Friday, January 27, 2012

Pagan Blog Project - Bleeding is Sacred

There are a lot of people, men and women, who feel very uncomfortable with blood. Seeing blood, smelling blood and talking about blood - and as soon as menstrual blood is mentioned it’s all over! We have been hushed about this beautiful and powerful aspect of womanhood. Our conversations are whispered or our questions go unanswered.

Now I am obviously going to talk about menstruation during this post so if you’re squeamish I’ve just given you fair warning :)

When I first began my menarche (first blood) I was told by my mother that this is the ‘curse’ of women. That every month I was going to bleed and that I absolutely had to keep it a secret because it was unclean and inconvenient. Feminine products were hidden and secreted away when groceries were brought inside lest the men see (gasp!) I basically got the idea that while bleeding was normal it certainty wasn’t to be desired, let alone be seen as a beautiful, creative, natural and powerful aspect of womanhood.

I am 27 now. I have carried and birthed three beautiful children, all boys, who each helped teach me the mysteries of my own feminine body. There is nothing like conceiving and nurturing a child in your womb to turn your thoughts to the power of your own creative force. This is not only mentioning the obvious physical forces but also the inner forces - our emotions. Emotions hold great power, anyone who has ever felt the protective force of parenthood or cast a spell while their emotions were running high can understand how powerful an aid they can be for a Witch. Our emotions are governed by the ebb and flow of our hormones, which are linked to our menstrual cycles, our physical ebb (bleeding) and flow (ovulation). This is only so for women. Men hold themselves stable after reaching maturity. Even in advanced age a man can sow his seed (so to say). Our creativity, our sacredness lies in our changes.

Life force is held in our blood, it is essential to support our bodies. Our blood supports us and has the ability to support and nurture all of humankind. We are all here due to the sacred birthing endured by a woman. The first mysteries of womanhood were centred around our cycle - Birth, Life and Death. Pre-Menstrual, Menstrual and Menopausal - and now as a Pagan woman I see in myself the metaphor of Maiden, Mother and Crone. These sacred cycles are universal experiences for us, we can relate to them.

Today our cycles are different to that of the ancient women, for many reasons - medical, our expanding locations and distance from other women. These situations have had a negative impact but they don’t have to spell the end to our mysteries. We can do what humans have always done throughout history. We can adapt. In the western world it is only our biological processes that are acknowledged with our spiritual selves an almost completely foreign language. This creates fractures in who we are as women. If we dismiss all but the physical knowledge then we shall never understand what it means to be women. We will lose our sacred connections to the Earth and when that leaves us we will be barren - a body with no soul.

How many of us take modern medicines to ‘deal’ with our menstruation? How many of us regulate our cycle or prevent pregnancy by taking the pill? (I do) When it comes to timing our menstruation how many of us have tried to alter our bleeding? Only a fraction of women bleed on a 28 day regular cycle. I am fairly certain that many who will read this post don’t have a precise cycle. While the pill is a modern marvel and has given women the freedom to enjoy sex without the consequence of an undesired conception, I don’t feel that we have to necessarily lose everything we naturally are. We have cycles of our physical senses and hormonal fluctuations. These are all natural and normal! These occur even while on medications. I have no issues with taking medications, for some women they have been very beneficial. My only concern is that we may lean to far in that direction and forget what we are. Some of us use medicines to ‘relieve our symptoms’. Pain, bloating and PMS - also known as the ‘bitch’ stage - (a term I find very degrading) Have we taken the time before hand to notice our bodies? Have we stopped to appreciate the way our bodies ready themselves for the next bleeding? Do we understand the reasons for these changes? Before our bleeding time all of our physical senses become heightened - touch, hearing, taste, smell. If we are experiencing this heightened awareness (or unawareness) and have not the time or understanding to process what we are feeling then yes we will become irritable - it’s a natural reaction to our flowing hormones and overload of our senses.

