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."

 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,, 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.

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:

Friday, February 3, 2012

C is for CUUPS (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans)

One of my previous blogs talked about my journey with the local Unitarian Universalist fellowship and my decision to join them officially.  This week I want to talk about what originally drew me to this UU fellowship, that is CUUPS, or the Covenant of Unitarian Univeraslists Pagans.  UUs are known for being open and accepting of many different faiths, belief systems, and individuals - them being a liberal faith.  There are several sources that UUs draw upon, the last one being the "spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature."  So Paganism is inherently a part of the source of UU principles just as much as the others, like Humanist, Jewish, Christian, and other World religions.  That being said, it just makes sense that there can be a home for Pagans in the UU community, and that home for many fellowships across the plate is a CUUPS group.  So today I wanted to talk a little about CUUPS and what I have found, and why I am hoping to find a spiritual home with a group just like this at my fellowship.

Image from:

When I first saw a this group online, I thought this would be a "safe" environment for me to start and build this exploration I had developed for the Pagan belief systems.  From the CUUPs website "The Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) is an organization dedicated to networking Pagan-identified Unitarian Universalists (UUs), educating people about Paganism, promoting interfaith dialogue, developing Pagan liturgies and theologies, and supporting Pagan-identified UU religious professionals."  This group was chartered in 1987 to include the Pagan community members of the UU fellowships and give them a place and group to be together, share together, and share to the larger UU fellowship they are involved in.

Unfortunately for me, the CUUPS group at my fellowship was not meant to last, and after just a few meetings with them, they disbanded.  That was almost 5 years ago now, if I recall correctly.  Now, some friends that I have found, Pagan friends, at my fellowship are looking to start anew.  A new energy is rising at our fellowship with this group, it is positive, it is exciting, and I am glad to be apart of starting a group that will share our Pagan values and UU values, and then help spread this to our fellowship and maybe even the community at large.

Maybe I am idealistic about this, but being someone who lives most of my spiritual life "in the broom closet" so to speak, I envision a time that I might be able to be more open about my beliefs.  Maybe I would like to see a time when if someone asks me "what" I am, I can say Pagan with pride and not just UU - be able to say that I am a Pagan UU.  And not just to people in my fellowship, or Pagan gatherings, but also in the community.  Maybe not ever to certain members of my family, very Roman Catholics that are just happy I attend a UU "church", but barely (I'm sure some of you have family like this).  Maybe not blasting it all over my workplace or professional life, but certainly not afraid to say, if asked, that I am a Pagan.

If you are interested in CUUPS, they have a podcast that I have recently started listening to more and more, you can find it here.  They can also be followed on Facebook by clicking here.  You can also find them sharing and linking to any of the many CUUPS chapters across the country as well.

**Disclaimer: At the time of this post, I just want to be clear that I am not an individual member of CUUPS or a member of any accepted CUUPS chapter in the group.  This is me writing as a third party, looking from the outside in.  I am looking forward to working with this group and maybe even do a follow-up blog later this year or as we progress with our group.**

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A is for Acceptance

Today was a big day for me, that is why I chose to wait for my blog from Friday to today.  Today was the day I took the leap from being a "Friend" of a place I have been frequenting to a "Member".  I had discovered a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship near me about 4 years ago.  This was about a year or so into my Pagan and Goddess readings and I was still struggling to find a place that I could belong and agree with many of their principles.  I found this group from some random searchings I was doing online about Pagans.  I had found the website for the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, otherwise known as CUUPS.  That lead me to the fellowship I found in my area. 

I have a hard time calling it a "church", so we'll stick with fellowship.  How nice it was to walk in and feel accepted for who you are, not what you chose to believe or hold as your spiritual practice.  How refreshing it was to read the 7 principles and think, where have you been, UUs, my whole life?  A place where they want you to find and search for your own path, wherever that may lead, as long as you respect others?  It was certainly kismet that I found this place at this time in my spiritual path.
Unitarian Universalist Principles
  1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person
  2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations
  3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations
  4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning
  5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large
  6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
  7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
From the time I was in and started meeting people in the CUUPS group I was accepted and treated with dignity and respect.  Unfortunately the group was apparently in the process of failing, but I kept going and maintained friendship with many of the Pagans I had met in that group as well as others of a earth centered spirituality I was finding.  To talk to people intelligently about differences of belief, ideas, and wisdoms and not be in a huge debacle because I didn't believe Jesus was my savior, wow!  I felt at home, accepted.

Acceptance there led me to another group I found via a friend and the website  I have found that Pagans can be one of the most accepting groups, they accept your flaws, your ticks (my OCD at times....), your talents, your knowledge, and take you for you.  Many of the Pagans I have met have not asked much of me but an ear, maybe some help organizing something, but never to compromise myself.  I find it comforting that in our diverse set of backgrounds that make up the umbrella of groups labeled Pagan, I have never felt unaccepted.

