Posted by: Sabrina | January 6, 2009

Moving Forward

If you’ve read my last few posts, you know that I’ve been feeling sort of stuck in neutral. I’ve done a lot of reading and reflecting, but my actual hands-on practice in terms of ritual just really . . . well. . . sucks right now. This is, I feel, a logical result of my personal need to stay pretty firmly in the closet with regard to my evolving spirituality. But having had several weeks out of the classroom for the holidays, I have had time to set some goals, one of which was to to re-connect with L., who has been sort of in and out of my life for a number of years. During those years, I have sometimes wished for a closer relationship with L., but the realities of our lives and lifestyles as we each married, established our homes, raised kids, and so forth made a close relationship between us unlikely.

Now that our kids are all basically grown, though, we have begun to connect again. When I was younger and more firmly entrenched in Catholicism, I had been oblivious to signs L. showed over the years that she was involved with pagan spirituality, but looking back now that I am on that path myself, I can’t believe I missed noticing things about her in the past that are so obvious, and so I decided to confide in her about my spiritual evolution.

Over the course of that l-o-n-n-g-g-g conversation, she was both very open with me about her own experience of paganism and also a bit surprised that I’m not just considering a move away from Catholicism but that I have actually done so AND I have firmly committed to paganism. At the same time, I think I made it pretty clear to her that I have a deep need to move beyond a mere intellectual understanding of this path and into emotional experiences. I am so grateful for her willingness to listen and answer a lot of my questions, but beyond that, she is willing to help me move forward from my stuck position by guiding me and participating in ritual with me over the next few sabbats! I suppose it’s possible that as open as we are with each other, we still might not . . . resonate . . . with each other in ritual, but if she is willing to teach me a little of what she knows, I am eager to try!  (Yikes!  That sounds sort of mercenary, and I don’t mean it that way at all.)  Whatever the outcomes, I want that new closeness between us-even just on everyday things–to continue.

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Posted by: Sabrina | December 23, 2008

Sun, Seattle, and Sabrina Stand Still

As the time of the winter solstice approached, I found myself with too much to do and barely enough time to do it all.  I wanted to clear up a backlog of papers to grade and get my holiday shopping done so that I could spend some of the two-plus weeks of Christmas vacation time re-focusing myself on my spirituality.  Things were looking pretty good . . . and then, with a little less than a week to go before solstice, our glorious and long-lasting autumn gave way suddenly and decisively to winter with days of snow and bitingly cold temperatures. 

 

Just in time for the solstice, Seattle ground to a virtual halt.  I had made plans to take part in a solstice celebration scheduled for last Sunday at the local Unitarian church (for now, Unitarianism is the public face of my Earth-centered spirituality), but as the snow continued to pile up over two days of non-stop precipitation, I could see how foolish it would be to try to be there for it.  (As it turned out, though, the service was cancelled anyway out of concern for the safety of those who would need to travel any distance in order to take part.)  I had also planned to do some power shopping for holiday gifts for family and friends, but that has had to be scaled back quite a bit due to dicey driving conditions. 

 

So right now, I’m sort of standing still.  I’ve been most grateful for the internet and the fact that we have not lost power due to our current weather situation, as it means that I have been able to continue getting input from all of you talented and generous Pagan bloggers out there as you have shared your knowledge of Yule, your understanding of customs and culture associated with it, and your ideas, plans, pictures, and reflections of your own solstice celebrations.  I have also prepared my family for a much simpler Yule celebration, warning that there may be some IOUs and “virtual gifts” under the tree this year!

Posted by: Sabrina | December 3, 2008

Dual Life, Small Steps

Recently, I had a chance to hear Ann Holmes Redding speak about her decision to embrace Islam. If you have been reading my blog for the past few months, you may recall that I wrote a previous post about Redding, an Epicscopal priest who is in the process of being de-frocked for her commitment to Islam.  She has maintained that she can be both a Christian and a Muslim; the powers-that-be in the Episcopal Church have obviously decided she cannot. 

 

Her story resonates with me because of my own situation—having been a seeker over the past several years for a fuller and more fulfilling spirituality than that of the Catholicism I have practiced virtually all my adult life, I have within the past year embraced Paganism, but I am (at least for the time being) in the closet due to my ongoing employment at a Catholic school.

 

So, wanting to know more about Redding, when I learned that she would be speaking at a nearby Unitarian Universalist congregation, I decided to be in the congregation that day.  As she shared her story with the assembly, the following three ideas stuck with me particularly . . .