We bleed, sometimes in rhythm with the Moon, sometimes not so. We need to find that balance between medicines and within ourselves and not try to push our bodies to conform so much. Our bleeding is primordial and is our intense connection to nature. Our communion with the Moon is intensified as it pulls upon our bodies as it pulls upon the oceans. Our womb is an ocean of blood so it is not unusual for us to feel the pull of the Moon’s energies upon us physically, psychically and emotionally. Ultimately we belong to nature. If we remove our nature we are doing ourselves great harm.

It’s not only our physical senses that ebb and flow, but our psychic abilities are as well - we are a lot more than just our physical self. This sacred monthly cycle can heal, it has the ability to inspire. With our flow we hold potential within us. This experience belongs to us women. Our bleeding is our creation. I wonder how many of us lose ourselves in this sacredness. How many of us take time to explore ourselves during our menstruation. How many know what they are truly capable during this time? In the sacrificing of our blood we can be honoured with an increase of psychic ability. During these days we are able to enter easily into altered states of consciousness, have the gift of foresight, the ability to discern between illusion and truth, prophetic dreams and increased intuitive sensitivity.

Use your Moon-time to express yourself and revel in your femininity! Perform a spontaneous Moon-time rite centred around your bleeding! Take a ritual bath! Create art (yes you can use your menstrual blood if you so wish), make love, make offerings to Goddess, yourself and all that is feminine by pouring your blood upon the earth, meditate and journal. Record how you feel during certain points of your cycle - note when your intuition peaks and use this time to your advantage! Dance naked to enchanting music. Don’t worry if you think you cannot dance. Use music that evokes great emotion within you and allow it entrance you, to carry you away. The most important thing is to take time for yourself. Even 10 minutes!

Menstruation is a perfect time for rites of healing. The releasing of our blood can be a very healing experience, strip your wounds bare and use this time to rid yourself of any negative thoughts and feelings about your body and your bleeding. When we bare ourselves we are presented with an opportunity to truly heal. I experienced an extremely distressing and physically traumatic first birth that was healed by re-connecting with my body during menstrual times. The subsequent births of my younger two were extraordinary because I had taken time and learnt to trust my body, it’s rhythm and its powerful process of Birth.

When I speak of our power as menstruating women, I speak of the inner self. Power that lies within - the desire to understand ourselves and to experience the entire spectrum of womanhood. We are a symbol of life and death. I dislike the terms of light and dark. I feel that they do a deep injustice. The emotions of anger need not be consumed in darkness as the emotions of love should not be held solely in the light. All of our experiences and interactions in this world, righteous or not, are the sum of our power. Our mysteries are entangled in the web of life- as are we. These are the Divine powers of a woman.

Creating a personal connection with our soul and body - these are the Mysteries. There is no hidden knowledge scrawled in ancient tomes. The knowledge is held in the experience. The discovery of oneself and the truth that -

We ARE Sacred, We are Divine and so is our Blood.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pagan Blog Project - B is for Belief

I thought I would write a post for this week of the letter B on belief since they can be the cornerstone of spirituality. I have always thought that it is to my advantage that I have allowed my spiritual beliefs to remain fluid. I view the progression of my beliefs to be a beautiful journey, one I definitely have not finished. I have considered myself for the last 7 − 8 years to be a Panenthiest - a belief a cosmic energy exists and interpenetrates every part of nature and timelessly extends beyond it. This may change and it may not. My panenthiestic belief has the opportunity to extend towards atheism or Deism depending on my future spiritual choices.

There are reasons - valid reasons as to why I naturally lean towards atheism. I have a tendency to believe science trumps religion. Yes I am one of those ‘people’ in the science vs religion debate. But I am also a spiritual seeker. I love being able to look up at the sky and understand the information we have learnt of our tiny local and know that ultimately I have no understanding of exactly what I am viewing at the same time. That experience enhances all of the intricacies of the Universe. There is no separation between us, Earth and the Universe. We are all composed of the very same Universal elements. Spirituality comes as easily to me as my thirst for scientific knowledge.

