One question that seems to come up over and over again is, “How young is too young to teach my child my beliefs?”
My answer is always that there is no “too young.”
First, no one in any other religion asks this question. They may not teach everything; there may be mysteries reserved for adults or for specific rites of passage. But no other group of people avoids telling their children about religion starting from a very early age.
Keep in mind, this is not school we’re talking about here. This is telling stories, talking to the moon, hugging trees, playing with energy. It’s lighting candles and saying prayers. It’s absorbing all the things you’re already doing.
And lest you worry about “indoctrinating” them…it’s likely that your faith does not believe your deity is the one and only way to a happy life after death. Pagan faiths are generally pretty open about there being other gods and other ways of belief – and if your child finds one of those other options more fitting as they grow up, there’s nothing stopping them from following that path.
Hey, do you have a question about being a Pagan Parent that you’d like some input on? I’ve got answers – 20 years as a Pagan, and almost a decade as a parent. Post your question in a comment below and I’ll answer it on a future post!
Ah, festival season. A time of making new friends, spending time with old friends, and hitting a few workshops for entertainment, enlightenment, and education on the side.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that my body is not always happy with the old standby of no sleep, with extra caffeine and sugar on the side during these sorts of events – eating well and sleeping have become important factors in getting the most out of events.
The trouble with this, of course, is that “eating well” in the hospitality suite of most indoor events is not likely to happen, and most outdoor events don’t even have a hospitality suite. And if you’re in a hotel, the hotel restaurant is always an option….but that gets expensive. So do food vendors at outdoor events.
So, what’s a Pagan who is looking to eat real food to do?
First, you have to plan ahead. Will your residence for the next few days have a refrigerator? Microwave? Electricity? How many meals will you need? (Does that include meals on the road, which are more likely to be fast food because you’re traveling?) How much space is in your luggage?
Let’s start with breakfast. We’ve successfully taken frozen breakfast sandwiches in a cooler, and let them thaw over the course of a couple of days, which is great if you have a microwave. For those times without a microwave, I usually stick with muffins or oatmeal – coffee pots can make water hot enough for instant oats, and campfires boil water pretty quickly as well. On more ambitious outdoor weeks, we often do eggs and biscuits (using a “Bakepacker” or similar steam cooking device).
Much of my daily lunch and dinner suggestions for these sorts of things are based on dried foods and lightweight backpacking experiences, because the last thing you want to do is spend hours cooking when you could be having fun. Besides, not only do dried foods store well and cook quickly with just boiling water, but they’re a good thing to have on hand in emergencies where you can’t get to the store.
While there are commercially available freeze dried meals, and the ubiquitous military surplus MRE, you’ll likely eat better making your own meals – and at a better cost too. Interestingly, the Mormons and their penchant for keeping a year’s worth of food on hand are a great source for this sort of thing, including portioning them out into canning jars for use over the next few months. Backpacking websites are good for this sort of thing too, usually planning single-serve meals (which is not a bad thing – have a whole box of them, and let people grab their own, on their own time!)
We have a list at home, from the days when my children were often in the hospital. When someone would ask what they could do, we’d send them grocery shopping for a specific list of sandwich fixings and healthy (portable) snacks – and we’d eat that way for days in the hospital. If you’re careful not to squish your bread, you can do this for festivals too. Pick 1-2 condiments, 1-2 lunch meats, 1-2 cheeses, and bread. Apples, oranges, and grapes don’t need a lot of handling. Pre-washed salads, single serve snacks, and cans or bottles of beverages may need a fridge or cooler, but don’t require fancy prep work.
And, as always, remember to consider bringing plates, silverware, and glasses that you’re going to wash, rather than disposables, because it’s generally better for the environment!
Have you heard the dust-up at Patheos, over whether or not writers should write for (and be paid a bit by) the evangelical company that now owns Patheos?
Or what about last year’s mass closing of Etsy shops that deal in the metaphysical, because you can’t prove any of it works?
Have you ever read about someone being turned away from a food pantry because they belong to the wrong church, or being told they can only be served by a soup kitchen if they listen to a sermon by the church running it?
If you haven’t realized it by now, all of these things go hand in hand. When we are dependent on the wider community, we end up playing by their rules.
If we were better at supporting our own community resources, we wouldn’t be so bound by the rules of others.
