posts tagged "paganism"
When the triple aspect of the goddess doesn’t fit with your spiritual worldview…
Totally agree, & am tired of being told that I should take it metaphorically. I don’t need my practice suffused with metaphorical motherhood any more than I need it suffused with literal motherhood.
Goddess of the Week: Sedna
In Inuit Mythology, Sedna is known as the Mother or Mistress of the Sea. She is often the most celebrated diety in the Inuit pantheon. There are many different myths surrounding Sedna, especially how she came into being. Typically she is the daughter of Anguta, a type of all-father god.
In one version Sedna is filled with an insatiable hunger which causes her to attack her parents. Angry, her father takes her out to sea in a kayak and throws her in the waters. He then chops off her fingers as she clings to the side of the boat and Sedna then sinks all the way down to the underworld, and becomes ruler of the sea and all sea animals.
In another version, Sedna is dissatisfied with the men her father is considering her to marry, and she instead marries a dog. Angry at her insolence she is then thrown into the sea, and yet again sinks to the underworld and becomes the sea goddess.
In this version Sedna mated with dogs and other creatures and the offspring of these enemies were said to be the common enemies of the Inuit peoples (typically whomever they were warring with at the said time).
Sedna comes to rule Adlivun, which is both the name for the underworld as well as the name for the departed spirits who dwell there. This makes her particularly important in Inuit mythology, as the Inuit believed in reincarnation, and that a soul must spend a year in Adlivun until it would be able to reincarnate. For this reason, and the fact that Sedna was is considered a vengeful goddess, the Inuits had a great deal of respect for her. She was particularly important to fisherman because there was a belief that if there were no fish or sea animals to be caught or killed that it was because they were tangled in Sedna’s hair.
The idea here is that the god Sila (a formless god, never depicted by the Inuits), the personification of a concept known by the same name (the primary component of life, the substance souls are made from), while spending time with Sedna’s father purifying the corrupted souls of the deceased, extracts taboos from the souls and these taboos become knots and filth stuck in her hair. When her hair becomes so polluted that she cannot stand it anymore, Sedna gathers up all the sea animals to (so they can share her burden).
Both to give Sedna relief and to keep a very necessary part of Inuit life alive (fishing), shamans would have to be called upon to cosmically untangle Sedna’s hair (she cannot do it herself, she does not have fingers, remember?).
Want more info on her? http://www.polarlife.ca/traditional/myth/sedna.htm Have a gander.
I love Sedna’s story, not in a happy butterflies way obviously, but it’s such a really amazing story.
I don’t talk about it much because serious issues of cultural appropriation, but Sedna is the deity I work with & am connected to most strongly. I was minding my own business & bam she was in my life, & in the years since her influence hasn’t let up.
When I was in Glastonbury a few months ago, my visit was luckily timed with one of the semi-regular healing sessions done at the Goddess Temple*. I laid on a massage table while two women sang & moved their hands over me & played homemade instruments, & it was all about Sedna, & my legs shook after.
* Absolutely if you are a witchy type or similar & if you have the means, you must visit the Glastonbury Goddess Temple at some point in your life.
"While cremation possessed ancient roots, it was little known among Victorian-age Americans. Indeed, to most late nineteenth-century Westerners, the concept of cremation seemed otherworldly and even un-Christian. Americans associated funeral pyres and crematoriums with pagan antiquity or the mists of the Far East. Modern people buried their dead, and that was that.
But Olcott saw cremation (mostly) as a commonsensical social reform: He considered it more sanitary than burial, a deterrent to disease, and a help in freeing up land and labor from inefficient burials. And then there was the deterrence of vampirism, which Olcott took seriously. “If any [further reason] were needed by thoughtful persons,” he wrote, “…there are no vampires save countries where the dead are buried.” In Olcott’s eyes the practice had produced such benefits in India, where “we do not hear of Hindu vampires.”
To promote the practice, Olcott organized the nation’s first public cremation service — or “pagan funeral,” as the press called it — at New York’s Masonic Hall on the westside of Manhattan. So controversial was the idea of cremation, that the proceedings on May 28, 1876, caused a near riot and raised cries that the colonel was spreading heathen rites in the city.”
I’m going to this with the rockin littlecitywitch. Pagan national conference in Toronto! For some reason it doesn’t seem to have been very well advertised, so pass the word!
"The seventh Canadian National Pagan Conference, Gaia Gathering, will be held at New College, University of Toronto, Ontario over the May long weekend, May 18th - 21st, 2012.
The theme will be “Building the Mosaic.”
In addition to conference panel discussions, workshops and talks, the artistic element of the conference will focus on a photographic art exhibit …”
For some reason, my faith has always been tied to weather. Certain things with the weather really trigger the witch in me. This is Pagan air. This reminds me why I am, who I am.
It is crisp and carries the sounds of the birds that have come to signify my release from depression. It carries soft rain drops and memories of my early school years, before things spun out of control for me.
