Friday, February 6, 2015

The Future of Paganism, to Build or Not to Build

Can you name the Pagan group that was written up in the New York Times, Forbes Magazine, The Washington Post and a whole slew of legal reviews? No?, perhaps that is because the cliché that thinks it owns Paganism refuses to mention it. The Maetreum of Cybele was founded in 1998, owns real property that includes a former Catskill Mountain Inn, an outdoor Temple/Grove, three acres of land and has been doing real world charitable work for those in need for more than 12 years. The Temple is the first dedicated to Cybele, Magna Mater in more than 1600 years. The charity work has taken in more than 35 women in need and fully supported them in room and board until they could get their lives back together. Other families have been fed, had clothing provided, household goods provided and holiday gifts supplied for needy children. It included taking in victims of hurricane Irene in the hard hit area in the Catskills and raising and disbursing emergency funds for victims of hurricane Katrina, particularly the mostly ignored LGBT victims. We did all this ourselves, on a shoestring budget.

We had to ask for help when the Town of Catskill, in which we are located in as part of the Hamlet of Palenville, forced us to court for equal rights as a religion even though we are incorporated, our property belongs to the corporation and we are fully recognized by the IRS as both a religious charity and a church under 501(c)(3) That battle was long and hard and very very expensive and the Town fought us up to the highest level court they could. The resulting win established legal precedences regarding minority religious property rights that range far beyond New York State. And only one Pagan blog covered the win, just one. The Washington Post covered it, the New York Legal Review covered it, Forbes covered the initial win at the Appellate level, but only one Pagan blog. Not one single Pagan “defense” group such as the Lady Liberty League came to our aid in that fight. The ACLU ignored us as well, we had to go it alone with some grassroots support from mostly individual Pagans raising the money need for legal fees.

We do real world charitable works that aids real people.
We reintroduced Pagan Monasticism to the world after more than 1400 years.
We built a Temple.
We recovered lost history including the role of transsexual priestesses in EVERY Mother Goddess tradition of the ancient world.
We reintroduced Pagan monotheism to the world.
We won what may prove to be the most important legal battle for the future of Pagans in decades.
We are active in our local community as an actual resource for all.

And apparently we are not worthy... and transphobic...and troublesome.

Now an online debate is raging about Pagan infrastructure in multiple blogs all over the net. And once again, even though we are literally the poster child for building such infrastructure we are ignored.
Let's get somethings clear here. If you are a solitary and do not feel the need to support Pagan infrastructure, don't do it, problem solved. If you are part of a small Wiccan style group and feel that larger venues aren't for you, don't come. But I'd venture to guess many of those in these camps would jump at the chance to visit an ancient Pagan temple site. So the question must be asked, why do they seem to often actively oppose building modern temples sites? Because frankly from some of the comments on this debate I have been reading, these folks are peeing themselves in fear of Pagan infrastructure. Oh they want the conferences and large scale conventions they have to lay out large sums of money to attend and where they can lead or take part in endless “classes” and workshops and meet the self appointed metaphysical celebrities. And spend small fortunes on Pagan bling. But some other Pagan group actually building something in the real world? The horror!

So what is the future of Paganism? Solos and tiny groups hiding in the woodwork emerging only for expensive Pagan Parties and endlessly ranting about their self importance online? Legally, it's groups like us. Opps, sorry to piss in your cornflakes but our legal battle was all about our “legitimacy” as a religion and that has been established now beyond question by the highest court in New York. But to win, we had to have dotted all the “i's” and crossed all the “t's” legally which requires work and dedication. We had to actually build something and actually do real world work. And now in the legal world, we are Paganism like it or not as a result.

Among modern Pagans there appears to be a huge dose of church-o-phobia as a reaction to Christian models many fled from to Paganism. But before the Christians was the Pagans with impressive temples, public works, charity, did you forget that? When someone calls me the new Pagan Pope I don't know whether to laugh or cry because it is clear they didn't bother to spend even three minutes on what we teach, that the Divine is within all of us and you don't need a religious leader, you just need some education on contacting that Divine part of yourself.

So you wannabees out there who try to monopolize the Pagan conversations, we are here, we planned for the future, we will continue to work in the real world and in the end, we don't need you to do so.

You can be part of the future or you can continue to agonize over your child molestors and sexual predators in your midsts. Your choice, but we don't need your approval or acknowledgment. What have you built? Who's lives have you changed for the better? What will you be remembered for? These are the real questions because a remainder of a campfire in the woods won't be there long after you make it..... a Temple will endure. The Burning Times were possible because there were no longer Pagan centres because of the church. Don't want to see them return? Then you damn well better be part of building and defending Pagan infrastructure.  We build Temples.

