Writing in a group setting is different, much more like praying together. Or sitting together in meditation. Being present to each other in-process, witness to the very act of discovery and composition, soul-deep in the chaotic waters of creativity. This is writing as a spiritual practice — a kind of sacred deep listening, what Karen Hering calls in her book Writing to Wake the Soul, "contemplative correspondence."
Magic is not something you do. Magic is participatory consciousness: a consciousness of enchantment. By placing participation at the heart of our magical work, we no longer relegate magic to the realm of anti-religious power-mongering and manipulation. Instead, magic opens us up to relationship. To reverence. To an engagement with an enchanted world that plays a vital role in an earth-centered spirituality that seeks the sacred in the natural forces and landscapes in which we live our everyday lives.
We live in a time of amazing opportunities and heart-wrenching tragedies, a time when many of us live daily with the humming tension between wild enthusiasm and deep cynicism. Women in particular face challenging contradictions in this brave new age. In a society that celebrates equality, we see before us endless opportunities to pursue our dreams. And yet in many ways, the glass ceiling seems thicker than ever, and the balancing act of gender equality forever remains a perilous one.
Sometimes what I want is a wild fire. A fire that roars. A fire that beats at the air with its bright fists clenched. Sometimes I want prayer like a fire that claims everything it touches.
What happens when we explore ritual beyond the divide between "magic" and "religion"? The third way, the way of celebration...
Today over on the Patheos CUUPS blog, Nature's Path, I'm pleased (and, let's be honest, a little bit nervous) to be able to share the first in a series of posts I'll be writing on my experiences as a Pagan exploring Unitarian Universalism for the first time. In this introductory essay, I tell the curious, rambling story of how my spiritual wanderings first brought me to the doors of my local UU church. If I was going to join any kind of church, naturally it would have to accept me as an out-and-proud, enthusiastically polytheistic, animistic, tree-hugging, dirt-worshipping Druid, and not ask me to water down my practice or box in my theology. But it would also have to offer something more than mere acceptance. What did UU have to offer? I wasn't sure... so I decided to find out.
Usually Starbucks incorporates a wide variety of anti-Christian imagery onto their winter holiday-themed cups, but this year the Seattle coffee company has completely capitulated to the growing pressure from right-wing fundamentalist Christian groups to "put the Christ back in Yule" by creating a holiday cup design that not only rejects all the Pagan symbolism of this blessed time of year, but actively promotes a Christian worldview. Don't believe me? Check out this breakdown of Christian symbolism...
A couple years ago I wrote 7 Ways to Enjoy a Sex-Free Beltane, in honor of all those single and/or disinterested folks out there who were looking to celebrate the reason for the season without necessarily having to "get down," "jump on it" or "funk it up." Weirdly, that post did not become the runaway viral sensation I was anticipating. This year, though, things will be different. If there's one thing people like more than having sex, it's avoiding death and thoughts thereof...
I'm sure a lot of Pagans have said this, but for me discovering Paganism and Druidry was never really about leaving something behind: it was about coming home to myself. From a very early age, I have always cared deeply about the natural world, and I've seen the powers and forces of nature and the many non-human beings who share the planet with us as expressions of the divine. I've also always loved music, poetry and storytelling -- and art and creativity in general -- and see them as vital practices for connecting authentically with the heart of my spirituality. All of that was true when I was Catholic, and it's still true now. I also know lots of Christians who feel the same way, and many of those Christians share very similar spiritual practices -- meditation, divination, chanting and breathwork, etc. So what exactly is the difference between me and them?
We Pagans have a love affair with the past that leads us to try to model the rituals and practices of ancient times as closely as possible. But we live in a different world today. Despite the ornate beauty of certain approaches to ritual, I wince at the wastefulness I see sometimes. Can this really be what the gods want from us? Are we so busy trying to do ritual “correctly” that we fail to do it well?