Letting go of the need to know by Awen Clement

‘It izz wriiten!’ bellowed Beelzebub.
‘But it might be written differently somewhere else,’ said Crowley. ‘Where you can’t read it.’
‘In bigger letters,’ said Aziraphale.
‘Underlined,’ Crowley added.
‘Twice,’ suggested Aziraphale.

From Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

It’s pretty standard when we want to know about something new that we go looking for written information about it. Whether that be books or in these modern times on the internet. We want answers, we want good quality information, we want to do things right, especially when it comes to spiritual practice and the Gods.

However written information is only as good as its author and editor and unfortunately there is an awful lot of bad writing out there or worse stuff thats been made up, basically to sell more books. And of course you will find a lot of argument over what is good and what is bad amongst the people who have read them.

So then, maybe we look for the older stuff, the original writings, the lore that relates to our beliefs. Well, unfortunately the same problem still applies. Much of the lore about our pagan Gods was written in a very different time, often in a different language and usually by Christian monks, because they were the only people who knew how to write. And then they have been translated by yet another person, and that is not a fully accurate science either. Also we are modern people, living modern lives, so these older writings should be read with a degree of reservation and understanding of context.

So what do you do? Well, reading stuff isn’t a bad idea. Reading the lore isn’t a bad idea. But then after that, trust your instincts. Trust your connection to your Gods. And I think most importantly, be willing to NOT have to know. Be willing to not have all the answers on a plate. Part of the beauty and the magic of paganism is in its mystery and its lack of dogma. As soon as we rigidly hold on to the lore or anything written about our faith as being the whole story that must not be deviated from, we are creating dogma.

No matter how much reading you may have done, no matter how long you may have been a pagan, no matter your community status, none of us have all the answers. We are all on a journey, a living, breathing, connected journey that is our lives with our Gods. For isn’t that part of the point of having a spiritual belief and practice, that it is a part of us and a part of our lives.

And who knows what might be written down somewhere else, where we can’t read it.

(c) Awen Clement – October 2017

Awen is a priestess of the Morrigan, writer and ceremonialist who lives in the Midlands of the UK.  The rest of the time she is doing her best to help her four children grow up into interesting people and hanging out in her tiny temple shed at the bottom of her garden. www.awenclement.com

Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel (How The Morrigan Claimed Me Part IV)

I found myself scraping the bottom of the barrel this Spring. Soul-wise, energy-wise, inspiration-wise. While Spring is generally associated with new beginnings and growth, I felt the exact opposite. Everything around me seemed to being going wrong, everything felt off. I felt wrong. Despite the outward appearance of all being well, nothing was well, not at all.

The Morrigan is known to be a hard teacher at times. Her lessons, while powerful, can be painful. This Spring, The Morrigan was on me “like a duck on a june bug”. I had to pay attention. I felt as though Macha Herself had ridden me down and trampled me. Badb was screaming at me. Anu, I felt, was just frustrated with me. I had to get quiet. I needed to shut up, sit down and listen to Her.

I took time off from writing and teaching. I stopped attending public events. I spent more time alone. I talked to The Morrigan. I listened to The Morrigan. I read a lot. I gardened. I binged-watched some shows.

With The Morrigan’s help, I came to realize I had made several errors in my life and I was not going to get any relief until I acknowledged and corrected those errors. If you have ever attended one of my workshops, I always say, “You are in control! You are in the driver’s seat! You are master of your destiny!” Blah…blah…blah..was about how I felt about that crap this Spring. It was time to walk the talk. I had to get honest with myself.

A recurring issue in my life has been personal boundaries. Actually, the lack of proper personal boundaries is the real issue. And it had come back to haunt me once again. Why?! Again and again, this issue was wrecking havoc in my life. Again my reluctance to establish healthy personal boundaries was causing intense suffering in my life.

I needed to take a step outside myself and examine what was really going on with me. I talked to a therapist to get an outside opinion. I asked myself the hard question: “Why was I reluctant to establish proper personal boundaries in my life?”

The answer was in two parts.

First, I was reluctant to establish healthy personal boundaries because I feared rejection. I feared appearing unfriendly, unavailable, of not appearing present. By living in this fear, I was not making good decisions about who I allowed into my personal life. I ignored the little instinctual warning bells tinkling in my ears. I ignored the warning because Fear and Ego took over. And by Spring, I was paying the price. Fear can be a tricky thing, not obvious, Ego-driven, tough to spot sometimes. But here it was right here in my face, grinning. Fear.