Friday, January 16, 2015

How I Became the Pagan Pope and Other Tales From the Internut

I would like to start by thanking a bunch of Atheist “Pagans” for elevating me to the position of the Great Grand Poopbah of Paganism. By reacting to one of my blog entries as a decree from on high that is essentially what they claimed. Interesting. Let's take a closer look at what they actually were doing. If you wish to elevate your own position and you are in opposition to someone else's position, it makes sense to elevate your opponent to make your own position more important. That was one element of what is going down in a backwater of Pagan blogs right now. By labeling the position of another a decree from on high, you are also attempting to silence an opposing position by attacking the very right to even hold that opposing viewpoint, or in other words expressing an opinion contrary to your own.

I've been around Paganism a long long time but because I rarely attend the “conferences” I wasn't particularly well known outside of a smallish group of Pagans. Until our somewhat epic battle with the Town of Catskill over basic religious equality, most Pagans never heard of our tradition, the Cybeline Revival or the Maetreum of Cybele. Hell, until we founded the Cybeline Revival, Cybele as a Mother Goddess avatar had pretty much been erased by the Catholic Church for 1600 years to the point neo-Pagan Goddess women had forgotten Her as well and never included Her in the recital of various Mother Goddess avatars.

“True Believer Pagans”

This was one of the first labels applied to me by the opening salvo. Let's look at this one closer as well. First of all, yes, I absolutely believe in the Great Mother Goddess, belief in Her is literally the oldest religious practice in the world. So as far as that goes it is accurate. But what about the word choice? Ah, now that is a horse of a different colour you've heard tell about. Words have literal meanings, that is what you find in dictionaries but they also can carry emotional associations, especially in certain phrases. In Western Judeo-Christian world view, “true believer” is emotionally tied to fairly radical fundamentalist religious thought, very ridged and unyielding. Given this emotional loading it is not particularly surprising a person pushing atheism would go there. It carries a clear emotional context of belief the Mother Goddess is sitting up there on the third cloud over from Yahweh. Now there are plenty of Pagans who do in fact believe in the Goddesses and Gods in this fashion as it is basic human nature to personalize complex thoughts. As it happens, and as a mere fifteen minutes of reading the material from the Maetreum's website would have revealed, this is not how Cybelines view the Goddess. We see Her as eminent in all things in the Universe and teach that She is already part of you so you do not come to us for answers, but rather to learn how to connect with the Goddess part of yourself. Consistent with this, I personally, do not proclaim edicts from on high but make it clear if you want my opinions on spiritual matters, I am more than happy to share them but my opinions carry the same value as you paid for them....... and I do not charge anything.

So calling me a true believer Pagan was a duel edged deceptive sword. First it was done within the context of atheism to view any belief in the Divine as uneducated and unscientific as proclaimed by Mr. Atheo-Pagan, take a very real shot at those Pagans who do believe in personified Deities in that same light and then, having ridiculed that position, place me within it. This is about as dishonest a method of “debate” as it gets. To then go on and say I am the one tearing Paganism apart by expressing an opinion they do not approve of is just icing on the cake at that point.

What exactly is Atheism Then?

Apparently some of those declaring themselves Atheo or Naturalistic Pagans do in fact believe in some sort of intelligent Universe if I parse their writing correctly and that is the basis of claiming membership in Paganism. To that I say fine, I have zero problem with that position but what it is not is atheism by any meaningful definition. You believe in something, no matter how nebulous, that is greater than yourself and you are not an atheist, though you may be agnostic. If you don't believe in something greater than yourself, no matter how nebulous, and you cannot call yourself a Pagan. That is what my position boils down to. Why does it matter? It matters because the Maetreum just fought a long long legal battle to define Paganism within the law as a legitimate religious path. Atheism is the opposite of religion (I am not addressing radical atheists who are so hardcore they look like a fundamentalist religion) Why am I personally entitled to an opinion on this? I have occupied the identity of Pagan for more than fifty years, long before those attacking me have been on the planet, so yes, I get to maintain that identity and it's meaning. And it is a damn broad identity already covering Theists, Deists, polytheists and yes, even those like us Cybeline who are essentially monotheists. I stood up and was one of the few “out” Pagans back in the day when the police around the US had “Occult Squads” and you actually would lose your job if you were out at work. I reclaimed an ancient religious tradition, did original historic research along with my sisters in the process. We Cybelines fought a major legal battle on behalf of all Pagans. So yes, I have the right to hold and express an opinion on Paganism because frankly, I earned it.

