Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How to be a better Witch, Wiccan, Pagan, etc...

I get emails from people asking me this question alot.  I should be amused, and in the beginning I was taken aback but by now I am comfortable with this question.  First, you obviously need assurances if you ask this question and so let me say...there is no WRONG way to be any of these things.  There are ways I wish you would not portray our "Craft/Path" but these are my perceptions and this is my blog and I do not wish to fill it up with silly drivel or assy statements about who "embarrasses me" or my brothers and sisters of the craft.  That is not my job; my mission is to help others and encourage them.

That being said...and remembering there is no award or Trophy for what we do.....

How do you get better at a Path?  Well you practice it.  You put down the book you are reading, or the blog you are looking at right now and you do something to help you grow.  These are some suggestions, not mandatory things I think can help you.  Actually, I know they will help you.

1.  Go for a walk.  If you live in a suburban neighborhood like me, look at the trees, notice and smile at your neighbors and listen to the birds, notice the clouds.

2.  Go out every morning and greet the sun.

3.  Go out at night time and connect with the moon.

4.  Notice the stars and the formations and planets, see how many you know.  Learn a new one.  Hey download that Google app for it on your phone hold it up to the sky!  Now you know what you are looking at.

5.  Pray.  Yep, I said it pray.  Talk to Spirit, feed it your dreams, your hopes, your fears, ask for direction and wisdom.

6.  Respect the planet you live on.  Do not litter and yes this counts cigarette butts and cups from Mcdonalds. 

7.  Give the benefit of the doubt to others that either share your path; or do not share your path.  If you truly believe we are all Spirit, then respect another person's Spirit.

8.  Share your observations with others if they ask how was your day?  Say I got up and saw the sun and stretched and it made me smile and think of you and how there were Goddesses like Isis and Saule, and Amaterusu that were female and considered to be part of the Sun Energy.  Why do you think that is?

9.  Look for the Goddess and the God all around you, and within you, but most importantly WITHIN others!

10.  Get up every morning and turn your day around by humming, singing, dancing, and tapping your foot (even it is impatiently why the coffee is a brewing).  ASK God/Goddess how you can serve them.

11.  Help others.  If you can possible help someone, do it.  Do not starve yourself to help another, but yes stop and help someone change a tire; or buy a used tire, or just give them a book to read or send them a text.  Don't sad face them on facebook, or air hug them...reach real!

12.  FEED your soul!  Pagans have an issue with reading daily devotionals because they notice they are geared to Christians.  SO WHAT?  I mark out Jesus and put in Isis in it's place same principal.  Hey!  Read a Self-help book, but feed your soul...IF you do not feed your soul, then how can you grow?

13.  Have altars set up in your home.  Yes, that means if it is a picture, a plant, a gnome in the front yard take the time to make your space sacred and a sanctuary.

14.  Go to a meetup for Pagans/Wiccans/Witch's you don't have to commit but you might find out about something going on in your area you want to take part in or could help others with...and that is always good.  Plus, you learn about others paths and they help you. Learning is cool! 

15.  Volunteer at a soup kitchen, or clothing swap, or any kind of public charity and let them know YOU ARE PAGAN!  Yep, help change our public image by showing people that we are real, and normal (well that is overrated but you get my point) and we do make a positive difference.

16.  Be a great parent!  ( I am leaving this open because you know what that is to you and I do not judge other's parenting skills unless you harm the child or starve them)

17.  Share your abilities.  If you are Pagan/Wiccan/Witch then please share whatever you do with the public.  If you do Reiki, share it.  If you read cards, share it.  If you are a medium share it. Gifts are not given to keep or hide under a bushel.

18.  Go to a Pagan festival.  This will help you grow more than anything I know because you will be forced to open your mind and heart to others that walk your path and it will show you how diverse it is!

19.  Spend time with an Elderly person.  Yes, I said that because it shows you the Crone and the Sage in the Physical form and it teaches you to be comfortable and see the beauty and swap off that comes with ageing.

20.  Trust yourself.  Believe in yourself.  Believe in your connection to source.

Now I am sure you are going to think of others, I can right now as I write this.  However, if you do one of these a day I guarantee you will grow.  I say this, because the only way to be better at anything is to grow.  You know when you stop growing?  When you die. 

Thank you for the gift of your time, and keep those emails a coming!


Monday, August 26, 2013

Are you sure it isn't the Cherry on top?

I just got back from New Orleans, Louisiana.  My husband Brian and I went there to get some “couple time”.  It is a funny thing that happens when you start running any kind of business or organization when you get married you get to running around so much you forget what got you propelled to where you are in the first place.  I have not forgotten.  Before I met Brian I was pretty cool.  After I met Brian everything fell together for me, and I relaxed into life. 

