Monday, December 29, 2014

Magic and Catholic Saints

I wish to begin with a side note, that this is not an attack on the Christianity or the Catholic church and their deeply held beliefs. I understand that as pagans, what I'm suggesting is blasphemy, however this is not my intent. My beliefs in the idea of many of theses characters, are simply the ancient gods transformed to remain immortal. I understand this goes against the Catholic teachings, but what do you expect? I'm Pagan.

It has long been established that the Catholic church Incorporated pagan traditions and holidays into their religion, to make it easier to convert those away from their old religions. Yet many would not give up their gods, so the church choose to consider those gods Saints, someone the people could pray too, to plead on their behalf to this one singular god of the bible. Many Saints themselves were real people, but regardless if they were or not, it is what they themselves symbolize that matters. Saints are actually wonderful transformations of the ancient gods into the middle age gods we are now more familiar with. Today gods have evolved further, with celebrities, cartoons, fictitious characters from shows, movies, comics, books, etc.. all in ever evolving process that successful species and ideas go through.

Saints can be very powerful sources to work with, because so many of them are still honored today. They are less threatening to the mundane Christians than statues of our ancient gods. Yet they mirror their stories, their traditions, their behavior, their lessons and their influence on those who honor them. Just like gods, there is a saint for nearly anything. Each come with symbols, holy days, traditions and most importantly what they are know for.

Use the Saints to make Peace with your Catholic family 
If you have Catholic relatives, you may want to brush up on your Catholic theology.  I never approve of going through the Catholic rituals when you yourself are not committed to the faith. It is though, a nice jester to give your child a Patron Saint for the more sensitive members of your family who are of the church.  Because my in-laws are Catholic, I choose to dedicate two saints for my daughter. One is the literal translation of my daughter's name and the other was after Joan of Arc, who had a similar story to pagan woman I named my daughter after. If my daughter chooses to become Catholic, she has two Saints she can choose to find connection with. Even though I will never convert, I hope if she does, she will appreciate the sentiment of the jester. 

My Personal Experience
I myself have never been Catholic, basic christian maybe at one point, but I hold no ties to the church. My parents themselves had nothing to do with any church for the most part, my entire life. Yet I myself was reached out by a saint. It was during a very difficult time in my life and in a dream, I saw a statue trapped in a tower. When I awoke with the dream fresh in my mind, I described the statue and to my shock, I quickly found it. It was a statue of saint Bernard, who was known for helping those lost in the snowy mountains. Symbolically he had reached to me, as I struggled during this period of my life.

Using Saints to honor Catholic loved ones
When my husbands grandfather died, I felt it was appropriate to incorporate Saint Anthony into our home. In this case, we are not honoring the actual saint, but see it as a symbol of my husbands grandfather, who was very fond of.  We choose not to look to the saint, but to my husbands loving grandfather as source of positive guidance's.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Yule for a Modern Pagan Family

As the holiday's take their course, the season building blocks are put into place with traditional songs, decorations and stories are drilled into us by media, that are hard to avoid. From your T.V., your mail box, the bill boards that line your trip to work, the traditional modern materialism Christmas is tossing out its messages of buy, buy and buy.
Along with this love towards Mammon, so has the creation of many our most beloved traditions. The giving and receiving of gifts is a popular one, along with the modern image of Santa Claus, his glowing red nose reindeer Rudolph, all were gimmicks in advertisements for products that the image has become so iconic that now have surpass their original creation.

In way, this can be good in that we have traditions and culture to celebrate and enjoy. However as pagans, we do not have the easy option of playing a video explaining our history, our songs, our stories and our beliefs. Its good that our culture isn't being sold on the market completely, but how do we stand against something as big and powerful as Christmas?

The key is family. As shiny and new or big and popular will not give your child love. No out fit you buy them, no toy you fight like a band of rabid animals for, will still be with your child or grandchild in their life. Instead of giving something that will fade out, give them the gift of you. Something that will out live you and bring joy and happiness to that child you love all their life, happy memories of you.

