Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gentle Discipline

"..If punishment offers a lesson in morals, it teaches a morality of racial, social, economic, and gender hierarchies."- Angela Harris

I have said it before and I will say it again, I am not teaching my son to be a moral person. Rather, I am teaching him to be an ethical one. Semantics, you say? I am not engaging in word play here- I believe the two words have distinct meanings, although (unfortunately) many use them interchangeably.

Morals come from an outside source. They are supplied to us- think legal codes, the Ten Commandments, that sort of thing. Someone else has decided what is right and wrong for us, and we are to follow the "moral code" proscribed by our culture, society, or religion.

Ethics, on the other hand, come from an internal process. An ethical person has a much harder row to hoe, because they must look at all the variables of a situation- everyone's story and feelings, the law, religious ideas, who could be hurt in any given situation, etc. Then the ethical person must make the best choice in any given situation, regardless of what the law or any particular religion says about right or wrong.

Let me elaborate: Back when I was a budding educator, I studied child development and learned about Piaget's scale of "moral development". He outlined several stages that children go through (hopefully) to develop as fully thinking human being. The first stage is "premoral" and states that kids up to about five years don't understand that there are rules at all. (And Rowan and I are so right there right now. Toddlers and rules- hah!)

An example of Evangelical Christian
moralism, aimed at kids.
According to Piaget, ages five to nine get into another stage called "moral realism", in which kids see the rules as external and immutable. (This is also the stage that a lot of things, like gender differences, become exaggerated and insisted upon. We hope to lessen the black and white stage by exposing him to so much diversity of thought and presentation at this age.)

The last stage is "moral relativity". It can start around age seven, so it can overlap with that second stage for some. "Children who have reached this stage recognise that rules are not fixed, but can be changed by mutual consent, and they start to develop their own internal morality which is no longer the same as external rules. A major development is that actions are now evaluated more in terms of their intentions, which most people would see as a more sophisticated view of morality. Piaget also thought it was during this stage that children develop a firm concept of the necessity that punishment specifically fits the crime."

Now, I don't think Piaget is the be-all and end-all by any means, but I do think that he had a great idea here. However, I see so many people that never make it into that last "shades of gray" discernment stage. They get stuck in the avoidance of punishment/seeking of rewards mode of thinking that comes with "moral realism" for their whole lives. In my opinion they never become ethical adults, merely moral ones. I do not wish this for Rowan.

So one of the ways that I am making this happen from a parenting standpoint is what attachment parents call "gentle (or positive) discipline". I instill discipline in Rowan, not inflict it upon him. (The root of discipline is the same root for "disciple"- I believe that we misuse this world by making it a synonym for punishment in our culture.) Gentle discipline means no violence, for one thing. No spanking, no threats. I wish to teach him that violence is not the correct way to get a desired outcome- so why would I use it to get what I want from him as a parent?

Do you use gentle discipline in your home? Why or why not? What are your reasons?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Back to School"

It's that time of year again, when many young people (and old grad students like me) start classes once more. September and the beginning of fall will always be imprinted in my mind as "Back to School Time" time. I was a public school kid, in a decent school system in an affluent suburb of Chicago (that my parents barely afforded and sacrificed to move into). I remember waiting for the school bus to pick up across the street from my house, and having my wet hair freeze in the crisp winter air. I remember picking out which of my new clothes were going to be that special "first day of school" outfit. My birthday fell during the school year, so I always got birthday wishes at school as well as a birthday party, unlike those sad summer-born kids. I had a gaggle of friends and we clung to one another as we navigated through the world of public education. I have fond memories of some things about going to school.

And part of me is wistful that Rowan might not have those kind of memories. I plan on homeschooling/ unschooling him unless he states a preference otherwise. I am hoping to be able to find a group of like-minded parents with which to do a group school, actually- so he will have peers. He will be missing something, a common experience that many of his peers will experience- and I know that in order to deprive him of that, I need to provide something much better. And I think that I can do that.

