how it could fit into their spirituality.

But that isn’t this pagan culture now.  Instead it feels like today you get into the pagan community under a specific set of labels.  And if something doesn’t fit into that label, or (Gods Forbid!) if someone tries to push themselves into a label that a specific definition exists for (and is thus considered ‘incorrect’), arguments break out.

That argument culture is the current culture for everything; at least here in the United States.  No matter what the topic is, someone is going to disagree with what it is you think.  And not only will they disagree, they will be sure to make certain you knew it complete with taunts and expletives if you push it enough. Why I thought pagan spirituality and culture would be different and more like the culture I grew my own beliefs in, I don’t know.  But I guess I needed an awakening to what things were truly like.

Why does it even matter what others think?  It honestly doesn’t matter to me if someone dismisses my idea.  But it does make me wonder that if by dismissing a different spiritual idea immediately are they doing a disservice to themselves?  Perhaps instead of challenging them, contemplation on at least a small scale should be considered?

Many years ago, I read a book called “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” by Malcolm Gladwell.  The book has stuck with me all these years because of the exercises.  Those exercises in the book very quickly proved Mr. Gladwell’s point about how we don’t necessarily think, but instead react to unspoken and unknown biases.  While doing those exercises, I realized that I held biases that I had no idea I had.  Me, then a practicing pagan and someone who tried very hard to be open to new ideas and opportunities for growth still had biases.  The realization hurt.  And it also made me vow that I would always look at someone else’s opinion as objectively as possible to ensure that there wasn’t some grain of truth to it for myself.  I admit that it isn’t always easy.  But it is something I aspire to as a personal creed.

That personal creed is why I was so upset at the argumentative nature of the discussion.  I had hoped that other spiritual people would also believe the way I do about bias, and thus try to look at things with an open mind.  Now perhaps some did, I don’t know for certain, but the intent that I read from the posts seemed to me to suggest that the bad things the new age community has done outweighs anything I would have put forth as good, and thus the ideal of the post was dismissed.

And I could go the other way and say perhaps my bias at belittling myself makes me think that the intent I describe above happened when it didn’t happen at all.

It sounds like minutia, doesn’t it?  It sounds like critical thinking gone awry perhaps.  But in my belief, we have to think that deeply to understand the currents of energy that are around us.  We have to let our bias go; let any anthropomorphic ideals of those energies go.  The world and its energy behaves differently than we think it does; no matter how much you learn, no matter how many teachers you have or how many lives you live, we still need to expect the unexpected while we are living on this Earth.

So I come from this experience a little wiser and with more understanding, but with even more dedication to my personal creeds.  But I’ll always hope, and make time for an open minded discussion with my fellow pagans about ideals.  After all, that which does not change me only makes me stronger.

 

Photo from Deviant Art

New Age Bashing

Several weeks ago, an article entitled “New Age Bullshit Part 1” popped up in “A Parliament of Owls – Spiritual & Metaphysical Chat for Wandering Owl Fans” discussion group on Facebook. Since then, It’s been on my mind quite a bit.  It’s been on my mind because I agree with some of the author’s points, but I also very much disagree about his stance on the new age movement.

In the article, the author speaks immediately about the jargon people in the new age movement use. (He calls them ‘lightworkers’ in the article).  Specifically, he speaks to how most lightworkers only talk about love and light, Further down in the article he speaks to how some of these people refuse to even consider the darker sides of the soul, speaking to how most lightworkers believe that if they don’t give any energy to that side of them, the dark side can’t hurt them, or basically, it won’t exist.   This is where I do agree with him.  Yes, there are people out there that have been in the new age movement for quite some time and don’t think about anything but ‘the light’ and preach how staying in ‘the light’ allows this and that and allows you to develop <insert touchy-feely statement here>.

I further agree with the author that many of these lightworkers are stuck in their own personal development because they only focus on the light.  But just like the minority of any religious or spiritual discipline that ruin it for the rest of the population, the same thing has happened in the new age movement, and these lightworkers he speaks of are the culprits.  Yes, we are going to get the people that are that are stuck but they claim they are not.  We are also going to get the people in the New Age movement that specifically speak to only certain practices are ‘true’ and only using certain tools are ‘right’ and so on and so forth.  And we should deal with them like we do when we find them in any other aspect under this great big umbrella called paganism:  We need to ignore them and continue our path.  Because if the lightworkers are true to form, anything we say to them is only going to get us angrier.

The author basically leaves his article there, which makes it feel more like a rant to me than being anything informative.  (In all fairness, he did say this was part one, but I could not find anywhere where he had a part two.)  Again, I see his point and can understand why he would rant.  People like the lightworkers he describes can be very frustrating to deal with.  But there are other facets to the new age movement he doesn’t even consider covering in his article, and that’s a shame.

As most of you already know, I do intuitive tarot readings.  Many of the clients that come in to see me for readings are searchers.  Some of these people are clearly out of their comfort zone, they come to me even though they have no idea how a reading works or what to ask.  Some don’t even know how a tarot deck works.  Still, they come because they are searching for something that they cannot name.  Still others come speaking of ‘talents’ or ‘gifts’ their recent ancestors had; and their visit to me is them grasping at straws trying to connect with that talent that might be innate in themselves.