The second reason why I lacked in the boundary department was my “savior complex.” I had maintained an unhealthy relationship with a certain individual for years because I felt I could eventually make that person “see the light” and change their fundamental beliefs. I was wrong, wrong, wrong. It was some of my own beliefs that were almost sacrificed as a result. Another blow to Ego. Another circumstance of it blowing up in my face again.

Spring turned to Summer and Summer is now turning to Fall. I am continuing my inner work. I am continuing to tackle difficult issues in my life. But by doing so, I have gained relief from the suffering I was experiencing. The Morrigan is pleased I am back on track. I have acknowledged I am a work in progress. I always will be. I wouldn’t want to be anything less. It is a part of why I write. By owning my stories, my imperfections, I free myself from them.

I have shared in the past of how The Morrigan claimed me. It’s the title of this little series I have been writing for this blog. In truth, The Morrigan did not just claim me one time. She has claimed me again and again. If I wander off the path She has set before me, She comes thundering back into my life, claiming me again. It is an ongoing process for me. And I am ever grateful to Her for it. The Morrigan likes to keep Her tools sharp. She sharpens me on a regular basis. I feel blessed She does so.

(c) Morrigan Odin – Originally published at The Morrigan’s Nest

Other writing by Morrigan Odin can be found at Patheos

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash 

We Are One by Ryan Sutherland

The knowledge we are One is the most fundamental
keystone truths beyond anything I could ever express as a poet or a man.

All around me I see reflections of your beauty;
its in the eyes and smiles of every woman I meet,
Perfect crystalline wells of creation from which poetry springs.

All of infinity gazes back at me from a chance encounter,
or a simple cup of coffee.

I can taste their essence, for they truly are goddesses to me
but you shall ever by my Queen.

The purest expression of Divinity I shall every encounter in any Land
or any World.

Sometimes the weight of the world and its sorrows presses down upon me, and like Atlas I must maintain a Warriors Calm.

This may seem like a burden but it is not. Duty and honor to serve our people keep me steadfast.

Its when my head is bowed for a moment in reverent awe that I can best recapture those past memories of you.

An arched brow, your gentle eyes or honey’d taste of your lips.

It may only be a singular moment – a heartbeats worth of time – but its when I am closest to you.
The feeling of you surges to the forefront of my awareness.

I am the bedrock of the Mountains, the vast unending Sky and the quiet allure of the deep blue Sea.

The knowledge we are one is the most fundamental keystone truths beyond anything I could ever express as a Poet or Man.

-Ryan C. Sutherland

Ryan lives in Canada and says of himself – being called by The Morrigan has been a defining point in my life, and a true journey of growth and personal transformation. There are no words that will ever express the depth of my devotion and service to the Land, our people and Goddess.

At the end of the fighting season

At the end of the fighting season…

The autumn is closing in rapidly around here, it is wet, getting colder and I get up for work and it’s still dark.  Samhain approaches and my Pagan friends are looking towards the turn of the year.  In the earlier times, that our modern paganism often looks back towards, this was the last gasp before the plunge into winter.  With the harvest almost gathered there was still time for the flurry of activity to prepare for the months ahead.  But what about warriors?  What would this time of year mean to them?  This is something I find myself reflecting on at this time of year.

Until fairly modern times, warfare was seasonal.  Because when winter came survival was a big enough task, fighting would tail off in time for the harvest to be got in.  If it didn’t there wasn’t much point to the fighting as you’d be starving by February.   In the aftermath of the Jacobite Rebellion in 1746 the harvest was not collected throughout the highlands and oats, wheat and barley spoiled in the fields.  The region had seen the passage of armies for over a year  who sustained themselves by foraging (which is a euphemism for stealing), so meat, ale and flour was in short supply. Shortages caused by the passage of armies through the highlands became famine.  Famine killed people regardless of their faith, politics or loyalties.

For the leaders this was a busy time and the longer view had to be considered.  What was the plan (or likely plan) for Spring? Could a peace be organised over Winter? Would it hold come the Spring or would fighting have to be resumed? How bad had things got? Would bitterness and honour drive winter raiding?  Who held the initiative?  All of this had to be sorted out before practical steps could be taken to stand the warriors down (or in more modern times to turn the army into winter quarters).  Many a late night council would be held and midnight oil burned, but this would have to fitted in around the mourning and recognition for the fallen, reports up the chain of command and the normal busy routines of society.

