Monthly Archives: July 2013

A Magical Midsummer’s Night

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I want to tell you about the most magical night of my life.  It is so rare to experience it, and it was so wonderful, that I want to share it with you.

moonlight through tipi smokehole

Looking up through the tipi smokehole, I didn’t actually see the moon; we had to go out of the tipi to see it. But the moon’s energy was definately suffusing everything we did. Our chants and music making was magical and honored the divine.

Recently, I went camping with a group of pagans for Litha, which is the midsummer sabbat.  I have attended many rituals and most of them have been lovely.  I have bonded with a good group of friends and meditated with them.  However, none of those wonderful, lovely times compare with this particular time.  This one tops them all in the way the group jived and grooved with each other, and how we worshiped the divine together.

I think the astounding magical time we had bubbled and frothed and expanded from several ingredients.  First of all, not only was it Litha, it was also the full moon, and supposedly a moon that appeared closer to Earth than at other times during the year.  Second of all, everyone there have good heads on their shoulders, are relatively sane and smart, and are overall good people.

This was in the mountains of Colorado, and it was a particularly beautiful summer day, with meadow flowers blooming, everything green, and yellow swallowtail butterflies flittering about.  I arrived mid-day and greeted the people there.  The adults were hanging out and chatting, and the kids were running around and playing.  I set up my tent, and though I had very little to carry in from my car, the priest (I think of him as a good ol’ boy nice grandpa type) got the kids to help me carry my stuff in.  So nice.  He also helped me put it up even though I had thought I could do it on my own.  (It was also nice that he didn’t come in to help until I really needed it!)

Anyway, I had brought my hula hoops, and after hanging out a bit chatting with people, I took them out and shared a hoop with a new friend.  We hula hooped a while, with much heckling from Gramps.  Though the heckling didn’t seem to bother my new friend, much.

A little while later, I was invited to help plan for the ritual.  We all agreed pretty readily on things and it went pretty quickly; our priestess (who is a lovely lady) had already planned out most of it, and still asked for our input on various aspects.  One lady there volunteered to organize the kids in gathering items for the altar to symbolize the elements, as well as pencils and tags.  I volunteered to welcome Mother Gaia.  Another guy volunteered to welcome the Oak King and Holly King.  And others volunteered to ‘call in’ the elements. There were more roles and planning and details to be ironed out, and in about half an hour, we were done.

After the planning session, the priestess and I got chili going.  She had all the ingredients ready; I helped her open cans and dump in the beans and her other ingredients, and we took turns stirring and keeping the cooker going.  I’d hula hoop, stir, sit and chat, stir, hula hoop, and so on, until it was done.  I felt quite witchy (double double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble) stirring the pot, and quite fairy-like while hooping.  As we cooked the food, more and more people came and in the end, we had about 20 people and about 5 kids.

We ate the yummy chili, with cheese and sour cream and pitas or chips, and hung out and chatted.  (Much chatting to be had at this event, not unusual for a pagan event!)

Then we gathered in a small little meadow for our ritual.  I won’t go into the ritual too much, ‘cuz my point here isn’t to educate you all about rituals, but I want to come to the point of what was magical and wondrous about it.  A little perk for me was that a guy I consider sexy and cute stood next to me.  He’s taken though, so I won’t pursue it, but it was still a perk.  The group energy was soft and loving, everyone appreciating each other and finding each other special and precious.  Everyone was relaxed and and most were smiling  at least  Mona Lisa smiles, some more, and some less.  Everything went pretty smoothly and everything we said, we meant.  We held hands and some hugged.  It was overall just lovely.  Someone also called Pan into the circle, and as it happens, we forgot to say goodbye to Pan at the end.  I believe that’s another lovely element to the magical times that ensued afterwards.

After a little break, we started gathering in a tipi that someone had brought and set up.  The man and woman who owned the tipi were just lovely people, the types you meet and are instantly showered by their peaceful love, and you just know they love just about everyone they meet.  I had brought my drum (which is a djembe, an African drum), my water, and a thick hoodie to the tipi.  Another guy I had just met who has a lovely peaceful energy and I were first in the tipi.  We drummed and chatted as more people came in.  He had brought a didgeridoo. More and more people filtered in until we had about 15 people in there, and it had a fire pit in the middle and a hole in top of the tipi for the smoke.  We were a little bit crowded, but it was cozy.  We sang and chanted and drummed and at first it was like other drum circles I’ve been in – getting some good rhythms going.  Then it evolved into something unexplainable.

The group energy became one and we tranced and worshipped the divine as one.  It was like we were transported as a group to another plane of reality, among the stars.  I have never experienced anything like that while chanting or drumming before.  Well, not quite like that.  I have felt like I have ‘touched’ the divine while dancing.  But nothing like this.  It was beautiful.  We hummed and made noises and sang and did whatever we felt called to do to contribute to the music, and it was just out of this world.

