Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Personal Symbols: Empty Picture Frame


Symbols are of extreme importance when it comes to spirituality. When I think about my faith, the first thing that comes to mind is a Pentacle, which is why I wear one around my neck most of the time. To be honest, my entire life is surrounded by personal symbols. One that has been receiving a lot of attention lately is an empty picture frame I keep on my filing cabinet/nightstand (Yep, living space is nothing but a dream in this Eclectic Pagan’s dwelling, so she has to get creative).

I’ve had the empty picture frame for a few years. I bought it the day I decided I was ready to resume my romantic life. I told myself that the picture frame would be filled by the one who was going to claim that special place in my heart. Some time back a picture sat in front of the frame; not in it, just close to it. I looked at both and was almost sure that, soon, they were going to be one. It didn’t happen. The picture in question found its way into a box, after certain events made me realize I was about to make a mistake.

Sweet time has passed since that day. Lately, I’ve found myself looking at the empty picture frame more than usual. There is this guy who has been racing against my skepticism...

I’ve been running faster, guarding my empty picture frame in any way I can. I’m used to looking back and making sure no one can catch us. I looked again, recently, and no one was there. I saw an image closing in—panting—but it was easy to leave him behind. Its sweet voice tried to caress my face, it promised that it was meant to fill my picture frame, but it didn't feel right. I’m still skeptical... I just know, fine I don't know! But I really hope for all my doubts to disappear on the day I meet the one who is supposed to fill my picture frame. 


Do you have any personal symbols in your life?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

One with Nature

I love meeting new people, especially individuals from other spiritual backgrounds who are as hungry for knowledge as I am. I was sitting—on the floor—by the mythology section at a Barnes & Noble last Thursday. I was browsing through a beautifully illustrated book on dragon magic, when a lady walked up to me.

She gave me one of those doubtful looks that immediately tells you that a person is about to ask a question; she didn’t ask anything. She stood there for a few minutes, went to the next section of the bookstore and then returned and stared at me again.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I must be on your way. I’ll move.” I wasn’t on her way. I just wanted to break the ice.

“Not at all, I just…” She paused for a few seconds and focused on a world mythology book. “Can I ask you a question?”

I knew you could do it girlie! I thought. “You bet. Shoot.”

“I'm back in school after 17 years, and I’m taking a religion course. I took it because I thought it was going to be about something I was familiar with, but things have changed since my old college days. We are discussing Nature religions and I have to write a paper on it, but…” She let out a barely audible sigh.

“What do you know about Nature religions?” I interrupted.

“After discussing the topic in class and reading my textbook, I’ve realized I don’t know jack.” She laughed and I was glad she was relaxing a bit.

“Hm… I guess you can write about anything then. Have you thought about discussing the foundation of Nature religions, and how you understand them after reading up on the subject?” I was proud of me; you see, my mind was going a mile a minute. I was already drafting her paper in my head, but I actually formulated a question to make her think about her choices.

She frowned. “That’s the worst part. I tried doing that; explaining the basics of Nature religions from the perspective of someone with a very different spiritual upbringing. But every time I open a book I find something different.”

I believed her; there is just so much information out there. “You know what? I found a quote on The Power of Myth, a book I just started reading, and I think it fully explains what’s at the heart of Nature religions. It says that
‘Nature religions are not attempts to control nature but to help you put yourself in accord with it.’
So I would say that the one thing most—if not all Nature religions—have in common, is the fact that its followers are mindful of Mother Earth and everything that lives in it.”

“Oh man, I didn’t realize; so what Nature religion do you follow?” She looked hopeful.

I smiled. “I’m an Eclectic Pagan who likes to laugh, love and learn, so I follow my heart.”

She sat next to me on the floor. “I want to know more about it.”

And that my Wicked Darlings started a discussion that went on for nearly 3 hours. We exchanged numbers at the end. We are supposed to meet next Wednesday, when she’ll tell me all about her life as a Mormon.


What would you say, if someone asked you to describe your belief system or spiritual path in one sentence?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Touched by Pagan Culture Saturdays

This blog changed domains. It was also renamed Michel Watson. 

Pumpkins and Toadstools has been touched by Pagan Culture Saturdays!

As I mentioned on Show, Don’t JUST Tell, the creator of this blog is very inspiring. I’ll use her own words to tell you that Michel is “a mum… a hedgewitch… an artist…” and she “is studying as an energy healer”. I asked Michel why did she blog and she simply said, “I started my blog as a way to write down my thoughts and showcase my work, more for myself and my friends in the first place and it kind of grew from there.”

