Disclaimer:

This blog does not represent the views, beliefs, traditions, etc. of all Pagans. This blog does not claim to be 100% correct, nor does it claim to have every answer. This blog represents the personal views, beliefs, and morals of one Pagan. This blog represents the belief system and spiritual journey of one Pagan. The blogger in charge of this blog is not looking for followers or others with the same outlook on life. The blogger believes that every individual is exactly that, an "individual;" with individual beliefs, individual paths, and individual outlooks on life. The blogger stresses how important it is for people to discover their own spiritual paths, their own system of beliefs, and their own morals.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Religion Is Language For The Soul... Or A Penis If You Will

It's been a while since I've updated this blog, and I could blame a lot of that on real life getting in the way and zapping my time and energy. But a part of me just became lazy as well, and here's an attempt to zap that laziness away.

I'm apologizing in advance, as this is more of a rant than anything else...

---

Today, I was in the bookstore, over in the "Self Transformation" section. You probably know it as the "New Age" section, but apparently "Self Transformation" is less scary to the sky followers.

Sitting on the shelves, and sticking out of the books, were little business cards. Naturally, my curious self picked one up to see what it was. I instantly regretted my decision, because a fire started to burn in the pit of my stomach, my jaw clenched, my eyes narrowed, and I let out a frustrated sigh.

Two bible quotes were on the front:

  • God is not a man, so he does not lie (Numbers 23:19 in the NLT version)
  • Everyone who calls on the name of the lord will be saved (Romans 10:13 of the NLT version)

And in big, bright white script was the word "faith." On the back was a web address: https://goddoesnotlie.wordpress.com (the actual link was to a specific post on that page, but you get the point).

I quickly gathered up all the cards I could find. I searched every shelf to make sure there weren't any hiding somewhere, and all I could think was how disrespectful!

Seriously, no other religious group does this! I don't see any business cards in the cookbooks saying if I eat pork I'm going to be damned; or in the fashion books saying if I show my hair I'm going to burn in hell. I don't see little cards with Buddha on them telling me that if I don't meditate daily, I'm going to be miserable in my next life. Like who does this?!

I recognize there are good Christians out there who are accepting and loving, and don't try to cram their views and beliefs down someone's throat, but as a general whole, Christians upset me the most.

Shoving your beliefs in someone's face, unwarranted, is entirely disrespectful. There is no other way to put it. It's just down right rude. Your beliefs are YOUR beliefs. Period. The end. There are people who belief in the same or similar concepts, that's great. But it ends there. 

You can tell me you'll pray for me. You can tell me I'll burn in hell, and that I'm evil. But those are YOUR beliefs. YOUR concepts and ideas. 

When discussing this matter with a Wiccan friend, we both agreed that we see these people as children. Why? Because they act like children. When they don't get their way, they throw a fit. The need attention or they'll keep repeating "mommy, mommy, mommy," until you finally acknowledge them. They don't understand boundaries, and they don't like to share. 

They don't get that when they show blatant disrespect for other beliefs, they're going to be met with hostility, backlash, and they're going to be mocked. Go preach to those who want to hear what you spew. Go preach to your own sheep. If someone is interest in "the word of God," they'll let you know. 

That's part of what draws me to Paganism. Paganism really depends on a person taking responsibility of their own spirituality. It relies on a person choosing a pagan path; on searching for what is best for them. It isn't, in most cases, something that is forcefully thrust upon a person. You really have to want a pagan path in order to be a part of it.

These people who unwarrantably thrust their beliefs on you, have filters over their eyes. They've filtered the world through their own colored glass until the are blind to the concept that there are other systems of beliefs out there, and that those beliefs are ok. 

I'm not a lost child that you can steer the right way. I'm not a broken toy that you can mend with repeated bible verses. I'm not a disease that you can cure with prayer. I'm a Pagan. I have a system of beliefs that you believe are different than yours. Here's the catch, they're not that different.

  • I believe in a higher power; a source for all
  • I believe in spreading love, peace, balance, and harmony
  • I believe in good vs evil
  • I believe in apologies and forgiveness
  • I believe in prayer and wishes
  • I believe all things were created good
  • I believe in faith and hope
  • I believe in beauty, individuality, and uniqueness
  • I believe in morals, and that wrongful actions have consequences
  • I believe in repentance
  • I believe in acceptance

Is that really all that evil? Is that really something you think I deserve to burn for?

