Sunday, April 23, 2017

What if God was one of us? A view from an Earth based spiritual path

My sister recently asked me to share a short reflection on this question, a Pagan viewpoint of God, for a service where the theme centered around the 90s song "What if God was one of us." I thought this is a perfect time to share with all of you, one of many new posts coming in the future. ~ Laura

We are all made of star stuff. Does that sound familiar? “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” Carl Sagan asserted this on an episode of Cosmos back in the 1980s. While I didn't have the chance to watch the original series, I've heard the words repeated over the years and have resonated to it. It means that we are all connected to each other from the same source. Even bigger than any individual, all of the bits and pieces of the universe, the pieces of the earth, and all that is seen and unseen is connected in some way or another to each other. Who is to say that we then also don't share a soul or spirit, life essence if you will. As a Unitarian Universalist, a Druid, and a human on a spiritual journey, all of this affects how I perceive God. Call it God, Spirit, or The Divine, I believe there is something out there bigger than each of us, bigger than all of us.

In my case this is many somethings. I was told I could only have 5 minutes (anyone know a UU or a Pagan that can summarize the sole essence of their personal theology in that time?)  so my reflection question of the day is how do I see God as one of us? I choose to reflect on two of the somethings that make up my personal theology, Animism and Polytheism.

Animism is one of the ways I see Spirit,God, or The Divine as part our world. It describes some of the oldest religious and spiritual practices, according to those that decide such things. The commonly accepted definition of animism is that objects, places, and creatures all possess distinctive spiritual qualities. To me it means that everything has a spirit or an aspect of the divine inside of it. Each of us in the human family, our siblings in the rest of the tree of life, such as mammals and birds, and even each piece of our Mother Earth, rock and shrub, has a piece of the divine in it. After looking back over the years to my childhood and my craving for time outside on our grandparents farm - just ask my mom - I have always been this way. I call these aspects nature spirits or land spirits or tree spirits. When I say I'm a tree hugger, in some ways I’m being literal. Mother Earth is to me as divine and alive as God is to those of the Christian path. She is literally one of us and in each of us, just as we are a part of Her. There is no separation of divinity as being outside of us. Spirit is one of us, walking beside us, under us, with us. “As above, so below, as within, so without” is  a quote from the Hermetic texts that sums it up in a lot fewer words.

As my spiritual journey continues, I see not one singular God but many deities, along with the aforementioned natural spirits. For me this means gods and goddesses are a part of those forces that I look to for strength, guidance, reverence, and I respect Them. As a growing Polytheist, I acknowledge that there are many gods and goddesses, both seen and unseen, with names some so old Their names have long been forgotten. Just because I don’t have a relationship with a deity doesn’t mean they have any less power or that I don’t “believe” in them.  Having spent the first 20 or so years of my life as a Catholic with God, a father god, I have leaned more towards the goddesses having a primary presence in my current spiritual practices. But unlike the Catholic tradition, where God is celestial, lofty, and resides outside of us, these other deities seem human in many respects.  These other deities have made mistakes and triumphs alike. The stories, or mythos, of these events have been passed down over time. I have no doubt They have walked among us and tested us, even if we didn’t know. I’ve had experiences on my spiritual path that I can not explain in any comprehensible way that have led me to this belief and on this path. For me, God is one of many who maybe at anytime walking among us.

As a Unitarian Universalist Druid, all of this affects how I see God. I do see God as one of us, in all of us and those inhabiting our world with us. It’s why during my spiritual practices I pay my respects to the nature spirits, the shining ones (or god/desses), and my ancestors. Spirit is one of us. The divine is not outside of our human understanding. God (if you will) is one of us.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Back at it again: From Seeking a Path to The Barefoot Druid

Hello world.
After a few years break, I'm at a place where I want to write again about my spiritual journey... well, really my spiritual practice now... and other musings around Paganism, Druidry, my Avalonian path, Unitarian Universalism, Polytheism, or other interests of mine. Things like history, geography, pop culture, music, or books I'm reading might make their way into my musings. Maybe a poem or two might sneak in, it's a recent interest of mine.
From seeking a path to what has now become my spiritual journey and practice has been the result of several years of exploring, reading, questioning, and experiencing, to which I hope to share pieces as well over time. As appropriate of course, as we all know some things must be experienced. My goal in sharing is threefold: to share some of my experiences so others on a Pagan path know they are not alone, to commit to writing and practicing on a more regular basis, and to grow on my path by communicating with others out here on the interwebs. You can also follow me on Facebook.
So I hope to see you back again soon as I start to share more. Blessings on your own journeys until then.
Laura, the Barefoot Druid /|\
(aka Galena)

Friday, February 24, 2012

D is for Divine


What is the divine?  One of the things that has drawn me to the study and search of my Pagan self is the way Pagans view the divine.  During my upbringing in the Roman Catholic church, it was my understanding that God was outside of us.  That there was this mysterious force that was outside of the everyday that we had to go to church to worship and show your devotion.  It’s not that you couldn’t pray at home and God wouldn’t hear you, that’s not what I mean.  And maybe as a young person this wasn’t the correct understanding, but that is what I got.  As I got older and tried to revive my Catholicism by finding a new church or group, I still felt this ultimate disconnect with what we were supposed to be worshiping as divine.  So this lead to me reading and discovering all of these various religions that exist and what eventually drew me to the Pagan path.  There seems to be an overwhelming appreciation of the divine in everything.

