To anyone who reads this blog, I just wanted to make it abundantly clear that I do not in any way think my way of viewing God is the only way to do so. I can get a bit passionate when discussing divinity, and I hope no one takes that as self-righteous preaching. I apologize if in explaining my pluralistic viewpoint in the last post I alienated anyone with differing beliefs. We’re all beautiful, we’re all better together ❤

 

Also, I’ll be playing around with different formats in the next few days, so I apologize in advance for any annoyance this might cause.

 

If i don’t post again until after Thursday, I wish everyone a very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving.

 

With love, peace, and respect,

Carly

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the role naming plays in faith-

How knowing what to call yourself can be very confusing, but also has the possibility to be quite empowering.

How others giving name to your faith can be degrading, but can also open a door for dialogue.

I’ve been called Wiccan, which I must deny being. While it’s true that much of my practice is informed by Wiccan tradition, I am not an initiate, but act within an independent spiritual perspective. I also branch out from Wicca, calling upon deities beyond the standard Lord and Lady. I have problems with the historical context some Wiccans give the origins of the Craft and in general just feel that Wicca is a little too boxed in for my spiritual expression. That being said, I’m not so different from the Wiccans. One of my dearest friends is Wiccan, and we celebrate the wheel of the year and esbats together enjoyably.

I’ve been called Pagan, which is a term I much prefer for myself over Wiccan. It’s non-specific, often used as an umbrella term that covers many traditions of Wicca, Heathenism, Druidic traditions and other Earth Spiritualist paths. But even when labeled a Pagan, I still get uneasy.

It’s the same feeling I get when someone asks if I’m Christian, or Catholic.

It’s an incomplete feeling, the feeling that there’s a need to explain.

Yes, I am Pagan, but I’m also Catholic.

Yes, I am Catholic, but I’m also Pagan.

Each is correct, but incomplete without the other bit thrown in.

It feels like naming something exercises  the namer’s control over the named, and I feel that the terms Pagan and Catholic in and of themselves still don’t really define who I am spiritually. Much less so when it’s someone else calling me by one of them.

…if that makes any kind of sane sense.

It took me a long time to settle on what I am.

I am a Pagan/Catholic Pluralist.

But you can just call me a Pluralist.

That’s the operative word, really.

‘Cause the thing is, I think divinity is all around us.

God is everywhere and everything. We are all continually connected to the divine, and we all have different names for that connection. I firmly believe that we are all worshipping the same thing-

Your God is my God.

So why even add in the Pagan and Catholic elements specifically to the Pluralist equation?

….well, more on that later.

Honey crisp apples, pomegranates, NHL hockey, fallen leaves, pumpkin pie and Samhain…the season of the witch is fully underway.

Lately I’ve been having a lot of trouble making time for spiritual practice, so early on before school began in September, I decided that I would spend the whole day of October 31st concentrating on Samhain- the turning of the wheel, my ancestors, different myths surrounding the holiday, the physical beauty of mid-autumn, meditating, writing ritual and mentally preparing for winter.

But as you’ll no doubt recall, Samhain fell on a Monday this year.

Ok, no problem, I had resolved to skip class (sorry, Ma and Pa).

But wait, apparently there was an Italian quiz to take.

Which meant not merely that I had to carve 2 measly hours out of un otherwise spiritual day, but that until 4:30 in the afternoon, almost every proactive thought was geared towards conjugating verbs and remembering the difference between sapere and conosco. (Try asking someone at Whole Foods if they have any pumpkin pie spice around without accidentally slipping in some Italian words while all that’s swimming around in your head- if my experience is any kind of indication, some hippie is going to give you a pretty weirded-out/slightly concerned look.)

So by the time I finally escaped academia in the late afternoon, I was rushing to get back to my apartment to begin cooking for a group of friends who were coming over in TWO HOURS for a feast, circle, and general “hey, our God is dying” frivolity. (Sorry if that last statement offended any readers without a sense of humor- I suppose I should be more sensitive to the handicapped [sorry again].)

