Lately, Its Occurred to Me….

Some folks have commented to me privately about how I seem to be pulling away on Facebook. Well, its true. This has been a slow process, but Facebook has increasingly become nothing more than a place where playground scrums occur. I’m just as guilty of doing that as anyone else, so please don’t start up with commentary that I am being “holier than thou” or some such nonsense.

Over this past weekend, I have watched two of my friends get attacked over statements that they have made on different subjects. Both of them were attempting to do the one thing I have always viewed social media as being the champion of: discourse. However, over the last two years, Facebook has devolved into a place where you can insult people openly, denigrate those whose opinions are in opposition to your own, and it seemingly has become an environment where cyber-bullying is encouraged. Reporting such activities to Facebook seems to get no other response than a bot-generated notation that the issue has been looked at and found not to violate the terms/agreement of Facebook’s Terms of Service (ToS). That’s fine, Facebook is one of many platforms – granted it is by far the most popular. And they can run their platform as they see fit. But, none of that excuses the behaviors on display there.

Perhaps, its the open anonymity that fuels those behaviors. After all, would you say the same directly to someone’s face, if there is even a chance (and a very high one at that) of getting your ass physically beaten? Most likely not. And let’s be realistically honest here…I just checked, and I have 405 Facebook friends. Not a massive amount, and number counts mean little to nothing for me. But just looking through those folks, I would say I may have actually met about 40 to 50 of them face-to-face at one time or another. Any face-to-face encounter I have had with people has been cordial and friendly. I cannot say the same for Facebook interactions, as can be documented by the 68 people I have in my block list. Again, I point to the false bravado that online anonymity can provide, though not everyone in the lock list is there because of that.

There’s already a storm here. And its only the edges that have arrived at this point. I am doing my best to watch my interactions with others, as I continue to strengthen my connections to my tribe. I know that I cannot control how others may or may not behave, but I am wondering even more as to the “whys” of all this type of interaction. Some of it, I understand as ego-driven, and other parts of it as the need to be “right” in any discussion. What I cannot fathom, is the manner in which everyday conversations get ratcheted into ugly, divisive back-and-forths.

To steal a part of a lyric from the Grateful Dead, lately its occurred to me…that we might not be in a position of being such a divided nation (here in America), if we just practiced a little more common courtesy towards one another. Instead of railing against someone for being “stupid” for supporting Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or some third-party candidate for President, if we just noted that we disagree with their choice and moved on to other points of conversation – perhaps we might find out more about the friends we have made online, and develop stronger relationships with them.

Certainly, we are not going to agree with everyone. However, even despite the differences in opinion, religious belief, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or what not – we can practice a little more common courtesy. Except on the topic of tacos. If you don’t like tacos, we can’t be friends. I have to draw the line somewhere.  :)

In the Moment

The other night, I watched one of my favorite movies for the millionth time – or so it seemed. “Tombstone” is a movie that has its funny moments, but it also has some very poignant ones as well, typically centered around the friendship between Wyatt and Doc. At one particular point, Doc is asked why he is helping Wyatt hunt down the outlaws that have decided to wage personal war against him (Wyatt). Doc responds with a statement that Wyatt Earp is his friend. The counter-response was “Hell Doc, I’ve got lots of friends.” And Doc’s response comes back with “I don’t.” Its an indicator that Wyatt is part of Doc’s tribe – a family member so close, that Doc will step in on Wyatt’s side no matter what.

Later in the movie, as Doc lies in bed dying, he and Wyatt start their last conversation. Within that conversation comes a moment that I try my best to put into practice in my own life.

Doc: What did you ever want?
Wyatt: Just to live a normal life.
Doc: There’s no normal life, Wyatt, it’s just life. Get on with it.

Over the past few months, there has been news story after news story about attacks and violence here and there throughout the world. In my dreams, I constantly am reminded that “the storm is here” and that I need to find and locate my tribe. That weathering the coming storm will be easier with my tribe than it will be standing solo against the wind, rain, and hail. I watch – admittedly its sparingly in time – the political trends that are showcased via the current party conventions, and with world politics in other countries. I can not only hear, see and read the shift back towards nationalism and fundamentalist religious beliefs, I can feel the divisions that this creates between everyone. In many ways, I notice how the landscape changes around me, and I lament for the times just a decade ago – essentially wanting that “normal” life.

