June 29, 2013 - Dealing With The Dead!
In the Words Of The High One, Allfather Odin tells us that a person's reputation is the one part of that person which is immortal. And, it does indeed live beyond the person's morality. But, two people might see that same person entirely differently. And, we have to deal with these other living people, too!
Funerals and other death-related rites exist for many freasons, but none so much as they exist for the sake of the living whom the dead leave behind.
And here, we have a challenge which I will outline in some detail. And, it's one that will give our skills and spirituality a real opportunity!
June 22, 2013 - A Practical look At Litha!
Litha is a special sabbat, but for me this year it is particularly special. Events in my life happening close to Litha demonstrate the very point of Litha, and what Litha presents to us.
Litha is a fulfillment. The sabbats from Yule to now have been celebrations of a divine child's birth, growth, and coming of age. From here, the sabbat will be celebrating the work done by this god/king that the child has become!
And what is happening in my life right now demonstratres the very point Litha has been trying so hard to tell me!
June 15, 2013 - The View Beyond Your Eyes!
I've been hearing enough about divination lately that I feel the need to say something. Then again, there is always something being said about divination. But now, someone very unexpected said something favorable about it. The problem is, this person is a supposed theologian, but I sometimes wonder if this person understands some concepts that I consider extremely basic.
And I do have a couple of issues with divination - not with divination itself, but how people understand it. Between dabblers and wanna-be "fortune tellers", it's a wonder people remember what divination is!
Not only that, but some of the people who are so quick to condemn divination should take a look at their own spiritual roots!
June 8, 2013 - Our Second Worst Enemy!
Some time ago, I described ignorance as being the "One True enemy". The one mistake I made with that is that if something is called "the one true..." it makes an impression that that is the only issue we need to confront. It's not that simple. The problem can take many forms, and each form can in and of itself be an issue. Such is the case with ignorance.
And, there is one particular manifestation of ignorance that can take several forms, and be anything from irritation to the cause of yet more problems.
Let's look at it and see how we might be able to deal with it!
June 1, 2013 - Death And Double-Talk
I noticed on one of my favorite places to see how the secular world sees things spiritual, that death seems to be a favorite topic among some secular people. Especially if those are people who write books, produce movies, or develop other exercises for otherwise idle minds. But it is not so popular among those actively involved in religion- of any denomination or tradition.
Part of the reason probably is the combination of how much we don't know, how much some folks just conjecture, the shallowness of the sayings of what some call "bumper-sticker theology", and the fact that those who are theologians who dare say something are so often trounced upon by their peers.
It's obvious what we need to seek: better answers for the questions we've always had. Where do we find them?
May 25, 2013 - Revisiting Memorial Day
You may have noticed over time, that I came to have an "attitude" about holidays which purport to honor those who are serving or who have served in the armed forces. It was the result of experience. But, there can be more than one kind of experience.
I took a principle that I've spoken about many times in the context of spiritual matters, and successfully got to see days like Memorial Day in a bit of a different light.
And I think that this is something that a number of people can put to use where a number of matters are concerned. Think of it as a form of healthy selfishness!
May 18, 2013 - How To Say It!
If we're going to talk about prayer, it might be an idea to spend some time considering how to say a prayer. There are, in essence, two kinds of prayers: the ones someone wrote and you want to pray, and the ones which come from your own heart. Both are a challenge, each in its own way. If someone else wrote the words, like for a ritual, you want them to sound like they're yours, don't you? And if you a doing something that's absolutely your own, you want to get the point across, right?
Let's explore how you can make that be!
May 11, 2013 - Praying On-Target!
Last time, we talked about a place to pray. This time, let's look at getting your prayers on-target. And here, I draw on a comparison to artillery, because there is a fair comparison. Not only does the round have to be fired, not only does the round have to reach the target, it also needs to reach the correct target.
And there's enough there to think about if you really thing about that old adage "Be careful what you pray for, you might get it!"
So, let's see how we can make maximum use of this to make our prayer really effective
May 4, 2013 - Your Own Sacred Space!
In my commentary last time, before I got into Beltaine, I asked for some spiritual action, including prayer. There's a problem and I believe that it is the kind of problem where that sort of action is called for. The question for some will be how to bring it about. And, for some, part of the problem will be not just how, but where. Some are fortunate and have a place more or less set aside. What about those who don't, or who share a roof with people who don't appreciate that part of your needs.
Once again, secrets in plain sight. Let's see how to fnd such a place, and how to put it to use!
April 27, 2013 - Beltaine And What It's All About!
Much can be said about Beltaine, and much has been written. For this episode, I want to look at what Beltaine is about. many write about the customs, the food, the celebrations and all of the Sabbat's goings-on, but let's look at what is at the heart of Beltaine!
At the heart of Beltaine is something that eludes many people, many of whom come here or to similar places for satisfaction. Well, the satisfaction is in the fulfillment, and that's the secret of Beltaine. No quibbling, no hedging, just fulfillment - in abundance. Look and see!
April 20, 2013 - The Challenge Of Dilemmas!
And while we are looking at problems and difficulties, let's looki at something that we all face from time to time: the dilemma. It's bad enough that we see such a situation as offering no completely "right" or "wrong" choice. It's made worse by the fact that there will be those who think that there is a black-and-white solution. And then, of course, there are others who will harass you about the choice you made, just for the sake of having something to harass about.
Some of the subjects involved might be well-known, some not. But I can guarantee you that for as many who react as you think they will, there will be someone who who turns the other direction.
The answer is in plain sight. Let's see what it is that you can do about facing a dilemma.
April 13, 2013 - Preparing For Spiritual Warfare!
Why would I follow an episode about getting along with an episode about spiritual warfare? Because it happens so often, there are so many victims, and it seems to happen regardless of the spiritual path you're on!
From the person in your house who keeps interrupting your prayer to the store clerk who tells you your card is "declined" when the truth is she doesn't like your religious jewelry, to the faction fights in various religious groups, it happens. What are we going to do?
A look at the problem might provide some answers which we can all put to use!
April 6, 2013 - Seven Years - Same Questions!
On April 4, 2006 I launched the first episode of "The Secrets In Plain Sight" The question I raised in that first episode was very simple: Why can't we get along?
If this is not the first episode you've listened to, you know I'm not just criticizing Christians, either. This problem knows no denominational or sectarian boundaries. It is a problem shared by all spiritual paths! There are some people in every path who just cannot get along with people on other paths.
That does not mean that nothing has changed in these seven years. Quite the contrary, many have learned, many have opened doors, and most especially the problem is clarifying itself, and there is progress.
March 30, 2013 - After Ostara - The Doors!
Not the rock group, for those who remember them, but the ones which present themselves to you following a transformation such as Ostara. And they are part of our daily lives. But at a transformation such as Ostara or any other similar rite of transformation/passage in our lives, doors present themselves. And you might liken them to that old TV game show "Let's Make A Deal" when contestants had to choose between Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3 - but there's a difference.
True, not every door is worth your while, and you do get to peek, but there are some other differences, too. Let's explore them!
March 23, 2013 - The Magick of Real Tradition!
People speak much about tradition, but that does not mean that most people have a real understanding of what tradition actually is. And then, of course, there are the "bloopers" some folks make in the name of tradition, such as those who try and make a tradition mdean something that it was never intended to mean. And, of course, there are those who consider something that was always done a particular way to bE tradition, even if it contains nothing of what tradition is about.
First off, what is at the heart of tradition? Get that pouint, and you're ready to see what it's really about - and see what tradition can actually do for you!
March 16, 2013 - Ostara's Secret!
Ostara is coming, and some folks have little realization of how much it can be about. Look at the life of the god who died at Samhain and the stages of life he's been through already since his birth at Yule, and you'll see. In fact, there is a direct parallel between that and the stages of life of a boy born in ancient times - or now if we're talking about a culture which still follow the ancient ways. Judaism and the more catholic forms of Christianity are a couple of examples, and we'll explore that.
But Ostara is not just a passage, and it's more than one stop on the cycle of the year. You'll see!
March 9, 2013 - When Worlds Touch!
I'm not sure how many worlds there are, but we can be assured that there is at least one other besides the one we live in. And that is the one we wil see when it's our turn to Cross The Bridge to that world.
Tradition has it that at Samhain, the veil between the two worlds is at its thinnest, and that is when communication between our world and theirs is easiest. But, that doesn't mean that it can only happen at Samhain. Quite the contrary, it can happen at any time, especially when the love or the need (or both) is strong enough.
Let's see what can be!
March 2, 2013 - Can You See It Now?
Frustration often amounts to waiting for something to happen and wondering when and if it will. Especially if it is something you have been doing prayer, rituals, or spellwork about. Then again, I've often seen in my own spiritual journey that sometimes I have what I'm asking for, but I don't know it. And so I discover that I was wishing for what I should have been embracing and claiming as my own.
This happens more often than we realize, and sometimes it's caused by our own ideas of what the answer will be, and at least as often it comes from people messing with our spiirual lives. That's why I stress how private your personal spiritual life is.
And so, this time let's explore how we can see. And then we can look for what's waiting for us!
February 23, 2013 - Can Wiccans Make A Better Lent?
Right now, Christians are in the season which they call Lent, and some of them are celebrating it by having a miserable time. And most of us who have been through Lent as a Christian know why. So many of them make it into a very negative time. Many of us remember as children being told that we had to give up something for Lent - and I remember being tld that giving up broccoli was not what gthe grown-ups had in mind. And basically, it was a time of self-punishment.
It was not supposed to be, even though penance was intended to be part of it - just not the emphasis.
There are several times of year for us which amount to a Lent. Sort of a mini-Lent. Can we get the point of what Lent is supposed to do, use it in our calendar in the right way, and gain something positive from it? Yes, we can!
February 16, 2013 - Tempest Smith Day (Feb 20th) - And A Promise!
Tempest Kayne Smith died on February 20, 2001. She died by her own hand as a direct result of the relentless bullying she endured in school. More than any issue, she was bullied about her religious faith - the one she chose for herself.
If someone shoots another person, I am not going to criticize the person who was shot. How much bullying is a 12-yearold girl supposed to take, especially if, as some surmise, the people who could take action wouldn't, even if the knew or even saw it happening. I surmise that it might because it happened to me at that age!
But, let's examine the issue. Interesting, to look at some facts. If, as most say, The Divine is infinite, there are some conclusions to be drawn. And they are even confirmed in the Christians' own Gospels!
February 9, 2013 - Beware The Weaklings!!
You've heard me say before that I've noticed that people who are comfortable with who they are can be depended upon to be accepting and tolerant of people who are different from what they are. There are many examples, and the list is growing, no matter what the difference is that you might want to name.
And do you notice the people who can't tolerate those who are different from them, and what they're about? I'll never forget the reaction of an ant-gay "activist" when I remarked "scratch a homophobe and find a faggot!" I might be as "straight" as can be, but I'm also comfortable enough with that to respect those who are not. And that's to say nothing of the Bible-thumper who found that I knew his Bible better than he did!
So, since there are so many of those narrow-minded intolerant people, let's look at what motivates them!
February 2, 2013 - The Power of Imbolc!
It's Imbolc! Not only is this a sabbat worth celebrating, it's an opportunity to make good use of some remarkable power that's offered right now!
If you're in the Northern Hemisphere, it's Imbolc and you can tell it by looking out the window. And that can be especially true of you have some snow on the ground, but the snow isn't necessary for this observation - it just makes it more obvious. What do you see? The first shoots of the heartiest plants are poking their heads through the snow to greet the world!
And what is the Divine Child doing - the one born at Yule? With that, we can see what it's time for us to do. And it's also a good tiem to catch-up if need be!
January 26, 2013 - Hate Makes Waste!
Can there be anything as wasteful as hate? I've mentioned the subject before, but it seemed to me that I needed to have an episode devoted to this spiritual, psychological and even physical poison.
Hate takes at least as much energy as love, and motivates us to action. Each and every one of us has at least felt hate's temptation at times, some of us more often than others. And the results of hate are never good. Perhaps a short-term gain, but always a long-term loss.
There is a secret about hate, and once you grasp it, you'll know its real nature - and see alternatives.
January 19, 2013 - Apologies, Atonements and Insincerities
We are human, and humans make mistakes. And sometimes, those mistakes hurt others. It can, and will, happen to all of us, even though you and I know a few people who seem to think they are above it all.
The standard advice you got from folks like your Sunday school teacher was to not make those mistakes, and avoid the people ansd situations which would cause you to do that. That might be valid for those who live in isolatiojn under a rock, but the rest of us need something more.
And there is a way tio deal with it, whether your guilt is genuine or if it's the kind of guilt imposed by other people on an agenda.
Let's explore this, because we all find ourselves here at times!
January 12, 2013 - For Our Furry Brothers And Sisters
Right now, I'm upset about how some of our best frieds are being treated. I'm talking about our best friends who usually have four feet and fur coats. Between breed-specific legislation and the mistreatment some animals receive, there is enought to be angry about. And then, decides to market a product based on such prejudices.
Those of you who are Wiccan and Pagan, thank you - you know what I mean and you know where I'm at. But some others might want to know that there's ample warning in Judaeo-Christian scripture that we will be sharing this world and the world to come with them!
And there's more! What's even more, there are some special blessings which can be yours. Let's look and see!
January 5, 2013 - Making Visions Work!
I've spoken quite a bit about getting things to work, and here I get into the core of it. Let's talk about having a vision and getting it to work. People do it all the time, and most of it is a matter of knowing how to make it happen. It's a basic part of any spiritual path you want to mention - even the most radical Evangelical Protestant knows that there is more to baptism than getting wet, for instance!
And so, let's see how to make it happen. More importantly, when we get it to happen for the first time, how do we keep it happening?
December 29, 2012 - Resolutions, Religion, And Making Them Work!
The mundane New Year, just like Samhain, is a time for making resolutions. And I also know that this time of year, I am likely to discuss the subject of resolutions. But this year, I noticed a connection between resolutions and religion in general.
In both cases, you'll find the people who do it to please others, the people who take the lazy course, those who refuse to do anything, and the folks who actually make it work! OK, so what do those people have?
December 22, 2012 - Doubling Your Celebration - Or More!
It's becoming more and more common to celebrate mroe than one holiday at the same time. And why not? In our modern times, we meet and get to appreciate people we would have barely even heard of a generation ago! Different people have differnt spiritual paths, and the paths have different celebrations, although often at the same time as each other. I recall hearing of a couple who had a Christmas tree topped with a Star of David. It is not uncommon for a family to have both a Christmas tree and a menorah. And that is to say nothing of the other possible combinations of paths. Thanks to Lady Stormy, our god-daughter has celebrated yule plus Christmas, and Ostara plus Easter sine she was a young child.
As we know people, there can be closer friendship and even permanent commitments. We need to learn to honor more than one way. Some of us might find a need to do so even without someone coming into our lives. So, how can it be made to happen?
A couple of basic principles, and you can be all set. And, it can be a most rewarding exploration!
December15, 2012 - Making Sense of Yule, Christmas, etc!
Did you ever notice how many spiritual paths have a most special holiday at the time of the Winter Solstice? Did you ever wonder why? It could begin with primitive people fighting to survive and, in order to survive, struggling to find order in the chaotic world they were put into! Imagine the joy of discovering the day when you knew that spring and summer would return, and that that winter would not last forever! Imagine learning that it was possible to plan!
Imagine also, the lore that would grow, including some which might not quite fit in, but others which did - and well.
And so, you can see the roots of some major blessings The Divine has for us!
December 8, 2012 - The Mayan calendar And Us!
You've probably heard speculation about what the Mayan calendar means for us. The outer cycle which began August 11, 3114 BCE ends on December 21st of this year? What does that mean? The end of the world, as some say, or something changed, or nothing? There is certainly lore about the calendar's history to tell us that there might be something.
And then, let's not forget the other systems which have counts focusing on now, notably the beginning of the Aquarian age, according to most astrologers.
And, so, what might this mean? Look, and then see what your own conclusions are!
December 1, 2012 - 'Tis The Season For WHAT?!
If you've seen any of the news about what has been happening in the holiday shopping season in the US, you might be as bewildered as I am as to what is happening.
In the United States, the fourth Thursday in November is Thanksgiving Day, and the day after it is sometimes called "Black Friday" because that is when so many retail businesses show their first profit all year. It is indeed a great day for shopping because so many are off from work or school. In college, that was the one time that I was able to have the time as well as the selection and prices unavailable in a college town. But what has become of it?
You can see on YouTube and elsewhere scenes of fist fights as well as SWAT team deployments in response to unruly crowds. And there is at least one known death from a security guard putting a choke-hold on a would-be shoplifter.
And I do believe that there might be an answer. Let's look for one!
November 24, 2012 - Power - Prayer!
Times will come in life when you really need prayer - not just your own, but that of as many others as possible, and as effective as possible. Whether someone died, there is a major illness, you discover that someone you thought was a friend or even more was doing an agenda on you, or any of any number of reasons, your life, including your spiritual life, can be at a crossroads. You need something that works.
One of your first needs in such a situation is to learn what will work and avoid that which will not work. As an example, you don't need to pay much attention to those who say that they are praying for you when they are only praying their agenda or are mouthing prayers as a cop-out to avoid doing anything practical. But at the same time, you don't want to dismiss someone who might be calling up a spiritual army on your behalf.
November 17, 2012 - The Magick of Cats, Dogs, and Other Animals
For some of you, this will open a new door. Some of you know the door very well. Others of you have to overcome prior "teaching" by people who claim that such a door does not exist. Yet, there is evidence of it even in Crhistian scripture, in one of the books so many of them love to quote from! So, perhaps we need to tell them to read their own book!
One of their favorite saints speaks of it too, and his lore is so full of instances of his knowing this that an entire series could be based on them! There are friends and family members you have who have much to tell you, show you, and share with you - and you can share with them. I'm talking about the friends and family members who might have four legs, or feathers, or gills!
Another wonderful door offering you opportunities to explore, and you might not have to travel do so so, either!
November 10, 2012 - Icons, Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny and Your Magick!
Icons, Santa Claus and The Easter Bunny are favorite targets of criticism by the uninformed, and in some cases, they give the uninformed a special opportunity to display how uninformed they are! But wait - what are icons, Santa Claus and The Easter Bunny about, and why are they so special? And what would they have to do with my magickal or spiritual life?
First, let it be understood that some things who are looked upon today in a different manner than earlier in their history. And, sometimes they don't seem to even have the same definition as they originally did. So, what are they about and what can they do for you and me? That's the subject of today's exploration!
November 3, 2012 - Hurricane Sandy and Discussions With The Divine!
There aqre those who ask for a recipe or a formula, as if they were baking a cake, and I can't help them. But I can tell you what seemed to work for me this time, as I and my family faced Hurricane Sandy.
I can say that what I did was pretty much a follow-on to what I always do. And, there are some observations I've made in the past which seem to really apply here. In some cases, it involves putting wrong learning behind me. In other cases, it involves making use of new learning. And finally, seeing what I was being given played a major role.
Something wonderful here to explore!
October 27, 2012 - Celebrating Samhain!
Samhain is here, when the veil between the worlds is thinnest. Samhain is also different from the other Sabbats because while the other seven are points along the circle of the year, Samhain is both the beginning and gthe end.
There is much to do at Samhain, but the most important to me is to maintain and build relationships with those who have crossed over to the other side of the veil.
I'm also taking time to honor the life of Rev Norm Vogel, a founding member of Temple of Gaia, and the HP who married Lady Stormy and myself.
October 20, 2012, 2012 - Working With Saints and Masters!
Samhain and Yule are approaching and between that and what I've been talking about, I think it would be a good time to visit the topic of Ascended Masters and Celestial Masters - the ones some folks call saints. Some of them are ones you've only read about, others may have been people you actually knew. And who you want to regard in this category and whom you work with is your business!
Let's see what they offer and what can be!
October 13, 2012, 2012 - Dealing With Demons!
I said last time that to begin with, you can put your personal demons into your mental closet to get your spiritual life going. But they might not let you jest keep them there, and some of them might insist on making themselves known. We're not talking about the demons portrayed in movies here, we're talking about demons produced for you by people, especialy the ones you were supposed to be able to trust and those you wanted to be able to trust.
There is a special way to deal with them, and it involves knowing what is poison for them, and what they fear most. And don't worry, what's poison for them is something you seek!
October 6, 2012, 2012 - Exercising Your Spiritual Self!
Last time, we talked about what you can do, and this week we'll talk about how to make it happen! And, it's similar to what you do if you have athletic aspirations - you exercise! And like physical exercises, there are really none that are too basic for anyone, although there are some that are too advanced for beginners.
There are some good exercises available, many of which can apply to any spiritual path. The object, fo course, is to learn to experience and enjoy the presence of The Divine and the spiritual, and come to be able to communicate with them in a manner your Sunday school teacher never even knew!
One more step in your growth!
September 29, 2012 - Bring On The Visions!
You may know someone who can see and hear what others can't, but would that person tell you? I know some who I believe might be, but many of them are not about to reveal such a secret. Others have faced ridicule, shunning and worse, and as a result many have tried their best to "tune it out" of their lives. I certainly recall when I was reading about one visionary that it occurred to me that he was lucky that he did not have my third-grade teacher. She would have accused him of "day-dreaming".
If you've been through that, here's some news: You can open the door now!
And let's see how you might do that.
September 22, 2012 - A Part of Life Most People Won't Discuss
There's a part of most people's lives in which the most important aspects occur in complete privacy when they won't be interrupted, and the details are strictly your own business. I'm talking about your prayer life, of course. Did you think I had something else in mind?
A very dear friend, who happens to be a Roma Catholic priest once told how he was advised just before his ordination that he needed to jealously guard his prayer life. And with good reason! And you don't have to be clergy to need to protect that part of your life.
And, of course, your prayer life is something that evolves, like your intellectual life.
Let's expore it and its implications.
September 15, 2012 - Some Words Of Comfort
Some people have a nasty habit of jumping to concllusions about what someone is doing, and that is especially true where religion or spirituality are concerned. The big problem with conclusion-jumping is, of course, the fact that conclusion-jumpers set themselves up for a double-whammy against them. Besides the possibility that their conclusion might be outright wrong, they might miss something that they might desperately need to know - whether or not they will admit it.
People who explore more than one path or work with more than one deity are especially likely to be victims of conclusion-jumpers. And here, we can see some of the most obvious secrets which people ought to understand. And for some of us, they bring comfort!
September 8, 2012 - The Science Of Magick!
Every spiritual path has its magick, whether the followers of any particular path want to admit it or not. Even the staunchest fundamenalist Protestant has to admit that there's more to baptism than getting we, after all! And from there we go to the even more major forms of magick, such as healings and when people who are pronounced dead turn out to be not as dead as the doctors thought! In the words of one modern theologian, we get into something beyond scinece. And, I think that that term is appropriate. In some cases, it might be something which science has not yet reached. In other cases, it is where science might not ever reach.
And it's there for us. Let's see!
September 1, 2012 - Spiritual Tourism!
The recent events in an organization representing my former path caught my eye, not for the more lurid stuff that sells in the mass media, but for something else they're considering which, in the words of one critic, would promote spiritual tourism. But what is spiritual tourism? And what can be done about it?
You might consider tourism to be the direct opposite of exploration. Look at it on the physical plane. A tourist travels in an air-conditioned bus, comes and goes on schedule, looks at all the neat stuff, takes pictures, shops at the gift shops, and gains little. An explorer makes sure of necessary comfort and safety, but seeks the full experience. There's a difference! Let's look!
August 25, 2012 - Realities of Priorities!
And here is something we need in all aspects of our lives, but especially in our spiritual lives - an understanding of priorities. Many decades ago, someone was elected to lead his country based on his promises to re-vitalize an economy which had indeed failed. And, he succeeded beyond any citizen's dreams! It was the rest of what he did that made Adolf Hitler one of history's most infamous figures. People looked at the economy, and did not consider some other questions.
The same applies in our spiritual lives, especially when it comes to the importance of following rules. There are some folks whose spiritual life (if you can call it that) consists entirely of following rules! And that's like driving your car following all of the rules and laws, but forgetting what your destination is!
So, let's look at spiritual priorities!
August 18, 2011 - Watch And See!
What will you do when it happens? It could, you know. It can happen to me, to you, or to anyone who actively pursues something spiritual or religious. Think about it! All that time spent in prayer and meditation, and doing rituals of one kind or another, and we call it "communion with The Divine", or "communicating with The Divine", and do you notice that both times, the key word begins with "co-"? So, for all that you are saying and sending, what do you do when you start receiving?
Some of the most wonderful tales of saints, Christian or otherwise (Ananda was a follower of the Buddha), we hear about the innocent, often young, and in an atmosphere where such things are at least tolerated. If someone came forward like that today, would someone listen, or would someone recommend them to a doctor?
And so, how to receive, what to do with it, and how to apply it. None of us knows when the next time will be, or in what context!
August 11, 2012 - The Guilt Scam!
And now, let's look at something that's vital for each of us, including you personally. Let's look at some of the spiritual hygeine issues caused by the guilt trips some people like to put folks on. It could be a one-on-one, like a Sunday school teacher criticizing a child for having something nice when there are other children who don't have something as nice, or it can be a TV preacher acting as if he owns the admission booth selling tickets to heaven.
We've all experienced it, and there are ways to deal with it. Let's look!
August 4, 2012 - The Shoes Of The Templars
Speaking about what is said about various religious groups, take a look at what is said and written about the Templars! Their mission was to protect pilgrims during the dangerous leg of their journey between the port and Jerusalem. They did their job well, and they also were successful in gaining what some folks thought was a lot of wealth. And that was their demise, especialy when a French king who needed money got the Pope to go along with him and have the Templars suppressed. And what followed has made many rich writing books and movies of speculation and made others broke by following such speculations.
Enough of that, let's look at the real lesson of the Templars and what you and I and all the other folks can do to apply what they did in what we do. And yes, it's for us, too - and all others with a spiritual journey. Come and see what I mean!
January 28, 2012 - The Five Most Popular Lies About Religion
Did you ever notice how many people make pronouncements about various religious groups, especially ones that they know nothing about? Sometimes it comes from not having all the fact, and sometimes it comes from just plain ignorance. And today, for your enjoyment, I've collecgted what I consider to be the five most popular lies about religion. If you're a Wiccan, Pagan, Roman Catholic or Mormon, I can assure you that they've been said about you and you've probably heard them! What's worse, someone might have actually tried to confront you about them - someone did that to me. So let's look at them and see.
July 14, 2012 - A Tribute To A Friend Of Ours
I'm sure that there were people who saw Joe on the streets and thought that he was someone they wanted nothing to do with. Well, they don't have to worry about that anymore. But there was a time when some of those same people were glad to know him. He grew up in one of the better families in one of the nicest neighborhoods in Philadelphia, where his father's business gave them a good living. And he was a star in college, both academically and in athletics. But then he joined the army and was sent to Vietnam, 12 months of fighting. And when he finished his tour, he wanted the same thing as the rest of us who were taking off their uniforms - to return to life as he had known it. But, he wasn't allowed that. People who had been his friends shunned him, his wife left him, and more. Finally, he quit trying and lived on the streets. Lady Stormy and I, plus a few others, tried to get him to find opportunities that would get him back into society, but there was always one stumbling block, especially after time had passed. And none of his family, even now, will do anything for him.
And it occurs to me that he might not be the only one like that, and some of you might have known someone like that.
July 18, 2012 - Sorry for the delay
I got put into the hospital on Friday, and didn't get out until just now. In fact, I sneaked downstairs to put this out. It sure wasn't my idea to be laid up like that!
I'll have the one that's ready out for you this Saturday morning, and by next weekend we'll be back in synch!
July 7, 2012 - My Mistake!
Yes, I made a mistake. I'm human, too! And this was enough that I want to correct it right away! This goes back to the early days of the show when I offered an episode dcealing with "Our One True Enemy". But, do you know what? I missed something. In my military days, some might have called it "missing the big picture". True, ignorance is a major part of our one true enemy, but it is not all of it. There's more.
What is more, it is something which each and every one of us faces each and every day! And it can be so subtle, and even seem like it's good for us! To some of a more philosophical bent, it might be regarded as one of the main "active ingredients" of evil! In fact, it can do plenty of evil by itself.
Yet, we can protect ourselves. We wear winter clothing in a blizzard to shield ourselves from the freezing cold, and there is something that can shield us from this enemy. And here we explore exactly that!
June 30, 2012 - What Your Sunday School Teacher Doesn't Want You To Know!
While I don't want to make too much of a blanket statement, I can say that in this episode I'm revealing something that none of my Sunday school teachers wanted me to know. Likewise for most of the clergy that I knew back then. After all, it would infringe on their ability to do some things.
Of all of the authors that I've read, one stands out above the others. He stood out so much, in fact, that I named my son after him - sort of, but that's another story. And here, I offer something that he wrote. And, it offers me a lot of hope. And I'm sharing it with you so that you can see what you can discover in it.
And what it offers is considerable, especially if you have been living in the illusions which some so-called teachers and self-appointed evangelists try to impose on us. To begin with, it offers a way to stop being wrapped up in form and method and get into the actual substance of what you're trying to be spiritual for.
And potentially, it can lead to some great things! All we need to add is our own wisdom and willingness.
June 23, 2012 - One Size Cannot Fit All!
If there is one issue that bothers me more than any other, it problably is the "one size fits all" approach which some people have about religion or spirituality.