It's the other memories of going to school that helped me make up my mind about whether or not to send my son off to school. Bullies, teachers that crush your dreams, teachers that are overworked and cannot function, cliques and social hierarchies that do not matter but mean the world to a child or teen, and feeling like the tiny little world they inhabit was indeed the entire world and it was always going to be like "this way". I hated the desperation that I felt at the hands of wealthy popular kids and their priorities. I hated the reverence demanded for authority without them having to earn it, or asking me whether I bought into the hierarchy in the first place. I hated being treated like property, or a criminal, or stupid simply because of my age.

He can get social peers in music, art, or dance class...
I want my son to be educated in the world. I want him to experience a diversity of people, opinions, and experiences. I want him to learn to question everything, analyze and think critically. I want him to be able to follow his passions and learn what he desires to learn, not just an agenda set by other people- including the arts, the religions of the world, accurate history that is not just about conquest and militarism, and the humanities in all its glory. I want him to be respected as an individual with rights.

And frankly, I can only think of one type of school that may be able to fulfill this tall order (and sadly, there aren't any in Ohio). But even at this awesome school, I still would be working to expose him to lots of things as his parent if he attended this school anyway. So why not try and start on my own? I have taught school myself in the Oakland public schools, mentored and tutored youth, volunteered with kids of many ages at UU churches and Girl Scouts. I know how to create curricula that is child driven, age appropriate, and most of all, fun. So I am working hard to build a life where I can be the main educator in my son's life.

Does it scare me? A little. I know it is an awesome responsibility to take on the education of another human being. I need to have my house in order. And while I normally don't care what others think of me, I know that Rowan will go through the phase where he will. More and more parents are homeschooling these days, so the stereotype of the religiously fanatical homeschooling family (or the socially stunted homeschooled kid) is becoming more of a relic. But he may run into judgmental  people who think how they do things is better and will try and make him feel less than for being homeschooled. I will have to prepare him for that.

While he isn't even old enough to enter preschool yet, I am working with him- teaching him a little every day. He has learned basic vocabulary for his day, animals, colors, foods, counting up to three, ASL, and how to take a deep breath (we are working on calming skills right now). He is a little sponge and wants to know everything! I am beginning to accumulate curricula and lessons in all kind of areas on Pinterest: general homeschooling info and printables, religious curriculum, art, music, science, maths, literacy, and reading, social studies, health and life skills.

I am looking forward to exploring the world with my special little Boop.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Family Bed

We are the only mammals that seem to have an expectation that our babies should sleep right next to us, which is strange to me. It's the safest place for them, unless you are asking, oh I don't know, a crib manufacturer?!

To those critics, I say this:

How to silence silly people? You kill 'em with cute.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Watching my Son Grow: Language

Pointing at what he wants. "Use your words, Booper!"
Rowan is busy learning one of the most powerful ways a human being can create magick in the world: words and speech. He is learning the power of naming and names and how they affect how we see and interact with the world.
To quote an elder from my Witchcraft tradition: "Words are magic. Words are something we humans use to create our world, carving packets of energy out of the universal froth, investing them with meanings and significance, and linking them up in webs and patterns of association and reflection. The magical power in words lies not only in their ability to focus our energy compactly, but also in their inherent fluidity. By changing our words around, we can change our inner perception of the world and thus how we experience it. Perceiver and perceived create each other; change the nature of the perceptions, and the ripple effect flows outward into the world and creates change there, too. Like I said; magic."*
For good or ill, words are how we humans communicate with one another, and we can use them or abuse them. This is why I am being so careful and correcting myself and others so often lately- I want Rowan to use powerful, affirming, accurate language. Unlearning all the ways that we use language for ill for the benefit of another (and society at large) is a tall order, but one I take on gladly. While many people bemoan "political correctness" (sic) and "censorship" when I bring up topics like these, I do not think that is what is at play here. The fact is that I want to use language accurately- so "retarded" is not a slur to make someone feel bad and neither is "gay". I have enough words in my arsenal to skewer anyone, I do not need to get lazy by using these words (that do not convey what I want them to, anyway)!

