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.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Role of a Pagan Father

Sunday, June 27, 2010
I have met so many young men struggling with how to be a good father. They have the potential to be both great people and great fathers. But for whatever reason they are struggling to find their way. Whether they come from broken homes with deadbeat dads, or just dads that didn't know how to be great fathers or for any other reasons it is not their fault. All that they needed was a guide.

Yet who am I to offer advice on this topic? I am a father of two beautiful young girls; one seven and the other three. I am also divorced once and am now engaged to a wonderful, supportive, and beautiful woman. So since I have been a father for seven years and have worked through the trials and tribulations of raising children; Worked hard to establish traditions rooted in love and not in duty, hopefully I am somewhat qualified to comment and offer my advice on one of the ways to be not just a dad but a great dad who happens to be pagan.

So what exactly is it that separates a Dad from a Great Father? Almost any man can be a dad, all that is involved in that is enough sex to make a woman pregnant and then the child being carried to term and being born and voila the male becomes a dad. But a father, much less a great father, is involved in that child or children's personal life in a overwhelmingly positive manner. Yet so many men today are either afraid or don't know how to be whole and complete men. A man must be strong but merciful, stern but fair, no longer is it acceptable for men to be hard-asses nor should it be acceptable for men to be complete pansies and pushovers. But a strong willed man is often times feared, crucified and turned into a pariah by the women around him. And so it is often times for fathers that want the best for and out of their kids. I set my standards high for my children, hoping that they can reach that level but being comfortable with them in the meantime only reaching a half or even a quarter of this goal, as long as they continue to strive for excellence. And I am often told that I am to hard and that kids need to be kids. Yet I feel that I give them room to play and express themselves but I insist that they must learn manners and how they are expected to act while in a public place.

A lot of these comments are the result of the perception of Fathers and Men in todays culture. This perception is exceedingly negative. We are ridiculed as stupid and bumbling. The brunt of women's jokes. Yet at the same time a male is a predator. He is a nasty, vicious, hateful bigot/racist/rapist/fill in the blank. I guess the only ones who are not killing people are the ones to stupid to operate a gun or knife.
I have seen in my own life a man who is strong willed and confident in himself be lambasted by the women around him, even complete strangers. I have seen him called sexist, macho (since when was that a bad term?), egotistical, among many other things. Why is it that a strong willed man is perceived as a threat? There are bad men among us but I believe that the large portion of the problems facing us from deranged males is caused by their upbringing. If you tell a child that he is not needed by the opposite sex and in the next breath tell him that he should stop acting like a girl, what is he supposed to think and feel? If he steps out of line then you medicate him, instead of training and helping him to work through his feelings, therefore emotionally castrating him. Unable to express more than a very limited range of emotions. On the worst case he is violent and angry, on the best case he is a sobbing emotional wreck, quick to cry at every bad turn in his life. This emotional wreck is the one that stays home with Mom until he is forty, he is the one that one day because he can't afford his meds and can't control himself without them, snaps and kills a school full of people. And yes they make that choice but if you treat a child like a helpless baby and coddle him (or her) their entire life and are always there to solve their problems for them, then by definition they are codependent and unable to solve their own problems.

It is our roles as Fathers and Men to recognize this baggage in ourselves, and through faith in the Goddess and God (or whatever it is that you believe in), and through support groups if necessary, to overcome this programming, to be independent and able to make our own decisions. I used to be one of these men, quick to anger and quick to cry unable to face my problems, unable, in many cases, to even express how I felt. This cost me my first marriage but now that I have learned how to express myself with words and not through anger it has enabled me to have a serious long term relationship that is strong and continues to grow. And when we overcome our childhood training then we must teach this independence and freedom to our sons and to any and all of our friends that our ready to listen.

Now don't think that I am going to leave out the daughters of the world. We as fathers and men have a responsibility there also. They learn from us how they are supposed to be treated in their future (or current) relationships. We must teach them independence and not that they don't need men (as is often the message to little girls) but that they don't need anything or anyone in their lives that is unhealthy for them. They can have men in their lives and have deep relationships without fear as long as they seek those relationships with men that have grown up and have become true men.