My head tells me that while it is in the realm of possibility that creator Deity exists, it is also very probable that it does not. That we are a cosmic ‘accident’ and products of evolution. That there is no reason for our existence. That any Deity perceived is of our own creation.

My experiences tell me differently though. I certainly was not looking for Deity and when they did present themselves, I ignored them. Yes I straight up ignored them in the same way I do when I’ve had a weird dream. I stood up, shook my head and completely forgot about it. That didn’t stop them from continuing to contact me though. I was quite happy on my journey thus far. I still felt an absence of something I couldn’t place my finger on, but I was happy.

There are a lot of things I believe in such as energetic healing, reincarnation, soul ascension, cosmic energy, auras, but a belief in Deity is far more complex. This is something that is outside of myself, that operates autonomously. It is outside the scope of my knowledge yet in the realm of my experience. Once I accepted those experiences (and it took a long time, years in fact) my life began to change, and quickly.

So now I am at a place where I am trying to form my beliefs with an inclusion of Deity - a concept that I still have much difficulty wrapping my head around. Some days more than others. And I’m not going to lie. It hasn’t been an easy process for me and has led to inner turmoil and self-doubt. Why are they? Where are they? What the? But it has also given me a gift - the reason and meaning behind faith.

I wasn’t raised in religion. My parents remain without spirituality in their lives. I also was not raised in knowledge of science. I was left to explore and study under my own devices. The only other spiritual person in my family was my Grandmother. Having immigrated from Japan after World War 2 she kept her religion close. I spent the majority of my childhood with her and observing what it is to truly live your spirituality. My Nana didn’t deal in pompous rituals or nor did she speak frequently of her religion. Instead I witnessed her devotion and prayers in the light of the rising Sun every morning. Whispered so that only she and Deity would hear. It was a personal communion, sacred and beautiful. I saw her tending to her garden daily, a manifestation of devotion and energetic communion with the earth. She was an animist, as are many Japanese of Shinto belief. Deity, herself and the Earth were one in the same to her. She knew how to make that garden thrive using learnt knowledge and Divine guidance. I was never able to tell her how much she influenced the person I have come to be but I can take what she unintentionally taught me. Belief is personal and precious. Spiritual belief is something to be lived and not preached. Trust yourself and have blessed faith and you will be fine no matter what.

My beliefs are fluid and change because I change. I have evolved throughout the years and so have my beliefs. If they didn’t I would be very worried for myself. There is nothing wrong with being confused, I often find myself confused. My mind will wonder outward and I find myself thinking about the entire scope of human belief and our place in the Universe. In these times I just need to remind myself that I am so small and the Universe is so large, there is no way that I am going to be able to understand every aspect of it, and I’m not supposed to. It’s okay to feel one way one day and the opposite the next. Soon enough thoughts will merge and a new belief will be formed and later on new thoughts will eventually shift it around a little. Belief doesn’t have to be stagnant. I think too many worry that others will think of them as having no substance, I know, I’ve been there. But if beliefs don’t flow, if they don’t change then it means that I am not growing. Staying still scares me more than the conflict I am experiencing now.
In the end our beliefs are as important as we want them to be. I’m not finished becoming whoever it is that I am turning out to be.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pagan Blog Project - A is for Australia

We have a different experience of Paganism here Down Under. Not only are our natural flora and fauna noticeably different from the rest of the world but our seasons for the most part do not fit within the traditional European Pagan Wheel of the Year, though we do recognise these four seasons in the Southern Hemisphere as they were brought along with the Europeans who colonised Australia. Here they 'begin' (according to our calendars) on the first day of the month:

Summer - December - February.
Autumn - March - May.
Winter - June - August.
Spring - September - November.

Even within these stated seasons our experience of the weather patterns can be vastly different. During the Summer months the southern states of Australia experience intense heat and high levels of humidity. The Sun is bright, beaches and parks are full of people reveling in Summer delights. Fire danger levels can rapidly rise into the gauge of catastrophic while the northern states experience torrential rains and are under threat from cyclones, all the while blasting their air conditioners against the heavy humidity they are experiencing. Winter in Australia can go from the snow capped peaks of southern New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, to the dry, calm season of the tropics. All of this while Central Australia is in a seemingly perpetual drought.