Meanwhile, Rowan astounds me with new vocabulary daily. While most are nouns, he has surprised me with some adjectives, too. And he says the phrase, "Here you go" when he hands me something. This is something he picked up from me as I would hand him things he requested. I was unaware that I said that! Obviously, my life will be on autopilot no longer- I now live with a very accurate living mirror. What better practice for a discerning Witch than to have a toddler in the home!

* - Steven Hewell

Sunday, August 21, 2011

#7 Blog of Faith!

Thanks to everyone who voted for this blog in the Circle of Moms Faith Blogger Contest- I ended up in the top 25, at number 7!

I am unsure how I was entered in the contest, but I do know that the contest became politicized and many pagan folk were voting a "pagan slate" in the contest in response to some unfortunate comments on the parts of an evangelical blogger formerly in the contest. I am happy to report that of the Top 25, 12 were pagans of one stripe or another, including the #1 spot being held by the illustrious Mrs. B at Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom. I am saddened that there were so few Jewish and Muslim blogs making the Top 25. I made it a point to vote for all the minority religions in the contest. I feel we have a lot in common, living in a culture many consider Christian.

I encourage you to check out the other winners in the contest- I have! Check out my link and blogroll page while you are at it. And if I missed something worthwhile, please let me know!

Friday, August 19, 2011


Spirituality and action: hand-in-hand.
As I pack and purge in preparation for my cross-country move, I am constantly faced with the question of "Does this thing go or stay?" Inherent in this question is an object's value, either practical or sentimental (often both). As a Taurus with heavy earth leanings, I have accumulated a lot of things in my 18 years in the Bay Area, as well as in my travels and residency elsewhere. I love remembering people and places with tangible items.

I have a jar of beach collected shells. It is a jar that used to contain delicious Chincoteague oysters (that I ate- yum!) and the shells are from that island as well, a family trip I took with my ex. It was delightful and amazing and it lives currently in my bathroom. Should it go? All the feathers from parrots that I have cared for in my business since 2004 that live in a vase in my living room- what should be done with those? Should all of my tarot decks go- including the ones that I used in the past but are no longer used?

I have encountered folks who are armchair Buddhists or spiritual dabblers making comments about "letting go of my attachments" while I ponder what should stay and what should go. And it makes me raise my eyebrows, because these folks obviously do not understand what the Buddha meant by non-attachment as a goal. Here is a website that puts it succinctly:
"[A]ccording to the Buddhist point of view, nonattachment is exactly the opposite of separation. You need two things in order to have attachment: the thing you’re attaching to, and the person who’s attaching. In nonattachment, on the other hand, there’s unity. There’s unity because there’s nothing to attach to. If you have unified with the whole universe, there’s nothing outside of you, so the notion of attachment becomes absurd. Who will attach to what?"
So non-attachment has nothing to do with letting go of material things per se. In fact, it leads me to think that keeping the sentimental is exactly what I should be doing. They are an extension of me- my memories, whether or not they are valuable to someone else.

However, I have to say that this purge (which is quite extensive: we are not taking any furniture, only books, bicycles, temple items, Rowan's things, laptops, a few knick knacks, kitchen gear, and clothes.) has been quite spiritual and cathartic. It feels as though I am clearing the way for a brand new life in my new home by purging things of the past.

I have created a lengthy project of digitizing old photos, papers, and music, so as not to move bulky items like that. I am gifting wonderful items to others that I no longer need or want in my life. I am trying to match the people to the items, so that the giving is meaningful and not simply dumping junk on them. I am donating things to charity. I am recycling. I am donating a ridiculous amount of craft items (how did I get all that stuff?) to the Unitarian Church where I teach Sunday School. In my way, I am trying to bless the place that I called home and the people that I have loved here in my soon-to-be-former home while making a gracious exit.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Extremism worldwide

The world is a scary place right now, is it not? Terrorists, extremists, polarized politics, and violence plague us. People are blaming one another for problems and not working together for the benefit of all.  People are rioting and looting because they feel like they have no options in life. And in many ways in the culture that we have developed in "western, industrialized" countries, this is true. The gap between wealthy and poor has been widening for decades. More and more people are hungry and uncared for.

