Posted by: Sabrina | November 29, 2009

Hop On Over To My New Blog!

As I indicated in my last post (all the way back in August!), I started feeling the urge to move in a new direction blog-wise, and over the past, glorious, long Thanksgiving weekend, I have had a chance to put that urge into action–I’ve created a new blog called Walking With The Goddess.   The URL for my new blog is walkingwiththegoddess.blogspot.com and with any luck that URL is an actual, functioning hyperlink.  If my minimal computer skills have failed me in that, I hope you’ll take the trouble to copy and paste that URL into your browser address window and visit my new site. 

For now, I intend to leave this blog, Pagan Dawn, here and I may even post something occasionally to it, but just now I plan to make Walking With The Goddess my primary focus.  I hope to see you there!

Posted by: Sabrina | August 12, 2009

To Be Continued

A year ago, I couldn’t really imagine when I’d be out of the broom closet to my family.  I didn’t want them thinking that I’d gone off the deep end or was even having a mid-life crisis, so I tried to be very circumspect in my attempts to learn about and put my pagan beliefs into practice.  I guess I’ve been quite successful, because my husband and kids all know now that I consider myself to be pagan, and I think they’re all quite comfortable with it. 

This is probably why I have been posting much less frequently—a year ago I definitely needed the outlet of this blog as basically my only means of communication about my thoughts and feelings, but now that I can be more free with my words and actions around home, I’ve needed to blog less and less.  I did, in fact, come to the point about a month ago of considering taking my blog down, but I’ve decided to keep it here for the foreseeable future so that anyone else out there who is going through what I went through spiritually over the last year or two may find my posts and find some emotional support. 

I also intend to continue posting here, although I think the subject matter may become more diverse and time is always an issue September-June due to my workload during those months.  As I will continue to teach in a Catholic school over the next year, I am sure there will be interactions with students, co-workers, and the boss that I’ll want to reflect on here.  And as I continue to study and forge ahead on this spiritual path, I know that I will want to continue using this blog as a record of my journey.

Posted by: Sabrina | June 30, 2009

Fabulous Nia

I could become seriously evangelistic about my new passion—Nia!  After reading about Nia on Dianne Sylvan’s blog, Dancing Down the Moon, I had to find out more about it, so I Googled it and found a studio basically right in my backyard.

The instructors are fabulous—warm and welcoming no matter what one’s size, shape, age, or ability level is—and the time I spend in class is absolutely the most well-spent time of my day and week because Nia addresses not just physical fitness, but wellness on every level—physical, emotional, and spiritual.  Although the physical aspect of a Nia class can be quite energetic, I never feel drained at the end of it because there is equal emphasis on giving and receiving energy.  Yin and yang, chi, and the chakras are frequently referenced to guide our movements, and I always come away sweaty but quite exhilarated, having danced my heart out for an hour. 

Life is good . . .

Posted by: Sabrina | May 4, 2009

Goddess Bless Dianne Sylvan!

One of the books I purchased on a recent book-buying binge was The Circle Within by Dianne Sylvan. I ordered through Amazon and so had to wait a few days before my shipment arrived in the mail. Meantime, I was feeling starved for good reading on Pagan spirituality, so I went to the library and checked out a couple of popular books on the topic that I had not yet read. The only one I’ll mention by name is The Practical Pagan by Dana Eilers because I found the information in this book to be just what the title promises—practical. Because Eilers is a lawyer, her focus, for much of the book, is how to avoid legal trouble and still have a fulfilling spiritual life. Kind of depressing to think that in the 21st century there are still uninformed types out there who believe Pagans are Satan-worshippers who practice human sacrifice, but Eilers’ book makes it abundantly clear that religious intolerance is alive and well and possibly living where you are.