Organized religions, when broken down, are all the same. Each has a doctrine, a hierarchy, rules/regulations for how to live, a system of beliefs that are adopted by followers, prophets, an ending goal and layout for how to achieve this goal.

My Wiccan friend said it best. He explained that religion is like language. For example, in each language, there is a word for "book." In English we call it "book." In Spanish, "libro." In German, "buch." French, "livre." In Swahili, "kitabu."

But it all means the same thing. It all refers to printed and bound sheets of paper, meant for us to buy, read, and (hopefully) enjoy. 

"Religion is like language for the soul," says my fellow Wiccan friend. It is the language our soul speaks, and although it may differ from that of another soul, it still means the same thing.

There's a funny quote, that I believe applies here:

"Religion is like a penis. 
It's ok to have one. It's ok to be proud of it.
But it's not ok to whip it out in public and swing it around.
And please, don't shove it down my child(re)'s throat."

Yes, I just compared your system of beliefs to the flaccid, sweaty, meat sack that hangs between a guy's legs. 

You're welcome.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The River Nymph: Photography

This past summer, I was walking along the river's edge, when I saw a River Nymph playing in the golden, sparkling water. 

Below are the photos I managed to capture of the beautiful River Nymph.




















365 Love Challenges: January


January 1

Challenge: Help a stranger in need
Brainstorm: Give someone coins for a parking meter, open a door for a mother pushing a stroller, or offer to help someone who's carrying something that looks heavy
For Reflection:

  • When was the last time you saw a stranger in need of help? Did you stop to assist, and if not, why?
  • What, if anything, has prevented you from helping strangers in the past, and how can you overcome this?
  • Has a stranger ever offered assistance to you, and how and why was this helpful?
How did it go: who did you help, and how do you think it made a positive difference in that person's day?

January 2

Challenge: Ask your newest friends or coworkers when their birthdays are so you can make a note of this for the future. Then be sure to wish them a happy birthday!
Tip: Immediately put the birthdays in your calendar - whether digital or physical - and schedule and alert, if possible, os that you remember when it rolls around.
For Reflection:
  • Who are some new people in your life with whom you'd like to develop closer relationships?
  • What's something simple you can plan to do for these people to honor their birthdays? (Write on their Facebook walls? Send cards in the mail? Send e-cards?)
How did it go: whose birthday is coming up soon? Could you start planning something now?

January 3

Challenge: Ask a friend or coworker who seems frazzled if you can help with anything.
For Reflection:
  • How do you usually look or act when you're frazzled and in need of help?
  • How does it affect your life and your relationships when you feel overwhelmed?
  • What's the most helpful thing someone could say or do for you when you're feeling this way?
How did it go: did your friend or coworker accept your offer? If so, what did you do to help?

January 4

Challenge: Focus on one thing at a time today instead of multitasking, as an act of kindness to your overworked brain.
For Reflection: 
  • How do you feel when you try to accomplish many things at once?
  • What unkind things do you say to yourself when you struggle to do this effectively?
  • What can you say to yourself that would be kinder when you're tempted to do too much?
How did it go: how did it affect your state of mind - and your day - to focus on one thing at a time?

January 5

Challenge: Connect two friends or acquaintances that you believe could help each other, or who might hit it off romantically.
For Reflection:
  • Has a friend or coworker ever made an introduction for you that changed your life? If so, how did this affect your life for the better?
  • What might have happened (or might not have happened) if not for this introduction?
How did it go: were the people you introduced excited to connect with each other?

January 6

Challenge: Carry with you one thing that someone else may need so that you can help them out should the opportunity arise.
Brainstorm: You could carry a pen, an aspirin, a safety pin, a paper clip, or a Tide pen.
For Reflection: 
  • What type of things do you often need throughout the day? Do you have any of these items in your home?
  • Has someone ever offered you something they had on hand that helped you out? Why did you appreciate this?
How did it go: did you have an opportunity to offer the item you carried with you? If so, how was this helpful to the other person?

January 7

Challenge: Write down one to three choices that often compromise your ability to be kind, and for each, one proactive thing you can do today to address that issue.
Brainstorm: For example, if you're less kind when you're hungry, eat breakfast instead of having just coffee, or, if you're less kind when you feel stressed, take a walk in nature after work to clear your head.