The priest and priestess were a little distance away, deep in discussion as they sometimes get, discussing business of the group, when they heard the sound of our magic-making.  They were drawn to the tipi, so they tabled their discussion for another time, and joined us.  The priestess especially joined in and started some other chants she knew.  Then she said “We’ve got to go out and sing to the moon!”  So everyone filtered out and stared and loved at and sang to the moon.  I was drawn to the side in a conversation with someone as this was happening.  Some of the group went off… and came back naked.  I just had to laugh.  They had become “skyclad” for the moon and were full of moon energy.  It was lovely.  But it was cold out!  I have no idea whether I would have stripped down if I had been with them- maybe a little but not quite so much- I don’t like being cold!

They went back into the tipi and I excused myself from the conversation and joined them.  We all drummed and sang some more, and I joined in their nakedness by stripping off my top.  The energy of everyone was very respectful and loving, no ‘meat market’ feel at all; it was just beautiful.  People singing to each other “We honor you, we  empower you to be what you are… I am a strong woman, I am a story woman, I am a healer, my soul will never die; We honor you we empower you to be what you are; I am a strong man, I am a loving man, I am a warrior, my soul will never die…We are an old people, we are a new people, we are the same people stronger than before…”  and then we settled down and the priestess started singing a song about Inanna that I remembered learning when I lived in Iowa.  We started singing it together… when someone fell face first in the fire because he was … drunk and sleepy.  He was O.K. though, people around him caught him in time and escorted him to his tent.  That kinda killed the vibe (!) which was alright; so we all filtered out.  Some went to bed, and some of us gathered on the way to our tents to sing some more with each other.

This time we sang more ‘mundane’ pop culture songs:  the owner of the tipi who was also Rainbow gathering person told us about Rainbow gatherings, (which started out of singing Rocky Mountain High by John Denver, which apparently was about the first Rainbow gathering), and we sang all sorts of other songs together.  It felt like we were all brothers and sisters and one with the trees, stars and moon.

Finally, I went to my tent and sleeping bag.  After that came a fitful sleep of trying to stay warm (lesson learned, bring warm things even in the summertime when camping), and a morning of coffee, some healthy dried fruit and packing up the tent, eventually to drive back home.  As usual, the magic vibe stayed with me strongly at first, and now remains as a beautiful memory.  I am so blessed to have experienced this in a group of lovely people.  I hope this story shares some of the beauty with you and blesses you, too.

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Go Namaste Yourself!

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The Pagan Spectrum of Boundaries

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries; many pagans do not like boundaries.  There’s a spectrum of pagans:  at one end there’s the very very very anal prudish types; they are judgmental, it’s their way or the highway, and they are not open to any weirdness.  Well, they’re pagan, so maybe they’re open to a little bit of weirdness!  Then there’s the other end of the spectrum, and these people are OUT THERE.  Lemme tell ya.  They are crass, they are raunchy, they have sex with anything that’s willing and able, they take advantage, they are rude, they have basically just… NO boundaries whatsoever.  A lot of us pagans fall somewhere in the middle.

Now this spectrum I’m speaking of applies to many different arenas of life:  sex of course comes immediately to mind for some reason, how much we appreciate or accept other people, accepting of differences in belief systems, and even applies to how anal you are about being on time.

We often hear the following phrase in the pagan community: “Pagan Standard Time.”  This is used all the time as an excuse to start something HOURS later than we ever meant to start something.  Now this makes sense for small groups of people where ‘We absolutely cannot start until Josephina Blosephina shows up,’ but if it’s a larger crowd (in my opinion, more than five or so), it can get pretty ridiculous.  PST is suffused into the very pores of the community so much so that the hosts of an event will even show up a half hour to an hour late sometimes, or people will set a time for an event far earlier than they ever truly plan to start, knowing that the attendees will all arrive late.

Can you tell that this kind of thing drives me crazy?  It does!  I was a teacher for 13 years, and people should be reasonably on time to events, at least try to be!  It isn’t fair to the host who really sticks by their word and actually plans to start at or close to the time they say they will start, to have the attendees arrive a half hour or hour or more late.  Especially if it happens all the time.  This is not to say that I am always on time, all the time; I oftentimes arrive to events 15 minutes late or less, usually less.  If it’s an open event (“Oh we’ll be there between 9 am to 8 pm, come anytime between then”) well then there’s no problem!

Now to talk about the TABOO.  The sex.  Yup the sex. It must be talked about.  In many pagan traditions, probably all, sex is sacred.  People translate this to mean different things.  People on the prudish end of the spectrum would say that sex should only happen between people who love each other, and it should be monogamous.  It should be safe, it should be “vanilla,” (i.e. missionary style and boring).  I honestly don’t know any pagans that far at that end of the spectrum, including myself!  People on the opposite end will say sex should happen with anyone you are attracted to, the more the merrier, come on in, the sex is fine!  People on the umpteenth degree of that spectrum will be into S&M, are poly, have usually had sex with at least half of their friends, and everything out of their mouths is raunchy trash.  There are variances (refreshing ones) among all of these extremes, of course.  Guess where I am on the spectrum!  I’m pretty close to the prudish side, but not completely prudish, in my own opinion.  To me, sex is sacred, and therefore it should be between people who care about each other, ideally, love each other; it should be an expression of love, and because of this, it should be entered into gently and carefully.  I’m also a double Cancerian so that may explain some things.  I’m monogamous, which is seen as prudish by some people.  It’s all relative.