I am not going to give the title of the second book I borrowed from the library because it is just really awful. I will say that it is by a popular and prolific writer on Witchcraft whom readers seem to either love or hate. And even though I thought while leafing through it at the library that it wasn’t totally my kind of book, I wanted to read it and make my own decision about this author’s work. I’ve always been an avid reader and when I was younger, I never entertained the thought of not finishing a book I had started. At midlife, though, I have begun to realize how precious time is, and I made a promise to myself that I would not finish books I hated reading. This one definitely qualifies, so back it goes, unfinished, to the library!

Happily for me, my book order has arrived, and if the rest of the books are anything like The Circle Within (which I delved into immediately—it’s been on my to-read list for a long time!), I will say I don’t regret a single penny of what I spent! Now, if you’ve read through my older posts, you will know that I am a former Catholic turned Pagan. I’ve been pretty open about the angst I sometimes feel because I teach in a Catholic school and, having undergone a change of spirituality that would definitely not find favor with the higher-ups, I am in the broom closet rather more than I’d like to be.

What I haven’t been quite so open about is the fact that sometimes I mourn my loss of Catholic faith, for there were times in years past that I experienced deep emotional fulfillment when participating in Catholic liturgy, reading Scripture, or just praying on my own. Even in the face of some aspects of Catholic theology and some of the positions taken by Church officials that made me squirm, this satisfaction with my personal practice of Catholicism is what kept me going. So when I finally, officially walked away from Catholicism a year ago, I felt bereft in some ways.

And here, at last, is where The Circle Within comes in. In the first chapter of this book, Dianne Sylvan goes to some lengths to describe her own spiritual journey, including what she has learned about being spiritually alive by adopting some of the attitudes and engaging in some of the practices of Catholic (and Buddhist) nuns and monks. I just had this great sense of comfort and relief after reading the first chapter of this book that I didn’t need to throw the baby out with the bath water. My theology may have changed, but my spirituality and spiritual practice are alive and well. I can disagree with Catholic theology while at the same time admiring and continuing some of the practices of Catholics (and really all people) who are truly spiritually alive.

Posted by: Sabrina | April 14, 2009

Easter Wars

As I am approaching the first anniversary of stepping onto the Pagan spiritual path, I made a decision several weeks ago (after my Happy Ostara! post) to take a short hiatus from blogging in order to spend substantial time reviewing and reflecting on my spiritual growth over the past year and coming to some decisions about what the best next steps will be for me as I begin my second year of dedication to the Goddess.  I continue to review and plan, (and with a few days off as my school observes the traditionally Catholic practice of spring break following the Christian Easter Sunday, I have more time to sleep, too :-))  but my curiosity got the better of me today, and I looked at my stats to find that a relative stampede of viewers have made their way to Pagan Dawn in the past few days.

 

I always find there is a small up-tick in views when I post something new (thank you to the three of you out there who are such faithful readers ;-) ), but I hadn’t posted since late March, so my curiosity only increased at the Grand Teton-esque line graph indicating something like 40 or 50 viewers had dropped by over the weekend!  Had I the insightfulness, wit, and gift of language of other Pagan bloggers I read regularly (The Green Witch and Anne Johnson of The Gods are Bored come quickly to mind), I might be tempted to think that the increase in my viewership is due to blog surfers not being able to get enough of my writing, but my style is usually more tortured prose than scintillating poetry.  So . . . what could it be? 

 

Well . . . I’m not totally sure, but I think it might have something to do with Easter wars.  As you’ll recall if you read my late March post, “Happy Ostara,” I celebrated the arrival of spring at the time of the vernal equinox, and although I still have a lot to learn about Paganism, I understand that most other Pagans/Witches/Wicca celebrate it then, too.  Surprisingly to me, though, as I was catching up on my blog reading, I found a large-ish number of posts by indignant Pagan bloggers addressing the supposed co-opting of Pagan vernal traditions (painted eggs being the real biggie) by Christians who have supposedly morphed them into something associated with the resurrection story.  Another small-but-statistically-significant group of Pagan writers (possibly in an attempt to keep the peace with Christian soldiers??) wrote that really, the origins of celebrations abounding at this time of year are really all too old for any of us to know the absolute truth of, and yes, possibly the Pagan fertility lore and traditions are no older than Christian resurrection celebrations. 

