8/24/11

Prayers & Beads

Waning Corn Moon (Age: 25 days)
Moon Sign: Cancer
Weather: Clear skies, seasonably warm with
rain expected later in the evening
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I've been attempting to compose prayers to use with my prayer beads but it has been difficult to find the right fit. I suspect, however, that others may find them helpful for their own practices. Feel free to use them with my blessing. If you wish to use them upon your website, please remember to attribute it to me.

Oh Holy One of All Names and Forms
Guide me, your sacred Child

Upon the path of Life and Wisdom.
Teach me to forgive and bless myself
As I forgive and bless others.
Give to me what I need to grow
In to a reflection of You.


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Blessed Mother of All, Font of Grace
Guide me to wisdom
Preserve me from evil
And teach me true Peace.

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All Father, Stag of Sacrifice, He Who is Cut Down
Guide me to wisdom
Preserve me from evil
And teach me the meaning of true Honor


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Oh Holy Ones, enter into my heart as Love.

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Hail, Thee who is Nameless!
Blessed Bringer of Life
You are with me.
Blessed am I, your child
And blessed is all the World in You.
Protect us now from evil and guide us to wisdom.
Your Love be upon us always.


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A Litany for the Victims

Deliver all victims from Oppression
Heal their wounds
Deliver all victims from Abuse
Heal their wounds
Deliver all victims from War
Heal their wounds
Deliver all victims from Hate
Heal their wounds
Deliver all victims from Evil
Heal their wounds
Deliver all victims from Poverty
Heal their wounds
Deliver all victims from Excess
Heal their wounds

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I tried patterning prayers upon the ones that I have seen elsewhere. Of these only the Litany above and Hail, Thee who is Nameless resonate with me. I have spent the last hour searching through the older volumes of my Book of Shadows only to find a scant few copied pages from websites from my first few attempts to use prayer beads. It was a most dis-satisfactory experience and the pages got buried. It is amusing in some warped way that these pages that I copied are the same ones that I am finding now.

8/18/11

Prayer beads and such things.

Moon: Waning Corn moon (age:19 days)
Moon Sign: Aries
Weather: Partially cloudy, seasonably warm
& drought status less severe
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I have continued to do research regarding the practice of prayer beads in the pagan community. This appears to be the best source I have found so far. It is very frustrating. I see there are quite a few references to pagans using prayer beads but very little is actually said. I at first considered adapting the Catholic rosary but that is not going to work for me and feels more then a little disrespectful.

So I've decided to try applying a few pagan chants. On a whim, I attempted to translate some of the more well known ones into Latin. The results are below

We all come from the Goddess and to her we shall return -- nos adveho ex dea quod ut suus nos vadum reverto

The Earth is our mother -- orbis terrarum est nostrum matris

To say the least, the Latin translation was clumsy and generally not looking like it was going to be successful. Donald Engstrom-Reese advises we consider the intention of our prayer beads on his page. When we consider the purpose of prayer beads at large, it becomes clear that it is to serve as a vehicle for one to meditate upon the sacred Mysteries of their faith, the repetition of a set prayers, and free the mind for an ecstatic experience of the Divine.

I tried my hand at arranging a set of prayers for my use on a rosary but it just lead to much frustration. I feel drawn to this. Quite powerfully so, but I am at a loss for where to start. There is a veritable mountain of information about Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist prayer beads. There's even information about Unitarian Universalists and their prayer bead practices.

I encounter countless pages offering to sell me prayer beads but little in the way of information on how prayers are structured. I approach this like I approach writing poetry in a form that is unfamiliar to me. I want to learn as much as I can about how others write in that style and form before I make the attempt. It seems, however, that I may just be breaking new ground here.

I am not sure how comfortable I am with that. Actually, I feel very uncomfortable with that. I feel disheartened and, well, sad. I look for some sort of sign posts to guide me and I can't really find any for my faith. Ah well, if the Gods are pushing me forward on this path, then I suppose I'm going to wind up there one way or the other. It's easier to go with them then to resist. Resisting only makes things more uncomfortable.

8/13/11

The Lady's Law: Perfect Love & Perfect Trust

Full Corn Moon (age: 15 days)
Moon Sign: Aquarius
Weather: Seasonably mild, pop up thunderstorms,
slightly humid
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"Bide the Wiccan Laws ye must, in perfect love and perfect trust."
~ Lady Gwen Thomson, Rede of the Wiccae


Perfect love and perfect trust is an expression thrown around a lot by Wiccans and other members of the pagan community. Perfect love is unconditional love. It is akin to the type of love referred to by many Christians as agape. Perfect love is extended not only to our fellow humans but to the world in it's entirety. We love the world because it is in some ways kin to us, in other ways the embodiment of our Gods, and because it is simply there to be loved. We love our fellow humanity because they are there; they are our brethren; and because they embody aspects of our Gods.