And that acceptance led to my leap today, my leap to commit to a group larger than myself, my local UU Fellowship, that I will share with them my talents, wisdoms, and self to better our community, including my Pagan community, as a whole.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Books I Have Read in 2012 (Master List) - Pagan Reading Challenge

The master list of books I have read this year:

Sign up here! The 2012 Pagan Reading Challenge.


2012 Pagan Reading Challenge - I'm in!

So, since I am in the mood to explore and expand my Pagan self this year, what better way than in addition to blogging to read the nice stack of books that have been accumulating in my little spiritual library.  I think I am going to work towards the Intermediate Read level (16 - 20 books), especially with my busy schedule over the course of a year.  Here are the rules:

This challenge will begin January 1, 2012 and end December 31, 2012.

Books that can be counted will include nonfiction books that are about spirituality, magick, the occult, nature, myths, or the paranormal. They can be reference, how to, informative, encyclopedias, or memoir. Fictional books that can be counted are anything that has to do with the paranormal, magick, witchcraft, or have a distinctly pagan flavor to the story such as The Divine Sisters of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells.

You may include books of any format including traditional  books, ebooks, or audiobooks.

You may reread books.

Reference books are not usually read cover to cover so I will bend the rules here. You do not have to read the book from cover to cover, but you do have to look at EVERY page in the book.

The Domestic Pagan: 2012 Pagan Reading Challenge
I will post a list of all the books I finish and pledge to at least to a short post/review for every one.  Maybe you will join me as well!

Friday, January 6, 2012

A is for Avalon

For me personally, a draw to the Pagan path was partially due to a quest for feminine divinity.  Having been raised Roman Catholic, you have a great number of patriarchal sources for strength, guidance, and worship, but unless you were in one of the few parishes that really celebrated the Virgin Mary, there was a certain lack of this.  Paganism offers many a duality in nature, respecting the male and female aspects of the spiritual or divine.  Along my search I have also found  myself drawn to the Norse and British/Irish/Celtic pantheons in my studies.  In search for the Celtic I found a group called the Sisterhood of Avalon that I found had some very interesting information regarding what I have come to know as the Avalonian Tradition. 
"The Avalonian Tradition draws its inspiration from British, rather than English, culture. Wales was able to maintain and preserve the culture, language and traditions of Celtic Britain far longer than the rest of England, so we look to Welsh language, literature and folklore to understand the beliefs of the Britons. The Welsh mythic cycle contains the first references to King Arthur, and through him, to Ynys Afallon – the Island of Avalon. Therefore, to discover the Goddess as She has revealed Herself to the Britons, and as She was probably worshiped on Avalon, we must turn to the mythology of Wales. We therefore seek the Goddesses of Avalon in The Mabinogion and its associated legends as this collection of stories represents the surviving corpus of the mythology of the Celtic Britons and as such, is worthy of deep study.
Due to oral tradition, then, the Divinities of the British Celts do not benefit from having their myths written down by those who worshiped Them, as do the Gods of other cultures. We are not inheritors of an intact tradition, and must look between the lines to seek out the symbols that have made the transition from oral to written form, even if those that transcribed them attempted to have them make sense in their own cultural context. It is for this reason that we must immerse ourselves in the study of Celtic culture so that we may piece the bigger picture back together and reclaim what we can of what was.”Source:  Sisterhood of Avalon, “The Avalon Tradition”,

The five Goddesses that are centered in this Avalonian Tradition are Blodeuwedd (the Lady of Intuition), Rhiannon (Lady of Manifestation), Ceridwen (Lady of Transformation), Arianrhod (The Great Teacher), and Branwen (Guardian of Avalon).  A lot of this has been handed down orally over the many many years so it is hard to find information on this without doing some research, which many have been doing, including this group, the Sisterhood of Avalon.  I am hoping to read some of the source material in the coming years and hope to have a more indepth post of my own words when I get to that point.

I am very new at this and am not claiming to be an expert by any means, but I thought I would share this information in my first blog post for the Pagan Blog Project 2012.  My goal is to deepen my connection with the feminine divine and then maybe branch back into a more balanced study.  But considering patriarchal sprits played a large part of my growing up I think a little time with the Goddess is warranted. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A new leap forward for me... "public" Pagan postings *gasp!*

I am a closeted Pagan, mainly due to family that I wish to not upset and a community (think small, rural, conservative, you get the idea) that I do not think would be too keen on my choice.  Hence the use of my chosen name, Galena. 

I mainly live vicariously online and via the small circle of friends that I chose to share my spiritual beliefs with.  I also follow several people on Facebook and came across this project that just spoke to me today.  The Pagan Blog Project (2012) came up and it got me thinking... maybe a way I can start feeling more open about myself and my beliefs is to start to share some of my thoughts, ideas, lessons learned, etc., in an online environment.  So here I am.

The premise is that every Friday we will post a blog about a specific idea that we are interested in, following an alphabet theme.  So this is my introduction and hopefully it will be the first posting of many.