Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Bubble Barrier Stigma

It’s amazing to think how important context is and how easily and often we disregard it.

As an example, any person who has truly felt overwhelmed knows how all encompassing it can be. In that raw state, reason often abandons us. We can’t concentrate on the thing in front of our nose, never mind focus enough to find ourselves an exit. It is a true feeling of helplessness, with no solutions in sight. In this vulnerable state, what a person needs most is a tool to help them get their feet back under them. One of the simplest ways to do this is to picture yourself in a bubble. Being inside a bubble creates a distance between you and whatever is overwhelming you. It allows you time to catch your breath, or for a moment remove yourself from the situation. Visualizing yourself inside a bubble is a very popular New Age technique to deal with stress, and therein lies the rub.

What was old becomes new again, and many New Age tricks and techniques are variations on spiritual or religious trappings. It’s perfectly normal for these practices to continuously change – or evolve, if you’re a “glass is half full” type – to suit the needs of the people of the time. Look at meditation, which has been practices for thousands of years by the wisest and most profound thinkers of all time…and which you can now learn at a local community centre for $5 a session. For many people, that simple half hour of quiet contemplation can change their entire outlook on life.

One challenge in the resurgence of Earth-based spirituality is how we are perceived by people outside our own circles. To be fair, not all of their criticisms are unfounded. Taken out of context, a lot of what we do would seem foolish. I think the same is true if you think of the ceremonies of any main stream religion. In our case, I think part of the blame lies in the commercialization of our spirituality – from false self proclaimed gurus to energy bending witches in television and movies. There is also a naive over-sharing enthusiasm in our community, as the exposure to our religion exceeds it’s maturity. These things don’t invalidate our choices, but the spotlight we are sometimes hit with can take them out of context. It can make others doubt us, and more dangerously it can make us doubt ourselves.

I have an old pagan friend, that in fact is among the first group of pagans I ever met. We haven’t celebrated much together lately, but we still sometimes talk about that first study group we belonged to. My friend often brings up that he misses the secrecy and privacy that used to surround Paganism. It’s great that a person in need can readily find a book that tells them to envision themselves inside a bubble to protect themselves, or encourages them to look for a local meditation class. What maybe is missing is a firm suggestion to keep these things to yourself. We all have vulnerable moments, and we are choosing our own spiritual tools to help us get through them…but perhaps we should save a piece of the strength we gain from them to keep our private lives private, so it can’t be taken from us when we need it again.

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Mike C

Mike C. is a geeky Pagan, living a quieter life with his loving wife in Riverview, NB

 

 

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Breathing In

While I sit at my computer, I gaze at the scene outside. Beautiful evergreens with a covering of snow stand tall upon a blanket of white. It all appears so fresh, so new. Stepping out of the old year and into the new can be overwhelming. Soon I’ll be another year older, inching my mortality away while breathing it all in deeply.

It is a beautiful sunshine filled day. The wind is cold; we have a fire burning in our woodstove. In the coming weeks my days will be filled with appointments, drum lessons, karate, ringette, and hockey. There will be tournaments, birthdays, homework, and tests. A crush of life. As anxiety filled as it can be, I look forward to it. The sound of my children’s laughter as it floats through the house, the smell of something delicious baking in the oven, bubbling over on the stove as I left it to let the dogs out. THIS to me is life.

Distractions have been aplenty for me in the past year. My life always seems to be a mix of chaos and order, and all shades of the rainbow. As a mother, this time of year has always been a mixed bag for me. My children return to school after the holiday break, I have to return to work, bills need to be paid. It can be a depressing time. But it doesn’t have to be this way. It can be every bit as beautiful and wondrous as any other day in any other season.

Breathing in deep and inhaling all the abundance is refreshing. Sometimes life can be daunting. The challenges life brings and drama that accompanies it can be draining. As a parent, taking a step back and looking at the entire picture as opposed to the moment at hand can not only help, but bring things back into view. One of the most important things delving into Paganism has taught me – breathe deep, meditate. For a busy, stressed out parent (especially this time of year), these are two of the most important lessons. Breath deep – literally expand your lungs, bringing in more life giving oxygen, gather in the life around you. Clear your mind, your heart, and your body. Only then move on to the next challenge.

My challenge this season is to continue to remember to breathe deep, taking in all the nuances around me and not allow myself to be overwhelmed. My challenge is to remember that nothing will cause the end of the world. As my gaze floats back to the trees and wind outside, my mind fills with the possibilities of what will be and can be. I breathe it in. Do you?