Oh-ho, but wait! Cooking was not all that was left to do! I still hadn’t written up our ritual (because any time I thought I had for that over the weekend was, of course, was eaten up by Italian verbs in need of conjugating….and drinking….because that’s just what college students do on Halloween weekend). AND, because I am just never prepared for anything, I still had to run to Alchemy Arts, the occult store  on the north side of the city I frequent, for some forgotten supplies. (If you live in the Chicago area, you should definitely check them out. Here’s their website: http://alchemy-arts.com)

But as hectic as it all was, somehow I felt peaceful the whole afternoon. Probably something about the nature of the holiday. I was lost in memory the hole time I was on the train, thinking about last year’s Samhain…

I had no plans last year. I was just starting to discover the Pagan stirrings beneath my Catholic roots and supposed I’d spend that sunday meditating, getting back to practicing tarot, or just doing some more reading on the spiritual path that was quickly occupying most of my thoughts. But my new friend Bridget invited me to her place for some good food, company and Circle Casting.

It was the first Pagan holiday I ever knowingly observed, the first ritual I was ever involved in, and the first time I ever felt so completely…magical. I felt a part of something greater than myself that night. That was the day I was set on my path. I didn’t exactly condiser myself a full-blown Pagan or Witch at the time, but that’s definitely when my curiosity solidified into a purpose. After that night, when thinking of my spirituality, I would refer to myself as “Goddess-inclined.”

So this year was a kind of anniversary for me. And I couldn’t have picked a better way to spend it. I was running a little late with the food, so Dylan helped puree the pumpkin for our pie (which we never got around to eating, but my room mates later told me was delicious), we made runes out of pumpkin seeds and burned away the things that were holding us back. The only thing that was missing was Bridget, who’s graduated and off in India.

I won’t go into detail about our Circle, because that wouldn’t be fair to those who participated. But a few pretty cool things happened that should be okay to share. When we lit the tapers representing the God and Goddess, they crackled with such an intense energy, almost snapping. I can’t really explain it, but it definitely just felt like there was a lot of focussed presence during that summoning. And even though we agreed not to open a portal that night because we didn’t really know what we were doing, there was still some interaction with a spirit.

Apparently, according to one of my friends who can sometimes see spirits, there’s the spirit of an 8 year old girl in a yellow dress that hangs around my apartment. She lived here with ehr family when the apartment was new, so probably sometime in the mid to late 1800s. She doesn’t know how she died or what her name is, but she thinks it starts with an “S” because apparently her sister used to make a snake sound, like “ssssssss” before saying her name. I’ve already started calling her Cissy in my head (like short for Cecilia or something. Not an “S” name, but the same sound). The building has been in my landlord’s family since it was built, so I’m hoping I can get some records and figure out who this little girl is.

Is it weired that I’m kind of excited about a spirit being here with us?

Anyway, Samhain’s over and I’m already thinking about Yule. Hopefully between now and then I’ll get better at not only making time for spiritual practice, but blogging about it 😉

 

With love, peace and respect,

Carly

Fall is fast approaching. The Harvest Moon has already risen and Mabon is less than a week away. The air is starting to turn crisp, the days are noticeably shorter, and I’ve caught several flocks of birds begin the long trek south. I, for one, am glad to be nonmigratory- I wouldn’t trade the beauty of Autumn for the continued warmth known in states like Florida for anything (although I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune come January).

So many of my happy childhood memories revolve around this upcoming season… Raking leaves into piles, only to take running leaps at them, scattering an hour’s worth of work in mere seconds. Picking far too many apples, then leaving some in the backyard to lure deer out of their forest haunts. Drinking cider and eating cinnamon sugared donuts for breakfast on a Saturday, just because they’re fresh from the mill. Going on haunted hay rides and picking out just the right Halloween costume for a night of trick-or-treating. Eating the last of summer’s fresh corn, the whole family’s faces dripping with butter and contented grins. Watching as the trees slowly fade from the varied greens of their prime, only to burst gloriously into a riot of yellows, oranges, reds and earthy toned browns. Carving pumpkins and Dad roasting all of our combined seeds, always tasting better than anyone else’s. I could go on and on- Autumn has so many simple joys and comforting magic to offer.

