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Shooting in UU Church

I have friends, who are members of CUUPS, who go to the UU Church in Tennessee which just had shooting during a service (8 shot, 1 killed, by an unknown gunman)

Fortunately they were not among the injured or killed, but friends of theirs were. I am so glad they are safe, and so, so sorry for their loss.

It seems likely that the UU church was targeted due to it's open and accepting attitudes, given that the gunman was unknown to church members.
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Whoops - conflicting rituals /or ritual symbolism.

Sometimes things work out and mesh perfectly, and very sometimes they don't.

I had a fantastic (fantastic) full moon ritual the night before last with a friend, and then last night went to the women's full moon group where I have also participated in very many lovely and insightful rituals.

So what happened?
Combination of things.
Last night, at the womens group, using the Crone as the moon symbol, we went on an underworld journey, paralleling the descent of Inanna.

So, there is attachment to ego, and de-tachment, and often we, as individuals, need different things. For many, it was an opportunity to put down burdens.
Me? Well, I think I'd be the Inanna that forgets to put on all her 7 pieces of jewellery in the morning. Sometimes I find myself in a somewhat depersonalised state, and yes I lose fear, but I also lose ego to some extent, sense-of-self, and am just... lost. In the underworld, Hel's realm. Nothing to fear, but nothing to motivate either, nothing to live joyously in.
So, it could still have been a good exercise to do, especially on focusing on what I do 'adorn' myself with. Getting dressed each morning with ego, with relationships, with autonomy, with possessions, with accomplishments.

But, the night before with my friend, I'd lit a candle for 'passion', setting intention for the Winter Sun that is about to be reborn, the new year. Nurturing and tending the flame of my desire and passion for things, for life, then little candles to represent all the things I would like to direct my desire and passion to, like relationships with friends, family, community, fulfilling work, creative pursuits, etc etc.

And then the next night, I do an underworld journey and cast everything aside, abandoned the light for the darkness. D'oh!
I didn't realise til afterwards, when I was already feeling a little distanced.

Not sure what I could have done about it though - realised sooner? Not gone on the journey?
It's just one of those things that happens. All in all, for all the lovely ceremonies I've had for the full moon with that group, I don't think I should have gone on *that* one. Not that night, anyway. It was a hassle getting out there, and a bigger hassle coming back, sitting in a cold train station for nearly an hour, and then walking home at the other end, getting there after midnight. I realised there was a supermarket open across the road about 10 minutes after I'd been waiting, and thought I could at least do some shopping, but it closed as I got to the doors.

I'm struggling to recall the insights of lighting the flame I had, over the insights (while valuable) I had of the dark and looking at loss. Reversed, the sequence would have been beautiful. Oh well.

Anyway, I've also volunteered to co-lead the next full moon, transformation/re-birth, so I guess I'd better get on to figuring out how.
goiriath light

ADF Shrine - April-2008

Originally uploaded by sangrail
My first ADF shrine.
I wasn't expecting to have even the beginnings of an ADF style shrine so soon, I was only going to make an offering of butter, and then realised I already had the altar cloths laid out in a triple pattern.

I'm using a triple-figured bowl on blue cloth for a well, offered in Brighid's name. Water represents the underworld to me, so while there is no specific representation there, I connect this with the Ancestors, the Beloved & Mighty Dead.

The middle, is a fire offering to the gods.

The right altar cloth is more green than it appears in this picture. The small metal tree symbol, and bookmark are quite simple representations of the world tree (I honour Tane with it, so, cross cultural, but, it's important to me), and obviously, nature spirits.

It's quite minimalist, but I'm finding this shrine quite beautiful, and it came together so effortlessly, it's a... warming start.
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ADF - Butter Offering

Originally uploaded by sangrail
Ok, so I made a butter offering!

Bought some unsalted butter, melted a little in the microwave, and poured it into a diya (indian clay oil lamp) with a cotton wick.
I poured it all in, but if I was more careful, or used a spoon, I think I could get just the clean burning Ghee, and not any of the milk solids at the bottom.

Diya in front of a mirror, in the dark:

goiriath light

Full Moon - The Sorceress

Ok, I've been putting a lot of thought into ADF program, and not enough into the Full Moon ritual I'm helping put on next week. I'll put my notes here, because here is where I'm going to put all my pagan notes and the things I'm thinking about...
(Oooh, and didn't manage the butter offering idea last night - for one, I need to buy some more for our house. ;P )

Theme is "The Sorceress" from The Circle of Life: Thirteen Archetypes for Every Woman.

