Life Lessons from the Moon

The moon is a widely used and potent symbol in paganism. It has many meanings and attributes, among which are the triple Goddess, dreams, womens monthly cycle, the psyche, waxing and waning, etc. As with all archetypes, they have universal meanings, but what is just as important is the personal meanings we associate with them. Here, I want to share with you a few things I have learnt from the moon in contemplation. This may not ring true for you, but it's a personal interpretation which has brought much comfort and insight in the past, and I hope will give some of that to you too.

I'm a Cancerian, so the moon has always held much sway over me. As is widely established, the moon is the ruler of our emotions, it's waxing and waning embodying the fullness and fallowness of our feelings. It tugs at the waters of both physical and emotional life. In my life (and I assume others), I often have difficulty seperating how I feel about something and the reality of that something. As I have often tried to remember, there is a difference between feeling something and being something. For example, there are often time when I feel like a failure, but that doesn't necessarily mean I am a failure - it's just how things feel at the time. Or, just because I am afraid that I have done something that will drive off someone I love, doesn't mean they are going to leave me, despite working myself up into a state where I believe it will happen.

These types of feelings can be found in the meaning of The Moon in the tarot. This card deals with illusions, how we create them, how they affect us, and how to see through them. For me, this card symbolizes that which is subjective, mutable and churning, and the challenge for us is to find that which is solid and real. This can be directly applied to situations in our lives which call for us to differentiate between the perceived and the actual.

Often, meditation is used to help us realise what is real. By distancing ourselves from a person or situation, we gain an objective viewpoint that is critical to have, if we are to disentangle ourselves from the quagmire of our emotions. In meditation you can contemplate things and cultivate non-attachment in a way that can help stop us just reacting to what is going on without consideration and thought of what is actually happenning.

Personally, this objectivity is of great value in two things - my love life and spiritual life. In terms of my love life, as with all couples, we go through good and bad times. There are moments when life is so sweet, and you are just filled to the brim with gratitude and love; and times when you feel you are in a such a deep dark hole there is no way things can ever go back to being how they were. The moon reminds me that our feelings for eachother will naturally fluctuate, but also that underneath it all the truth is we have chosen to be together, for better or worse, because we do love eachother at the end of the day. In regards to my spirituality, I often have doubts about the validity of my beliefs. It's very easy to forget what is meaningful and true when we have to live in the 'real' world of work and society. So again, the moon reminds me that no matter how disconnected I'm feeling, the web of life is always there, pulsing vibrantly just beneath the surface of flux and change.

When I look at the moon, I am reminded that beneath the fluctuating luminosity there is something solid and real. That despite the ever changing face there is constancy and stability to be found. This lesson is so important to me - when we take the time to find the real nuggets of truth in our lives, it makes all the extremes of emotions and experiences worthwhile. Through this lesson, we can find strength in the midst of turmoil - which is never a bad thing.

Creative Every Day 2009: Jan 19th-25th

Here's this weeks efforts, and I have to say that I have mixed feelings towards them. This week I have used pastels for the first time, watercolours, haiku (lol), and much photography!

Cleansing fire;
These grains of dross
now a string of pearls.

As stated the pastels are new to me, and I was impressed at how nonjudgemental I was towards myself when I used them - I just had fun! Sadly, I couldn't find it in me to treat myself the same way when it came to the watercolours. The one you see here is the surviving one - I ended up getting stressed and binning the other one I did the day after that, and the day after that not doing anything at all to artistically related depression, lol. I'm very happy with the photography though. My littlest brother and I went for a bike ride to our local country park, had lots of fun and fresh air, got extremely muddy, and got some nice pics in the process. The best kind of art.
I still have to remind myself to not get despondant though. It's just that after a lifetime of artyness I expect a little more from myself than the stuff I produce a lot of the time. Still, keeping my head up! Sorry I didn't post it yesterday as I said I would, downloading the images took longer than expected. I'll be more punctual this Sunday.