Michel’s blog shifts “from the mundane to the magickal”, in a swift educational way. It takes you on breathtaking trips, blows you away with its crafty nature, and blesses you with enchanting works of art. All these things might be enough to have made me pick Pumpkins and Toadstools as the first blog to be touched by Pagan Culture, but I assure you they were not behind my decision. What inspired me was Michel’s tendency to help other bloggers in need. I remember a particular time when someone was having trouble grabbing the Pagan Culture button; Michel jumped right on it and created a simplified guide for the Wicked Darling. That touched my heart because that is what Pagan Culture is all about: a bunch of people helping each other out, sharing ideas and learning from each other.

Go check out Michel’s blog, and let me know if you find yourself following the trail of Pumpkins and Toadstools!

Edited 3/13/2011

Friday, October 23, 2009

She Can't Be a Princess for Halloween

My niece told me “Tia (aunt in Spanish) I want to a princess for Halloween.” I smiled really huge because my baby couldn't have picked a better costume; she would make an adorable princess. I told my brother that I could take her trick-or-treating. He said, “Halloween is a satanic holiday and she is a Christian child. She doesn’t do that.” He said this in front of my 5-year-old niece. I can’t begin to tell you how much that bothered me.

My brother is a devout Baptist and I respect his beliefs because they make him happy, and to each his own. But I find some of his practices harmful when it comes to my nieces. I just don’t think that he should say things like that in front of young child. Just think about it, my niece gets to school next Friday (they are celebrating Halloween on the 30th) and she won’t be wearing a costume. I’m sure she’ll feel uncomfortable because she might be the only one not dressed up. Imagine if another child asks her “Where is your costume?” and she says “Halloween is a satanic holiday and I’m Christian”. Can you imagine the follow up?

I don’t think young children should be put in that situation. They just don’t know how to explain things properly, so they might end up getting hurt in the process. They can be the victim of alienation, even worst, they can get psychologically damaged. I read a post the other day on Perfectly Pagan, a fairly new blog about discovering Paganism. The creator of the blog, One Pink Fish, explains that her husband advised against using terminology their children couldn’t explain or that would get ridiculed around friends, in order to keep them safe. I GET HIM!

Some have told me that I’m a hypocrite because if I follow a path, and I believe is the right one, then I should want my entire family to follow it too. Trust me I do, and I wish, but I’ll not push it down their throat; that is not the Pagan way or MY way, period! I believe in letting people make informed decisions. Let them experience life, so they can learn what works for them. A 5-year-old child just doesn’t know. I think it is immoral to make them commit to something they don’t fully understand.

I know this is a very touchy subject, and I might get the same old reply: You have no children, so what would you know! And whoever says that is very right. I haven’t had the honor of making life—yet—but I love people in general, especially my little angels. So it breaks my heart to see how they get pushed into these types of situations. Children should be allowed to be children. Wait until they are old enough, before asking them to make lifelong choices.

What are your views on this issue?


P.S. Sorry if I sound a bit frustrated. It is just so hard to see unfairness happen right in front of my eyes, and to the ones I love most. It kills me because I can complain, try to educate the intolerant soul, but in the end I can’t really do a damn thing about it ;( I’m angry.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Show, Don’t JUST Tell!

I’m always extra busy with schoolwork, The Boyfriend *grin*, life... so I don't have as much time for blogging as I used to. I do my best to post every now and then, but I’ve been horrible about reading my favorite blogs. Yet, my Wicked Darlings have kept the Circle going. I am very grateful and I’ve told you about it often. But I believe in showing and not just telling, so I’ve decided to Touch you my Wicked Darlings. NOT that way!

This is what I’m doing: starting (10/24/09), one of you will be Touched by Pagan Culture Tuesday! YOUR blog will be showcased on MY blog for an entire day, and then it will become part of the Eclectic Circle of Fame, forever.

 I’ll use Random.Org to select the Wicked Darling to be Touched. 

I know some Wicked Darlings comment a lot more than others, so if your name pops up after you have been showcased, I’ll just show you some link love. I’ll go to your blog, pick one of my favorite posts, and then I’ll tell everyone how that particular entry has Touched me. If you comment often, but you don't have a blog, then you and I will talk...

Click HERE if you want to be Touched!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Honest Scrap: This Witch Is Over the Top!

Okay, so Pagan Culture is “Over the Top” according to Sarita from A College Girl’s Day. And yep, it is full of “Honest Scrap” too, says Pixie at Pixie’s World of Wonder.