So to sum up what I have said about fatherhood; A father helps to establish traditions that bring the family together and helps to hold them together. He teaches them right from wrong, teaches morality, strength and love. He is there to love and teach love. He hopefully is able to bring light into their lives and to show them that they can bring light to others through kindness. And he is also supposed to give them a basic roadmap and a how-to (if you will) of their spirituality. Not to define their faith, but to give them tools so that when they get older they can find their own faith.

So what other types of males are there? Well in my opinion the males of the world can be divided into three categories. You have boys, young males who play and have their toys and don't know how to act responsible, they are too young. Then you have guys, they are legally adults but still act like boys, they should know how to act responsible but for whatever reason they do not. They often fall into the negative stereotypes that is applied to all grown men. They are often the sexist bigots that we so often hear about. But finally you have men, a small minority of males who are true adults, able to express themselves coherently, calm and confident they are often perceived as egotistical and too macho. But they are in most cases simply trying to live their lives, trying to raise their families with the same sense of ethics and morals that they carry with them. They are stern but kind, hard but loving, strong-willed but understanding, has deep convictions but is open to compromise as long as he does not have to sell himself out.

So my challenge to you the reader is to look at yourself. What category do you fall into? What category do you wish you fell into? Ask this question of yourself whether you are a father or are going to be a father or even if you are neither; for facing yourself is the first step to being a complete human being. Hopefully since you found your way here and actually read this article to the end, you are seeking to be a real man. Complete and true. So I wish you all luck and blessings and a safe journey.

Blessed Be!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Creed of Your Family Coven

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

10This is a repost from late 2009.
With this year nearly done, it may be time for all of us to reexamine our families. In the newsletter I ran a while back on Creating a Stronger and More Spiritual Pagan Family this was one of the articles that was included. It is all about creating a Family Motto or Creed that all agree to live by. It, along with your Ethical Code, act as a guide for the parents in raising their kids. So as promised here is the article, hope you enjoy.

The Creed of my Family Coven is just four lines:
May we learn to live in love and walk in the light
So that we may have strength and show truth
And that as we receive power and blessings
So do we offer up thanksgivings
If we take a closer look at this, we will see that it is far more complex then it looks on first glance. The first line is about living a life of universal love, for the family and for the world at large. Spirituality should always be based in love, anything else is false and full of ego. The second half talks about walking in the light. To us this means never doing anything deceitful, or anything that we feel we have to hide away or be ashamed of.

The second line comes from the first. If we follow the first line then we will naturally live an ethical life (truth) and have the strength to do what is right, even when it is difficult. But this is also a reminder that if we fail to be truthful or live an unethical life, that we fail in the first line as well.

Next we come to the third line, the one that upsets the most people when I talk about this. They assume that we or I am seeking power as my end goal. But they fail to take into account the other two lines preceding this one. This power comes with a catch; abuse it and you are not living in love or walking in the light or showing truth, and then the power evaporates. We must use this power, of influence and in some cases magick, to affect positive change in the world around us. This involves doing charity work and giving back. This line also talks about receiving blessings as well, I have found that living a good life, while a blessing in itself, usuallly leads to a blessed life.

My Family Coven's Creed ends with the reminder to offer up thanks for all the bounty that we have received. It is implicit that we do this no matter how large our troubles, because even then we should have something to be thankful, even if it is just our family.

Now that I have shown an example of what this Creed looks like I figured I would pose some questions to help you work on yours.
  • What is a Family? Here you are looking for specifics, not a dictionary definition. Think more like what you what your family to look like. What is the ideal family?
  • How do you want the members of your Family Coven to treat each other? What should their relationships be like?
  • What are the responsiblities of the members of the Family Coven? FWTI talks about Mother/Wife Priestess and Father/Husband Priest. Think in terms of this. What are mothers/wifes, fathers/husbands supposed to do or supposed to be like?
  • How can our family contribute to the the world at large, to society?
  • If you have children, then you could ask the question; What kind of parent(s) do you want to be?
I wanted to close with a final bit of advice, remember to listen with respect and take everyone's opinion in mind when doing this. One person alone cannot create the Creed of his Family Coven, the whole family must be included in this. Even the young children (provided they are old enough to talk that is) should be included.