Perfect love can be a terrifying thing. It requires such vulnerability. We wear our hearts on our sleeves. At the same time, however, we are not Pollyanna about this. Perfect trust requires us to see the world as it is. We trust the liars to be liars. We trust that people are fallible. Perfect trust strips us of our assumptions about the world. It is the harshness of brilliant morning even as it is the glory of sunrise. We see each thing as it is when we operate from the basis of perfect trust.

Perfect trust, for all of it's harshness, is also the shield that protects us when we operate from the basis of perfect love. We do not blind ourselves to the flaws of ourselves or others. Thus, we do not set ourselves up for heartache. We accept reality as it is, rather then casting the pall of our desires over it.

We all struggle with perfect love and perfect trust. We are human and we are going to stumble along the path at times. This is where perfect love and perfect trust in ourselves is important. Perfect love for ourselves is the healthy, unconditional love of who we are despite our limitations and flaws. Perfect trust is the faith we have in ourselves to do the right thing at the right time. We all suffer times of self doubt, but as long as we continue to strive for meeting this challenging rule set out for us then we can say that we have made a good faith effort.

In the end, that is all anyone can ask of us.

A Goddess Rosary?

Full Corn Moon (age: 15 days)
Moon Sign: Aquarius
Weather: Seasonably mild, pop up thunderstorms,
slightly humid
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I've been feeling drawn to reciting a rosary of sorts. For the last several weeks, this urge has grown stronger. I am convinced that this is not a simple matter of whimsy by the persistence and depth of this urge. While I am familiar with the Catholic rosary, it does not correctly address this need of mine. The Deanists have a rosary that is in many ways similar to the Catholic one but it also doesn't fit quite what my need is. And as I have been studying and researching this intently, I have come to the conclusion that this is a spiritual need.

Oddly enough, I have also been finding myself drawn to contemplating if the concept of sin fits into my world view. The catechism of the Catholics and the Deanists both speak of sin. It is challenging for me to consider this because I must first overcome the Christian concept of sin which is so very pervasive in our society. It is a debilitating concept and one that I reject down to the marrow of my bones. It was a part of Catholicism that just didn't sit right with me when I was seriously considering converting, even.

As I was running errands earlier this evening, a thought struck me. If the definition of sin (the noun) is to transgress against Divine law, my self hatred/loathing would clearly be that. It is a violation of the Lady's law of Perfect Love*. The simplicity of this was in many ways earth shaking. There was no 'fall from Grace' or conscious rejection of this divine law from a willful mind, choosing to embrace some malefic path. It was just that I was in error by way of unhealthy habits, habits which I am striving to correct.

I was then at a proverbial crossroads. Do I engage in some borrowed ritual of penance? Do I devise my own ritual of penance? Or perhaps beg forgiveness from the Lady? Do I strive to correct my error and beseech the Lady's blessing and aid in my endeavors? I was a tad confused. Much of my theological training and education did not directly address this matter and I felt as though I was treading unbroken ground. It was an uncomfortable feeling, to say the least.

I had never felt the need, even in my times of dire desperation and crisis, to throw myself at the feet of the Gods and beg for anything in as abject and piteous a fashion that I could muster. The rituals of penance that I could devise or otherwise subject myself to would have been empty. As such, logically I can not do such a ritual because it would be dishonest and dishonorable of me. Begging forgiveness from the Lady struck me as an empty act as well. I know full well what the response would be, "Forgive thyself." Thus, I returned to the final option, which was to correct my error.

I admit, I feel uneasy asking the Lady's blessing and aid in this effort. A part of me says that I am not worthy of such assistance and that my problems are too small to merit such a request. It is, however, the same place that my self hatred/loathing springs from, thus I must reject it. I am unsure, however, just how to phrase such a request. I am unsure just what this has to do with the urge for a rosary of my own. It is mildly upsetting to be so confused and conflicted on this point.

Logic demands to know what the objective of a rosary practice would be. For the Catholics, it is the vehicle by which they contemplate the sacred mysteries of their faith. The same is true for the Deanists. For other witches, the rosary is a tool by which they cast spells, strengthen their relationship with the Gods, and meditate. I don't know how a rosary would serve me, what it's function would be in my practices. I only know that I am pulled, prodded, and pushed down the path of using one by the Lady.

I had hoped that I would stumble upon something that would answer my needs in the course of my research. Instead, I find only more questions, frustration, and a deep sense of dissatisfaction with what I find. Perhaps I should write my own prayers rather then take from other sources their freely shared prayers, I don't know. I only know that I have a deep desire to engage in this practice and I don't know why or what I would be seeking to accomplish. I feel a great deal of confusion. Perhaps the Lady will bless me with clarity.