In business, while there are benefits to using a site like Etsy or Amazon and the traffic they drive….those customers are their customers, not ours. They have the power in the relationship, and we sell our goods at their pleasure. When someone realizes that we’re not really their cup of tea, or when an anti-Pagan group gets the ear of someone in management, we can lose all the following we’ve built, with no recourse and no warning.
The same holds true for writing. Why are Pagan books hard to find in mainstream book stores? Because the community that finds our existence distasteful is a bigger part of their income, and keeping our books off their shelves is better for business. Better to publish ourselves, or through Pagan owned publishers, and to sell through our own sites, or through Pagan stores and websites, who will actually carry a wider range of Pagan options.
And, by the way, when we’re buying from those places, we’re supporting our own community. While I am not a fan of the “poor Pagan” stereotype….even poor communities (especially poor communities) benefit when their money is spent in their community, supporting others who support them, rather than being spent in the wider community, where it’s harder for that money to come back to us. Money is just another form of energy, and energy goes where we direct it, so let’s direct wisely.
When we take care of our own community, we have more resources to do more interesting things – more festivals, more temples, more food pantries and help for those in need, more jobs for those in our community, which allows them to also route money back into our communities. This is how communities grow, and how businesses within communities survive and thrive.
Earlier this year, when the Pulse nightclub was attacked, people were going on about how it was the largest mass shooting…and others were going, “no, Wounded Knee was!”
For those not in the loop, the Wounded Knee they’re talking about is the little incident on December 29, 1890, in South Dakota. Another incident occurred in 1973, when a store near the site of the first incident was taken over and occupied by members of AIM, who were then besieged by the US government.
To be fair, they’re sort of right. In the Pulse nightclub shooting, 49 were killed and 53 injured. At least 150 natives (possibly as many as 300) were killed at Wounded Knee, with 51 wounded (some of whom later died of their injuries). The survivors were taken to a nearby church, which acted as hospital (and then morgue), still decked out in Christmas decorations.
But, here’s the thing you have to understand: according to the US government, Wounded Knee was not a mass shooting, and not a terror attack, and not a massacre. It was a battle in an ongoing war with the indigenous peoples of this continent – a battle in a war meant to take land that had already been “granted” to those tribes by treaty (as if they needed the US government to say, yeah, you’ve lived here generations, but this land isn’t yours, it’s ours, but hey, we’re nice guys, we’ll let you stay if you give up your livelihoods and your religion and your entire way of life).
It was a battle where 20 people received the Medal of Honor.
Using someone else’s data (http://www.homeofheroes.com/…/histo…/history_statistics.html) it would appear that as of 2014, there had been 3510 MoH awarded in US history. There were 426 given during the Indian Wars….and only 472 given during WWII. 27 of those were given for actions at Iwo Jima, making Wounded knee the second largest number of MoH given for a single action.
You’d think, then, that there was some honor in this battle, some level of heroics.
Women and children were chased across the countryside and shot. Children were lured out of hiding, told they’d be safe, and then shot when they came out. Women and children trying to reach white flags of surrender were shot. Guns were fired indiscriminately, killing horses, dogs, and anything else that moved – in fact, the suspicion is that most of the US soldiers who died were shot by friendly fire, because most of the guns had already been confiscated from the camp.
That doesn’t sound honorable to me.
Their bodies were left to freeze – a blizzard hit (which is a pretty common thing in the Dakotas this time of year) and when civilians went to bury the bodies 3 days later (because the army decided they weren’t doing it), they found bodies frozen in the shapes they fell in, and babies still alive, having been protected from the elements by their mothers’ dead bodies. The bodies that were found were buried in a mass grave, bodies stacked however they could be, seeing as how they were frozen solid. That grave is on the same hill that Hotchkiss guns fired on them from.
The colonel in charge of the troops was relieved of command at that time, but exonerated during an inquiry and returned to duty.
So there you go. That’s not a terrorist act or a mass shooting. It’s an *honorable* battle, fought by good soldiers who were just following orders.
“Just following orders” is always the excuse, isn’t it?
Reading through Facebook memories from a year or two ago, I noticed that a friend had said something along the lines of, “Native Americans aren’t currently subject to genocide.”
I couldn’t put a good response together then, but I think I can now. It starts with me calling BULLSHIT.
Note that most links here are about South Dakota reservations, and Pine Ridge in particular, because that’s the reservation my family is from and so it’s the situation I’m most familiar with….but these problems are problems across the board for Native Americans and reservations.