Many native Aboriginal people had their own seasonal calendars. In the Northern Territory the Jawoyn people recognised six seasons. There is a small pocket of Australia in the region of southern Queensland, Eastern New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, and Victoria where the seasons do stay within the European paradigm.

The majority of Australians are descendants of immigrants (as I am) or have immigrated here themselves. I don't know how other Australian Pagans feel about their placement in this country but I sometimes feel as though I am stepping where I ought not be and at other times I feel such a connection to this land that is as strong as a mothers love for her child. I don't know if this comes from knowing that in the history of our world that we are still very new people to this land and she is not yet accustomed to us upon her. The Aboriginal people have walked upon her for 40,000 years and our footprints are still barely visible.

I've been trying to transform my spirituality to have a strong basis in the land that I live and that I love. This is the main aspect that drew me to my previous path of Gaianism, which I still base my beliefs upon. But I still also look to my ancestry for guidance as well. My relationship with Cernunnos has morphed unconventionally into my offerings to him being of gumnuts, eucalyptus leaves, and organic bush honey.To me this seems like a perfectly natural direction, though others may disagree. Regardless he seems to enjoy them. If I leave offerings outside for any reason I make sure that they are left under a native tree. I have beloved wand of eucalyptus that I crafted myself. The energy of using tools crafted from native materials has greatly enhanced the rituals I have performed when I commune with the Earth. While I believe that all the continents of the Earth, the Seas and the Sky are intrinsically connected there is something special about creating a connection with the red land beneath my feet.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I've decided to join the Pagan Blog Project to help me into a routine
of regular blogging.

Each Friday for the next year I will be blogging on a different Pagan topic.

Pagan Blog Project ~ A is for Altar

I think it is no secret that I adore my altar space. It is still my sacred little corner and the one place I make sure is tended to daily.

Alongside a shift in my path there have been changes to my altar. Some new additions and some items have been removed.

My previous altars were mainly constructed for Gaia/Gaianism and my interest in the Scared Feminine. Now I find I'm decorating to represent myself, my interactions, beliefs and spiritual relationships, more so than any specific path.

I consider myself at this moment to be path free. My altars are reflecting all the internal changes I have been going through the last year. One huge difference is my growing relationships with Deity, or Deities to be exact.

This is my current set up of my main altar. I have statues now for both Danu and Cernunnos. I couldn't part with my smaller statues so they are on there until I can find a safe place for them to go. I still intend to use them in smaller altar set ups for rituals and meditations.

My new wand was a surprise Christmas gift from
my husband. To say it's absolutely beautiful would
be an understatement! The handle is a Blesbok horn I believe and it fits surprisingly well in my small hands.

I still use egg cups to hold my elemental representations. Once I've found something I like I usually don't change it, that is why my altar set ups usually look very similar to one another. I have an incense burner and oil burner (holding a soy wax melt I made) on either side of a really pretty ceramic flower candle holder. The amethyst point represents my spiritual self.

In between the egg cups is a new 'All' candle representing a great cosmic energy that pervades all of the Universe. The silver bowl to the right contains a spell at the moment and the one on the right is my cleansing bowl.

The tiny LEGO helmet is courtesy of my three year old lol.

This is my Hecate altar. I have an iron key and skull in front of her
picture.There is also a bottle of perfume there as well that I like to wear
when I commune with her. It's quite small but Danu and Hecate
prefer to be kept separate from one another.

Hecate is quite new in my life and her appearance was completely 100% unexpected. By the time of her arrival during one of my meditations I had become no more comfortable with my conflicting thoughts about the presence of Deities around me. In comes Hecate who quietly stated that my trouble with Deity is entirely my problem to deal with and that she's not going anywhere whether I believe in her or not. Her altar is the one I tend to the most.