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Reverse Tattoo

Crowwitch is a spectacular balance of chaos and order. This energetic hockey, soccer, ringette, karate, mom works hard to keep up with her two brilliantly funny children, and enjoy some quiet time with her devoted partner in the evenings. She also maintains a personal website called Crowwitch.

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My Life, Unplugged

From mid 2005 to 2008 I lived in a half built house in the woods with no electricity, no running water and no plumbing. Learning to live unplugged is an experience I think everyone should have at least once, and preferably for a couple of full cycles of the seasons.

I felt vividly alive swinging my feet from the tailgate of a pickup truck parked in the back field. I learned things with a hot coffee warming my fingers and coyote songs raising the hair on the back of my neck that they don’t teach in books.

Modern life is built around electricity. We use it to cook and clean, to charge our gadgets, to run our wifi, computers, televisions and cordless phones. We rely on electricity for entertainment, convenience and comfort. People lose count of the number of appliances that are plugged in and standing by at any given moment. Nobody notices the humming of the refrigerator. We take these luxuries for granted, and then we complain that we feel disconnected from the natural world.

When there is no fridge to keep your perishables from perishing and a hand pump is required to get water from the well, you invent all kinds of new ways to manage day to day necessities. Tasks like cooking, bathing, laundry, food handling and dish washing are no longer simple affairs. There is no time to sit around. This lifestyle requires work, and when the work is done it requires maintenance.

Life doesn’t happen the same way when you live in a shack in the woods without modern conveniences. There is no hot water tank in a house without electricity. There is a wood stove in the winter, the sun or a cook fire in the summer. Tooth brushing is not as simple as turning a tap. Making coffee involves pumping water out of the well, heating it by whichever means is available and drinking it or pouring it into a thermos to keep warm. Breakfast doesn’t come from a toaster. It comes from a chicken, or a garden, or a handful of oatmeal on the wood stove.

The food you eat is less processed when you don’t have a microwave or a freezer. Learning to shop for foods that store well and can be prepared in a variety of ways becomes very important. Growing and raising as much of your food as possible makes sense.

Contrary to popular belief, it is easier to live without electricity in the winter, when cold storage is found on the back step or in a snow bank and the wood stove that warms your house is always available to heat food or water.

Something happens. It’s not all heavy lifting and hard work. You get in touch with the seasons. You become more aware of sunrise and sunset – and if you are like me, you take twenty minutes in the morning and at night to watch them happen. You begin to pay attention to the temperatures, not the weather network. You actually notice the signs of a big frost in the days leading up to it, rather than being told. Extending the growing season becomes a matter of survival and common sense, instead of idealistic puttering and relaxation.

It makes sense to go to sleep a little while after the sun goes down. The light is gone. The day has been exhausting and rewarding. It’s time to climb into bed and rest. When you wake up the sky will be starting to turn a dark sapphire blue. It’s a colour that only happens right before the sun begins to rise. It’s the signal that a new day is fast approaching and there is work to be done.

I live in a different house now. It’s a modern house, on the grid. I enjoy my luxuries as much as the next girl and I understand the impact they have on my life. I still do a lot of the things I did when I didn’t have electricity. I enjoy a lot of the same hobbies and I still grow a lot of my food. Spending time outside and watching the weather and temperatures are high priorities for me.

Since living in the woods I pay more attention to what is plugged in and why. I understand how noisy a house is when you have electricity and appliances plugged in and what a quiet house sounds like.  Every once in a while when the power goes out and the incessant white noise stops I close my eyes and hear coyotes.

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kp

Katie P is writer, reader, drummer and certifiable nature nut. She lives rural New Brunswick, where she spends far too much time frolicking in the bulrushes. She also blogs at Wyldwomyn.ca

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Take a Dose of Nature and Call Me in the Morning

As a new mother and Pagan, I often find myself worrying about how my actions and inactions will affect my child’s future. Like many parents do, Doug and I often talk for hours about how we want to raise our son, and what we consider the most important lessons for him to learn from us. We are both firm believers in the concept of Wyrd (well, Wyrd as we understand it) – all things are interconnected, and our individual threads weave together to shape our fates and the fates of everyone and everything around us. With this knowledge in mind, I am keenly aware that I want to set a good example for our son and the best way to teach him strong, noble values and how to be a good human being is to embody those values and be a good person myself.

