Saturday, 15 February 2014

PBP- D is for Dianic Wicca

Founded by Zsuzsanna Budapest in the 1970s, it is notable for its worship of a single Goddess and focus on non-egalitarian matriarchal feminism. It is named after the Roman goddess Diana, although the Goddess is recognised by Her many names. It combines elements of British Traditional Wicca, Italian-folk magic, feminist values, folk magic, and healing practises Budapest learnt from her mother. It is most often practised in female-only covens.
Dianic Wiccans form covens, celebrate the eight Wiccan holidays, and gather on Esbats. They often follow the Rede and they generally use the same tools, rituals and vocabulary as other Wiccans. The main difference is the lineage, which is composed of women, and Goddess only worship.

Dianic rituals celebrate the mythic cycle of the Goddess in the earth's seasonal cycles of birth, death and regeneration, as it corresponds to women's own life cycle transitions.

The Dianic Tradition - Core Beliefs:
  • The Dianic tradition is a holistic religious system based on a Goddess-centred cosmology and the primacy of She Who is All and Whole unto Herself.
  • The Dianic tradition is a Women's Mysteries ritual tradition that celebrates women's life cycle events.
  • The Dianic tradition is celebrated in exclusively women-only circles. (women-born-women only)
  • Dianics honour women's voices, thoughts, and ideas.
  • Power is sourced through our wombs (or "womb space, " if a woman has had a hysterectomy).
  • Emphasis on the body of woman as manifestation of the Goddess.
  • Inspired by the nature and aspects of the Roman goddess Diana (and her predecessor, the Greek goddess Artemis) as a protector of women and wild nature, we are committed to finding positive life-affirming solutions for personal and global problems.
  • Dianic ritual and magical practises honour women's creativity, intuition, and ability to improvise (creative inspiration in the moment).
  • Spiritual practises are inspired by the awareness that the Goddess has been known throughout time, by many names, and in numerous cultures worldwide.
  • Dianics recognise that women's magick is a sacred trust. Therefore, Dianics do not teach our Women's Mysteries and magick to males.
  • Sexuality is sacred. When lovers meet in mutual love, trust, and equality, these expressions of love and pleasure are a gift of the Goddess.
  • Sacred play as a form of spiritual practise.
  • The Dianic tradition is a teaching tradition.
  • Adherence to the Wiccan Rede.
  • The mythic cycle of the Goddess is celebrated in the earth's seasonal cycles of birth, death, and regeneration, and as it corresponds to women's own life cycle transitions. (The Wheel of the Year celebrations of the Solstices, Equinoxes, and cross quarter holidays are based on the ever-changing cyclic and eternal nature of the Goddess)
For some of my posts this year I wanted to spend more time looking at specific paths. For my first D post I have started to look at Dianic Wicca and I have to say I have found it very interesting. As a woman, and a feminist, I can definitely see the benefit in a woman-only coven (I happen to be in one), I understand the need to explore 'women's mysteries' and to explore being a woman in a space that feels safe and open to the idea. I really love the idea that women are exploring spirituality in a way that helps them learn to see their body as sacred and honours them as women.

Having said that, Dianic Wicca is not a path I would personally choose to follow for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the idea of only accepting women who were born women makes me very uncomfortable. I can understand the reasoning behind it, especially when you take into account that the believe that a woman's power comes from the womb space, but understanding and agree are two very different things. I can not even begin to imagine the difficulties facing trans women on a daily basis to be accepted, to in any way support an organisation that denies them this acceptance would be unthinkable for me. I am aware that there has been many, many posts about this in the last few years. These are written from a social justice perspective and explain the issues much more eloquently than I could. So I am just going to say it makes me uncomfortable and leave it there.

The second reason the Dianic path doesn't apply to me is that I feel it lacks balance. In the coven I am in the membership is all female but we worship both the Goddess and the God. We recognise polarity in all its forms and accept that, whilst neither is better, masculine and feminine energies are both different and necessary. 

Friday, 14 February 2014

PBP- C is for Craft Names

I am a little bit behind with the Pagan Blog Project already this year but I have decided not to stress too much about it. Whilst the project is a great way to make sure I post regular blog updates, nothing bad is going to happen if I don't stay on target, or if I don't post something for every letter. With that in mind I was going to skip the second C post altogether but I wanted to talk a bit about craft names so here I am.