 

  • The Abrahamic religions are a “dysfunctional brotherhood” (I couldn’t help thinking at the time, if it were more of a sisterhood, maybe they would be more functional . . . J)
  • The anger Redding has encountered in others in her quest to express her spirituality more fully actually has fear at its core.  I imagine those who seek or support Redding’s de-frocking see Redding’s spirituality as an electric light bulb that must either be on or off in one room at a time, when in reality her spirituality is a candle flame, and she could share the flame of her faith life with other candles (Islam, Unitarianism, etc.) while still that Episcopal flame could remain as brightly lit as always.  How sad it is that others are seeking to snuff the Episcopal flame out.  Definitely their loss.
  • I was impressed by Redding’s calm resoluteness in the face of this situation.  I got the feeling that her spiritual journey has been quite similar to mine, and while I am not exactly comforted by the probable outcome of her situation (I imagine myself being fired if it were ever to become public knowledge at my school that I have embraced worship of the Goddess), I see in Redding a model to emulate in terms of not allowing others to intimidate me out of a spirituality that is personally fulfilling.

 

As I alluded to in my last post before this one, there are some unsettled aspects to my life just now—some due to deliberate choices I have made recently, others that are not under my direct control.  If any of these situations come to an unpleasant head, I will definitely need the kind of “soft strength” I saw in Ann Holmes Redding.

Posted by: Sabrina | November 29, 2008

Reading and Practicing

In that I am basically in the broom closet, my steps on my pagan path consist entirely of reading, sporadic devotions, and practicing rituals.  The reading is good—terrific, in fact, and I wish I had more time for it.  A few weeks ago I finally finished reading Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler and so I now feel as if I have a better understanding of the development of modern Pagan practice in the U.S.  At the same time, though, I also feel that I took a very academic approach to reading it, and right now I want something more personally involving, so I am going back to a couple of books I read earlier and developing a plan to work through the questions for reflection and the spiritual exercises. 

 

The devotions are so-so; I feel as if I know what messages I want to convey in my devotions, but I’m just not very good at it.  This feeling of dissatisfaction is a little surprising to me, since one of the things about paganism I feel most satisfied with is the freedom to develop my own spiritual practices rather than having them prescribed to be by a church hierarchy. 

 

And as for rituals . . . well, if my devotions are so-so, my attempts at ritual are really quite pathetic just now.  I’m not at all ready yet to create my own rituals, and I’ve attempted to adapt some that were meant to be done by groups into a format that would work for me in a solitary setting, but quite frankly, that hasn’t worked at all. 

 

In response to the feeling I keep getting that I should seek guidance of a teacher or mentor, I am beginning to put out some subtle feelers.  It is tempting to just shove my closet door wide open and step out into the broad light of day, but there are some other aspects of my life with my family right now that are in flux, and I don’t want to shortchange either them or myself, so for now I am just going to keep my spiritual antennae on alert mode and see what comes of it over the next few months.

Posted by: Sabrina | November 6, 2008

At Last!

I cannot hope to match the eloquence and wit of other Pagan bloggers (see especially David’s Silver Maple—“Grant Park” and Anne Johnson’s The Gods Are Bored “How Faeries Vote” postings) who have posted about the outcome of the 2008 U.S. presidential election, but I want to say that I personally feel as if we as a nation have been in prison for the past eight years, and now the cell doors have been unlocked and we’ve been told “you’re free!” 

 

I know that the next eight (yes, EIGHT! J) years under Barack Obama won’t be perfect—but if you saw his speech on election night, you know that Obama wasn’t promising perfection.  This is a man who, unlike his predecessor, doesn’t have time to posture and gloat.  And despite the history made on Tuesday night, he didn’t waste a breath on basking in the glory of the moment; he gave a very let’s-roll-up-our-sleeves-and-get-to-work kind of speech, giving credit to the many who worked so hard over the last two years for this moment and the millions who believed in the message enough to step into a new direction at long last.

 

The Goddess and God have indeed blessed us!  May they continue to bless Barack Obama and all of us as we make a new beginning.

Posted by: Sabrina | November 1, 2008

A Blessed Samhain

To all the wonderful Pagan bloggers out there who have written so many informative, thought-provoking, and entertaining posts on all things Pagan, and to all who have been kind enough to stop by here and help me take my first steps on this spiritual path, please know your support, encouragement, and willingness to share your knowledge and experiences mean so very much to me.  Wishing you a blessed Samhain!

Posted by: Sabrina | October 25, 2008

That’s So Random!

Having been tagged by The Green Witch and by Inanna from At the End of Desire, it is now my turn to divulge six random things about myself . . . but first, the rules of the game:

·        Link to the person who tagged you.

