Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Self-Immolation by Fire

Same-sex marriage is officially legal in every state!

Congratulations from
 Proud Pagan Parents!
(Expect a post on this joyous subject in the near future.)

While this cause for celebration, no rainbow forms without a storm. The lightening tongue of many religious leaders who swore they would set themselves on fire in protest, if this the marital laws changed. Low and behold, nothing so far. Protest has been apart of our society since we first established government. When someone commits suicide as their protest, it definitely brings it up a notch. The fact that there is a cause so great a person is willing to die for and never reap the reward of their sacrifice. Naturally this will draw attention.

Self-Immolation is the act of suicide for a cause or belief, often by fire and it's quite effective. It leaves a lasting impression by those who either witnessed or heard of the death. 

By no means do I suggest anyone actually do this, but one has to wrap their head around the notion of the immense pain of burning to death is like .

What would drive a person to do this? 

Often when someone from a richer country, like the USA, set themselves on fire,  often a suicide or an attempt. Though I'm not to saying suicide isn't an issue, it is simply a different reason for the same action. To choose to end your life for a cause is literally giving yourself completely away in one of the most excruciating ways in doing so.

This action is far more common in countries with high poverty and less technological advance. More common than not, these people have nothing else to lose and burning to death symbolizes the pain in life they suffered. Then in extreme rare cases, a person who has a considerable well life, based on their countries definition, who are so empathetic to the pain of others that they end their happy life to try and change what they see as a great wrong. These people could be wealthy in many ways and not always with money. They were happy and comfortable, whatever that is, from a mansion to the biggest tent of the tribe. That whole camel through a needle idea.

This not an action a coward could perform.

So what reasons would someone do this?

Thích Quảng Đức- 1897-1963 He was a Buddhist monk who protested the South Vietnamese government treatment of Buddhist. 

A great many individuals from Tibet have set themselves on fire in protest of treatment from the Chinese government treatment of Buddhist and or the Tibetan people. 

Charles Moore- 1934-2014 Set himself a blaze in protest his home towns racism.

These were individuals, for better or for worse, who believed in their cause. Which  is not something I can say about the multitudes of religious individuals threatening to actually go through with such an action over same-sex marriage. Even those who threatened to end their lives over the supreme court ruling, realize that the threat they preach from the pulpit isn't worth their own life. Some might have believed their words, but actions naturally leads to cold feet. That is millions of years of self preservation one would have to over come to do this.
The fact is, same-sex marriage isn't a real threat to anything but their pride. That sting these oppressive people feel when reminded they have to share their country with other people. They hid behind claims of morals to discriminate against consenting adults sexual rights. They have caused long term same-sex partners to be separated by medical staff when one gets ill. They have prevented children in the foster care system, from finding legally adopted homes with same-sex parents. These are not the behaviors of selfless individuals standing up for what they believe in, but opportunists capitalizing on the moment. They have caused much pain and suffering to others, but are not willing to suffer themselves.

I honestly hope these individuals learned a lesson about the commitments they make. Maybe instead of being willing to threaten their own life over a subject that doesn't actually affect their lives and get over it or live up to their promise.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Naming Ceremonies

You know the rhyme, first comes love then comes marriage and then comes a baby carriage. A little over a year ago, I posted my first blog, "Why I refused to Baptize my Child."  A year later, my blog is slowly improving. Now I wish to return to the subject of naming ceremonies.

Naming Ceremony
Not to be confused with the Jewish B'rit Bat tradition. Pagan naming ceremonies have existed in many forms. Naming the child, give recognition of the new person, a key component of their identity. This ceremony is done often to a small child or infant. Many cultures had a waiting period before such ceremonies, in case the baby did not survived. This was sadly a common occurrence when these customs began. Now a days, naming ceremonies are as much about the celebration of birth as well as the life itself.

"How does a pagan naming ceremony differ from a baptism?"
  1. A baptism is an act that is believed to wash away original sin, i.e. sex from a their biological parents. Most pagans do not recognize original sin. Sex is not deemed as sinful. Hence this concept is actually insulting as well as unnecessary.
  2. Naming Ceremonies are a commitment parents make, not a commitment for the child. Parents in naming ceremonies may commit to certain methods and ideas in raising their children, but the child is not committed to a religion. Where baptism.often commits the child to Christianity. 
"How old should my child be for the ceremony?"