But then, my meditations remind me – being in the now. Being in the present. There is no normal life, there’s here and now. Being in the present tense, or to quote the Geddy Lee of the band Rush from his solo album “My Favorite Headache”:

You’re living
Living in the present tense
When you lose the past
And the future makes no sense
You’re living in the present tense
Nothing to blame
No victim of consequence
You’re living in the present tense
–Geddy Lee, “The Present Tense”

Sure, its sometimes useful to think ahead or to look back. But when we spend too much time trying to get ahead of ourselves or looking backwards and wishing for those “better” times – we can lose that moment of mindfulness of today. What has happened already is, and what is to come is not yet here. But being in the moment of today, we have the ability of action. That action can draw from our past, utilizing those experiences to communicate what can be tried in the now. And our actions will affect our future, literally altering how our current perceptions of what is to come can be seen.

The now is important. How we comport ourselves, how we communicate with others, how start, alter or even end bonds we have with others. If we make those changes with an eye to the future, or through the microscope of the past – we miss how those changes affect our here and now. We need to be mindful of what is happening today.

This morning, I stood out by my little stone circle in the backyard and watched the sun rise. I didn’t worry about a political situation that will eventually play itself out in November through the voices of many here in the United States. I didn’t focus on the events of yesterday or even the day before – or even my shitty week at work last week. I watched the sun peek up over the horizon, and start to brighten the beginnings of today. I marveled at the beauty of the rising sun, which I have seen countless times before. I noticed how this morning was so different from so many others – the songs of the nearby birds, enjoying the bird seed I brought out with me – the slight breeze I could feel on my exposed skin – the sound of that same wind making the leaves of the nearby trees rustle. That was a moment that will be unique in my life. No other moment will be exactly the same. Many before it have been similar, but I marvel at the uniqueness of each of those moments, and count myself as fortunate to experience each and every one of those moments.

There’s an election coming up. I completely grok a lot of what is happening, and how it has come to pass. But I am also mindful that each moment is unique. That what happens here and now will feed into the narrative of what is to come. That what I see coming into view in the future, may not be completely true. Many things can happen. In the meantime, I can honor my Gods, my ancestors, the Spirits of Place, myself, and my tribe…by remembering that the current moment is precious and unique. And should be experienced for what it is. Its not normal, it just is.

 

Looking Towards re-Affirmation

Tommy at the Beach

Yes, I spend a lot of time reading – even when I go to the beach

Every time I think I have my life semi-balanced, I get tugged a little off base and reminded that its always a measure of continually moving forward. Resting for the moment is nice, but stepping forward is what’s needed the most.

A long while back, I realized that I let my job define who I was. My work would dictate what was important and what wasn’t. Then I get whacked on the back of the head by a black, feathered wing. When I still didn’t pay attention, I find myself out of a job – on unemployment – and with a lot of time on my hands. The feathered wing became the hammering of a strong beak, and Crow shoved me along the Path. I had been tentatively probing around the OBOD courses, and took a step of faith that it was the right direction. And it is.

The road through my Bardic Grade material has been a lot longer than I really wanted. Lots of stops and starts, but looking back I should have anticipated a lot of that. Since then, I have managed to put myself into a new job, into a new home, and into a new area of Texas (for me). Each change has required a little more patience on my part – and a little slow down in other areas of my life.

Unfortunately, I fell back into a particularly bad habit – letting my job define who I am. Letting my job dictate what is and is not important. In a manner of speaking, its a lot like walking through a dense fog in a particular thick forest. Its easy to step off the Path, and even easier to try and blaze your own trail through the forest. But the better measure is to bring myself back to my Path…and take stock of a few things.

