Just an FYI this site will be going down for maintenance in the next couple of hours. Should be up by tomorrow. I apologize for any incovenience.

Friday, November 30, 2007

To Tree or not to Tree?

Friday, November 30, 2007

We have just went and got our Yule tree. Haven't decorated it yet but will consider posting pictures when I have it lit and decorated. So where actually does the Yule tree come from? Many stories are out there that talk about the Christian origins of decorating a tree. But I believe the tree was the replacement of the Yule log as fireplaces became less common.
It also serves as a symbol of rebirth and life everlasting, both things that are present in the pagan Yule ceremonies. Evergreens have always held a special place in the heart of men, the only tree that seems to conquer winter and all its harsh weather.
Now that we have covered the possible origins of the Yule tree, what is the best way to pick a tree? Below is a list copied from commercialappeal.com


  • Look for a tree with a healthy green appearance.


  • Run your hand along the branches to see if the needles are fresh and flexible. They should not come off in your hand.


  • Bump the trunk of the tree on the ground. If lots of needles fall off, the tree is not fresh. You can expect a few brown needles to fall off.


  • Make sure the base of the trunk is straight and 6 to 8 inches long so it can fit into a tree stand.


  • If you see splits in the trunk, the tree may have dried out previously.


  • Locally grown trees are usually fresher and less expensive than trees that have been shipped from a distance.


  • If possible, cover your tree with some type of tarp during transport to prevent it from drying out, particularly if it is going to be transported on top of your car.


  • If the tree is going to be kept outside several days before it goes into the house, place it out of direct sun and wind to keep it from drying out.


  • If the base of the tree has been cut within the last four to six hours, it will not need to be recut; if longer, the base should be recut so the tree can absorb water.


  • Cut straight across the trunk (not at an angle) and remove an inch or more from the bottom.


  • A cut tree will absorb a lot of water, particularly during the first week. It can use four to six quarts of water per day.



I recommend getting a real tree if you have the room, if for no other reason, at least because it is better for the environment. There are no readily accessible places at which to recycle a fake PVC tree. And a Yule tree farm, even if they use pesticides and herbicides, at least they replant what they cut and in the meantime the uncut trees are absorbing carbon dioxide and putting out oxygen.
And when the season is over, you have several options as what to do with the tree. You can compost for mulch, sometimes your local municipality may take it and use it themselves for mulch. My local municipality has a program in which they take the tree and sink it local ponds for fish habitats.
A third option is to buy a tree with roots and plant it in your yard, if you have the room. I'm not qualified to talk about finding the right species for your soil and climate. So seek advice from a qualified professional. But remember that this tree should only be indoors for about a week.
So good luck in your Yule tree hunting.

Blessed Be!


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Is Santa Claus bad for Children

Thursday, November 29, 2007

My children believe in Santa and I see nothing wrong with it. Now does this mean that they cannot tell the difference between reality and fantasy? I don't see it. My children are well rounded and for the most part complete.
There are articles out there that talk about the fact that if parents say that Santa Claus is real they are lying to their children. And lying is bad, right? Yet I argue that telling children the whole truth about many things is detrimental to them. As much as we wish to deny it the world is a dark and evil place. Now I don't advocate lying to children but allowing them a common fantasy that most of their peers will share cannot be bad; in fact I believe that it would be wrong to make them the only kids in school to say that Santa is make-believe.
Now some of you may say that Santa is too Christian, but I will disagree with that. Santa Claus, or Old Kris Kringle, is in fact very very Pagan. He has elfs and he practices magic. He is too jolly for most Christians, reminds me of a Scottish Highlander who lives for good Scotch. Here is a good song by Emerald Rose about the fact that Santa Claus is Pagan too! Link
So in my honest opinion, Pagans of the world need to unite and reclaim Santa as a incarnation of the Holly King, buy the Woodland Santa's so popular now, put a star on the tree and sing Yule carols. Exchange gifts and say Happy Yule in response to Merry Christmas. Be pagan and be proud.

Blessed Be!


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My Daughter's first altar

Tuesday, November 27, 2007
With Lassair only being three it is not an elaborate one but it is a start. We have a old miniature mirrored vanity that we got for free. On this vanity there is a statue of the Goddess on there surrounded by various crystals.
It has been cleansed, blessed and consecrated but right now this altar will be unused except as an introduction to the Craft. When she gets a little older and learns some patience then we will teach her the basics of circle etiquette, and rules of ritual.
I have tried often to create a checklist to determine when a child is circle-ready; and what I have drawn together is as follows:

Patience
Awareness of the Self
Ability to follow simple instructions

Awareness of the Self will most probably come first. It did for both of my daughters. And then probably will come the ability to follow simple instructions. Both of my daughters learned this from having a list of chores to complete. Chores also help to teach self-responsibility.
Patience. That elusive quality that allows one to sit in silence for five to ten minutes without fidgeting. So elusive in fact that there are adults among us that do not know how to have patience. I have found it beneficial in my house to turn off the TV and radio and find activities that don't require constant stimulus.
Not that my children are the most patient children but they are better behaved than most other children I have met. In other words I can take them out to eat and to other quiet places without worry about being thrown out.
But even when your child shows these admirable qualities, I still recommend that you start slow. Introduce them to one thing at a time. I plan on starting with just bringing her into circle for the small, short rituals.
Only later moving on to more elaborate ritual but in the meantime I will content myself to just celebrating the Sabbats with her through traditions.

Blessed Be!


Monday, November 26, 2007

Teaching my child the Sabbats

Monday, November 26, 2007
Me and my wife, Danielle have decided to try to teach my youngest daughter, Lassair, the story of the Sabbats. Below is a picture of her altar and the drawing of The Wheel of the Year that Danielle drew for her.

At the top is a picture of a Yule tree and then, continuing clockwise, a candle, an Ostara Egg, a maypole, a sun, ear of corn, then a autumn leaf, and finally a pumpkin.
Then Danielle hands me the picture and tells me to explain it to the kid. So I start with Yule the birthday of the God and move on to Imbolc which is about him as a young child. Then comes Ostara, celebration of his mother and future wife, Eostre, Goddess of Spring. Beltaine is when the Goddess becomes pregnant. And Litha is the day of the Goddess and God's marriage. Lughnassadgh is about the Death of the God and the birth of the new God, the one of the dark half of the year. Mabon is next and is the time of the Pagan thanksgiving when we give thanks for all the Goddess gives us. Samhain is about family and when we miss the Goddess, who has gone to the Underworld to fetch our God so that he can be born at Yule.
Now this story was accompanied by fidgeting, a lot of fidgeting. But she enjoyed the story and has said so multiple times, also repeating small parts of it over and over and over.
Now this is just a beginning and hopefully a guide for you to teach your children the mystery and wonder of the Sabbats.
Throughout the next year I will go over these Sabbats again with her, in greater detail. Through stories and song, though I can't sing worth a lick, and various activities. Some of these things will have a historical basis and can be traced back to other families in history, and some will be brand new, inventions of my own mind and possibly the minds of others.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Over-Commercialization

Sunday, November 25, 2007
Now that another "Black Friday" has come and gone, the issue of the over-commercialization of America has risen again. Our children are more worried about 'buy me, buy me' than they are about being grateful for what they already have. This fact is mostly an extension and one of the various incarnations of the entitlement mentality that has been bred into our society since the 1930's.
Our society has forgotten the true meaning of the holidays, all of them. We have forgotten about the importance of family and kinship. Subsequently our societal structure is collapsing around us. Our homes and marriages are breaking in record numbers.
Yet the other reason for all of this is the lack of spirituality in our culture. In our rush from the oppressiveness of the past we have run clear to the other side of the spectrum, forgoing all religion and spirituality. Without faith in something, anything, there really is no moral compass. Not to say that atheists can't be moral. For oftentimes it is not atheists, but rather those who profess to be religious that lack morals and spirituality.
This problem is not a specific problem of anyone faith, it affects them all, from Pagan to Christian and so on. Too many people say they are Pagan or Christian or whatever, but they have a only a belief rather than a faith in their God and religion.
This lack of faith falls squarely on the shoulders of the parents of this generation and those past. And it is up to us, to change this. It matters not what you have faith in as long as you have faith in something. Faith is what carries us through the tough times without it we run the risk of foundering. Is this not then one of the greatest lessons that we can teach our children?
Yet it is not just about the faith that you hold, you must be able to have a faith that can compromise and be compatible with the faith of your partner. I realized the hard way that two incompatible faiths, or even one faith that is incompatible with any other but its own, leads to conflict and the same result as no faith, a broken home and a divorce.
But if you can find a partner with a common faith and raise your children in that faith then you have the taken the first few and tentative steps towards improving the world. For although most of us do not have the power to change the world at large, we do have the power to change ourselves and our family and then through that change the our immediate world.

Blessed Be!


Sunday, November 11, 2007

I am a Pagan Conservative

Sunday, November 11, 2007
Most pagans I have met think that this title is a contradiction in terms since they are liberal themselves. But it is my opinion that the root values of conservatism, values that have been lost in the partisan bickering, are inherently pagan. Freedom to be who you choose, freedom to become who you choose, freedom from taxes, freedom from a repressive government that tells me what and how to believe. What is more pagan than these freedoms? I also believe that true conservatism is about self-governship and self-responsibility, both of which are beliefs of many (if not all) pagans.