This inequality has lead to revolutions and protests in Syria, Egypt, Wisconsin, Michigan, Spain, Greece, London, and Manchester. (I am sure that there are more than this short list.) I believe that this economic situation has created terrorism and extremism. Here in the US, the threat for homegrown terrorism is higher than it has ever been, due to gaps in equality, extremists taking advantage, and the rest of the population living in a state where they value competition over cooperation.

I know that many blame religion, but extremism of any stripe can step in when people feel powerless. The attack on Norway was done by a Christian extremist- yes, but more than that, he was afraid of what a pluralistic socity would mean for him- he thought it meant losing what little power he did have. The attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were done by Muslim extremists, yes. But in reality, religion has little to do with these attacks. The attacks on US soil targeted centers of global oppression- big finance and US colonial military power.

Further, these kind of attacks stem from a place where people feel that their way of doing things trumps everyone else's. The Oslo Bomber feared Muslims and their culture and wanted them exterminated, deported, or violently assimilated. The mere existence of "others" (simply being) is a threat to him. He hated the "cultural marxists and multiculturalists" who are "aiding and abetting" cultural genocide (most significantly in efforts to accommodate Islam within Europe). The challenge, as [Anders Behring Breivik] sees it, seems to be to eliminate Islamic migration to Europe, assimilate or force emigration of Muslims, and to excise all Islamist or Arab influenced culture, art, and architecture from European countries.

So what can we do? We can say no and we can say yes.

Say No to a Culture That Embraces Violence and Hates Difference
Did you know that in our (broken) popular culture video games ) the ones that we often let our kids play) helped the Oslo bomber prepare his horrible plot? We are desensitizing ourselves to violence and death and helping others learn how to kill effectively when we allow such "games" in our homes.Violent video games in my home? Hell no.

I have a friend whose sons (all under the age of 6) play these with their father (as well as watch violent TV and cartoons) and all they want to do is play fight. They always polarize their toys (This is the bad guy- I am going to kill him!") and it makes me sad and frightened all at the same time. These kids also have nightmares inspired by what they see. I want something different for Rowan- and that is going to be hard, because I am swimming upstream, against the tide of a culture that sees violence as mainstream and OK.

I also choose not to have a TV in my home, because I feel most of the programming is designed for brainwashing us to believe competition is better than cooperation, capitalism is freedom, violence is normal, and difference is something to be despised. I do not want my son exposed to those dynamics at a young age. When he is older, we will watch together, so that I can help decode the messages that he is seeing. I want to raise a critical thinker.

I am also saying no to a segregated society- I want to have friends of all ages, races, religions and other cultural markers of difference. I want my son to grow up in that world, so I need to actively cultivate it. which brings me to saying yes:

Saying Yes to Diversity, Cooperation, and a Culture That Sustains Life
After the Oslo bombing, Al Jezeera ran an op-ed called, Faced with Inhumanity, We Must Be More Human. I concur. While we are afraid, we must continue to reach out to one another and build a new society in the decaying shell of the old. We must learn how to care for ourselves and others we include in our tribe (and we must build those tribes!) Hard work is ahead for all of us that value life and love.

We must go out of our way sometimes to meet people who think or live differently than ourselves. Making friendships that span that divide is even harder. But if we want a society that embraces diversity, then we must do it on a micro level first.

I am teaching my son about the myriad seemingly invisible (only because we take it for granted) ways the world cooperates for his benefit. I am teaching him cooperation and working and playing with others. I am modeling non-violent communication, non-capitalist ways of being, and how to create.

