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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Dichotomies of Being a Man

Thursday, June 26, 2008
I have noticed in many of the men that I meet that they fall onto one side of a very puzzling dichotomy. On one side they shuck all responsibility and choose to float through life without a care. The other side, and I am guilty of this at times, holds themselves to the other extreme. They carry guilt if their family have to do without anything, whether it is needs or wants.
I am puzzled by this extreme dichotomy arising. I want to just address it to a lack of strong and well-adjusted male role models. But, is it really that simple? Is it a combination of factors; like the over-medication of our boys or the marginalization of men in our culture?
As I sit here, writing this, the idea that the second two have led to the first and therefore indirectly lead to the arising of this dichotomy.
So what are we to do, if we accept that this dichotomy exists? There are many things that men and women need to do. Men need to break the cycle and grow up. Women need to 1.) stop treating their men like children and 2.) stop allowing them to act like children. But you can't do that like a mother would do to her child. So none of the scorn that I so often see directed at men. Rather seek to aid, guide and lift up your men. Help them to realize the potential to be complete.
For men, their step seems a lot tougher. They may need counseling, or at the very least a group of like minded men heading on the same path to help them along. There are many religious groups that are there to help men.
I am interested in any of your experiences that you wish to share, either comment or email me. Also any ideas and comments on any of the things I have said here.

Blessed Be!


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Paganism and Responsibility

Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Floods in the Midwest. Fires further West then that. Hurricane season upon us in the South. And other disasters and war in the world at large. To many Americans if these things aren't happening to us then they either don't exist or don't matter. Yet we as Pagans, should care and care deeply.
We have learned how to do magick and to change the world and make it a better place. Or at least many of us have. And if not, and even if so, we at least know how to pray.
So what do us as Pagans, do about it? I haven't seen any widespread call for us to work magick to help things come to an end that harm none.
But the question really is, do we as Pagans have a responsibility to work magick to help the world at large? Should we do anything or let nature run its course?
I personally have kept the victims of the flooding in the Midwest in my mind and sent whatever energy that I could spare. But that is my personal choice and may not be any one else's choice.
So what is the answer? To quote a to often spoken cliche; "With great power comes great responsibility." And they said that comic books would never teach me anything. So from this my answer is; We have the power to help and would be negligent if we did nothing. In other words, yes we must.
What are your thoughts? And are any of you, either affected directly, or are doing anything to help?
Blessed Be!


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Celebrating with Food

Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The sacrifice of the first of the harvest to the Gods. The laying out of milk, honey and bread for the faeries. The mute supper laid out to honor the dead on Samhain. The partaking of Cakes and Ale in circle to ground us after ritual.
These are just a few of the rituals that we as Pagans may celebrate with food. Throughout the centuries our ancestors celebrated many more. So what is it about food that allows it to serve such an important role in so much?
Well my theory is that when we do anything with intent it becomes charged with energy. And food is one of the few items with the huge potential to store energy. Food by itself holds much energy, that is how we can live off of food. So if you ritually prepare food as an offering to the Gods or to any spirits then it becomes a hyper charged vessel of energy.
And to prepare our own food is to become more in tune with the energies of the Earth around us. I also think that, as a modern culture, with all of our processed foods, we have forgotten the wonders of wholesome food. They have stripped our food of all that was good for us and added sugars and preservatives. This is convenient for us, so we don't complain. Yet this disconnect has also served as another way we have been divorced from nature.
So with Lughnassadh coming upon us, that time of the first harvest of the year, we should look at the food in our daily lives. Try the recipes I post here on this blog. Make an effort to live more healthy, to watch the food that we eat. Read some of the labels, the salt alone in most prepackaged meals will serve to kill you early.
In addition I encourage all of you to take a look at the role of food in your rituals, both personally and as a family. Examine the food that you offer to the Gods or to the various spirits, maybe you should try to make some of it from scratch to add that extra little bit of honor to the Gods.
Now I know that all of this isn't necessary, because it is the intent that counts not the items involved. But I think that any extra work you do will increase your intent.