·        Post the rules on your blog.

·        Write six random things about yourself. (See below)

·        Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them. (See further below…)

·        Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.

·        Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

All right then, here’s the scoop on me:

1.     I love apples.  They’ve always been my favorite fruit, and I rarely go a day without eating one.  I love eating them just as they are, but they also go well in so many wonderful dishes.  Tart, crisp varieties like Braeburns are my current favorites.

2.     I don’t watch television (well. . . except for the recent U.S. presidential debates).  I used to love television, but when I went back to university in my mid-thirties to earn my teaching credential, there was simply no time for anything beyond my studies and looking after my family.  Now, on the rare occasion I take a passing glance at a television show, I’m glad I had to give it up.  There’s not much of value on nowadays, in my humble opinion.

3.     I am left-handed, mostly.  I hold a pen, scissors, and sharp knives with my south paw, but I do quite a few other things with my right hand—my computer mouse is set up for my right hand, I open jars with my right hand, and I deal cards right-handed.

4.     Red is my favorite color.

5.     I took up bicycling in my mid-forties for my physical and emotional health.  There are some lovely places to cycle in this region, so I find it a pleasant way to stay healthy.

6.     My musical taste is fairly eclectic—my collection tends toward  rock-n-roll, jazz, baroque chamber music, new age, etc., but I enjoy other types of music including reggae, Irish dance tunes, Australian aboriginal music, Gregorian (and other types of) chants to name a few–just as much.  One type of music I just can’t seem to develop a taste for, though, is country western.

So much for me.  Now, on to the list of bloggers I’m tagging.  These are bloggers I have only recently discovered or re-discovered, and I am intrigued to find out more about each of them.  If any of my “tag-ees” have already been tagged for this or don’t want to share for any other reason though, I completely understand!  Without further ado, then, and in no particular order here they are:

 

Cosette at Pandora’s Bazaar

Hrafnkell at A Heathen’s Day

Hex at The Mad Hexer

Phoenix66 at Paganway

Sleepygirl at In the Wee Hours

Alverad at Muninn’s Eye

Posted by: Sabrina | October 18, 2008

Dangerously Complacent

Over the last day or so I have been trying to catch up on reading the blogs I check regularly, and I was particularly struck by several posts–all put up in the last day or so–on food security and poverty.  The Green Witch (http://wiccanwanderings.wordpress.com/2008/10/15/blog-action-day-2008/ ) wrote about the nutritional poverty that exists in the U.K. (but she could just as well have been writing about the U.S.) despite the fact that there is plenty to eat there (and here).   The Green Witch’s point is that the real poverty that is prevalent today is not of something, anything to fill our bellies, but instead it is a lack of understanding of what constitutes good nutrition and a lack of willingness to invest some time in learning how to feed ourselves and others healthfully. 

In a way, I see this as a symptom of what I guess I would call “too much success” in the past fifty years or so regarding intensive farming, food processing, and marketing as well as our penchant for multi-tasking.  As farms have morphed into “agribusinesses” and our lives have become more and more busy, we find we have neither the time nor the inclination to cook a meal.  Pop a package of this or that into the microwave oven and a few minutes later, voila!   Time for supper!  Or even simpler, on our way to the football game or movie, hit one of the ubiquitous fast food places and have a bite without lifting a finger to do anything but take currency or credit card out of your pocket.  

But as a post by Sharon Astyck (http://sharonastyk.com/2008/10/16/world-food-day-post-bringing-cooking-and-food-preservation-to-the-table/) points out, our ready access to food in the Western world is significantly dependent on or linked to our use of fossil fuels and our production of greenhouse gases.  Our hope of controlling climate change, or chance of avoiding a world in which many, many people simply die from lack of food access depends on the creation of a system that can withstand the coming shifts in climate, energy costs and availability, and a worldwide depression.  And without basic food security, we can expect radical political change – people looking for scapegoats, governments overthrown, acts of war, violence,” Astyck writes.

Should the current financial woes lead to a full-fledged economic depression, it would become much harder to do what we in the U.S. have done for the past umpteen years—throw money at the problem, go for the quick fix, then wipe our hands, pat each other on the back and say, “Well done!”  But even if we can manage to avoid a long-term financial calamity, maybe we should consider approaching our food security situation as if can’t.  Basically, I’m talking about going back to doing what some people might call “living beneath our means.”  Yes, many of us can still afford to buy convenience foods off the grocery store shelves and eat out at restaurants or purchase take-out meals weekly or more often.  However, if we determine to change our mind-set not just for the day, week, or month, but instead make a long-term commitment to buying (or producing our own!) fresh, unprocessed foods and then “processing” (i.e., preparing) them ourselves, I think it would go a long way toward increasing our chances of having long term food security.