Take care all x

The Power of (Craft) Names

I recently came across a post on The Wild Hunt's blog - The Witch Gambit Didn’t Work (This Time). The main thing that sparked my interest was the debate that was sparked regarding the name of the woman talked about in the post. Many spoke about how her chosen craft name didn't help her credibility, with Peg Aloi summing it up well by saying that often people who have these Native-American style alter-ego names have problems being taken seriously by those both inside and outside the the pagan community. Many more have stated that craft names are losing their importance and relevance nowadays. Where in the past people used craft names to protect their identities, there is now less of a need for secrecy due to the wider spread of paganism (but, this does not mean that pagans do not get persecuted for their beliefs in present times, because they do). It seems now, within the pagan community, there is a scepticism towards the use of craft names.

Now I agree that a name like Vanilla-Clove Moonstone sounds rather silly. Names like these only serve as ammunition for ridicule by the public, regardless of the sincerity of the person whose name it is. If we are to be taken seriously by society, we have to accept that the more strange and different we make ourselves to be, the more we will continue to be marginalised. I'm not saying that we abandon any attempt at individuality, but we must realise that there is time and place for this. Some people are still just too closed to change and difference, and we won't get understanding from them by making the rift between us and them wider. I also agree that there is some less need for secrecy. But, I would like to disagree that the use of craft names is now redundant.

When you adopt a craft name during initiation, or when you commit yourself to your spiritual tradition, you are experessing a wish to start a new life and indentity. Your new name, through it's meaning and energy, helps to shape your 'spiritual personality' and also the things that are important to you on your life's journey.

One of my favourite books on pagan ethics is 'A Witch's 10 Commandments' by Marian Singer. It does a good job of trying to find underlying and unifying ethics and beliefs among the pagan community - which is in nature varied and multi-faceted, and therefore a difficult task! In this book, there is a chapter called 'Spirit Abides in all things. Names and Words have Power', where it says . . .

"If you have a word for it, you can think about it, and if you think about it you can begin to manifest it at least on a personal level."

Once you name something, it gives it form and expression in the world. The Egyptian god Ptah made all things by uttering them into creation. Sounds and mantras used in meditation summon certain energies and vibrations. To name something is to give it power. A craft name provides a boundary, a definition within which you can begin to build the characteristics you wish, as well as help build a connection between you and the deities you honour.

Effort is Offering

I had never heard this phrase until I read it on DarklyFey's blog Live from the Red Leather Couch. Her mantra 'Effort is Offering' struck a chord with me, and sums up beautifully a lesson which I think we would all benefit from.

At times, I can be the biggest procrastinator. I will wait for the 'perfect' circumstances to happen in order for me to do something. The thing that I, and we, have to realise, that there is never a 'perfect' time. One example I'll give is my altar. I've only had an altar since last Samhain, despite years of being a pagan. I resisted making one simply because, in my eyes, I didn't have the perfect, elaborate altar pieces. I thought I needed expensive ritual items, a plethora of candles and incence, and fancy statuettes. After a time of spiritual famine, I decided that I needed a physical embodiment of my path to act as a reminder of what is spiritually important to me. When this thought took form, I had to immediately act upon it before I thank it to death! So, by using whatever was available in my room at that time, I made my altar. I achieved it in ten minutes, after years of procrastination.

A spare candle, an old box, my crystals, a chinese takeaway calander tiger picture, a magpie feather, a photo of a fox I took, a starfish, a shell, a small metal pendant of an angel (which reads 'strength' on the back), some Goddess cards, and two pebbles from the beach. It's nothing special, but is a lot more personal and true to me than if I had forked out a fortune at the local New Age shop. This impromptu assemblage of items was the product of a sincere act of offering, gratitude, and hope of opening a dialogue with the God*dess. And in the end, I think the Lord and Lady would appreciate the effort more.

Now, in the process of blog-hopping, I came across an initiative called Creative Every Day 2009. This is a wonderful idea. I graduated from art college in June '08, and since then, I have not made any art. Any. And for someone like me, who has always done art, always been considered 'the arty one', and who always found comfort and inspiration in the making of art, it hurts. My institutionalised, judgemental experience has sucked the creativity right out of me. I'm afraid of making art now, because either myself or others expect too much of my abilities, fear of failure freezing me. Yet, the (re?)discovery of 'effort as offering' and this initiative has given me the nudge I need to show myself a bit of compassion, and just let me make. Not to judge, conceptualise, explain, or justify - but to make.

