“Walk The Line” – Johnny Cash
“All Along The Watchtower” – Jimi Hendrix Experience
“L.A. Woman” – The Doors
“As Time Goes By” – Jimmy Durante
“Take On Me” – A-Ha
“Holy Diver” – Dio
“Stairway To Heaven” – Led Zeppelin
“The Number Of The Beast” – Iron Maiden
“Love Will Tear Us Apart” – Joy Division
“Wish You Were Here” – Pink Floyd
“Have You Ever Seen The Rain” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Let It Be” – The Beatles
“A Few Hours After This” – The Cure
“Battle Against Time” – Wintersun
Archive for October, 2009
Posted in Farming, Spirituality, tagged Agriculture, Biglaw, Cats, Chicago, Children, Debt, Economics, Family, Farming, Food, Gardening, Instinct, Law, Law School, Marriage, Mental Health, Mini-Farming, Nature, Parenting, Planting, Plants, Rosemary, Sage, Spinach, Spirituality, Urban Homesteading on October 28, 2009 | Leave a Comment »
The other day, my little boy brought me a clay pot that he had planted a seed in awhile ago and he was concerned that nothing had ever grown in it (it had, but unfortunately we have a mischievous cat that likes to pick at and eat young growing things). I realized that we had a bunch of pots and seeds that we had never used, so he and I decided to just go ahead and plant everything.
So we took down a handful of red clay pots, got out our half-full bag of potting mix, and our packets of seeds, and just kind of started planting. We’re moving soon, so it is not certain that these seeds are going to amount to anything–even if we manage to take them with us, they won’t necessarily survive the trip. But it was an intense reminder of how much I long to be connected to the cycles of life and death and nature and growing things.
I’m not much of a gardener, but for at least a couple of years I have had the unshakable instinct that I need to be. Something inside of me desperately craves a connection to the living world, even if I’m a big-city-lawyer. If I do not get it, I am certain that I will go insane.
It;s not practical for me (for us) to just run away to the backwoods and become self-sufficient subsistence farmers, even though I fantasize about it all the time. I have a mountain of debt from law school that’s only going to get paid off by slaving away in the Biglaw Law Mines. And I’m not unhappy about it, to be honest with you–I am fortunate in that I have found an area of the law to practice that I genuinely enjoy. But I am intensely aware that I am going to need to be connected to nature and to growing things, even as a busy urban professional.
I have big dreams for our new place in Chicago–I’ve been poring over my book (a christmas gift last year from my beautiful and sexy wife) The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-sufficient Living in the Heart of the City and getting all kinds of ideas for projects, depending on how much space and how much access we have to the outside we wind up having when we get to Chicago. But I can’t wait that long: even if planting now is a fool’s errand, it was something I had to do (and it was an awesomely fun way to spend the morning with my three-year-old as well). So we have pots of spinach, rosemary, and sage sitting on our windowsill, where the little monster-cat hopefully can’t get at more than one of them.
We’ll see how it turns out, but in any case, this is definitely a taste of things to come.
Posted in Spirituality, tagged ADF, Ancient Order of Druids in America, AODA, Ár nDraíocht Féin, Commitment, Druidry, Gods, Greek gods, Greek Mythology, Hellenic Polytheism, Hellenismos, Impiety, Internet, Meso-Paganism, Mesopaganism, Muscle Cars, Mysticism, Nature, Neo-Paganism, Neopaganism, OBOD, Order of Bards Ovates and Druids, Paganism, Piety, Polytheism, Religion, Samhain, Samhainn, Spirituality, Worship on October 24, 2009 | 6 Comments »
In my last post, I hinted cryptically at something new in the works for me, spiritually speaking. The quick and dirty version is that a week from tomorrow my family will celebrate Samhainn and I will, in honor of the new year of the ancient Celts, officially begin my candidate year with the Ancient Order of Druids in America. I not only plan on pursuing the First-Degree Curriculum on my own, but actually joining the Order and becoming as active as is practical in it (although since the Order is small right now, that just might mean no more than stepping up my participation in the Yahoo group). That’s as big of a bite as I am willing to take at the moment, but I intend for it to only be a beginning. I fully intend to ultimately join and study with Ár nDraíocht Féin and the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids within the next few years. In other words, I have decided to become a Druid (or at least a neo-Druid, which I will say for the first and last time for the benefit of the unreasonably rigid who demand that such a distinction be made).
A massive amount of thought has gone into this (you may remember that I have been toying with the idea of Druidry for an awfully long time, especially now that I have finally come to terms with my pagan identity), but despite Druidry’s constant presence in my spiritual orbit, I have been pretty much consistently unable to actually do anything with it, even to commit mentally to the idea.