In these cases, I do my best to be the gracious host of the metaphysical realms.  I speak to them and give them ideas on reaching out to their ancestors; or other ways they can start ‘testing’ the waters so to speak.  But I don’t give them too much.  Going straight into how to cast a circle, gathering spell components for a spell or talking about some of the more specific areas of the metaphysical realms are just too much for these clients.

So in short, I give them what some people would call New Age practices to start with.

If you look at some of the practices of the new age belief you will see immediately that they are very basic.  They are easy to comprehend and they can be communicated and understood in a very short period of time.  That makes them the perfect building block for me to present to my clients so they can start building their own foundations for metaphysical practice.  Also, the so called ‘light’ exercises are perfect to help teach protection and grounding; which most newbies desperately need.

The practices I speak about aren’t any that need deep oversight.  I’m also not designating myself as their ‘teacher’ by giving them suggested practices, nor do I say they MUST do them.  I simply suggest them and allow the client to make up their own mind as to whether or not the practice is right for them.  And if they choose to go deeper and want more information, then I can suggest a specific person from the list of people I have that I know to be very reputable and that can give them further information about a specific subject.

Another reason I start with new age practices is because of the terminology of the movement is so common.  Reaching for a common language to communicate to someone is the same thing I do in my day job.  As a technical writer, I constantly have to think about my audience; Is my writing going to someone with technical knowledge so I can let lose more technical terms, or is the audience a group who doesn’t know the difference between Kaizen and a Kanban?

In order to communicate anything, we must first make certain we have a common language.  New age terminology easily bridges that gap.  It also allows me to bypass terms that might scare my clients.  Sure there are things that I still must explain in more detail, but overall I have a common language that I can use to start connecting with my client and help them work through whatever problem they have come to me to get more information on.

The people that come to see me and people like them are some of the biggest reasons why the new age movement is still thriving.  These are people who could be just becoming aware of the energies within and around them and have no idea how to work with that energy.  They might be scared shitless of something they saw, felt or heard and have no idea what to do about it.  Or they are like me when I found new age practices – they are the people that feel deep in their heart and soul that something is missing, and are reaching for the piece of them they cannot define.

I am a Reiki Master, and that, to many people, is a new age practice.  Yet it was my training in Reiki that ultimately led to my being able to control my intuitive gifts and become the adept reader I am today.  It also led to me being able to use healing abilities and helped to teach me not to send out my own energy and deplete my own personal energy sources.  Reiki became my teacher in other ways too.  It was what I reached for as protection when I started doing my own deeper journey work and it has helped deepen my understanding of the Gods as I know them now.  In fact, Reiki still is a very important piece of my spiritual discipline.

When I found Reiki, it was the only thing that I could find in the pagan community that made any sense regarding my healing and intuitive abilities.  I was already pagan; I’d been practicing rituals at that point for roughly 10ish years and no matter how much I searched, I could find no one who could help me with my intuitive and healing gifts.  Reiki was the only thing that helped me understand what I was doing wrong in my practice, and it was the only thing that helped me correct my mistakes properly.

Now had this article been written back then, and had I seen it prior to my decision to be attuned to a new age thing such as Reiki, perhaps I would have reconsidered my decision to become attuned.  And I would not be following the wonderful soul fulfilling path that I currently follow.  I would not be the strong person that I am today.  I would not be devoted to Loki and Odin. I would not be a member of OBOD.  And I would not be a keeper of the Sacred Pipe of my ancestors.  That’s one reason why I’m a bit upset about this article; who is going to read it and step away from possibly the very start of a very fulfilling spiritual path because of what others think about the practices they do?

The whole ‘new age bashing’ in articles like this one also makes me wonder if there is a deeper reason why it happens.  Was there a time where we, in our newbie ignorance, were like those lightworkers perhaps?  Did we condemn practices that weren’t exactly like our own? Or, are we condemning new age practices that are so simple that we in our current knowledge base would now assume that ‘ANY’ newbie should automatically know them as common sense?

Or are we embarrassed at our own beginnings, and that is why the new age movement gets the brunt of the bashing, much like pagan publishers that publish lots of beginner books like Llewellyn publishing (or bash the so called ‘Llewellyn babies’ who read said books), authors that write lots of beginning practice books (Silver RavenWolf) or why books that we once held in high esteem get joked about (Uncle Bucky’s Big Blue anyone?).

Perhaps that is the crux of it.  We all DO have to start somewhere.  Let’s stop bashing those starting points.  And while we are at it, let’s not worry about the lightworkers or other people that choose to stay stuck and help the ones who truly want to reach deeper.  Let’s help them realize that the tools they received and the skills that they learned in the new age movement can help them learn that there is much more to these paths than what they know.  And in the meantime, let’s recognize the new age movement as the stepping block that it can be into a much bigger world.

 

Photo from Deviant Art