Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ducking in

It's been far too long since the last post and will be a few more days, I fear, before something substantive appears here again. Life has been hard lately. My spirits are flagging. I've entered an intense season at the mystery school, and this weekend may well be the most challenging so far.

Spring is coming.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The spiritual path isn't all ecstacy

What a week, and where has it gone? Much of this week has been devoted to staying warm in this bitter weather. Even my office, in a drafty old house, is cold! Lugh, my dog, has been less than enthusiastic to go for his daily hikes; twice he's even worn the dreaded coat - that's how cold it is. Bless Adonis for continuing to take him out each morning, even if Lugh won't go for more than 20 minutes. They drop me off at work and head to a trail. On Monday it snowed, and I took Lugh out for a walk after work; we ended up in an old cemetery on the hill where he ran with sheer glee in the fresh snow. I went traipsing after him and was considerably less agile.

This afternoon I left work with a migraine and spent the afternoon sleeping in the sun shining in on my bed. I rarely get migraines any more, thanks to the Chinese herbs I take, but this week my period is late and every possible symptom is expressing itself. I had an IUD removed in January, and I believe my body is trying to regulate itself. This could lead to a rant about how much I hate the birth control options available to women and general social attitudes about women's fertility more generally...but I think I'll leave it at that. Obviously, the migraine has receded, since I'm at the computer.

This weekend the first- and second-year classes are meeting at the mystery school, and I'm assisting. Adonis is in the first-year class. Assisting has been a real challenge for me, and I'm apprehensive. Mostly, it's exhausting. This year, my third year, has been the most difficult emotionally, and I can't yet see the fruits of this hard work, but I have to have faith. This is my path. I want to run away! I want things to be easy. Ha, how's that for spiritual maturity?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Thealogy: A set of beliefs you can take home to Mom

Over the past couple of years I've slowly revealed some of my spiritual beliefs to my Mom. My parents aren't Christian fundamentalists by any stretch, but they care about their nice, mainstream Protestant beliefs and would, I suspect, like it best if I shared those beliefs. Not being one to want to disappoint my folks, and having something of a "good girl" complex, I've been less than forthcoming where my religious beliefs deviate sharply from theirs. (I'm more outspoken about politics.) Over Christmas, after declining to go to the altar for communion after the minister invited "all Christian believers," I finally copped to my Mom that I'm not a Christian. Being my Mom and clairvoyant in the way many mothers are, she wasn't surprised.

Now, like most Pagans, I'm faced with the challenge of describing my beliefs to someone with no frame of reference whatsoever. (During the Christmas conversation, my Mom asked me who I pray to. "Do you just make up a goddess or something?") I've turned to Isaac Bonewits, in his handy Essential Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft, for a pithy summary of Pagan belief, one I can more or less take home to Mom.

Here are the first five ideas:

1. Neopagans believe that divinity is both immanent and transcendent. Isaac glosses "immanent" as internal and "transcendent" as external. I would define those terms somewhat differently. The Goddess is immanent; she is around and among us. She is concrete. She is the earth, trees, soil, animals, water, stars. And, yes, she is in all things and all beings. But the Goddess is at the same time transcendent; she is the Mystery at the heart of life. She is more than what we can see, touch, taste, smell, and hear. She is more than we can rationally understand.

2. Neopagans believe that children are born holy. We don't believe in original sin - that children come into this world needing to be cleansed. Nor do we believe that we need to be saved from sin. We don't need a Messiah. All children are sacred.

3. Neopagans believe that divinity is just as likely to manifest in a female form as it is in a male form and that the word "Goddess" makes just as much sense as the word "God." A lot of Christians would have a problem with this, but I chalk that up to sexism in the culture. More progressive Christians have sought feminine god-language in the bible. My Mom thinks that God is ultimately beyond male or female, so she has no problem with describing God as "She."

4. Neopagans believe in a multiplicity of gods and goddesses, as well as "lesser" beings, many of Whom are worthy of respect, love, and worship. OK, Mom is not going to buy this. She'll think it's weird. Isaac says that "Neopagans have a wide variety of nonexclusive concepts as to the nature of these entities. Among Wiccans, female deities are usually seen as aspect or faces of a single 'Triune' Goddess, most often described as a Maiden, a Mother, and a Crone. Male deities are likewise usually seen as aspects or faces of a single 'Biune' God, most often described as a vegetation/hunting and solar deity.... Thus, Wicca is predominately 'duotheistic'."

5. Neopagans believe that no one religion, philosophy, scripture, or other approach to understanding can explain the infinite complexities of the multiverse. There are many paths up the mountain. Again, I find that progressive Christians are hip to this and have no problem with different people having different faiths.

Next week, more Pagan thealogy for Mom.

Friday, February 02, 2007

A poem for Brigid

On the mountain we'd sleep in the heavy shade - green figs like
testicles and the leaf palms cracking with pungent milk - delib-
erately, having been told of the vaporous harm to the dreamer.
Donkeys shifting their fly-beseiged, sundazed gaze met and held
ours; the goats would stop because of the short hobble they bore,
their slitted eyes in suggestive seduction fixing us blackly every
few feet of film, those stills of them every few feet of hill an-
nointed now as if memory were a kind of solution. We pile rocks
on our bodies partly unearthed and sweat the weight wet. The air
is still and imagining it through the labyrinth of rock and
moisture against the skin in a breeze stiffens the nipple. Starfish,
colossal under mounds seen from above, the bleached soft-colored
rocks look too much like breasts, and the trouble you took for the
angle and height makes it obvious. We get up heavy with stone
shadow, each muscle rising like a sea-cow, and fall into the green
cove, afloat like the three tomatoes we cool and swim around,
lazily pushing one back if it should stray, too intimate now you
said to eat for lunch, so you sucked on the salty skin, you did,
even though you were posing. Then there are mermaids, and
other riffraff and dross.

(Olga Broumas and Jane Miller)

My poem for Brigid is inspired by an Old Mermaid Sanctuary. To see a list of those blogs offering poems for Brigid today, go here.