I have nothing against the kind of evangelism that tells people what you've found and how it works so well for you. I have no problem with inviting people to come and join. And I certainly have no problem with someone explaining their spiritual path to others - that's what I'm doing here. Where I have a problem is when people try to force others into marching in lock-step with them, or when people try to claim that another path is somehow "wrong", "evil", or "of the devil". Not only do I see that as being wrong, there are a number of reasons why I consider that practice to be spiritually dangerous.
Your spiritual path is yours and it's individual. You'll find overlap with others which makes for some wonderful working together, but it is also yours and personal as well.
And this puts us at a special advantage. Let's see what this can mean for us!
June 16, 2012 - Making It!
In your spiritual life on this plane of existence, perhaps the miost nagging question is expressed in the same way as you might express the most nagging question when you were in school: When you are done with this level, will you make it to the good place at the next level?
In elementary school, you tried to make it into the next grade. And most often you did. And there was a possibility that you might make it into the advanced-placement class of the next grade. Then again, you could be put into the next grade but in "special education", or your sourpuss teacher could keep you in the grade you're in! And I recall in third grade, we had a playground know-it-all who would expound on how some kids just were not going to make it because of all the extra stuff you had to do to satisfy ever-sour-Miss-Lauer.
And isn't religion kind of like that, no matter what your path? And some paths more than others.
So, what does it take? A look in the revered writings of the various paths reveals how to make the grade, and also how to guarantee that you won't. What keeps you from making the grade centers around one basic fact. And do you know what? Making it successfully seems to center around a few simple concepts which should be well-ingrained in you by now!
So, let's explore!
June 9, 2012 - Our Greatest Challenge
Of all the challenges you can experience or imagine, there is one challenge that is the greatest challenge, at least in terms of what it presents to us.
I have come to realize that a religious dispute is like two siblings arguing over who has There are challenges, and there are challenges, but there is one facing us that appears to be the most major the better parents.
Not only that, but I have reasons why I say so, and I list them here and try to explain the basis of those reasons. All in all, it seems pretty basic to me, but I've been pursuing this most of my adult life.
But then, there is also the question of how to apply it, and I find some answers to that. Not all of the answers, of course, because we're talking about The Divine, and The Divine is infinite.
So, let's explore it - and see how much it offers us.
As a matter of fact, it has much to offer - more than we've ever imagined! You'll see!
June 2, 2012 - They're Discovering What We Already Know!
In the pages of a well-respected scientific journal is the announcement of a discovery which is getting the attention of some folks I consider to be really mundane: some of the most respected medical institutions in the world are announcing that they have discovered that prayer and meditation can actually have a healing and/or curative effect, even allowing the brain and nervous system to "re-wire" or "re-program" themselves for the benefit of the individual.
WOW! Isn't it wonderful that these people announce what we've known for a few millenia?
Well, the fact is that what we've known all this time is suddenly becoming respectable and beneficial to the same people who would once call it either superstition, outdated, or perhaps a form of mental illness.
And that has some interesting implications for us, including the fact that it means that more people are going to find what we know.
And we had better be ready for it. It's a major opportunity.
May 26, 2012 - Memorial Day!
May 28th is Memorial Day in the United States. If you are living in another country, you probably have a similar day somewhere on your calendar. Actually, it's the 4th Monday in May that's the official holiday in the US, originally it was May 30th.
It is the day we honor those who died in the service of their country in the armed forces. Originally to honor the fallen Union soldiers in the Civil War (and known as "Decoration Day" back then), it bdecame a day to honor all of the fallen from all wars. And, most folks including myself include honoring those who did come home but who have since crossed over. But the main emphasis is on those who fell in battle.
Some, like me, extend the honoring to all who fell from all countries, inclding those who fell fighting against us. We may have been at war with each other, but we are no longer and in many cases our countries have become good friends. I can honor their courage and their sacrifice, and the heartache of their families.
With the possible exception of those who intended to have a military career, most had their lives interrupted and had plans to return to resume that life once the war was over. But instead, a spouse or parent got a knock on the door with news that their loved one was not coming home.
And so, let's think about these men and women, some of whom were actually too young to be thought of as men and women until they put on their uniform. And how can we honor them?
May 19, 2012 - Secrets Of The Great Beyond!
We've spoken of the secrets of reaching out to The Divine in prayer and in ritual. The next step is to speak of the nature of who it is that we're reaching out to! And we are indeed talking about The Divine, regardless of the name, names or aspects you use in addressing The Divine. That can seem overwhelming if we just jump in as if we were just swimming in a lake. After all, to do so means trying to deal with how much more there is than our own mundane experiences can measure.
Some folks just can't deal with that, and so some become atheists who will claim it's outdated superstition, and others become agnostics who try to claim it's a form of mental illness, or that's how my encounters with such people have gone. And, then there are others who will try to limit The Divine to their own comfort level (or to their own pre-conceived notions).
But for those of us willing to go beyond that, realizing that we are not experiencing it all while at the same time taking advantage of The Divine's infinite nature, the rewards and benefits can be beyond imagination - until you see them.
If logic and rightness (such as common snese) are are only limits, then some boundaries might not be as relevant, and at the same time we might see the reason for some others.
And it brings jus to something that's hard to get any other way!
May 12, 2012 - Secrets of Ritual!
We're going to be getting into some heavy stuff soon, but - no, wait we are indeeed already into some heavy stuff. Between what we saw on prayer last week and what we explore about ritual today, we're seen what makes up the most powerful rituals ever done! The difference is in the heart and will of the one who is doing the prayer or the ritual.
And speaking of prayer, guess where ritual has its roots? In prayer that has a reputation of working.
The formula is ancient and you've seen it elsewhere in other context since you were in school learning to write. The next step is to see what can be made with it, and what can be put into it.
Now, with this you are going to have an adventure, one that you might wish to write down for the sake of the memories you'll be having. And also, for that matter, for the results you will be seeing.
And we're both beginning and well on our way, both at the same time.
May 5, 2012 - Secrets Of Prayer!
Perhaps nothing has been as praised - and belittles - as the power of prayer. There are certainly many who associate prayer with a "now I lay me down to sleep" ritual that doesn't produce much. And then there is always the question of whether anyone is listening, whether the contents of your prayer are "approved", whether it's someone's will or not, et cetera. And of course, there will always be the nitpickers and naysayers.
So, let's step back for a moment and see what we might learn by starting at a beginning and not bothering with pre-existing spiritual baggage.
In an old Fransiscan mission in what was once the library, on the ceiling is a large eye. It was to remind the priests and brothers that their God was watching them. While some of us in Sunday School were told that that meant that someone "up there" was keeping score on us, the fact is that it means that The Divine is here with us. We don't need to worry about where The Divine is, anymore than we need to worry about if The Divine is listening.
Do you see the implications of this? Do you see what we can build from this?
Many don't, but you will!
April 28, 2012 - Contradicting Contradiction
In the various quests that I have pursued in my life, there were those people who raised objections, either because they wanted to avoid it in their own path, or (in the case of one parent an a long-former significant other) they didn't want me pursuing it. The objection on some of the professional paths and even the ritual part of my spiritual path was that it was too complicated and technical. In the case of my spiritual path, the objection is that there are so many contradictions, especially in whatever revered (or merely respected) writings there might be - whether arguing over contradictions in the Christians' Bible, or the merits of Silver Ravenwolf versus Ray Buckland versus D.J. Conway, the Buddhists' Hinayana versus Mahayana Sutras, or whatever. The former about something being "complicated and technical" can be answered well enough once someone sees the meaning, need and pattern of what's going on. In the case of the latter, it's a case of seeing enough to see where the contradiction stops. Of course, there are some folks who want contradiction and conflict because of their own agenda or so that they can avoid going any further. Sort of like the person whose talk of "something too complicated and technical" allows them to avoid even a microwave oven.
But we're (hopefully) not those kind of people. And with a little effort, we can transcend the level of contradiction and see where the contradiction ends because of the missing piece to the puzzle which you've discovered!
Let's see how we can make it be!
April 21, 2012 - Defining Deity
One of the classic mistakes in many fields, including this one, is not bothering to define something before trying to describe it, make use of it, or even try to teach others about it. Deity is no exception. Admittely, there is a lot of overlap, for instance. Compare Brighid and St Brigid, St Uriel and Ariel, or St Brendan and Bran, and you'll begin to see what I mean, and that's not the only way that happens and there's more. But then again, there is also only so much I can say in one episode. But I'll try to do as much as I can so that you'll know where to go from here.
Some will say there are contradictions, other will say that if you see a contradiction, you need to look more deeply. How can many be one and one many. Even the most fundamentalist of evangelical Christians claim one god but they have a father, son and holy ghost as three. Ever wonder how they manage that?
And the basic question of finding the ones that are the right ones for you. There's more than one way to do that, and more than one basis to build with it.
With that, we'll be able to build something wonderful. And you'll see what I mean!
April 14, 2012 - Making Familiars Familiar
Let's talk about some others who can help our spiritual growth. Last time, we spoke of the ones some folks refer to as ascended masters, celestial masters, saints, or any number of other terms depending on your path. This time, let's look at the ones we sometimes call "familiars." And appropriate term, as far as I can see, because some of them have known ne better than any human with few exceptions.
They come in many forms, and they can come to you in many ways, And you will know when it happens.
They see things from a different perspective and if you're open to communication, you can learn from them. Some of them are very aware of the spiritual realm.
I could go on and on about some I've known, and I tell you about some. And many of you can offer your stories, too. But just as important is the fact that this is another one of those situations in which you might not yet be aware of what you might already and and what you are already experiencing, so let's give some thought to this.
This goes beyond friendship and bonding, and can open some doors that some folks don't even know about.
Let's see what we can find!
April 7, 2012 - Your Personal Collection Of Saints!
This is a time of year when many spiritual paths are having celebrations which celebrate fulfillment in one way or another, especially fulfillment of promises made by The Divine. And, what more appropriate time to speak of those who can help you (and I mean you, individually and personally) find such fulfillment.
I hesitate sometimes to call them "saints" because so many times people think of them in nterms of statues in a church, or small figures or pictures in a place where an old lady lives. Not so! Likewise, put away any thoughts that the only saints are those officially recognized by certain big churches, because that isn't the case, either. In fact, the Christian churches have All Saints Day as their acknowledgement that they've missed some who have the honor. And also, saints are not limited to people who once walked among us on this earth. There's more, and I see there being more in more than one way. You'll see!
And who says Wiccans can't have saints? OK, there can be other titles for them, but the function is the same. And the fact is that we do have people who cross into the Summerland and why might some of them not want to reach back our way and help - especially those they care about for any particular reason?
And what can they do for you? Quite a lot, and in a very personal sort of way. You see, they can be very personal and who yours are is nobody else's business.
March 31, 2012 - Purity For The Sake Of Filth!
It the title sounds strange to you, it won't by the time you're done listening to this episode. Some of you may remember me saying that nobody who forges new ground, especially spiritually, gets away with it. And the fact is that anyone who tries to open doors will often find people in the way. And, there are ways to deal with that.
When I first felt a really strong call to ordained ministry, there were three kinds of people that I felt especially called to serve. There are those who feel spiritually isolated. There are those who feel spiritually abandoned. And then there is everyone else, because there is no telling who the next one will be to feel isolated or abandoned.
It can happen ever-so-many ways and for any number of reasons, but the nastiest of all is when it's because of someone pushing their own agenda at the expense of not only your calling, but your well-being as well.
And so, let's examine this in some depth, and see what it is that happens, and why.
And there are some things you can do to prevent it, or at least overcome it. And, they're waiting for you in some basic to-do's.
March 24, 2012 - Ostara's Big Secret!
In this episode, I try to make clear a point that a lot of folks don't get. Then again, there are some folks who simply don't seem to want to get some points. Have you ever had the experience of trying and trying and trying to explain something to someone, and they just don't get it! Where I work in my day job, I've sometimes gotten to the point that I send someone a picture. Then again, sometimes when they are explaining a computer problem to me, I will ask them to send me a picture of their screen.
Well, with Ostara (under all of its variety of names), this is such a case many times over! And on so many issues, too! And it doesn't matter which spiritual path you're talking about: same questions, same answers waiting to be found. But in the case of certain paths, it appears that some folks are clueless!
Are we given something new, or are we being shown something that has been waiting for us to find?
A clue can be found in the Wheel Of The Year. We know when the next Sabbat is going to be, and we know when all of the Sabbats are going to be. A promise is made at Samhain, and we watch it being fulfilled.
And there's something special in that. Let's explore it!
March 17, 2012 - Proportion, Perspective and Priority!
Perspective, proportion and priority are three principles that seem so basic, yet so many of us have seen how easy it is to lose sense of them. It seems especially true when we're doing something in the name of a large body of people, be it a military organization, a corporation, a church, a political party, or just about anything else of similar size.
Many of us who served in uniform can remember times and places where it seemed that clean barracks and nicely-pressed uniforms were more important than whatever it might take to win in combat. In corporations, you will find people who seem to push change for change's sake. And in some religious groups, you might sometimes see some things going on that really have nothing to do with ministry. And of course, there are the civic and youth organizations which sometimes put so much emphasis on their fund-raiser that there seems to be little time for what they came there for in the first place!
Now, let us understand that none of them started out that way. When George Washington organized what became the United States Army, he was much more interested in winning the Revolutionary War than with the length of his men's sideburns. And every church began because someone saw a need for ministry. So, what happened to them?
I'm not sure what the chances are of moving an institution "back on track", but we can try. And, fo course, we can know what to beware of so that what we build does not have too many of such problems. And above all, we can recognize it when we see it!
March 10, 2012 - My Argument With Christianity!
This episode will surprise some of you. And others of you were wondering when it was coming! And I felt that it was time to say something on this issue.
Some folks will say that I threw down a gauntlet tonight. And so mote it be!
Please don't call me Christian! Besides the fact that I am a Wiccan and proud to be one, there is also the basic fact that I have no desire to be confused with the current crop of folks who claim to be Christians, especially those whose political campaign rhetoric includes purporting to be Christian.
I have no quarrel whatever with Yeshua Bar-Joseph. He, in essence, taught what we teach and he showed more respect for other faiths than many of his contemporaries. In Matthew 8:7-9, there's even a record of a very respectful meeting with someone who, if you believe history, just about had to have been a Mithraist! My issue is the people over the centuries who have claimed to be following him but who don't appear to understand what he actually taught!
To begin with, and here's something that some politicians don't want to hear, John 18:36 documents him as being an advocate of the separation of church and state! And if he were not, he says what could have - and would have - happened on that original Good Friday!
There also seems to be a hint of the distinction between following The Divine and following someone standing in for The Divine. (hit: he didn't give Peter the sheep!)
Add to that some years of experiencing a Sunday soap opera equal to anything on TV and some political maneuvering beyond anything that the Democrats or Republican ever brewed up, and you've got a guy who started asking more questions than they were comfortable with.
So much can be said, and only one episode!
And, we're moving to new equipment next week!
March 3, 2012 - Revisiting A Wiccan Lent!
I know that this is a subject that we visited some time ago (quite some time, actually), but it seems time to visit it again. There are some good reasons for this. It is the time of Lent on the Christians' calendar, and I know that I'm not the only one whose memories of Lent are basically negative. Lent for so many was a combination of having to give up something you liked and having to do a bunch of stuff you didn't like, and as usual, the form got in the way of the substance.
How was giving up candy going to help me into heaven? Or was it the other way around? I once knew a girl who thought she could commit suicide by eating meat on Friday. Hey, that's some of the stuff we were taught in those days!
So, if we look to the substance and keep the form in its place, what is it that's actually supposed to be accomplished in Lent?
Do you know that as Wiccans, we just might already have a good place in our own calendar for something like that? And since we admit to being individuals, it can be as individual as we are, not following a herd.
And I don't mind borrowing on someone else's tradition - especially considering how many of ours have been borrowed on!
Try it - you might like it!
February 25, 2012 - Karma, Anger, And A Target!
Dealing with the anniversary of Tempest Smith's death and what I did to honor her brought out a lot of emotions in me. And, from the feedback I got, it brought out a bunch of emotions in some of you, too. In a case of "there but for The Divine go I", it happens.
Part of the problem is the natural consequence of such a situation: the desire to do something about it. And, I am in a position to do some things, including magickally. Some of the people I thought about are people who I know where they are to this day. Others, I looked up and some of them I found. Was I going to make some sort of a pronouncement, or simply do something at my altar and let them wonder where it came from? There were all kinds of options, and I hadn't told anyone of my options or my intentions.
But then, the question: what is it that I really want to do?
Everyone has been angered by someone, and sometimes what other people do causes a lot of hurt. And if I were going to do something, it should accomplish something, right? And most of us can name someone like this, and some of us can name a few people!
And so, we come to the practical application of spirituyality and magick. And it's time to look at what to do in such a situation.
And, let's see!
February 20, 2012 - Ritual To Honor Tempest Smith - And More!
February 20th is Tempest Smith Day, and she deserves a day to mark her short life. On February 20, 2001, Tempest Smith died as a result of the relentless bullying she received from her classmates. She was shy, she liked to wear black "Gothic" clothing and, she was studying and following Wicca.
She was also highly intelligent and talented. She wrote poetry, played the flute, and in general showd more depth to herself that most folks would expect in a middle-school girl. Had she lived, she would be entering her mid-twenties today. One can only imagine the young woman she might have become!
Many of us have endured bullying, and perhaps most of us who would find interest in a podcast such as this. It could be said that Tempest Smith was one of so many, but she is also one who represents ever-so-many. A look at the Tempest Smith Foundation web site reveals photographs of many more.
And so, perhaps we can see her as a patron for those who are the victims of bullying. And if we keep Tempest in mind, we might be able to put an end to bullying.
And this is a special ritual done in her honor to celebrate her life and mark her day.
February 11, 2012 - Honoring Tempest Smith
February 20th is a day that I and many others set aside as Tempest Smith Day. All three of my podcasts, this one, the video "Uriel's Gifts" and the other video "Church Back Home" will have special rituals in her honor. In fact, she is going to be given a most special honor at that time. And so, I am taking this time to simply talk about her and what her life and death means to all of us - and what it can come to mean.
Tempest Kayne Smith died on February 20, 2001. She was twelve years old. She died by her own hand as a result of ceaseless bullying, mostly in her school, and primarily because of her religious choice.
As I see it, religious bullying is possibly one of the most dangerous things that anyone can do. Especially from a Christian point of view. It amazes me that Christians might resort to religious bullying, because their own scriptures are full of warnings agains that! And I'll give you some examples of their scripture which give a good reason for accepting and respecting other paths.
By all accounts, Tempest Smith was a brilliant young lady. She played the flute, wrote poetry, and a number of other things that young women of her age sometimes haven't given much thought to, at least not yet. Had she survived, she'd be approaching her mid-20's and my guess is that she would be doing something serious in her life, something meaningful.
The consequences of religious bullying go beyond the victim, and fall on the perpetrator. But do you know what I see within the dire warnings against religious bullying? There's a promise of what can be if we learn what we need to learn and apply the lesson!
February 2, 2012 - An Imbolc Celebration!
Imbolc in some places is a Sabbat greeted with a feeling of relief. We've had winter with us for a while, the brightness and merriness of Yule is in the past, and what's been left to many of us is simply cold and perhaps a bunch of snow, too! At Imbolc, we celebrate the first stirrings of spring, with the first shoots of the heartier crops pushing their heads through the snow to be seen!
We were made a promise at Samhain when we celebrated the life of the old year. That promise was re-stated at Yule, as the sun began its return to us. And Imbolc gives us the first tangible evidence that it is actually happening. We have the first actual evidence that spring is actually going to be!
Other paths, including the Christian, have flattered us by adopting our Sabbats, and this one is no exception. However, you sometimes might feel forced to dig deep if you want to learn about more than "Ground Hog Day". But that's OK, there is something very significant - and it gives an extra perspective to help us see the full importance of what Imbolc means!
And so, let's celebrate!
January 28, 2012 - Words From The Other Side!
OK, I begin this with a really, really bad joke. I know it's a bad joke, it's a so-called "blonde joke", and I don't think much of jokes that are based on any kind of stereotyping. But I remembered it, it would not get out of my head, and then I realized that it illustrated a valid point, and a problem we all face at some time. We need to know where to look for something and what to look for. You'll just have to listen to hear what the joke is.
Nowhere is this more important than when we lose someone we love because they crossed over the bridge to the Summerland. We feel alone. We hurt. We miss someone, and it's not like they will ever return in the way we always knew them. And sometimes, we have to deal with feelings of abandonment and even anger. It doesn't matter if the person is a sibling, a spouse, a parent, a grandparent, a lover, a friend, or a pet.
Some people will tell you you simply have to wait until it's your turn to cross the bridge, but that does nothing for you now. And, there are those who seem to be able to maintain some sort of connection in spite of it all. Is there something that people like you and I can do?
We keep being told that the soul outlives the body and if so, then if they loved us before they would love us now. If we miss them and their company, wouldn't they miss us and ours as well. And might they want to try, too?
So, let's see what seems to have worked, and what we might be able to do!
January 21, 2012 - Seeing It Happen!
If you ask someone why religion and/or spirituality is important to them or is not important to them, invariably the answer will center on whether itactually works for that person. While it is true that there are some who will go through the motions based on someone "up there" keeping score and passing judgement, for most of us something like religion becomes important if it works. And by that I mean that if it's going to be important to me (or you), then it has to work for me (or you).
There are those who are non-spiritual or anti-spiritual because what they were told simply did not work for them. And, of course, there are those who were close to having a really great spiritual life - until someone with an agenda told them that what they were doing was wrong. And then they made the mistake of believing that instead of their real experience!
And so, it has to work. But, there's a catch! If it's going to work for you, you have to be able to see it working. And for that, you need to know where to look and what to look for.
And, there is a way to help that happen. And we'll discuss that here in detail. It's mostly common sense, but in a direction which many people don't explore. All that and bearing in mind that this is your individual experience, so don't judge yours based on what someone claims is theirs!
And with your inner and outer eyes open, you'll see - indeed!
January 14, 2012 - Obstacles!
There are going to be obstacles in life. The only way to not have to deal with obstacles is to become one of those dull people who lets other people run their lives for them. But then again, if you do that you might face the obstacle of not being able to come up to their expectations as they tell every aspect of how to live your life. And for those who succeed, what do they actually have?
For the rest of us, especially those who want to see how much we can make out of the spiritual side of our lives, obstacles are a part of life.
There are the obstacles that others claim exist for you: Are you smart enough? Are you good enough? Do you think you can actually do the work that's required?
There are the obstacles that others force on you. Such as time, money and interruptions. Like there's "almost but not quite enough" money for the practice sessions you need, or the meditation or prayer time that seems to always get interrupted by a "BAM-BAM-BAM" on the door.
Obstacles you make for yourself. Of course, these are almost invariably "replaying the tapes" that someone else made four you long.long ago.
And of course there are some based on genuine reality. Things such as education might require some sort of money, or the fact that society often insists upon credentials.
But, do you know what? There are ways to deal with obstacles. And, let's see what we can do!
January 7, 2012 - Making The Most Of A New Beginning!
We've been celebrating a number of celebrations lately that concern new beginnings. There was Samhain which was a death but a promise of a new birth. There was Yule as well as the Christians' Christmas which spoke of a birth and a beginning, and of course there's the mundane New Year's Day.
And, we've been talking about new beginnings, particularly in the form of resolutions and how to handle them. But how about taking it a couple of steps further. Just about every one of us has been living with a vision within ourselves, something that we would really, really like to do. And sometimes that vision can be really nagging - the vision of priesthood made a pest of itself until it happened, and now there's a vision of what to do with that priesthood.
And almost every one of us has some sort of a vision. So, why cause it to become part of your reality? No kidding, let's see what we can do to make it so!
Like anything else in magick, there are certain "things" which will be needed, but those you can get. Then, there are some other "things" we can do without. We'll get into a little detail on that.
But finally, there's seeing the vision take form and come to be. This isn't time for excuses, it's time for doing. But that's fine - there's going to be a wonderful result. You'll see!
December 31, 2011 - Resolution Spells!
One thing that Samhain and the mundane New Year's Day have in common is resolutions, things you plan to accomplish in the coming year and beyond. And wouldn't it be nice if they worked?
I've known people to actually joke about their resolutions, and how they "meant well" - kind of like that relative, co-worker or other person you know who perpetually "was gonna" do one thing or another.
Face it - most resolutions are doomed to failure because they lack certain things. They lack reality, they lack effort, they lack follow-through and worst of all, they can't be made to happen in ten minutes. So, what can we do?
Perhaps the best thing to do is to approach resolutions with the same attitude and methodology that we do in spells and magick. In fact, we can make them into spells.
And what does that mean? Well, the basic contents of a spell you can find in books by Ravenwolf, Cunningham, Buckland, Conway or any of ever-so-many others including this podcast. But let's go beyond that and get into what will actually make the resultion and the resolution spell actually work!
And you can see just how much you can actually bring to be!
December 24, 2011 - Yule, Christmas, And A Different Perspective!
As you listen to this Yule is behind us. And, as most of us are also aware, the Christians' Christmas is either upon us or recently past as you hear this episode. And there are many other traditions which have celebrations at the time of the Winter Solstice, all of which center on a birth or a return, or possibly a re-birth.
To Pagans, the sun is beginning its return journey. Many Pagan traditions mark the solstice with a celebration of the birth of a divine child. In the same manner as in England the "Queen's Birthday" is the official celebration which is not the day of her actual birth, Christmas as put at December 25th because someone else was said to have been born then. The divine child may or may not be born of a virgin, but the child does grow up into a special relationship with his divine father. And, as an adult, there is something about his death that is for all of our benefit.
And do you know what? It tells us all something very special about The Divine and our relationship with The Divine. And it's something that not only will answer the objections of those who would mess with us, it also gives us a solid foundation for our spiritual lives! And we can count on it!
December 21, 2011 - Yule!
It's Yuletide, and here's our Yuletide celebration, in our special temple where all can come together and join in, no matter where you are!
Yule is a special time, for so many reasons, not the least of which is its prominence in the Wheel Of The Year. After all, it is the first visible fulfillment of the promise made at Samhain. There was a death then, but also a promise of a new birth. And that's what we have here, and we celebrate it.
In fact, most paths at the time of the Winter Solstice celebrate the time, and for good reason. It was the beginning of the sun's return. There were wintry days ahead, but a promise had been made, and this is its first sign of fulfillment, no matter if it's December in the Northern Hemisphere or June in the Southern Hemisphere. And since I'm in the Nothern Hemisphere, we have this now.
And if you look at it, there's something special. And perhaps we can look at it here.
But above all, it's Yule and a good time to celebrate and enjoy fellowship!
December 10, 2011 - From Before The Beginning To What We do
Going to Before The Beginning and moving forward has been a learning experience, and this time is no exception to that! This time, let's go to Before The Beginning and see how it relates to what we do, especially spiritually and magickally. We've related Before The Beginning to oru spiritual strengths and abilities. We've related it to the rest of the world and the universe as a whole. And so, the next step is to relate it to what we do.
What do we do? Well, anyone who has any kind of spiritual life can generally be counted upon to do (or want to do certain things. We trust someone among The Divine to be there for us. We speak to The Divine. We listen to The Divine, listen for The Divine, and watch for The Divine. And, we use our relationship with The Divine as a way to make things happen.
And, regardless of the number or name or names of your deities, if you build a good foundation for your spiritual life, you'll find yourself doing that and more.
And what we discuss here is a way to defeat or bypass the nastiest obstacles we might encounter.
Remember, Before The Beginning was a real beginning. And if we know the essence of that beginning, we discover a secret which has been patiently waiting for us to realize that it's there. And with that, we can open doors we thought were shut. And eventually, we open doors which we didn't even know were there!
And all of that, waiting for us!
December 3, 2011 - From Before The Beginning To The Universe
Again, let's go back to Before The Beginning. But this time, we'll take a different journey. Last time, we went from Before The Beginning to our selves to see the basis of our own individual power. This time, let's go out into the universe as a whole (or the little corner of it we can deal with). And there, let's see the context in which the power of each of us individuals is used. That's your context, plus my context, and everyone else's, too.
Biologists and other scientists have talked about how they have a theory that all of us came from a single pair of ancestors, way back in the mists of time and-or pre-time. The various forms of the Kaballah teach us something similar. And if there is one common origin for all of us - and all of existence as well, how do we prove it, or at least give it some credibility? Actually, the examination of some basic facts lets us know that this is definitely true. At any rate, all of our effort has not produced a shred of evidence to dispute it. Not a bit.
And it that's true, why did so many of us wind up so different and have so many different (and sometimes opposing or contradictory) spiritual paths? Basic logic provides that answer, including The Divine's role in it all, especially when it's time for The Divine to manifest. And even the Christians' Bible has a verse that backs this up!
And do you know what this can mean? Quite a lot! We get this point, and there's no limit to what we might be able to do!
November 26, 2011 - How Before The Beginning Makes Your Most Powerful Tool!
Let's look again at what we talked about last week, but let's see it this time in terms of our own magickal abilities. In all versions of the Kaballah/Caballah/Qaballah and its parellels from the same time period, everything began with the mind of The Creator. And from there, as The Creator evolved in thought from "I am" to "I am that" to "I am that I am", we progress to the point of the creation stories most of us have been told since our own infancy.