This Autumn will be my first since I committed myself to a Pagan path. I’ve never celebrated Mabon before, and until last week I’d never taken any special notice of the Harvest Moon…

Since I’m a professed relative newbie to the craft, I tend to spend a lot of my time reading any Pagan/Wiccan/Goddess-related books I can get my hands on. In my search, I happened upon Autumn Equinox (one in a series on holidays put out by Llewellyn) by Ellen Dugan (author of Natural Witchery and other brilliant books) in which I discovered exactly what is so special about a Harvest moon. According to Dugan, the Harvest moon is the full moon that is closest to the Autumn Equinox (Mabon), NOT necessarily the full moon in October, as many people believe. When the Harvest moon first rises it is a brilliant shade of red or even hot magenta! As it rises it fades to a burnt oragnge and eventually to its usual glimmering, white splendor.

Being a city dweller, I don’t have as much contact with nature as I’d like.  Not only is there not the space outside of my apartment to have a circle, but I would feel unsafe trying to do something like draw down the moon alone outside, late at night. So it’s a rare and special treat for me to do any kind of magical rite outside. On the third night of the Harvest moon, my friend Lori and I made our way down to the beach. We were both tired due to classes having just started up again, but we both agreed that we needed some special time with the moon.

When we got to the beach, the moon was already risen and a brilliant burnt orange. We walked past the joggers and late night bikers to settle down in the man made sand. The public beach’s massive overhead lights completely bleached the ground and seemingly erased the stars from the sky, but with our backs to the Chicago skyline and our toes wriggling in the slightly cold sand, we looked above the crashing waves of Lake Michigan to the burnt orange moon and soaked up our own little piece of nature in the city. I set down the glass jar of water I had brought, asking the moon to bless it with her light and love. And as Lori and I sat there together, gazing at the moon in our own ways, I chanted under my breath…

 

Ancient Mother,
I hear you calling.

Ancient Mother,
I hear your song.

Ancient Mother,
I hear your laughter.
Ancient Mother,
I taste your tears. 

We sat there in silence for a few moments, each of us soaking up what we needed to, thinking our private thoughts and enjoying our moment in the crisp, open air. I thought about the summer that was about to end and my favorite season about to start, all the plans I had made, and all the plans that’d fallen through. And as I sat there, thinking all the thoughts that usually inspired some kind of worry within me, I basked under the moon and felt at peace. Lori and I spent some time talking and laughing, discussing classes and school clubs, before the cold air shooed us away.

By the time I got back to my apartment, I was exhausted and the moon had faded back to white. And as I climbed into my ridiculously comfy bed, I thanked the Goddess for her presence, excited for the imminent Autumn season and all the magic – old and new- it promised.

With love, peace and respect,
Carly

First and foremost, Greetings and Blessings ❤

I find faith in all its forms and myriad facets to be extremely fascinating and interfaith work to be utterly uplifting. So it is in the spirit of fascination and upliftment that I begin this blog with a very specific purpose- to discuss, divulge and continue to discover my own spirituality.

I currently identify as a Pagan/Catholic Pluralist. If that sounds new or confusing, don’t worry- we’re in the same boat. Coming to the conclusion that “This is what I am” took a lot of time, not to mention trial & error. I realize that the two terms- “Pagan” and “Catholic” – seem kind of contradictory. For now, just go with it- all things will make sense in time….hopefully.
(This is kind of where my idea for the title of this blog came from. I follow two faiths, but with some “alterations,” and an important part of my practice is altar work…clever, no? 😉 )

What you can expect from this blog:
-Faith related news (and my own commentary, naturally)
-Ritual outlines
-Musings and ramblings concerning my multi-faceted belief system

I’m really excited to be starting this new leg of my journey and invite any and all who are interested to follow along with me.

With love, peace and respect,
Carly