To Each Their Own

It’s a good idea and something I hear people say a lot. But more often than not I find them to be very empty words.

Usually when I see someone say “to each their own” it’s AFTER the person has been called on something or other they were doing, often trying to tell others how to behave. And that’s it, all too often, it doesn’t actually mean “to each their own”. What it really means is “I have my way and how dare you challenge me” in a good old fashion passive-aggressive bullshit way.

If people ACTUALLY believed in “to each their own” we wouldn’t have laws, we’d have anarchy. Everyone would go around doing whatever they want with no reprisal or consequences. After all, to each their own. So when you think about it, it’s really not a practical thing, even if the person saying it DOES mean it as the words imply.

So does that mean we should go around telling everyone what the hell to do and how to behave? Absolutely not! This isn’t an either/or thing. And honestly, a lot of pagans read to move beyond black and white thinking. Dealing with gods and spirits and such prove very quickly that black and white is an absurd concept. So I really don’t understand why so many people are stuck in such ridged thought patterns.

At the end of the day, I don’t think “to each their own” is something desirable but it represents a decent idea. Reality is a middle ground between dictating how others should behave and leaving everyone to do their own thing. This is where critical thinking and an awareness outside of one’s self comes in, because that middle ground is a vital part of successfully being a member of society.

Just remember, whatever you choose to do, you will have to sleep some time.

So What Have You Done For The Gods Lately?

Seeing as many modern pagans come from a Christian background of some description or other, this really shouldn’t surprise me. Yet I’m constantly confounded by the number of pagans who think that they can just pester the gods any old time they feel like it get what they want.  And not have to do anything to cultivate a relationship with said being.

Seeing as all you are told to do with the Christian god is pray and you will get something, I do get why this is an issue.  But it’s a big mistake to think that the various pagan gods are the same as the Christian god.  Even if you’re a soft polytheist, there is enough evidence of not only differences but also requirements of worship to show that it’s not the same modus operandi.

Also, lets just think about this for a minute.  Would you walk up to a random stranger at thr bus stop and demand they help you move house on Saturday?  For free?  I sure hope not.  And if you wouldn’t do that to a person, why on earth would you do it to a god or other entity?

All (healthy) relationships are a give and take on BOTH sides. So if you want a deity or other spiritual being to do something for you, then you need to do something for Them.  If you don’t know what you should do then ASK the being Itself.

This push for plug and play gods, who supposedly only want adoration, drives me nuts.  Not only is it rude behaviour to the gods, completely ignoring their history and the culture they come from.  It also shows a complete lack of understanding of basic social graces, something that is probably very evident in the person’s daily life.

I recently had a “discussion” with one person who was entitled twat, who seemed to expect me to be a mind reader and getting answers out of him was like pulling teeth. He was complaining that Hecate hadn’t answered his prayers and was asking about other gods.  I was about ready to scream at him “well no wonder She didn’t if you can’t be assed to make an effort!”  I suppose that it is easier to see when on the outside rather then being in the middle of it, but really, this shouldn’t be that hard to understand.  And in the case of this guy, he should be grateful that all She did was ignore his prayers.

It’s also possible that this is another symptom of our instant gratification society, where if it’s too hard–aka, requires effort–just whine instead.  Whatever the reason, it’s nauseating and people need to grab a clue.

Calling All Bloggers, Vloggers and Podcasters!

This blog is a bit of shameless advertisement and an effort at networking.  I’ve started a FB group for bloggers and the like as place to find support, share ideas and vent about issues.  Part of the group is collecting blogs as well and writers.  So if anyone is interested, please come on over.  And please spread the word.  This world needs all the good pagan blogs it can get.

The Power of I-Statements or Why Inclusive Language is BAD

You would think that magically inclined folks would understand and value the power of words.  Sadly this is not the case.

Time and time again I see people making proclamations about “karma” or “three fold law” or “what goes around comes around” as if these are universal laws, which they are are not. Instead, these are things that people choose to make part of their personal beliefs, which is fine.  It is, after all, their choice.  What’s not fine is telling others that those personal beliefs apply to them.

Now, this is not to say that people can’t share their beliefs. Life would be pretty bland if no one shared their beliefs.  But it’s important to do so in a way that it’s obvious that they are YOUR beliefs.  This is where I-Statements come in.

