What a Pagan Would Like You to Know About Her Beliefs: “I believe in God, only I spell it Nature” – Frank Lloyd Wright

By December 11, 2014 Guest Posts and Interviews, I Would Like You To Know
What I Would LIke You to Know

This is the fourth in a series of guest posts in a series called “I Would Like You To Know”. In an attempt to create a space for people of all backgrounds, races, religions, creeds, ethnicites, genders, sexual orientations, disabilities, and socio-economic statuses I am seeking guest blog posts. If you would like to share your unique background, I would love to hear and share your story. Email me at Rachel[@]deletingtheadjectives.com with your name, a link to your blog, and a brief synopsis of your story with the title “As a _________ I would like you to know” in the subject box. You fill in the blank and the subsequently the gaps in our collective knowledge.

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As a Pagan I would like you to know what we believe.

I should preface this with a disclaimer – this is my personal path, and not all Pagans will believe as I do, but I will be trying to generalise here for the sake of ease of understanding. Trust me – I’m not out to offend anyone.

I’m Pagan and, thankfully, unlike many of my Pagan friends and acquaintances, I am yet to experience any negativity geared directly towards me based on my chosen religious path.

We’re kind of misunderstood, but we also kind of like it that way. We are often seen as uneducated hippies who run around with no clothes on. Some of us are a bit like that, but the majority of us are educated and, in fact, well-versed in our own beliefs because many of us, myself included, have come to Paganism on our own and therefore had to do our own research, rather than being fed information from a lecturn.

Paganism (or technically NeoPaganism) is an umbrella term for a group of various religious and spiritual paths including (but certainly not limited to) Wicca, Druidism, Asatru and Reconstructionism. I’m not going to get too in-depth with any one religion because, frankly, a decent-sized book could be written about the varying paths of Wicca alone, but I will give a quick rundown of how I came to Paganism and what I believe.

I was brought up in a rather secular household. I was christened Anglican, but my family didn’t really do anything religious, just celebrated Easter and Christmas mostly. I never felt like anything was lacking in my spirituality, but I definitely didn’t feel connected to Christianity (and to be honest, sitting in a church during Easter and Christmas services at school made me feel terribly claustrophobic).

I was probably around 10 or 11 years old when I first saw the film, “The Craft”, with my sister (this seems like such a cliche story, but trust me it gets deeper). If you’ve seen the film, you can imagine my pre-teen excitement – “Oh my god, I want to change my hair colour like that!” “WOW I want to make someone’s hair fall out!”. At around the same time, I was just starting to succumb to a new fad called ‘The Internet’, so of course I used this to my advantage – I found website upon website full of do-it-yourself magic and spells, which were all just what I wanted.

On my travels, I found a website called ‘Witchvox’, or The Witches’ Voice. It was enormously different to everything else I’d looked at. I read a few articles. And I found that what I was reading really resonated with me. Almost everything they were talking about made complete sense to me. Over the next 2-3 years, I read more and more – websites and books alike – and it felt like coming home. I actually had a name for the beliefs I held within my heart.

I started off identifying as Wiccan but as time has moved on and I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered more about other religions under the Pagan umbrella, and less of the specifically Wiccan beliefs and ideals have rung true, so at the moment I joke and call myself “Eclectic Pagan with Wiccan and Druidic Tendancies”.

So what *do* Pagans believe? It depends who you ask, really, but I’ve found there are four general components that tie Pagans together:
1. We all see sacredness within cycles. So the cycles of life and death, the cycle of the seasons, the moon cycles, etc.
2. The body is sacred. Not that we necessarily all worship the body, but the body is treated as natural – in Christianity, the body can be treated as sinful; in Buddhism, the body is a ‘trap for the mind’ which ought to be transcended. Paganism doesn’t have a low regard for the body – it is more than a vessel.
3. A belief in a Goddess, or more than one deity. Some Pagans don’t believe in deity at all, which is also absolutely fine of course, but most of the Pagans I know believe in duality of deity – a God and a Goddess. A kind of “it takes two to tango” belief.
4. A reverence of nature. Again, not all Pagans worship or see nature as holding huge significance in their lives, but most of the Pagans I associate with do, so that’s something I’ve noted as a general Pagan belief.