Blessed Be!



Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Summer Break - Continue to Raise Children in the Craft

Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I had a question the other day from one of my friends on Facebook. She was interested in continuing teaching her children over the Summer in the Craft. And as I thought about this, even after I gave her an answer, I figured that you all may be having some similar question in mind. So here is a series of links to get the most out of this blog and to be able to continue teaching your children over this Summer Break. Now I know that many of you have seen all of this but my hope is that you will benefit from having it all in one place.




Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Marinade Recipes for Summer

Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Here are some of my favorite marinades to prepare meat for grilling. Hope you enjoy!

Chicken Fajita Marinade

Ingredients

1/4 cup beer (optional)
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt to taste

Directions
  1. To prepare the marinade, stir together beer, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, cilantro, cumin, and salt; mix well.
  2. To use marinade, pour into a resealable plastic bag, add up to 1 1/2 pounds of chicken breast, and mix until chicken is well coated. Marinate for 1 to 3 hours in the refrigerator.

Beef Fajita Marinade

Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup tequila
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon dried, crushed Mexican oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Directions
  1. Whisk together lime juice, tequila, garlic, cilantro, oregano, cumin, and pepper in a bowl.
  2. To use the marinade, pour into a resealable bag, and add 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of flank steak. Press the air out of the bag and seal tightly. Marinate in the refrigerator 8 to 24 hours. 

Mojo Grilling Marinade

Ingredients
  • 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (e.g. Tabasco™) (optional)
  • 1 cup olive oil
Directions

   1. Pulse the garlic and onion in a blender until very finely chopped. Pour in orange juice, lime juice; season with cumin, oregano, lemon-pepper, black pepper, salt, cilantro, and hot pepper sauce. Blend until thoroughly incorporated. Pour in the olive oil, and blend until smooth.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

IPVBM - Creating a Family Code of Ethics

Thursday, June 3, 2010
This month is International Pagan Values Blogging Month. So todays post is the first of two that I am planning on doing in that spirit. As Parents it is one of our jobs to create adults and part of that is to instill a sense of ethics. So many Pagans I know focus just on the Rede and kind of a general sense of right and wrong but that doesn't always lend itself to being easily taught.

So I have put together a few lists of different virtues. To begin the process of taking these lists and creating the Code of Ethics for your Family you need to sit down with your partner (if you have one) and have a candid discussion about how you want your children to act. Then take those lists and any other ethics you can think of, remember the lists are simply guides and not a complete compendium, and begin to whittle them down to a list of twelve.

Twelve is simply a suggested goal because it is a manageable list that young children can easily grasp.

After you have done this write them out on poster board and hang them in your house so that everyone in the Family Coven can see them and be reminded of them on a daily basis.

Now don't think that you are done working at this. It is your job to live by these, to let your kids see you do that, and to make sure that they begin to act according to these rules.

If your children are old enough they may ask why they weren't included in this process. I believe that children should not be included in the process because they are not old enough to have developed their own system of ethics and a sense of right and wrong. Besides they may try to include virtues like ice cream for dinner.
But of course these are all just guidelines, not rules set in stone.

The Nine Noble Virtues
  1. Courage
  2. Truth
  3. Honor
  4. Fidelity
  5. Hospitality
  6. Discipline
  7. Industriousness
  8. Self Reliance
  9. Perseverance
In Latin, the word cor is the root for the word coraticum which means heart. This is the known etymology for the word courage, which is also translated as with heart. So Courage is to "have heart". Now Courage can mean to be brave or can mean to face life head on with passion. To operate from the heart, seat of passion and love. But it also means to live your own life in the right way regardless of how others view you.