Now, there are those who would say that the beginning of the beginning being in the mind of The Creator, then perhaps all is thought and we might need to re-evaluate our concept of what reality is. However, I do know that if I am hammering a nail and the hammer hits my thumb instead of the nail, the pain is sufficiently real for my immediate purposes. And therefore I consider such arguments about the physicality of reality to be pretty much moot as far as our current existence and what we need to do about it is concerned.
Nevertheless, it allows us to discover (once again, for many of us) the most important magickal tool we have. Or for that matter, our most important tool of any sort. It's what the Witch's Pyramid is there for us. The Creator has a mind which was used to bring about reality, and each of us has a mind. Athames, robes, wands, chalices, candles, and all the rest help to focus and direct, but our mind is not only the only tool necessary, but the tool which all of the other tools need in order for them to have any actual purpose.
And so let's look at this and see what we find.
November 19, 2011 - Before The Beginning!
Did you ever notice something about the creation stories and creation myths in the various spiritual paths? Do you see what almost all of them have in common? They don't tell about the creation of everything we know from nothing! No, they tell about the creation of what we have and know from something that was already there. It might not have been much, but it was there.
There are certainly plenty of clues. And what do the clues point to? Well, to begin with, they hint at the existence of a level of being beyond the one we know about.
Now please understand that not everybody wants to go exploring that far. Some folks want more, deeper or different. But others don't want to, can't or shouldn't. And what's right for them is right for them.
And what's beyong our mundane plane? There are books written at about the same time in different places which all seem to be saying the same thing. And that's what I want to take aa quick peek at today. Just enough so that you can see what might be there, although it might be different for you than it is for me. Nevertheless, it is there.
And it has some interesting implications not only in our spiritual lives, but in our mundane lives as well.
I haven't stopped pondering this since I wrote it, so I can imagine it will give you something worth exploring as well.
November 12, 2011 - Veterans' Day on November 11th
In the US, Veterans' Day is celebrated on November 11th. Originally, it was called Armistice Day and was the day when Hostilities ceased in World War I. And from the beginning, it was a time to honor veterans of that war. But in the early 1950's, we had had an even bigger war, followed by a conflict in Korea. And so, the name was changed to Veteran's Day, and it was expanded to include all veterans.
Many countries have a similar honoring, and well they should. In my heart, I honor all veterans, even those who would have once been my enemies. In some countries, military service is mandatory, or at least an expected rite of passage into manhood for young men. It was that way for me when I first put on a uniform. I could let them choose a path for me, or I could choose one of their offered alternatives. I chose the Air Force ROTC and became an officer.
All veterans, before coming into military service, are basically ordinary people with ordinary lives. Then, they choose or are chosen. And there are few guarantees as to who will get chosen for which, or what the original motivation might be. One famous fighter ace and test pilot became an aviation cadet to escape the duty roster. I volunteered for intelligence in VietNam, and was assigned to administration in Illinois instead. A person can have what seems to be a quiet assignment in a comfortable place until an enemy decides to make it otherwise. A freind offers to go on a mission in a friend's place. The possibilities are infinite. It's hard to predict who will be the next hero and who will spend their service time doing word processing somewhere in Kansas.
And then the time comes for the soldier, sailor, airman or marine to hang up the uniform and go home. And what do they want from all that? For the most part, simply to go home and resume an ordinary life.
There are a few issues, such as how veterans are portrayed by the media, and some local attitudes about veterans.
But the important thing is that veterans were there for us, and we need to acknowledge that!
November 5, 2011 - So, What's Next?
Last week, we celebrated Samhain. Samhain is a time to celebrate ends and beginnings, and is a great time to start something. And while I might not always be as much of an activist as some might expect me to be, I am also not someone who goes around sputtering words without anything to back them up. And I think I might have made mention of how I had something in mind to start.
And, it is my belief that we need some better bridges. And, I am going to try to make a better bridge.
Anyplace where religion and/or spirituality are practiced, people are talking about how nice it would be to have more unity. "Unity" is indeed one of those nice words which clergy and laity of all denominations use at ecumenical luncheons, Clergy Exchange Sunday, or when a couple of groups which don't get along suddenly find themselves on the same side of a dispute. But, can you get someone to define unity? For some, "Unity" means everyone marching in order as a result of some "my way or the highway" approach. Some others, when asked to give a definition, will give a bunch of double-talk to avoid the issue. And some folks are brave enough to admit that they just don't know what unity actually is!
I came across three men from the 20th century who seemed to have a good grasp of what unity is about. All three were priests, but all three were highly experienced in working with people who were committed to other paths. And they had a vision which I celebrate!
And this goes hand-in-hand with something else I've been trying to do. People have needs. And many, many people need healing. And the healing will need to deal with the various spiritual paths that someone is going to travel. And some of this, if brought to a practical level, might sound contradictory, but so what? Much of the more advanced religious experiene is exactly that - mastering the contradictions and, when possible, transform contradictions into syntheses!
And, so, let's explore this!
October 29, 2011 - Celebrating Samhain!
It's Samhain! The wheel of the year has completed another cycle, and so here we are.
We are at the end, and we are at the beginning! This is, after all, the Celtic New Year. We can look back at all that we've accomplished this year, and look forward to what we want to accomplish in the new year just beginning!
For some of us, just having made it through in some semblance of health can be looked upon as an achievment. And there's more, for those who look for it. Each Sabbat can be found in every other Sabbat until the year comes around to Samhain again, and there we find the greatest of Samhain's promises: fulfillment.
And, of course, the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, and this means that now is the best opportunity to spend some time sharing with those we've known and loved who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge. They still love us and care about us, after all.
And for those of us new to such things, this is the perect time to become more aware. There is much hear that we can all make use of throughout the entire year.
And, we have our celebration.
October 22, 2011 - Some Healthy Selfishness
To some, this will be a major revelation. I know what you and I were taught about selfishness when we were growing up, and it was intended to insure that our lives were hopefully going to be based on something else than greed.
But, there comes a time when it's necessary to recognize that in a balanced and well-moderated life, some selfishness is indeed healthy and in fact necessary for folks like you and me to survive and thrive. Yes, there is indeed a point at which the line-not-to-cross is crossed, and we don't intend to cross that line. We are not talking about taking second helpings at a meal causing someone else to have nothing. But we don't have to be doormats, either.
Some good, healthy selfishness can indeed be helpful in some of the things we need to do. Do you have a vision for yourself in life? I hope so! Is there a hurt which you would like to heal, or something which was taken from you which you would like to have back? That's the sort of thing we're talking about.
And therein like a keyword that you've heard from me more than once: Balance!
And there's more! Come and see!
October 15, 2011 - Being The Healed!
Over the last couple of weeks, I have had some interesting experiences which I hope that I will never have to experience again. The result was going into a hospital emergency room on a Sunday afternoon. It became apparent that what was bothering me was not just an inconvenience when I noticed how quickly I was being taken care of. I did not emerge from that hospital until the following Friday, I worked from home this week, and I'll get to try the office next Tuesday provided one more doctor agrees on Monday.
As I was going through all of that, a thought occurred to me: there are zillions of books on the subject of healing, there are all kinds of ways to do healing, and finding what works for you to be an effective healer is an exciting experience. But what about the person who is supposed to be getting the healing? Is there anything to say what to do if you're not the healer, but the one who needs the healing?
Some healers are almost purely mechanical, especially those with the fancy medical and/or nursing degrees. Some are spiritual and might not have completed their education - one of the most powerful healings I ever witnessed was by someone who was still in high school at the time. Most are somewhere in between. And then there is the question of how to receive the healing. You've heard me talk about receiving before, and here it comes to the forefront. And it can really make a difference, especially when receiving from someone who doesn't know how much they actually sent!
To be able to heal is wonderful. To be able to be effective in being the one being healed completes the equation!
Many thanks to all! - October 8, 2011
Just a brief note to give my thanks to all who offered their prayers and energies over the past week. I am finally out of the hospital and am beginning to resume some semblance of normal activity.
I expect to have a fresh show next week.
October 1, 2011 - So Why Do We Argue?
First, an apology for the delay in getting this out to you. I normally do that on Friday nights, and this is only the second one that I've missed other than a couple that I put out in advance. But last night I had such nasty leg cramps that I could not get down the stairs to do it. And I've spent most of today in bed. Healing will be appreciated.
Now, on to the subject.
Some of the most pitiful people I've encountered are the people who insist upon raising disputes where there don't have to be any. And this is nothing new. It's been that way throughout recorded history. It's said, for instance, that if the English had simply asked the colonial assemblies in America rather than imposing stamp acts, etc., thirteen colonies might have stayed with the empire a little longer. And speaking of the English, they showed a tactic in the 20th century of planting seeds of dispute, but that wasn't exclusively and English thing, as we saw in what had been Yuglslavia. And people who had once been freinds, neighbors and co-workers learned to hate each other.
When it comes to religion and spirituality, I see three especially major nonsense disputes, and it might be reasonable to say that all of us have gotten caught up in at least one of the three.
And can you imagine what can be ours if we can outgrow that? Imagine, all of that mis-spent energy becoming available for productive purposes! Can you imagine what we could do? You'll see.
September 24, 2011 - A Mabon Celebration!
It's Mabon, and here we are in Mabontide ready for a celebration! Some call this the last harvest, Lammas being the first. Some call it the second of three with the final being Samhain. Either way, this is Mabon and we do celebrate the harvest at this time.
Not only do we celebrate the harvest, we give thanks. In fact, it can be said that Thanksgiving as people in the USA celebrate it is Mabon transplanted to later in the calendar. And yes, we give thanks. Not just for the good things that are apparent, but also for those that might not be apparent. There are those things we've been too busy to notice. There are some things which we might have come to take for granted. And yes, there probably are some blessings which we simply haven't realized. And this is the time for that.
This is another one of those Sabbats where the emphasis is on fulfillment. Those who feel as if they are in exile from other paths can take comfort in that. The Wheel Of The Year is about a promise and its fulfillment. There's no talk of "God's will" here because the will of The Divine is our fulfillment, happiness and well-being. There is no talk of "God's time" because each and every Sabbat can be marked on the calendar. As for "God's higher plan," this is indeed that "higher plan", and woe be those who stand in the way!
And so come, join in this celebration!
September 17, 2011 - The Consummate Priest!
You might wonder who it is that I might consider to be the priest I look up to the most, the one I would most like to emulate. The one whose shoes I can never fill, but I would love to try. I've known quite a number of priests, priestesses and others who might not have the title but fulfill the role. And in addition to those I've known, there are those I've known of because of their legacy from when they were here on this plane.
I would begin with Jerome Birnbaum, who gave me my most eye-opening training and ordination. There's Rev Harold Oda, a Jodo Shinshu (Buddhist) priest who first acquainted me with the idea that some spiritual paths admit to not having all of the answers. There's Thomas Aquinas, whose writings make Israel Regardie (another on the list) seem like light reading. And I could go on and on and on. But, at least at this point in my life, one in particular stands out. Today, someone I consider to be small in many ways has been trying to fill his shoes and like all of this particular priest's successors, he hasn't come close.
In a time where the distinction between "haves" and "have-nots" was especially plain, he was of the "have-nots" who appeared to many to become one of the "haves". He had gotten an education in one of the fashionable ways of the time and was well-known as what we now call a political apointee.
Priesthood was thrust upon him, almost as a surprise. And, unlike what many (including the man who appointed him) might have expected, he proved to be far greater in that role than anyone, perhaps including himself, could have imagined.
There's something in his story for all of us, regardless of our path. And if our path includes being any kind of priest or priestess, here's a very worthy role model.
And I want to share some things about him with you.
September 10, 2011 - Digging For The Positive!
Last time, I talked about "Giving thanks anyway," which sometimes can seem to be a lot to ask of yourself. And one of the reasons is the often-asked question of what is there to feel positive about in the situation you're in. And, if you feel like you need to ask that question, your question is very valid.
I was given an answer to that question by a woman who wrote in the "Sound Off" column of the local newspaper here (The Delaware County Times - a personal favorite). Her item in that column showed a lot of insight in a situation which would cause anyone to be highly upset. And that she recognized the positive and let it be known means that she will emerge victorious - and she's the type of person for whom things like this work out for the better. You'll see what I mean when you hear what she had to say.
Sometimes it can be hard to find the positive in a negative situation, especially if the people around you insist on being negative. But you can find it, and you don't have to be a "Pollyanna" or a "fluff bunny" to find it and to know it when you see it. And when you find it, you'll see how it strengthens you!
I've been there a few times myself, most recently enduring Hurricane Irene. And I saw what's coming from that. I've known people who have been through worse than that, such as people who have seen their cities bombed almost beyond recognition. On a more everyday level, virtually every one of us will have to experience the death of a loved one, usually more than once or twice.
There is a way to find the positive. And, there are some basic facts you can rely on in helping you with such a quest when it becomes necessary.
September 3, 2011 - Giving Thanks Anyway?
After all that happened in the past week, this seemed to be an especially appropriate topic. Here in the eastern part of the United States, we were hit by Hurricane Irene. It was not a fun time for me or for very many people here. "Lake Collingdale" reappeared - that's what I call the street in front of my house when the sewers can't handle the water. The power went out. The basement flooded and there was no power for the pump that normally keeps the basement dry. I could go on, but I don't think it's necessary. You get the picture, perhaps by having your own picture. And there are many who would find it difficuly in such circumstances to find anything to give thanks for.
But the rain slowed down. And "Lake Collingdale" went back to being just another street. And I became friends with a neighbor I had seldom seen. That's a beginning. And I found more from there.
How does this come to be? It's within you! And one of the biggest clues is found in so many of the ancient tales that it's just about universal!
I said that it's within you, and I mean just that. And it's yours and nobody else's. And there's one major "secret" to it that I'll reveal to you.
And you can see just how much you can build from this!
August 27, 2011 - Celebration So We Can Celebrate!
It occurred to me that this would be a good time to have a celebration just for the sake of having a celebration. Just for the sake of seeing all that The Divine has done for us and giving some thanks, even if it isn't one of those marked-on-the-calendar appointed times for such a celebration.
Many years ago, someone who I have come to venerate had some advice for people who were going to The Divine with prayers because of specific needs: "Give thanks in advance", he was known to say. And in at least one place, someone quoted him as saying "When you do that, you have them over the barrel and they have to do something for you, because you're thanking them!" Some would question such a statement, but it works. And, he was able to pull off some amazing stuff in his lifetime.
And, come to think of it, why not! And why not from time to time take a step back and look at the blessings you and I have and give some thanks. And who knows? Like in a retail business where it seems that the happy customer seems to get better service, in life it seems that people who give thanks wind up having more to give thanks about!
And in this, I'll reveal something to you which some of you might find to be the clue to inspire a quest. But, that is for you to see. Just as you'll see here that this ritual and celebration was spontaneous and unrehearsed (as mine normally are). But then again, I'm not the Pope at St Peter's Square at Christmas or Easter. I'm just a priest (and a mortal) who wants to spend some time giving thanks to The Divine for some wonderful things.
August 20, 2011 - Opening The (Spiritual) Door!
Last week, we talked about what we do not want, and this week we're going to look at something which we absolutely do indeed want. Getting into the spiritual, the first thing just about everyone wants is to be able to open some important doors. And the one who has advanced considerably will still be seeking how to open doors. Doors beyond the initial set of doors, to be sure, but opening doors nevertheless.
First off, we need to know what we mean so that we know what to expect. And then, we need to proceed and let it happen. And here, there are some kewords which can hold some clues for you.
Remember, this is not spirituality of the so-called "clockmaker theory" in which someone set things into motion and then stepped back to watch (and keep score on you and me). And this is also not about the mood-swinging deity of the people who keep talking about something called "God's will". No, we are talking about The Divine who cares, regardless of the name or names you or I use to refer to The Divine. And we're talking about The Divine who not only cares about us, but actually does things.
And here is where you can start opening doors. Look at those who have and what was said about them. But, look at what was actually true about them. And learn.
August 13, 2011 - The Place Where We've Fallen Behind!
Who, us? We're supposed to be so progressive! Yes, us, and I include myself because I'm not totally innocent of this shortcoming, even if I'm so totally aware of it when I'm on the wrong end of it.
I'm talking about the trend in recent years in people being less and less willing to actually learn from others, especially those whose ways are different. We've fallen behind in that area, and it seems as if we keep falling behind in that area.
History is full of learning from others. The reasons the Greeks and Romans did so well was that they learned from others. And when Rome captured Greece, the Romans even learned Greek! There are even cases in which one people put up with another people due to the fact that there was something which those others had which the people knew that they had to learn about. But now, it seems that more and more people are becoming unwilling to learn from anyone who does not fit their pre-conceived notions of being "worthy" (whatever that is).
Please note that I do not consider this an issue for certain distinct groups. I've met Wiccans who are as closed-minded as any Christian fundamentalist that I've known. Believe it or not, I've even seen people reject support to their position when it comes from "wrong people".
And this is one of the major challenges which we face!
August 6, 2011 - Dreams!
Dreams are a subject we haven't dealt with much yet, and it's about time we do so.
Dreams are, most definitely, the most personal aspect of your spiritual life. I've been known to say that your magickal tools are as personal as your toothbrush or your underwear, but toothbrushes, underwear and a lot of magickal tools are things that you buy and you make them personal by consecrating them and using them. Your dreams are not like that, because they come from within you and so they just might be consecrated by their very existence. Other than a few outside influences (like perhaps someone leaving the TV on), your dreams come from within you. It can't get more personal than that!
And so, the next question is what to do with them. The main thing you want to do is, of course, figure out what a dream is telling you. Are you being given advice? Is an observation being offered? Are you being told that something is going to happen? You're not seeing some Ancient One sit in a chair and say "OK, here's how it's going to be...." It's up to you to figure it out.
It's personal, so seeing something in your dream might mean something for you that might not be valid for someone else. But - how will you know?
And then, of course, the question of what you do with it once you think you know what you've been shown?
July 30, 2011 - Lammas 2011!
Whether you call it Lammas, Lughnassadh, Loaf-mass, or any other of the names that it is known by in various paths, this is the first of the harvest feasts. It is especially the celebration of the harvest of grains, which makes bread and the like such an appropriate food for this celebration.
It is also the first tangible fulfillment of the promises made since last Samhain. Remember, every sabbat has remnants of every other Sabbat. And just as when the god died at Samhain we were promised the birth at Yule, so we were promised harvests at the time of planting.
And that's what so many of us seek and welcome. There's no talk about "God's will" here. We do our part, the Divine do their part, and we celebrate the resulting harvest.
And so, then, here is a celebration at Temple of Gaia.
Come and join us, as we appreciate the harvest. This is one that even the city folk can enjoy!
July 23, 2011 - The Enemies Of Our Enemies!
Some people claim that they don't have enemies. If you're a Wiccan or a Pagan, you do. Between the folks who would like to ride you out of town on a fence-rail, the people who will stop at nothing to spread lies about us, the people who make it hard or even impossible for us to enjoy what others consider theirs as a matter of course, the people who try everything from laws to zoning ordinances to try to prevent us from practicing our faith, and the people who sit idly by and do nothing when it is their appointed duty to help, we do indeed have enemies.
Of course, most of our enemies have other enemies. Do you think we have an exclusive on their attention? Of course not! Did you know that it's a historic fact that the Ku Klux Klan didn't bother much with African-Americans in Oregon? In Oregon, the KKK was primarily an anti-Catholic organization, and a good number of the laws the KKK introduced to prevent the Catholics from having too much influence are still on the books! And let's not forget the people who have been pulled off of airplanes in the name of "security" for praying Jewish prayers in Hebrew! And let's not forget Matthew Sheperd - it wasn't being a Wiccan that got him killed.
So, if we look around, there are a few groups of people who have the same enemies as we do! And there have been some pretty great alliances and friendships which began with the fact of having the same enemies.
And so, here is a place where we can begin. And, we can build from there. Working together brings dialogue, and with that comes mutual respect. Nobody's asking anyone to give up anything except perhaps a few preconceived notions. And from there, we can build.
July 16, 2011 - To Really Dare!
Most of us know The Witches' Pyramid and its four sides: To Dare, To Know, To Will, and To Keep Silent. And the same list can be found in other paths, too, usually with different names - but the same list. And even those paths which don't make explicit use of the list will still teach it, at least to some of their followers. And it is important to notice that "To Dare" is the first on the list.
"To Dare" allows us to begin. It gives us permission to venture outside of our narrow comfort zones and, more importantly, it lets us increase the size of our comfort zones. And, it opens the door for growth and new beginnings.
I recall my Dad once saying "Every great movement began as one person's wild idea." And it's true, in the mundane world as well as in the religious world. Name a movement, and you can probably come up with a single name. Even within a movement, there can be single names for various aspects. For the beginnings of Wicca as we know it, most people would mention the name of Gerald Garder. But within Wicca, there are names such as Alex Sanders, Scott Cunningham, Silver Ravenwolf, Jerome Peartree and so many others.
There are many reasons to dare, and there are ways of going about it which have shown success for people over the years.
The other three sides of The Witches' Pyramid are necessary, of course. But it begins with "To Dare." And that is indeed worth exploring, so that we can learn how others dared and how we can dare.
July 9, 2011 - Healing: Why Not?
In various religious circles, there is often talk of healing. And, the very word "healing" brings on various connotations, depending on your own spiritual path and your own experience. On one hand, there is the "mechanical" approach of the secular physician, and at the other extreme are the (often loud) revival-style prayers of faith-healers or the refusal of some groups to do anything for the sick or injured except to pray. And there is a lot in between.
If you're here, you probably have some understanding of the spiritual aspect of healing - and how healing can sometimes be done solely through spiritual means. In fact, sometimes it has been known to work when secular medicine has given up. I've seen it happen.
Like with anything having to do with magick or the spiritual, if we are going to try and heal someone, it would be a good idea to have it be as effective as possible. And fortunately, there are ways of having insuring maximum effectiveness.
It's much like anything else we do in regards to the spiritual, but there are some factors which deserve special emphasis. And some considerations might give you a bit more leeway. As an example, it might be unrealistic to wait for an unconscious person's consent, and there are reasons why you might have this flexibility which might not apply in another situation.
But yes, it can be done. And why not?
July 2, 2011 - Dealing With Distractions
Distractions are different from obstacles, and we encounter both on our spiritual and life journeys. But there is a difference. An obstacle merely gets in your way. A disrtraction is an attempt to get you to go a different way from the way that is actually yours. Spiritually, academically or vocationally, you might say that a distaction is the opposite of a calling.
Each and every one of us knows someone who has devoted his or her entire life to living within a distraction. They might be living to please others, living to impress people, or simply living to be "the one who dies with the most toys." Regardless, people like that look in the mirror and see a stranger - they do not know who they are, and they act like they don't care.
And, there are plenty of people who will wnat to offer you distractions, and for all kinds of reasons. They range from the "office prima donna" to one form or another of family member who think that they know what you "really need". And the reasons can be anything from their own ego to their fear that you might succeed - or simply to get you to shut up.
And it's amazing what you'll be told in order to get you to follow a distraction instead of a calling.
One of the problems, of course, is to be able to recognize what is a calling and what is a distraction. Sometimes one can look like the other. And then, once we recognize them, we need to know how to deal with them.
June 25, 2011 - The Rite: This Time They Got It Right!
Of all of the movies I have seen, "The Rite" is perhaps the most special. Anthony Hopkins plays a key role in getting across a lesson we all need repeating. And if we can learn and be entertained at the same time, why not?
The subject, if you insist on there being one, is exorcism. But, do not think of it in terms of such movies as "The Exorcist." That movie, in my opinion, was made to entertain people with a spectacle. While some parts of "The Rite" have spectacle enough, there's something in this movie which everyone will do well to understand.
If you remember "The Exorcist," you will remember that the younger one of the two priests was Father Damien Karras, a psychiatrist. He became a Jesuit, and the Jesuit order sent him to medical school. And he had come to the point where he was very much a psychiatrist and wasn't bothering to much about his priesthood. And if you read into things enough, you'll learn that he used the priesthood as a way out of the poverty of his boyhood. Instead in The Rite, you have a young man who goes to seminary as a way of getting away from what's left of his family, and getting away from the family mortuary business. And there the comparison ends.
Remember what I've said that ordination actually is? We see my point here in this movie when he does something that supposedly it wasn't time for him to do yet, but he does - and well.
And at the end, the real main point will stare you in the face. It is that which has transformed many of us.
And I'm going to see it again. I think this will be another one of the rare ones which offers something new each time I see it.
June 21, 2011 - A Litha Celebration!
And once again, we share a celebration with "Mass For The Shut-Out" - and well we should.
Did you ever notice that on the Wheel Of The Year, Litha is the Sabbat directly opposite Yule? In fact, as we in the Northern Hemisphere celebrate Litha, they are having Yule in the Southern Hemisphere. And that fact has some implications worth noticing.
A baby was born at Yule. We've seen him go through all of the stages of growing and coming of age, and the last Sabbat was Beltaine, where we celebrated his wedding. Here at Litha, we celebrate his fulfillment! It is too soon to harvest, that will be soon enough. But it is a good time to look at what the baby born at Yule has grown to become!
And here is Litha's gift to us, as expressed in a reading which came from a place which you might not have expected. But the point of that reading was that someone was given something that they didn't put to use, and here at Litha we celebrate someone's fulfillment. In other words, the baby born at Yule now has all he needs to carry out what he needs to do.
So much of theology deals with stories of people who were trying to get what was already theirs. And some of us surprise ourselves when we discover how much we have.
And so let's celebrate this, and learn!
June 11, 2011 - Accidental Magick?
Accidental magick - ever hear of it? Ever encountered it? Perhaps you have, and wondered about it. And, I suppose that's what you call it when it happens.
You know those basic four principles: to dare, to know, to will, to keep silent. They happen everywhere, not just at your altar. And that means that they can be building something, perhaps even when you think that they are not.
Ever notice things happening, very much to your surprise? You inner mind will dare even when you won't. You know. Your inner self might decide that your will is something that you want done. And you'll keep silent because your conscious self might not know what your unconscious self is up to. And the next thing you know, you hear about something happening.
Some people think that they can put on and take off their spirituality like they might do a hat. We see them among several religious denominations which emphasize one particular approach. If they go to a church and the service commences at 11am on Sunday and ends an hour later, that is when they think that their spirituality begins and ends. Not hardly.
And so, what do you do if there's a chance of some accidental energy creating a thoughtform which you did not intend to build? There's some ideas and a keyword.
June 4, 2011 - Drinking From Two Wells
There are some issues which can be dismissed as "other people's issues", which don't bother you. This is not one of those issues. If it does not affect you now, it has in the past, or it will affect you in the future. Or, it may be a past, present and future issue all together! There was a time when a person could live a long, full life with no concern for or about other spiritual paths. I know, because I lived at the tail-end of that time. Now, paths cross paths every day.
Once upon a time, it was also expected that everyone would find their significant other among those in their own spiritual paths. Some churches even went to extremes to explain why a relationship with someone from "another faith" was wrong. That is, for the most part, no longer the case. In fact, religiously mixed marriages are fairly common.
And, of course, there is the situation in which someone finds a new path because of issues with the old path. But not with the old path's deities, but with the other mortals on that path. There might be some unfinished business there.
And sometimes a person's main path is not offering all of the answers which that person needs.
And so, people find themselves drinking spiritual water from two spiritual wells. There are many of us who do, and even more of us who don't admit it for any number of reasons.
It's a question of doing it right so that you find what you need to find and maintain balance as well.
May 28, 2011 - Memorial Day!
At this time of year in the United States, we celebrate Memorial Day. It's a holiday set aside to remember those who died in armed service to their country, and also those who served, returned home, and died later. Most countries have such a commemoration, so if you're not in the United States, You might still find an opportunity to use what I'm going to offer here.
We are talking about men and women who stepped forward when their country called. They might have been drafted, they might have joined voluntarily, or they might have volunteered so that they could pick their path rather than having a path picked for them.
They took an oath. I remember mine. One part was to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domesic. Another part was that I swore to obey the orders of the President of the United States and the officers appointed over me. Note that it did not say which President, but the President regardless of who is President.
Memorial Day is a time for speeches, but people like you and I can do more. Envision one of them, as they were when they were in uniform. It's not too difficult for me to envision my Dad, and there are a few others I can envision, too. Having studied military history from more than one point of view, I can even envision some whom my Dad would have seen as enemies in those days - and later became friends after the war was in their mutual pasts.
They answered their country's call. Many of them fell in service to their country. And what I'll describe here is a way to say thanks in a special way which we can do!
May 21, 2011 - Time To Un-Learn, Perhaps?
I frequently write about learning, but this time I want to address the question of when and how it is best to un-learn. Sometimes, it is simply necessary to un-learn something to be able to make progress with real learning.
I'm especially speaking to those of us who saw and knew things which (according to peers and grown-ups) we were "not supposed to". I'm talking about invisible friends, angels, voices, and bits of knowledge that nobody else seemed to know about or understand. When the other kids found out, they'd ridicule you. Grown-ups would at least tell you that you're "too big" for such things, and some parents and teachers might even threaten you with what would happen to you if you kept on with that. But deities, spirits and other such entities (the good ones, anyway) can become silent if they feel that they are getting you into trouble. And so, it's been a long time since you've heard from them, hasn't it?