And it makes me thankful for this Earth we are given.
This is the kind of air that drives me to ritual when I haven’t done so much as a spell in months.
The annual Imbolc festival celebrates the awakening of the land and growing power of the sun.
The pagan ceremony marks and half way point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.
Hooded torchbearers led the winter procession through the snow near Marsden, Huddersfield, in northern England.
The idea that pagans are “fending off” winter kind of makes me sad. I love winter and feel most at home in the cold and snow, and I recognize that winter, at least where I live, is essential for the cycles of the land.
I think as pagans we collectively spend too much time in our winter festivals emphasizing the return of the spring, the return of the sun, the awakening of the land, etc., instead of simply appreciating the seasons as they are, without needing to drive one out and bring another in.
Early last month the New York Times published an essay by Eric Weiner on the rise of the religious Nones – as in None of the Above. I’ve been critical of the “spiritual but not religious” crowd, but Weiner appears to be a None who is sincerely searching and not just being spiritually lazy.
The Dallas Morning News’ Texas Faith panel addressed Weiner’s essay this week, in particular his claim that “we need a Steve Jobs of religion.” Their responses ranged from thoughtful to dismissive to wishful thinking that what Weiner describes already exists in their own religions. Here’s Weiner’s last paragraph, which Texas Faith used as their jumping off point:
We need a Steve Jobs of religion. Someone (or ones) who can invent not a new religion but, rather, a new way of being religious. Like Mr. Jobs’s creations, this new way would be straightforward and unencumbered and absolutely intuitive. Most important, it would be highly interactive. I imagine a religious space that celebrates doubt, encourages experimentation and allows one to utter the word God without embarrassment. A religious operating system for the Nones among us. And for all of us.
EarthRhythms’ Amy Martin had two excellent points in her response. The first was “whatever the future of religion is, it will be done bottom-up Wikipedia style, generated from shared concepts rather than the revealed word of a transcendent personality.” And second “what is emerging must be articulated, but not defined.”
Amy’s right. New religions – or new ways of being religious – are a response to the needs of a particular group of people living in a particular place and time. No one or two or five persons have the breadth of experience and depth of intuition to coalesce those needs and responses into a set of beliefs and practices. A new religion will not be created, it will evolve.
While Weiner’s call for a Steve Jobs of religion is off base, his call for an Apple-ish religion is right on target.
First, a new religion for the 21st century will be like Apple because it will be intuitive. More importantly, it won’t be counterintuitive. It will not ask people to believe what their experiences tell them is false. It won’t claim that good people are damned because they can’t accept someone else’s special revelation. It won’t claim that who you love is more important than that you love.
To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, it will be a religion that makes your dog and cat – and your neighbor – better for it.
It won’t make claims we wish were true but intuitively know are false: that humans are really perfect but just don’t recognize it. Our experiences of violence, cruelty, and addiction, of guilt and shame tell us we are far from perfect. As William James said over a hundred years ago: “Here is the real core of the religious problem: Help! Help! No prophet can claim to bring a final message unless he says things that will have a sound of reality in the ears of victims such as these.”
Instead, it will teach spiritual practices that help us find wholeness and live in integrity according to our highest values.
A new religion will be like Apple because it will be interactive. It will be participative and it will appeal to the body as well as the mind. There is a time to sit and listen but religion isn’t entertainment – it’s something you do. Sing, drum, dance, and feast! A new religion will also be experiential – it will encourage religious experiences by everyone, not just a special few. While it is true that mystical unity with God / Goddess / The Universe comes when it will and cannot be controlled, it can be facilitated with proper training and techniques. The leaders of a new religion must master these techniques so they can be demonstrated to all.
A new religion will be like Apple because it will be expensive. Cheap and easy religion is weak religion. If it is to be any good a new religion will require a significant investment of time: daily meditation, prayer, reading and contemplation. Regular meetings for group study and practice, and periodic intensive retreats. Work to put beliefs into action and make the world a better place. And money to support all of those activities.
Like Apple, there will be those who find it too expensive for their tastes. So be it.
Unlike Apple, though, a new religion for the 21st century will be humble. It will recognize that its religious experiences are unverified personal gnosis – meaningful for those who share them but not binding on those who don’t. It will freely acknowledge that doubts and uncertainty accompany any exploration of the limits of human understanding.
At the same time, it will not be paralyzed by those doubts. In the absence of certainty it will confidently proclaim “this I believe” and move forward boldly. And when some of those beliefs and practices are found to be incorrect or unhelpful, it will change them and try something else.
This religion is evolving even as we speak, but it is unlikely to become a wholly new religion. Instead, these new ways of being religious are being incorporated into existing religions both large and small. People are reinterpreting their sacred stories in new ways to fit our needs here and now.
This new way of being religious doesn’t need an inventor. It needs evangelists.
Lots of them.
good-witchcrafting: love these symbols from cunningham.