Since the Hellenic gods reached out to me, I have had a kind of internal tension with traditional Hellenic polytheistic religion, i.e. Hellenismos. Belief in the reality of the gods of ancient Greece does not necessarily imply the need to worship them in the fashion of the ancient Greeks, but I have this pro-dogma reflex that I think I inherited from Mormonism. Even though I have known from the beginning that Hellenismos was not going to work for me, i have kept trying to make it work for me, and although I have made some important spiritual inroads and have developed meaningful relationships with the gods, I have never felt like “this is it; this is my spiritual identity.”
Don’t be confused here, though. I am in no sense whatsoever talking about abandoning my faith in or worship of the Hellenic gods. I have felt these gods, I have been blessed by them, I have had incredible experiences with them. These gods reached out to me, and I would say that I claim them as my gods, but it really makes more sense to say that they claimed me as their own. I will continue to worship these gods to me–the gods that are, in my experience, the real gods.
I am also not saying that I will abandon traditional Hellenic worship forms, either. It makes sense and it to worship the Greek gods in a Greek way. I also think it pleases them to be worshipped in a way that is traditional. I will continue to draw on ancient practices and forms of worship in my spiritual life as I have done for the past year. But I’m not going to stress out about “doing it right” or feel nervous, inadequate, or impious when I fail to perform my religion according human-created specifications, as ancient and valuable as they may be. Ultimately I’m concerned with what the gods think, not with what ancient Greeks would have thought, or what Hellenic polytheists on the internet think.
What I am saying here is that my religion is not “Hellenismos.” Though I worship the Hellenic gods and often do so in Hellenic ways, I will not keep trying to fit my religious life into a wrong-sized hole. My relationship with the gods is not the only component of my spirituality, and I see no reason why it should be. I believe in my gods, not in a religion.
But I am embracing Druidry because it is the only place I know of that will allow me to fully explore all of the aspects of my spirituality–Hellenic polytheism included–that cry out to be explored. The modern Druid tradition embraces absolutely everything that is important to me spiritually (except for badass muscle cars; those really just don’t fit which is too bad for Druidry, really), and provides a framework for finding or building the connections between them. And more importantly, I am embracing Druidry because I feel pain when I am cut off from the natural world, and because I feel dead inside when I am alienated from nature’s cycles. Druidry is the only spiritual path I am aware of–and I have done no small amount of looking around–that comes even close to punching all of the buttons that I need to have punched.
So here I go; into the breach. I’ve been sort of warming up, practicing meditation and the Druid grove ceremony, and I’ve been talking to my beautiful and sexy wife a bit about what I’ll be doing and what parts of it we can do together. I’m excited about this. Being willing to say “I am committed” in a spiritual context is a huge step for me, as even a quick perusal of my blog archives will show you. This is a big deal.
Posted in Spirituality, Tarot, tagged Action, Aphrodite, Apollo, Apollon, Cups, Divination, Emotion, Future, Goddess, Hellenic Polytheism, Light, Lucifer, Mind, Past, Prayer, Present, Quest, Reversal, Sacrifice, Spirit, Spirituality, Swords, Tarot, Ten of Cups, Venus, Wands, Worship on October 22, 2009 | 2 Comments »
Today is Thursday, which means it is my day to pray to and worship Aphrodite (though truth be told, I pray to and worship Aphrodite much more often than just on Thursdays). Today I spent time meditating on the birth of the goddess, and then I offered my typical prayers, hymns, and offerings. When I was finished, it occured to me to do a tarot reading about my relationship with the goddess, so I sat down with my cards, I invoked Apollo as the god of oracles and prophecy, and I asked for the cards to reveal to me the nature of my relationship with the goddess, past, present, and future. This was the spread I laid out:
(In case those links ever expire, those are the Ten of Cups reversed, the Page of Wands reversed, and the Nine of Swords).
Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of it. The first card, the reversed Ten of Cups, makes sense. After my initial contact with the goddess, which blew me away and filled me with warmth, light, and love, my continued spiritual floundering has left the fulness of spiritual joy represented by the Ten of Cups, that I feel can be available to me through Aphrodite, has been truncated and stunted. My own hemming and hawing, whatever my reasons, has kept me from having the joy in the goddess that I might otherwise have had. Nothing odd or unexpected there.
Its the reversed Page of Wands and the Nine of Swords that have me troubled. The Page came up ecently in an extremely important reading I did for myself, and at the moment I am sort of getting ready to embark on a path of (spiritual) action: a very definite journey of spiritual work that I think the Page represents. So why is he reversed? Am I doing something wrong?
And the Nine of Swords? What does that mean? That my Page-of-Wands journey is ill-considered and abortive and will lead to regret and hearbreak, at least as far as the goddess is concerned? Or is the whole thing a warning? Could it not be saying that my present quest is in fact corrupted and askew, but that if I do embark on it like I have planned, but then I let it fall by the wayside, if I am lazy about it, then it will end in sorrow and tragedy, and a possible loss of relationship with the goddess altogether?