What are you doing to say no and yes to a better world?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Children in The United States

"Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values.
You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another—and laying down your life for another represents the gospel. Our culture is simply afraid of death. Laying down your own life, in any way, is terrifying."
This image has little to do with the topic,
but OMG- babies eating solids at 3 weeks?!
I read a lot of blogs. Mommy blogs, natural parenting blogs, pagan blogs. The above quote is from a Christian mommy blogger and I find the quote oddly compelling and find myself agreeing with it (sans the Christian sentiment of persecution, which I find silly).

I believe that mothers in the United States do indeed carry their children into hostile territory. The United States is generally very unfriendly to children and families.

Most policies, be they from employers, the government, or even private citizens make it so very difficult to simply enjoy being with your children- especially "in public". We segregate children (and old folks, actually) from the rest of the (able-bodied, privileged, income earning) population as a matter of course. I know most people feel more comfortable that way. (All you have to do is read the comments on myriad Facebook pages about the above-linked restaurant ban of kids under six to understand most people actually hate or fear kids.) But we are denying the actual cycle of life when we stratify our society. We are alienating ourselves from normalcy when we don't wish to be around people of all ages. We are creating a stunted, artificial society that will ultimately harm us all.

Babies cry to communicate: feelings, ideas.
They have few words at their disposal,
and that can be frustrating.
Do you actually think parents want a scene in
public either? It happens, it will happen, and
the childless need to get over it.
Forgive me, parents of yesteryear. Before I had a child of my own, I was probably one of those people that thought to myself, "Can't they get that child to shut up?" Now I understand. The looks I get in the supermarket when my teething son cries, or when he is overtired and needs a nap are vicious sometimes. As if those folks have more rights than my son (which they do, of course)! Children are treated like property in this culture- not individuals with feelings. It is maddening.

Finally, I have had enough. I am not going to put up with other people's crap about kids any longer (she says, as she is about to embark on a cross-country road trip with a toddler- gulp).

The last time someone gave me a look of disdain when my son cried, I flippantly said, "Oh- I'm sorry that my son's feelings are inconvenient for you.", and gave them a look that could melt glass. I am the mean mama bear and I will take you out, mister.

Friday, August 12, 2011

I'm Now on Pinterest

An example of some religious curriculum:
Moon phases using Oreos!
As I gather ideas for not only for making my life better (DIY and sustainability tips) but also for writing a book (on educating pagan children in a homeschool or unschooling setting), I needed a place to store all of these resources and ideas. One of the tools that I am using for this is Pinterest.

What is Pinterest? It is a new social networking site for the visually minded. Think of it as digital cork boards on whatever topics you choose (your interests) and then you pin the items to your board (hence the name "Pinterest"). You pin a picture that links to a site or article. You can also pin just a photo and write a description under it. I have been pinning items on the following boards of my own creation:

Homeschooling Resources (Printables, articles, tips, curriculum and units)
Religious Curriculum (Articles, images on all religions that I find are good for kids)
Witchcraft (Articles and images that evoke what I mean by Witchcraft)
Witchcraft DIY (Great ways to make things for Craft purposes!)
DIY for the Kids
DIY Inside (Home improvement)
DIY Outside (Home improvement)
DIY Toiletries and Home Care (Recipes for toiletries, cleaners, etc.)
DIY Apparel and Accessories (Sewing, knitting, crochet and more)
Tricks and Tips (Amazing shortcuts and ways of doing things I must remember!)
Building Community (Very important and as I find things to help do that, they go here.)
New Family Traditions (Things Rowan & I can remember fondly and look forward to)
Recipes to Try
Embroidery (I love to embroider, and these are potential projects)
Kitchy Witchy (I have a sentimental place for "witchy" things made by muggles.)
DIY Craft (All kinds of fun projects!)

Pinterest is new, so I expect that they will roll out new features to help people organize their boards better soon. In the meantime, I am happily pinning things I plan to use and be inspired by in creating my book, my son's education, and my new home!