The Sorceress--refines the alchemy of love/self-love to discover synchronicity of word and deed
The Sorceress (taking command as medicine women or shamanesses, wielding power
rather than seeking it)
The root word comes from lots, or chance, and refers to divination...

My initial thoughts I sent to the two other women I'm working on it with:
"I like having a meditation, and an 'activity', and had a vague idea that maybe we could give everyone a piece of paper or piece of wood, to make a charm or symbol on? As a symbol of the power of the sorceress - and magic.
And then have a meditation, and have people make the charm/symbol *after* the meditation(so it could incorporate insights from the meditation), and once done, go round the circle and people could talk about their meditation or their charm or both?

Or, we could do something with divination? Possibly a divination for each person and *then* a meditation? So the meditation would be a little 'individualised', as part of it would be based off the card or reading each person drew?"

Somehow we came around to the idea of using the Medusa, the Medusa as the snake-wisdom that lets us look inside, and our own fear that keeps us frozen/turns us to stone - the refusal to confront that fear, being what turns us to stone. From that, a mirror is a symbol of looking inside, integrating, overcoming that.
So, we started going with the idea of visiting the Medusa in the meditation.
To integrate what we'd learned, V. suggested we work with body paint. Fantastic!

So, plan so far...
"The intro would be to explain the Medusa, about facing fears, snakes as wisdom etc,
and to explain what we will be doing, ie
- Meditation for guidance from the Medusa
- Look in the mirror and agnowledge those hidden parts
- Symbols represented power, and that we will be drawing symbols on ourselves to represent integrating that power

The meditation would be along the lines of

Medusa sees inside you,
and challenges you to see
- power we aren't claiming
- fears that are keeping us frozen
- our illusions that keep us back
- our inner wisdom that hasn't been acknowledged

Leave everyone for a bit, and then say, when you have learned what you need to, leave the Medusa's cave, and walk back along the path, and into the room.

So, everyone can take the time they need, and when ready, they can walk to one of four mirrors in the room, where we would have said something about,
looking in the mirror, and acknowledge the power you now have, look and accept yourself, until stone has melted, and flesh is warm.

We will have drawing implements available -
Body paint?
Felt-tip pens?
Food colouring?
for drawing symbols on ourselves.

Additional idea -
" Snakes coil around her arms, legs or are entwined in her hair and are shown whispering into her ear"
We could all draw at least one snake on ourselves, or on each other, to represent the Medusa's power and wisdom, or rather, our own power and wisdom that the Medusa represents.

Additional to that...
From the stuff about the healing power of the Medusa's blood, and the connection with Dragons,
maybe, use a little dragon's blood oil, or a little of the resin in some red dye, and apply that as the eye of the snake to everyone's snake symbols?

Once people have drawn symbols, we could sit in circle, and reveal our symbols if we choose."

V. has Dragonsblood Resin (which I'm using for the first time ever... ha! It's taken this long to find something that doesn't seem too pretentious a use).
And so there's... still working out all the little details.

As many parts as possible will be given out everyone participating - it's about reclaiming our own power, after all.
goiriath light

ADF - Thoughts on Gatekeepers

Gatekeeper Gods are another thing I've come up against in ADF, and had a flash of - yes, that's so right.
But... in context.

From the one time I was at a Vodoun ceremony, Papa Legba - Yes, he is a gatekeeper, he opens the door, it is he who waits at the crossroads. Of course he is invited/asked/welcomed first. It would be all manner of impolite not too, and just wouldn't make sense within the context of Voudou.

From Hinduism, Ganesha, also a gatekeeper god. He is invited first, in every ritual. Being a gatekeeper is not a description of top-most rank or hierarchy, but a respected position, and necessary within the scheme of things.

Janus, again, is very obviously a gatekeeper -

"The Romans named Janus first in any list of gods invoked in prayer."