One article I came across recently I think says it most beautifully.  “In its most simple form, this spiritualized veneration of nature is a form of pantheism - the belief that all things are divine, and the divine is in, and one with, all things. It is also monistic (monism is the belief that everything ultimately is united in one all-encompassing divine reality). Within this approach, worshiping nature and worshiping the divine are identical acts.” That being in tune with the world and nature is the same as worshiping the divine.  This thought I think is one that I read over and over.  There are also other Pagan views of the divine, this article also discusses those, but this one statement is the one that resonates with me.

There are other articles that state similar thoughts, this one titled "Neo-Paganism - The Divine In All Creation" that was originally published in 1994, states "the Divine is in all creation and everything has Divinity within. (...) the common thread within the multicolored tapestry of modern Neo-Paganism, is a reverence for Nature's ever-returning cycles, a spirit of community among individual diversity, and a search for personal truth, found not within another's revelation, but engraved on the spirit of the individual."  This is my other draw to the divine as interpreted by many Pagans, that we can all have our own interpretation of the divine.

If we were to ever meet in person, one of my "talking points" about religion is that all the arguments that seem to happen are often over a label, what do you call that thing that you hold divine/believe/etc.  This statement from the Pagan viewpoint, that the belief that all things are divine, meant I didn't necessarily have to label what I was feeling, when I get caught up in nature, when I enjoy a good book, when I meet fantastic new people, and that I could appreciate the divine in all things.  So I guess the conclusion I would like you to have a thought that the divine is what you make of it, that as a Pagan we are responsible for our own search and source of divinity in our lives, what we hold sacred, and what we are searching for.

Image from here

Friday, February 17, 2012

D is for Druidry (or Druids)

So first I am going to preface by saying this is not a comprehensive dissertation on Druidry.  I am still exploring this part of my spiritual path and I thought I would share some of what I found and why I think this might be another part of my personal spiritual journey.  So first in many of my readings I came across this word, Druid.  In fiction as well as non-fiction books, this was something that I thought it might be worth to read some more about "one of these days". 

First stop was me heading off into the World Wide Web to see what I could find, and I came across two big groups, ADF and OBOD.  Then I thought why did I find all of this alphabet soup!  So ADF stands for Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship and is an American based group.  OBOD stands for the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids and is a Britain based group.  Both have a lot of resources and articles on their websites, but I particularly like this one passage on the OBOD's website:
"The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids works with Druidry as a spiritual way and practice that speaks to three of our greatest yearnings: to be fully creative in our lives, to commune deeply with the world of Nature, and to gain access to a source of profound wisdom. Each of these yearnings comes from a different aspect of ourselves that we can personify as the Singer, the Shaman and the Sage. In Druidry, Bardic teachings help to nurture the singer, the artist or storyteller within us: the creative self; Ovate teachings help to foster the shaman, the lover of Nature, the healer within us; while the Druid teachings help to develop our inner wisdom: the sage who dwells within each of us."
From: http://www.druidry.org/druid-way/what-druidry

 I love nature, being outside, and I know I have truly disconnected from this love of mine as I have gotten older.  I used to have to be forced to go inside as a young person, or be forced inside by my horrendous seasonal allergies, and now it is the opposite.  I loved being creative with different projects, especially nature photography and the occasional (and hardly Monet quality) sketches.  I love to learn, the pursuit of lifelong learning has lead me to my Associates and Bachelor's degree a little later in life (27 and 30 respectively) but yet I always am finding a reason to want to learn and read and expand my mind.  These things are all what lead me to discover the Pagan religions or spirituality, as you are searching and reading and discovering your own path.  I have also been so drawn to Celtic culture, deities, and it seems anything Celtic since I started my Pagan journey (well that and Norse, but later for that), that I felt it might be time to pick up some books or read some more into Druidry.