Blessed Be!


Friday, June 20, 2008

Happy Litha!

Friday, June 20, 2008
Happy Litha to All!

Supplies:


A Solar Cross for each of the children participating
Five Candles -- two yellow, red, blue, green
A bowl of water
A bowl of dirt
A feather
Musical Instruments if you so wish
Bell for each of the children participating

Ritual:

Arrange the colored candles and other items in a circle around you. In the East put the yellow candle and the feather. In the South put the red candle a little further out. In the West put the bowl of water and the blue candle. And finally in the North put the bowl of dirt and the green candle. Light these candles as you set them out. Walk with your children from candle to candle, ringing a bell as you leave from candle to another.
Start in the East and tell them that it represents Air. Wave the feather at them so that they can feel the wind.
In the South tell them that here is Fire represented. Carefully let them feel the heat from the candle.
In the West talk to them about Water. Have them wash their hands in the water.
In the North speak about the element of Earth. Let them touch the dirt.
When you return to the Center talk to them about the Goddess and the God and how they are always there. Let them know about Love and the Blessings that the Gods can give us.

Now sit with your children and tell them about Litha. How it is a time for the marriage of the Gods and the height of the sun. With this light the yellow candle.
Now have some fun and celebrate. Play some music and sing some chants. Raise some energy.
When you feel the time is right, ring the bell and have the children hold up their solar cross and say:

Sacred Father and Blessed Mother
We ask you to bless this Cross, made in your name
Let it hang in our house and bring us blessings
So Mote It Be!

When you are finished you can hang the Solar Crosses in your homes to bring those blessings.



Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Myths for Children -- How Prometheus gave Man fire

Wednesday, June 18, 2008
In those old, old times, there lived two brothers who were not like other men, or like the mighty gods who lived on the mountain top. They were the sons of one of those Titans who had fought against Zeus and been sent in chains to the prison of the Lower World.

The name of the elder of these brothers was Prometheus (which means Forethought). Prometheus was always thinking of the future and making things ready for what might happen tomorrow, or next week, or next year, or even in a hundred years time. The younger was called Epimetheus (which means Afterthought). Epimetheus was always so busy thinking of yesterday, or last year, or a hundred years ago, that he never worried at all about what might come to pass in the future.

Zeus had not sent these brothers to prison with the rest of the Titans.

Prometheus did not want to live amongst the clouds on the mountain top. He was too busy for that. While the gods were spending their time in idleness, drinking wonderful drinks and eating heavenly food, he was planning how to make the world wiser and better than it had ever been before.

Prometheus noticed that the people were no longer happy, as they had been in the Golden Age when Cronus was king of the world, and that made him very sad. So he went to live amongst the people to try to help them. Oh dear, how very poor and miserable they were! He found them living in caves and in ditches, shivering with the cold because there was no fire, dying of starvation, hunted by wild beasts and by one another. Humans had become the most miserable of all living creatures.

"If they only had fire," said Prometheus to himself, "they could at least warm themselves and cook their food; and after a while they could learn to make tools and build themselves houses. Without fire, they are worse off than the beasts."

Prometheus went boldly to Zeus and begged him to give fire to the people, so that so they might have a little comfort through the long, dreary months of winter.

"Not likely!" said Zeus. "Not likely at all! If the people had fire they might become strong and wise like us, and after a while they would drive us out of our kingdom. I'm happy to let them shiver with cold, and live like the wild animals. It is best for them to be poor and ignorant, that so we gods can rule the world without threat and be happy."

Prometheus didn't answer, but he had set his heart on helping mankind, and he did not give up. But he turned away, and left Zeus and the rest of the gods forever.

As he was walking by the seashore he found a reed, or, as some say, a tall stalk of fennel, growing. He broke it off and then saw that its hollow center was filled with a dry, soft substance which would burn slowly and stay alight for a long time. He carried the stalk with him as he began a long journey to the place where the sun lived in the far east.