One thing that Doug and I are very concerned about is our family’s connection with nature. Doug, a long-time member of the Scouting movement, loves the outdoors and is nowhere happier than in the woods. I am a fierce lover of wildlife and I am endlessly fascinated by the biology and chemistry of living things. Nothing brings me such peace as I feel in the forest or on the beach, surrounded by trees or waves and hidden creatures. Nature is an important part of our spirituality – for us, it is the basis of our spiritual beliefs. And yet, despite considering ourselves nature-loving pagans, we are as guilty of crimes against nature as much of humanity. We drive a gas-guzzling minivan, we don’t recycle enough, we spend more time surrounded by technology than surrounded by nature, we aren’t active enough in environmental conservationist efforts, we don’t always buy local and support good farming practices….the list goes on. Every now and then we are reminded that we must become part of the solution, not the problem, and nothing has driven this point home to us more than becoming parents.

I’m not just a new mom and Pagan – I’m also a registered nurse. At work, I see suffering, sickness, despair and death on a daily basis. I also see extraordinary love, strength, kindness and compassion. The hospital where I work has a healing garden – a beautiful outdoor space accessible to patients and their families which serves as a place for them to “recharge” and, well, heal. I see it in patient’s faces when they come back from a trip to the healing garden – they have just a little more hope, a bit more strength, a happier glint in their eyes. It makes me wonder how much healthier we all would be if our doctors prescribed more nature in our lives. Take a dose of Nature and call me in the morning.

We’ve decided that, to start incorporating more nature in our lives and impart a love of it to our son, we are going to take one dose of Nature per day. Ideally, we would get outside every day and appreciate the land firsthand. We could take a hike, sit on our back porch and watch the clouds, feed the birds, plant a garden, visit the zoo, or clean up a park or roadside. At times when being outside might not be possible or desirable (I can hardly be expected to take my 3 1/2 month old outdoors in a blizzard), we will try to incorporate nature into our daily routine in other ways: watch a documentary, read about nature, buy local produce or meat, recycle, donate to nature conserving organizations, or talk/write about it. I will be documenting our progress in a special family journal, describing our daily doses of Nature as well as how this challenge is affecting our family. I welcome any of you who choose to join us in this challenge.

How do you incorporate nature into your lives as followers of earth-based spiritualities? How do you teach love and understanding of nature to your children? Share some ideas with us about ways to get our daily dose of Nature.

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Natasha D

Natasha is a busy new mom, nurse and down-to-earth Pagan living in Dieppe, NB with her family. She also blogs at Planting Seeds.

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A New Beginning

I have never been one for resolutions.

I usually choose a theme word to sum up my coming year. Some years the word has been health, adventure, creativity or independence. The word is generally accompanied by a vague idea of how I will accomplish this intent. Perhaps I will eat more vegetables, take more trips, or decorate my space with more colours and textures. The path is never clear, but I choose my theme each year and put my best foot forward.

Today a brand new year calendar year is beginning.

By some accounts it is the year that was not meant to happen. By others, it is the dawning of a new age for humankind. The only thing that experts seem to agree on is that this year will bring a shift in consciousness. The great minds of our time predict all kinds of things for this next phase in our existence – and all roads lead to massive change and renewal.

We see this theme constantly in earth based spirituality, and it’s only right. A belief system that is based on cycles that revolve around constant renewal should naturally pattern itself similarly. There is a plethora of new beginnings in paganism. We see this in the turning of the wheel, the phases of the moon, the seasons and the path of the sun and moon across the sky.

If our spirituality has taught us anything, it has told us to be patient. We have witnessed periods of change, great and small. We know that these things take time. We celebrate these changes and have learned to treat each ending as a new beginning.

With the recent publicity surrounding the end of the Mayan calendar there has been a lot of hype, mass hysteria even. For months we have been told that something is coming. Predictions ranged from natural disasters to global mass destruction in the form of an apocalypse.

I remember the year 2000 – yet another date associated, at least in some minds, with disaster and monumental change. It was preceded by weeks of media coverage and dire predictions about global catastrophe. The computers will all crash, they told us, there will be chaos and the world will be plunged into darkness.

Now here we stand, on the very edge of 2013.

There was no great explosion. We are all still here, and life has continued. This seems to be the most constant part of our faith. Life does go on, no matter what happens. The sun will rise, whether we are here to appreciate it or not, and it will make its way across the sky.

I propose that this year, our theme is a new beginning.

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kp

Katie P is writer, reader, drummer and certifiable nature nut. She lives rural New Brunswick, where she spends far too much time frolicking in the bulrushes. She also blogs at http://wyldwomyn.ca

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