Pagan Culture and, um… me, have received two more blog awards. I’m so excited. Well, I was until I saw the amount of work I had to do before I accepted them. Yikes! I guess Sarita and Pixie didn’t realize that I was going to have to clean after two very messy guys after I got home. Wait a minute… I don’t have to work to get the awards; I just have to talk about my favorite person in the whole wide world: ME!

That is no work at all. So here is goes:












Pixie’s Honest Scrap Awards requires 10 honest things about ME, and then I have to pass it on to 7 people with blogs “I find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged me.
  1. I want to live in a cabin in the middle of nowhere.
  2. I don’t know how to hold back on those I love.
  3. I’m obsessed with flossing and brushing my teeth.
  4. I don’t make my dogs do tricks; I find it humiliating.
  5. I believe in love and Fate.
  6. I love my dad more than I love myself.
  7. I’m good at forgiving, but I suck at forgetting.
  8. I’m divorced.
  9. I love strawberry wine and Hershey Shell.
  10. I want to spend the rest of my days writing and taking care of a husband and a few kids.
7 Blogs full of Honest Scrap:
  1. CASA HICE
  2. Following the Willowisp
  3. Goats in the Garden
  4. Lover of Strife
  5. Meadowsweet & Myrrh
  6. Monsieur le Roi
  7. The Fern Law of Faery









Sarita said that I have to answer 35 questions about ME and then nominate 7 blogs, which I believe are Over the Top.
35 Questions
1. Where is your cell phone? Bed
2. Your hair? Curly
3. Your mother? Complicated
4. Your father? Incredible
5. Your favorite food? Fruit
6. Your dream last night? Dark
7. Your favorite drink? Coconut-water
8. Your dream/goal? Bliss
9. What room are you in? Bedroom
10. Your hobby? Reading
11. Your fear? Uncertainty
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Published
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. Something that you aren't? Forgetful
15. Muffins? Blueberry!
16. Wish list item? Everything
17. Where did you grow up? Caribbean
18. Last thing you did? Ate
19. What are you wearing? Um…
20. Your TV? Off
21. Your pets? Beta
22. Friends? Solid
23. Your life? Crossroads
24. Your mood? Hopeful
25. Missing someone? Yes
26. Vehicle? MINI
27. Something you're not wearing? Um…
28. Your favorite store? Nature
29. Your favorite color? Pink
30. When was the last time you laughed? Today
31. Last time you cried? Nosy!
32. Your best friend? Me
33. One place that I go to over and over? Mind
34. One person who emails me regularly? BFF
35. Favorite place to eat? Home
6 Blogs that are Over the Top:
  1. Between the Branches
  2. Cheap Wine and Cookies
  3. Hesitant Housewife
  4. Oh, the urbanity!Charm City edition
  5. Soulstrings
  6. Temporary Adjunct

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thatcher State Park

I don’t usually share pictures on this blog, but these ones are so beautiful and peaceful that I felt I had to. They were taken about a week ago, during a pleasant hike at Thatcher State Park, in Upstate New York.

Thoughtful Magaly: You are probably thinking that I’m reflecting on the beauty of the view—you are wrong! I was thinking: Is he getting my good side? *grin*
Resilience: I’m always amazed by plants that make it through hard times, or um… rocks. They can teach us so much about resilience.
Walking Stick: And talking about resilience, we found this walking stick hopping around on a parking lot-like structure. Okay, so it wasn’t really hopping, but it was missing a leg and still kicking. Yep, I’m such a dork.
Waterfall: Water-falling on me—dorky again hehehe.
Gazebo: You might not be able to picture this *grin again*, but that white spec on the top left—under the thin branch—is a tiny gazebo. I can’t begin to tell you how jealous I am of whoever owns that piece of paradise. I hope s/he enjoys it every day of his/her life!
Green Heart: Here is nature in love. Can you see her heart? She is a very romantic lady, isn’t she?
Fall: Autumn kissed leafs. Simple. Natural. Breathtaking.
Have you taken any cool pics this fall?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Following My Eclectic Pagan Bliss


“If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you aught to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.”
The former quote can be found in Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth, which was bookmarked with a quote by Henry David Thoreau; one where he spoke about destiny and said
"Go confidently in the direction of your DREAMS! LIVE the life you’ve always IMAGINED.”
The book by Campbell and the bookmark with Thoreau’s words were given to me by one of you—a very dear Pagan Culture reader. I won’t disclose the name of this individual because this person works for a very intolerant institution—sad, I know. Some might find it difficult to believe that this type of treatment still exist, but if you follow a Witchcraft tradition or any other marginalized spiritual path, you already know that it is not that unusual.