I have added a new button here on the blog for folks to follow me on Pinterest if they so choose. Look to the right to check it out!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On Initiation

You stand in the matrix of power supported by those who have gone before you. Stand knowing that you are an ancestor of the future - Luisa Teish

Over the weekend, I participated in a rite that, among other things, made me a priest in my specific Witchcraft tradition. On Friday August 5th, 2011, I was initiated into my small Mystery tradition and my head is still reeling from its effects and from what I learned there.

Initiation has many levels and meanings. While I cannot tell you any particulars (Oaths require secrecy and Mystery has a hard time fitting into words anyway), I can tell you this. I am forever changed.

I am sure the changes will continue over time, but now- in the immediate, I find myself quieter, more contemplative. I am sitting back and observing the world and its inhabitants, noticing small things that I may have missed before. The world seems overwhelming at times, as my senses seem to have been sharpened. I get more frequent visitors both waking and dreaming, too. Not all of them are ones that I want around. My teacher tells me that "Everyone is now checking you out." I am the fresh meat on the astral block, it seems.

Since words are failing me at this time, I will leave you with a poem about Initiation by Gabriel Carillo, one of our tradition's Mighty Dead:

Initiation is:
a beginning
an opening
a gate that leads beyond the fields we know
that opens onto a whole new journey
into the perilous heart of the labyrinth
that shows us how little we know
a transformation
a marriage that weds us to the Other
yet makes us more ourselves
and makes everything about us more than it was
for good or ill
a wind to ride to the ends of the earth and beyond
a beginning 

Initiation is:
the great work
the greatest act of magic
the deepest sharing and trust 

connects one to the infinite
connects one to the eternal blue heaven
connects one to the green earth and the stars
connects us to Those who have gone before
connects us to the wild and perilous Faery Power
that is the heart of Faery
more than words or gestures or symbols or names
that is passed in silence loud as the roaring sea
at the heart of the world
and in chanting as soft as the wings of the dove
that we touch through the one who brings us
through the beginning and links us in
the unending chain of transmission
one to one to one through time
since the ancient beginning. 

The Faery Power:
is the heart of Faery
is the gift of the Gods,
when they come called by the pulse
of the power and the madness
in the initiator’s heart.
to accept the prepared candidate
Flows on the link from oathmother to oathmother carrying the voices
of Those who have gone before
their wisdom and their madness
their magic and their imperfections
an overwhelming cacophany of voices
a sea in which one must struggle to stay afloat
the wind that roars between the stars
that blows out of the Gates of the Dawn
in blasting or blessing to the weighing
of your heart 

The initiator calls, the Gods and the Power answers, the candidate receives and becomes.
No break in the chain one on one on one, for the power rides and passes along the chain.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lovely Video

A Witch friend of mine posted this, and I had to share. Watch the whole animated short. I loved it.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Warlocks, really?

This is a warlock- TV is make-believe.
I have been asked by several people recently about the warlock bruhaha. In case you were unaware, some men in the Witchcraft scene are going around trumpeting themselves as "warlocks" in the name of "reclaiming the word" and coming up with a masculinized version of Witch.

It's no surprise that the men that I have seen doing this mostly are (pardon my French) media whores.

After all, these are men who are trying to sell many many things (in their stores, with their lines of merchandise, their services, their classes and workshops), and what makes a bigger splash than having everyone talk about you? Masters of PR, that's what they are. They are looking to become a big fish in a little pond (and for those of you that do not know, the pagan community is a very small pond, let me tell you).

My problem with the word "warlock" is not that the term historically means "oath breaker" (it possibly doesn't) or even that is may mean "war lord". The fact is, it's a stupid word to reclaim because to most modern Witches, it DOES INDEED mean an unscrupulous person- an oath breaker, a cheat, a liar. Even if it never historically existed as a negative word, it means that now. It means the worst kind of person, actually. Oath breaking is the worst thing you can do as a Witch. So why strut around trying to reclaim a word like that?