I think also that there is a strong sense of community in Paganism – and regardless of what path you’re on, you’ll always feel you have somewhere you belong. There are local groups or groups online that support and strengthen our community as a whole, and this can only be beneficial because being in a community with many different people and their paths can only continue to open our minds to new information and ideas, which in turn further our learning and growth as human beings. Community is pivotal and, I think, crucial. You can read as many books as you like, but there’s nothing quite like standing in Circle with 100+ other people – the energy is palpable. Finding my community helped me grow immensely, as well as find me some great new friends on the way.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Paganism; it really is a whole world – an entity! – of its own. If you’re interested in finding out more, I certainly welcome questions, as I’m sure I’ve probably left more asked than answered in this short piece.

Namaste, Goddess Bless, Merry Part and Blessed Be!

Terri is a 26 year old wife and mother of two living in Tasmania, Australia. She blogs at various locations around the internet, but the two main spots are at TheGeekWitch.com and MamaBytes.com.au. Email her at thegeekwitch@gmail.com.

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My Friends Are Always Better People Than I Am: “Now some days, they last longer than other, but this day by the lake went too fast.” -Rilo Kiley

By November 24, 2014 Family and Friends, Just Me

On Saturday, I woke up before the bounce of Harper’s knees hit my mattress. If you know me, you’d know I’m not much of a morning person. I need at least 20 minutes between the first flutter of my eyelids and the moment someone decides to speak in my general direction and I rarely stir without being prodded. But that day, I woke feeling fragile and young and nervous.

The weekend prior, I had received a digital olive branch, a Facebook message from a girl I had gone to college with. She was actually the first friend I ever made when I moved to San Diego.  We lived on opposite wings of our dorm’s 8th floor; after freshman year we moved in together, and shared a wall for a while. For a time we were very close and it is safe to say there are some things I whispered to her in the dark safety of  our apartment, things about me that I’ve never mustered the courage to utter to anyone else.  She was more than a girl, she was a dear, dear friend. She was going to be in my town, just for 48 hours and she wanted to meet for coffee. Meet me for coffee. She left a number where she could be reached.

And so yes, on this morning I woke up before my little blonde alarm.  I crawled out of bed, careful not to wake up Guy. I  brushed my teeth and I thought about nights in her Ford station wagon blasting Rilo Kiley and quiet moments spent perched on the counters in the kitchen, swinging feet thumping against closed cupboard doors.  I recalled camping trips in the mountains, root beer floats in Baker, steaks fit for lumberjacks instead of a night at the ballet,  dance parties and getting drunk on too much Captain Morgan’s. But mostly I thought about how quickly I had severed ties and how fervently I put a distance between us and how the last time I saw her was because we ran into each other at Target, five years ago.

It felt like I was going on a date, I changed my outfit twice, took my wedding ring off because it didn’t match my necklace only to put it back on again. Thought about what I would talk about and what I wouldn’t.  I promised myself I wouldn’t talk too much. I drank three cups of tea and I checked my email six times. I got Harper dressed for dance class and I waited for her to text me to cancel, even though that was always my move and not hers.  And then I left early to meet her because I didn’t want to be late.

It was an immensely enjoyable meal, good simple food, poached eggs and a hollandaise sauce  that didn’t break, hot coffee, the gift  two hours to share with someone I wasn’t sure I’d see again. We feel into a painfully familiar pattern and I completely forgot my list of approved conversation topics by the time I had ordered.  It was easy and comforting and it made me happy but it also made me sad because I wasted so much time and effort being proud and put out and feeling victimized that by the time I figured out I was wrong, I felt like there was no way to turn back.

I can’t let go of the history we don’t share, the gaps in what could be our collective past. I didn’t invite her to my wedding, she’s only spent 90 seconds with my daughter who is undeniably the most important person in my life. We’ve never gone of a trip to reunite with our mutual college roommates or booked a weekend in Palm Springs.  But, I’ll take coffee in San Diego’s November sunshine. I’ll take what I can get, as graciously as I know how, because my friends are always better people than I am and that day by the lake went too fast.

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An Interview with Avigail Adam : “Lift up your head princess, if not the crown falls.”

By November 20, 2014 Etsy Artisans, Guest Posts and Interviews
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I can’t even remember how I even stumbled upon Avigail Adam but when I did, my first move was to send the shop to a friend who can pull these off  these dainty jewelry and accent pieces a little better than I ever could and then I sent an email to the store owner, asking her if she would be kind enough to talk to me about her art and her creative process. 
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What’s your Story?
I was born in Jerusalem, where lots of major history stories came from. Perhaps this was the beginning of my infatuation with history. Jewellery design was always a big hobby in my life. When I was 10 I used to make beaded necklaces to my friends. When it was time to decide what to study, I was considering to study jewellery design, but some how I ended up studying archeology. Soon I discovered that digging is not my cup of tea. I always wanted to find treasures, but except the occasional bones and broken pottery it is very hard to find treasures in archaeologic excavations. And so, I ended up designing jewellery again, I created my own treasures. All I know in jewellery design I taught myself. Of course, by then I was an Archeologist in my diploma, so this is something that really influenced my designs. The classical times, Greek, Rome, Egypt as well, all influenced me profoundly. I’m a big fan of the cultures that took their woman and turned them into heavenly creatures and adorned them with lots of jewels.