And, of course, there are the others whose visions were not ridiculed. Did someone have a dream of flying into outer space? Did someone once envision having a "machine" he could fit onto a small table and could use it to communicate with people all over the world? And what of those whose visions were more spiritual? I recently read the story of one such young boy and how he grew up.
But for most of us, it's been years since we've allowed such things to happen. Can we bring them back? Can we at least start up again? Let's see!
May 14, 2011 - Yet Another End-Times Date?
Every day on my commute to and from work, when I transfer between the trolley and the subway I find a bunch of people passing out leaflets warning us that The Rapture is going to happen on May 21, 2011.
Just about every spiritual path has some form of "end times" expectation, often including detailed descriptions of what they expect to happen. For the Norse, Ragnarok will happen following three winters which do not have summers between them. Another path speaks of earthquakes. The Mayan calendar's longest cycle ends in 2012. Nobody is especially unique in their variation of their description of end times.
The Rapture has a special attraction to Christians. According to many of them, The Rapture will be the event in which the truly righteous will be removed from this world all of a sudden, and allowed to rest while those left behind have to endure the Tribuation and the End Times.
I have reason to doubt their prediction of May 21st. Nevertheless, most of our paths do speak of end-times. So, what does that mean for us as we go through our daily lives?
One of the first steps toward wisdom is acknowledging what we do not know. And regardless of what we expect, we don't know if it is going to be thousands of years from now, or if it will be interrupting your reading fo this paragraph.
And in it, there is much which we can learn and profit from.
May 7, 2011 - Are You Called?
Quite a number of you have come across my essay "Priesthood Is A State Of Being." It describes, among other things, the nature of a call to priesthood.
Many of us are called. In fact, almost all of us are called to something. I knew someone who was called to be a plumber. Between his plumbing business and his family, he was a really happy, fulfilled person. I also remember someone I once knew whose call to ministry was as a musician. He did far more as a musician than he ever could have any other way - and he loved what he did!
Some people think that they are called, but are they? Is it their calling, for that matter, or is it what someone else wants (or does not want) their calling to be? I recall, for instance, someone who stated a large percentage of men in seminary who were supposedly there primarily to please their mothers and an almost as large percentage who were in seminary allegedly to displease their fathers. And what is it about their supposed goal that is calling them?
In some cases, a real calling can be so strong and unavoidable that it makes the proverbial "death and taxes" seem optional by comparison.
So, how do you know if you are called? And what is it that you are pursuing? And what do you envision yourself doing if you reach what your calling is calling you to do?
Let's take a look at this. You'll want to, because it's something we all deal with, sometimes more than once in our lives.
April 30, 2011 - Let's Celebrate Beltaine!
Here we are at Beltaine, and here we are at the Temple, and so, let's celebrate!
Beltaine is about many things, but they all add up to fulfillment. There was a god who died, and his funeral was Samhain. But, there was a child who was newborn at Yule. And we've seen him grow and go through the various stages. At Imbolc, there was the Naming for the Norse (which translates into the Christian "christening"), or the Briss for the Jewish. And then there was Ostara, which functions much as a Bar Mitzvah, indicating the first coming of age. And now, Beltaine where we see him as a fully-grown young adult, ready to take his bride!
And so, we see the promise made at Samhain being fulfilled. And here is a good time to look ahead and see what and how many fulfillments we want. We're not waiting for any deity's time, it's on the calendar. We aren't wondering about any deity's will, because it has been promised and it is going to be. As for anything about any "higher plan", this is of the highest plan!
And so, let's learn about getting fulfillment and how to deal with it when it happens.
April 23, 2011 - The Golden Triangle Of Magick!
With Beltaine next week and Litha coming just a few weeks later, this is a good time to talk about fulfillment. Then again, anytime is a good time to talk about that, but especially now, when we see things being fulfilled, it is worth our while to understand what we can do to help such things be fulfilled.
And yes, we are witnessing the fulfillment of a promise which was made to us at Samhain. And how is it fulfilled? There are three basic components to the fulfillment: the divine does their part, we do our part, and there is consistency on all parts.
Some of you, like me, have gone through a time when a strange view of The Divine was forced on us. If it happened that The Divine was portrayed as some old white man in the sky who keeps score on you, or if you felt you were enduring the "will" resulting from the mood-swings of a bipolar deity, some healing is in order, and you might find the basis of that healing here.
Seeing the three components and bringing them together forges a link between some of the most basic principles in relationships - any relationships. After all, most of us have experienced what it is like to have a "friend" who only comes around when they want something. And then there are the real ones who are simply interested in being friends.
Some basic principles here, which can come together to be the basis of some powerful magick!
April 16, 2011 - A Mount Athos For Wicca?
I've sometimes felt attracted to Mount Athos, for reasons which many of us can appreciate. Mount Athos is a little peninsula sticking out from Greece, narrow enough and with rough enough terrain that the only reasonable way to get there to visit is by boat. It is, for all intents and purposes, a sovereign nation which history has for the most part left alone. Its sole purpose is to be a place where men in various monastic orders can liver as monks with as little interference as possible from the secular world. And yes, I do mean men - no women have allowed on Mount Athos for centuries.
Many of the monks on Mount Athos consider the ultimate experience, one highly prized, is to be "kissed by God", which means living in complete isolation as a recluse. Having spent some time in a monastery of an order which (at the time) prized such things as silence and solitude, I have an apprecaition.
And what does this have to do with us?
Each and every one of us has a need for some private time with The Divine, regardless of the name or names we use in addressing The Divine. Even if you share a roof with someone you trust completely and from whom you have no secrets, it is in private time with The Divine that you can share your deepest thoughts and be free from any kind of real or imagined inhibition.
So, let's see how we might build such a place. Not to live there, but to visit when we need such private time.
April 9, 2011 - Spiritual Broccoli!
What do you do when someone recommends that you try something spiritual, but it's something which you find disgusting, or it's something you've been wanting to leave in your long, long passed past? That's why I call this episode "Spiritual Broccoli." Please understand that broccoli makes me gag, no kidding. If you like it, enjoy it all you want, but I am not kidding that it makes me gag.
Unless you grew up in Pollyanna-land and are a current resident of the Land Of Fluff-Bunnies, you can probably list a few things which are your spiritual broccoli. And if you can answer "yes" to any of the questions I offer about your spiritual broccoli, then you have a full plate of it!
I'll tell you about one example of spiritual broccoli that I forced myself to deal with. When you see how that particular subject turned into spiritual broccoli, I think you'll understand - especially if you've been in a similar situation. And then an author, whom I eventually came to think of as a teacher and friend, had just published a book on that particular subject. I felt lile I might feel if I had gone to my favorite Mexican restaurant and found that everything on the menu suddenly included broccoli!
I faced the subject, and thanks to this author/teacher/friend, I was able to see things in a different way. It wasn't simple, but it was worthwhile.
Let's explore this. Too many people have too much broccoli.
April 2, 2011 - Does Infinity End Somewhere?
If there is anything that gives us an advantage, it would be the fact that when we say that The Divine is infinite, we have some idea of what that might mean. Others are not so fortunate. Some people insist on trying to confine infinity to what they know, like, and fits in their "comfort zone". You've met them, the ones whose definition of The Divine begins and ends with the god whom they worship in their own church. And, there are others who use the infinite nature of The Divine as a pretext to take their own spiritual path into a direction where it doesn't belong. These include everything from revisionist theology which tries to make religion conform to the latest fad to the ones who misuse some of our most valued customs and traditions.
Somewhere between those who won't look past their narrow comfort zone and those who try to re-define their spiritual path to the latest fad, we'll find ourselves. We've figured out that there's more to know than we'll learn and experience in this lifetime, and that's an advantage. We've come to grips with the idea that there's more to know and experience and the fact that none of us will know and experience it all in this kifetime.
We have an opportunity to grow, and we can see where we will grow! The folks who think that all they know is all that there is do not have this advantage! And applying it, there is even more!
And you'll see your path.
March 26, 2011 - On The Spiritual Revolution
Before I say anything else, there is something I need to point out and have understood. If a meteorologist says that a storm is coming, he or she is not advocating storms. It is merely the fact that from what he or she has studied, indications are that folks should expect a storm. Also, please note the revolutions we've had in the last couple of centuries that were caused by such things as the steam engine, electricity, and the microchip. Not all revolutions require bloodbaths. Most of you will get this point, although some will not want to do so.
Two basic sets of principles I've discussed. One, the Witches' Pyramid, has been part of pre-dedicant training since long before I was a dedicant.To Dare To Know To Will To Keep Silent
And there are the four corners of the spiritual revolution which I've outlined to you in the last several episodes (other than the Ostara celebration - where they manifested).Any relationship with The Divine is mutual. (personal responsibility) Yes, things can be mase to happen. (authority) The Divine is not as bad as some describe The Divine. (access) Let's focus on what we share, rather than what divides us. (power)
Not only do they let things happen, they demand it! And let's see how it works and what we can do with it!
March 19, 2011 - Ostara Celebration - Mass For The Shut-Out!
Ostara is the 21st, so this is the time to celebrate it here!
I keep talking about fulfillment, and Ostara is the embodiment of fulfillment. In terms of the Jewish traditionj, it could be said that the baby born at Yule had a Briss at Ostara and now is having his Bar Mitzvah! Winter's hold is broken, and the world is returning to life!
Even the Christian celebration of Easter parallels this, as they celebrate someone dying (and dying a terrible death), and returning to life. And since it happened at Passover, it is at the same time of year. And some could call it the ultimate act of magick.
One of their theologians says that it does not contradict science, but goes beyond science. And that's something basic at the heart of all magick - going beyond science. It belongs to every spiritual path which believes in The Divine (of any name or names) being able to do things for us in this life. And it works!
An so we have here a major celebration, and reason to celebrate.
And we also pray for the people in Japan, that they soon can celebrate and not live in fear.
March 12, 2011 - Let's Focus On What We Share Rather Than What Divides Us! - The Fourth Corner Of The Spiritual Revolution
In the last few, we looked at the corners which gave you (1) Personal Responsibility (2) Authority and (3) Access. This time, let's look at what brings your power to bear as you intend it to.
Having a focus on what we share rather than on what divides us is but one kind of focus we need, but it can be said that it is also among the first we need. Focusing on division, after all, only helps create more division. And worse yet, it diverts energy from the real purpose, whatever that real purpose happens to be. And this has parallels all over the place in our daily lives. Why are some older folks nostalgic for the days of Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Kennedy? Becuase there was such a feeling of everyone being together and making things work!
And, although I risk stating the obvious to many of you, the fact is that those who would like to sabotage your spiritual life will often do so by trying to disturb your focus. They might interrupt your rituals, they might nitpick on technicalities, they might over-emphasize someone's shortcomings, or they might do some gossip. Messing with your focus is an especially favorite tactic of enemies who pretend to be friends.
Did you ever notice that the spiritual traditions which place an emphasis on how much The Divine can do in an active role in your life are also the ones who have various tools and methods to help you get focused and stay focused - like statues, pictures, shrines, various forms of prayer beads, meditation techniques, chanting and/or singing, etc?
And so, let's look at this. There's something here which, if used wisely, is part of the stuff that miracles are made of!
March 5, 2011 - The Divine Is Not As Bad As Some People Describe The Divine - The Third Corner Of A Spiritual Revolution!
This is the third of the four corners of a spiritual revolution. And it is one of the more exciting.
There are two points to this third corner, one being that The Divine is approachable, and the other is the basic fact that The Divine does indeed care about you. And I feel the need to sum them in a sentence which says that The Divine is not as bad as some people describe The Divine.
And who are these people who go around trying to tell us what The Divine is like? How can they claim to have so much knowledge when so many of the rest of us, even after years of struggle, are realizing how little we know? Worse yet are the one who claim such knowledge yet stumble over the basics.
The first corner, which stated that any relationship with The Divne is mutual, gave you personal responsibility. The second, which stated that things can be made to happen, gave you authority to go with that responsibility. This one, which contains the twin messages of The Divine being accessible and The Divine genuinely caring about you, gives you access!
Combine this with some of the other basics we've covered, and you've got the basis for something wonderful! And some real power to bring it about, too!
February 26, 2011 - Yes, It Can Be Made To Happen - The Second Of The Four Corners Of The Spiritual Revolution!
The first of the Four Corners gave you responsibility, and the second of the Four Corners gives you the authority that comes with the responsibility. The first corner was the concept that any relationship with The Divine is mutual, and that gives…
February 19, 2011 - Tempest Smith Day - Mass For The Shut-Out in commemorating the 10th anniversary of her passing
On this occasion, we mark the tenth anniversary of Tempest Smith's passing. On February 20, 2001, she died by her own hand as the result of religious bullying. She was intelligent and talented. But she was twelve years old. At that age, time almost stands still. At that age, torment can seem as if it is never going to end. And that is especially true if people in authority tend to "look the other way." So, those who would think of criticizing her while sitting in their own comfort zones have some things to take into consideration.
It might be wise to look at her and see where it is still happening. I note that there are additional pictures on the Tempest Smith Foundation web site. Pictures of young ones who would have been alive when Tempest died, but the date ranges on their pictures give a clue that they are not living now. And what of those who survived? How are they doing?
Sticks and stones can break our bones, but those are wounds that can heal. Names and words can cause worse wounds, some of which might not ever heal.
And what is being done about bullying? And, most importantly, is it being enforced equally in all directions? If a student gets into major trouble for using "the N-word", will another student get into similar trouble for making a wisecrack about someone being Jewish?
I would like to see people take this as an opportunity to work together. Tempest Smith got bullied because she was a Wiccan, but others get bullied too - including Christians.
There is a tradition in certain paths to commemorate a special person on the day of their passing, and so February 20th is Tempest Smith Day at least so long as I keep saying it (and the rest of you join in). And we could even see her as a patron for religious freedom and also a parton for the victims of bullying.
(ps: The first challenge was getting this to you, between bouts of the flu and equipment issues - but enjoy!)…
February 12, 2011 - A Mutual Relationship With The Divine!
You may recall that last time when I spoke of the "Four Corners Of A Spiritual Revolution," the very first of the four corners was the basic fact that any relationship with The Divine is mutual.
This is a powerful concept, so powerful that some folks are afraid of it. In my years of pursuing truth about The Divine, I've come across many people who wanted to manipulate my spiritual life. And while some of them would worry about which television programs I watched and many of them were afraid of what I might read, they would sweat blood over what - or how - I might be praying!
Worse yet, for those people who want to mind your spiritual business for you, there is nothing here that involves taking attendance, passing a plate, or reporting to someone! We're talking here about something that is at least as personal as your toothbrush.
Of course, if you want to function at this level of spirituality, then you have more individual responsibility than someone who is content to sit in a pew being spoon-fed. And there are those who will talk about having a personal relationship with <whatever name(s) they use for The Divine> out of one side of their mouth - and use the other side of their mouth to try get everyone to march in lock-step with them! But there is something more, much more, and we're here to explore that.
And it begins with the fact that any relationship with The Divine is mutual!
February 5, 2011 - Four Corners Of A Spiritual Revolution!
Something's going to give, and it's going to. For me, it began the day I realized that there never would be a place for me in The Episcopal Church, especially given what they had become. And the funny thing is that if they had given me what I had wanted when I had asked for it, then I would have probably been obediently under their thumb these many years - instead of learning and telling about some things that might make some vested interests among organized religion rather uncomfortable!
How many people do you know who:Don't bother with the spiritual, or use the secular side of organized religion for their own purposes? Have seen the religious path they once knew go off into some strange direction, to the point that they can't see it as their path anymore? Have found that the religious path they used to follow is no longer able to deal with life as they have to deal with it?
I see four basic concepts which I call "Four Corners Of A Spiritual Revolution". I offer them as the basis of a loving, gentle revolution which few people would dare resist. In fact, most of the resistance would come from vested interests afraid of losing money or secular power.
I'll outline them here, and then we can explore them separately and together. And it's the basis of something wonderful waiting for us!
January 29, 2011 - Our Imbolc Celebration!
Wednesday, February 2nd, is Imbolc, so let's have a celebration! In fact, most spiritual paths which have their roots on places which have rough winters have a celebration about now. Celebration of Brighid, Lucia, Candlemas, and so many others, some of which are downright blatant in their Pagan roots, and some more subtly disguised. And then, of course, there is the Christian Feast of the Presentation - which just happens to also be on February 2nd.
If Samhain is the death and Yule is the birth of the baby, then Imbolc could be looked upon as the Briss, naming or christening, depending on your tradition. And isn't it amazing how the Christians chose Imbolc to be the celebration of the Presentation In The Temple. Their tradition was that if a boy is a woman's first-born, then he should be presented in the Temple in Jerusalem. Quite a parallel!
And the celebrations all have something more in common: taking a break from the bleakness of winter to celebrate what's coming. Notice how many of the celebrations have lore and ritual which includes the use of candles?
We have a special ministry here, and it seems to me that Imbolc has special meaning to that special ministry. And so, let's no just celebrate Imbolc, let's celebrate something even more!
And when you hear my suggestion of what might be included in an Imbolc celebration, you might think it revolutionary. But then again, you might also see the point and join in! And you will be most welcome!
January 22, 2011 - But What Can You Do With It?
A fair question, not answered as well as it should be as often as it deserves, and one that you might have about some of the stuff that gets presented here and elsewhere concerning the spiritual. And it's a question you probably have asked and might be asking right now.
What can you actually do with it?
A lot of information is presented to you here and in other places, what use will it be in your daily life? Some might be readily apparent. Others might not be so evident - right now. They might later, but how will you know? Or, are you going to be one of those who tries to blindly take what's offered and follow. Or will you try it and see? Or, are you going to put what you're given onto some sort of spiritual shelf until it becomes apparent that you need it? Or will you give it appropriate exercise so that it is ready when the time comes?
Let's never forget that you're building something here, and it's not only yours to build, it is yours when it's built. Never forget that when you're dealing with a few too many offers of "help" in something that is supposed to be uniquely yours. And I'll tell you about what you're building.
And there's more - much more. You'll see!
January 15, 2011 - Knowing Gnosis
At the opening of every episode, I introduce myself as "High Priest of the Temple of Gaia and a priest of the Universal Gnostic Fellowship." The first one you probably understand, but some of you might not have had a lot of exposure to what "Gnostic" might be about. And some of you may have only been exposed to some peoples' pre-conceived notions, and that can be worse than knowing nothing at all!
I recall my own first impressions when I heard about Gnosticism. In a college course titled "Great Religions of the World", the professor suddenly mentioned Gnostics and Gnosticism. Well, I knew that I considered agnostics to be even more of a pain than atheists, so if "Gnostic" was the opposite of "agnostic", I was not going to oppose it. But it was a while before I got to meet any real Gnostics and get to really grasp Gnosticism.
Virtually every spiritual path has its own Gnostic sub-path. In some cases, the Gnostic element is obvious, such as you'll find in the Jewish Kaballah (which you can find in Wicca as well), in Buddhism you have much of it in Zen, and I could go on and on. In other paths, they might not advertise themselves as much if they're there. As I see it, Gnosticism is unavoidable for some.
Regrettably, some people pin the "Gnostic" label on the strangest things. Case in point, a blog I visit now and then where people refer to some practices among the more non-traditionalist in their denomination as "Gnostic," when they definitely are not. Well, these are people who have been made to feel strangers in the churches which they grew up in, so I'll not blame them for not knowing a map of where they've never been.
But when you see what it is, you might find it worth your while. Come on, let's look!
January 8, 2011 - Exploring Buckland's Big Blue Book
If there is one book which most Pagans and Wiccans have in common, it would be "Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft" by Ray Buckland. If you see a Wiccan's bookshelf, it's likely to be there. If it isn't, it could be that they gave it to someone who was just beginning. And sometimes, they talk about wanting to get another copy. Why, if it's "just" a primer? If they're advanced, would they be "beyond" a primer?
The book stands out on any bookshelf, even a bookstore, and even a bookstore that specializes in books of that kind. The first thing that is apparent is its size. And, there is the blue cover that makes it stand out. Hence the nickname "Buckland's Big Blue Book", or some just call it "The Blue Book" and know that those who know will know which book they mean. From the information on the inside front pages of my copy, the first printing was in 1986, and I have a copy from a printing done in 1989, so the book has been around a while, and it's still selling.
If you were to come to me for one-on-one lessons or even in a class if I were to teach one, it would be one of the books you'd be expected to read. And, I am not alone in that. I would also suggest the book to police departments, school teachers and principals, and a few others I could mention, including some clergy.
Let's look at this one and while we're doing that, we'll look at some of the basic principles of basic learning while we're at it. This is a book well-designed for someone who knows nothing about the subject and wants to learn something about it.
Let's explore this!
January 1, 2011 - Exploring Primers!
This is the 250th podcast, and the first episode in 2011, so it seems that primers might be a perfect subject to begin a new year with. There are some people who complain that all they find in bookstores are primers. Well, the more advanced are there, but there is a major need for primers. In fact, some of us wish that there were more. After all, every one of us began as a beginner. That holds true even for published authors on the subject. And to complicate matters, the "one size fits all" approach doesn't even work at the primer-level, so there's not only a need for primers, but there's a need for a variety of primers from more than one point of view.
And, even the most advanced have a need for primers. Sometimes, it's necessary to get back to basics, and it's good to have a reminder of what the basics are. Primers are also a good way to explore other paths and other perspectives to see what they have to offer.
I'm going to particularly explore four authors of primers whose work I especially like. There are more, and I will mention a couple of them too. But there are four which I feel will be authors on any Wiccan's bookshelf. Each has something special to offer. Much can be said about each of them. One, I've met. Another is a Facebook friend. Another is someone I have not had any chance to meet. The fourth passed away some years ago. But each has something special to offer.
If we are blessed with an abundance of primers, then at least we know that we have a good excuse to build on some very solid foundations.
December 25, 2010 - Exploring The New Year!
Merry Christmas, for those who follow that path. For those who celebrate Yule, I hope that yours was blessed. And for those who celebrate Hannukah or Kwanza, best wishes for a blessed one. And for those who celebrate any combination of them, may they all be blessed for you!
Say "Merry Christmas" to most people here in the US, and it's not uncommon for such a wish to be followed by "And a happy New Year" since the two holidays are only days apart. And even those of us who celebrate Samhain as the changing of our year, we have to note the change on January 1st when we make note of the date using the common system in use today.
This is also the last episode of "The Secrets In Plain Sight" which will be new entirely within 2010. The next one will be new mostly in 2011. And so, this appears to be a good time to discuss what is going to happen to "The Secrets In Plain Sight" as well as "Uriel's Gifts" beginning with the new year. And no, I am not taking up time on this podcast to merely make an announcement. I'm using the opportunity to give you an introduction, especially where this particular podcast is concerned.
We are going to explore. I find that there is a lot that needs to be explored, and you're invited to join me. Of all that has made an impression on me spiritually, one thing that keeps making an impression on me is how overwhelming the infiniteness of The Divine must be. And some people have a problem with that - to the point that they try to place limits on The Divine. As if The Divine could be limited, they try to limit The Divine to the boundaries of their own understanding. Then again, we would indeed not be able to deal with being exposed to the full infiniteness of The Divine. But what I seek to do is to be exposed to just a little bit more than my current "zone of comfort" until I'm comfortable with that, and then I'll seek to expand a bit more.
And that has some wonderful implications that go far beyond the boundaries of denomination and sect which people try to impose. You'll see!
December 18, 2010 - It's YULE 2010!
And here is our Yule celebration, our virtual gathering of all of our audience and friends into our virtual chapel for a celebration together!
And it's as full and real as you will let it be! We speak of magick, don't we? So, why not!
A promise was made at Samhain, and this is the first celebration of the promise's fulfillment. In the ancient times, when there were no computers or radios, and few other distractions, people noticed nature because they depended upon it. And they noticed that on a certain day, the sun would stop going away and would begin to return. And that's Yule (in the Northern Hemisphere).
The basic tradition is almost universal. Many paths include the birth of a divine child in this celebration, and the child is destined to do much for us. But above all else, it is fulfillment. And those of us who have in the past been forced to deal with such concepts as the so-called "God's will" can celebrate the real will of The Divine - which is our well-being and happiness!
A promise was made, and it is fulfilled. There are steps along the way which will lead to the fullness of the fulfillment, but this is the first step. And this first step in the fulfillment of the promise is what we're celebrating!
And we celebrate!
December 11, 2010 - Seeing It When It Happens!
You've heard me talk about various obstructions, obstructors, distractions, distractors, and other interruptions on your spiritual path which can get your journey derailed or diverted into a wrong direction. But, there is one thing even more important to know about and to know what to do about.
Simply put, when The Divine does something wonderful for you, it is a good idea to be able to recognize it when it happens. And, depending on your experience, it might be more difficult than it sounds. And you can't give thanks for some thing when you don't know that it has been given to you. And you're not able to give the right kind of thanks unless you have some idea of what you've been given.
Take, for instance, the 8-year-old boy on Christmas morning who puts off opening the gift from Aunt Sally because he's certain it's going to be a shirt, just like every Christmas and birthday that he can remember. Then again, there's the boy who wanted a dog so badly and he spent so much of his time playing with neighbors' dogs that their owners started acting jealous - and then he suddenly was given a puppy of his own, one who became his friend and companion into adulthood. See the difference? And it's even more so when you're talking about the spiritual. (Imagine if he never noticed that Aunt Sally always put a twenty-dollar bill in the pocket of each shirt?) Now you're getting it!
And there are ways to help this happen. And two things can be accomplished that way. One is that you'll give yourself a spiritual exercise that will help recognize when you've been blessed. The other is that it fortifies your relationship with The Divine.
And that's not all - believe me!
December 4, 2010 - Dealing With Enemies
I have a hard time believing anyone who tells me that they have no enemies and that they hate nobody. Admittedly, there are those Pollyanna-type characters who try to make themselves into living doormats, and there are those who refuse to acknowledge the obvious, but the rest of us are forced to be human beings and we have to deal with what comes as part of being human.
There are all kinds of enemies, but generally they fall into certain categories. There are people living the agendas that make their life more of a "soap opera" than any afternoon TV drama. There are the ignorant who don't know and that's all they want to know. There are those who listened too much to the wrong people. And, of course, there are also the innocents whose only shortcoming was that someone rubbed your nose in them.
The problem with these folks isn't really the fact that we dislike them so much. The problem is that the emotions which people like them can raise in us are able to get in the way of what we are actually supposed to be doing - including our spiritual growth.
So, what can be done with them? Is there more than one way?
It depends, but there are ways to deal with them which have the potential for something positive. And at worst, it is always possible to close the door on the negative. And they don't have to side-track or distract your spiritual progress - or any other progress, for that matter!
November 27, 2010 - The After-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving Show
Thursday (November 25th) was Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. It is (or purports to be) a purely secular holiday which has many traditions surrounding it, including the start of the Christmastide selling season and many, many family pilgrimages in which families come together for the traditional Thanksgiving meal.
Those family pilgrimages to family gatherings can be a whole other matter, considering the dynamics which can exist in almost any family. I mention some such situations here but, suffice it to say that it is necessary to not allow such factors interfere with the spiritual dimension of your own thanksgiving.
The secular Thanksgiving in the United States has been said by some to take up the void left by the fact that there isn't anything to take Mabon's place in the secular version of our spiritual calendar. That's as good an explanation as any. Most secular calendars do indeed include some day set aside for giving thanks. And if the secular want to think it's purely secular, let them enjoy their opinion. There's more to it than that, and we know it.
And, the principle behind Thanksgiving goes far beyond the celebration of one day on some calendar. Note that it is close to, but not at, the end of the year. Look at any daily cycle of prayer, such as a breviary, and you'll find that the time of most thanks (Compline, for instance) is at the last prayer service, which is after all of the day's work is complete and all that's left afterwards is to retire for the day. And this secular Thanksgiving does indeed follow Samhain and is while we wait for the first lights of Yule. And there's more!
There is something here which you can harness in your daily spiritual life which can become a most powerful spiritual tool! Look, and you will see what I mean!
November 20, 2010 - Tempests Of Insignificance!
What is vital but insignificant, absolutely necessary but it won't stop you if it isn't there, causes all kinds of arguments but makes lots of people shrug their shoulders wondering what the fuss is about? It's the details of what you use in your own rituals!
It could be the color or style of your robe (or if you have one), the language you use in the ritual the kind of ritual tool you use, whether your robe's hood is up or down, or any number of other things. Some folks must own some impressive teapots for the tempests they can raise in them! And the funny thing is, the obvious question which might settle such controversies is almost never asked! And that question, and its answer, could make the controversy a fairly moot issue.
It might be a tempest in a teapot, but it is also something you do need to consider. After all, it is your spiritual life we're talking about. If something can make your spiritual life more powerful, it's worth considering. But then remember, it's your spiritual life and nobody else's. These people who raise a stink about how you handle your spiritual business might do well to mind their own a little better.
There are some good places to look to learn what has been shown to work over the course of time. And, there is one more dimension to that which refuses to be ignored - your own discovery.
Pursue it, and you can really have something wonderful!
November 13, 2010 - Efficient Spirituality
A good, basic definition of efficiency is the measure of the input which becomes the intended output. If, for instance, a car get 8 miles per gallon and another car gets 25 miles per gallon, the latter is more efficient because it will get more miles out of the same amount of gasoline. The inefficiency comes out as noise, heat, and all sorts of other things that are not travel.