In other words (because I know I am being cryptic and confusing), is the reading telling me something definite or conditonal? Is it warning me that my present course is distorted and cowardly, and will result in anguish, or is it warning me that if I veer from my present course–reverse the Quest, in other words–that it will lead to anguish? It seems a bit vague about something that is kind of important.
My Little Boy: “Mommy, I have to wash my hand.”
My Beautiful And Sexy Wife: “Why?”
My Little Boy: “Because I peed all over it.”
America has been made safer today thanks to the valiant efforts of the Transportation Safety Officers at LAX airport. It turns out that today’s permutation of the ever-changing FAA security regulations say that liquids have to be in containers holding 3.4 ounces or less. In an obvious evil plot, I tried to openly carry on a bottle of Aqua Velva in my transparent ziploc bag of personal hygeine liquids that measured an insidious 3.5 ounces.
I was generously offered the option to check my bag instead (which now costs $20 per bag) but I told him to “just fucking throw it away.” Apparently that’s not an option though, and he had to test it first, before he would give me back my stuff.
The best part though was how my belt was in the same tray as my bag of liquids. When I reached for it, the man actually grabbed it out of my hands and took it from me. I was flabbergasted. So I had to just stand there with my pants falling down, bereft of dignity, while this Real American Hero tested my frighteningly 0.1-ounce-oversize bottle of aftershave that I was not going to be able to take on the plane anyway, to make sure it was not a bottle of Liquid Evil.
When he finally came back to give me my other safely-3.4-ounce-or-less liquids and my belt, I gave him a “way to keep America safe from Aqua Velva” salute, put on my belt, and went on my way, feeling pissed off and helpless.
This is not security; this is security theater. This does not in any way make us safer; it just makes us irritable and late for our planes.
Fuck Congress. Fuck the FAA. Fuck the assholes who work for the TSA. Fuck the cowardly terrorist pieces of shit who make this kind of bullshit possible. And fuck each and every one of us for being so completely fucking spineless that we’re willing to trade our dignity so we can pretend we’re somehow safer.
Posted in Spirituality, tagged Animal, Athena, Athletics, Civilization, Conversion, Goddess, Greek Myth, Greek Mythology, Hellenic Polytheism, Hellenismos, Hermes, Impiety, Mercury, Minerva, Mysticism, Neopaganism, Nike, Omen, Owl, Paganism, Piety, Polytheism, Prayer, Religion, Running, Sacrifice, Uncategorized, Wisdom on October 5, 2009 | 7 Comments »
My belief in the gods is based largely on two things: 1. I find them compelling enough to believe in, and 2. I have experienced their presence, existence, and sometimes even immanence. Not so with Athena. Of all of the major Hellenic gods, Athena has just never seemed that real to me. She’s the goddess of civilization and wisdom, and as an almost-lawyer, she should probably even be my patron, but she just seems nonexistent. At the risk of being impious, I have even siggested on a number of occasions that I thought maybe she wasn’t actually real at all. Maybe the Athenians made her up in some kind of self-serving bid for a patron goddess they could make in their own image.
I mentioned it again today, in a series of text messages to my brother. Recently he ran for class president at his law school, and lacking any other real religious direction of his own, but also not really a commited atheist, he decided what-the-hellishly to pray for help from my gods. Among others (Hermes and Nike I think), he made an offering to Athena. He was a bit disappointed when he lost, and it wasn’t much of a religious conversion moment for him (the Hellenic gods didn’t come through for him, so he has been soured a bit as far as future faith goes). I tried to console him by suggesting that perhaps Athena did not answer his prayer because she is not real.
That was this afternoon, while I was hiking in the woods. Later this evening, I went running around the apartment complex. It was after dark, which is normal for me; I go running at night around the compex all the time, as it is challengingly hilly and conveniently one mile around. Furthermore, while I was running, I was talking on the phone. To my brother.
Suddenly this big bird flies down from behind a lamp-post. And not just any bird. An owl. A big gray owl flies from behind a lamp-post, right over my head, no more than four feet above me, and then flies past me and into a tree, sending terrified little birds scattering.
Now, I realize that owls probably live around here, even though I have never personally seen one. And I realize that I might be just engaging in magical thinking, or making connections that are not really there. But on the very day that I suggest the nonexistence of Athena, a member of a pantheon of gods whose existence I otherwise heartily affirm, I get a fly-by by a big owl. The symbol of Athena. The only time I have ever seen an owl in the wild in my entire life.
My brother pointed out a very real possibility: “Maybe Athena just isn’t interested in you.” Good call, bro.
I hereby publicly apologize to Athena for my impiety. I pledge to never again suggest or imply her nonexistence, and at the next opportunity I will make an offering to her to make up for being a pompous, arrogant mortal.