We fell in love.  I think we knew the minute we met each other that nothing from that moment would be the same.  We are still in love.  People forget this at times since we are just a 40-something couple and a High priest and Highpriestess of a Wiccan Temple.  No, we don’t bandy about naked underneath the full moon.  No, we are not swingers or in a cool “open” or polyamorous relationship we are just two people; who met and fell in love. In short very unusually boring for a Pagan anything especially in the year 2013.

We open and close the Temple of the Sacred Gift four (at least) out of seven days a week with a few other couples in the church.  It is hard to maintain a good relationship with your significant other when you both work all day, and then come home to grab food and run up to teach a class, shake hands with strangers, sell wares, run circles, bless homes, and banish spirits. Usually one of us has to stay home with our Pagan Toddler so the other can serve the community and maintain the ministry; but, somehow or another we have maintained it. 

How?  By feeding and filling our well.  Normal people, call it “hard work”  I will call it taking trips to New Orleans, trips to Nashville, trips to Gatlinburg, renting a Hotel room, going out to dinner, and buying each other things to express our love for one another.  When we chose together the Temple logo we placed in the middle the cup and athame; a symbol for the merging and interconnectedness of the God and the Goddess themselves.  Many look at this symbol for the “Great Rite” and laugh and say it is all about the sex.  Hey, I will not lie sex is a physical way of expressing the “Great Rite” in fact it is probablly the cherry on top of all of life.  However, after being married in more than one way to a person I will tell you it is more about the collaborations that occur between the female and male within each of us and being comfortable enough to share that with each other than great bedroom shenanigans that truly is the GREAT RITE.

We have collaborated on raising four children together Brian and I.  We have collaborated on paying bills together, on retiring together, on taking care of each other when we are sick.  We have collaborated on building a physical worship space together and a spiritual one not only for people that come and ask for guidance; but for each other.  He has his path, which is Eclectic and I have mine which is very much Egyptian Heka.  We collaborate on work schedules, and doctors’ appointments, and on insurances, and on who is going to mow the lawn and who will fold and put up the laundry.  In fact, there is not one area of our life that is not collaboration, and I feel that this is truly what the” Great Rite” is all about.  It is not about two people becoming one in a hot sweaty embrace it is about two people whose lives intersect and respect, love and admire one another in and outside of the sexual act.


Today, I read a prayer aloud to the Goddess Opis and re-minded myself who she was and what Opulence truly is.  It seems many people can define Opulence as being diamonds, pearls, fancy cars, chandeliers, and over the top “lifestyles of the rich and famous”.  Yet, it seems to me since very few of us will ever experience that kind of opulence that maybe what it really is about is figuring out what your Opulence is.  To me, Opulence is being married to and being the Highpriestess of Brian Miller.  To me, building a life with this person, sharing a world with him, living in a home with him, and co-creating a Temple and community with him is Opulence.  BTW so is the Great Rite with him…J 
Thank you for letting me share what I feel is the "cherry on top" of life!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Under the Sun

This weekend I was honored to take part in my very first pagan festival, The Brothers of the Sun. What an amazing experience! I was welcomed in to a group of pagan men from various traditions as a brother. I learned so much about male camaraderie, masculine energy, and other male mysteries. And I definitely learned a good bit about myself. What I learned most was that my family tree of pagans has more branches and deeper roots than I realized.

I wish I could share with you all everything I learned this weekend, but these are men’s mysteries. What I can share with you is that I learned that this community of men is not a group of bystanders at the will and service of their witches. These men are roves seeking their own destiny, fathers shaping their future and the future of those they love, and sages manifesting the will of paganism as a whole. I am proud to call these men my brothers.

I can also share with you what I learned about myself. I practiced a solitary path for many years. When I was led to formal training at Temple of the Sacred Gift I looked upon this training in a preconceived notion of what a church is supposed to be. I also looked at my training as a training of rules, guide lines, and how-to’s on the right way and wrong way to practice and worship. I had decided without thinking that because this training was from an eclectic church and not a coven I would still be a solitary witch. I would be a part of a fellowship of like-minded individuals and learn what has been written and recorded about witchcraft. I would take this information and apply it to my own spiritual practice but ultimately I would still be a solitary because I wasn’t practicing like anyone else; my roots were my own.

Just before I left for my men’s weekend, my teacher invited me and others to be a part creative part of Southern Fried Pagan. Our first task was to create our bios for the page so that readers would know who we are and from what perspective our views originate. I did this quickly, because I had began writing a blog of my own earlier this year. I sent it to her and she wrote me back to inform me that I needed to look at blog bios because they tend to be short and to the point. And I wasn’t a solitary like I claim any longer. My first reaction was who is she to tell me I’m not a solitary. I latched on to my ideas of what my training was going to be and swung from the tree limb beating my chest. I have thankfully learned to avoid discussing things until I have had time to think about them. I used the weekend to plan on what I was going to say to my teacher to make her understand and accept my idea. Funny I know. Tell your high priestess she’s wrong about something she’s been formally teaching for a few years.