"It was indeed Jupiter who by augury sanctioned every undertaking, but its beginning depended on the blessing of Janus; hence these two divinities were invoked first in every undertaking, and in all prayers their names were mentioned first. The fact of the name of Janus being pronounced even before that of Jupiter, and that according to tradition Janus was in Italy before any of the other gods, and that he dedicated temples to them (Macrob. l. c.; Ov. Fast. i. 70; L. Lydus, de Mens. iv. 2; Aur. Vict. de Orig. Gent. Rom. 3), is perfectly in accordance with the idea of the god, he being the beginning of every thing; but it does not follow that on this account he was considered superior or more powerful than all the other gods."

So, I'm damn convinced that there are gatekeeper Gods, and that they perform a specific function in that culture. What I'm less convinced of, is picking a gatekeeper deity if it's not completely obvious. And they seem like they are in the examples above.
If they're not the first worshipped, are they really a Gatekeeper?
I'm a little confused by the role of Manannan Mac Lir. I don't think that a psychopomp is necessarily the gatekeeper in the sense that the above deities are.
Are there other traits they have in common? Guardian of the crossroads?

Ah - I think I'm onto something with this link:
Papa Gede is a Psychopomp - the connector with the dead:
"If Legba was the sun, at first young, then growing old, Ghede is the master of that abyss into which the sun descnends. If Legba was time, Ghede is that eternal figure in black, posted at the timeless cross-roads at which all men and even the sun one day arrive. The cross upon a tomb is his symbol. But the sun is each year rebord. If Carrefour is the night death which attends each day, then Ghede is the night sun, the life which is eternally present, even in darkness. The cosmic abyss is both tomb and womb. In a sense, Ghede is the Legba who has crossed the cosmic threshold to the underworld, for Ghede is now everything that Legba once was in the promise and the prime of his life. [...] Ghede is, today, the phallic deity also. If Legba was once Lord of Life, Ghede is now Lord of Resurrection; and the difference between them is Death, which is Ghede." [Deren 1953]

Or this:
"Baron Samedi is one of the Guédés, related to and intertwined with Baron Cemetière and Baron La Croix. He is a Guédé of the Americas, bridging the Guédés and Legba. Both are guardians of the crossroads, the place where spirits cross over into our world. If the intercessions desired are with the loa, then Legba is saluted and asked to allow the loa to participate. If the intercessions are with the dead, then Guédé (Ghede) is the intercessor."

That, now that's really making a lot of sense to me.
The role of psychopomp, and the role of... what's a good word?
Theiopomp? Are separate, but tied.
One is beginnings, one is endings.
Mannan Mac Lir, as a sea god, seems very tied to the idea of a psychopomp for me - the sea with death, but Sea gods don't seem to leave the sea very often.

*much later*
Yawn, nope, now I'm all confused again. Ellegua seems to be from Eshu, who seems to be gatekeeper in both senses according to some of what I read, but maybe not, as Oddua is orisha(?) of the dead.

Janus is the God of beginnings, but Hermes still seems to be a messenger of the gods as well as a psychopompos.

This is unrelated, but more points about crossroads/gateway gods:

I'm still feeling like it's very much something to do with crossroads, and that in the end, a gateway god is the one you might find when you're walking one night, maybe at the crossroads.
By that marker, I do see Wodan/Odin as a crossroads god.

Possibly I just shouldn't be looking for cross-cultural similarities when there aren't any, and I'm back to thinking there don't have to be gatekeeper/crossroads gods for every culture.

Just... if Hermes is a gatekeeper/crossroads god, and Mercury is a crossroads god, and Lugh is Mercury in Religio Romana, then...
Does Lugh make more sense as a Gatekeeper than Manannan?

I don't know, but I kind of feel like this:
"When he looked back on leaving, Lugh saw[9] "his foster-father's noble figure standing on the beach. Manannan was wrapped in his magic cloak of colours, changing like the sun from blue-green to silver, and again to the purple of evening. He waved his hand to Lugh, and cried: 'Victory and blessing with thee!' So Lugh, glorious in his youth and strength, left his Island home."
Is almost looping back to my thoughts and readings on Papa Legba and Papa Ghede.
One as the morning, the other as the evening.

I wonder if gatekeeper Gods might be somehow more... brittle in being remembered/historical record? They perform such a useful function, but it's not a glamorous one, and so if people start to worship less, or stop worshipping, they might not remember them as well as the really 'big name' gods, because they're important in the proper order or conduct of ritual, and so if ritual isn't being done, that connection is lost. And that overall connection between divinity and humankind is lost a little because of the lack of the gatekeeper.
Janus, Hermes - they're not the most remembered Gods. Possibly Papa Legba wouldn't be either if it wasn't a living tradition.