An I-Statement is something like “I think…” or “I believe…” or “I feel…” but it’s also things like “In my experience…” and “It’s my understanding…” I-Statements are a means of owning your language as being relevant to you, not others.  This is not proof against offending others, after all there are lots of things some one can thinking/feel/believe/etc. that is very offensive (“I believe that blacks are little better then animals” would be an example).  But at least, this way no one would be able to accuse you of speaking for them.

The use of I-Statements is a means to a constructive discussion, as it means that you are talking about yourself, which usually doesn’t come across as an attack on someone else’s ideas and beliefs.  Usually.  Again, no guarantee.

But if you fail to use I-Statements, at the least it will put the person on guard or at worse incurs their wrath.  Think about that sentence you just read.  Are YOUR hackles up?  I did just make a statement about what YOU would be doing, so yes, I was absolutely and inappropriately speaking for you.  Sucks, right?

Now think about how much more it would suck if I had instead told you that you HAD to believe in X god, or abide by X rule, or live X way, all of which has nothing to do with your beliefs or your choices?  And yet people do it all the time.

So the next time you want to discuss your beliefs with someone, think about the words you are using.  Are you promoting discussion through the use of I-Statements?  Or are you putting people off be telling them that your ideas are something that applies to them?


About Initiation

“Do I need to be initiated?” is quite possibly one of the most common questions I get and the answer is: “it depends.”

Not all traditions and paths have initiation as part of them.  In those cases the obvious answer is “no”.  But there are plenty of paths the do require initiation such as Wicca or Shamanism (to name two of the most badly bastardized paths).  So if you want to follow such a tradition, then the answer is YES!  You absolutely need initiation.

So the next question is usually “why?”  Apparently this is another one of those concepts that is assumed to be so basic that it never gets explained.  Lets take a look at the “why” of initiation.

At it’s most basic, it is entrance into the a group.  As such it’s done TO you by an outside force.  If you just show up and announce that you are now part of what ever group it is, you will probably be laughed at before being shown the door…if you’re lucky.

But it’s more than just getting through the door.  It also gives you access to the group egregore or thought form.  This is the energy of all who have come before you, all their beliefs and understandings.  Having access to that, is part of pretty much every experiential activity you will experience on the path.  And being part of it will give a much greater depth of understanding that absolutely surpasses anything which could be communicated with our very limited human language.

Without initiation, all that you will learn will be incredibly superficial by comparison.  That’s not to say that what you learn from “outer court” or pre-initiation information is without merit.  That’s not the case.  But in order to really practice an initiatory tradition, you have to be initiated so you get the full experience.

At this point there is usually a whine about how HARD it is to find a group or make time or whatever other excuse the person wants to throw up about why they can’t get initiated.  This is usually followed by wailing about elitist and exclusionary rules and how that’s not how paganism is supposed to work, along with a boat load of entitlement as they demand to have their “self-initiation” recognized as valid.

And at this point I just wait for them to take a breath and point out that it IS a requirement of the tradition and IF they want to follow that tradition, it’s what they need to do.  Now this is the thing a lot of folks don’t seem to get: there are hundreds, if not thousands, of pagan paths.  Lots of which have no initiation requirement. And which have a theology (or lack of theology) that is more befitting of the person’s wants.  Same with the ethics of the path and so on.  You aren’t limited to initiatory paths or any paths.

Anyhow, back to initiation.  There are two general types: 1) by a human and 2) by Spirit/Gods.  Now before people start jumping up and down claiming that they have been initiated by the gods, let me finish.

Being initiated by a High Priestess or a High Priest is a human initiation in their group and is what you will find in Wicca.  There is a a transmission of energy and knowledge from the initiator to the initiated.  Such an initiation can also be traced as part of the person’s “up line”.  This is a means of fact checking if someone has the standing/training they are claiming to have.

Meanwhile, in regards to various shamanic traditions, it’s Spirit that initiates you.  Likewise, Spirit (or spirits) will be teaching you.  And frankly those that have been initiated by Spirit will rarely make such claims, because they don’t have to.  Why would they? Spirit is the only one whose knowledge and opinion matters on the subject.  If someone just randomly starts claiming to have been initiated by Spirit or some god or other–rather than it being a part of an explanation of their path–that’s a good indication that it’s time to walk away.

Now before you go thinking these two types are separate, they really aren’t as there will be elements of each found in the other.