Spiritually, I hold to the belief, that scab on the cord should fall off before the naming ceremony is done. I believe that natural act helps separates the child from the birth mother. Which is fairly young. Ancient families would often wait nearly a year before naming the baby. Today,unless you choose a group of some sorts with certain rules regarding age to conduct the ceremony, any age is usually fine. I wanted to do the ceremony while my daughter was still a baby. Some people choose to wait until the child is old enough to remember the ceremony. In adoption situations, the child could be any age and is receiving a new last name at least and a new family. This child could be a new born to a young adult teenager.

"Why have a naming ceremony, especially if I'm not religious?"

 It's great way to introduce your new child to family, friends, coven, church, fellowship, community etc... Life is about moments of of celebration. Nothing like the celebration of a new child.
Naming Ceremonies can be secular, as well as religious. They aren't required, but it's nice for the child to know they brought celebration to the family. It is a way to celebrate your new child as well as leave images of the joy you as parents felt in having this child.

My personal circumstances involved my husband family, mostly Catholic, meaning we will be attending lots of christening ceremonies. I didn't want my daughter to feel left out, but I wasn't going to allow a baptism. We didn't do things exactly the same way, but it shows how much she was loved as a baby.

"What commitment will I have to make?"

It depends, what commitments are you able and willing to make? If you are doing the ceremony through a church, fellowship, coven or any sort of group, it will likely be to their methodology. Hence you should study up what this organization teaches and expects.

If you aren't going through a group, you can simply write your own vows. You can vow to offer guidance, love, discipline, etc... You can also vow to give your child the right of freedom of thought and expression. Whatever matters to you.

"Who will conducts the ceremony?"

If you are pagan, a priest and / or priestess of similar beliefs, can conduct a spiritual ceremony for you. Certain churches and fellowships are helpful with ministers able and willing to conduct pagan ceremonies. Unitarian Universalist and military chaplains are able to preform the ceremony.
If you are looking for a more secular or casual ceremony, friends and family saying a few things in an informal service will often do.

"Where would you have a naming ceremony?"

Location is based off what your limits are. If you can afford a catering hall, with a garden , by all means do so. If money isn't so bountiful, there are many economical options. See "Locations pros and cons" in the article "Keeping Birthdays Special."

"How do I dress my child, family, self and ask of guests?"

It can be as casual to fancy, as you want. You can have the infant naked, while everyone else is wearing jeans and T-shirts in your BBQ backyard celebration, to your great grandmother's antique silk christening gown, at a catering hall, with a banquet feast.

I chose to go a bit fancy with the dress for my daughter. I got the dress second hand, but it was stunning. I didn't go with traditional white, but a light pink. The service at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stony Brook and reception at my home. Pizza and cake were served.

"What gifts should one bring or suggest to bring for the ceremony."

If the guest is of similar path as the parents, a spiritual gift is acceptable. Age appropriate and safe jewelry of spiritual significance. Many pagan parents will welcome most spiritual gifts, as long as it isn't abusive.

(I do discourage Christian crosses and crucifixes, because to many spiritual paths is a symbol of death.)

If the parents or guest aren't spiritual, I suggest books. I did this with my daughter ceremony. I told guest, if they insist on bringing a gift, a book they themselves read and were positively effected by. To share that joy to my child. Of course people brought clothes and toys as well. Bless them!

Traditional nonreligious keepsakes are welcome, like little boxes for baby teeth and hair clippings. Picture frames, fancy stuff toys, clothes, shoes, little comb and brush sets, and other little gifts that are special.

Btw grandma and grandpa, family tree scrapbooks are precious treasures!

God/s/Spiritual Parents
 If you are polytheist, I suggest the term godsparents. However spiritual parent or family also works. This concept has been around for thousands of years. Often the spiritual parents adopted the spiritual children, in the event of the biological parents death. This was a very real concern, with disease, war, famine, etc... killing thousands, having a back up family was practical. Today, legal practices are required to set up a will, to make your wishes known. Now god parents don't have to be the one person you entrust your children up bring, but people you want your child to have connection with.

You also don't have to be traditional. You can have same sex spiritual parents, you can have just one or more than two. I gave my daughter a spiritual sibling. I asked my flower girl to be my daughter spiritual sister. Both are only children, so I gave her a little sister and she gave my little girl a big sister.