I was involved in a casual conversation with a sage of high respect as a brother one night during this weekend. He was saying something about the students he teaches and how he has to teach to each one differently because they are different people. This sparked in my head and I said, “Aha!” I realized now why I needed to go to college to become a teacher of elementary school only to leave that field. Differentiated instruction, the biggest concept of my college training. And this high priest has been using it for a lot longer than it has been in practice in public schools. I then began to think about teaching and how friends in college would tell professors that the idea of differentiated instruction, teaching to reach every level and type of student and to each individual student, was good in theory but wasn’t realistic. After some time examining lesson plans of differentiated instruction and some training on how to construct them, I was quite able to apply this skill. I thought, “How dumb are they to tell the teacher their wrong.”


What had I just done? I had to think about this. I looked around and saw the men and the ways they did things. I learned the connections these men had and why they had them. I saw practices of various sages being used by the fathers and learned by the roves. Some of these were discussed openly after rituals and workshops. And the answer to my quandary was revealed. Traditions were made and passed on and are being passed on. These traditions were not limited to the men or this festival. I realized I wasn’t just learning what someone else had learned; I was learning traditions. Now my high priestess and high priest and maiden and squire had told us this many times. It never made it past my preconception. This weekend I saw the traditions from one hand to the next. I was a part of these traditions. I learned a way of thinking and doing that had been passed down from generations much older than one that attended the festival.

No I am not a part of a coven, but I am part of a tradition. It is an eclectic one. But it is a tradition. I have brothers and I have sisters. I have fathers and mothers. I have grandfathers and grandmothers. I am not alone anymore unless I choose to be. I choose it no longer. I WAS a solitary pagan. Now, I am a Templite.  

My advice: If you are practicing solitary do not seclude yourself. Get out and be part of the community. If you wish to be part of a group, which in my opinion most of us do, get out and do whatever it takes to find an accepting, loving group. A new light will dawn within you. The Charge of the Goddess states, “If that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without.” I hold that some things cannot be found within unless we actively seek them without. Paganism is about community and traditions. If you do not make yourself a part of the community you will not know paganism completely. I may be wrong. These are just the ideas of a seeker in training.

Kevin Red Patrick is a seeker at Temple of the Sacred Gift – ATC. Raised in Memphis, TN, and educated at the University of Mississippi. His pagan path began at the age of thirteen after understanding that his views of life, spirituality, and sexuality did not align with his Christian upbringing. He has followed an eclectic Wiccan path with strong Celtic influences for twenty-two years. Divine direction led him to TSG-ATC in December of 2012, where he is now receiving formal training with aspirations of becoming clergy. He now lives in Southaven, MS with his partner of thirteen years and two dogs.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

If it don't take the first time, can I get a second dunkin'?

I get allot of emails and people asking me about Initiations.  They want to know if I am "self-initiated" or did I have a teacher.  They want to know if they can "self-initiate" and if so why do they want or need a teacher.  Here in the South, we have some deep "Christian" ways of thinking that go down deeper than the psyche possibly into our bones that we are not aware of.  I think this is why this question comes up allot down here.  I am going to try and answer this question; and I am going to honestly share my OPINION.  This does not make me an expert, just someone who has been around a bit!

First, I want to specify what Initiation is; according to Webster it is the following:  "Initiation is a rite of passage marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society. It could also be a formal admission to adulthood in a community or one of its formal components. In an extended sense it can also signify a transformation in which the initiate is 'reborn' into a new role. Examples of initiation ceremonies might include Hindu diksha, Christian baptism or confirmation, Jewish bar or bar mitzvah, acceptance into a fraternal organization, secret society or religious order, or graduation from school or recruit training."

So if we look at this definition is is HIGHLY Unlikely that you can give yourself an initiation.  For how can you declare yourself part of a group if you are the only person?  If, however you are trying to declare to the Universe or the Source that you are now officially a "Pagan or Wiccan"  then I guess you could do that by yourself.  I find it baffling that in the year 2013 we whom are Pagan/Wiccan/Witch still remain Solitary and are "non social" and "very judgemental" of other groups, circles, covens, and Pagan organizations which will gladly offer these services to you in exchange for your discipline, time, commitment, and exchange of energy.  How are we to be "light bearers" and "be one with the earth" if we are so standoffish and solitary?  (Notice I ask this question but cannot answer it).