"Mankind shall have fire, despite that tyrant who sits on the mountain top," he said to himself.

He reached the home of the morning sun just as the glowing, golden globe was rising from the earth and beginning his daily journey through the sky. Prometheus touched the end of the long reed to the flames, and the dry substance within it caught on fire and burned slowly. Prometheus hurried back to his own land, carrying with him the precious spark hidden in the hollow center of the plant.

When he reached home, he called some of the shivering people from their caves and built a fire for them, and showed them how to warm themselves by it, and how to build other fires from the coals. Soon there was a cheerful blaze in every home in the land, and men and women gathered round the fire and were warm and happy, and thankful to Prometheus for the wonderful gift which he had brought to them from the sun.

Prometheus brings fire to mankind by Fuger 1817It was not long until the people learned to cook their food and therefore to eat like men instead of like wild beasts. They began immediately to forget their wild and savage habits, and, instead of lurking in the dark places of the world, they came out into the open air and the bright sunlight, and were happy.

After that, Prometheus taught them, little by little, a thousand things. He showed them how to build houses of wood and stone, and how to tame sheep and cattle and make them useful, and how to plow and sow and reap to grow good food, and how to protect themselves from the storms of winter and the wild beasts. Then he showed them how to dig in the earth for copper and iron, and how to melt the ore, and how to hammer it into shape and make tools and weapons from it. When he saw how happy the world was becoming he thought:

"We shall a new Golden Age, even better and brighter than the old one!"


Monday, June 16, 2008

Who is Amaterasu?

Monday, June 16, 2008
She is the Japanese Sun Goddess, and the highest deity in the Shinto tradition. Born of the left eye of the God Izanagi, the royal family of Japan traces their ancestry back to her.
In the Kojiki, Amaterasu is described as the goddess from which all light emanates and is often referred to as the sun goddess because of her warmth and compassion for the people who worshiped her. The Kojiki, is the oldest book in Japan, translating to 'Records of Ancient Matters', in English.
She was also know for the teaching to the Japanese how to grow rice. She also invented the art of weaving with the loom and taught the people how to cultivate wheat and silkworms.
There is a story of the first dawn, that involves Amaterasu and her brother Susano-O. One day Susano-O went into a rampage and defiled his sister's rice fields and temples and killed some of her maidens, accidentally. So angered was Amaterasu, that in protest she hid herself in a cave and sealed it with a large rock.
All the Gods of the Japanese came and tried to get her out but they were unable to make her budge. So Ame-no-Uzume, Goddess of merriment, decide to have a party outside the entrance to the cave. To the great excitement of the other Gods.
Amaterasu was so intrigued by all the sound of excitement that she rolled the rock aside and asked the nearest God what all the excitement was. The response? Well we have a new Goddess now. When asked where she was, the God pointed to a mirror hung from a tree.
When she looked in the mirror she was so enthralled that she left the cave, which was then sealed behind her. Now that she was out the Gods convinced her to go back into the heavens again and allow her light to shine on the Earth again. But from this day forward Amaterasu carried a bow and quiver of arrows with her, so that she could deal with her brother if he ever stepped out of line again.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Crafts for Litha -- The Sun Cross

Sunday, June 15, 2008
Predating Christianity for thousands of the years, this simple symbol represents the Earth and the Sun all in one. Sometimes the Sun Cross appears as a swastika or as a equal armed cross enclosed within a circle. It is also know as Odin's cross.
To make your own you can follow the instructions below:

Items Needed:
  • Two sticks of cinnamon
  • A hoop of some kind, that is no wider then the sticks of cinnamon
  • Thread (Raffia is a great idea, also)

Instructions:
  1. Start off my binding the two pieces of cinnamon together forming a traditional equal armed cross shape.
  2. Then fasten the cross to the hoop at the four intersecting points.
  3. You can then decorate your house with your brand new Solar Cross or you can use them in your family's ritual.