 

I’m surprised by all of this, not so much because of the content—it’s pretty typical that minority groups of any type will have some members that are militant and others that prefer to appease—but because of the timing of these posts—most were published on the Christian Easter weekend of April 11 and 12.  Wasn’t Easter (Oestara) several weeks ago for us Pagans?  I don’t know about you, but I’m already beginning to look forward to Beltane! 

 

But content-wise, I guess I’m a little disappointed, too.  When I stepped away from Christianity and toward Paganism, I saw myself as moving toward a culture that accepts and shares with others.  The more we fight for “ownership” of any seasonal celebration, the more likely it is that we will lose any joy and deep meaning it has held for us.  If any of the readers stampeding over to Pagan Dawn last weekend were looking for a Pagan blogger with a bad-ass attitude about Oestara/Easter, I don’t think they found it here.  So I’m probably back to a readership of three now that they’ve seen this site is just one middle-aged woman’s musings about her quite ordinary Pagan life. . .

Posted by: Sabrina | April 14, 2009

Ann Holmes Redding Update

A little over a week ago, I read in the Seattle Times that Ann Holmes Redding, the Episcopal priest who had been disciplined by her bishop for also adopting Islam, was indeed defrocked for failing to renounce the Muslim faith.  While I am not particularly surprised by this outcome, I wonder if her bishop and faith community were surprised that she did not back down. 

 

Redding’s story is of ongoing interest to me as I have experienced a certain degree of angst about remaining employed in a Catholic school while adopting Pagan spirituality.  I have no illusions that I could ever openly express my Pagan spirituality where I currently work, but every so often I daydream that I can, if nothing else, become more open with my co-workers about my departure from the Catholic faith I was raised in.  However, in light of the outcome for Redding as well as other situations that are popping up in my school, I understand that I must reveal nothing if I expect to retain my job, which I do need in order to maintain my financial stability.

 

But I am writing this to focus not so much on me or even on Redding.  I have no doubt that Redding will come out of this all right in all the ways that matter.  It appears that her faith in the God of Abraham, Jesus, and Mohammed has not been destroyed; indeed, it may be stronger for having been tested in this way.  And the number of Redding admirers and supporters has probably grown as we observed the dignified way she dealt with her faith community and the Episcopal hierarchy as her story continued to unfold publicly.  If I feel sorry for anybody as a result of the decision by Redding’s bishop, however, my sorrow is for the regular Episcopal church-going folk who have learned as a result of this that their God is narrow-minded and exclusionary.

Posted by: Sabrina | March 22, 2009

Happy Ostara 2009!

This year, the Christian celebration of Easter falls quite late—April 12, while the Pagan celebration of Ostara, as it is connected to the occurrence of the vernal equinox, is more than 3 weeks earlier.  Had I stepped into Paganism a year earlier, I might have felt quite conflicted about how to make sure my observance of Ostara didn’t get lost in the shuffle of my largely-Christian family’s Easter celebration, which was on March 23 last year.  As there is such a gap between the two celebrations this year, though, I’m feeling quite relaxed about it, including drawing out my observance over a matter of a week or more, as I gather both some physical symbols and my thoughts on the key aspects of Ostara.

 

seeds2To me, this observance seems to have been particularly long in coming.  I’ve been through one of the snowiest winters I can remember in decades (right up through last weekend!), I’ve been dealing with some thorny family issues, and I’m trying to address my own growing dissatisfaction with my current employment situation without causing household financial wreckage beyond that done by the national/global situation.   CB003749Despite the worries of my daily life, though, I feel joyful as the wheel of the year advances to the celebration of Ostara—a time to celebrate balance and potentiality.  As I continue to study the seasons and cycles in the physical world and my spiritual life, I find it helpful to have something specific to focus on during times of reflection, so I’m using the photos of seeds and nest eggs you see here as symbols of the season. 