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What, how, and why did you decide to make what you make?
My career started as a hobby. I always enjoyed it, but I didn’t always believe that this was actually something I could make a living from, and beyond that – something to succeed with and get my designs out to the big world. I knew that this is what I wanted to do as a job once I started selling the headbands I created to local boutiques in Tel Aviv. When I saw they were going well, that’s when I knew I could do this.

What inspires you?
My inspiration comes from ancient Greek, Roman empire, Ancient Egypt, fairytales, mythical characters, goddesses, fairies and nature…

Where can we found you, outside of Etsy?
For now Etsy is pretty much the only place to buy my jewellery on line. Unless any body planing a trip to Israel :) There are some cool boutiques and department stores around the world that carry my line, such as ABC in NY, and Bon Marche in Paris.

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Girls can stay in touch with me via one of my Facebook pages:
http://www.facebook.com/avigailadamjewelry
http://www.facebook.com/avigailadamjewellery
Or check out my website: http://www.avigailadam.com

How do you handle an emergency situation?
Each emergency situation I handle differently. I usually will do my best so that the customer will be happy. I try to look at it from their eyes. Generally speaking, I don’t follow rules or guidelines, but rather my instincts and try to flow with good energy.

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What sounds do you love?
I love the sound of purring cats, singing birds early in the morning in a secluded forest, rain outside on a winter night while in front of a cosy fire place, and pretty melodies that touch the heart.

Top 5 Things You Do in Your Free Time:
Surfing the internet for cool stuff, making jewellery (yes, even on my free day), playing with my cats, sleeping late, hanging out in bed, catching up on my reading, watching funny dumb comedies or deep interesting documentaries (I think that was more then 5 but those are all equally important stuff!).

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Blackberry Sour Cream Pancakes : ““Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” — Lewis Carroll,

By November 18, 2014 Food and Recipes, Le Guppy
Blackberry Sour Cream Pancakes

We are not breakfast people. In fact, most days, I go without anything but tea until lunch time. I know, my poor metabolism. Harper tends to eat breakfast in the car on the way to school . Guy drinks a double gulp full of Diet Coke. Like I said, we are not morning people. Except on the weekends, when breakfast can be brunch, and occur a little later in the day.

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This weekend Harper had her heart set on helping in the kitchen. The older she gets the more useful she actually is and the more determined she is to do as much as I’ll let her. And she was hellbent on pancakes, thus we made pancakes but our local grocer had blackberries on sale for $1.00 a pint so we improvised a little bit.

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I’m going to share my dad’s secret to the perfect pancake (sorry, Dad!). That secret is sour cream. It just does something to the makeup of the batter and gives them a little right lift. Anyway, this recipe is a mix of my need to use up my over-zealously purchased blackberries and make use of my dad’s recommendation.

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Blackberry Sour Cream Pancakes
Ingredients:
Serves 3-4 people and is easily doubled for more eaters or freezing.
1/2 cup milk
3/8 cup sour cream (regular or low fat both work)
1 large egg
1/2 TSP vanilla extract
2 TBSP melted butter
1 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour
1.5 TBSP sugar
1 TSP baked powder
.5 TSP baking soda
1/4 TSP kosher salt
1/2 to 1 pint blackberries

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1: Blend the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl or kitchen aid mixer.
2: If you are using a mixer, add your egg and use the stir setting to to incorporate it into the dry ingredients.
3: Add milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract, stir to combine.
4: Add blackberries to the batter and allow the berries to mix into the batter. The longer you let it stir, the more purpose the batter will become. If your berries are on the sour side, feel free to add more sugar.
5: Using a spatula, fold the sour cream into the batter gently. Don’t over mix.
6: Fry the pancakes over medium high heat using butter or non-stick spray on a non-stick skillet or griddle, flipping when bubbles appear on the uncooked top of the pancake.
7: Enjoy with your topping of choice. We love these with jam and creme fraiche.

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