The various atheists blogging about my little old essay are essentially saying they are entitled to express their opinions and I am not. That is the essence of their position.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Why Your Magic Doesn't Work........

You just got a book of spells and cannot wait to bend someone else to your desires.  Carefully you get all the required ingredients and gather it all together and learn the proper words to say over them as you mix and blend and light the candles and then....


If you are today's neo-Pagan Crystal Liter, you try a couple of more times then go online and beg an answer from some other witch wannabe in a chat room.  Maybe eventually you decide magic is bullshit or the witch you asked is bullshit and you start to badmouth her.  “Why oh why won't it work for me?' you cry out.  The reason is contained in that action.

You left out the most important parts, will and intent because you don't have a freakin' clue what those two words actually mean.  Ah, yet again we have failure to understand the actual meanings of words gumming up the works.
Will and intent doesn't mean staring at something and popping veins in your forehead concentrating on it.  It is a state of mind and one you probably have been taught from birth not to obtain.

For Magic to Work, You Must Live a Magical Life

Will is not wishing.  That is where we start.  That dirty word faith comes into play but not in the fashion you probably think.  Faith in yourself.  In order to have faith in yourself you first have to keep your word, especially to yourself.  Do not make commitments you cannot keep because doing so tells your subconscious you aren't serious.  Do you joke about Pagan Standard Time when you cannot seem to show up anywhere on time?  Every time you do that you send a message to the Universe and that part of you that is the Universe that you are not a serious person, that you lack willpower.  How on earth can you expect to visualize something to make it manifest if you cannot meet a simple obligation to be somewhere when you say you will?  Simple answer, you can't.  Magic begins with self respect and empowerment and you have to do the work on that yourself.

Most people attempt spellwork hoping stuff will magically appear, sorry it doesn't work that way.  You wish for a pile of money (and we'll get into motives next) and it doesn't appear and you are pissed but someone told you of an opportunity for a great job and you blew it off because better the devil you know.  The magic worked and you blew it because you were hung up on the Hollywood witch concept.
And your motives sucked.  You want a pile of money but never asked yourself why you want it.  You need to take the next step and figure out the why because what you need probably isn't money which is basically just a concept, but something else entirely like a decent place to live and food and basic comforts.  Because you were looking for a pile of money, you miss the opportunities for those essential things that presented themselves that Universe provided you.  You have to grasp the opportunities.  And to do that, you first have to just be able to see them.

And sometimes not getting what you wish for is the kindest thing the Universe can provide.

I teach what I call the paradox of magical power.  If you seek power, you will rarely get much, if you obtain power (through living a magical life where you can manifest into to world your “will”) you will rarely use it. (because you won't have to)
Within that lesson is your answer but that's all you get from me for now.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Respect and Disrespect, Do Pagans Today Understand These Words?

Respect: noun
1. a particular, detail, or point (usually preceded by in):
to differ in some respect.
2. relation or reference:
inquiries with respect to a route.
3. esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability:
I have great respect for her judgment.
4. deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment:
respect for a suspect's right to counsel; to show respect for the flag; respect for the elderly.

Disrespect: noun
1. lack of respect; discourtesy; rudeness.
verb (used with object)
  1. to regard or treat without respect; regard or treat with contempt or rudeness.

It is widely stated by many younger Pagans that they do not have to respect Pagan Elders and then they turn around and show disrespect believing that is the exact opposite when it is not. Discourtesy, rudeness and contempt are a far cry from not holding someone in esteem. To those who say they do not have to hold me in respect, I say, fine but I do not have to put up or will put up with out and out disrespect. Managing to survive X number of years may not grant acknowledgment, but if in doing so you fought the good fights, stood up for the rights of others, manifested into the real world real changes and things of worth to many, that should be respected if only out of proper acceptance or courtesy. It does not matter if you agree with those accomplishments, simple common courtesy dictates basic level respect.

Ah, but we live in the internet age where hiding behind a screen name every troll and his sister can ignore a disagreement of principles and ideas and go straight to character assassination, and his or her minions pile on gleefully ignorant of actual facts. And we do indeed see this played out over and over online.