My job – an Institutional Researcher – is not who I am. Its what makes money so that I can live where I do, eat three meals a day, and take care of my furry children (my three cat-girls). Its important to do the job well enough that I keep my position, and continue to remain employed. Its what I do, not who I am.

More important is following my Path. And yes, this is somewhat hard to say in light of previous statements I have made, that means being a Priest. But as I have noted, its not quite the same thing as being a leader of a group, nor being a full-fledged clergy member. Being a Priest is part of serving the Gods and Goddess that hold claim on me. I am also a Druid — not as in I have completed the OBOD courses, but rather in that I am following the Path of Druidry.

So, in pulling all of this out of my pockets and setting it on the ground in front of me – I have to remember – I chose this Path. This Path did not choose me. And while I have done a better job of being on my Path…I need to put a better and more concentrated effort into what I am doing. That is part of what this weekend will be about for me. Not quite a re-Dedication, as much as a re-Affirmation of what I should, could, and would be doing – provided that I remove some obstacles from my immediate Path.

There’s more to come on this, I promise. But in the meantime, have you ever decided to take a few moments and take everything out of your pockets that is you?  Pile that stuff on the ground right in front of you. When you’re done – take a few moments to examine all the bits that are there. As you pick each one up, take a moment and reflect on what it is, how it helps define who you are, and whether its a necessary component to set back in your pockets. Trust me, its not an easy exercise to undertake – that is for certain.

 

The Storm and Our Tribe

Each day, I read news events that continue to reinforce the arrival of the edges of the coming Storm. The individual attack in Nice, France. The attempted overthrow of the elected government in Turkey. And with the upcoming Republican convention in Cleveland – I have no doubt that there will be more to be heard. But that’s just a fact of our hyper-sensitive media coverage of events that happen around the world.

There’s no bone of contention from where I sit. The Storm has arrived. My Dream Crows continue to remind me that this is just the start, that there is more to come, and that it will be worse. How bad? I’m not completely sure. I don’t think anyone can be. Besides, trying to determine what is “bad” and the level of measuring that “bad” versus other “bad” depends greatly on individual perception.

But I have had dreams, which I hope do not come to any degree of fruition. In one, I found a Pagan family on my doorstep, running from the authorities who were going to prosecute them over not practicing a Christian faith in their particular state. The feel of the dream was very similar in feel to the over-arching story in the Gods-awful “Left Behind” books I read well over a decade ago. In the dream, I took the family in, and then stood my ground in my own front yard against these “authorities” with nothing more in my hand than my staff.

How true the reality of all that is, I am not sure. But it certainly brings to mind times such as the late 1930s and early 1940s, where families risked everything to hide their Jewish neighbors from the Nazi Gestapo in mainland Europe. It even brings to mind, the concepts of the Underground Railroad, where slaves were brought from the South into northern states during the period just before the American Civil War. And I began to wonder, how many Pagans would hide others from the claws of an oppressive regime that would utilize religion as a litmus test for “desired” or “undesired” status.

Think I am overblowing the situation? Consider this: late this past week, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich made a statement on a television show about providing a litmus test against all Muslims here in the United States. If an individual professed adherence to Sharia Law, Gingrich suggested that the individual and their family should be expelled from the United States. Even if they were lawful, tax-paying citizens here. Mr. Gingrich is a very astute student of World History, and I respect his knowledge and interpretation of historical events greatly. However, I have difficulty finding respect for a statement like this, particularly when it smacks so closely to the pogroms that Adolf Hitler instituted against the Jews throughout Europe. Removing people from a “desirable” pool of citizens, simply because they adhere to the laws contained within their own belief systems is – dare I say – completely un-American in nature.

America is a land built upon the idea that each individual has inherent worth. America is built on the idea that you can think differently from others, and voice that difference publicly, without fear of being injured or killed. I will submit that Mr. Gingrich is certainly entitled to his opinion on what should be done about the potential threat of “sleeper-cells” of Muslims here in the United States, but that his call for actions can be limited under what is correct in our laws – particularly those that are built in within the Constitution of this country.