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* An exegesis upon this element of the Charge of the Goddess will be posted soon.

8/6/11

E-Book of Shadows?

Moon Phase: Waxing Corn (Age: 7 days)
Moon Sign: Scorpio
Weather: Cloudy, seasonably warm.
cool front expected later tonight
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I've been considering my options as to how I could organize the volumes of research that I have in my Book of Shadows. I am leaning more and more towards making up a couple of e-books, then burning them to CD. I suspect it will be a significant amount easier then wading my way through four notebooks and approximately 2 1/2 inches of paper to look up one fact or detail.

My current volume of my Book of Shadows is serving as a journal and spell book. I have been giving a great deal of thought to devising separate books for lore, spells, rituals, and psychic notes. I look at what I have now and I feel quite... irate with how difficult it is for me to dig through it to find what I am looking for.

Every so often, I halfheartedly attempt to make this mess resemble order. I usually stick with it about a week at most and then throw my hands up in exasperation. Since Stormcrow's request that I find some information about astral projection about two weeks ago, I have been up to my eyeballs in paper. This is just plain silly and counter productive.

Aside from that, I'll be posting up a few things from the annals of my magical history as I dig through all this stuff. I have some material that I think would prove of interest to you, my Readers. All I ask is that you bear with me as I proceed.

8/4/11

Suicide: more thoughts

Moon phase: Waxing Corn (Age: 5 days)
Moon Sign: Libra
Weather: Fair skies, seasonable; drought continues
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I've been giving the matter a great deal more thought over the last two days. It has been difficult for me to dig down through the layers to get to the most genuine of my feelings on Summer's suicide. I recognize the shock, disappointment, and anger were part of my response. The anger, however, grew for reasons aside from the fact that I was upset that she took her own life. It rose up and overrode the other feelings in a fashion that blinded me for a time to what I truly felt.

I have had time now to sit and examine the subject. And to examine my response to it. At the root of it all, I feel pity and compassion. At the time, I didn't feel comfortable with those emotions. I pushed them aside and grabbed hold of the anger. I recognize that the stages of grief include anger, but I didn't expect to cycle through to it so fast. I still hold to my initial statement when I learned of what happened: she should have picked up the phone, not the pills.

As I look at this, I must admit, I found myself going back to when I was actively suicidal. That phone call for help was one of the hardest things I have ever done. My hands were literally shaking with fear. I was fairly certain that if I couldn't get my therapist on the phone that I was going to do something terrible. I remember feeling terribly alone in that moment.

I can only guess how alone Summer felt at that time. In my case, I heard my mother's voice screaming in my ear. I don't know what was going on in Summer's case. I suspect, however, that the pain of her illness had reached an intolerable level and she was desperate for a way out. I don't think she was thinking clearly, because with out the influence of mental illness she was a vivacious person who virtually glowed with her love of life.

I pity the suffering she had and the crippling psychic pain that drove her to this act. My hackles go up at the fact that she killed herself in almost the exact same fashion that I had planned. The timing of it also leaves me uneasy because it hits too close to home. In some strange fashion, I find myself reminded to be thankful that I didn't kill myself and that I had gotten help. I don't know if that makes me a freak or not.

You will be missed, Summer. May it be that you have found the peace you were so desperate for and healing in the arms of the Goddess.

8/2/11

Suicide: How I view it.

Moon phase: Waxing Corn Moon (age: 3 days)
Moon Sign: Virgo
Weather: Fair skies, warm but seasonably so; drought still persists
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A friend of mine committed suicide a few days ago. It surprised and disappointed me. I felt some pity for her. Then I got angry. Really angry. I then took a step back and said to myself "Why are you angry, you contemplated it? How does your Tradition view suicide?" Those two questions stopped me cold in my tracks and have been rattling around in my mind for a little while now. Beloved's position was pure anger, as was that of Stormcrow. Both men had an excellent point when they expressed their disdain for one's final act to be of such selfishness. Both of them held out that the dead no longer were effected by their actions in this world, but left a tangled mess behind them for the living to sort out as a result of their final action.

The logical part of my brain agreed with this but the anger ran deeper then that. There was some sort of spiritual aspect to it that had me stumped. As such, I meditated upon the matter. I contemplated it as I lay sleepless the night after we had learned what happened. I rolled it around in my head as I was walking my son home from the bus stop. Then it finally hit me where the anger stemmed from.