In spiritual matters, the same principle applies. The more efficient your work is, the more of your input will produce the desired output. The inefficiency results in your input becoming something else that is not the desired result. And some of the main causes of inefficiency in spiritual matters usually are such factors as hate, ange and negativity.
But - we all have these issues. And most of us are wise enough to admit to having these issues. So, what can we do?
That's one of those "secrets in plain sight" which can cause great things to happen in spite of the nature of the mundane world!
November 6, 2010 - Follow-up: The Next Steps
Pay attention to what's in this episode, and you'll set yourself apart from the crowd. You'll become one of the folks who are able to get their resolutions to actually work.
At Samhain, a lot of us made resolutions. And, most assuredly, at the moment we made them we were doubtlessly feeling sincere. But we all need to admit that some of us have a history concerning resolutions. In my case, I resolved to quit smoking more years than some of you have celebrated birthdays! It's true that I have not smoked in three years (as of this month), but before then were years in which I kept on quitting and then I'd quit quitting and then I'd try to quit again....
Think of a resolution as a journey, with the starting point being where you are now and where you want to be as the intended destination. How do you start the journey? How do you know when the journey is complete? How do you know where you are on the journey?
And there is one secret that is not very secret, but it is the secret as to why resolutions work well for some, while others fail so often that they joke about it. And that one secret is so simple and so basic - yet some are surprised by it.
Take that to heart and use it, and you can't miss!
October 30, 2010 - Samhain - And An Opportunity!
It's Samhain! And this year, The Wise Ones' Net (which includes this audio podcast as well as the videocast "Uriel's Gifts" have something special to offer - a semi-simulcast! We think of it as a simulcast because the same ritual is used in both the audio and the video. But it is not entirely simulcast because each one is done to take advantage of its media's special abilities. With audio being so great for imagery, there can be a major celebration in a major temple with people attending from all over. Meanwhile, the video gives a more intimate ritual among special friends who may have come a long way to be here with us.
Either way, it's Samhain, and we are celebrating. Not only ends and beginnings, not only the veil between the worlds being at its thinnest, but more. And it's what's more that you might really enjoy.
And as you get into what we're doing here, you may find yourself discovering something.
This might just be a very powerful ritual - and you'll find something in it for you - and yes, I mean you!
October 23, 2010 - The Full Ride!
With Samhain coming, many folks wonder about what they can experience spiritually. We've all heard stories about people who have had visions, etc. And especially more wondrous when those visions proved to be spot-on about something important.
There are those who will cast doubt on such things, even claiming any such spiritual experience to be nothing more than a sign of mental illness. But the truth is that nearly everyone who is not having such spiritual experiences wishes that they would. People have a need for the spiritual, and they would like to have their deities have a more active role in their lives. Can you blame someone like that for feeling just a bit of envy for those for whom it is really happening? It can happen, it does happen, and it can happen for you.
Think of it as an open door waiting for you to walk through. What's holding you back? Regardie details it so eloquently. And the door is open and waiting for you, provided that you can get the distractors out of the way.
And, of course, there is need for discernment, but that's another episode.
At Samhain, the veil between the world is at its thinnest. That doesn't mean that it's impenetrable at any other time, but moving between there and here is easiest now. So, what better time?
October 16, 2010 - Unity? Why Not! (with a clarified definition, of course!)
Unity is one of those words that gets tossed around more often than baseballs in a ball park. And what does it mean? It depends on who is talking! Well, for us it is definitely not forcing the one-size-fits-all approach on other people. And if unity is not that, then it might be simply people able to do things together even if they are on different spiritual paths.
Bishop Fulton Sheen was known for saying that he did not seek a unity of religion, but a unity of religious people. There is an important distinction there, and he recognizes that. He also acknowledged that the one-size-fits-all approach to religion would never work.
And then we see in Regardie's works some special revelations of where the Gods and Goddesses came from, what they did not come from, and what they came to be from. He had studied the ancient Egyptian deities in some depth, and you'd be amazed at the connection found between the Egyptian and the Hebrew. And do you think that the Celts, Norse, and others fromm afar.
Did you ever notice how similar the tales of gods and godesses are between various paths? And there are a few other clues.
And the conclusion, it would appear, is something which we can all celebrate! You'll see!
October 9, 2010 - The Theology And Spirituality Of Popular Music
I am sure that the current genreation which is listening to the "leading edge" of popular music is taking a great deal of heat from their elders. I know not only because some see me as one of those elders, but I recall receiving a hard time from my elders about my choice of music. And then I read about the same round-and-round over popular music in my parents' generation, proven by an article in a popular music magazine which was published when my own mother was fifteen!
Admittedly, some music is made to offend, and some does have hidden meanings, and some is simply chosen by the paranoids and the "self-appointed defenders of virtue" as examples of some sort of conspiracy. I recall, for example, one TV preacher who tried proving his point by playing records (yes, 33-1/3 rpm stereo platters) slow and backwards.
But given that most music, including and perhaps especially popular music can be seen as both art and literature, there is much that might be said about it. And that includes some powerful spiritual matters.
And I'll show you in terms of three which were popular when my generation was settling down to homes and families.
And from there, you might decide to see what you might find in the popular music which especially appeals to you!
October 2, 2010 - Your Greatest Barrier - Or Opportunity!
I've spoken many times on how some of the greatest saints and mystics were basically simple people, and that the reason for that was the fact that for too many of us, it's too easy to let the intellect get in the way of the spiritual. While it might be important to know when to use your head instead of your heart, it is also necessary to know when to use your heart instead of your head!
But did you know that there is another barrier, a greater one?
I'm going to share with you just the smallest bit of what Israel Regardie wrote about the problem, and then let's explore it. Almost all of us have known someone suffering from it, and many of us might have shown symptoms of it. The funny thing is, a number of people might not even think that there's anything wrong!
And it leads to a question which is risky. It is risky because of the number of times that the problem has been a popular "fad diagnosis" and has caused some people to take unnecessary action.
But it is also a question worth asking. After all, how many people are so busy bing who they think that they are supposed to be that they have no idea who they are?
The answer is found in a two-word statement batted about in almost every theological writing available.
And mastering it will transform a major barrier into a major opportunity.
September 25, 2010 - Putting It Away!
With Samhain coming, it's worth our while to discuss resolutions. At Samhain and at the mundane New Year, we have a tendency, and even a desire, to make resolutions. The resolutions are promises to ourself of things we want to accomplish in the coming year. Some people sound cynical about such resolutions because of how few of them seem to actually get fulfilled. Well, it does not have to be that way!
Wouldn't it be a good thing to make a resolution and see it fulfilled? It can happen, even the same resolution that others leave unfulfilled can be yours - and fulfilled! Do you really want to quit smoking? Do you really want to lose weight? Do you really want to get a better job? Do you really want to fulfill some other dream?
There's a way to go about it. And it does not involve a Pollyanna approach like some take. There's a way to grasp reality and bring your resolution to be. All with some basic principles and a healthy bit of selfishness.
You're not just making a resolution into a reality. You're also embarking on a spiritual exercise which will let you claim your magickal power - and more of it that you knew that you had!
And the result can be a chain-reaction of blessings and opened doors!
September 18, 2010 - Weddings, Funerals And What They Share!
As we see Mabon almost here and Samhain only a few weeks away, it's a good time to think about endings and beginnings. And during the course of the year, of the more mundane events which might occur, there are none where endings and beginnings are more apparent and obvious than at weddings and funerals.
In fact, that's what they share. They mark a definite ending paired with a beginning. Or is it a beginning paired with an ending? Or is it both? Exploring that point is part of the fun we can have in growing spiritually. It's like that old debate as to whether a glass is half empty or half full - and someone might add the possibility that the glass is holding the right amount of liquid, but it's twice the size that it needs to be.
A funeral marks a definite end. I can't just call my Dad on the phone anymore, for instance. And a wedding marks the end of being single and only having to look out for oneself. The beginning inherent in a wedding is apparent, but what is the beginning that a funeral commemorates? I never promised you that I'd spoon-feed you answers, and I don't have all of the answers. But I have experienced enough to know that there is something on the other side of the bridge which we must all cross. And it is apparent to me that all that I can grasp is one small part of one small corner of the Infinite.
And so, let's explore these thoughts for a bit, in preparation for Mabon, Samhain and more!
September 11, 2010 - Ahead To Mabon And Samhain!
The Christians use Lent and Advent as seasons leading up to Easter and Christmas respectively as a means of introspection, self-examination and renewal. It is unfortunate that Lent has especially been mis-directed by some to being almost a season of punishment - that was probably not the actual intention. And if the actual intention was what I presume it to be, a season such as that could be good for us. After all, we are coming up to what is spiritually the most powerful time of the year.
When I was preparing to become a dedicant at a certain coven, the High Priestess had me write a paper on each Sabbat as it approached. As the time approached Mabon, I made the observation that Mabon could be seen as being to Samhain as a retirement banquet might compare to a funeral. Except that Samhain does include another harvest. And if we know the Wheel Of The Year, we know that it does not end at Samhain, does it? No, it also begins!
That makes right now a good time to look back on where we have been, and that might give us a better idea of where we are on this leg of the journey - and how to steer the course on the next leg which begins at Samhain.
Let's see what we might do to make this a most fruitful and gainful endeavor.
September 4, 2010 - Taking Control Of Rules!
There are those who will claim that rules are unavoidable. But there are also those of us who have experienced what can happen when rules go too far. In the Air Force, there was a time when it didn't seem to matter if someone knew which end of a rifle is pointed at the target, so long as there was a nice haircut on your head. And when dealing with religion or spirituality, there can sometimes seem to be no end to the rules
Rules do have a purpose. They do make boundaries. To tell a small child not to play in the street, for instance, is reasonable and makes much sense. Within the boundaries made by rules, we are more free because the rules keep the dangers away.
But, there can be more rules added in until things get stifling. Lent is one example. Or there was the young girl who was convinced that eating meat on Friday would end her life.
Some excesses and some quibblings over when a rule is needed and whether a rule is or is not broken can make for some rather humorous parody, too!
So, what do you do with rules? Much!
Let's explore that today.
August 28, 2010 - Confronting Controversy!
Controversies seem to be all around us today. It didn't seem that way when I was growing up. Not until the early 1060's, and that was because a black family decided to move into our neighborhood. Until then, and much of the time after that until the Vietnam war entered everyone's lives, controversy was something people read about in the newspaper and perhaps saw on the TV news.
Today, it's different. Today, there are enough controversies that everyone can find at least one that's compelling them to take a side.
Know what I find interesting? In every controversy, each side has something valid to say. If it weren't so, there would be no side. But, there's the other side. And there comes polarization, an "either-or" attitude, demonizing or dehumanizing the other side, exaggerating the other side's shortcomings, and perhaps a heavy dose of gossip. Finally, you're at a point in time where a difference of opinion has grown into a major dispute.
I'm going to offer you some examples, and some of you might find something to get upset about in the examples I use. But each has something to be said for it.
And look at the energy being expended. Well, there's a solution out there. What will it take to find it?
August 21, 2010 - Forging New Ground!
I've been known to say that where the spiritual is concerned, nobody forges a new path and gets away with it. Basically, what I do is mostly see how supposedly different things fit together, and sometimes I get into trouble over that. But Isaac Bonewits was one of those folks who did actually forge new territory. And it seems right to talk about forging new paths.
When Isaac began his quest, whatever books on magick and non-mainstream spirituality were either gathering dust on university library bookshelves, or were preciously guarded on the bookshelf of a practitioner. They certainly were not going to be found in your neighborhood bookstore. And that's to say nothing of jewelry, supplies, ritual garb and the like.
And it's not easy exploring new territory, and it is not going to win you new popularity, either. And, it's not the safest thing to do, either. If you want to explore, have some idea that you are walking on solid ground, not thin ice!
And yet, for all that can be said to persuade someone not to try, it is a necessary part of our growth as individuals, as cultures, and as societies.
And so, let's look at the implications of something which some of us might want to try.
August 14, 2010 - What's A Saint To You? And The Passing Of Isaac Bonewits
This was another one of those times when I had an episode in the works, and instinct told me to take on another subject. And it was when the episode was written that I found the reason why.
Isaac Bonewits has crossed over.
Among many Gnostics, myself included, saints are often referred to as either Celestial Masters or Ascended Masters, the latter being those who once shared our humanity, shortcomings and all. I cannot think of a better person to fit that description than Isaac Bonewits. Along with all else that might be said, there was a personal factor. He gave me much encouragement in building what I am building.
And we can learn much, and gain much, from Ascended Masters such as Isaac, and from Celestial Masters such as the Archangel Uriel.
The problem some of us (including me at one time) have with saints is a combination of too much and not enough. Too much embellishment, and not enough of the person as an actual human being with the same concerns and desires as you and I. There is no such problem with Isaac - his humanity was obvious.
And so let's look at one we knew. And perhaps celebrate all of them.
August 7, 2010 - Beyond Wrong!
I came across an article about a coming event which I consider to actually be beyond wrong! Someone is planning on hosting an "International Burn A Quran Day" on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Worse yet, the group planning on hosting the event is a Christian church! And yes, the people are actually encouraging people to burn a copy of the Quran, Islam's holy book! In explaining his motivation, their pastor claimed that Islam is "of the devil".
I cannot imagine a worse expression of hate, not only from the point of view of wanting the various spiritual paths to get along and work together, but it is probably spiritually dangerous to go down such a path.
Most of us who are Pagan or Wiccan learned early-on the importance of respecting other people's spiritual paths. That includes their practices, their deities, their books, and their sacred objects. Many, many Christians have learned that over the last several years. I have been in a position to notice some marked improvement, even if there is room for more improvement. And in this case, even the National Association of Evangelicals has asked them to call off the event.
There are more reasons why a Quran-burning is spiritually dangerous, and I'll cite some very specific specifics.
And along with all else, it can be a major mistake to judge a large group by the actions of its extreme fringes.
And that isn't all!
July 31, 2010 - Finding The Open Door, As Opposed To "God's Will"!
Can anything be as frustrating as feeling a strong call to do something, and not being allowed to do it?
One particular priest who I admired back when I was an Episcopalian had the habit of delivering some hard-hitting sermons. They didn't seem to hit hard at first, but when he was done, you felt like he had really gotten up close and personal. When I asked him about that, his answer was that he was preaching to himself. I want to mention that up-front because this episode is sort of like that. And it touches on my frustrations in answering my call to the priesthood.
But please understand, it is not about my frustrations or what anyone made me endure. What I'm actually talking about is something bigger than that, and something that could easily be happening to you.
I recall being once told that if The Divine closes a door, another door or a window is opened. And I considered that saying to be yet another prime example of Pollyanna-style hogwash. That is, until recently when I looked back and came to the realization that a window or another door opening when the door I was looking at got slammed in my face is exactly what happened, on more than one occasion, and the result of those opened doors and windows is a priesthood and ministry far better than what I had asked for! If I had gotten what I had first asked for, I would have been bound under obediance and probably in a bunch of trouble, given their current controversies. Meanwhile, I get to speak my mind and minister to more people, including some whom many of those other folks choose to ignore!
The whole object of this episode is not my journey, though. The object is your journey, and if you can see the other doors opening. You might be surprised!
July 24, 2010 - That Question Of Questions!
Have you ever noticed that especially where the spiritual or The Divine are concerned, there seem to be two extremes where questioning is concerned. On one extreme, there are the folks who question everything so often that we wonder if they have any faith in anything. But then also there are the folks who consider it a sin to question anything! I've even seen some who didn't seem to want me to agree with them if I cited a source they didn't think well of.
And here we come to the "B-word": balance. There is very little that we do that does not have faith in its basis, even in the basics of survival in the most mundane aspects of our lives. If you go to a faucet to get a drink of water, do you get the water analyzed? If you go to the supermarket to buy food, do you check it for contamination? There are some things at the root which we depend on faith for!
And then, of course, there are the basic core values we all share. But you you as an individual work with The Divine is something that is personal and individual. And so, your answers might not be the same as someone else's. For that matter, someone else's answers might not work for you, either.
So, let's explore the question of questions.
JuLY 17, 2010 - Opening Your Inner Eyes And Ears!
While I've talked about the issues which will distract you from your spiritual life, we need to take some time to look at what will give it more power and make it actually work.
I'm talking about opening your inner eyes and ears. In the same manner that you can't receive a telephone call if your telephone is unplugged, you also need to be sure that your spiritual eyes and ears are open. There is probably a lot going on around you. It helps if you know what you are seeing, you'll do better if you know what to look for, and you won't accomplish much if you are tuning it out.
And, there are things you can do to help your inner eyes and ears open, and to understand what you will discover.
Before long, you'll be able to see things from a place where many people don't even know that there is a place.
July 10, 2010 - Some Special Friends
There are some friends who are especially special, especially the ones with four legs.
I have a son and a daughter who I wish would at least write more often now that they are on their own, but Lady Stormy and I have six other "kids" who never let us down. In fact, we seem to be the focus of their day. Two are dogs, four are cats, and each one was either rescued or is descended from someone whose rescue we know about.
Each one has his or her own story, and it is well worth telling. But I promise I won't make you hear all of them
And some of them are stories of what isn't supposed to happen. There are folks who claim that a "street cat" can't be made into a house pet. Well, we have a guy named Thor who can prove that to be a misconception.
And, they're both smart and appreciative. Friends have told us that they are simply too human.
And the relationship we have with them is so rewarding. If you wonder what "familiars" actually do, this is it! I would say that Thor knows me better than any priest, doctor or even perhaps Lady Stormy!
And it does have some great magickal implications.
If you're going to have a pet, then perhaps you can be someone's miracle!
July 3, 2010 - Getting Deep!
Ofver the last few weeks, I've been showing you how to grow your spiritual life, how to protect it, and how to make it uniquely yours.
Now, let's talk about giving it depth. In fact, we'll discuss getting it deep in more than one sense. And you'll see how depth and protection go together so well.
We're not talking about something that your typical preacher has. And, if your memories go back to some bad times in church, we are not talking about something posessed by those busybodies who insisted upon minding everyone's business but their own. They have what they have. If you're reading this, you're able to have much, much more.
No, you're not able to get so much more because you're reading something that I wrote. But if you're here, you are probably asking the right questions which will cause some wonderful doors to open.
Did you ever notice someone who seems to have a spiritual life, but has one that inhcludes a quiet confidence and acceptance of other people's paths? They might have what I'm looking for. They might know. For you and me, it's for us to build our own and see if that's what we built.
And you'll know!
June 26, 2010 - Peeking At Some Secrets!
This is about a secret of mine which will become a secret of yours.
When I was younger and just beginning to explore spirituality, I was especially fascinated by the idea that some of the people I most admired had secret prayers which they didn't share with anyone! Thomas Merton was well known for his, even if it were in fact secret and nobody knew what it included. And can you imagine what the Dahlai Lama must have in his most private prayer life?
And then, I realized that it was not necessary to know what their secret prayers contained, because they would not do me much good, even if I had a copy of them. Why? Because they were theirs, and what I needed was to develop my own.
And so, let's explore how such powerful secret devotions are put together. We can begin with what we might call the obvious and presumable, we can see how they fit into our lives, and we can build from there into something highly personal.
And you'll see what I mean!
June 19, 2010 - What Price Revenge?
If you are honest with yourself, you know at least one time when you really wanted to get back at someone. Someone had you that upset. They'd done something, or perhaps it is what they did not do. Regardless of the specifics, what you actually wanted was revenge. The only folks I know of who might not have had that urge in their life are still in diapers.
So, what do you do when the urge calls to get even? For some, the queston is not "what do you do?", but "what did you do?" Of course, that can be dangerous. It might perpetuate something, and give that other person another excuse. Or, if there has been enough time, it might re-awaken issues which everyone but you assumed were in the past.
But you feel that not doing anything about it would also be wrong. After all, you were wronged. You were hurt. You are a person, not a doormat.
But spending energy about something in the past is a way of looking backwards, and if you are looking backwards to the past, you are not looking forward toward what is waiting ahead of you.
So, how do you deal with all of those apparent contradictions?
Let's see what might be able to be done!
June 12, 2010 - Books To Help You Chart Your Course
Books just might be second only to your own experience in their sheer power potential in forming your spiritual path. Is it any wonder that historically, some people have feared books more than anything else you can imagine.
From the Christian zealots in Alexandria who destroyed the famous library, to Hitler's followers with their book-burning rallys, to more recent times when people tried to burn Harry Potter books, it's obvious that some folks are simply afraid what books can do.
And what can a book do for you? Quite a lot!
Of course, there are books and there are books. Some I don't bother with, unless to learn how to recognize junk when I see it. Others are more important. Some will teach me something knew every time I read it. In some caes, I have to dig.
Do you wish you could meet someone, but the person died centuries ago? Would you like to visit a place which might not be reachable by conventional means? Do you want to experience an ordeal without having to endure it? Books can do all for you, and more.
Some of my favorites are the ones which force me to dig even deeper, looking for secrets, such as how another translation might read.
And with them, you can do all that - and more!
June 5, 2010 - Marriage, And Weddings, And Handfastings!
And here again, we have another secret hiding in plain sight. One which a lot of people spend their lifetimes trying to seek. Like so much of the others that I've pointed out in the last few weeks, including last week.
This was inspired by an event which happened to us in the past week, plus the fact that in the course of the past week, Lady Stormy and I celebrated ten years as a commited couple, and nine years as a married couple.
The incident involved a couple who were stood-up by the church. Note that I did not say stood up *at* the church, but stood up *by* the church. That in itself is an interesting tale, the first such that I'd heard of in all my years of carious forms of ministry. But it only leads us to the main point.
The point is a simple one, which many express in many ways, but all of those expressions boil down to one single factor, one so simple that many miss it.
And those who grasp that point have made a major milestone in their journey. Note also that it is a point that even someone who is single and celibate can still put to good use.
May 29, 2010 - Healthy Sin?
Once again, please make no assumptions based on the title! But it is necessary now and then to bring up the subject of sin, for a number of reasons. To begin with, how many people actually have an idea of what "sin" is actually defined as? Especially in the root languages of the books which so many people love to cite from!
And then, what are sins? If you listen to certain people, you'll get the impression that the only thing that is not a sin is to fill that person's collection plate. And so, let us look at what some sins are, and let's look at which aspects of them might not be sins - and which indeed are wrong.
And, what can this tell us?
It can give us a more clear path to steer on our spiritual journey!
May 22, 2010 - Daily Miracles!
Please don't read the title and assume that I've suddely become a fluff-bunny or a Pollyanna. No, I am seriously in the market for some real miracles. And if they do come, it'll seem like daily miracles, so why not call it that?
Some of you probably have what you might call spiritual wish-lists, and I'll admit to mine. I have some definite wishes that are on my mind, and some of them would amount to miracles. And, I can think of a few miracles I've already enjoyed.
What do I mean by a miracle? Well, there are some definitions, but I'll offer you my working definition.
I also notice that certain people seem more likely to have miracles happen to them than others. Why is this? Let's see what they have in common!
And it can indeed be!
May 15, 2010 - The Comic-Book Characters In Your Spiritual Life!
Take a look at a comic-book, and take a look at the people I describe here, and you'll see why I call them comic-book characters. And, I can almost guarantee that at least one of them has had an impact on your spiritual life. There's only one excption, but it's a common exception: you might have encountered a different comic-book character than I mentioned here. And why not? There are nearly infinite varieties to choose from.
Of course, recognizing them and their game is important. And so, I've introduced you to some of them. And please do not think that I'm leaning on any particular spiritual path, because I've found these comic-book characters in every spiritual path that I've explored.
And I know that I have not given you a really exhaustive listing, You'll have your own to add. And it's for a good reason.
By recognizing them when you see them, you can avoid joining them in the rut they have stuck themselves in.
May 8, 2010 - The Art Of Spiritual Borrowing!
Yes, it is an art. And you are probably already doing it, although you might not know it, and some don't like to admit it.
And, it can happen for all of the right reasons. In spiritual paths like many of ours, there isn't a lot of structure, and so therefore it might be a challenge to maintain balance. Even the major "establishment" religions have this problem, and they have more controls. Yet we keep hearing of churches where there seems to be so much emphasis on Lent and giving, and it's almost as if they try to have Lent without Easter - but then again, what path does not have folks with such a problem?
If you come from another path, what if there was something which that path offered which really worked for you? Can you borrow that?
And what if you see something and you can tell that it will indeed work for you. What can you do?
There's a way, and often there's a very good reason why you should do so. And on the way to that reason, I'll warn you about a disease that has been known to decimate religious and political groups. You'll see what I mean.
May 1, 2010 - A Biggie Is Revealed!
This is a biggie! I really think so! This contains material which a lot of people don't want you to know about, much less give consideration to.
I begin with citing The Law Of One as taught by the Universal Gnostic Fellowship. It is perhaps the only thing that approaches mandatory in the Universal Gnostic Fellowship, and it's one of the reasons why such a diverse group can work well together.
If you want the full text of what the Universal Gnostic Fellowship teaches about The Law Of One, go to http://gnosticfellowship.com/one.html and read that page. Here, I talk about applying it.
So much that so many paths have in common, it is hard to believe that some folks don't see the unity. Then again, Wiccans and Pagans have an advantage here because so many of us have so many and varied personal pantheons that we're almost forced to accept other paths' validity. Others are not so fortunate, and that might be a very sad thing.
I find that often the only way to get Christians' attention is to show that a point I am making is in their own scripture, and it is - abundantly. In fact, I don't even cite half of what I could cite. But there is a powerful promise and warning few seem to understand. What is ironic is that it is right next to a verse which is so often quoted that even atheists acknowledge it.
Go from there to the Gospel of Thomas (one of the books that were excluded from the current Bible), and there is even more revealed to show some basic truths which some seem to have forgotten.
Talk about secrets in plain sight!
Harnessing The Law Of One will mean we can really do some heavy stuff! You'll see!
April 24, 2010 - Growing Yourself!
One thing is almost as inevitable as the death and taxes some folks quip about when discussing the inevitable. In fact, some folks might avoid it and still die, but nobody avoids it who is capable of doing something for which they can be taxed.
I'm talking about what some folks refer to as "formation." And it's something that you're going to do, including (perhaps especially) spiritually. It's going to happen. And you might as well benefit from it.
Formation comes in many forms, and no two people will have the same formation. And, there are many influences to your formation. And, you will have many teachers. One or two might be your main teachers, but there wil be others. It can easily be that every person in your life might be some kind of teacher, and some of the people who teach you might surprise you - and me. Even someone who is infamous for teaching "junk theology" does teach you (hopefully) to recognize junk when you see it.
And therein is the secret. And the really big secret is what makes your own path stronger. Some folks will claim it doesn't happen that way, but it does.
April 17, 2010 - Trying To Peek Past The Bridge!
Most Wiccans know what is meant by "bridge crossing". And this time of the year I think about a number of people who have crossed that bridge which we all will cross one day.
Between April 1st and July 1st, there are so many anniversaries of deaths of people I love. And, of course, the list grows as you grow older. At age 9, there was a grandpa who influenced the course of my day-job career. At age 10, my mother who gave me clues where to look when I was older and in need of answers which I could not find elsewhere. Later, my dad and then my stepmom. And so many others that I don't dare try to list them for fear I'd miss someone.
The people who have crossed over have one thing in common with people we love who live far away. We can't help but wonder how they are, what they are doing, do they know what's happening here, all of those questions. It's only natural to want to know. The difference is that my son can send me an email, but I can't send my dad an email. I'm only a plane ticket away for my daughter, but I can't visit my mother.
There are some clues which we are welcome to explore, and a fair amount of common sense and an exploration of lore might give us some assurance and comfort, especially those of us who have experienced the spiritual blackmail of people with agendas.
And there's a lesson we can learn. It might sound like something we heard elsewhere, but it's a powerful lesson nevertheless. And it just might be the one thing that the people on the other side of the bridge would like us to know.
April 10, 2010 - Three Lines To Not Cross!
I said last time that with divination, the basic rules of magick apply. It seems to me that it would be a good idea to clarify what they might be.
But first, let's recognize the danger of rules. The dangerous thing about rules is that some people seem to make rules into ends in themselves - to the point that they put so much effort into following the rules that they don't actually accomplish anything. And worse, they add rules onto themselves to the point that it is almost impossible to do anything without breaking some rule.
But rules are necessary. Rules are what we use to keep out of trouble. Anyone who has been dealing with the spiritual for more than a week has a story of how a dabbler got into a bad situation.
There are some basic principles which pretty much cover the rules. At least, they cover the important parts of the rules so that if you follow the principles you won't find yourself in a world of hurt because of it. And it keeps you from becoming overly nit-picky.
"An' it harm none, do what thou wilt" - that's an example of such a principle.
While others might find others, I've noticed three lines that I certainly do not want to ever cross. And they are way outside the boundaries of a principle like the one I just quoted. And the descriptions of those three lines can be said to overlap in some important places.
Specific rules of a tradition are another matter and for the most part their inforcement is left to the individual follower. We're not talking about the color of your robe or whether you can eat bacon on Friday. We're talking about basic principles which, in my never-to-humble opinion, we should all be operating within.
And it gives us a lot of room to maneuver - and grow!
April 3, 2010 - Divining Divination!
First off, let this be understood: Divination is not "fortune-telling." Many of you are aware of that basic fact, but enough are not that I need to state that up-front.