Would you take in a persecuted family – pick any faith or reason for their persecution – and protect them from the authorities? I know that I would. My Druidry teaches me that every individual has value in our environment. That the loss of one individual will affect the world around me in a way that is not replaceable. And that protecting those that need protection, and providing aid to those that need assistance is the right thing to do. Protecting their right to practice as they need to under their Spiritual beliefs is the ethical thing to do. Would you do that as well??

Before you answer, let me provide one more voice of thought. My friend, John Beckett, wrote a blog post concerning some of this a while back. I will quote him from that post:

Build your tribe. You aren’t going to survive this alone. And at the risk of sounding like a Libertarian, do not assume the government or government-run programs will take care of you. For centuries, families and communities took care of each other. Not nuclear families (a mid-20th century American perversion designed to make every man a king so he’d buy a “castle” in the suburbs), but extended families – several generations living in the same house, with other relatives living close enough to drop in on a moment’s notice.

The automobile and the rise of hyperindividualism killed the extended family. We aren’t going to undo that in our lifetimes, unless the curve of the Long Descent is a lot steeper than I expect. If you’re part of a good, well-functioning extended family, consider yourself fortunate… and don’t alienate them. For the rest of us, find the people who will be your family of choice and start developing those close ties now. That means you give your share toward the collective good. Ideally, everyone gives more than their share.

Include your spiritual allies: the Gods, ancestors, and spirits of your tradition, your family, and your location. This isn’t complicated: honor them on a regular basis, and when they speak (in dreams, in divination, in intuition, in synchronicities…) listen to them.

–John Beckett, “Something Bad Isn’t Coming, It’s Here

John is very, very right. My family is scattered far and wide throughout the United States, Europe and the Pacific Rim. Some of them, I can reach easily enough. Some of them, it would take a lot more effort to get there. But they are my family. They are my tribe. When they have need, I will be there as best as I can for them. Just as I would be there for a stranger that had a similar need. For me, the only way that I need to divide the world into an Us v. Them grouping, is if you wish to harm people solely based on whether they agree with what you believe or not.

Now, more than ever, we need to reach out and support our family – however you define it. If we are going to weather this Storm, we have to do it together, not individually.

–T /|\

 

Hashtags, Labels and Bias – We Are Not Talking to One Another

Druid. Pagan. Polytheist. Animist. Germanic-Celt. Member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. North Texas resident. Institutional Researcher. Cincinnati Reds fan. Podcaster. Blogger. Unaffiliated voter. Database Administrator. Information Technology Specialist. Amateur MLB Researcher. Caucasian. Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Short. Diabetic. Friend. Just me.

All of those words describe me. And yet, these are not a complete depiction of me either. There are plenty of other descriptives that could be used to denote who I am. Jerk. Asshole. Arrogant. Ill-tempered. Dismissive. Too Emotional. Not emotional enough. Flippant. Irreverent. Leader. Follower. Its really a matter of who you talk to, and what interactions that they may have had with me.

A long time back (and I mean a really long ways back – the late 1980s), I had taken my first steps on the Pagan Path that has helped me learn about myself and how I connect with my environment and others – I found myself at the doorsteps of a local (well, as local as the wider DFW area can get) Wiccan group. I had started my year-and-a-day lessons, and was given a paper to write. Looking back, it wasn’t really the hardest thing to do, but it sure was a royal pain in the ass to write.

The objective was simple. Write fifty things that detail why you are good or things you are good at doing. Then, write out fifty things that are bad about you or that you are bad at. Then, write two paragraphs comparing and contrasting the two lists. I found out later in college classes, that this is a Psychology exercise called “Positive/Negative Mirror”. I cam away from the exercise with two tangible thoughts. First, it was easy to write the bad things about myself, I am my own worst critic. And secondly, many of the same traits showed up in both lists. It was merely a matter of perspective of how I viewed each point.

For a kid in his early twenties, it was an eye-opening moment. I had never really considered the world from someone else’s eyes. Here I was being confronted with seeing myself from a vantage point other than my own.