Raphael Lemkin, who coined the word genocide, wrote in his book, “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe,” as follows:
Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups. (thanks Wikipedia)
My tribe? Yeah…the government wanted them to be farmers, and then gave them land so bad, that I can remember years that my grandparents (who were ranchers until a few years before my grandfather died; my grandmother still rents out her pastures to other ranchers for their livestock) sold the cows, and the horses for wrangling them, because they couldn’t grow enough alfalfa to feed them through the winter. Thousands of acres of ground, and not enough grass for cows, but we’re supposed to farm? Even in a good year…the “rule of thumb” I learned growing up in Missouri was 1.5-2 acres of land per animal would feed them for a year, but the basis for most leased ranch land at Pine Ridge assumes you need at least 10 acres per animal.
The health care system promised by treaty is a disaster. Many reservations in the Dakotas had hospitals shut down in the last year because they weren’t safe. Everyone I know who uses the system can tell you of people who’ve been misdiagnosed in ways that have hurt their long term health. And health care is an issue because poverty and living in a food desert makes chronic illness a big problem.
There are reservations without clean water…..there are homes without running water. Poverty is the norm on most reservations (and where it’s not, it’s largely because of the loopholes that allow gaming on federal land against state regulations).
Various systems over the years have taken Native children from their families – boarding schools destroyed language and culture, and “neglect” (i.e., being poor) calls mean that most of the kids in SD foster care are Native, even though we’re a very small percentage of the state population.
This morning I was up early. Our schedule on Tuesdays is complicated, and more complicated today by a doctor’s appointment for one of my children, an hour and a half from home. So….I went and got in line before the polls opened, and my husband took one child to school and the other to therapy, planning to switch with me when I got done, so I could handle the doctor appointment.
I guessed I was about 50 people back in line (I turned out to be voter 43), and I was a little stunned to see police standing by….but it turned out that they were voting too.
Our election team was trying to be efficient, but the system they’re using isn’t that efficient….and when the man in front of me ended up with 2 ballots stuck together, the whole line shut down while they re-checked the numbers on the ballots of everyone then voting. Once they’d figured out the problem, we went on with little issue.
Our city is pretty diverse, but that diversity is not reflected in the poll workers (most are over 60, and overwhelmingly white), nor was it reflected in the hundreds of people in line when I was there – 3 precincts vote at our community center, so it wasn’t just our line I was looking at. I suspect that is, in large part, because many of the diverse families that live near us are here on work visas or green cards, not as citizens…and that makes me wonder how their interests are really represented.
Mostly, it was a quiet, orderly voting day here in the suburbs. Busier than most (I’ve walked in after work and been voter #182, with no line), but calm even when systems shut down or errors needed to be fixed.
Earlier this year, discussion started among several Detroit area business owners on how they might work together more effectively. There are a number of vending events through the year in the area, and a number of shops, but most of us interact with each other only rarely, usually when we’re sitting next to each other at an event.
Someone suggested that we needed a Chamber of Commerce to help boost businesses. Chambers of Commerce are known for providing networking, offering discounts, helping businesses be better at doing business, and working to eliminate regulatory hurdles that may affect their constituents.
What was interesting about that idea was that more than a decade ago, I tried to start a similar organization using the then-popular yahoo groups – but the idea of working together and spending money to market our businesses was so new that it never made much progress.
Now it seemed, though, that the time might be right to try again – more of us are more open about our spirituality, and more interested in figuring out how to work together.
While most Chambers of Commerce focus on a specific area or a specific group, they are open to any business that wants to reach that clientele. And with such a diverse population of businesses and events here in Michigan, it seemed the ideal place to start.
The Chamber’s new website is at https://michiganpaganchamber.wordpress.com/ and the Chamber is open for business – there are still a few items to put into place (social media accounts and non-profit paperwork, for starters), but together we can build a stronger community and stronger businesses.
A few years back, a member of the circle I was then a part of brought a photocopy of some info on knot magic to our ritual, and we read it, and tried it out.
It was an interesting experience, one that I want to share with you.
It turns out the copies I was given years ago are a chapter from DJ Conway’s book, Wicca: The Complete Craft. I don’t own a copy, but Google Books has it in their library. The internet is an amazing thing….
Knot magic has been used for hundreds (probably thousands) of years. Many of the various Goddesses of Fate are weavers, who tie and loosen knots all the time. And there are lots of stories of sailors buying knotted cords from witches and wizards, in order to make the wind blow if their ships were stalled.