When I made my dedication to my coven last year, I did so with a craft name. I spent a week thinking about what it would be, was very proud of it, and have never used it since. I am also ashamed to admit I am not 100% sure of the craft names of my coven sisters. Some I could guess at but I wouldn't want to stake my life on it. You have to wonder why we bothered picking names in the first place, and I think the problem was that we didn't wonder this enough before doing so. Craft names obviously have a purpose, they are taken on for a reason, but I think we did it because it was the 'thing to do'.

So why do people have craft names? I tried running a google search before starting this post asking that very question and the results were less than forthcoming. I came across plenty of sites that told me the 101 different ways I could pick/find/divine my name, but none explaining why I should do this in the first place.

Personally I think having a craft name is a lot like casting a magic circle, it separates you from the mundane and tells your brain it is now time to do the spiritual stuff. I can see the value in that but I don't think it is necessary, at least for me. I am not trying to separate my spiritual and mundane lives, I am trying to work hard to integrate the two. I am happy with the name I have, I think I may just keep it for now.

Do you have a craft name? What is it used for? How did you pick it? I would love to hear some stories from others.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

PBP- C is for Charging for Magical Services

This is a topic that comes up from time to time and always seems to cause a bit of controversy. It was recently discussed on a Facebook group I am on and it didn't take long until it all went to Hel. Some people were rude, some people were offended, some people were exasperated by the lack of listening. All in all, it was once of the longest discussions we have ever had (in terms of number of comments) but it definitely wasn't one of the most pleasant.

There were, obviously, two sides in the discussion; those who don't agree with charging and those who do. It seemed to come down to a moral issue for most people but what really struck me was that it was those who didn't charge who seemed to believe that their opinion was the moral absolute. I do intend to talk about my opinion in a moment but, with this in mind, I wanted to get something out of the way first. It is my opinion that morals are a)subjective and b) situational. Every single person has to use their own judgement and decide for themselves what they can live with. Unless it is something that is illegal we have no right to tell others what is and what isn't okay. If people want to charge, they should be able to, if they don't want to, then they shouldn't have to.

As for my personal opinion; magical services are exactly that, a service. We wouldn't dream of providing other services for free, especially if it was a skill we had spent many years learning, so why should we be excepted to provide magical ones for free?!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

PBP - B is for Beginnings

I feel like I am at the beginning of something, and yet I have no idea what that something is. Last year was a year of change; I gave up smoking, I lost a lot of weight, I changed jobs and I made new friends. It didn't feel like a beginning, in many ways it felt more like an ending of the old me. This year feels like it is one of beginning. Whether that be the of beginning a new spiritual path, the beginning of a new career path, or beginning of a whole new chapter of my life I don't know. I do know that I am both equally scared and excited for what the future holds.

Friday, 17 January 2014

PBP- B is for Books: A Selection

I thought for this blog post I would share five books I would recommend. I am not a critic, and that is not the point of this post. Instead I am going to be writing about why I found these books useful, and it is up to you to decide whether you want to look into them or not.

1/ When, Why … If by Robin Wood
Described as an ethical workbook it takes you through the following topics; Honesty, Self, Love, Help, Harm, Sex and Will. Each chapter talks about the authors understanding and beliefs surrounding that particular topic and ends with a number of questions for you to answer. She suggests at the beginning that you read the book beginning to end before you go back and work through a chapter at a time, which is exactly what I did. On the first read-through I wasn't really sure why she wanted you to do it that way but as I began to work through the exercises it became clear that none of the ethical topics existed in a vacuum. Each one had to be considered in light of at least some of the other cases, and so it was important to have the whole picture before you began the work on the individual parts.
One of the things I really liked about the book was that it doesn't give you a list of commandments to follow. It suggests what topics you should be thinking about and then asks you to really think about them. It also confirmed, at least for me, that ethics are not something that are set in stone but in fact can be, and possible should be, situational. Every situation needs to be considered in its own right and we should then act accordingly. If I take nothing else from this book, I will take away the idea that I should always think before I act as this is what living an ethical life is really all about.

2/ Pagan Portals – Spirituality Without Structure: The Power of Finding Your Own Path By Nimue Brown
I bought this book because I am currently trying to put together some kind of structure of my own and thought this book might provide me with a how-to guide. It didn't. Rather than a set of instructions it is instead a guidance map of the types of things you should be considering when building your own path. I made a very, very brief note about the chapters as I went along and, now that I have reached the end, I can see that the book has provided me with both a starting point and a lot to think about. First and foremost, it reminds us that spirituality should be about the numinous experience and should be something that we feel. From there it talks about building a philosophy whilst remaining uncertain, and therefore open to changing ideas. It touches on the use of stories and on community, and also advises that spirituality is about finding meaning and the answers to the question 'Who am I'.
There was a lot to take away from the book and reading it is really only the beginning of the journey it takes you on. Once you have finished it the real work begins, and as you start to put together all the elements she discusses you can see your path emerging.