How to Come Together at Yule

You know the way to a man's heart is his stomach. This is very true. However this isn't just true for men, but most people. Eating is one of our most pleasurable actions. Healthy recipes to enjoy!
 Good food is a good ice breaker and a good way to bring even the most bitter enemies to the table.Rather than pin the kitchen duty on just one parent, I suggest making this a family affair. Cooking and clean up, can lesson the load of responisblities and bring families closer together.

Holiday music is always a great way to get into the spirt of the season. You can play your childhood favorite songs or pull out some drums and have a circle of music.
 Even if you aren't musically inclind, your family can enjoy the time together singing and play music together. With practice you may find some musical talent.

Crafts, another pleasureable way to end the year. Creating your own gifts and decorations can really make the holidays a lot of fun.
Children love crafts and you might find you enjoying them as well. Its always good to learn something new.
Feeding hungry animals is also a long practiced tradition this time of year. You can make bird seed crafts and hang them outside on a tree for the hungry birds is a simply way to accomplish this goal.
 You can also look for a clower of cats living wild and give them a bag of cat food. If you are like me and already loyal feed a clower of strays, you can give them a treat of wetfood if you its in your budget. In colder areas, squirls and chipmunks go hungry, leaving a bag of hard shell nuts out for our little rodent friends. This will teach your child empathy for animals and a good time to talk about nature.


Santa is not completey a christian creation. The idea of giving out gifts has been around since ancient Rome, during their Santurnalla celebrations. In 2nd AD are the earliest records of Holda, the goddess of snow flakes. She is also the goddess of children and would give gifts to good chldren during the winter holidays. For more information about Holda. 

No matter who used, Santa, Father Winter, Father Odin, Holda, rather than lie to your child, tell them stories of theses fabled creatures. When your child inquires if the stories are true, rather than answer the question for them with the painful truth or a lie, simply tell them, they have to figured that out. Give up when they catch you red handed putting out gifts. Show great encouragement when they make their discovery, but remind them that its not their place to ruin the suprise for other children. Part of being a child is discovering the little lies told.

When the cat is out of the bag, make sure to teach the history of the tradition and explain how this tradition has taken on a life of its own. This tradition has effected so many generations, perfect example how traditions evolve. Never lose out on a good history lesson and this time of year is full of stories and legends, one can learn from.

Yule vs Christmas

During Yule, I try to keep thing cozy. We start our affar at sun down the night before, though preperation happenes long before. We have our large feast on Yule night. We often invite friends over to join us in festives.
The gifts we give are most educational, but fun. We also give out some toys and clothes. I try to give more home made gifts rather than bought toys and candy. Home baked cookies are a bigger hit that candies in a plastic candy cane.  Since we live in a warmer climate, we are able to celebrate the holiday out doors  with a fire. If you are not able to have a fire, a row of candles will be fine. You can put them in a safe holder for your purpose or even try flooting candles in water. Always becareful, especailly with small children. The holiday last all night. Children fall alseep, trying to stay awake and parent celebrate until dawn, watching the first new light from the longest night of the year.

For Christmas I had hoped we would visit our christian relatives, who always go way out in creating a beautiful holiday season.
 A large fresh cut tree, a feast that could feed an army, decorations that would put Macy's to shame and the exended family coming together. It truly is wonderful sight to behold. Sadly, we live far away. To bridge the gap, we skype, video the little one opening gifts in the early morning, that they sent her. We end the day with a nice dinner and watching old holiday movies we grew up with.

 When the children are asleep

Eventually, children do go to bed, on both Yule, Christmas and Santurnalla. When that time comes, its a time for grown up to enjoy the less child friendly activies. If you are going out, hire a young sitter to watch the sleepy heads, if not, make sure the feastivies won't wake them.
Drink and debachory are very much a part of spiritual life. Letting lose and having a good time, is important for us all. We should never do this excessively, but we have theses holidays for a reason and they are certianly a good time for this behavior. You can choose to have company, go out with people or choose this time for some friskiness with your partner. Please be responsible when you play. Get a room, stay home, give up the keys, call a cab or have a desginated driver on hand. Also make sure to use birth control, unless you are planning to add to your family.
May your Yuletide be bright
and may you all have a good night!