1) Choice that compromises your ability to be kind:
    One proactive thing you can do to address this:

2) Choice that compromises your ability to be kind:
    One proactive thing you can do to address this:
3) Choice that compromises your ability to be kind:
    One proactive thing you can do to address this:

How did it go: if you put into practice one or more of your proactive ideas, how did these small changes affect your demeanor - and your interactions?

January 8

Challenge: Today, when someone does something that annoys or inconveniences you, choose to cut them slack instead of giving them a hard time.
Brainstorm: Be forgiving when someone cuts you off in traffic, or be patient when your waiter gets your order wrong.
For Reflection: 

  • Do you often feel the need to let people know when they've annoyed or inconvenienced you - and if yes, why?
  • What does this accomplish?
  • What would you need to tell yourself to be able to let it go instead?
How did it go: what helped you challenge your knee-jerk reaction so that you could respond differently?

January 9

Challenge: Do one small task to make someone's life easier.
Brainstorm: Wash the dishes so your spouse won't have to, offer to pick up your roommate's prescription at the pharmacy, or bring a tired, hardworking coworker a coffee.
For Reflection:
  • When was the last time someone did something little to make your life easier?
  • Would it have occurred to you to ask someone to do this for you?
  • Do you usually look for ways to make life easier for others? If not, why? What obstacles get in the way, and how can you overcome those?
How did it go: who did you help, and why was this small thing actually a big thing?

January 10

Challenge: Write down three things you hope people do and three things you hope they don't do when speaking to your child (or future child). Remember these things today when you're speaking to others to help you be kinder.
Brainstorm: DO listen fully, be patient; DON'T interrupt, get defensive.

DO:
  1.  
  2.  
  3.  
DON'T:
  1.  
  2.  
  3.  
How did it go: did you stop yourself before speaking unkindly to someone today as a result of this exercise? How did you feel, and how did this affect the conversation?

January 11

Challenge: Tell someone about an act of kindness you recently witnessed, to lift both of your spirits and to potentially inspire future acts of kindness.
For Reflection:
  • Why did this particular act of kindness warm your heart or renew your faith in people?
  • Did witnessing this change your day for the better?
  • How might it affect all of us for the better if we focused more on positive stories, like this, and less on negative stories that only bring us down?
How did it go: who did you share this with, and how did they respond? Did sharing this story affect you in a positive way?

January 12

Challenge: Let someone go ahead of you today.
Brainstorm: Let someone with only a few items cut in front of you in line at the store, or let someone get into an elevator or onto the bus first.
For Reflection:
  • Have you ever felt so rushed that you couldn't even fathom letting someone else go in front of you?
  • How do you feel when you're rushing, and how does your mood affect the people around you?
  • Might the potential for a positive, happy interaction outweigh the potential to lose a few minutes?
How did it go: how did the other person respond when you let them go first? Did it benefit you in any way to slow down enough to do this?

January 13

Challenge: Introduce yourself to a neighbor you've never met, or don't know well.
Brainstorm: Say hi when you're both taking the trash out, or, if it's currently warm where you live, sit on your front porch for a while after work so you'll see them when they come home. (Bonus: Relaxing outside is also an act of kindness to yourself!)
For Reflection:
  • Are there any neighbors you regularly see but have never formally met?
  • What's stopped you from introducing yourself before?
  • What's something you've noticed about this person's demeanor, appearance, or home that you could compliment?
How did it go: did you learn anything about your neighbor that interested or surprised you?

January 14

Challenge: Keep an eye out for someone who looks stressed or sad - a friend, a coworker, or even a stranger - and say something that might make this person laugh or smile.
For Reflection: 
  • When was the last time another person lifted your spirits when you were feeling down or overwhelmed?
  • What did they say or do, and why did it make you smile?
  • Did you learn anything from that experience that can help you lift someone else's spirits today?
How did it go: who did you uplift today? What can you learn from this experience to help others - or even yourself - smile more and stress less?

January 15

Challenge: Respond kindly to someone who is unkind to you.
For Reflection:
  • What's your knee-jerk reaction when someone is unkind to you?
  • Does it soften your anger to consider that there may be a cause that doesn't condone but at least explains the person's behavior?
  • How would you respond instead if you were "being the change you wish to see" in the world?
How did it go: how did the unkind person react when you treated them with more consideration than they offered you? How did you feel as a result?