The effort of making my altar, and of now joining this initiative, is my offering. My altar is an offering to the Lord and Lady, to the wonder of life, my 'outer' offering. The Creative Every Day 2009 initiative is an offering to my inner God*dess, giving it voice, and feeding the divine link between myself and the web of life, my 'inner' offering. Here are my first attempts. I decorated my new sketchbook for CED'09 on Saturday, and yesterday I made my own 'creative space, where I have my art equipment, books and my own photo's displayed for inspiration. I'll be posting my efforts every Sunday from now on, to share with you all (lucky you ;P).

DarklyFey's mantra as given me the courage to realise that, like most things in life, process is more important than product. I hope, that by reiterating the mantra, that others out there will be touched by it, and realise that whatever they have, or are willing to do, is more than enough, if given in the spirit of trust.

Setting an example

The misrepresentaion of pagans has always been a problem that our community has faced. There are many posts concerning this, the most recent to my attention the post of The Wild Hunt's "Killing Spells, Underage Covens, and Bad Stereotypes" regarding a current tv programme. Witchvox is also littered with reports of bad press and misunderstandings of our beliefs and practices. My question is, how can we begin to dispell this?

Now, I know my limits, this is too big a question for me to answer adequately, especially since there are many more prominent and wise members of our community already on the case. But I'd like to look at this from a personal view, concerning a problem I have had to deal with today (although this hasn't been the first occassion by far).

I have just started at a new job in a mainstream secondary school in a SEN (special educational needs) department. Part of my job is to go around in general classes and aid the children in whatever they may be learning. Today, in class, I kneeled down and rested my elbows on a groups table to speak with them about their work. Before I could get a word in, one of them asked me if I was Jewish.

(Me) "No, I'm not Jewish."
(Child #1) "Then why do you have a Jewish star on your necklace?" (pointing at my pentagram)
(Me) "It's not a Jewish star."
(Child #1) "What is it then?"
(Child #2 to #1) "It's an evil star isn't it, stupid."
(Me) "No it is not evil at all!"
(Child #2) "Yes it is, evil people wear them."
(Me) "I think you're getting it confused with an inverted star that tv and films use to portray ritual killings etc. It's not this star. Now get on with your work!"

EVIL PEOPLE WEAR THEM. Lord and Lady help us.

Now, I have my reasons for not disclosing what my pentagram meant. Firstly, it was afterall a busy english class, and the teacher obviously wants them to work; it's hardly a place to hold a philosophical/spiritual discussion. Secondly, if I had told them, more questions would follow, and as stated, it was neither the time nor place. Thirdly, it is my second week there, and children do talk, and they would misinterpret or warp whatever I would've said, and children and staff alike could've begun to treat me very differently.

Now I could just not wear it to avoid these situations, but there is a reason I wear it anyway (other than the obvious reason!). I like to see the reactions it invokes in people. It can introduce me to a fellow pagan due to recognition. It can show me the kind of intolerant people I want to avoid having friendships with due to negative reactions. But most importantly to me, it's because I want to set a good example for us. I'm not perfect (just ask anyone who knows me!). But a lot of people out there have only experienced pagans through the eyes of the media, or from the mouths of their often misinformed friends. The stereotype is of someone who thinks they wield awesome power through casting spells (preferably naked), hexing all and sundry. Or of a tree-hugging, idealistic hippy convinced of the existence of fairies and pixie dust, living in our own deluded fantasy worlds. Now, elements of the above may be true for a minority, but I have to say the pagans I have met, of whom I feel are the most genuine, have been incredibly, well, normal. That goes for myself too. We live ordinary lives, and have the same concerns, worries and joys as others. Most people who meet me are shocked by my normality, and I like to consider this a good thing. It shows that we aren't some kind of cult, and that actually, they probably have met quite a few people who they didn't know were pagans. It makes them, even if only a little, more open to us.

Now interestingly, at lunchtime I sat down with the lunchtime supervisors. Suddenly the woman said aloud in reference to me "Now there's a woman after my own heart!", nodding to my necklace. We got talking, and she said how all the children knew she was a White Witch. We didn't have a lot of time to speak properly unfortunately, but I wonder about how they and the other staff feel about her.