Is there a difference? Yes, and it is a major difference. So-called fortune-telling has a premise that you are stuck with what's coming. If a fortune-teller tells you that illness is coming, then you are indeed going to be sick. Divination shows you what can be and what may be, especially if the patterns made today continue. But if something is looming on the horizon that you'd prefer not to deal with, you have means to avoid or at least alleviate it. On the other side of the spiritual coin, there is also the fact that something priomising which you see through divination could be lost if you don't do your part.
And yes, the standard rules of magick apply.
So many possible ways - there's got to be at least one that will fit you.
And for the inevitable objections you might hear from those who think they know but don't, there's a couple of clues here, including one that will surprise a lot of Christians.
And this, for any beginners, is but the beginning of the beginning.
March 27, 2010 - Making A Joyful Noise
Psalm 100 in the Christians' Bible begins with words which should have a point to anyone regardless of their spiritual path: "Make a joyful noise...." Note that it says to make a joyful *NOISE*. That's a point which even some Christians miss, and they claim it's part of their book!
I will grant that in the case of an organized gathering in which a part of the people are set aside especially for making vocal or instrumental music, they should know what they are doing. That would apply to a Wiccan gathering as much as to Sunday morning at St Whoever's church at the corner of 5th and Wherever. But we are not talking about that here. What we are talking about is the rest of us - and all of us in our own devotions.
There's a saying that tells folks to "Dance as if nobody's watching, and sing as if nobody's listening." That's the point!
And where do we find something to sing or chant? And what to choose? There are so many places!
And what can it do? Anything from being a secret mantra to being your "heavy atrillery" at your altar. It can help you focus, it can help you transition, and it might even raise a spiritual army for you!
Every path has its songs and its chants. And some of the most powerful are some of the most basic. And nobody is going to worry if you can carry a tune. But you might surprise yourself. In fact, you might surprise yourself in how many ways you surprise yourself!
March 20, 2010 - Ostara's Gifts
Ostara has much to offer us, and coming at the end of a winter like the one we had here only proves the point all the more. Between Yule and now, we had three individual storms, each of which people claim dumped more snow on us than we get in the typical year. In fact, Yule was impacted by one of those storms, and our Imbolc celebration was threatened by another. And finally, Hecate (Lord Pan's widow, age 20 and "The Kitty Queen") gets to sit in her sun window again.
If you wanted a parallel in terms of a humal life, you might consider Yule to be the birth, Imbolc to be an occasion such as naming, christening, or Briss, and you could consider Ostara to parallel something like a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
Look at all of the lore from all of the different spiritual paths, and you'll see much in common in Ostara and in tales which have connection to Ostara in one way or another. And if there is a kernel of truth at the heart of every legend and there are so many legends so similar in places which did not know of each other, then we've got more hear than the idea that Spring has arrived.
And what is the big lesson, and the big gift? Might it be some idea of what we're supposed to do with this life?
March 13, 2010 - Getting A Spiritual Experience!
There are some folks who firmly believe that they have never had a spiritual experience. And some of those folks would indeed like to have one - or more.
Some are influenced by movies, and expect spiritual experience to be like that. Others have heard stories about saints and others and wondered why they were left out. I know of someone who claimed that she did everything one particular saint did, and nothing happened. When she asked the one who was supposed to be teaching her such things, the answer was "You aren't good enough." I might add "no kidding" to that, but enough of you have had similar experiences to know that I'm not kidding - it happens all too often.
And there are others who say that they have had few experiences which were not spitirual, at least in some way. What's the difference?
The differences that you might notice on the surface might indeed be there, but they might also be indicators of the real differences which are deeper. Does a person really have to be simple, for instance, or is it merely necessary to keep the intellect in its place and not let it affect the spiritual. Another difference which is exactly as it appears is that these people did not let others try to control their spiritual experience.
And so, how to bring it about? That's what this episode is about.
March 6, 2010 - A Most Basic Right!
A most basic right. In fact, it is one of your most basic rights! That's religious freedom.
The gentlemen who wrote the first ten ammendments to the United States Constitution (known as the Bill of Rights) took special care in the first ammendment. Not only did they not use language which made it sound like the government was granting the right of free religion to the peoplem they did more. They made two specific prohibitions: one against any law concerning an establishment of religion, and the other prohibiting any interference with the free exercise of religion.
Those who claim that the "founding fathers" only intended to protect Christianity have not read much of Thomas Jefferson or Thomas Payne - or a few others. And the funny thing is that some of the people making such claims belong to denominations which did not exist at the time the Constitution was written - so by their own argument, they would not be protected, either!
And so we come to Rav Patrick McCollum, a Wiccan chaplain who is well known in the field. He applied to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and they refused to look over his qualifications! Why? Because he is not of one of the five faiths which they select their chaplains from.
They also exclude Hindus and Buddhists. Why? If you've ever visited California, you will find plenty of Buddhist and Hindus. Is anyone going to claim that none of them have ever been forced to serve a sentence?
There is much which can be done, and I'm trusting you to learn what that might be.
If it can be done to any one, it can be done to anyone, so now is the time to make our voices known. And if all of our voices are heard, people will realize that we will not back down.
After all, we are talking about a right which the Founding Fathers saw as being beyond government's reach.
February 27, 2010 - If your devotional life provides a compass, where's the map?
A while back, I spoke of your devotional life, and how that provided you with a compass for staying on course. So, what else do you need?
In my younger days, I learned how to handle a fairly large boat, and I attended US Power Squadron courses with my parents. I learned how to navigate a boat on a river. Later, I learned to fly an airplane, and that included the basics of how to navigate an airplane. And then, in the Air Force, I learned how to find my way on land, including if I was in a place where someone might dispute my right to be there. I used a compass in all three cases, but I also used a map.
And so, what is our map for our spiritual journey? It's something we know, and it's something we need to get to know. And it does not limit itself to spiritual matters, either. It applies in other forms of endeavor, perhaps especially the business world.
You can tell the people who don't have a map - they wander around like they don't know where they're going - but they probably will claim that they know. In the business world and in the supposedly-organized world of more esstablished faiths, it can sometimes be obvious to anyone who knows what to look for. In spiritual matters, it might not be as immediately evident - but it is there to be seen.
And so, what is this map, and how can we use it?
It's more than a map. It functions as the base camp for your spiritual expeditions, too!
February 20, 2010 - Tempest Smith Day, Febuary 20th!
February 20th is Tempest Smith Day.
Tempest Kayne Smith died on February 20, 2001. She was twelve years old.
Many spiritual paths commemorate the life of a person on the anniversary of the person's death. The facrt that some Christian churches commemorate saints' days on the day of their death does not mean they have anything anywhere near exclusive. It comes from the Jewish Jahrzeit and ever-so-many other customs.
Tempest Smith died by her own hand, the victim of incessant bullying, and it appears that most of the bullying was because she was a Wiccan.
I see her as a patron where two issues are concerned.
One is religious freedom. Some people claim that there is religious freedom in the United States of America, but there didn't seem to be enough to protect Tempest Smith.
The other issue is that of victims of bullying.
There is much to be said here, and Itry to say it.
And next Tempest Smith Day, bring friends! One day it will be a real event.
February 13, 2010 - Your Friends In The Very Highest Places!
Friends in the very highest places - you have them, and probably plenty of them.
Every spiritual path has them, and there are many terms used to describe them. My favorite is the pair of terms "Celestial Masters" and Ascended Masters". The difference is that we know for sure that Ascended Masters were once people just like the rest of us. Celestial Masters might not have ever been our kind of human.
Every tradition has them under one label or another, or maybe even a combination of labels. If you look at the Christian saints, for instance, you will find some who "just happen to match" with Pagan gods and goddesses - they were "adopted" by the Christians.
And, it seems apparent that they care about us.
Also, some of them have reason to share interests and concern with us, especially Ascended Masters who had a concern during the time when they were on the same plane as you and I are now.
All this leads to some great possibilities - and some great opportunities for spiritual exploration.
Please note that they don't have to be on someone else's list to be on your list, any more than someone else would need to choose which deities you work with. In both cases, that's your business!
And you just might discover some interesting "folks" waiting to help you.
February 6, 2010 - Looking At Groups
We need to pause and take a look at groups. A group may be in your future. Perhaps more than one group might be in your future.
I help preside over at least one such group, and two if you count the place in cyberspace. And I like to think that they are good groups which benefit all of their members.
I also recall the groups that I've walked away from, and one group that I ran away from!
In the right group, you will learn more, and you will learn more quickly than you ever could learn alone. In the wrong group, you'll learn the "party line" and little else.
In the right group, you can agree that you disagree within very reasonable limits. In the wrong group, sometimes even agreeing can get you shunned.
In the right group, you can have friends and confidantes to share life's burdens. In the wrong group, pseudo-human vipers can gossip your family, your career and even your life into oblivion.
In the right group, you will find fellowship and affirmation. In the wrong group, you might be manipulated into saying and doing things which you regret later.
That's one of the reasons for Isaac Bonewits' "Cult Evaluation Frame" which I will recommend to any and all. And there are a few more signs to watch out for.
It is important to know what to beware of. And there are some signs which you might be able to see.
Some faith is not supposed to be blind. Sometimes faith requires your eyes to be open.
January 30, 2010 - Our Daily Compass
I definitely say our daily compass because of how badly I need to remind myself of this sometimes!
Like it or not, life is lived one day at a time. The problem with that is that most of our real goals take more than a day to achieve. And this leaves room for diversions, distractions and detours.
A colonel I once served under had a sign behind his desk which stated that when you are up to your posterior in snapping alligators, it is very difficult to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp. And that's the problem we are talking about here.
And those familiar with Martial Arts know the importance of understanding the flow of things, and making use of that. And so, if time is in cycles, we can take advantage of that to remember what our objective is.
This is especially true of our spiritual lives. The cycles of what we do spiritually can match the cycles which the world forces us into, and the result is that we can keep focus.
There are other tools too, which can help us focus.
The criteria are simple: That it works and that it fits. Especially that it fits your life. In my mroning devotions, I don't begin them when I wake up. I begin them when I am dressed and ready to go out into the world. My evening devotions reflect back on the day, and there's a weekly devotion that focuses on the week.
It fits and it works. And you can find what fits and works for you!
January 23, 2010 - Getting Into Motion!
Last time, we had a celebration of 200 episodes, and I spoke some of my journey. This time, let's look at your journey - and everyone else's.
Some of the greatest journeys remain untraveled. Why? Because someone "was going to" do one thing or another. Others get to their destinations because the people doing the traveling insisted. In fact, some journeys include what some people called impossible and what others tried hard to prevent.
You can tell that a goal is yours when the sight of someone who has the same (or similar) goal makes you ache - there's something there that needs to be yours! And you can tell when you're gotten to such a goal, because among your first thoughts after arriving are how much you can do as a result - and how it is part of your next journey.
Or might it be said that one journey is actually part of a larger journey? See what you think!
And there are ways to chart your journey. And, of course, the more waypoints you pass, the closer your destination.
Above all else, the journey requires getting into motion. That first step. Enjoy it!
January 16, 2010 - 200th Anniversary Special!
Welcome to the 200th Anniversary Celebration of The Secrets In Plain Sight!
Not 200 years, but 200 episodes - and more to come.
It's been said by many, including me, that along your spiritual path it's a good idea to stop occasionally and see where you are, where you've been and where you're heading. And it seemed to me that this would be a good time to do that in terms of The Secrets In Plain Sight, and to share that reflection with you.
It's a path that goes back to before this podcast, and even before the dial-up BBS known as Covenstead Grove.
I'm not claiming anything except that I've traveled a long path that did not go to the places where I thought it would. But it is that path which brought me to where I am. For those who have heard too many of the Pollyanna-type stories of quick and easy spiritual paths traveled by the supposedly-favored, this is not one of those. This is merely the path which I have walked.
And so, a bit of sharing of where I've come from and where I hope to take this show.
Everyone has a ministry, beginning with your own ministry to yourself. Perhaps this might help get some thoughts flowing for someone with a spiritual version of "writer's block".
And a time to pause and celebrate.
January 9, 2010 - Making Your Spiritual Life Sizzle!
With a bit of effort on your part, your spiritual life can really sizzle! And that is a good thing, because it certainly beats the alternative.
We all know people whose spiritual life is flat, dull, and perhaps might even pass for unconscious or comatose. Most of us have been there ourselves. In fact, you can find many such people in churches! But if you're here, it is probably because you're looking for a spiritual life that actually works.
Having a spiritual life that sizzles is also the easiest way to claim something spiritual, feel like you're grasping it, and knowing that it's actually yours.
And it is here that we'll get into the basics of building the sizzle in yoru spiritual life. Not only that, but also claiming it and knowing that it is yours.
You will learn from others, perhaps including me. Others, perhaps including me, might offer input. But we are talking about your spiritual life, and you are the one who needs to control it, master it, and nurture it!
And within that is the secret that is not so secret, of how to have a really great spiritual life.
PS: Next week is our 200th episode!
January 2, 2009 - Gods, Goddesses, and Spiderman
You may think of super-heroes as being a part of modern popular literature. Actually, they have been a part of literature since before literature. They date back to the days of the ancient storytellers of the oral tradition.
And, they have a great deal in common with each other. They also have much in common with the divine characters you will encounter in ancient religious texts, whether you're talking about the Bible, the Havamal, or any of a number of other texts and groups of texts.
And this gives us strength to deal with the (usually) verbal slings and arrows of those who doubt what we know, whether they be atheists, agnostics, or the believers in the "my church is the only way" variety of faith.
The very existence of these apparently fictional characters allows us to see what really is there. Add to that the fact that nature does indeed abhor a vacuum, and you have just possibly the closest thing to proof you'll get that The Divine is alive, well, and at work in our lives.
And this is something that can be very exciting to explore!
December 26, 2009 - Resolving Into The New Mundane Year
We've made it through Yule (and/or Christmas, Hanukah and a few others) when the mundane "New Year" hits us. One thing that makes the mundane "New Year" different from other mundane holidays is that it is literally impossible to ignore. Most of us had our new year celebration at Samhain, but it is the mundane "New Year's Day" which governs what year and day it is when we express time in a manner that the rest of humankind will understand. It's also a cause for partying and time off from the job.
But there is one thing about the mundane "New Year" that we can put to our use. That is the infamous "New Year's resolution". It is infamous because it is the butt of every late-night TV comedian's jokes this time of year. And it is infamous with me because of the wise-guy answers I gave as a child and as a teenager when an adult would ask me what my resolutions were. And besides, we made ours at Samhain, right?
Look at the power we have available to us! The promise of Samhain has been fulfilled with the birth of Yule. What a powerful time to set magick into motion, especially the kind which will actually help us help ourselves and others! It's also a good time to catch up with anything you missed at Samhain, or to get something you tried starting at Samhain back on track!
Let's see how we can bring that off!
December 19, 2009 - Yule: Celebrating The Useless And Priceless
Yule is a celebration. And, in a number of traditions, Yule is the celebration of the birth of a divine child. Your Sunday school teacher might not have told you this, but Jesus is not the only divine being who has a birthday celebrated at about this time of year!
It beings in humanity's earliest beginnings. Picture a cave dweller peering out of a cave and trying to comprehend the world. And then, this cave dweller notices that the weather gets terribly cold. But then, eventually warmth returns. And then finally, when technology evolves to the point of marking shadows of a stick and measuring how high or low the sun is in the sky, someone notices a pattern. And the pattern reveals when the sun begins its return journey toward summer when the world will be warm again. And so, there is a celebration of the fact that the sun is no longer going away - and it is coming back! And the Yule story takes on as many sets of details as there are cultures to tell the story.
The birth is the fulfillment of a promise made at Samhain. And, if some people don't quite get what I've been saying all along, they won't get what I mean that the birth which takes place at Yule is the gift of Samhain. And what is it that a seed has to do in order for there to be a flower?
And for us, we can begin birthing that inner vision which we began at Samhain. And here we come to the impact of "Celebrating The Useless And Priceless". There is little more useless than a newborn child per se. But at the same time there is nothing more priceless than a newborn child because of the potential of what can be!
And therein is the real gift!
December 11, 2009 - Letting The Infinite Grasp You!
Letting The Infinite grasp you - and why not! Last week, we talked about grasping the infinite, and you know that there has to be something to be seen from the other direction. Besides, it is a common question. In fact it was one of my first questions when I began asking questions. How can The Divine grasp us? What will cause The Divine (by whatever name or names we use) to pay sufficient attention so that I can feel The Divine's actual being?
That's an especially good question coming from someone who has not actually experienced The Divine. A Bible story claims that Moses went up to a mountaintop and talked to someone, so why can't I? Where is your Goddess that I can experience Her? If I am laying in pain on a hospital gurney in an emergency room somewhere and I call out the name of a Deity, will He or She actually show up and do something to help me?
And that's a question which many people have on their minds. And its answer, lack of an answer, or presumed answer can determine the course of someone's spiritual life. And beware of that indeed, for there are many people who purport to speak for The Divine - and some of them might not really want to to experience The Divine for yourself!
And when you find the real answer, you'll see why I call this show "The Secrets In Plain Sight!"
December 5, 2009 - Grasping The Infinite
Imagine, if you will, someone who has a Lamborghini or Maserati in the garage but only uses it to go the few blocks to the grocery store!
That seems to be the approach some folks want to take where The Divine is concerned. Bear in mind, that if the universe is infinite, The Divine must by definition be as infinite as the universe.
And so, let's see what might be implied by that.
In politics and society in general, most of us know that a freedom for must include the same freedom for another, so that a Christian being allowed to distribute Bibles means that a Muslim would be free to distribute Korans. It's similar here. If The Divine is infinite, then we have to consider the implications. That includes the implication that we don't know the number of ways The Divine can be seen, and therefore we have no idea how many other paths are as valid as our own.
No matter how much I think I might know about The Divine, all I know is one small part of one small corner.
And here we'll explore that with a look at some writings which show what just some of that might mean.
November 28, 2009 - Finding God!
This is a subject which can be taken vary seriously, or as a jest. The latter is particularly true in the United States where, unless you live a very sheltered life, you will face someone who will want to know if you have "found God."
One time when I was approached by a streetcorner evangelist with that question, I responded "What, have you lost him again?!?"
But seriously, each of us needs their own quest to find which aspect or aspects of The Divine resonates with us. Most of us have been told about one aspect or one distinct group of aspects of The Divine since we were infants. But it was someone else telling us about The Divine, and that is not the same as knowing or experiencing The Divine.
When you were first being told about The Divine, it could well have been that the person who told you about The Divine also dressed you every day because you were not grown enough to dress yourself. Now, you are grown enough to decide if you wish to dress yourself in the same style of clothing which that other person once dressed you. By the same token, you are also ready to see if what you were told matches your needs and your experiences.
And do expect to grow on this quest. And do not be surprised if the aspect or aspects of The Divine which you find to work with actually seems to grow with you.
And with this, you'll really begin to build!
November 21, 2009 - Taking Refuge
Thanksgiving is a celebration of giving thanks for a good harvest, which is what is being celebrated in the US in the coming week. And we're looking into what makes a bountiful spiritual harvest.
Taking refuge is one of the more important things you do to insure a good spiritual harvest. And to see what's involved, there is no better example of taking refuge than the Three Refuges Of Buddhism. Go to almost any Buddhist handbook and you will find them:
I take refuge in the Buddha.I take refuge in the Dharma.I take refuge in the Sangha. A bit of basic knowledge of Buddhism will give you a grasp of what these are. And do you know what? They, or their equivalents are found in almost any spiritual path. And do you know what? The cluster of paths which we follow have them in abundance, and at all of the levels you can imagine!
In refuge, we find comfort, reassurance, nurturing, strengthening, and all else we need to follow our spiritual quests and deal with the mundance world at the same time!
And with that and what we discover, we can really have a major harvest!
November 14, 2009 - Your Inner Vision
Your inner vision. That is probably one of the most powerful of the so-called basics. Even the most mundane of the mundanes recognize its power, and some actually fear its power, especially the inner visions of others. After all, the inner visions of some people have grown to the point of founding empires, or destroying them.
Your inner vision is what you see for yourself in the future. Some people might have more than one inner vision, but there is usually one inner vision in a person which dominates the rest.
It is said that Walt Disney decided to see what he could make out of a mouse. More than one big name known in the world of retail began with a vision of owning a store - that is, one store. And when that store prospered, then the inner vision began to include more stores. They can even break through challenges, such as the hardware chain whose first store had its grand opening on the very day of the stockmarket crash which heralded the Great Depression in the US.
To have an inner vision work for you, there are some factors that need to be considered. Is it long-term? What will fulfill it? Will it adapt to its first fulfillment, or will it "expire" at that time? What will it accomplish? How long will its effects last? And so, let's look at a couple of examples.
If the inner vision is so central to the success of so many non-magickal people, imagine what it can do in the hands (and minds) of those who are magickal! It is the thoughtform of spellwork and meditation, transformed into a template for the future!
And this is just the beginning!
November 7, 2009: Veterans' Day Thoughts
Veterans' Day, November 11th in the United States, will happen in the coming week. As usual, I have something to say about that.
We also had a tragic shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. That's the physically largest military installation in the country, and also home to the Fort Hood Open Circle, one of the best military Pagan groups you'll find anywhere. I don't know if any of their members was directly involved, but having lived and worked on military bases as much as I did, I can say that the mere fact that it happened on their base means that they're involved and affected.
I'd like to offer you something to think about, and it is something that might not have occurred to you.
And it kind of ties in with one of the main points I was already prepared to make, but the news of the day underlined the point far beyond anything I could accomplish.
If you are looking for learning, there is plenty in the news today that qualifies as learning for The Craft (or whatever you call what we do). And part of the learning process is to recognize where a lesson might be found.
October 31, 2009 - Let's Celebrate Samhain!
It's Samhain! For many of us (including me) it is the biggest, most important, most major Sabbat (and holiday, for those who choose to differentiate) of the year, especially from a spiritual standpoint.
This is the time of year when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest. Because of that, this is the time of the year when it is easiest for us to reach across the veil - and for those on the other side of the veil to reach out to us.
It is also the time for celebrating endings and beginnings (as well as beginnings and endings). And with that, there are many wonderful opportunities!
It has been a while since there has been a ritual celebration on this podcast, and this time it is extra special because it is a "simulcast" with our companion video podcast "Uriel's Gifts/ Mass For The Shut-Out." But of course, there are things which can be done with audio that are not as easy to do with video, and so here we get to "see" the crowd that comes for this celebration and have a major celebration in a major temple.
And that's one of the wonders of Samhain. This is the time when we can use all I've mentioned here to harness our inner vision and see what we can build from it!
October 24, 2009 - Samhain's Opportunities
Samhain will soon be here. In fact, it is close enough that we can begin making use of its power now!
Samhain presents us with some special opportunities. It is a celebration of ends and beginnings and beginnings and ends. After all, you won't have an end without a beginning, or a beginning without an end. An end to something is the beginning of something else. The beginning of something is the end of something else. It is also the time when the veil between the worlds is thinnest. It is a time when we can reach out to the people on the other side of the veil, and they can reach out to us. Two aspect of one basic fact.
Add to this, the inner vision you have for the future.
And here is the opportunity to conciliate past, present and future. It can also be an opportunity to clear up any unfinished business with someone on the other side.
It's not that these are impossible at any other time, but now is when it is easiest to do so, and that means that the energy you might have expended in the work itself can be used to harness the result.
All this and more awaits you at Samhain!
October 17, 2009 - Jesus, The Goddess, And The Little Hitlers
"Little Hitlers" is a term coined in Germany during the Third Reich to describe those lesser functionaries whose egos exceeded their authority, and who did not let their lesser status keep them from exercising more power than they were actually entitled to. And, in the Soviet Union, there was the assortment of "apparachniks". And don't think that we can't find them where we are living today.
They take many forms. They can be civil servants; assistants to actual or purported bosses; glorified clerks with "manager" or "engineer" in their title; people in the office, neighborhood or church who cannot mind their own business, and sometimes even clergy. And as to the latter, no denomination has exclusive right to that distinction - or exemption from it.
It's important to recognize what they are up to. It is also important to know how to deal with such people. Some of them are in a position in which it might not be a good idea to confront them. But to do nothing would be to surrender - and you probably can't afford what you'd lose by doing nothing.
But what do you do?
I've been speaking about challenges in the tinme leading up to Samhain for a reason, and Samhain is nearly here.
Let's see what can be!
October 10, 2009 - The Challenge Of Personal Responsibility!
This is an episode that someone does not want you to hear! No kidding!
Personal responsibility is something which some people just don't like. For them, personal responsibility means that they can't blame as much of what goes wrong on other people, other things, or even The Divine! Most of us
know someone who points to a traumatic event in their past and blames the sad state of their life on that. A few of us have even heard someone claim that a shortcoming was because of something in their ancestry, their culture, or the way life was like at sometime before their own birth. And, most of us can think of the time we heard someone talking about something which happened being "God's will."
Have you ever noticed that such responsibility-shifting is so often accompanied by logic that does not survive close examination?
And here I will freely admit that you will never have control over everything that happens in your life. But, it might be surprising (to some) how much you can control of what follows in such an event.
And here we harness a basic principle: with responsibility comes authority. And so, taking personal responsibility means that you take on personal authority.
And with that authority will come even more!
October 3, 2009 - The Controversy About Character Building
"Character" and "character building" have to be among the least-understood and often-misused terms in the English language. And perhaps intentionally so, because they contain some powerful secrets for the benefit of those who wish to learn.
Those of us who have experienced time in military service and/or a few other experiences have experienced the mis-use of the term "character-building". That's what we were told when we were assigned tasks which were demeaning, thankless and sometimes even outright pointless. But then there are also those experiences which do indeed build character and they sometimes on the surface can seem similar to the ones which seem to be mostly degrading. Can we see the difference?
And how does character get built? What would make the difference between Mother Teresa and Charles Manson?
How can a door be opened, especially for someone who hasn't seen many open doors in a while?
And in guiding our own character, what can we look for?
With this, we can find some wonderful surprises - and at the same time we can blow away some folks' pre-conceived notions! Yes, it is true that it might not be easy, but it can have its fun times and lights of happiness. You'll see,
September 26, 2009 - Conciliation Part Two: Making It Work!
It's one thing to describe how something might be done, it is another to actually succeed in doing it.
Conciliation (and reconciliation) seems to me to be a sufficiently hot topic that I felt it necessary to devote a second episode to actually getting it done. After all, it is easy to say that something can be done, or that it should be done. But in this case, it seems to me that you deserve more than just sayings.
After all, some of the principles and polarities which deserve conciliation or reconciliation are some of the same ones which inspire closed-mindedness on both sides of the issue - regardless of the issue. And, there will be those who will refuse to believe that there can ever be conciliation. But for the rest of us, there's something to be learned, discovered, and appreciated.
A good starting point is that eternal source of strife, the argument between evolution and creationism. I have resolved the issue within myself to the point that I no longer see the need for disagreement between the two. But, on the one side you'll have your creationists who do not wish to be confronted with facts beyond the scope of their narrow interpretation. And on the other side, there are those whose replacement for The Divine is nothing more than "random coincidence."
Of course, if we go down this path, we are going to discover some other concepts which we might not have thought of, such as how to have unity without homogenzing ourselves!
Just how much might we be able to find conciliation or reconciliation for? If we do, we can expect some good things!
September 19, 2009: Conciliation - A Revolution On Your Spiritual Path!
Conciliation? A revolution? Of course, especially if you take a look at it!
Most of us have been dealing with the conflict between the higher and lower since we can remember, especially those of us who listened to such people as our Sunday School teachers, preachers, and some others. Some of them made it seem as if it were wrong to have nice things if others didn't. Many of us had that "guilt trip" imposed on us as children. That's not the only example of higher versus lower, but that was the first one that came to my mind when the subject came up.
OK, so what if there were no real argument between them? What if they could be brought into harmony with each other, so that they worked together?
That's what we're talking about here. It's not simple, except perhaps in the minds of those who aren't involved. But what a quest!
And the result is something perhaps more powerful than most people can imagine. And it's waiting for you, for me, for each and every one of us.
Come, take a look.
September 12, 2009: Spiritual First Aid Training
Of all of my experiences as a cadet, none made quite as much of an impression as a training session in the subject of combat first aid. The centerpiece of the training was an Army training film which summed up the initial first few steps into three basic steps. And it was done with a form of expression which etched the three steps indelibly in my memory.
That was for physical first aid, and it was designed for a combat situation. The principles of spiritual first aid are similar. Of course, their is one difference. In combat first aid, most people who are wounded know that they are wounded. In combat first aid, it is likely that you will know who and what caused the wound. Where spiritual first aid is concerned, it can sometimes take a while for someone to realize that they have indeed been wounded.
But just like in combat first aid, the initial response once the wound is known can make all of the difference in the world!
September 5, 2009: Spiritual Rivets And Focus
I recently watched a re-run of an episode of Bishop Fulton Sheen's show "Life Is Worth Living" from the 1960's. In this particular episode, he spoke about "rivets", which in this case is a term he used to describe the "anchor point" or focus (or foci?) of an endeavor. I realized how right-on he was, and how his talk gave emphasis to some of the concerns I've expressed over the last few years.
It has to do with tradition. You've heard me say that if you have a tradition, follow it. If you feel the need to go a different way, then please do so, but don't disturb the people who continue to follow the tradition you're leaving.
Done the right way, it can be of benefit for both sides. In fact, that's part of why we have such customs as "hiving off." And there are many similar examples throughout history.