Some of my Christian friends and family probably think my stance on sex is too loose; I’m totally O.K. with non-marital sex, I’m O.K. with quote unquote casual sex (but to me, it must be between people who care about each other even if it’s just for one night).  But, in comparison to many of my pagan friends, I’m the Prude.  I very rarely strip down naked while dancing around a fire (and if I do it’s usually just showing my belly!); I must be completely comfortable with the people there and it has to have no ‘meat market’ feel around the fire for me to do it.  However, I’ve been totally naked at a nudist hot springs-camping place, and been totally fine with it.  The vibe was different; it was not ‘look at my body I am so sexy you want to have sex with me don’t you?;’ it was ‘yup I’m naked and so are you and we are all fine with it and let’s just talk and be friends.’  As I said, I’m monogamous, I don’t talk about ‘swingers’ and my speech isn’t crass; I do joke occasionally about sex, but that’s not always on my mind.  I’m much more interested in other things.

I was at a recent event- a pagan gathering in a park, which was quite relaxed and nice.  There was a variety of pagans there, most of them being on the poly end of the spectrum.  At least twice, people asked me if I was offended by what they were talking about (if they only knew what I have seen and heard in the past, this was nothing close!).  This was probably because I was relatively quiet.  I said no, I wasn’t offended, not to worry; I’m just being quiet.  I don’t tend to open up to people I just met about just in what way(s) I like to have sex.  I’d much rather get to know them as people before jumping right to the nitty gritty intimate details. That was alright, but I could see that I was “The Prude at the picnic.”  No biggie though, it didn’t really bother me.

To me, while I’m trying not to judge others for what they do sexually, it sullies the sacredness of the sex to have no boundaries about it.  It makes your soul dirty and now I sound like Janet from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. “I (don’t) wanna be diiiiirty!”  Anyway I’m not as prudish, nor am I as innocent, as Janet.  Sex isn’t dirty.  But the attitude you have about it is what can make it dirty.  If you think of the other person as just an object that will satisfy your needs, that is gross and turns my stomach.  This is why sex jokes that are raunchy and tend to infer the people (or animals) in them as objects also turn my stomach.  So in that respect, I suppose it ‘offends’ me, but not because I’m a prude or innocent; it’s because the attitude is a low attitude. (As in the low in ‘low men in yellow coats’ in Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King. Yes, it’s that creepy to me.  It’s a rapist attitude and I want to be nowhere near that attitude.)  On the other hand, even if you have lots of partners, if you can love every single one of them and see the divine within them (as in “Namaste, the divine in me greets and loves the divine in you”) then that would be beautiful.  I believe it is VERY rare to find a circumstance of any group of people who can love several people in that way, rather than just one.  I know that personally I am not that evolved.

So I guess I’m trying to say that it doesn’t shock me, but I find that attitude very disgusting and, there is no other way to put it; low.

I suppose all of this outpouring I’m doing about boundaries or lack of them is stemming from a recent experience where I felt like I lost control over myself a little bit, and I had to re-draw the boundaries for myself again.  It wasn’t sexual, it really was no biggie, but it made me feel very floaty and unbalanced and ungrounded.  I was thinking “what am I doing?” and didn’t feel like I was being myself. I’m coming back into myself now (phew) and I’m good.

Anyway, I believe boundaries are good, but they must be flexible.  You must be in control of yourself, but also let yourself do things.  Don’t be so in control that you are uptight; if you want to dance, dance.  If you want to drum, drum.  If you want to skip and hop up and down, do it.  But don’t dance, drum or skip so that you are degrading yourself or someone else; don’t do it because you feel like others want you to do it; don’t do it if you feel uncomfortable and too prudish (so that you feel you have to do it so as to not be so prudish).

But everyone’s boundaries are different, and everyone’s definition of what is sacred is different, and we (including myself) can’t judge – much. But we can also know what we like and don’t like, and I definitely don’t like hanging out with crass gross people who view other people as objects.  Thankfully, I am only acquainted with possibly one person who is like that (and I don’t think she is completely that way; I think it’s mostly for show).  Even so, I wish there were a little more boundary drawing within the pagan community.  Not a lot, just a little more.  Enough to respect themselves and other people.  Not to the extreme second or slightest touch; with some leeway, but not to make people wait to do something for hours on end just because of PST, or not to have a lack of respect for the divine within them (and a lack of respect for the divine within themselves).  I think people overall, not just pagans, would do good to respect and love themselves and others more.  ::Gets off of soap box.::

Namaste, everyone.