In my tradition,  Initiations mean something.  They mean you have crossed a fork in the road, devoted a year or more of your life, that you have devoted yourself intensely to the God or Goddess of your choice, that you have given all you have and you would like your community, your family and your teachers to still continue on with you down the road you choose.  They mean that you are ready to learn, and to grow, and to share yourself with the world.  They mean that you are ready to "set yourself aside" and try to work with others for common goals that you think will help the city you live in and yourself.  It means you stand for something, and you are willing to accept a few "responsibilities" and "roles" and the expectations that come with them.  It also means, you will not walk that path alone ever...that I (if I am your teacher) will give you part of myself and stay connected to you forever.  That is the deal I made with my Goddess Isis, and thus she too will always be there for you if you need her.

Back in the late 80's early nineties many of us were initiated in a way that reminds you of a fraternity rite.  We were picked up without warning, we were blind folded,  a bag placed on our head, our hands tied together, and we had to sit in a car or back of a truck and ride not knowing where we were going.  When we arrived at the destination the bag was removed, our feet tied together, and then the Priestess started to ask us questions that we should be able to answer if we had studied diligently and paid attention.  Then you were anointed, cleansed, and saged.  You would be unblindfolded, then untied on your hands, then your feet, and this would be so that you could "see the new path before you", and so that you could "use your hands for the craft" and "walk the path before you in dignity and grace" .  You would take an oath to your High priestess, and Circle and community and Gods .  You would mean it and the difference would be palpable. Then you were measured and given a cord by your High priestess and it was understood that you and she were tied together like a mother and baby; and all your brother and sisters in the coven would rejoice.  You now were initiated!
I have done some of these (minus the putting a bag on someones head) and I have experienced it.  It is a tad bit scary but this is about trust.  Do you trust your Gods?  Do you trust yourself?  Do you trust your circle/tribe/community?  If so then you have put yourself in a very uncomfortable place...and now you are ready TO GROW!
Today in 2013 I will not blindfold you, I am not going to bind you like this...but I am going to make sure you feel like you are on the spot.  I am going to make you feel a tad bit uncomfortable, I am going to make it sacred, and reverent, and you are going to answer questions to prove that you have learned what you needed to in that year and a day, you are going to take an oath, you are going to hear the words of the Goddess and the words of the God, you are going to be reminded of the ethics and values of the Tradition you have been trained in! (However, none of that can happen unless you have gone to your classes and turned in your lessons for a year and a day not missing more than three sessions and turned in a BOS to your teacher that she/he approved several weeks before). Yes, you have to have discipline and focus to be part of our tradition.  Then, your teacher and I will give you a cord and explain to you the significance of this act.  The Clergy will share once again with you the tools of our Path, you will be reminded that not just "anyone" needs to know the secrets of our traditions because they not all will understand them and we will anoint your third eye, your lips, your throat, your heart, your hands, your belly, your feet, and you will be iniated!  Everyone will celebrate, you will be hugged allot, and at the end you are given a graduation certificate.
The following Rites of Passages are also Initiations:  Baby blessings, Weddings, Graduations, Funerals.  NONE OF THESE do you do why would you do your most important decision in the world alone ? (Well I thought it was one of my most important things I have ever done maybe you don't think this)

You would think the majority of students in our classes would be young twenty somethings fresh faced and eager for the Craft not knowing the consequences of the decision to be Pagan forever. However, I can tell you after all of these years the majority of people that come to learn and take classes at the Temple are not.  They are people that have been solitary for ten or more years.  They know basics; they have read hundreds of books they come to learn a "tradition" the come to learn structure and the "order" in which to do things.  They have already figured out that "intent" is nice but knowing how to formulate the spell is really more important than just copying and pasting from Facebook.  In classes, they are helped to find their OWN personal path, they find their OWN God and Goddess, and they are forced (through their own consent and life) to work only on a few things for a year and a day and do them well, they are forced to work with others and learn to get along and deal with "discord" gracefully and wisely.  They come out learning skills that help not only them spiritually but practically.  I know I did and still do.
To be a THIRD degree in the Temple means you have devoted at least (and this means you have not missed a single anything and were a genius) three and a half years of your life studying and applying that knowledge and contributing to a community.  Once you have done this, you are ready (we feel) to lead a group and start a circle within the community thus contributing to the greater whole and sharing YOUR PERSONAL gifts!
I pray now that I have explained what Initiation is and how we do it you can answer this question better.  Oh, and if you have been iniated in the Craft and you decide to get married and start a family, and then revisit it can always pick up where you left off.  YOU DO NOT have to get "Re- baptized" or ask the Gods to observe your decision again" :)  We are Pagans after all.
THANK YOU for the gift of your time....