Happy Winter Solistice!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Winter Holiday's

Tis the season of lights and festivities. Of heavy feasting, of songs, of spice drinks, of merriment and pleasure. For some monotheist this is a time of religious piety, of prayer and spiritual responsibility. For our Pagan ancestors it was a time of celebrated debauchery and that in itself was spiritual. Pagans understood that spirituality didn't always mean punishment, guilt, shame and the relief of forgiveness. It could very much be about sex, drinking, giving out gifts, receiving gifts, eating and other timeless fashions that never have gone out of style. No matter how oppressed.

 Cold days would bring together warm bodies. Its no one wonder how  birth rates go up on months a gestialial period away from the autumn months in colder climates and closer to the December the further south you live, in the Northern Hemisphere.

Now for most people in the USA, this is a time of year to give a little more than we usually do, a time of memories of years past, a moment when families will come together, near or far, to be together, maybe for the only time of the year. Its a mile stone in the memories of a lost loved, like grandmas last christmas, to pleasurable mile stones like babies first holiday season.

Whether today is a day of piety, debauchery or a time of family and community, my goal is to try avoid this time of year, materialism. Regardless if the holidays bring back ancient traditions of lights, your new year, your longest night of the year, the birth of your savior, an excuse to be with a family, the time of year you give to charity, none of theses true and honorable traditions should be tainted by greed, selfishness, hate etc... which materialism is combined of two of those negative qualities, greed and selfishness, but it can and often does lead to hate.

I by no means suggest we stop giving gifts. I'm simply suggesting that gifts be a small part of the the holiday and make sure the day is about what is important in your life. For your young children, even our ancestors would use this year to encourage giving, forgiving, joining communities and families. Sadly, for a long time, people have become more distrusting of their neighbors. Communities are more isolated. So how do we as families, socially conscious of the value these traditions bring back the true meaning of the holidays, after decades of materialism and social anxieties?

Well, it may take some work on your part, but here are some ideas I have found, that may work for you.

1. The Unitarian Universalist of Rochester of NY had a wonderful idea called the "The Greater Good Project."

2. Do It Yourself! Showing your children that making your own gift can be far more sentimental and meaningful when you create the gift.
You may want to do the projects with your children. Making gifts for family members, teachers and other friends, is a great way to encourage creativity and thinking outside the box. They don't always have to be louisely gifts either! There plenty of ways to make something special and unique for everyone on your list!
Click here for suggestion

3. Volunteer! Sometimes children don't know how much they have, until they see others with far less. Making volunteering for a local charity this time of year, can give your child the gift of perspective.

4. Cancel the Holiday altogether. Though, this may seem extreme, one family has choose to finely make the age old threat come true. 

5. Holiday Caroling is a great way to break the ice with neighbors. You don't have to be the greatest singer. If your kids are cute enough, don't worry about carrying a tune. Learn different kinds of songs, from different cultures, celebrating a holiday this time of year. 

Remember this a time of year, to show your child that there is more to life than then things you buy. What is more important are things that can not be bought. Love, family, respect, kindness, forgiveness, community, peace, acceptences, etc... Let us remember, that nearly all traditions at this time, center on this notion. I challenge you to give your children more for the holiday than what can simply be bought!

With that, Happy Holidays to you all!!! May your spirits be bright!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Spirituality of Fraggle Rock

 There are times I must dance my cares away. I have put my worries for another day. Sometimes its best to just let the music play....
And let myself go
Down to Fraggle Rock!

The full moon is today and I'm recovering from a really unpleasant illness.  As I breath, (sort of) a sigh of relief, I find myself in a gleeful mood and what comes to mind but one of the Henson Company's finest work (IMHO)  Fraggle Rock.