Suggestive readings and songs for the ceremony

"We all come from the Goddess"

Louis Armstrong "what a wonderful world."

Spirit of Life

words by Carolyn McDade

Spirit of Life, come unto me.
Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion.
Blow in the wind, rise in the sea;
Move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice.
Roots hold me close; wings set me free;
Spirit of Life, come to me,
Come to me.

Kahlil Gibran On Children...

Harry Belafonte "Turn the world around" 


Naming Ceremony by Helen

Naming traditions and ceremonies from around the world

"Baby Naming and Welcoming Ceremony " 

Naming Ceremony

"How to hold a naming ceremony for your baby"

Traditions and Keepsakes

Blessing stones: take quartz or other precious stones and have all attendances hold a stone, sending positive energy towards the child. You can make the stones into beads and string them into a necklace or chain. Or you can keep the stones in a jar, bag or box.

Keepsake book, picture frame, card, etc...: people names and well wishes.  Give your child a little physical contact with the past.

Video, photos and scrapbooks: Recorded memories. Faces, voices, sounds, artistic expression of love. Never undermine such gifts.

Planting a tree, bush or flower garden: If possible, planting part or all of the child's placenta from their birth with it. Make sure it's in a place where it won't be cut down and try to avoid dangerous areas like flood areas, fire areas, etc.....

Donations: if the child has or had a medical condition, you may want to donate to a cause or the hospital the assisted the child.

Blessing upon you and that of your family .
 May your child's naming ceremony
 bring you fond memories,
 especially when things are down.  
Don't underestimate these little celebrations..
May your child/ren bring you joy! 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer Solstice, Father's Day and the divine Masculine

The Summer Solstice and Father's Day are on the same day this year. It is the longest day of the year and a day we have honored our fathers, with ties, mugs that read "World's Greatest Dad!", T-shirts with our hand prints and anything masculine your father was into. This is time when we embrace concepts we perceive as masculine, for both the Summer Solstice and Fathers Day are celebrations of masculinity. Today, we acknowledge that the family dynamic is changing. Just as some children don't have mothers, others may not have fathers and some have neither parent. Again, the masculine role can be filled by someone other than the biological father. If you have any questions, see my article "Mother's Day and the Divine Feminine." Pretty much switch mother with father and you have the same concept.

With the combination of the two holidays, the divine Masculine energies are stronger with the shared energies. In this, we should embrace these ideas we consider masculine. This is a time to be more confident, look others in the eye. Take charge of your personal life, your career, your past and your future. This is a time to be assertive and take power back you have given others. Empower yourself!

Some suggestions in taking control of your life

  1. Eat healthy. Don't give in to comfort foods. Take charge. Keep water by your bed. Stop buying junk food, except for special occasions.
  2. Exercise. Wake up early and/or take an hour before bed to do some physical activities. This will help give you discipline and focus.
  3. Take time to do something nice for yourself every once in a while. 
  4. Socialize, as often as you can. Make friends and spend time with them.
  5. Set goals, figure out a plan and achieve said goal.
  6. Make love with passion.
  7. Make time for nature.
  8. Read.
  9. Meditate
  10. Dress up and shine.

Divine Fathers
Odin, military families have much more struggles than most other families. Long time apart between military personnel and family, PTSD, moving around and many other conflicts that most families wouldn't be able to relate. No matter if this is your current life or your past, the All Father is both wise and kind.

Green Man, the masculine appreciation of nature. Can also symbolizes someone who does gardening, farming or landscaping. He also symbolizes fertility if you are seeking to have a child.

Cernunnos, Hunter, the provider. He put the food on the table and taught you how to survive. He also a god of nature and fertility, but he is a god of presence. Large horns, says enough. Though you may not want to imagine your father in that way.

King David, Dad with a serious past. Sometimes dad's road was bumpier than most, like literally fighting giants bumpy. He may not be your closest parent, you might be one of more than he fully knows about or he simply just isn't around as much as a child may want, but when you see him, he has some stories to tell.

Dagda, a father you admire. He is a leader and respected. You are proud of this person and hold them in high regards. He is anyone from a king to a scout leader. He has class and justice figured out.

Zeus, the tramp. Have a lot of half siblings and dad may only shows up when his wife tries to kill you? Seriously, if your family is a combination of problems such as this, then Greek god of lightning, has an electrifying personal life. His life could out do any soap opera, he openly marries his sister and has numerous sexual affairs.