Yes, it takes more time to grow/purchase our own food and prepare it ourselves.  But I honestly think it is time well-spent, and it is certainly more economical than paying someone—a food service worker or a food processing company—to do it for us.  The trick will be to make this a habit.  In my work as a teacher, I find over and over that students think they have learned something if they are exposed to it just once—they read one assignment through and answer questions about it in one go, or they do one hands-on activity, or they see one video, or they do one night of review (i.e. “cramming”) and then they expect to do well on an exam.  And while a few students with natural aptitude in an academic area DO do well, most need repeated exposure to the ideas and many opportunities to practice the skills needed to master material.  The same concept applies to nourishing ourselves economically and healthfully.  We can’t just swear off fast food and junk food for a day or two and spend time re-acquainting ourselves with our kitchen knives, mixing bowls, and roasting pans, then when we are feeling virtuous enough, backslide into our old convenient habits.  Instead, we’ll need to commit ourselves long-term to spending time in the fresh produce aisles of our grocery stores or our own gardens as well as spending time in our own kitchens. 

I know I’ve made this sound like a lot of things that are good for us—necessary but unpleasant, rather like going to the dentist every six months or each year for a mammogram—and it may start out that way for some.  But at the bare minimum, I think those of us who commit to doing this will find it to be the lesser of two evils (scrounging up the time needed to learn or re-learn gardening, shopping, and kitchen skills versus scrounging up the money to support our convenience habits) and many of us, I hope will actually find ourselves pleasantly surprised at how satisfying it is to produce and consume/share with others the fruits of our labors.

Posted by: Sabrina | October 16, 2008

Forced to Choose

I have not posted recently for several reasons; I’ve been sick during the last two weekends (at this time of the year I tend to think of a school building as a giant petri dish . . .), I’ve been doing the usual 10 to 12 hour days in my job as a teacher, and I have been doing quite a bit of reading on Paganism and thinking about what I have read in light of a local news report I read last week about the imminent defrocking of an Episcopal priest.  The Episcopalians have had a fair amount of press over the past several years, mostly due to the elevation to the level of bishop of a couple of priests who happen to be gay.  But the priest I am writing about today is not gay and not a male.  Her name is Ann Holmes Redding, and she is an Episcopal priest who has also recently started practicing Islam.  Perhaps you have read about Redding; if not, you might want to glance at this article which appeared last week in The Seattle Times. 

 

The reason I am thinking so hard about this is that I have been reading Paganism:  An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions by Joyce and River Higgenbotham, and as I have read I have been struck repeatedly by the feeling of rightness about how I am growing spiritually just now through my embrace of Paganism.  My journey on this path is the result of feeling that the face of the Deity that I was taught about during my years as a Catholic is just one small aspect of the Divine Force.  I have embraced Paganism in order to see the face of the Divine from other angles.  I imagine that Ann Holmes Redding’s embrace of Islam in addition to her practice as an Episcopal priest is a result of similar feelings—a longing to know more than just the face of Deity worshipped by Christians.  And look where it has got her.

 

In my more optimistic moments I dream of a day when I can be open with my family, my friends, and my co-workers about my spiritual journey into Paganism.  But when I hear of stories like Redding’s I am quite disheartened.  I’m sure some would say that if that’s the way the Episcopal Church treats Redding, she’s better off being defrocked.  I just think it’s terribly sad that Christianity—a faith that really is quite beautiful in some ways—is used by some as a game of political control.   Ann Holmes Redding is a woman who truly has the courage of her convictions.  I wonder, when moments for revealing “the new me” present themselves, will I be as courageous as she is?

Posted by: Sabrina | September 29, 2008

Rocky Start, Fabulous Finish

With nothing pressing on the calendar and the promise of good weather for the weekend, I anticipated having a much needed wind-down from a hectic week . . . until I woke up in the wee hours of Saturday morning feeling quite ill.   I finally crawled back into bed around dawn, telling my husband that the outing we had planned for Saturday was off.  After sleeping for a few more hours, I woke up to a beautiful midday, which I was determined to enjoy, but my stomach had other ideas!  I was well enough to grade quite a few papers, but not much else.  After a supper of weak tea and toast I started feeling a bit more myself, and by this morning I was more or less back to normal.  Thankfully, the weather was just as beautiful today, so the outing that was deferred yesterday took place today instead, and we finished off with a light dinner alfresco at sunset.  Glorious!

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