I had spent some time finding some books that would help me figure out if this truly was a pursuit that I wished to follow.  The two books I have picked up so far have been The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual by Alexei Kondratiev and The Mysteries of Druidry by Brendan Cathbad Myers, PhD.  I keep picking up this one book in the bookstore when I go (they have a limited selection at Barnes and Noble) called The Druidry Handbook, and I also have another book, Bonewits's Essential Guide to Druidism, on my Amazon wishlist as well.  I just have yet to bother to purchase them yet.  And I am always looking for new sources, so if you have any Druidry book suggestions, pass them along in the comments, by all means!

My current Druidry reading list, reading/in progress on left, to be read on the right.

So I have picked up and have been reading the first book, The Mysteries of Druidry.  I started I think with this book because it is more academic and what I am most comfortable reading at the moment because I feel I can stop and go. The book does a great job first off with a devoted specifically to questions and answers.  This is really what made me pick the book off the shelf, it asked and answered questions I had.  I'm hoping to finish it soon and do a blog on it for the Pagan Book Challenge.  So the simple explanation is that this book has drawn me closer to the Celts and my desire to know more. 


So now the true question - what do I think a Druid is now (after reading and exploring a bit) and do I think it is the path for me at this time.  I think (in my opinion only) a Druid is someone that respects nature and is on a constant journey for learning, be it creative or academic.  From what I read it is a personal path that is drawn on many sources and that each individual follows, but comes to groups (groves) and shares in activities with others.  I think it is someone that seeks to live and be connected with our fullest potential.  Do I think this is for me at the moment - absolutely yes.  I have also found a group here in the US that has online classes, as well as a radio show that I have been listening too, and am considering starting the dedicant classes this summer, when I have the time to devote to them.  They are called the Black Mountain Druid Order.

I hope I have shared something that you find worthwhile this week, I feel like I have been rambling on about a subject I know I am just starting to skim the surface of.  I am hoping to reconnect with my love of nature and my spiritual self that I long for that I know I had long ago.

Friday, February 10, 2012

C is for Citrine

So a few months ago I was at this wonderful gathering of other Goddess loving ladies and we shared in some crystals that were, as the member said, looking for a new home.  So after passing around the bowl and sharing some time with each one, this one certainly spoke to me.  It's hard to explain how I felt, there was certainly an energy I felt, a connection with it.  I have never felt that way with a crystal before, so it was certainly the one I brought home.  I found out that this particular crystal is called Citrine.

My citrine crystal

I was told citrine helps with success, clear thinking, confidence, prosperity, and doesn't hold onto negative energy so it isn't necessary to cleanse it or charge it as it is with normal crystals.  So I thought this week for the Pagan Blog Project, I would do a little more reading and research and share my results with all of you.  I never really got around to doing that and I really should so this was the perfect opportunity.

So first stop was my plethora of Pagan books I have on my shelf, some I have read all the way and some serve as more references and inspiration.  In the book, Magical Housekeeping, Ms. Whitehurst talks about citrine crystals, which is an orange or yellow variety of quartz.  She refers to it as pure sunshine and talks about how it brings happiness and general positive energy.  I love this line in particular "it can help you increase your conscious awareness of the infinite nature of abundance and warm up to the idea of receiving abundance, which of course makes abundance more readily available to you." (1)  I mean, really, after reading this line, who of you don't want to run out and find 5 to bring home!  Some ideas for use is to help ccheer your up or lighten up, which I really needed at the time, or to place it near your bill paying area to help you with your attitude towards managing money and therefore help you see more prosperity.  I actually used to have this in my office at work as I had a lot of negative energy there from a coworker, it certainly helped dissipate a lot of this.  Now it is in my home office and the energy I feel for my work is more positive than ever! 

I also visited this website, crystalsandjewlery.com, which had a large article about citrine.  This article referenced that citrine is associated with the solar plexus chakra which I thought was very interesting.  The lady that had brought the crystals to our group said that it helps with digestion and in fact when I was getting my feelings when I was holding it, it was right in that area between my ribs and belly button.  I also had a lot of digestive issues and heartburn so I thought it was a great coincidence.  This also confirmed what I was told about the cleansing of this stone. "Citrine dissipates negative energies of all kinds. It also does not absorb any negative energies from its surroundings, and thus never needs energetic clearing. (...) Since citrine eliminates negative energies, it helps generate stability in all areas, and is good for general protection." (2). 

So it sounds like what I was told was true about this crystal, not to mention that it is absolutely beautiful!  I love having it to look at, it is a great piece on my desk.  It has been a great feeling crystal to have in my house and has helped our house have a great energy.


References/Sources:
1. Magical Housekeeping: Simple Charms & Practical Tips for Creating a Harmonious Home by Tess Whitehurst

2. "Citrine, Metaphysical Properties, Healing Properties" by Robyn A Harton Creative. From: http://crystalsandjewelry.com/metaphysical_healing/stoneinfo/citrine.html