3/ Witch Crafting: A Spiritual Guide to Making Magic by Phyllis Curott
I have owned this book for a good number of years now. The spine is completely cracked and many of the pages have notes scribbled in the margins or passages underlined. I have read it over and over and often go back to it for information. As you can probably guess, this is one of my favourite books.
The book approaches a number of the 'beginner' topics such as creating sacred space, divination and spell casting. In each case she explains why she believes it important and that is the reason I love this book so much. Instruction manuals are all well and good but I have never lost my childlike need to know why, and this book feeds that need.
Her chapter Witchcraft Without Rules is a very interesting discussion on why 'harm none' is an important part of the Wiccan path, and why the threefold rule is flawed. It is a worthwhile read for a different take on the subject.
My only real complaint with the book is that the author is Wiccan and the book is written from that perspective. The chapters The Goddess and The God, therefore, are about the Wiccan understanding of divinity and don't fit my own particular worldview. Overall though, it s still one of my favourite books.

4/ The Real Witches Craft; Magical Techniques and Guidance for a Full Year of Practising the Craft by Kate West
I love Kate West and have a number of her books on my shelf. Although she is a Wiccan this book is more about developing magical skills and is therefore more accessible to a wider audience. The book is divided into twelve chapters and the idea, as the title suggest, is to work through one chapter a month. Each chapter provides an explanation as to why that particular technique is important and then gives a number of exercises to work through.
Each chapter can be worked through in order but they also work as stand alone chapters. If, for example, you wanted to work on your meditation skills you could work through that chapter without having to read any of the rest of the book.

5/ Wicca and Witchcraft for Dummies by Diane Smith
I really like the for Dummies books. They are well written, well laid out and offer basic information without making you feel stupid, despite what the title may suggest. The books are designed so you can either read them from cover to cover or dip in and out of the bits you feel you need.
The book really should be called Wicca for Dummies, in my opinion, as the book is very geared towards the Wiccan path. It does however acknowledge that there are other options and touches on these in a number of chapters throughout the book.
Overall, I found there was a lot of useful information in this book and it helped me to begin to get an idea of what my own practise would look like. The coven I work with also follows a more wiccan-centric ritual format, and books like this meant I didn't go into that situation blind. I have a very good knowledge of why things are done the way they are, meaning I can experience the moment without needing to dissect it to much.  

Friday, 10 January 2014

PBP- A is for Assessing my Path

The idea for this post has come from here.

Who am I?

- I am an eclectic polytheist.
- I work exclusively with the Greek pantheon but acknowledge the existence of other Gods from other pantheons.
- I am both a solitary on my own path and part of an all-female coven.

Where have I been?

- I have dipped my toe in a number of different paths whilst trying to find the one that was right for me. I have always referred to myself as eclectic however as no path wholly fit with my personal beliefs.
- I originally believed that there was one source and a God and Goddess were a reflection of the masculine and feminine aspects of this source. All the different God/desses were further aspects of this and did not exist independently of the true source.
- I then believed that the individual God/desses existed but not from every culture. Each culture had been worshipping the same deities but given them different names.
- I began to work with Aphrodite, Athena and Dionysus and soon realised they were 'very' independent beings from any other god in any other culture. Aphrodite and Venus, whilst similar, were not the same.

Where am I now?

- I am comfortable with the 'what’s' and 'whys' of my path but also open to the idea that these are not static. They will continue to change and grow as I do. My path has so far been an intellectual one on a solitary level and a more practical one from a group perspective.
- I have recently been called by Hecate and my other Gods have now taken a step back.
- I believe that Hermes is also beginning to make an appearance in my life but this is a very, very recent development.
- The coven I am part of has begun to really work well together and our energies are beginning to gel.
- I am beginning to think about the more practical side of my solitary path and how I can incorporate it into my daily life.

Where am I going?

- I hope to build a set of daily/weekly/monthly habits such as devotionals, Esbat rituals etc. that will become the foundation of my personal practise.
- I want to develop my relationship with Hecate.
- I would like to investigate the potential relationship with Hermes and what affect this may have on my path.
- I would like to continue to work with my coven and develop our connection.

What will I do?

- Read, think, practise