Truth probably sounds relatively easy. Tell no lies. But Truth means much more than that. I have found that it is easier to not tell lies when you don't do things that you feel that you have to lie about. In other words be honest with yourself, first and foremost. Truth is also about having the courage to always own up to what you did.

Honor is synonymous with the word respect. When you honor other people you express your feeling that the other person has earned your respect. All of the Nine Noble Virtues center around Honor. If you act with courage, tell the truth, are loyal to others, behave with discipline, are hospitable and industrious, rely on yourself to accomplish things, and persevere until you finish what you set out to do, you will certainly command honor from others. More important, if you live that way, you can honor and respect yourself as well and never need to be ashamed of what you have done. Honor means to respect others and their beliefs and also to demand Honor from others and defending others that are not treated honorably.
But most importantly having Honor is to fulfill the promises that you make. Sometimes that this may mean that you have to think before you act and speak.

Fidelity is just a fancy word for being faithful or loyal to a person or thing and to give them help when they need it. But not if that means that you violate one of the other eight virtues to give them that help. And to not ally yourself with some group or person that stands against your own ethics. Having Fidelity also means being faithful to yourself.

Discipline is best described as self-discipline. It is the exercise of personal will that upholds honor and the other virtues. It is that which transforms impulse into action. Look around you at modern culture, and it isn't hard to see the lack of discipline that is evident. We are surrounded people obsessed with their rights and that seem to forget their responsibilities entirely.

Hospitality is the center of ancient culture. Without hospitality and the included kindness for each other than we would have never made it this far as a race. And again this is something that is lacking in our modern culture. Kindness for strangers is gone, and is replaced by the "gimme" culture.

Industriousness is best defined as persevering determination to perform a task. To embody this is not to just simply work harder than anyone. Rather it is to live life to the fullest, complete to the end every task that we begin, and to be the best at everything that we do.

Self-Reliance in relation to the Nine Noble Virtues is important. The Virtues are basically a self-imposed morality, meaning that self-reliance is necessary if we are to follow this ethic system. This is also important in the religion of the Asatru, they believe that if we are to ask things of the Gods then we must be worthy of them and the things that we have asked for.
This can also be extended to embrace a minimalist lifestyle, to be truly self-reliant then we must learn to live with only those things that are absolutely necessary.

The final virtue is Perseverance. It is also the one that I believe that we must hold first in our mind. Our world is far from perfect and if we are to make anything out of ourselves then we must persevere. It is easy to have Perseverance when we continue to succeed but at some point we will eventually fail and it is the truest measure of our character if we continue on after a failure.

Thirteen Virtues of the Witch
  1. Tolerance
  2. Charity
  3. Humility
  4. Devotion
  5. Patience
  6. Kindliness
  7. Forbearance
  8. Sincerity
  9. Courage
  10. Precision
  11. Efficiency
  12. Discrimination
  13. Wisdom
Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the differences in the people that we meet.
Charity is love and compassion, combined with an interest in the welfare of others.
Humility is the absence of arrogance and pride.
With children Devotion is the trait that they must learn to stay committed to a project without quitting.
Patience. Probably the hardest lesson for children to learn. But children must learn to be patient, to learn to wait for the tides of energy to shift. So that they don't quit when things become boring.
Kindliness is the sincere wish to never hurt another and to never see another suffer.
Forbearance is the ability to let things go. Not to be walked all over but rather to know when to take offense and when not to.
Sincerity is the absence of deceit. It is like honesty in that the sincere person seeks after truth and justice in their lives.
Courage is the ability to face one's fear and to overcome it. It is not the bravery of the foolish but rather a well thought response to the events at hand.
Precision to be as correct and accurate as one can be.
Efficiency. Waste not, want not. Frugality ties in here. To use as little as one can to do the job at hand as full as possible.
Discrimination. To see behind the scenes and the words of others to find the truth within them.
Wisdom. Knowledge tempered by experience and matured through understanding.