Straw Men and Women

Because debating is a lost art in today's world as is teaching logic and reasoning all too often the response to disagreement on someone's position is to get up a totally made up profile of that person and then attack that rather than debate the actual ideas and concepts. This is what passes for debate these days and pretty much assures that actual learning beyond what ever prejudices you personally hold is rendered impossible. It is an extension of the recent concept of egalitarianism taken to illogical extremes. No, your uninformed, uneducated opinion is not equal to those of someone who did the work to be informed and educated. Informed and educated opinion can be wrong of course but if you believe it is then it your responsibility to counter in an educated and informed fashion. That is how things actually progress, learning takes place and progress is made. Newsflash, if you launch into personal attacks unprovoked because you disagree with a position they hold, you lost in the eyes of anyone who isn't a like inclined idiot. You basically just substituted bullying for discourse. You made sharing of viewpoints and ideas impossible, you took away any opportunity to actually change someone's mind or maybe work out a compromise position.
And like it or not, sometimes wisdom does come with experience and that deserves not to be disrespected, if not out and out respected.

Sexism and Ageism as Disrespect

Crones used to be respected. Once a woman reached an age where she no longer felt constrained to express herself freely because of the jeopardy of losing a man no longer applied, she was considered a Crone. If she spent a lifetime learning healing arts, herbalism and midwifery she was considered an Esteemed Crone. Many Native American tribes also recognized that she gained wisdom denied men by virtue of thinking differently and having a high regard for the welfare of future generations by virtue of raising them. With the advent of the Abrahamic religions and a shift from matrilinear to patrilinear descent these principles were ignored. Hey, if the world is gonna end any day now, who gives a crap about future generations, preserving the environment or women as anything other than property?

This sexism still runs rampant, yes, especially in Paganism. Let some male “elder” get caught with computers full of child porn or pushing sex with children as legitimate forms of education and scores of Pagans rise up to debate it and agonize over the “good” they did being thrown out with the bathwater but let a elder woman take a position regarding the tradition she founded that empowered thousands of women, say a Z. Budapest, that runs counter to some neo-egalitarian idea that you can be whatever you declare yourself to be, physical realities be damned, rights of physical female women to restrict their religious practices to with other physically female women, is oppression, and she is EVIL, everything she touches is EVIL. Honey if that isn't a prime example of sexism, I have no idea what would be. Yeah, profess belief in the Goddess and pull this shit, did you just realize the Goddess isn't grandma with cookies? That maybe this isn't the greatest position regarding the Goddess to put yourself in?

And this all goes hand in glove with ageism usually expressed with sexism. Say you have a choice, having broken your leg for example, between having a medical doctor set the bone or a kid from Burger King. Hard choice? The medical doctor learned how to set the bone and is credentialed as someone who has that knowledge. When someone who tells you their credentials in the form of years of experience and battles fought and won do you dismiss that out of hand because the kid from Burger King may have new ideas on setting bones? Only if you are an idiot. And this, my darlings, is why you might disagree with a learned elder but you do not disrespect them.. at least if you are any kind of decent human being.

Thus endeth the lesson......

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

More on Manifesting

Most Pagans will tell you they work in magic but when you look at how they live that would seem at odds with the claim.  Often they are struggling just to get by, constantly online begging spells to fix this or that in their lives, living in the shadows afraid family and friends will discover they are Pagans.

First understand this, a life devoid of challenges is devoid of learning.  You cannot expect things to be handed to you on a platter because you are "magical" because the reality is you are not and no amount of witchcrap books, Pagan bling and teenaged spirited spell work is going to change that.  Far too many become involved in Paganism seeking personal power over what they see lives of powerlessness.

What is lacking is spirituality, working with the Divine principles of the Universe regardless of how you name that, working for goals beyond your own petty desires.  When you set out to achieve (manifest) a large goal you should expect large challenges along that way, that is how the Universe works for if that was easy, everyone would be doing it and few actually are.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction is not just a principle of physics, it is an expression of the old idea of standing in balance and moving the point of balance or restoring it will require work.

Can you stand outside your own ego and see the world as a semi detached observer?  Including your own life?  Because if the answer is no, then you cannot work magic or manifest into the world.  If hardship brings on choruses of "woe is me" or "life is unfair" you are failing to see you might have lessons to learn in this turn on the wheel you are refusing to learn.  Instead of woe is me, look for the lesson.

Change your goals and you change your life, that is magic.  Work with the Universe instead of against it and maybe you can change at least part of the world.  Strive for balance and see what you can actually manifest.