Right now I'm wondering if any of you out there think little of me for not explaining to the children about my pentagram. Some could see it as denying or damaging my relationship and commitment to the God*dess. But let me tell you this - I will always try to act in a manner befitting the the love, compassion and integrity of the Lord and Lady. And when the day comes when I do explain the truth to the children, I will hope that I have shown them by example what it means to follow the path of the God*dess.

The passing of Yule - and a new promise

Although we pagans celebrate the new year on Samhain, for me it never really feels like a new year until Yule. One obvious main reason for this is because of cultural upbringing - in the west, we celebrate New Year's Eve on December 31st. But there is another reason too. Samhain is a festival regarding death and the otherworld. All life is born in death, as all death is born in life. This is a time for deep introspection and focus upon the inner worlds. Yule, on the other hand, is concerned with rebirth, that potent moment on the brink of both death and life which is embodied by the return of the Sun in the dark of winter. The promise of new life, a new year.

At Yule, we look at the past year, it's good and bad times, be thankful for what we have, and think about the things we would like to achieve in the coming year. Like the rebirth of the God-child, small inklings of hope and aspiration are planted in us, so they can grow with the light of the Sun. 2008 has been a very eventful year for me personally. The beginning of the year had all it's stresses about graduating, worries about finding work after university and how to make a living. The middle of the year had all it's (not too) industriousness of looking for work and thinking about the future. The end of the year concluded with having had a wonderful job in a special needs college, where I learnt a lot about myself and the work I wanted to do. This new year opens with me starting a new job, in a secondary school as a teaching assistant, and I am very happy. Looking over 2008, it seems as if I have been blessed. Things had been hard for a very long time, and all of a sudden I was right where I wanted to be, with seemingly little effort on my behalf.

To coin a term used by a friend, I feel that there have been many 'Godincidences' in the past year. This is defined as coincidences that seem to have been laid out for me, where a higher (or inner) power is at work. In terms of finding work, it seems as if the door had been opened for me already - I simply had to walk through it. In this way, I know the Lord and Lady are watching over me, giving me the tools I need to forge the life I want, nudging me in the right direction.

Now, the situation demands, what do I make of it? I could sit here and gloat over my new-found life and achievements, feel smug in the fact I've got where I am. Or, just maybe, I can pass the gift on. Because it is a gift. I found a job that opened up new possibilities for me, taught me more about myself in the three months I did it than the whole three years at university, and gave me the confidence and expertise to start a new job (which so far has been great, and I have many high hopes). The spirit of the gift should be passed on.

What will be my gift back to the Lord and Lady?

I have decided to raise money for the charity War Child by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Dec '09. I *hope* to raise £5000. A mighty task, but I feel appropriate for the gifts I have received. As said, I have new found confidence and skills, and this is the ultimate challenge for them. Putting the tools the Lord and Lady have given me to work. (If you want to support me, check out the links on the side menu - I have a website for this challenge.) I hope to look back on this challenge next Yule, and be able to say thanks and be proud of my achievements, knowing the circle of giving has continued on again. Now I'm not saying that you have to some amazing grand gesture. The Lord and Lady accept all gifts given in love and trust.

Gift giving is an important part of Yule. It's a time when you recognise the gifts you have been given (literally and metaphorically), and have the opportunity to return the favour in the spirit of celebration. It's the turning of the wheel, a reciprocation, and a chance to begin again.

What have you got to be thankful for? What will your gift be?


Welcome to my new blog.

I suppose I should tell you a little about what will be written here. Most posts will be related to paganism and other earth spirituality related areas. Paganism is an intrinsic part of my life, and while I most certainly am a pagan, I like to question and explore my beliefs and spiritual ethics. I am open-minded to all religions and philosophies, and I am fascinated by the practices of all people in regards to finding meaning and luminousity in their lives. There will also be smatterings of book reviews here and there.

I am no expert (on anything!), so all things written here will just be my own observations or musings. I hope you enjoy this blog, and look forward to any future comments you may post.

Haley x

About Me

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United Kingdom
I am a pagan, special needs teaching assistant, BA Hons Drawing graduate, artist, amateur tarot reader, half-welsh, big sister, eldest daughter, lover, volunteer, bookworm, intense dreamer, nature and animal lover, over-protective friend, ex-barmaid, fledgling activist and general eccentric. Nice to meet you =D.

Please sponsor me in raising money for War Child!


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