But enough about sadness, for this is a blissful post. If you have been following Pagan Culture and/or The Pagan & The Pen you already know I’ve been “Stumbling at a Crossroad”. I’m in love with Eclectic Paganism, mythology and writing; particularly in the way these three relate and influence each other. I’ve spent the last few months doing research, trying to find the best academic program that can help me follow my dream. It has being TOUGH and the frustrating process was making me lose hope.

Yesterday, I made a few phone calls and cancelled interviews with prospective schools. I was just too tired. One person called me back and told me not to give up, to continue my search or to accept some help in the process. I was so frustrated that I almost declined, but something told me not to. I met the individual at a lovely coffee shop where we talked about mythology, Paganism, Green Witchcraft, reading, writing, scholarly research, dreams… all of this over warm oatmeal cookies, caramel macchiato and Fiji water (by the way, I know we should pay for quality, but UNHOLY crap! I couldn’t believe how much the water cost).

My Wicked Darling started the conversation by saying: “I really love your blog. Its simplicity, and its just-say-it-like-it-is approach to life, is invigorating. I’m a Green Witch who is so deep in the broom closet that I doubt I’ll ever come out… maybe a few years after retirement… or after my children are old enough to understand. Who knows…”

After the longest of silences, the person continued. “You have so much potential. I want to say that you remind me of me when I was your age, but that would be a lie. I wasn’t as brave and I didn’t have your charm.” At this point in the conversation, my Wicked Darling already had me, for flattery goes everywhere with me *grin*, but this amazing individual had to go for the kill: “With ‘privilege comes responsibility’, a bit clichĂ©, but true nonetheless. You have been given an opportunity that some of us can only dream of. Don’t waste it. You are always writing about the beauty of Paganism, aren’t you?” I gave a zombielike nod. “Then go and get the degree that can help you spread that word with authority.”

I won’t lie; I was a bit teary-eyed by the time she was done. However, the choking emotion was replaced by pure excitement when my Wicked Darling put a bag on the table and told me: “In case my eloquent monologue didn’t win you over, here is some bribery.”

I laughed so hard that people began to stare. I got a lovely mug, a weekly planner, a water flask, a book, a bookmark, the cutest of memo pads, an insanely expensive bottle of water (sorry, I’m a thrifty soul), and a healthy nudge toward following my Eclectic Pagan “bliss”.

I want to thank each and every one of you for reading Pagan Culture and for REALLY paying attention to what I write. I started this blog hoping for a few likeminded individuals who would stop by, every now and then, to share ideas. I’m happy to say that I’ve met people, here, who have touched my life in ways I didn’t believe possible in cyberspace.

Thanks a bunch my Wicked Darlings, especially my dearest new friend, the Green Witch in the broom closet.



Oh, I almost forgot to 
show you my wicked bookmark! Here it is ;)

And as usual, I have a question, has anyone touched your life through cyberspace?




Friday, October 9, 2009

An Eclectic Pagan’s View on Mortality

My grandmother passed away last night. The news traveled faster than I could have ever imagined. I received text messages and phone calls from people who I haven’t heard from in ages; some I don’t even know! My phone rang at about midnight; it was the friend of a cousin, who knew a guy who lived closed to my grandma, and who was sure he could feel the pain of my loss—no joke.

I know death is something difficult to deal with, but I also understand that it is necessary for the continuation of life. What sort of place would the world be if we lived (unchanged) forever? I was talking to one of my best friends last night. He called me because he got a call from someone who heard about my grandma. He told me that he was surprised. “You are not crying,” he said. “I remember when Toughy died, you were… you were inconsolable. Are you okay?”

“I’m okay,” I told him. “Toughy was 20-years-old. He was killed in action by a kid younger than he was. I was angry at the injustice; mad at the fact that very few people saw the uselessness of his death. My grandma lived almost a century. She had more grandchildren and great-grandchildren than she could remember. She was tired and wanted to move on. She LIVED, Toughy didn’t. We should celebrate my grandma’s life and not, forever, mourn her death.”

He was quiet for a few long seconds, and then he said, “You are a very weird woman.”

I said goodbye to my friend, after thanking him for his kind gesture. Then I sat on the floor and thought for a long while. I examined my Eclectic Pagan’s view on mortality and tried to see if they were in fact weird. I concluded they weren’t. I believe that we are all made of the same basic energy and that we become part of everything we touch. I also believe that energy never disappears, it just changes. I know my grandma is somewhere…

I ask my Hekate to brighten my grandma’s new path with Endless Blessings. Please say a prayer for her… light a candle… or do whatever you believe will help her get to where she wants to go next. She was a very difficult woman. In the course of her life, she made decisions that hurt many. However, everybody deserves forgiveness and a second, third, fourth… chance.