Many people have told me how hard my own life has been but I do not see it that way.  I strive for large goals and thus face large challenges but although I am poor by most people's standards, my life is rich by my own standards.  My own work is far from done and no doubt I shall face many more challenges before it ends but it is a good life, largely other directed but provides me with what I need mainly as a side benefit of a goal to manifest into the world a place of healing, for those to learn and rebuild their lives and to demonstrate how to live in harmony with the Universe.  Every time I faced major challenges along the way there has been no shortage of those telling me to give up, that what I was trying to do was impossible, that you cannot fight city hall.  And yet here I am.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Challenge of Manifesting Your Beliefs

With more and more Pagans being solo these days and buying most of their Pagan bling online, the former gathering places of brick and mortar metaphysical bookstores are becoming fewer and fewer than in the past. Time for the new model to emerge of physical centres set up as central Temples and places to come to workshops and do research like the Maetreum and the New Alexandrian Library project in Delaware. Unlike the bookstores these places for practical reasons are in rural settings rather than the more urban former bookstores.

Most forms of Paganism came from rural roots and it is time to return to those roots for so many reasons.

Setting up such a project takes time, planning and a few very dedicated visionaries with charitable hearts.  Pagan centres that failed in the past did so for fixed reasons, failure to pay as you go, ownership by individuals rather than non-profits, expecting to raise large overheads by community donations and overlooking that as Pagans, our efforts need to be as green as possible.  They need to be as inclusive as possible of other Pagan paths and when combined with community housing they can provide a much improved standard of living for folks with limited means willing to work for the good of all.  This is what Paganism looked like in the pre-Christian era and must look like again for the sake of the planet and each other.

You start by incorporating as a religious non-profit and then applying for IRS 501(c)(3) status.  You then locate property bearing in mind that if you incorporated you might be able to get the property donated for someone's tax write off. Don't try to make it all happen full blown out of the gate, be realistic and start small scale.  Do look into tiny houses remembering that you can build them yourself.  Don't be afraid to ask help from those who are doing already or even by lending a hand with projects already underway as a sort of mentor-ship.

There is built in resistance from some in the Pagan communities, ignore that and understand the greater Pagan communities probably will not provide much in the way of donations.

Paganism is at a crossroads right now and the choices are into the shadows once again and eventual erasure or standing proud and doing and manifesting your beliefs into the real world.  The choice is yours but those of us manifesting are going on with or without you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Naturalistic Pagan is an Oxymoron

I tend to avoid the Pathos Pagan blog because it feels like worthless ramblings so much of the time but recently a blog entry there crossed my news-feed titled “Thou Shalt Not Judge” (and why this is a problem)" written by John Halstead, who styles himself the Allergic Pagan and includes this definition of naturalistic Pagan in his article:

"As the term is used here, Naturalistic Pagans includes Humanistic Pagans, Atheistic Pagans, Atheopagans, and other non-theistic Pagans."

The article is all about questioning the validity of the experiences of other Pagans.  The problem he fails to grasp is that a non-theistic Pagan is not a Pagan at all but an atheist, a perfectly good word that does not attempt to appropriate an umbrella term for various RELIGIONS and fits him to a "T".

Frankly, as a life long practising Pagan in her mid sixties (meaning I have been a Pagan almost as long as Wicca has been a religion)  I am fed up with those who are clearly self declared atheists claiming membership as Pagans when they are nothing of the sort.  Words matter, their definitions matter.  Halstead bemoans trouble communicating with Pagans while failing to see he isn't even using the same damn language making actual communication impossible.

It's bad enough that John and Jane Q. Public confuses Wicca and Paganism as being the same when Wicca is a mere subset of Paganism and a Gardner come lately one at that, but trying to include atheism under the same umbrella stretches the cloth way the hell past the breaking point.  You want to hang with Pagans because we can be a fun free-wheeling group, fine but if you are an atheist, you are NOT a Pagan yourself.  If your motive is playing with religious trappings without actually believing, go join the UUs, they actually have a place for you to do that.

Lately a lot of so called Pagans have tried to define Paganism.  They need to consult historians.  Pagan used to mean country dwellers until the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire.  It was Emperor Julian who redefined the word to capital P Pagan to mean those devotees of the non Abrahamic religions, the operative word here being religions.  Julian was an initiate of the Cybeline religion who also wrote several important works on Cybele, Magna Mater, the Great Mother.  We Cybelines thus have a greater claim to title "Pagan" than most neo-Pagans can claim.

And we modern Cybelines call foul and say enough is enough.  Stop appropriating our identity.

Postscript:  John apparently has momma issues he is trying to work out through me.  He mined my mostly friends only Facebook account, spammed the hell out of this entry with nonsense and in general is displaying what I call Mysogynistic Deranged Male Syndrome which you normally only see in 18-24 year old males living in their momma's basement  Nice job giving this lunatic a blog Patheos.   His fear of an empowered Crone is beyond evident.

I had to place comments on this blog on full moderation.