Saint Joseph, the non biological father. According to Christian beliefs, Joseph was not Jesus's biological father, but married Jesus's mother Mary and officially claimed her child and raised him as his own. Joseph is that person who manned up to another man's responsibility. Swell guy. Sometimes he symbolizes that parent who adopts a child officially, like a legal adopted parents. He can also symbolizes god/s parents, foster parents, older siblings, step parents, teachers, etc.... he comes in many forms.

Osiris, deceaced father/parent. If our parents are lucky, we will outlive them. A parent who has died may be someone you never knew or someone you knew well and any in between. Osiris helps you connect with your past with death.

Prometheus, a person who sacrificed his life or freedom. He could symbolize any solider who has died or has survived torture. He symbolizes every firefighter in New York, during the 9/11 attacks. Those who made great sacrifice for selfless means deserve such respect.

May your Solstice fires burn bright, 
may your days give you what you need 
and if course, 
Happy Father's Day!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Holidays and Why they are Important

I had an argument with someone once, in regards to holidays. He felt they weren't important and a complete waste. I admit I agreed with several of his points. Yes most of it is commercial, the real meanings behind the holidays are lost and a rose on February 15th, is a lot cheaper than it was the day before, but just as nice and far more PRACTICAL! I completely agree. Where our agreement ended was the idea of doing away with holidays or rejecting new holidays or traditions.

There are some people who find completely random moments in time throughout the year, to decorate their home, put on their best outfit or costume, have a big meal with special treats, sing songs, give gifts or simply contact their loved ones, for no reason except they love them. That is a romantic view, however life is not always accommodating. Work, school and every day needs get in the way, it always has.
Not all individuals are disciplined enough to think of their loved ones in proper time frames, to make them feel appreciated. Taking people for granted has been a struggle our species has dealt with since we developed relationships. Then there is the struggles of life, whether it was a failed crop or debt, people need to take time out of our lives, to celebrate our own existence and those around us.

Holidays have give us a schedule of events and traditions spread out through the year. There are national holidays like any countries independence day, birthdays of leaders, holidays to honor the dead and the living. There are religious holidays only celebrated by those with some level of belief like Yule. Then there are cultural holidays, holidays that hold either a cultural or religious tradition that has become absorbed into society, example Christmas. Then there are personal holidays, like birthdays and anniversaries. All of theses traditions share one thing in common, it's suppose to be a moment in time to look forward too. It doesn't feed you, cure illness or make your problems go away. Instead, they give you something to look forward too. A change in the the monotony of every day.

Holidays provide different focus. Some help us remember things we take for granted like freedom, our parents, our spouse, which is why we have Veterans and Memorial day, Mother and Fathers Day, wedding anniversaries and birthdays. Others may focus on Family togetherness, which is why most nations have some kind of thanksgiving celebration, often around harvest time, when food was plentiful. Holidays effect our moods, how we dress and what we do or do not eat. They in their own right effect our very existence and how we cope with life.

First Memorial Day 1865

Often the problems I find people have with holidays are the commercialism, loss of meaning and their own monotony. These problems can be over come with some effort on your part.

Holidays are a time of big business, which is why there are all these advertisements to get you into the store to spend, spend, spend. Just because your neighbor has lights up in the winter or your kid wants some expensive toy doesn't mean you have to give into the hype. You may not have the extra money to be as giving or creative as you like or are expected or simply can't stand the pressure. Relax. Holidays don't have to be about who spends the most. It's not a contest, so don't turn it into one.

The loss of a holidays meaning could lead to new meaning. For example, you may have changed religions, but still see value in the holidays you grew up with. Rather than abandon the tradition, why not improve it and resurrect aspects the holiday posses that you value. If your personal life has changed to where you are alone, I encourage you to volunteer so that you may embrace another aspect holidays provide.

When a holiday has become monotonous, ask your, why do you still follow said holiday. If you can not come up with an acceptable reason, then you may want to drop that particular holiday, even for just for a time period. Find something new to focus your energy on. There can be such a thing as too much holiday. However, if you find the holiday isn't the problem, but what you for or during the celebration isn't holding your attention, then simply change it. It could be as simple as cooking something different, going to a different location or inviting others into your celebrations.

Remember holidays are there to bring you joy, make sure that is how you use them. You can master the holiday, not have the holiday master you.