From Season One Episode 16, "Capture the Moon"
Shine On Us Now 
Moon, moon shine tonight.Hold us in your glowing light.
Soon, soon silver bright.
Fold us in your cloak of light.
And shine on us now.
Shine on us.
Now.Shine on us now.
Shine on us.
Moon, moon magic light.
Come and touch our lives tonight.
Soon, soon deep and bright.
Come to us now.
Sleep a sleep of peace tonight. Come to us.
Shine on us now.
Come to us now.
Come to us. Shine on us now.
Shine on us.
Shine on us.
When educating my daughter, I make sure I cover all the basics. I have programs for math, science, english, history, art, music, even spirituality. In my spiritual folder for my daughter, is filled with Fraggle videos and stories. As a pagan parent it is hard to find such well done and mainstream media to teach the concept of spirituality I want my daughter to learn. 

If any parent is seeking a show that promotes a healthy and beautiful form of spirituality, I fully suggest Fraggle Rock.  Fraggle rock is a wonderful show full of imagination, yet encourages critical thinking, while providing delightful and relatable characters.

In season 3 episode 1, the "Bells of Fraggle Rock" has one of the main characters Gobo, experience skepticism and begins to have his doubts about their Fraggle winter holiday traditions. It stars one of the few characters Jim Henson himself played on the show, Cantus, the leader of the Fraggle Minstrels and the Fraggle spiritual adviser and leader!

There’s a rhythm, there’s a risingThere’s a dream of green that needs to wake
A password, and a promise
That the earth will never ever break
It’s coming, feel it humming
In the hearts we share with rock and sky
So raise your voices high
Fraggle Rock doesn't not promote any particular religion, but shows how spirituality has helped people with limited understanding of the world around them and how we today still have limits in our understanding, in a humbling fashion. Fraggles show us a society where there is a limited understanding of the world outside the rock, giving a very similar perspective a child may have, when looking at the outside world from their home. In doing so, the Henson company has found wonderful ways to teach all sorts of different adult concepts to children in a less threatening manner. 

Subjects of war and death are openly discussed among the characters. Yet the show is incredibly upbeat and always has a happy ending. Each main character brings with them strengths in weakness because none of us are without talent nor are we without flaws. 

Gobo Fraggle is the leader of the group of five Fraggle friends. His strengths:Leadership, Bravery, Level headedness, His weakness: Self Doubt, can be hot tempered and inconsiderate sometimes. 

Mokey Fraggle is believed to be the oldest of the group, because she is the tallest. She is paints, write poetry, collect radishes from the Gorgs garden. Her Strengths: Spirituality, Artistic Abilities, Calm. Her Weaknesses: Not thinking things through, over sensitive, self deluded sometimes. 

Wembley Fraggle lovable, caring and always willing to please. Wembley is a true follower and has trouble making up his mind. Hence his name Wembley. His Strengths: Loyal, Non Judgemental, Extremely kind. His Weaknesses: Unable to make up his mind, often a anxious and gullible.

Red Fraggle The most adventurous, in your face and free spirited Fraggle of the group. Red is always willing to try a new death defying challenge. Her Strengths: Daring, a Powerful Leader, Athletic. Her Weaknesses: Impulsive, can be Bossy and Competitive to an extreme. 

Boober Fraggle is the most pessimistic of the group, but also seems to be the only one doing practice work such as cooking and laundry. His Strengths: Hard working, Domestic and Often the Healer. His Weaknesses: Very little joy in life, the most fearful and antisocial. 

With all their that they are, the Fraggle society is caring society. They aren't very materialistic. I haven't seen any places of business or currency among the Fraggles. They do have a tradition of giving a special round rock, called a "rollie" as a gift that is regifted from one Fraggle to another.  They met up with Kermit at Fozzies Moms Farm house in a "Muppet Family Christmas" where they explained this custom.

La-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la-la, la-la...Pass it On!

When it's nice and bright and it brings delight, let your heart choose right , gotta...pass it on!

When it feels real good like a feeling should, then it's understood, gotta...pass it on!
When you're giving love away, love will come again to stay and what you give is what you gain when you...pass it on!
When I give a gift to you, I know you're gonna give it, too. 
That's why giving's what we do as we...pass it on!  
Pass it on! Pass it on!

Wish upon all the good things that you do.
Pass it on! Pass it on! 
When it's gone, it will bring good luck to you,
When you're giving love away, love will come again to stay.
What you give is what you gain when you...pass it on!
When I give a gift to you, I know you're gonna give it, too.
That's why giving's what we do as we...pass it on!
Pass it on!