I have talked quite a bit about labels in the past. The truth be told, labels are not just easy methods of classifying things. Labels can also be utilized to place a negative stigma on others as well. For instance, descriptives such as the infamous racial slur known as “the ‘n’ word” in “polite” society brings extra descriptives such as lazy, freeloader, welfare-cheat, an d ne’er-do-well to mind. Those are descriptives that have been added to that particular word, which are meant to bring a negative perception to mind.

Back in the day, a Pagan or a Polytheist were terms that had people equating those folks with Satanists. And to be honest, Satanists were often thought of being individuals that looked like Anton Szandor LaVey – and had the friendliness and slimy charm of a used-car salesman. Over time, the Pagan community has managed to get much of our moedern, “polite” society to understand how neither of those terms are equated with Satanism. And while Satanists still get lumped in under the comical portrayal of LaVey and what seems to be 1950s and 1960s horror movie schlock…many of the Satanists I have met are quite intelligent people, who are just like any other person I have met. Their understanding of belief, and their view of the world around them is vastly different from my own – and we will likely never come to an agreement on where middle-ground is located in spiritual discussions, but they sure seem like everyday folks to me.

Lately, modern society has been forced back into a discussion of racism, replete with all the labels and stereotypes associated with it. Both sides of the #blacklivesmatter argument have utilized these labels and stereotypes to further attention to their respective sides of the conversation. Which really isn’t a conversation. A conversation happens when people make their point, and then shut up and listen to the other side of the issue make their counter-point. After that, a discussion usually happens that defines where middle ground is located, and the conversation continues as solution-based points are brought about to resolve the issue. Over the past two years, the #blacklivesmatter side shouts their points over and over again. Their opposition shouts back their retort, over and over again. Both sides “hear” what is being stated by the other, but instead of listening, comprehending, and finding mutual points of discussion – they both react by shouting their points louder, as if volume is going to provide a solution. What results from that is a buildup of frustration.

When I am writing complex SQL code, I sometimes get frustrated when the system returns no data for what I had requested. I am known to fling my pen across my office, as I get frustrated. So, I can relate to what happens when people get frustrated, thinking that their points are not being heard or dismissed out of hand. Frustration usually leads to some kind of outburst or out-of-the-ordinary behavior. Sadly, that includes physical violence. I am sure many of my pens could file assault charges on me. So I understand the outbursts, even violent ones. I understand the reasoning, but I do not agree with the methodology.

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”  —Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, Martin Luther King, Jr., Clayborne Carson, 2010 (256 pages), page 74, ISBN 0-8070-0069-8.

Dr. King understood how violence never solves an issue. It certainly can bring light to an otherwise ignored issue, but it will never provide the solution. Only honest, open dialogue can do that. And this includes listening, which in my opinion, very few people seem to be willing to do.

But…where do we go from here?? I have said it before…damned if I really know. When it comes to the notation of institutional racism, I agree. It occurs. And as a Caucasian male, there’s a degree of “privilege” (I hate that term by the way) that I am afforded. But there’s also a measure of religious bias associated in the system as well, and as a Pagan, there’s a degree of negative bias that I experience from it as well. I may not completely understand the bias that exists against a black person, but I can certainly grok it from the perspective of being in a minority religion. So, the only way that I can see anything changing as we head forward, is that we begin pressing our politicians and law-makers on every level to execute the laws fairly and evenly. That means ditching the stereotypes when applying the laws to citizens. That means ditching the concepts of stereotyping through profiling that law enforcement has utilized in applying our existing laws. It means changing the system to a manner of performance that we all believed it should be: where all are created equal, and thus treated equally under the measure of the law.