Done the wrong way, it can be damaging. In fact, it can bring down the whole thing. That's why we hive off rather than letting those with a new way take over. And done right, both can be strong.
And might it just be that if your path and mine are not the same, perhaps it might be because the world needs both of them? See what you think!
August 29, 2009: Opening The Big Door!
Almost every episode has touched on this issue, but this time we're dealing with it by looking it in the eye.
Some of you wonder how spiritual things happen, even if they happen for you every minute of the day. And some of you simply wonder if they can actually happen.
Some of us have known the frustration of Sunday School. Whether it was those pseudo-kids in the Sunday School filmstrips or the stories of saints which Sister Whoever would tell, you'd wonder how they rated such neat things happening and you didn't.
Later on, even on a path which your parents never heard of, you still can find yourself asking. Especially after encountering a High Priestess or High Priest whose rituals crackle with energy and whose spells always seem to work. Or simply the person who seems to see and feel so much more than you.
How do they do it? It's as if a big door opened for them, and you wish that you could open it for you.
You can. It's waiting for you. Not only that, you have the key.
The trick is to find it, and then turn it so that the door opens for you.
Let's see just how much we can do!
August 22, 2009: Your Most Powerful Working!
Whether you are talking about ritual, prayer, meditation, or whatever else you might be doing spiritually, they can all go under the general term of "workings". That will cover everything from a Wiccan Sabbat to the Pope saying Mass to a Jewish Sabbath to a meeting in a Quaker meetinghouse.
And what is the most powerful? Even if we break them all into three categories which I discuss in this episode (three with the option to break up one into two, which would make four), one stands out. Each has its own strength, and with the exception of one, all have the ability to pack a whallop of spiritual power. But one stands out above all of the others. And the reason for that is the fact that what you do by yourself has the greatest potential for letting your energy reach its full strength.
There are many reasons for this to happen, and we'll discuss them. Above all else, let's see why. And let's see just how much might be able to be done.
And we're just barely opening the door to a whole mew world here!
August 15, 2009: Apologies vs Real Atonement
You've heard me say it ever-so-many times before: the apology is the only commodity cheaper than a politician's promise during an election campaign.
Michael Vick was recently released from prison after serving his sentence. He's made statements about how remorseful he is about hurting and killing those dogs he forced to fight. And when I think of what he did, and I look at the gentle creature at my feet (whose best buddy is a 3-month-old kitten), and I think you can imagine my thoughts about such a person.
Just this Thursday, it was announced that not only was Michael Vick returning to pro football, be was going to join the Philadelphia Eagles! That means that he is coming here, where I live and work!
Speaking as someone who lives in the Philadelphia area and works right in the middle of Philly, I can tell you that you won't find many people who don't have very definite opinions about Michael Vick.
As for me, I see this in terms of applied theology. And there's a lesson we can all see here. What exactly the lesson will entail depends upon Michael Vick. What do I mean? Listen to the podcast and find out!
August 8, 2009: A Lesson From Lammas
Sometimes, the most important lesson from a Sabbat is learned by looking back towards it. And we're doing just that. Lammas was last week.
I've said before that there is an element of each Sabbat in every other Sabbat, and that no Sabbat is "over" until the Wheel Of The Year has turned all of the way to the next year's iteration of the same Sabbat. And so, some of the most powerful learning to be gotten from any Sabbat is to be gained by looking forward and backward from that Sabbat to the others.
And, we had a ritual at the Lammas celebration. It included many things, but one stood out in my mind: naming the seeds which we may have planted but which we did not want to harvest.
Even the most Pollyanna of "fluff-bunnies" will admit that that is a real issue. So much so that there was even a classic sci-fi movie which was aimed at exposing a threat of which most magickal folk are only too aware.
And we're going to face that. And maybe we can see how to claim victory over such a "thing". Perhaps the most difficult thing is realizing that you actually can do that!
August 1, 2009: Decoding Dan Brown
Dan Brown has transformed another one of his books into a major Hollywood movie. And I cannot help but wonder if there is going to be the same sort of stir created by "Angels and Demons" as was created by "The DaVinci Code."
First off, one thing needs to be understood: in both cases, he appears to have had the intent of writing a fiction novel to entertain us. But there are those who took it too seriously, as if it were a documentary revealing something. And then there were those who took it too seriously, as if it were revealing a proprietary secret which they are supposed to guard. And there are those who don't take it seriously enough, as if there were nothing there.
If we do explore this, what do we do? The same thing as for any other exploration. First off, you get past what's completely fiction. An organization with a purported history going back centuries before its actual founding is as useless as the cowboy movie "hero" who manages to shoot 25 shots from a six-shooter without reloading!
Get beyond that, and we know what is worth looking for. Once you find that, then the exploring can really begin. And this is where you can have some spiritual excitement!
July 25, 2009: A Lesson I learned From A Best Friend
I was working on something different for this show, an episode in which we might look at decoding Dan Brown and his writings. But on Tuesday, July 21st, One of my very best friends wrote a new chapter into my life, and opened my eyes to see far more than I intended to ever see.
For all that I'd been through, this was the first time that I'd been with someone at the time they crossed over from this life to the next. Death is something which some people prefer to not discuss. Nevertheless, it is the one life-event which each and every one of us will face eventually. And he made an effort to share his with me.
His name was Lionheart. He was a cat, of the variety some people call "American shorthair," or what some people call "tuxedo" because his coat made him look as if he were in such formal attire.
He came into Lady Stormy's life about three years before I did. She literally rescued him off of the streets, saving him from a crowd of kids who were abusing him. I was known to refer to him as Lord Pan's "vice president".
He and I became close the moment we met. Then again, that would be expected from the way he introduced himself to me.
And at the end, he held on until I was there.
And I think there was much that he was trying to tell me. And yet the most profound lesson I learned was both subtle and obvious. I'm hoping you can see it in what I offer here.
July 18, 2009: A Reality Check On David And Goliath
I offered the story of Dave Carrol last week in some comments about the news, and since then I've seen even more of the story.
And I could not help but think of the stories such as the one about David and Goliath. I slept through ever-so-many tellings of that story in Sunday School! The story wasn't so bad, but it was presented in the manner of the stories of how some parent or grandparent had to go miles every day through so many feet of snow to get to school.... But Dave Carrol made it suddenly take on relevance.
Goliath was a big warrior, and an airline is usually a big corporation. There was a shepard boy named David who accepted Goliath's challenge. Dave Carroll was a relatively unknown country singer who got fed up with how an airline treated him when their baggage handlers damaged his guitar.
And there is where we begin to see the lesson in the stories. And perhaps it is a lesson that might not be obvious unless one tale is shown in parallel with another that is more contemporary which we can relate to.
See what I mean! It's part of the reason we get to say "So mote it be!"
July 11, 2009: Four-Footed Friends, Familiars, And Fellow-Travelers On This Road
And here, I offer a salute to some of the dearest friends I've ever had. I'm talking about my four-footed friends. And yes, there are those who do not have four feet who would fit in this category, but my experience has been with the ones who do in fact have four feet.
Give them broad enough horizons, and I am not sure just how much they might be able to do. But I do see their level of understanding. At any rate, the level of understanding in the ones which Lady Stormy and I have as our "kids". They not only have names and personalities, they have tastes.
It is also amazing the respect which they show to things spiritual. And to our altar.
Having them around definitely has its rewards, even if there is the fact that we know that they are not immortal and their lives are shorter than ours. And the rescued ones seem especially special. All of ours are either rescued or descended from someone who was rescued. The gratitude can be said to extend to their childrens' children because Apollo is the grandson of a cat Lady Stormy rescued many years ago.
Whether they bark, meow, or something else, here is a special moment for our four-footed friends, familiars, and fellow travelers on this road.
PS: The "news and comment spot" will tell you of where you can see just how much power this new media can have - check it out!
July 4, 2009: Mantra Power!
Perhaps the most under-rated and under-appreciated of spiritual practices is the mantra.
The matter gets complicated by the number of people who think they don't use mantras when they actually are, and the number of other folks who think that they are using a mantra when they actually are not!
The mantra is probably one of the most ancient forms of spiritual expression. It is also potentially the most powerful.
So, let us explore what makes a mantra powerful. And let's see how you might be able to make some good use out of mantras.
It isn't quick, so don't think that overnight you'll master something which others work with for years. But you'll make a beginning and make progress.
Some things about mantras you'll know from your own experience, and others you'll discover along the way. Perhaps the most important discovery along the way is what works for you.
June 27, 2009: Your Book Of Shadows
Your book of shadows is unique. No other book can ever be as much of, by, and for you as your book of shadows.
Other paths have books which purport to be for similar purposes, but they are collections which were collected by someone else, and often with a "one size fits all" approach. And, most of them are available for sale at bookstores. The only challenge in obtaining one is knowing which bookstore has which books.
Your book of shadows is different. It is as personal as your toothbrush, and as private as your underwear. Nobody else has to approve what you put in there, and nobody needs to see it, either - unless it is with your permission.
You can even think of it as a living thing, because it almost is. One thing that it does do is that it grows with you. And so, make provision for that growth. Your child will not be wearing the same shoes at age 20 as he or she did at age 2, and so it is with your book of shadows, because it is that way with you.
And so, let's explore how a book of shadows comes to be, and how you can nurture its growth.
June 20, 2009: Is Greed The Real Evil?
Is greed the real evil?
You have no idea the work that went into figuring out a title for this episode. In fact, when I was making the show, I was still calling it "Is Greed The Real Satan?" but then I had to fact the fact that for so many of us, there is no real satan or devil. But, I believe we can all agree that there is real evil.
And here we come to an issue which I felt the need to address. And, I felt the need to address it now. There were certainly a number of other topics I could have chose, including/ especially Litha. But this one subject stood out as if it were begging me to say something.
And, I can understand why. This is a subject about which the preachers and teachers of certain notable other spiritual paths go spinning around in circles about. They'll talk about evil and/or "the devil", sometimes to the point that I wonder whom it is that some of them are actually worshipping! But for all of the wind expended from so many pulpits, there has been little actual effort to define it, or figure out what to do about it. And it's apparent why this has come to be.
Come follow me in this exploration. You'll find it interesting.
June 13, 2009: In Prayer Or Just Praying?
Of all of the apparent contradictions having to do with the spiritual, perhaps none is as dramatic or pronounced as that having to do with the effectiveness of prayer.
Some will say that prayer has a major "kick" to it and is one of the most powerful things they do. Others see prayer as being ineffective, perhaps even counter-effective. Over the course of my spiritual quest, I've been on both sides of this divide, and I haven't found many opinions that lay between those two poles. It's basically one extreme or the other.
So, if one group says that their prayer really does big things and another thinks of prayer as a cop-out for people who don't want to do anything, what is it that gives these two groups the basis for feeling that their opinion is justified? Might it be something to do with how the praying is done?
And so, we can go into the ways that some folks might pray. We can also see what makes prayer weak. And from that, we can see what makes strong prayer really have a major effect.
And from all of that, we can see how to make prayer the most powerful thing we do.
June 6, 2009: Priesthood's Pitfalls
Every form of endeavor has its dangers and pitfalls, and there are some dangers and pitfalls to which priestesses and priests are especially vulnerable.
If you don't think this is about you because you don't see yourself as clergy, think again. Each of us is our own priestess or priest for the sake of meeting our own needs. We don't need to hire a "broker" to deal with The Divine for us. But, of course, there are times when even clergy are in need of clergy. And I'll be touching on that, too.
Some of the most potentially productive (and even spectacular) spiritual paths can have snares. And, some of those snares are subtle enough that they might not be extremely obvious.
Some of the pitfalls might seem obvious, but I'm sure that at least one might cause you to have some thought. And, some of them might not look like what they are until you're in the middle of a situation. That is, of course, unless you have your eyes open all along. That might not be a guarantee of prevention, but it will indeed help.
And there is one word which encompasses most of the solution. Seek it, and most of the answer to these pitfalls will be in your hands. The full answer might not always be so simple, but the simple solution takes care of most of what might try to tangle your feet. And what is that "one word"? You might have guessed it. Download this episode to see if you guess was right!
PS: Sorry for the delay. I had to do an all-nighter at my day job, and came home too exhausted to put out a coherent show.
May 30, 2009: What's In The Roses For You?
Just like what happened last time, once more we're looking at something that some folks will consider to be a trite platitude. And once again, we cna discover that there is actually something important and exciting within it.
The saying this time? "Take time to smell the roses."
There are those people who will hear that and accuse whoever said it of trying to keep them from getting ahead. But there are also those who go from the beginning to the end of their journey and have not learned anything along the way.
You've seen such people, and people who are becoming just like them. In the "Dilbert" comic strip recently, there were some about an MBA who had just joined Dilbert's company. What that particular MBA lacks in knowledge, he makes up for in buzzwords and jargon. And if you think that "Dilbert" is just a comic strip, ask someone who has been accused of leaking stories to the comic strip's author.
In some lines of work, people who are making a career in the field will speak of "paying your dues." Those who have "paid their dues" have smelled the roses.
Each rose has a gift for you. You'll see. You might not understand the gift today, but the day will come when you will - or someone will recognize you because of it.
Each gift from each rose which we smell along the way will make us that much wealthier when we get to where we're going.
May 23, 2009: The Greatest Teachers You Never Knew You Had!
We all have our teachers. And some of our teachers are great teachers. I can name quite a number of teachers I've had, some I've mentioned to you and some have names you'd recognize if I dropped the name.
But there are other teachers, too. And some of them turn out to be great teachers, even if it doesn't seem like it at the time.
There are the power-trippers, there are the people with an agenda, there are those who are over-devoted to a faction's party-line, there are those who cannot mind their own business, there are the greedy, and so many others. I might call it a zoo, except that I do not want to insult my four-footed friends who are above such behavior.
And, they get in your way. There is something which you feel that you are supposed to do, and they do their best to keep you from that.
But, do you know what?
The joke can be on them, if you want it to be!
May 16, 2009: Beyond Spiritual Burger-Flipping!
We spoke about The Witches' Pyramid last time. This time, we're talking about how to get the most if its (and your) power.
So often, new students ask questions that begin with "What's a good spell to do...?", or "how would you use magick to...?" and so one of the first things I usually do with those who learn from me is make a comparison between someone who cooks burgers at a local fast-food franchise, and a top chef.
The burger-flipper knows how to follow instructions in preparing pre-manufactured ingredients into something you and I are supposed to be able to eat. Most openings for such jobs do not have too stringent qualification requirements, and pay starts somewhere in the neighborhood of minimum wage.
It takes years to make a chef, and a chef knows food well enough to create recipes as needed, and make variation as required by occasion, need and availability. While a shortage of some key ingredient will inspire the chef to be creative to meet needs in spite of the shortage, the burger-flipper might only know that there's no point in asking if you want fries with that if a potato shortage means that fries are not available.
Likewise with a Priestess or Priest. It is entirely proper that learning begins with learning how to do something from someone who already knows how to do it. But eventually, this learning creates an assimilation of principles which will give you the ability to create on your own.
And this is when it gets good - when it's uniquely and specially yours. You'll see. It's here.
May 9, 2009: A Tour Of The Witches' Pyramid
Perhaps the biggest misconception about The Witches' Pyramid is that it is exclusive to Witches. Not at all! In fact, the principle is basic to almost any spiritual path in which The Divine has an active role in people's lives.
And, in fact, it is the corruption and perversion of The Witches Pyramid's principles which give some paths such strange concepts as "God's will", especially when they claim that their allegedly loving god can will suffering.
Think of The Witches' Pyramid as having four walls. Each wall is a principle. Brought together, they create energy and power.
Let's look at each of the four principles, and see how they apply.
Used effectively, they bring with themselves more than merely what you want and/or need. And what is especially amazing is how much they bring with them.
Four basic principles, and the beginnings of great things!
May 2, 2009: Beltane - The God's Bar Mitzvah!
Now, why would I pick a comparison like that - comparing Beltane to a Bar Mitzvah?
Perhaps because it's appropriate! And perhaps because one gives perspective to the other!
At a Bar Mitzvah, the boy arrives at the synagogue with mom and dad. But of all that goes on in that major rite of passage, the focus is on the moment when he announces "Today I am a man!" While the parents will still have a role in his life, the character of his life changes at that moment, and more emphasis is placed on what he does, and less on what is done for him or to him.
And it is the same for the God, who was the Divine Child born at Yule, whose growth and childhood we celebrated at Imbolc and Ostara. Today he steps into his maturity and begins that part of his life's journey in which he is the one responsible for doing the traveling. And from this day forward until his funeral at Samhain, we'll be seeing what he does.
And so, yes, Beltane is indeed the God's Bar Mitzvah. In so many ways. And it's one more way in which we can relate to The Divine.
April 25, 2009: Pathworking Your Everyday Life!
Pathworking is something I enjoy tremendously. In fact, I enjoyed pathworking for longer than I've been a Wiccan. I say that because of some other spiritual exercises which amount to pretty much exactly the same thing, but they are conducted in the context of other paths. More than one, but there was one I came to know and love because of the visions. And I'm so glad to have them now.
Of course, pathworking does take a time and a place that is set aside, preferably with people knowing not to disturb you. But we can take the principle and adopt it elsewhere.
It's kind of like taking a vacation. For a vacation, I'll take a week or two and forget that the office exists. But I also need evenings, weekends and an occasional holiday in addition to the vacation time. Otherwise, I'd be a basket case by the time I had vacation time coming to me. And in this case also, there is something basic that I can take with me and apply it with what appears to be the everyday.
Begin with finding The Divine when you are in a very mundane situation. When you are being spiritual is a good time for this, especially in the beginning.
And what are you doing? You're adding more dimension and depth to your own spirituality. Not only that, you're developing a way to see the divine in every aspect of your life.
And from there, you can really grow!
April 18, 2009: Unity?
There probably are fewer words which have a definition more slippery than "Unity". Especially where religion and spiritual matters are concerned, "unity" is one of those words batted around in some circles almost like patriotic words on a holiday that is patriotic in origin. The problem is, "unity" seems to be a word that can have any number of meanings, depending on what is going on in the mind of the speaker.
So, what is unity? Does it mean giving up your spiritual path for some supposed "greater good"? Does it mean nitpicking, laughing at, and ostracizing those whose paths are at variance with the "authorized way" until they get themselves in line? Does it mean "cafeteria spirituality" where you pick and choose which aspects of a path you will do? Of course not!
As a matter of fact, if you have a tradition, you need to follow it. That's one reason why some things might be all right if one person does it, but not if another does. I am on a path that says that there are many paths, and so I say so. Someone who is on a path in which there is supposed to be only one path is under a different set of rules. Which does not mean that we can't give each other's paths mutual respect in the degree we would like to receive. And there is the beginning. And we can build from that.
And once we figure that out, there is no limit to what we can accomplish!
April 11, 2009: So, What Next?
Last week, we celebrated this podcast's third anniversary. This week, we look forward to see where it's going.
This is something that we all need to do from time to time: look back to where we've been, and look forward to where we're heading. There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is to insure that we are in fact on the course which we set out on initially. We have all probably seen people and groups who have forgotten to do so. I can think of a church that became so much of a social agency that worship services were neglected. I can also think of a military unit that seemed more focused on social engagements than they were on being a military unit. And, there was the savings and loan association in which people were much more focused on how people were dressed than they were on anything resembling what an "S&L" supposedly did - which might have something to do with why that particular savings and loan association is no longer in business.
To share this concept with you, I broke one of my own personal rules. Where computers are concerned, I generally don't tell many folks what I am up to until it is done and in-place. But I felt the need to make an exception because there was a need to do so.
There's also something to share here about what we're here about. And that, I am glad to say, has not changed.
And there is more to come.
April 4, 2009: Third Anniversary Celebration!
Yes, it has been three years that this podcast has been coming to you, and there are 159 episodes (including this one) to prove it! It was in April of 2006 when the first one came out. As I recall, it was my oft-repeated question as to why we can't get along.
Much has happened since then. The first that comes to mind is that Jerome Birnbaum, who trained and ordained Lady Stormy and then me, finally had a Pentacle-inscribed veteran's headstone for his grave. And people seem to be becoming more aware of Tempest Smith's tragic story. Lord Pan, the four-footed patriarch of our little family here, crossed over into the Summerland. I'm not claiming credit for anything other than these were some of the things we've shared over the past three years.
It might be said that it began with my own hunger and thirst. And when I found myself not only spiritually hungry and spiritually thirsty but also spiritually abandoned, I looked for a new home, new food and new drink. And it seemed right that while I should not proclaim this food and drink to be the only ones, I would be remiss if I did not offer them to those who might wish to avail themselves of them.
It might also be said that it grew from what I learned and discovered. Imagine us as a thread in a beautiful and infinite fabric. The problems come when we find a thread which thinks that it is the entire fabric!
And so, let's take a moment and celebrate that we've made it through these three years, and let's have a vision of what lies ahead for us.
I'm looking forward to it.
And thanks for sharing these three years with me.
March 28, 2009: Beyond The Bridge - Crossing!
With Ostara, we finished a significant sequence of events within the Wheel of the Year. We begin with a death at Samhain, and see a birth at Yule. But what was born at Yule is only an infant. At Imbolc, what was born is beginning to have some strength. And at Ostara, the one who was born at Yule is seen as being really back to life in every sense.
In many ways, it's like a graduation. And you can look back and see where you've been. And perhaps more importantly, you can look forward and see what lies ahead.
Ancient lore from almost any spiritual path (including that which we share here) will tell you what lies between death in one lifetime and re-birth in the next. And there are many points which all of them seem to have in common. Of course, people who purport to speak for a particular path will lay claim to certain embellishments as if they were true.
And somewhere, there is reality. How to tell your own reality? There are a couple of basic facts which can make a great deal be abundantly clear.
I'm not going to give you answers, but I will show you where to find answers.
March 21, 2009: Ostara - Promise And Fulfillment!
At Ostara, there is a story. Ostara, Easter, Spring Equinox, whatever name you give it, there is a story that gets told.A story you've heard before, or is it? If you hear the story from another path, can you recognize it for what it is? And if groups of people who probably had little idea (if any) of each others' existence come up with the same lore, should we take time and ask why this would happen?It might well be that the slightly-different stories have a truth in common.And here is a message at Ostara that some folks miss. Does it occur to anyone that if another path has the same lore as yours, that means that the paths corroborate each other. Neither one is an adaptation of the other, but they share the same truth!Something that I pointed out when remembering Tempest Smith is appropriate to mention again. In one path, there is a writing in which someone said that he had "sheep which are not of this fold," but he did not say how many other sheep or how many other folds. And if two paths share a truth, then their respective followers will do well to share respect with each other. But in this case, the shared truth means something even bigger than that!Blessed Be!
New VideoThe video of the Ostara celebration is available at http://www.veoh.com/search/videos/q/lordaidan
March 14, 2009: The One Thing You'll Never Do!
I was listening to some music the other day, and I heard an old favorite: Simon and Garfunkel's "Sounds of Silence." I have been known to say that my definition of great writing is one which reveals new things to the reader no matter how many times you read it. By that measurement, this is one of the greatest!There is a story in the words to that song, and the story brings with it some powerful verbal imagery. And it leads us to one of the truths which we all need to confront.What I see revealed here is a basic truth about ourselves and our nature. And as a result, it seems the obvious conclusion is that there is one thing which none of us will ever do. Not a one of us is capable of doing it. The irony is that there are many people whose own belief system is such that they are sentenced to living their lives in denial of this truth, but it is there nevertheless. And by what I say that they cannot do, it implies that there is something that they are doing, because what they cannot do is to avoid doing it. They might do it on a different basis, but they do nevertheless.A puzzle? Not if you know what it is that we cannot do. And because we cannot do that one thing, there is something else which takes on even greater importance as a result. And it is something which you probably are doing.And it's what makes things exciting. And it begins with knowing what it is that you will never do.Blessed Be! …
March 7, 2009: Barrier Busting!
Barrier Busting!We all face barriers. There are enough of them in our mundane lives, but on out spiritual paths, they can be formidable. And they need to be dealt with, one way or another. Some of them were put up for you by other people (or circumstance), and others are barriers you put up for yourself.There are two kinds of barriers which we all have to address. The first kind of barrier is the kind that's there for a good reason. One example would be the things you don't do because of vows you've taken. Another example might be things you don't do because you feel it's more risk than it's worth. But there is another kind of barrier, and that is the barrier which keeps you from something which you want or need. Prejudices can be the basis of this kind of barrier, but they are not the only way these barriers come to be. Sometimes fear can bring about an unnecessary barrier, such as a person who refuses to fly in an airplane. And a useful role of discernment is to help you know the difference.And in this, there is another key which can open doors.Blessed Be!…
February 28, 2009: Ritual Construction 101
We've spoken much about what gives you power, and how to avoid that which costs you energy. And so, now is a good time to step back for a while and take a good look at how to construct a ritual. In any endeavor, it's worthwhile to occasionally take a step back and remember the basics. Then again, we're talking about a form of endeavor in which the advanced stuff is nothing more than application of the basics anyway. It's much the same as in mathematics - all of the fancy stuff is nothing more than sequences of the basic operations.And so we come here, to see what it takes to put a ritual together.And please understand, it does not have to be a fancy ritual at a permanent altar. You'll also have plenty of opportunity to do them when you don't have set-aside facilities. In fact, there might be occasions in which you might need to do one in which nobody around you knows that you're doing a ritual.And the most important mortal in your ritual is, of course, you. Don't worry, Mrs Broadbeam, Sister Sweathog and Pastor Platepass who tried messing with your spirituality before are no longer around to bother you, so don't worry about them.And, armed with the right basics, there is no telling just how much you might be able to accomplish. Do not be surprised if you surprise yourself!Blessed Be!
Special Announcement: "Mass For The Shut-Out", Temple of Gaia's video cast, can be seen at http://www.veoh.com/search/videos/q/lordaidan…
February 21, 2009: In Honor of Tempest Smith - A Warning and A Promise
This was intended to be an on-line ritual, but there were enough words to say that they deserved their own episode. Tempest Smith died on February 20, 2001. She died by her own hand because she could no longer deal with the daily harassment and bullying she was receiving from her classmates. At her funeral, there were numerous statements from those who should have been her friends about how sorry they were. Well, words are like arrows: Once they've hit the mark, how much good does taking them back accomplish?And in her honor, some words of warning, and words of promise as well. And they come right from the Christians' own Bible. They might not be verses which some folks know, but they are there, waiting for those who want to learn. Three words of warning and promise, in plain sight.If The Divine is as infinite as if must be, there is a whole lot which we simply do not know. But, we can begin by knowing that we do not know everything. And we can know that what we grasp of The Divine is one small part of one small corner. And that's regardless of what name or names we use for addressing The Divine.And when our minds are grown to the point that we might be able to grasp more, then we'll see things differently. And things that seemed so terribly important today will become so terribly trivial!And the warnings contain promises of what can be ours if we grasp the lesson to be found in Tempest Smith's story.Blessed Be!…
February 14, 2009: Are People Actually Learning?
In a town in Illinois, there is a protest going on against the environmental education program going on in their local elementary school. It seems that some of the grownups don't like the idea of children being taught such concepts as recycling, global warming, and environmental responsibility. One person called it "environmental indoctrination"It reminds me of when I was growing up in Oregon, and some of the grown-ups didn't appreciate the idea that the schools were teaching us kids that people whose skin was a different color had the same rights as everyone else!There will always be those who stand in the way of what's right, but the fact is that the truth is being taught.And then there is Chase Utley, second baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies. I am not a sports fan, but I am a fan of his. For all he does for our four-footed friends, I'll cheer for the Phillie so that he will have success. And I first heard of his efforts because of a story of a much-abused dog. And I've noticed that since he's made such an effort, more and more big-name people are rescuing animals from shelters. The man is making saving a life the "in" thing to do! Those who have heard me tell any of Yuengling's story know why that would mean so much to me.And so, we see positive. Children are learning the right things, and a role model is taking the lead in caring for animals. And this comes together in magick!The negative is always easy to find. The positive is sometimes more difficult to find, but it can be found anywhere. Not only that, but when the positive is found within the negative, it makes the positive shine even more.And what does this have to do with magick?As you will see, it has everything to do with it!Blessed Be!…
February 7, 2009: Looking Prejudice (and yourself?) In The Eye
There is a time for critical self-examination. The trick is, once again, to maintain balance. Don't be so over-critical of yourself that you judge yourself to be beyond redemption, but also don't make excuses for yourself, either. There can be a danger here of a downward spiral similar to that experienced by some folks who experience bullying or a smear campaign. One prime example of this is the issue of prejudice. Prejudice begins with a dichotomy, two facts in opposition to each other.At the root of every prejudice, you can expect to find a lie.Anyone who claims to be without prejudice at all is lying. Everyone has prejudices. There are more causes of prejudice than I've got time or disk space to list. But the chief causes include what you learn from parents, friends, classmates, and your own experience. Look at the word "prejudice". "Pre" means "before". "Judice" means "judgment". So, it's judgment in advance. Jumping to a conclusion before the facts are all in. And we all do it.And so, let's look at it. And let's see what we can do about it. And if it's unavoidable, can we make some use of it?And that's one of the secrets in plain sight!Blessed Be!