I’ll quote a very sweet and intelligent man to say that today I’ll “think of all the beautiful things she did for the ones she loved” most.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson


I drove from New York City to Upstate New York and although the reason for my trip was a very happy one, some of the scenery made me very sad. I was heading north on I-87 and about two hours into my trip I was stuck in traffic. I didn’t mind much because I was listening to a very interesting book, then I drove a bit further and traffic stopped completely in front of an area that looked like a tree graveyard—so many trees had been cut. I wondered why… then I read a sign that announced some type of development. I can’t remember what exactly, but I’ll get the name on my drive back.

The experience reminded me of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, one of the best books I’ve ever read. EVER. If you love the planet that feeds you, dresses, shelters you… then take a few minutes and read this review. I’m almost sure, that it won’t be long before you feel the need to go and pick up the book or the movie.

***

History has been marked by literary and scientific milestones that have influenced—and continue to influence—public awareness at its core. But there have been very few cases where scientific work has been presented as an impressive bundle, containing commendable literary power and immense scientific worth. The mentioned characteristics can be justly attributed to Rachel Carson’s (2002) Silent spring; a book filled with the literary scientific merit needed to incite global public awareness, awaken environmental consciousness, and redefine environmental justice.

Carson (2002) suggested that “… life on earth has been a history of interaction between living things and their surroundings” (p. 5). She also explained that most creatures have respected and followed that statement, century after century, as if it was common law—but man’s ever increasing ingenuity has forced him away from such belief (Carson, 2002). In man’s view nature has became a troublesome obstacle—trees disturbed the clarity of his roads, undesirable fish filled his rivers, weeds dishonored his gardens, insolent insects invaded his crops—so man created weapons to kill nature where it stood. He used chemicals, such as dichloro-diphenyl-trichloro-ethane (DDT), in order to deal with nature’s small nuisances (Carson, 2002). That was how man’s intelligence, clouded by arrogance, tricked him into believing that he could destroy nature, without suffering the serious consequences of his actions.

In the early 1960s the earth’s pain was heard through the voice of Rachel Carson, a biologist—and wondrous writer—who wanted to make peace between man and his environment. But man’s hearing has been known to be quite dubious, especially if listening might imply doing any work or spending any money, so of course he did not listen (Goodwin, 1993). Those with decision-making power refused to believe Carson’s allegations. Her reputation was attacked when she tried to warn the public of the dangers of DDT; government chemists accused her book of inaccuracy and most of the media backed up their claims (Goodwin, 1993).

But all the slander did not stop Carson’s campaign; maybe the fact that she was living with cancer—one of the terrible illnesses that could be caused by DDT—gave her the strength to continue fighting, in an effort to keep that unforgiving sickness from touching the lives of others (Goodwin, 1993). Carson continued attempting to warn the government of the dangers of DDT, and encouraging the public to fight for their right to breathe unpolluted air and eat foods as free of poison as it was humanly possible (Goodwin, 1993). The public, encouraged by Carson’s voice and terrified by the unbelievable amount of dead birds in their yards (Carson, 2002, p. 123) started to contact the local government plus anyone else who would listen. The public’s cry, along with a copy of Carson’s work, reached President John F. Kennedy. The Commander in Chief appointed the President's Science Advisory Committee to review the validity of Silent Spring, and the book, its author, and nature came out victorious (Goodwin, 1993).

DDT stayed around for another decade or so, and its effects on the environment might stay with humanity forever. But don’t panic, the environmental consequences of Rachel Carson’s (2002) Silent Spring are just as durable. The 40-somethin-year-old book once served to remind man of his symbiotic relationship with nature, and if man’s memory happens to falter again, then I— and others like me—will remind man. I have always been an advocate for the environment, and Rachel Carson’s work made me realize that I will never be alone in my ordeal. There are many who feel just like I do, and who are willing to scream as loud as Silent Spring, in order to promote environmental justice.

If you haven’t read this book, I recommend you to do so as soon as possible; then let your voice speak for your planet in a thunderous echo of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.

This is one of those books, which I know I’ll read at least once a year. Do you have any books you like so much that you read it over and over again, and every time you do you find something that makes you like it even more? If so, care to share?

Carson, R. (2002). Silent spring. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Goodwin, N. (Producer), (1993) Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring [Motion Picture]. United States: PBS.