Now, I’m no politician. Nor am I a law enforcement officer. I’m a statistics guy working for a small junior college in northern Texas along the Oklahoma border. Like any person, I have biases. In my job, I have to set those biases aside when reporting data. I have to adhere to a position of neutrality, even when I am not neutral on an issue that I am being asked to explore from a data perspective. I could let my bias slip into my work, so as to affect the judgment of the people utilizing that data. But that’s unethical. Its also not what I am paid to do. To paraphrase Kevin Bacon’s statement in the movie “A Few Good Men”, I represent the data I am working with, without bias or prejudice. perhaps, we need to remind law enforcement officials, and politicians at every level that they represent their communities without bias or prejudice. And where bias and prejudice becomes a factor in their judgment process in upholding or making the laws that govern this country – perhaps they need to do the ethical thing, and remove themselves from the entire process. And as for the people that have decided to move their protest from peaceable demonstration to outright violence…perhaps, you are doing more harm to your cause than help. Frustration is understandable. Violent reaction, on the other hand, is not.

Two pence…

Eventually, There is Sunshine After the Storm

I had another topic in mind for this weekend, but given what has occurred over this past week, I want to set that to the side for the moment. A while back, I noted that in my dreams, I had been hearing the statement “the storm is coming” for some time. And that shortly after the #Brexit vote, it had changed to a statement of “the storm is here”. I got baked over that by a handful of folks proclaiming that I hated their country (England) for making that statement after the #Brexit vote, along with my opinion that a vote to leave was not how I would have voted – *if* I had the vote. But the reality of that, turned out to be that those who saw that opinion as the notation behind the statement of an oncoming storm was essentially missing the mark. The storm is most assuredly here. And it has nothing to do with #Brexit. Or I should say that the #Brexit issue is just one of many, many markers. Here, in the United States, we have gone through another profound period of violence, racial issues, and political bantering that exhibits even stronger notations that the storm is here.

This storm isn’t about politics. Its not about a country’s population deciding to remove themselves from an economic and political union. Its not even about racial issues. Those are all symptoms of what the issue is — a lack of respect for one another. A lack of respect for our planet. A lack of respect for any other creature inhabiting this planet. Its an egocentric perspective, where my way, for my people, for my country, for my race is all that matters.

Make no bones about it. We are in perilous times now. The divide between “Us” and “Them” grows wider and deeper. We are once again forming definitions over who is “right”, and who is “wrong”. Those definitions are starting to be parsed against social status, economic status, religious beliefs, skin color, and politics. And its happening all over the world, not just here in the United States. The only reason I see the stuff happening here in the States is because I live here. We are dividing up into little groups. How much longer will it be before we start ostracising others based on these divisions? And who will get to make the decisions over who is right and wrong? Well, that’s easy – it will be the group of people for whom the government and political divides place in positions of authority and power.

Even more concerning, is the manner in which certain areas of blame are placed by the people working towards change. For instance, there are commentaries that are going up condemning those that proclaim #all-lives-matter as not understanding what #black-lives-matter really means. I’ll be honest, I don’t give a shit about what either movement means. I want people to be treated fairly, regardless of any condition or litmus test placed upon them. And I want the killing of citizens, and officers to stop. Jam your fucking hashtag where the sun doesn’t shine, especially if you are going to point a finger at me calling me “the problem” simply because I take a movement far beyond the scope of what is currently being desired. In my opinion, one death has already been too many.

From where I sit, the real problem is communication. I don’t need to be black to see that there is a problem, and to relate to where the frustration is. I also don’t need to be a police officer, nor have respect for a corrupt, unfair, and unjust system to grieve for the deaths and injuries to officers. In my world-view, both situations are bad, and solutions need to be found to put this back on the right Path.

How do these solutions come about?  I have no idea. I am just as clueless on this as anyone else. I know the killings have to stop on both sides of the argument. I know that pointing fingers is not going to solve anything. And as my friend Bran states – if we’re pointing fingers, we can’t hold hands. Both sides are talking, but neither side is listening. People are talking past one another. As long as that happens no solution can be found. Everyone needs to hear, listen, comprehend, and DISCUSS. But that’s going to require a change in a lot of headspace. And on issues like this, change does not come quickly. So folks are also going to have to be patient as well.

A fellow OBOD member while on vacation, collected seashells. Her and her family wrote positive messages on slips of paper, and passed the seashells with the notes out to complete strangers. Just a simple gesture of showing people that they matter. And the reception they received from this little gesture has been amazing. I can only imagine the smiles that they have put on people’s faces when this little gifts are handed over. Just a simple gesture of honestly thinking selflessly about others. The world can definitely use a lot more of this type of gesture. Druidry in action, folks.