I'd love to know which Celtic or other Indo-European gods, had their names or symbols carved on gateways, doorways, bridges, and crossroads. That'd be a good hint, if they were there.

Thinking about other ways to relate to deities, it's a relief to think about deities associated with fire.
My ideas on that are, that you don't need a gatekeeper for fire related gods like Agni, or Brighid, they are present in the flame itself, or flame itself, and the scent of offerings or incense acts as the conduit.
So maybe I should just go home and offer some butter in my diya, and see how that goes. :)
goiriath light

ADF Virtues Essay - Vision/Wisdom? - Draft

Right, I'm already off-track with my plan!
'Wisdom' is really a virtue I should leave til the end, not the beginning. So instead, I've started with 'Vision'. Although, haven't I actually mostly explained my concept of Wisdom there? Hmmmm... feels fitting to come back to it at the end.

I see Vision as insight into how we see ourselves as in the future, what we see our future achievements as, and our future values.

Using Vision is asking, is my vision of my future self in line with my current values?
If not, can I continue on the path I am on?
Sometimes we have goals that are not integrated into who we are and want to be as a person - unless we can integrate them, perhaps that goal is not for us.
And contained within that is, are my current values and actions in line with my future self?
Our vision of our future self is often the person we truly desire to be, and feel we could be. If our values are not in line, perhaps our challenge step forward into those values.
And finally, using our Vision is making sure our current actions are in line with our vision for the future.

Example: When I moved to my current city, I had a vision of myself as a 'local'. A denizen of this city who was active and involved.
I would buy veges at the local vege market, I would visit parks and cafes with friends. I would go to concerts, gigs, and various free events. I would be able to show visitors to that city the things I truly loved about it.
Several years later, I realised with a jolt that I was not doing those things.
I still had a mental view of myself as having 'just moved' to the city, and being 'new', and that idea of myself was holding me back from interacting with the city, and people, as I wished too.
I realised that I wasn't new, I was a local by then, and that if I wanted to hold true to my vision of myself, my idea that I could be that person, then it was time to start living it.
(incorporate example better?)

Wisdom aids Vision, or perhaps Vision is what turns knowledge into Wisdom - we may be confronted with a specific problem, Vision is understanding a situation well enough, looking at future effects, and current values well enough to know that the immediate problem might not be the problem that really needs solving, and instead, what problem, and which knowledge really needs to be applied. Knowledge is allows us to solve a problem, but vision helps us know what problems need to be solved.

Vision is necessary for Integrity, and for true Oathmaking.
It drives our perseverance, is our motivation for piety, for courage, for moderation, and it is the well-spring of our future fertility & creativity.

When we ask the Gods for vision, we ask them to aid us in knowing who we will, or could be.
In return, we have to ask ourselves for the courage to walk that path.

It's almost feeling like this should lead into 'courage'.
And, I need to find and type up those notes on 'Hospitality'...
goiriath light

Birth of a new Goddess? - Eiseria

An interesting note on the religious potential of Wikipedia...

Last October 30th, 2007, a wikipedia user known only as Copeland2119 added some text to the Wikipedia page on Halloween, before going on to vandalize several other pages.

The text was thus:
" The Festival of Halloween is a celebration of the end of the fertile period of the Celtic Goddess Eiseria. It is said that when Eiseria reaches the end of her fertile cycle the worlds of the dead and the living interlap. This happens on October 31. Masks are worn to show respect for the Goddess Eiseria who, like most Celtic deity's does not wish to be seen with human eyes. The day also preceeds All saints day, which was at first the celebration of the start of a new cycle of fertility for the celtic Goddess Eiseria. Couples incapable of producing children thus tried their luck on All saints day."

It was up for less than 24 hours, but the damage appears to be done.
A google search for "Eiseria" brings up about 532 results, including several articles in newspapers (and nothing dating from before October 30th!). I only found out about this because I received an email forward, with the incorrect information...

Feel free to add your UPG assessments of Eiseria!
I'm sure she'll be showing up in poorly edited pagan book near you, any day now...

(Feel free to copy this across to other journals, communities & websites etc. I'd rather be a little bit of a spoilsport, and have this as *known* misinformation - Goiriath)
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