Fraggle Rock is a wonderful to watch with your children as well as listening to their many wonderful songs! One of Fraggle Rock's greatest gifts is its wonderful music. It makes anyone at any age want to sing. They are catchy, ageless, fun and often very heartfelt. 

In loving Memory of Gerry Parkes "Doc"! 


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Potty mouth

I pose the question
Does sticking a bar of chemicals into your child's mouth an appropriate punishment for saying a word you didn't like? 
When I was about eight years old, I rode my bike to my school after hours to play on the play ground, something commonly done twenty-five years ago. I found a safe spot, far away from anyone sight or sound, in an outside corner of the deserted building. I was completely alone. I sat with my legs crossed (we called it indian style back then) on the ground, my back against the wall. I took a deep breath, looked again to see if I was in anyone line of vision, but I was not. I let out my breath and in a quiet whisper, I said the all and powerful word,

"fuck" I said it again in a quiet but audible tone,
"Fuck." I said it again in my regular voice.
"Fuck" and then I shouted it.
"Fuck!" and the police didn't show up, my parents didn't magically appear, the sky didn't fall and even then I realized the word "fuck" was less harmful than all those oppressive tactics to demonize a whole form of expression.
"Henry Drummond: I don't swear just for the hell of it. Language is a poor enough means of communication. I think we should all the words we've got. Besides, there are damn few words that anybody understands." Inherit the Wind 
As I reach adulthood and started out in the work force, I found myself swearing more than I ever did before. My source.   When I became a parent, I choose not to stop swearing altogether, though I have cut it down quite a bit, but rather than censor theses words and jesters altoghter from my child, I felt it was better I simply use them when its appropriate.
 Driving doesn't help, but the truth is, life in general is difficult and swearing is a natural means in dealing with anger.

Children are very quick. You could have spent the the last four years not uttering a single swear word, then all of a sudden you spill something and a swear word comes out. Your child hears it and not only repeats it, but knows how to say it in its direct context. I had a talk with my daughters preschool teacher (she goes three days a week) on the subject. I let her know that occasionally at home a swear word comes out and I would prefer she handle it in a healthy fashion. For more information
 Rather than refer to these words curse or swear words, I call them angry words and to remind her that those words are said only at home. I was relieved she agreed with me and even admitted that trying to use a prohibition of theses words was ineffective with our generation. Why should we think that this repeatedly failed method will work any better with this generation? So far it hasn't been an issue. I want my child to be comfortable expressing herself, but I don't need to sounding like a sailor in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I make sure not to curse at anyone, but more so expressing frustration over situations. Although my daughter is only three, we have had sit down talks about when, where and how we express anger. So far, she seems fine with going in her room and yelling incoherently and coming out when she is claim. I've seen her several times she gets frustrated and heads to her room to yell it out, only to come back to the problem with a clearer head.

Another factor about cursing I don't leave out, is the humor behind it.  The humor in cursing is a large part of our media, art and expression. Words bring with them, new concepts and thoughts.
My daughter only being a toddler, has already started with this type of humor, all her own. Its completely natural and its often of the beginning signs of your child's sense of humor, the "potty mouth." Every sentence ends with the word "Poopy" when my daughter is in her comical moods.  The alphabet no longer ends in Z, but in poopy. My daughter has called me a "poopyhead" and jokingly chants a spell to turn her grandma into poopies. This cracks my daughter up to no end, as it should. It is my job to help her expand her humor, we are currently working on "knock-knock" jokes. Right now they all end in poopy. Which is fine for now.

By simply not making it an issue, it hasn't become one and we are able for now to keep this under control. I feel this gives my daughter the ability to express her feelings to me, without fear. I don't want my daughter to ever feel afraid come to me when there is a problem. My goal is to lay the foundation of a strong and happy relationship with my child.

In the end my goal is NEVER give my child the fear of expressing herself that I and many others had experienced before. I know this may seem radical, but I'm willing to go out for the best interest of my child and NOT the social hang ups of generations past.