 

Blessings to all who read this!  May this season be a time of renewal for all who desire it.

 

Posted by: Sabrina | February 19, 2009

What I’ve Been Up To

 

If you’ve read my last few posts, you’ll recall that L. and I had agreed to get together for an Imbolc ritual at the beginning of February.  As the time we agreed upon approached, she laid out in general terms how she thought our ritual should go, and I very much appreciated her taking the lead since she has a much longer history of Pagan practice than I do, and at that point I was feeling quite unsure of myself—not about my belief, but about my ability to plan and undertake a meaningful ritual.  And so the day arrived, we met at the agreed upon location, she led, I followed, and . . . it didn’t really work for me. *sigh*

 

I’ve spent some time pondering why, and I don’t think it’s any one thing, but just a little bit of several things.  Although we are both ex-Catholics who have stepped onto the Pagan path, that path is rather wide and we are pretty far apart in terms of our individual focuses.  Her practice tends to be influenced by Native American spirituality, and mine . . . is not.   I also think I was feeling pretty self-conscious about not wanting to seem like such a novice, but that just led me to holding back emotionally during our ritual.  In purely practical terms, I think I had difficulties because we were outside on a bitterly cold day and we didn’t move enough to stay warm.  So my goals, as I prepare for our Ostara ritual are to reflect on the “flavor” I would like to bring to it, to loosen up enough to become more emotionally involved in it, and to either plan it for a day of warmer weather or to dress more warmly.  J  Stay tuned.

 

Otherwise, things are looking up in my spiritual life.  I have been to more Pagan events—even heard Starhawk speak at the Women of Wisdom conference last week!  And my husband and I just wrapped up our umpteenth home improvement project, after which I conducted a ceremony to bless our re-configured space so that I would feel spiritually comfortable in it.  I am happy to report that the blessing ceremony I wrote and carried out was not bad, and when I am in our new space, I do get a feeling of peace and goodness.

Posted by: Sabrina | January 21, 2009

Today I Cried

Today is the start of something new. 

Today, an African-American (and a post-baby boomer to boot!) took the U.S. Presidential Oath of Office, and now, for the first time in a very long time, I feel we have the chance to make changes that will count for something.

Now our president is a person who seeks out diversity of opinion and then makes well-reasoned decisions.

Now our president is a person who is one of the best and the brightest America has to offer. 

He will work to create partnerships, not adversarial relationships, with the leaders of other nations. 

He will embrace the opportunity he has to break political and economic logjams and get this country back on its feet.

He is living proof that differences of race and culture present no insurmountable barriers to understanding and good will. 

He is living proof that hard work and faith in oneself can make amazing things-things I wondered if I would ever live to see–happen. 

Today, after eight years of small-minded, unimaginative, me-first, no-you-can’t game playing, I have a president I can believe in. 

And today, I cried for joy.

Posted by: Sabrina | January 14, 2009

Anxiety Down, Happiness Up

When I met with L. a couple weeks ago, I told her I feared I might lose my job if anyone I work with found out that I have become a pagan.  At first, the likelihood of this was not very great—I was quite comfortable as a solitary practitioner for awhile.  But more recently, I have developed a desire to get out and meet other pagans and hopefully find a teacher or group with whom I can gain more practical ritual/worship experience.  The more I wanted this, the more anxious I became about my job—word of who-saw-whom-where-doing-what gets around in the most unlikely ways in circles I move and live in.

 

But my need to move forward outweighed my anxiety about my job, so I started taking some baby steps out of the closet a few months ago, and then last week, I attended my first full-fledged, call-it-what-it-is pagan event.  And I’m happy to report I’m still employed and the sky hasn’t fallen. J

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