I had an appointment with my CPN yesterday and we finally got around to filling in some forms, which included what my religion is what I do to cope. She asked me if anything in my religion helps me to cope, like some people pray, or go to church, some meditate etc. I also read a post by a fellow blogger SoTiredOfMe which made me think about paganism and practicality.
My answer to my CPN was that my flavour of paganism was more a way of life or world view than what a lot of people would consider a religion. I speak a little about my flavour of paganism here. I explained that my worship is in stopping to watch the sunset, or dipping my head in respect to a full moon, an animal or even a hill that calls that response from within me. I am comforted by the cyclical nature of the land. There is life and death and life from that death. Decay and growth. Nothing is truly stagnant in life, ever changing. When my mental health allows, I take comfort in that fact. As the land changes constantly so too can I, what I go through with my mental health is cyclical. Life is never all light and happiness. You need storms and dark clouds and death. There is fear, bleeding and pain in Nature. Just as there is joy, laughter and happiness. Life for all aspects of nature can be cruel, Tooth and Claw, but it can also be wondrous and magnificent, a warm embrace. So that is I guess the answer to my CPN of what paganism does to help me cope. Sometimes the black clouds in my head are too thick and too dark and there is no comfort to be found in anything, but as I said, life isn’t always comfort.
Another thing I draw from my flavour paganism is practicality. The blogger I mentioned earlier said how they consider themselves to be a practical pagan. As I’ve said before there are many flavours of paganism. Different paths suiting different people. But that phrase of practical pagan stuck with me. I suppose you could call me a hedgewitch of sorts. My flavour of paganism is all about being practical. It is hands on with Nature, outside get the hands dirty, it’s trying to find ways to incorporate a respect and stewardship for Nature into modern day living, the way I run my house. It’s about learning what the different plants can be used for, in cleaning, cooking, healing and even in dying yarns. Not just plants but in how so many things can be used from Nature into our daily life. Upcycling is a wonderful way of practising my religion. Bringing re-use to things. Buy less, throw away less, reuse more and in all have the utmost respect for the world.
So what does paganism do for me? It reminds me that life is not black and white, and trying to live exclusively Tooth and Claw or Happy Fluffy Bunnies will not sustain me. It also grounds me in a practical way of life.
If you are pagan what does paganism do for you?
Moon photo courtesy of my lovely husband
I think I have mentioned it on here before but I consider myself to be a pagan. I’m not really any particular type of pagan. I’m a bit agnostic about deity, but I have a strong connection to the land, to the way it changes over the course of the year. I value life in all its forms, I try to live my life leaving as little damage to the earth in my wake. I’m not one for much ritual but I know how to participate. If I practice any ‘magic’ at all I guess it is what you would call sympathetic magic and hedgewitchery. So that’s a bit of my back ground. Call it Dansism if you have to put a label on it!
I have 5 festivals in the year that I always mark in some way.
Samhain (what most know as halloween) is always marked by leaving a light in the window to guide any souls which would wish to visit me, a plate setting at the table for dinner for any souls that do and a plate of food outside.
Yule (just before christmas) I end to get together with some friends. We feast, generally on bread and soup, drink (spiced mead and mulled wine), and try to spend an evening without technology. If we manage it we watch the sun set, stay awake during the night and meet the rising sun. Go for a walk in a nearby wood or place where nature reigns and feast on a massive fry up.
Beltaine (may day) when I can, I go to a pagan camp, meet with friends, possibly take part in a ritual, drink, sit around a fire, jump a fire and take part in a maypole.
Midsummer (longest day) I try and go for a walk, we drink and when we can we go to Finland and celebrate Juhannus, with bonfires, saunas, cider and sausages.
Lammas is the festival I celebrate the most formally. For 10 years I have been to a pagan camp where I take part in at least 3 different rituals and chant with people. Of course, as with most festivals I celebrate home brew, food, fire and friends are integral. It was the Lammas camp I went to this year that prompted me to make this post.
We burn a wicker man (an effigy, not a human – just in case anyone was worrying) at this camp, and we make an offering to the fire. Twice, about two different things, in the lead up to the wicker man ritual someone said to me ‘Oh that is so lovely, it seems a shame to burn it’.
Both times it made me stop and think. How many offerings do people make to their Gods or their land that doesn’t make them think ‘oh it’s too lovely to give’? When I was first starting out in paganism I was reading a book (as you do) and in the first chapter it asked you to make an offering, to give to the land something you cared about. I never got past that chapter of the book. Everything I had that meant something to me I didn’t want to give away. I didn’t want to lose it.
But if it doesn’t mean so much to you that you would give it to your land and your Gods, is it really worthy as a sacrifice or an offering. If it means nothing to you then what intent are you giving when you offer it?
Even down to libations. I am big on libations. I believe in giving homebrew and foodstuffs to the land. I used to libate any wine, often the ones that were getting drunk slowly. But now, when I do, I choose the best bit of the food, or the best wine that I have to give.
I’m not saying you must offer your first born or your heirlooms. In fact I’m not saying anything at all. Your relationship with your land and your Gods is between you and it/them. It just really made me think about how I have changed.
I’ve come a long way in myself since those early book reading days. Now when I make an offering it is of something that I love, for I’m not sure how to express my love for the land other than to share with it that which I love and value.
I don’t know if any followers/readers of this blog are pagan inclined, or even any other religion inclined but participates in offerings. If you are I’d be interested in what you think about offerings and sacrifices.
And if you want to ask questions about my beliefs anon http://www.ask.fm/Danscrazycatlady