In time, may there be peace throughout the world…. /|\

Thoughts on Spiritual Flexibility

There’s plenty of fodder out there in the news cycle to read. What is going to happen now that the Hillary Clinton Email issue has been set to rest? What outrageous thing is Donald Trump going to say tonight in order to grab tomorrow morning’s headlines? Is Jill Stein really a worthy Presidential candidate? What about the upcoming Major League Baseball All-Star lineup? Did the right players get voted in? Who got snubbed by the vote? Will the movie “The Secret Life of Pets” be a box office hit or flop?

Lots of stories, opinions, and editorial commentary to read. Enough to spend your entire day in front of the computer screen. Enough for someone to forget about the true devotional service that they agreed to with certain Gods and Goddesses. Yes, it is important to read the news from time to time – keeping up on current events that are going on around you is an important part of being connected with a particular area of the world around. But so is morning devotionals. So is spending time outside in the yard, getting the earth underneath your feet. So is time in meditation.

Maintaining a daily practice can be tough. The news cycle beckons. Television programs that entertain and distract are just a channel click away. And sometimes those meditations can be so tedious. Yeah, I totally grok that.

Been there. Even quite recently. Its easy to get caught up in the wash of the news, the desire to sit back and totally veg out in front of the TV, or get completely lost in a good book. The hard part?  Getting back into that cycle you stepped off of.

After all, it was such a nice stopping point, right? You could take your eyes off the ball for a short while. Just relax. No need to place such intense focus on stuff like meditations, or getting that morning devotional picture-perfect-correct. But really, there’s a problem that is going to creep back in. Its the attitude. Yes, the attitude.

See, morning devotionals are not meant to be work. Its your recognition, and respect for a particular God or Goddess. Its your statement that you are willing to be there for particular workings for Them. The devotional is not work. Its a statement. The Gods will let you know when They have need of you. That’s where the work comes in, and that is for a different, but related, post. Back to this not being “work”….

One’s Spiritual beliefs are what they are. What you believe is what you believe. I happen to believe in the Gods and Goddesses. You – whoever might be reading this – may have a belief in something different, or even nothing at all. But whatever the case may be, it shouldn’t be “work” – at least in my opinion. Being in your element Spiritually is something that should feel natural, and welcoming to you. Don’t mistake what I am saying though. Growing in your Spirituality is, and should be, work to one degree or another. That’s actually important. Growing is about stretching your Spiritual muscles, and much like physical muscles, there’s work to be done for that to happen. But just being who you are Spiritually? That should be as natural and comfortable as your skin.

So what has happened with me?? Well, I realized that I can’t always make my devotional schedule every single day. Sometimes, the paying job gets in the way. After all, the bills still have to get paid. And I do like to eat. And sometimes, Life just gets in the way too. And as much as I enjoy being a Solitary practitioner – my family (DNA and otherwise) are a part of who I am. No matter how much I may disagree with them on various issues. So, I try to be diligent about my morning devotionals. And I try not to beat myself up when I miss a day or two for whatever reason. I am quite sure that the Gods and Goddesses can understand when things happen (and when They might be the cause of that mischief and mayhem for their own momentary enjoyment). Plus, as I am not so strident about formal ritual – I have started to realize I can be impromptu about the timing of my devotionals as well. Sometimes, these can happen in the moonlight – rather than when the sun rises.

I’m a Pagan. I’m a Polytheist. And as I am starting to find out, I’m probably a Celt to some degree as well. But I am also flexible. I am not so rigid in what I believe, and what I practice, that my Spirituality becomes “work” instead of being a part of me. And as I grow, and “work” towards where I am striving to be within that framework of Spirituality — I am learning that I have to be flexible with gaining and understanding that growth as well. I am not a fundamentalist to the core. Things do not *have* to be a certain way at a certain time. if I wanted that kind of rote existence, I would have stayed in Catholicism.:)  YMMV