I try my best to teach these values to my children. I teach them that no one can make them happy or sad but themselves; unless they cede that power to them. I show them that they have the power to succeed in anything they do regardless of the obstacles. That they can become or do anything that they wish to in their lives. I tell them of the greatness of America and of the constitution.

While most pagans believe that war is evil and unnecessary; I believe that war sometimes is necessary. British statesman Edmund Burke said it most eloquently; "Evil flourishes when good men do nothing". If the pacifists sit by while those that wish them dead run rampant, then they will die. As much as people want to deny it, this world that we live in is still governed by the use of aggressive force. But we must not live in fear rather we must accept responsibility for ourselves and for our actions and face the aggressors unabashedly.

The biggest turnoff, in my opinion, of many pagans from the conservative movement is the religious right. The religious right served its purpose in bringing conservatism to the forefront of America. But now all it does is alienate the non-Christian conservatives and keep many liberals from switching camps. Yet at the same time they have many things to offer to non-pagans and pagans alike.

As I have grown in the Craft I have drawn closer to the original message of Christianity; Love. And I also tout the morals and ethics of the early Christians. Now most pagans don't like the idea of ethics beyond the rede of harm none but ethics are a necessary thing.

In my coven the phrase that we teach is;

May we learn to live in love and light
So that we may have strength and truth
And that we may receive power and blessings

This means that we should to love first ourselves and then let that love spread to all around you. This will bring light and happiness to your life and to your family. That love will give you strength to live in truthfully. In other words to not lie, to not harm and to do good; showing kindness to all. This will bring you power, power to do good, to influence people for the better. And the power to bring blessings first to your life and to the lives of your friends and family.

I believe that more people believed in these things. To sum up, these things are; Freedom, self-responsibility, love, and truth, bound all by the rede of harm none. So remember this on Veterans Day, the religious right does not necessarily have to be christian. May the Goddess and God bless all of our soldiers, both to those currently serving and to those that have served, and to those that have died.

Blessed Be!


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Lessons from a Father to his Children

Tuesday, November 6, 2007
What is it that a father should teach his children? I have stressed in previous articles about the importance of being a good father, but what exactly is it that makes someone a good father? We have covered how to be good men which leads to being a great father. But what is it that we should teach our children? What lessons are there that they need to learn?

The most important lesson a father can teach his children is love. We are a nation of people that have forgotten how to love. There is a Greek word, a'stor-gos, that embodies this. It translates roughly, to having no natural affection and suggests a lack of a love that should exist among family members, specifically between children and their parents. You can easily see how this leads to problems. This lack of affection and love has led to all of the crimes against our children by both parents and non-parents alike. Parents have stopped loving their kids and subsequently the kids have stopped loving and respecting their parents in return.

If the children are corrupted and wandering in the dark, then there is truly no hope for the future. Men need to step up and overcome their backgrounds and upbringing. To forgive themselves and learn to love themselves. For if we have love in our hearts than that love will spread to the other people around us in our life. If we as men can overcome our backgrounds and learn to love then we can teach this most important lesson to our children and stop the long cycle of self-hate, pity and loathing.

Yet this does not just include how we treat our children or the children of others it should include how we treat all of the women in our lives. For if the women, who raise our children, are messed up and have issues then how are they to help raise the children of the world?

One of the easiest ways to teach our children love is through spirituality. It really does not matter what it is that you believe in, as long as you believe in something and that it is rooted in love. Teach them that love is the center and root of all things good in this world. And that there is a deity out there that loves them regardless of who or what they are and with very little extra effort on your part than your children will learn about love.

If you can succeed in learning love and then in passing that lesson on to your children. You can begin to show them how to live in light and how to spread that light to the world around them. Kindness and compassion is the key to this. To have a smile and a kind word for your fellow man is the easiest gift that you can ever give.

Teach your children to do good deeds and to have compassion for those that deserve it and for those that will appreciate it. I am a conservative libertarian who does not believe in our entitlement welfare society. Rather I believe in teaching people how to grow food and how to make money, rather than teaching them to just sit by and wait for the powers to be to hand them a check or food. But if someone is in need of food or of help then I will help them if I can as long as I am able to take care of me and my own first. I do this because I understand that sometimes hard times fall on good people.

But people should first work hard to achieve something in their lives and to stop waiting for other people to care for them. This is the third lesson to teach children; self-independence. For if we could all learn how to live in love and to show light to the world around us and then learn how to take care of ourselves then the world would be a much better place indeed.

Now while these are the most important lessons to teach your children, they are also the hardest lessons to learn ourselves and the hardest lessons to teach our children. But no one ever said that being a father was an easy job.

Blessed Be!