Sunday, June 8, 2008

LItha Crafts -- SunCatchers

Sunday, June 8, 2008
For a long time there were many AOL free CDs floating around my house. And I'm sure that if you look around then you could perhaps find some in your house as well.

Things You’ll Need:
  • 2 old CD's
  • Needle
  • Fishing line
  • Markers
  • Paint
  • Stickers
  • Sequins
  • Plastic Gems
  • Buttons
  • Assorted beads
  • Greeting card pictures
Instructions:
  1. Locate two old CD's that are blank one side.
  2. Using a strong permanent adhesive glue the printed sides of the CD's together. The result should look like a regular CD with double the thickness. Let dry.
  3. Heat a needle over a candle flame. Guide heated needle through the double thickness of CD to create a hole for a hanger at the top of the CD. Continue until hole is 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide. Repeat to make three holes at bottom edge of CD. Space these holes 1 inch apart.
  4. Cut pictures from old greeting cards. Glue pictures on CD positioning image to cover center hole.
  5. Use markers to decorate front and back of CD's. Accent design with sequins, buttons and plastic gems.
  6. String fishing line through hole at top of CD to create a hanger.
  7. Thread assorted beads on a 5-inch length of fishing line. Tie fishing line around first bead to keep string from unraveling. Tie other end of fishing line to one of the holes in bottom of CD. Repeat for remaining two strands of beads. courtesy of ehow.com



Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Children's Story for Litha

Wednesday, June 4, 2008
The old man laid resting in his favorite chair, feet propped by the cold fireplace. His eyes closed and a half smile showing around his favorite pipe, which of course was lit. But then he felt something a small tug at his pant leg. He opened one eye and peered down at his youngest grandson, who was looking up at him with love and adoration. "Grandfather," he whispered, "Can you tell us another story. We want to know what happened next to the Gods."
At this the Grandfather opened both eyes and lifted his head and now saw all his grandchildren and some other children, that he didn't know, all looking at him expectantly. "Sure," the grandfather said as he took his pipe from his mouth and smiled wider. "Of course now comes next the time of marriage for the Gods. For wedding day was coming quick upon them.
"If you remember last time the Gods had come together in the first marriage but what you may not know is now the Holly King was here. A mite small, mind you, but he was there inside the Mother Goddess, continuing to grow.
"So the Gods and the faeries knew that marriage must be next. For that was the way of things. So the faeries pulled out the dress that they had wove at Imbolc. You remember? It was made of spider silk and the morning's first dew. And presented it to the Goddess, with three more gifts.
"These gifts were given in private, so that not even the God knows what they were, even to this day. The first gift given was a gift of something new, given, so they said, that She may begin to get used to her new life.
"The second gift was something used. So that She may never forget who she was before that day and where she came from.
"Something blue was the third gift. To keep her safely through this new life and through the birth of her new child. And afterwards, well the blue would help her to keep her temper in check. For as we all know children can try the patience even of the most patient.
"So the day came for the Gods to become one in the eyes of all. All the faeries of the land came to honor them. The children came to scatter flowers an to vie for the right to carry the sacred rings.
"And the rings, set with diamonds that sparkled like the stars in the firmament. The most beautiful rings that any had seen. They stand for the Circle that the married couple enters into. Bound together for as long as love may last.
"The Ceremony was simple; The God spoke of his journey for his love and of the depth of his commitment. The Goddess, well, she also spoke of her commitment. But she spoke with sadness in her voice, as if she knew something that the others there knew not. But it passed quickly as she talked of her Love for the God.
"When they were married they went on a holiday together to celebrate their love and enjoy each other.
"So you see children, this is what you have to look forward to when you get older. But it won't seem so bad, when you get to that age. But run along now and let me go back to my pipe. Come tomorrow and I will tell you the story of the First Harvest."
The children sat for a moment still thinking about the story that they heard. They had images of flowers scattered around a hall of splendor and they had visions of shimmery dresses or rings of gold behind their eyes.
Then they all left their grandfather by the fire, the older ones to dream the younger ones to play at the games that all little children play.