Thirteen Virtues of Benjamin Franklin

Temperance
Silence
Order
Resolution
Frugality
Industry
Sincerity
Justice
Moderation
Cleanliness
Tranquility
Chastity
Humility

Good Luck and Blessed Be!


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer Grilling Recipes for Vegans

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Starting off the Litha recipe season is a guest poster; Bex over at Bex's Hexes. So head over and check out her site. 

Vegan Burgers
Ingredients:
*Meat-less patties (black bean, veggie, or Boca-be careful with Boca brand, because most of their burgers have egg product in them)
*Hamburger buns
*Toppings (could include: avocado, onion, lettuce, tomato, pickles, mushrooms, pineapple, olives, etc.)
*Topping Sauce (Could include: mustard, ketchup, BBQ sauce, guacamole, vegan mayonnaise etc.)
Directions:
1. Grill meat-less patties and any toppings that can be grilled.
2. Put sauce, toppings, and patty on a hamburger bun, and voila you have a vegan burger.

Curried Grilled Seitan Kebabs


Ingredients:
·        1 1/2 pounds seitan, chopped into 1 inch chunks
·        2 onions, coarselt chopped
·        5 bell peppers, any color, chopped into 1 inch chunks
·        1 cup whole cherry tomatoes
·        1 cup whole mushrooms
·        1/3 cup olive oil
·        3 tbsp sesame oil
·        1/4 cup curry powder
·        1 tbsp salt
·        1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
·        barbecue skewers
Preparation:
Place the the seitan, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms on the barbecue skewers.
In a shallow baking dish or large ziplock back, combine together the olive oil, sesame oil, curry powder, salt and garlic. Marinate the skewered vegetable kebabs for at least 2 hours (longer is fine).
Grill for about 5 minutes on each side, or until done.

Spicy Grilled Tempeh

Serve this tempeh with taco fixings or alonside a heaping platter of grilled vegeables.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons lime juice 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce 
1 tablespoon chili powder 
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano 
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
1 tablespoon adobo (from a can of chipotles in adobo) or salsa 
1 (8-ounce) package tempeh

Method

Whisk together lime juice, oil, tamari, chili powder, garlic, oregano, cloves and adobo in a wide, shallow dish. Arrange tempeh in dish, turn to coat all over with marinade, cover and chill, turning halfway through, for 2 hours or overnight. 

Grease grates with oil then preheat grill to medium heat. Grill tempeh, flipping once, until browned and hot throughout, 8 to 10 minutes total. Transfer to plates and serve.

Ginger Sesame Grilled Tofu

Ingredients:

1 lb of firm tofu (Chinese Style is best for this kind of recipe)
2 tbsp GF soy sauce (preferably San-J Low Sodium Tamari)
1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil (we like a Japanese brand)
2 pressed cloves of garlic
Directions:

Drain water from tofu, and cut horizontally in thirds or half. Wrap in towel and leave for 30 minutes or so until water has absorbed into towel.
Mix marinade ingredients, and marinate tofu for at least 30 minutes. If possible, grill, if not, broil or pan fry.

Easy BBQ Side Dishes
* pineapple rings(sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar)
portobello mushrooms (brush with oil)
sweet potatoes or yams (wrap in foil, or, slice in half, pre-bake, brush with maple syrup    for extra sweetness and grill)
asparagus (soak in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling)
corn on the cob
marinated tofu, tempeh, or bean kurd
apples (slice in half and sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar or drizzle with maple syrup)

Easy Vegan Desserts
*Fruit is the simplest vegan dessert and it never fails. One easy and interesting way to serve fruit for a BBQ is to make fruit kabobs. Simply cut up some tropical and summery fruit and put on kabob skewers. Once all the fruit is on the skewers roll them in coconut as a finishing touch.
*Pudding is also a great summer dessert. Most puddings recipes can be made vegan by replacing the milk for any non-dairy based “milks” (such as soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, and coconut milk) and the butter with a vegan margarine (Earth Balance is my favorite brand of vegan butters)