Finally, let’s have a word about “self-initiation” and why it’s so very controversial. Self-initiation is an oxymoron, and the way of that goes right back to what I said earlier about how initiation is done by an outside source (either a person or Spirit).  You can’t do it to yourself because you have no way of accessing the energy/egregore of whatever you are trying to bring yourself into.  It just doesn’t work.

What does work and what many are actually meaning when they say “self-initiation” is a self-dedication.  Now a self-dedication is exactly what it sounds like: you are dedicating your self to….whatever.  You can do self-dedications to specific gods, or to following a specific path or course of study.  It is a wonderful way to show yourself (don’t worry about others) that you are serious. But it’s not he same as an initiation.

In the end, the question of “do you need to be initiated?” comes down to do you want to practise a path that requires initiation in fact? Or just in name only?  Or do you want to find a path where no initiation is required? It’s entirely your choice.  Just remember that those who walk the path in fact, will probably call you on an effort to practice a watered down version of what they love and have given their lives to the practice of.

Magic vs. Headology

If you haven’t read the Terry Pratchett Diskworld books, DO IT!  They are whimsical fantasy that doesn’t pretend to be anything else.  But in it is some of the best insight into what magic is and what witches do.

Anyhow, the term “headology” comes from those books and has actually become a fairly common term among witchy groups.  Headology refers to making someone believe that something was done rather then doing it.  In other words it’s a placebo.

So why would someone use headology rather than magic?  Plenty of reasons.

  1. Dealing with someone who has convinced themselves there is a problem when there isn’t one.
    This is without a doubt the number one reason I use it for strangers lamenting about this or that problem.  It’s also probably the reason why sage is now viewed as a pagan cure-all.  Someone used it for headology (gives someone something to do so that they believe their non-existent issue is taken care of) and the fluffies ran with it, unaware that it was headology.
  2. Dealing with preconceived notions.
    This is actually related to the first.  But where the first is things like “removing curses” and such, this it more along the lines of handing over a lucky rabbit’s foot, or telling someone that they are cursed. Nothing has actually changed except the person is now looking for whatever you told them would result.  Teh the human mind is very good at seeing what it expects to see
  3. Scammers.
    Oh, some might understand headology vs. Magic, but most are just using psychology to get their marks.  This covers things like people selling “haunted” jewellery.  Or “love spells” online.  It’s all about taking advantage of the wishful thinking of others.  How are scammers different from the other two?  The other two are actually helping people (mostly) by giving them something they think they need. The scammer is only helping themselves to line their pockets.

So why would anyone bother doing magic if headology is so easy?  Because magic, actually works to create change, not just the suggestion of it.  But creating change requires effort, and personally I only do it for myself or people I actually care about.  Not random people on line.

The difference between the two is handing over a stone and telling a person it will help them be brave, or taking a stone, using it as a focus point for a spell which is being worked on the targets insecurity issues, actually helping the target chip away at them.

In a nutshell, headology is for internet flakes.  Magic is for people I care about and am willing to make an effort for.

Witches are Pro-Choice?

Please note, this blog is NOT a statement about what all witches are.  It’s merely my own observation and understanding.

It doesn’t matter what the focus is, the abortion issue finds it’s way into everything, even knitting groups >_<  And as a result there are always lively debates, to put it mildly.

Now, I want to share my observation about witches, and by witches I man people who walk the talk rather then just the role playing wannabes. By witches, I man those who understand and work with all aspects of life, even the unpleasant ones.  And what I’m noticed that they are prochoice.  When if they are prolife for their own body, they are prochoice for everyone else.

So now I’m going to postulate why.

In a nutshell, witches understand that nature is red of tooth and claw.  Nature is not some hippy-dippy feel good place that wants the best for everyone.  Nature is where you do what it takes to survive.  It that means abandoning sick young or killing off a rivals offspring so that the female goes into heat, it happens.

What’s that you say?  What aren’t animals?  Well actually, we are, we just have a higher cognitive functioning level.  What blows me away is that some take this to mean we should be moralizing douches to others.  Really don’t get that one.  Anyhow, back to my musings.

Witches also seem to be more aware that this planet has an over abundance of humans.  The species isn’t in any danger of dying out.  And while witches can be Christian, they really aren’t to the old patriarchal ideas of “be fruitful and multiple”.

Over all, witches tend to be pragmatic.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, witches can and do have kids.  But that’s the whole point of being proCHOICE; you get to choose what you do.

So yeah, just an observation of mine.  YMMV.