A Special Proposal And InvitationI would like to propose that we set aside February 20th as Tempest Smith Day.On February 20, 2001, Tempest Smith died by her own hand. She was twelve years old. She died because she could not take any more of the daily religious harassment, bullying and torment from her classmates because she chose to follow the Wiccan path.It is customary in some traditions, notably Christian, to honor a saint or a martyr by setting aside the day of their passing as the day to commemorate. Since her tormentors thought that they were serving Jesus, I believe it would be especially appropriate in this case.As for what to do on Tempest Smith Day, simply take a little time to offer energies and prayers for her and so that this will never happen again.
January 31, 2009: Imbolc vs "God's Will"!
And so, we have Imbolc!This is probably the most obscure of the Sabbats, especially for those of us who have spent our lives in temperate climates. But it is well known to Norse, Celts and others who live in the northern lands. On the news a few days ago, it was mentioned that the folks at Barrow, Alaska got to see the sun for the first time since November!It's still winter, but the sun is returning. And for those who are watching, the first of the most hardy shoots are beginning to stick their heads out of the ground.A promise was made at Samhain. Another promise was made at Yule. Or, you could say that the promise made at Samhain was repeated at Yule. At Imbolc, we have a sign (or a token of pledge) that the promise is going to be fulfilled - and in fact it is in the process of being fulfilled.And underlying this is a basic fact about The Divine. It is a fact which might not sit well with those who speak of "God's will." And maybe it tells us something about The Divine (by whatever name or names we address our deities).And it might even offer a healing for some, along with fulfillment of the promises made at Samhain and Yule.Blessed Be!…
January 24, 2009: Music In Your Circle!
A thought occurred to me during a recent ritual. One of my favorite magickal tools does not get as much discussion as it might deserve. I'm talking about music in your own rituals. I'm not really talking about anything involving a group. What I'm looking at more is the kind of ritual like I do when it's me and The Divine.That's also the time when I can, as the saying goes, sing like nobody's listening and dance like nobody's watching. In its most simple and basic use, it can be a wall of audio between you and the rest of the world. It can also aid your focus and vision, and make the thoughtform even more alive and real. Of course, there are a few cautions. One of the most basic, for instance, is that if you are using another language, have some idea of what the words mean. That does not mean you need to be fluent in the language which you are using. But it does mean that you should make some effort to insure that someone who knows the language doesn't embarrass you when they announce what you've been chanting.The music you use can take any number of forms and combinations. It might include singing, any number of forms of chanting, a musical instrument, or recordings. The means and method are not as significant as what they achieve.Some don't use it at all, and some make it a major part of their magick. And you won't know until and unless you explore and try.It might add some new dimensions to your magick.Blessed Be!…
January 17, 2009: Forging Ahead - But How?
Now, we begin to walk forward.In the last few months, if there has been any kind of recurring theme in my podcasts it would be that of putting any obstacles out of the way. So then, you ask, what now?Now, you begin to move forward toward your spiritual goal. It's your turn now.There are stories about others, but this is your turn. Who is to say that what worked for someone else is going to work equally well for you? But, we can learn from the stories.First, of course, we need to separate the spiritually successful from the successfully sanctimonious, at least for purposes of this exercise. Some of the successfully spiritual were very simple people. Not much education, not much money, and in some cases considered to be not terribly smart. But others who were successfully spiritual (and spiritually successful) had very powerful intellects and knew how to use it. So, what would they have in common with the simpler folk?I offer an illustration which, I believe, brings out the point.And with that, a journey begins.Blessed Be! …
January 10, 2009: History's Fine Points - And So What?
Last week, I spoke of the Principles Of Wiccan Belief. There are 13 principles in that 1974 statement, and each one could command its own episode on a podcast like this - or even more.But Number Eleven stands out in my sight, because it deals with a principle so basic. Yet it is a principle which is so often forgotten: "As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of The Craft, the origins of various terms, the legitimacy of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with out present and our future."As far as I know, every spiritual path known to humankind faces its detractors and debaters. But does it accomplish anything? I recall in college, it seemed that every wanna-be "intellectual" felt the need to debate whether Yeshua Bar-Joseph actually was an historical individual. Some anti-Jewish and anti-Israel groups are trying to claim that King David never existed. But I find it really upsetting to see Wiccans and Pagans engaging in such debates, especially when they make such debates with other Wiccans and Pagans. I've said before why I consider challenging another person's spiritual path to be spiritually dangerous. I would also point out to any debaters that if it's not your path, what's it to you anyway?I try to make as few exceptions to this as possible, and those exceptions have to do with basic morality. Beyond that, I'll even give The Flying Spaghetti Monster the benefit of the doubt for now. If it's not my path and it doesn't bother my path, what business is it of mine?For some folks, certain things are so basic that they don't even require mention. For some others, it might just be a secret in plain sight.Blessed Be!…
January 3, 2009: And by this yardstick, who would not be a Wiccan?
This episode might get me in trouble with some folks. But that might not be so bad, because a number at least equal to them will be glad that I measured my tent and they see that it is large enough to include them with no big issues.In 1974, the American Council of Witches adopted a set of 13 points which they declared to be the Principles Of Wiccan Belief. I was barely aware of Wicca's existence in 1974, and the American Council of Witches has since disbanded. But their Principles Of Wiccan Belief are an important legacy which has been passed down to us. When the Internal Revenue Service or other government body looks at a religious group and tries to decide if it constitutes a "church", one of the documents which they look for is a basic set of distinguishable beliefs. This is ours. We do indeed have a debt of gratitude to those who wrote it. And going through it, I find answers to some of the questions which seem to plague so many of us - and really bother me. What, or who, is or is not Wiccan? "Wiccan" encompasses a broad range of spiritual paths. And by virtue of these 13 principles, it can be said that it encompasses more than many people are willing to admit. Some Wiccans will be reluctant to recognize that certain other people are in fact Wiccan. Then again, some other people will be reluctant to admit that they are Wiccan.There are basically three kinds of people, as I see it, who are not Wiccan regardless of their claims:The closed-minded.People using the spiritual for their own agenda.Folks who just don't get the point.
And the point of all of this? When we get this point and put it to use, wonderful things can happen!Blessed Be!
December 27, 2008: Putting Yule To Use!
If I repeat a point, it just might be because it's an important point which folks will do well to remember and use.One advantage we have over the more mundane folk is that while their holidays end at the stroke of midnight on the day of the holiday, each of our Sabbats can be seen as never being really over until the same Sabbat of the next year arrives. Yule of 2008 will be with us until Yule of 2009, and we will see it not only in every other Sabbat between now and the next Yule, but in each and every single day - if only we look.And Yule's big gift to us, the one I spoke of last week, is ours to cherish the whole year.And here is where I find the need to take off the figurative gloves. I am known to be not only tolerant but generally accepting of other spiritual paths. But in one place I draw the line and I will not move that line. I find it impossible to accept, believe in, or follow a deity whose would constitute abusive behavior if one of us mortals did the same thing. And within this is a gift from The Divine, and it is a gift which we can indeed cherish and nurture each and every day. And herein is the greatest gift of Yule, and the one we can really put to use all year!Blessed Be!…
December 20, 2008: Yule's Gift To You!
It's Yule! Yule is one of my favorite times of the year. So many spiritual paths converge at this time of year, whether they want to or not. Why? Because there is something special at the root of all of the celebrations at this time of year, and it is something special that everyone needs, whether they want to admit it or not. As for me, I admit that what I've found at the root of all of these celebrations is something that I do need.Now, what could Yule, Christmas, the birth of Mithras, Hannukah, the Winter Solstice and some others have in common? Why do so many of them include the exchange of gifts and feasting in their celebrations? Could it be that there is a gift at the heart of this? Could it be that these celebrations, especially at the root which all of them have in common, have this gift in common?And what is this gift? The gift begins with a promise.Go back to the beginning, when our ancestors were first trying to make sense of the world in which they found themselves. Peer out of your cave at this time of year, and what do you see? What would you be wanting? What would you hope for, and what promise would be the most precious right about now if you were living back then - and knowing only what they knew?Know what? That gift is still there, still waiting for each of us - including you! And for some of us, it is even more precious today. Claim your gift, and join in the celebration we offer on this wonderful Sabbat!Blessed Be! …
December 13, 2008: From How Many Wells May You Drink?
From how many wells may you drink? The simple answer would seem to be that you may drink from as many wells as are necessary in order to quench your thirst. But what about drinking from spiritual wells in order to satisfy a spiritual thirst?How many spiritual wells may you drink from when you are seeking to quench a spiritual thirst? This is one of the toughest questions you will face in your spiritual quest, and you will indeed face it.In the beginning (or re-beginning, if you are seeking a path after losing a previous path), you need to find a tradition that meets your needs. That means building a relationship between yourself and not only a tradition but also (and especially) its deities. That will be enough to keep you busy for quite a while.Later, you may want or need more dimension and/ or depth, such as noticing an affinity to some deity, discovering a need, or the call of ancestors. You might also want to come to peace (not necessarily reconcile, but come to peace) with a former path. For these or other reasons, you'll have grown to the point where you find yourself needing to drink at more than one well to satisfy your spiritual thirst. How do you deal with that?There are all kinds of answers. Some incorporate a fact which makes the followers of some paths cringe. Nevertheless, there is only one answer which is valid for you, and you need to know where and how to find it. And that's what this is about.Blessed Be!…
December 6, 2008: A Time To Be Selfish!
A time to be selfish? Yes!The problem with selfishness is that most of the time when someone is talking about it, they're talking about its excess or abuse. The fact is that a small, healthy dose of selfishness is not only not wrong, it is healthy and necessary. Without it, we become doormats.It might be unreasonable to expect folks to make a big deal of every little thing you might do for someone, it is extremely reasonable that you should at least expect that a reasonable effort not be insulted or snubbed.We have become what we are because we help each other. We each also have our own boundaries. We need to know where the line is. We need to know what we're going to do if someone steps over that line.You've heard me speak of the need for balance before, and none quite so much as here. While we reach our potential by helping others, we must also look out for ourselves. And in this episode we explore that.And armed with this, we can explore even more.Blessed Be!…
November 29, 2008: Thanksgiving And Giving Thanks!
In the United States, the fourth Thursday in November is the federal holiday known as Thanksgiving Day. Many other countries have a thanksgiving day of some sort during the course of the year. In the case of the US, it is claimed to commemorate a celebration had by the Plymouth Pilgrims to celebrate a bountiful harvest after a hard winter in which many of them died of starvation and cold. It is a mundane holiday, and we are spiritual people. What can we do with this?This is a celebration of "the harvest" in the same manner as Lammas, Mabon and Samhain are the celebrations of three distinct harvests. For those of us in modern times, this might not seem so apparent to someone whose food comes not from a field but from a supermarket. But there had to be a harvest even if you and I don't experience it.Another dimension of the mundane Thanksgiving holiday is the number of families who come together, some of them overcoming miles and others setting aside issues for the sake of the celebration. How well I remember trips to Duluth (Minnesota) for Thanksgiving. What a way to give thanks, including for family!But it is a time set aside for giving thanks.And the kind of thanks we can give at such a special time (or any other time we set aside) is more than just thanks. It is the basis of something which we can build upon! And build we shall!Blessed Be!…
November 22, 2008: When It Happens!
When it happens? Yes, it can happen and it will! It's what you've been praying about, isn't it?When it happens, what are you going to do? As one actor in a commercial for travelers' checks once expressed it, "What will you do?"You've prayed, you've done (or attended) rituals and other gatherings, and done everything else you're supposed to, and maybe worried about not doing enough, and suddenly - there it is! What you've asked for is yours.Strange thing, there isn't much good advice about how to handle things when it happens. From Sister Sweathog and/or Mrs. Broadbeam at Sunday School to Brother Billy-Bob behind the pulpit telling you about "God's will," there just isn't much decent advice about what to do when you have what you've been asking for!Will you know what it is when it is staring you in the face? It might not look like what you thought it would look like, you know. Some seeds do not look much like the trees which they can become.Will you know what to do with it once you have recognized it?Will you have any idea what the next step will be once you understand what is yours?Please understand that there might be something coming to you. You do not have to give in to the naysayers, the meddlers and the people who ought to mind their own business. It can be yours.And if you can grow that into what you pictured in your minds' eye, what can be next?Blessed Be!…
November 15, 2008: The 10 Most Popular Ways To Destroy Your Own Spirituality!
Here are the ten most popular ways to destroy your own spiritual life!
With the coming and going of Samhain, we have the end of one year and the beginning of another year. And this is a most appropriate time to reflect for a bit on some of the most basic of basics.
Everyone from the Pope and the Dahlai Lama down to frizzy-haired church gossips will offer advice on how to have a quality spiritual life. Some of the advice might be excellent. But, there is so much of "how-to".
Some folks take another approach and speak of "how not to". They show the more common shortcomings of some efforts in hopes that we'll avoid repeating the mistakes of others.
Here' I've taken a third approach. Every day, there are people whose spiritual life just sort of whimpers. One day, someone wakes up and suddenly discovers that their spiritual life is not only gone, it has been gone for a long time. So, I've decided to show how to make your spiritual life do an outright crash-and-burn!
Now, of course, it is not my intent to encourage you to be spectatular failures. Rather, it is my hope that in this list of the most popular ways to colossal spiritual failure, you'll find some clues as to how to be a major success.
As is often the case in many fields, the difference between success and failure is the grasping of a basic principle. Take marketing as an example. One store prospers over the long run, while another store does very well initially but then just sort of dies and goes out of business. There's a principle that says that once you've got the customer to come to your store, you need to give that customer reason to come again. And so one store flourishes over time while another store seems to be doing very well and then suddenly begins to wither away. It's the same thing with your spiritual life.
And perhaps there might be some clues here as to how to make your spiritual life sizzle!
November 8, 2008: Samhain's Follow-Through!
Spiritually, just possibly the most powerful of all Sabbats has just made its yearly visit to us here in the Northern Hemisphere. So, what now?The answer can be found in a term often used by athletes and their coaches: follow-through. In baseball, it's what you do with the bat after it encounters the ball. In football, it's what your arm does after you release the ball. In golf, it's what you do with the club after it hits the golf ball. Sometimes, it seems as if follow-through is as important as anything else you do. Quite often, it actually is!We often make jokes about our more mundane friends and the resolutions which they make at the mundane new year - and usually break before February. Then again, they make the same jokes about themselves. They make the resolution, but what's next?Like all Sabbats, this past Samhain will be with us until the next Samhain. And while our mundane friends make their December 31st/January 1st resolutions to family, friends, the office water cooler and the person filling their glass, we do more. Samhain is a time for endings and beginnings. And so, we do well to be a bit more serious.And how to follow through? There are some basic principles, and a few "rules" which seem to work for me. At any rate, at the 2007 Samhain I once again resolved to end my smoking habit, and it seems to be ended. At any rate, I am 11 months smoke-free. I can't say that precisely what I did will work for you, but it was follow-through and I share some thoughts on follow-through.We have some great things to build, and the building begins at Samhain. And the follow-through continues through the year.Blessed Be!…
October 31, 2008: It's Samhain!
It's Samhain!If there's ever a time when we shouldn't have to mention the specific date, it would be Samhain, and it is Samhain!According to lore, Samhain is the time of the year when the veil between the worlds is thinnest. That is when we can most easily reach through the veil to those on the other side, and when those on the other side can most easily reach through to us. That is not to say that it is not possible at other times, because it certainly is. But this is when it is the easiest to get things done which involve both sides of the veil.This is when we can remember those who have left us, especially those who have left us since last Samhain. But we can also remember anyone else who has left, even someone who left before we began this particular incarnation. Not only do I commemorate those I knew, I also commemorate those I wish that I would have known (and maybe might have known in another life). This is a time when we can also look ahead to what is to come. Do you have a vision of what you wish to make of your future? I certainly do. And if you do, now is a great time to ask for it.So long as you remember the basic "rules" about what you wish for, there is no limit. And, it can happen.Why do I say that it can happen? You might recall my comments about Chase Utley, the second baseman of the Philadelphia Phillies. He and his wife Jen do a lot for animals. They came to my attention about a year ago when they were involved in the rescue of a dog who had been terribly abused. I'm not a fan of athletics, but someone like that has my respect. It became my opinion that someone like that deserved the best honor he could achieve in his profession - and in his case, that would be winning the World Series. And he did! And those of you who joined in with me had a part of it.So, yes you can!And so, this celebration of Samhain can be the most powerful that you have ever experienced, if you're willing to see what's on the other side of the door.Blessed Be!…
October 25, 2008: Getting Ready For Samhain
If it hasn't been obvious (and it probably has been blatantly obvious), everything that I've been talking about for the past few weeks has been a lead-up to Samhain. And the next episode will be the Samhain episode, released on Samhain. And so, this episode concerns with specifically getting ready for Samhain.
I consider Samhain to be the most spiritually powerful of the eight Sabbat we celebrate in the cycle of the year. It is so powerful that other paths have similar celebrations around this time, too.
The veil between the worlds is at its thinnest. This is the time when you have the best chances of reaching through the veil to someone who has crossed over and you miss. It is also the best chance for someone on the other side of the veil who misses you to reach out. It is also a time for resolutions. It is a time for beginnings, and it is a time for endings. Then again, every beginning is an ending and every ending is a beginning, isn't it?
It is also a good time to share your visions with the Divine, by whatever name or names you address the Divine. We can begin with the most basic question: What is it that you want to accomplish between now and the next Samhain? And five years hence? And ten years hence?
OK, so if they're listening, it would be a good idea to ask in such a way that you might get what you want - and recognize it when you have it.
And so, let's look into that. It's a good question anytime, but especially now.
October 18, 2008: Yes, You Can!
In case you haven't figured it out, the last few weeks (and this episode also) have been a lead-in to one of the most spiritually powerful times in the cycle of the year: Samhain. Not that the rest of the year can't be spiritually powerful, but what sparkles or shines the rest of the year can really sizzle and shine at Samhain.Last week, we spoke about confronting The Divine, the week before we spoke about confronting your priesthood, and the week prior to that we spoke of confronting tradition. And this week, we'll look at the three-word phrase which pretty much sums it up. Yes, there is more to it. Yes, there are some other considerations if you really want success. But it all hangs on three words.Personal responsibility is there, too. In fact, what we explore in this episode just might be the ultimate expression of personal responsibility we can deal with. After all, if we're talking about your spiritual life, then by definition we have to be speaking of your personal responsibility for it. After all, it is yours. And so, you need to be in charge of it. Suggestions, advice, teaching and learning are all good and worthwhile, but that does not mean you need to be led around by the nose.Given that, there's much that can be done. You might surprise yourself. And the most powerful point of all reveals the sheer power of all of this in just three words.Blessed Be!…
October 11, 2008: Confronting Gods, Goddesses, and God!
Samhain is coming soon, and according to many (including me) that is spiritually the most powerful time of the year. Hence, this set of "Confronting ...." episodes. So that you might have an appreciation of the tools and resources you already have. You might be stronger than you know. Unfortunately, there are some folks who think that they are weak only because they have been told that they are weak. And so, some of the strongest people can behave like weaklings. This can be unfortunate if the person has to deal with someone who is a genuine weakling but has convinced himself/herself that he/she is actually strong. And so, we come to confronting The Divine. It can be done. In fact, it is very likely that there are times that The Divine wishes to be confronted. Some people get told a long list of what you aren't supposed to ask for. Add to this the things that some say that The Divine cannot do. And then there's that infamous excuse generally referred to as "God's will." Do you know what The Divine's will really is regarding you, me and each and every one of us?And, so we can go beyond the walls of what may have once been our spiritual prisons and see what lies beyond. But to do that, we need to know that we can confront The Divine - provided we do it the right way.Blessed Be!…
October 4, 2008: Confronting Your Priesthood!
Last week I spoke about confronting tradition, and this week I'm speaking about confronting your priesthood. It sounds like a spiritual path can involve a lot of confrontations. And yes, it can. Especially if it's successful enough to worry some folks.We're talking about your own priesthood. And yes, you are your own priest or priestess. This doesn't have anything to do with ordination, which primarily concerns taking the authority to act in public in the name of a body. Your own priesthood concerns your own your own ability and authority to deal with The Divine directly on your own behalf.There are those who are very uncomfortable with the idea of you having your own priesthood for yourself. They are the same people who want your spiritual path to fit their agenda. That's why it can take some courage to claim it and use it. And you'll need to guard it jealously.Here's some ideas of where to look and what is built first. And there's so much more.Blessed Be!…
September 27, 2008: Confronting Tradition!
Back when I was an Episcopalian, I was a traditionalist. Today, I am a traditionalist. I may have adopted a different tradition than the one I was following a few decades ago, but I honor the tradition which I follow.But there are those who are not comfortable with tradition, and especially with traditionalists. To some, a traditionalist is some individual, too hide-bound to explore, secure in saying that what was good enough for his or her ancestors is good enough for them. I suggest that a different approach might be more appropriate, and perhaps more common.Learning about tradition is learning about where you and those who preceded you have been. Questioning tradition is a usually-healthy way of exploring the basis of a tradition and seeing how it fits in to your life today. There are occasions, and I describe one, in which you might discover that the basis isn't really there. And there are other cases in which the basis is really there, especially if you follow the tradition in the same heart as those who first established it.And on the way, there can be learning and growth!Blessed Be!…
September 20, 2008: Let's Celebrate Mabon!
It's Mabon! And Mabon is one of the most powerful yet one of the least understood of all of the Sabbats. Or, at least until you see how the mundane folks have re-arranged the calendar for their convenience. Most countries have a Thanksgiving Day of some sort, many of them of that very name, but few are on Mabon.Mabon is the second of the three harvest festivals. Lammas was celebrated a while ago, and Samhain will follow soon enough. And for now, we have Mabon!Like all Sabbats, Mabon has its lessons for us to learn and take with us through the cycle of the year. Like all Sabbats, Mabon has a contribution in each of the other Sabbats.And especially, Mabon can help us to see why the year in a cycle is so important. It teaches us some points that are missed in linear calendars in which the spirit of a holiday is pronounced dead the following day.Blessed Be!…
September 13, 2008: How To Make A Miracle!
This is another one of those difficult topics, and for the usual reasons, just like charity is such a difficult topic. Neither topic is actually difficult, except for the fact that people made them that way.If a spiritual path actually works, then there can be miracles. And I think we can agree that the one thing expected of any spiritual path is that its followers expect it to work.Miracles can be a major source of contentment or contention, and therein lies so much of the problem. I'll speak more on this in the podcast, especially the contention. It might be one of the reasons why so many have turned their backs on religion. But how do you recognize a miracle? If you were looking at a miracle right now, would you recognize it?And if you want a miracle, would you know how to go about it? And perhaps especially, would you know what to avoid?Some have forgotten, some have re-discovered, and some knew but were told that they were wrong. Sound familiar?I think it might be good to see just how much we can do.Blessed Be!…
September 6, 2008: What About Charity?
Among those who consider themselves clergy, there seems to be two lines of thought on this subject. There are those who consider it a subject "too hot to handle," and those who don't seem to talk about very much else. Please note that I am not limiting the scope to any particular kind of clergy. In the meantime, it is a subject that we're forced to deal with every day. If you don't see a poster for some cause, there will be the annual charity drive at work. And if it isn't the annual fund drive at work, there's the commercial on TV about a hungry child you can sponsor in some far-off land. And if it isn't a TV commercial, someone will ask for "change" the next time you go downtown. And as if that isn't enough, there's always the possibility that someone you know will be knocking on your door with either a tale of woe or some great venture for you to invest in. And we still haven't mentioned the folks who go to church and have a plate passed at them, have we?Meanwhile, you and your family have legitimate needs. And if you gave in to all of the pitches you hear and see, you might find yourself in a situation in which you're doing without lunch so that someone else can have beer with their lunch! And that's not fair.And then there's the question of attitude. Actually, it's a question of more than one attitude. Those who give with the expectation of reward might be disappointed. And that's a shame, because nature abhors a vacuum. What goes out will have its place taken, but you've got to give karma some room to maneuver. And there's the other expectation: the expectation of those who are receiving the charity. That can wear things down.And no wonder some consider the subject of charity "too hot to handle", especially in a religious context.And maybe that's why I decided that I needed to say something about charity. It's not like I can get away with avoiding it!Blessed Be!…
August 30, 2008: Labor Day!
Most countries celebrate Labor Day, or have an equivalent holiday. When it is celebrated depends on the country and its traditions. In the United States, Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September.Labor Day is a secular holiday. It is not a religious holiday, although some faiths hold services and some have special prayers to be said or hymns to be sung on Labor Day (or the nearest Sunday/ Sabbath). But that does not mean that there isn't something of the Divine to find in Labor Day. In fact, Labor Day can teach one of the most important spiritual and theological lessons which we all need to learn.We all labor, and almost all of us at some time in our lives will be doing the kind of labor honored on Labor Day. It doesn't matter if you're the president of some manufacturing company, or the janitor on the factory floor - it's labor. And there, in that point I just made, is the kernel of a theological point worth recognizing.And Labor Day is when we honor the labor done by ourselves and others. And that, combined with the previous point, leads us to a morality issue. Morality, you question? Yes, especially if you understand what authentic morality actually is.And from there, you can see what might be one of the nastier issues facing us today.And you'll see how there can be a very powerful spiritual and theological lesson found in a secular holiday.Blessed Be!…
August 23, 2008: The Threefold Law, The Cop, And You
Officer Paul Stephens of the San Marcos, Texas Police Department has been spending most of the past week experiencing the enforcement of a law more powerful than any law which he might be called upon to enforce. He has been experiencing the enforcement of The Threefold Law. The Threefold Law is one that most of us are very familiar with: Whatever you do, for good or for evil, returns to you threefold. Officer Paul Stephens pulled over a motorist for speeding. As a former police officer myself, I appreciate the situation in which Officer Stephens found himself. When he found the situation was that a couple was trying to get their seriously ill dog to an emergency vetrinary clinic because the dog's life was in danger, his response was "It's a dog, relax, you can get another one."My personal guess is that if Officer Paul Stephens has any form of a law enforcement career left after his becoming internationally famous for that remark (captured for posterity on his dashboard video camera), nothing that he can accomplish will be able to overshadow his remark to the desperate parent of a loving poodle who had a medical emergency.And here is where we can see how this can apply to us. Admittedly, Officer Stephens was recruited out of the same human race as the rest of us.And so, let's see what we might be able to see in this incident that can be four our own learning. It's hard to tell if Officer Stephens or his bosses learned anything, but that does not stop us from being able to learn from it.Blessed Be!…
August 16, 2008: An Eye-Opener!
Let me invite you to a web site which is full of some of the greatest information you'll find anywhere: http://www.universalgnostic.com/. And on the front page, you'll find two of the most exciting! I'll leave "The Heiroglyphic Monad" for another time. Right now, I'd like to talk about "The Severn Sermons Of The Dead" by Basalides of Alexandria, as translated by Carl Gustav Jung. These seven sermons deal with a great deal, but more than anything else, it is perhaps one of the best sets of writings dealing with what many of us know as either the Law Of Polarities or the Law Of Opposites. Most books, including some very good ones which have probably been recommended to you, mention that such a law exists, and gives mention to the obvious fact that there are polarities. This work goes the additional step and tells us how to work with them and deal with them.Believe it or not, some spiritual paths do not really address balance or polarities except in a black-and-white of way, kind of like "good guys" and "bad guys" in an old cowboy movie in which the "good guy" always wore a white hat and didn't cuss, and the "bad guy" looked like he needed a bath. And no wonder some of their followers encounter spiritual frustration - it's impossible to be "good enough."Well, here is a different approach, making use of balance. I can't recommend "The Severn Sermons Of The Dead" enough, and I'm using this episode to introduce them to you. They were an eye-opener for me, that is certain! Enjoy this, and have fun with it!Blessed Be!…
August 9, 2008: The Bible Verse Which Some Christians Hate!
A Bible verse which some Christians hate? How can that be?Well, to begin with, it might well be the most well-corroborated verse in the Christians' entire Bible! It's just about verbatim in three of the four gospels, and it makes reference back to the Old Testament.If you read just a wee bit more than the single verse, you will see that this was the verse which Yeshua uttered which got him into really big, bad doo-doo! He might have irritated and angered the powers-that-were in his day until then. But that was what caused them to decide that he had to go!There is a definition of ministry which goes: "comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable." We will do well to remember that in the light of what this verse tells us.Depending on who you are, it is either a promise, or it is a threat. It is either a reassurance which gives you comfort, or it is so scary that it is spine-chilling.Many have avoided the subject, but many more simply try to dodge the thought that it might still be an issue. The act of repeating the same action and expecting different results is a popular definition of insanity. By that definition, an establishment which has the same issues about itself as the establishment which it replaced but does not expect to be replaced - by that definition that establishment is insane! But that is the aspect of it that is a threat to many.And the promise? There might be something there that could be the clue to build something more wonderful that we can imagine!Blessed Be!…
August 7, 2008: Lammas! - And Requiem
It's Lammas, and it's a time to celebrate the first harvest Sabbat!We also need to give some honor to Danessa Smith, who crossed over on Monday due to complications from recent surgery.For those who don't know who Danessa Smith is, she is Tempest Smith's mother. Tempest Smith, as you know, died a few years ago by her own hand because of the constant torment she was receiving from her classmates due to the fact that she was a Wiccan. Tempest Smith was twelve years old at the time of her death.Danessa Smith founded the Tempest Smith Foundation, and I recommend you visit their web site. Seeds of sadness were sown in sorrow. The work of the Tempest Smith Foundation is the harvest that we pray wi