Looking back to that bit about the ships tells us something important about knot magic: more than anything, it’s something of a battery, storing energy up for when we need it. And frequently, the energy stored is something natural – wind, the full moon, the dark moon….
An organized witch might, then, prep many different cords with knots, each cord representing a specific type of energy they might need later.
Another obvious use of knot magic is to bind. That is, after all, the definition – to tie something securely. Equally, the untying of knots can be used to symbolize the dissolving of a problem.
Even our weddings, both Pagan and more mainstream use knot magic and knot imagery – to get married is to “tie the knot” in the mainstream world, and our handfastings typically involve an actual cord being tied around the hands of those being joined.
So, how would one use knot magic to store and use energy? The example given in the pages I have give some good examples, and this is basically what we did that night so long ago.
For the full moon, pick a silver or dark purple cord. While the instruction say to use a 2-3 foot cord, I’d suggest 39 inches – 13 x 3 – for best effect. You want cord that is not too slippery (satin cord, for example, does not hold knots well), and not too stiff (we used 1/8″ gross-grain ribbon, which was pretty hard to tie because it was stiff).
On the full moon, cast your circle and perform any other ritual things your tradition recommends before your working.
Use a full moon incense, and cleanse the cord in the incense smoke. Stand somewhere in the moonlight, making sure the moonlight has touched all of the cord.
Now, you will tie nine knots, from one end of the cord to the other, while reciting this chant (or something like it):
Knot of one, this spell’s begun. Knot of two, the power is true. Knot of three, my will shall be. Knot of four, I gather more. Knot of five, moon power is alive. Knot of six, the power I fix. Knot of seven, moon magic leaven. Knot of eight, this spell is fate. Knot of nine, the threes are trine. I gather moonbeams in this cord, according to my magic words. Moon power is stored here on this night for magic good and strength so bright. (chant from Wicca: The Complete Craft)
Then finish out your ritual and close your circle.
When you later wish to use that stored energy (for example, you need to do a spell that normally requires a full moon, but the moon is now just a tiny sliver), take your cord and your full moon incense, set up your ritual as you normally would, and during your working, you untie the knots from one end to the other, visualizing the full moon energy flowing into your hands, using the following chant:
I open the door to the power beyond, The moon gate that has an Otherworld key. Unending power flows into my hands. This is my will and so shall it be. (chant from Wicca: The Complete Craft)
Then do the rest of your working as if there is a full moon, and then close out your ritual as you typically would.
Wicca: The Complete Craft, by DJ Conway, published by Crossing Press, September 9, 2001
This week, amid a nearly complete media black-out, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe began demonstrating against the construction of a pipeline through territory that was theirs, and under the Missouri River, less than a mile from their reservation…which gets its water directly from the river. The Dakota Access Pipeline will take oil from the shale fields in western North Dakota (acquired by fracking), and pipe it across 4 states into Illinois for processing.
What started as a small protest with a couple hundred people now takes up two camps in rural North Dakota, and has also spread to the capital, Bismarck. The various subdivisions of the Sioux tribes make up Seven Council Fires (called očhéthi šakówiŋ in Lakota) – traditional allies with a largely shared language, who came to each other’s aid when needed. Not surprisingly, the various tribes of the očhéthi šakówiŋ have joined in, along with representatives of dozens of other Native tribes, from Alaska to Mexico (and there are rumors that Native Hawaiians are on their way too).
In earlier planning for the pipeline, the route was scheduled to go north of Bismarck, but one of the reasons for rejecting this route was the risk of contaminating their water source. If you’re at all familiar with US geography, you’ll remember that the Missouri river flows south and east from North Dakota and feeds the Mississippi River. Contamination of the river this far north risks the water source for anyone downstream, and wildlife habitats all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.
The protesters, calling themselves protectors of the water and of unči makȟá (grandmother earth) have been, according to internal reports, peaceful. The camps are asking for no guns, no weapons…just prayer. They are making sure all people, from young children through elders, are fed, clothed, and receiving medical care as needed. The state, meanwhile, has instituted road blocks to keep people away, has reported gunshots and pipe bombs, and has declared a state of emergency.
Mni wičhóni – water is life – is a common understanding in Lakota. The only thing we need more than water is air.
You can help by signing this petition: https://www.change.org/p/jo-ellen-darcy-stop-the-dakota-access-pipeline
Or by donating for supplies and/or funding for Camp of the Sacred Stones: https://www.gofundme.com/sacredstonecamp