I can accept that one will commit suicide to escape pain, to escape a poor quality of life, or as an act of resistance. I can accept that suicide can be accidental or a result of one's thinking getting completely distorted by things outside of their ability to control, such as the side effect of their medications. Suicide makes sense in these contexts. It may not be the ideal solution in the eyes of a third party, but to the person who is deliberately acting in this fashion, it will have been perceived as the best possible solution available to them. And as the First Law of Human Behavior states: All people shall act according to what they believe to be in their best interests according to the information they perceive to be available and relevant.

My anger came out of the fact that this suicide was a result of poorly managed depression. This young woman, according to what information I have learned from sources that were close to her prior to this event, intentionally disregarded elements of her illness. It is this that makes me angry. She knew she was on a collision course with a suicidal mindset but refused to address it. As one who has lived with recurrent bouts of suicidal depression for most of their life, I know what that feeling is like. At one point, I had several friends drag me back from walking out into traffic. As terrifying as incidents like that were, I struggle daily with suicidal thoughts as a result of my post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic, recurrent depression.

Why haven't I killed myself? It isn't out of cowardice, as my Mother once accused me of. It is courage and a grim determination to meet my responsibilities. It is my sense of honor. I have duties to people around me that I must uphold, lest I prove less then honorable. My friend knew she had similar duties to people around her. She chose not to make an effort to meet them, even if it wasn't perfectly. It was a cowardly act.

Now, there is a distinct possibility that the information that I have is incorrect. It may be that complications from her antidepressants caused her to become suicidal. If that is the case, my anger is mitigated somewhat. As this change in her thinking occurred, however, she should have addressed it with her doctor. Suicidal thoughts, generally, are not something that strike out of the blue unless there is a preexisting condition that is manifesting in that fashion. As such, she would have had a window of opportunity to get help for her crisis. An opportunity that she allowed to pass by.

I do not feel proud of my own suicidal tendencies. I am rather ashamed of them, actually. I, however, continue to fight them because I refuse to dishonor myself by failing in my obligations. It is my experience that the Gods punish dishonor. It comes in strange and at times subtle ways. But it does come. I have known people who bore the mark of a curse upon their aura and learned why. I have no wish to know how one who willfully dishonors themselves and commits suicide makes recompense for their failure to keep their oaths and meet their duties.

Edited to Add~ I realized as I reread this that I was writing my way through an emotional flashback. I believe I will let this post stand, but I need to give the entire situation more consideration before I post again on the topic. I apologize to any whom I offended.

Blessed First Harvest!

Moon phase: Waxing Corn Moon (age: 3 days)
Moon Sign: Virgo
Weather: Fair skies, warm but seasonably so; drought still persists
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In my own manner, I have been observing the festival of the first harvest for a little over a month now. I started with the first strawberries from my plants (subsequently, the only ones due to this drought). I then moved on to the wild black berries and my herbs. Today, I harvested the first pepper (which was tiny but so flavorful) off of my pepper plant.

It is my hope that with careful and diligent watering, my pepper plant will put out more peppers and the tomatoes will actually fruit, not just survive this beastly drought. With each bite, I said out loud or within my own little head a small prayer.

Hail to the Green Man! He who feeds us with his flesh!

It was unfortunate that my wheat didn't sprout and grow. If I am lucky, however, I may be able to get some gleanings from somewhere around here. Quite surprisingly, actually, I have a bit of wheat growing in the pot where I attempted to re-pot my very sickly orchid. The orchid, unfortunately, was too weak to take being repotted. But somehow, wheat seeds found their way into my MiL's bag of orchid potting mix and into the pot that had held my orchid. I'm hoping these seeds will continue to grow and I may get some ripe ears out of it, but I am not going to hold my breath.

I feel truly blessed right now, even with the pain in my leg (from a fall back in early June). I am home with my family. I have my plants growing as well as they can despite the drought. My children are growing up fine and strong. My husband has work and we can pay our bills. It is a collection of relatively small things compared to what goes on in the world, but I am deeply thankful for them. Sometimes, the greatest blessings are the ordinary things that we take for granted.

To have food to put in our bellies, clothes to cover us, and a roof to shelter us is to be in possession of a great many blessings that others are not so fortunate to have. Thus, I am thankful.

In my tradition, the First Harvest is a blessed day of work. Work is sacred. Just as the planting of the fields is a holy thing, so too is bringing in the harvest. I am profoundly thankful that I am home to go about the work of being a housewife and mother. Last year, I was in a hospital for my psychological illness. It was as different from today as night is from day. I have grown from that experience and I am thankful for the wisdom that has come from it.

Thus, the celebration of harvest season begins officially for many other Witches and Pagans. I too join in their ranks to take as much joy from life as I possibly can right now and to savor the plenty that is abundantly available before Winter comes. I may not be ready yet to make preserves to store up what I have grown in my garden, but each memory preserves the Summer to comfort me.

Blessed First Harvest, everyone.