It's not like the word Queer or Black. Those words were used by the dominant culture to oppress a minority of people with intrinsic qualities (their queerness or blackness). These words were reclaimed by people with that intrinsic quality because the word was used to make them feel shame. Nope warlock is not like those words at all. Far be it from me to tell people what to do- if folks want to use "warlock" to describe themselves, go for it. But that doesn't mean folks like me won't look at you and consider you stupid.

So this leads me to wonder- who are these warlocks talking to- most Witches are not convinced, so they must be talking to those on the outside. And if you look at it this way- their move makes sense. After all, warlock was used on the TV show Bewitched to mean a male Witch. It's friendly and familiar to non-Witches. So I believe that these folks are actually marketing their wares to those that are not part of our religion- but are merely Witchcraft tourists. (One of these warlocks is even in Salem- the biggest Witchy tourist trap of all!)

Uncle Arthur has it right-
this is a farce, for shits and giggles.
But here's my main objection to using this term. These folks are coming up with a male equivelent of Witch WHEN NONE IS NECESSARY. (Witch does not mean male or female.) This is just another stupid gender essentialist reaction on the part of cissexual men who have their panties in a bunch over not getting enough attention. It creates yet another divide of the sexes in a place where none existed before.

Despite what this writer says, (or this one) Warlock is NOT the male counterpart to the female Witch. It never was and still isn't. Witch HAS NO counterpart. Male and female mysteries have been a part of WITCHCRAFT for centuries, and no special word was ever needed to delineate or set apart men from women before. To do so, in a religion that celebrates the place of all genders is a travesty, a falsehood, and just plain bad theology.

I recognize that the beings we call gods and goddesses have no gender- not as we experience it, anyway. We experience these beings in these ways because of our own filters. As a Witch, I have access to all of the Divine. In my experience, being a Witch makes you fey- that is, beyond gender. You are both and neither, because you are in the process of realizing your own god self- and gods aren't "male" and "female".

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On Scripture

Today's blog post is musings on a quote worth reading. It is an excerpt from Kenaz Filan's blog. It is titled "On Holy Writ".

"Today many Reconstructionists treat ancient texts as sacred scriptures.  Yet this is a modern view, certainly not the intention of the original writers or of their audience.  It is, of course, difficult to establish the authorial or editorial intent of the original writers and compilers of most holy scriptures.  It is not difficult to prove that these texts have been re-edited and re-interpreted throughout their history. One sect's apocrypha is another sect's canon, and one generation's heretic is another generation's prophet.  The battles which have arisen among Reconstructionists as they struggle with inclusion and interpretation are part and parcel of scripturally-based faiths.  Words can be set in stone: their meaning is far more fluid.

The idea is not to say the exact words our hundred-generations-removed ancestors used in their ceremonies while using the correct dialect and wearing a ceremonial robe woven out of period-appropriate fabrics. The idea is to re-establish the connection those ancestors had with their Gods and the ways in which they interacted with the world.  Instead of seeing them as part of a mythic Golden Age set apart from us, we should understand them as a process which began long before us and will continue long after we are gone.  We still fight their ongoing battles; we reap the benefits of their achievements; we carry the terrible burdens of their failures."- Kenaz Filan

As you can imagine, I am with Kenaz on this one. I am a Witch and not some other stripe of pagan that reads books and does research as a spiritual practice. While I study all kinds of theology and love a good read (my occult library is ever-growing); I do not use these books as the source of my practice, devotion, or theology.

Scripture (meaning a book that directs people's actions, thoughts, and ethics) is not something I am overly fond of and feel that without careful guarding against such a fate, it can stunt a religion into fundamentalist thinking over time. (I was actually delighted to learn that in the history of Judaism there were factions of folks who were not in favor of writing everything down for fear of just that.) Religions of the book are always playing politics with who gets included and how. Editing is a political act just as much as writing is.

What do you think? I know I have many readers that belong to "religions of the book". How do you work around passages that may be problematic to an evolving view (say, embracing all sexualities or hating slavery and incest)? I would love to hear from folks on how they tackle these kinds of problems in scripture.