The first question would be how many warriors to retain under arms and how much manpower could be released to prepare for winter.  Where warriors were also farmers and some might be fighters you had ‘turned out’ (that is pressed into arms), they had probably already gone, the call of their land and harvest being too much.  It was possible to fight in a limited manner at this time of year, raiding and ambushing, so it was too early to let down your guard and stand all of your force down.  An aggressive war leader might work in a few raids and cattle drives to insulate against deprivation, but the risk had to be considered.  Losses would have to be made good and  the youth coming of age would be considered, who was in training, who had cut their teeth and needed recognising?  How many would need to start training now, not for next year but the year after?  Who would need to be invalided out? Egos soothed, pride allowed for, new jobs given to avoid feuding.  What about weaponry? What could be repaired or made new in house, what would require purchasing in?  Likewise armour and consumables like arrows, powder and shot.  Then there was the less sexy and glamourous things, boots, horse trappings, blankets, spoons.

A lord’s steward or seneschal might be keen to see the warband stood down, the cost for sustaining them physically and psychologically, transferred onto others.  Traditionally warriors (and soldiers in the modern era) were not billeted on a civilian population until the last possible time, as soon as this was done, problems started, which would occupy the leaders more and more until Spring.  So this was also the time of make work to keep the warriors out of trouble, patrols, hunting, guard duties, errands, exercise and training.

What can all this inform us as modern pagans who are drawn to warrior? It would be unrealistic to model our behaviour on this too closely.  In today’s modern times warfare and fighting does not cease with winter, modern armies train and fight in almost any conditions to horrific cost on civilian populations. Fascists still march (it is in fact the traditional fascist torch lit parade season through much of Europe).  In the west we are unused to seasonal shortages, cooperating and planning ahead to avoid famine.  I find I am drawn to make, to repair and audit my gear.  Make my domestic arrangements for winter (which increasingly here in the UK means lots and lots of rain).   I invariably think about training, the idea being to insulate myself against the worst effects of over-indulgence over the winter (definitely a first world problem).  I try to think about what skills I need to keep sharp and what new things I need to learn while I have the chance.  I take time to reacquaint with old comrades who might be involved with events in the year ahead.  Now I’m not immune to motivation crisis I feel the abuse I have subjected my body to over the years and I can afford to be complacent because I live in the UK in the 21st Century.  So reflecting on what this time of year meant for warriors in the past and what was at stake is a powerful motivator to get off my ass and be active.  For me this time of year is one of remembrance and there is an important social element.  I might get together with members of my old war band, where we share food and drink and reminisce.  To the outsider it may look like the telling of a lot of tall stories, but it’s difficult to talk to people about certain things, unless they already know the ground.  Within the tall tales, there is a lot of fear, tragedy and loss.  It is, I suppose a form of group therapy, an annual release.  A mechanism of regrouping and healing old wounds a little at a time.

My pagan practice then, forming a warrior cycle of the year, starts with a look back on the previous year and further back.  Reflecting and remembering events recent and ancient that exert their weight across any distance of time.  It also is a time for looking forwards, to orientate and plan for the future.  While being ready for action if your enemies (or life’s vicissitudes) attempt to surprise you now.  With events here in the ‘civilised’ west so tumultuous and scary I see people are battered by events.  Off balance and fearful of the future.  This now, at autumn, is the appropriate time to do as older generations of warriors and fighters would at the end of the war season and reorganise.  Look forward and plan for taking the initiative.  For the campaign ahead.  Think about who you want with you and tell them, make your appreciation and have some hope, because you survived another year to fight again and soon it will be spring.

(c) Rob Preece – October 2017

So you want to do magic? by Sharon Preece

So you want to do magic right? Here are some things to try;

Make someone laugh so hard, that tears roll down their face and their sides hurt. Be there and listen when someone’s world falls apart, hold their hand, if they ask you to. Teach someone to do something that will make their walk in the world easier (without pay that makes it a job). Say something to someone that will make them stand a little taller, feel a little stronger.

See in the dawn and see out the dusk, in the same day. Witness the start of a life and the end of another. Share memories with someone you’ve never met before and someone who knows you well. Share food with friends, that you have made yourself and food with someone who would otherwise go hungry.

Make something with your hands, write something from your heart. Love someone so much, it hurts your heart a little, just thinking about it. Hate something so much, it burns to your very soul. Spend a day doing nothing but thinking about yourself. Spend a day doing nothing but good for others. Run with the crowd, shout and dance with them, but learn to stand alone. Be the voice of reason and the call to arms, a distraction and a motivation.

Sit so still that the birds brave your shadow, dance like the world is watching, until you can’t dance anymore. Sing like you are the only one who dares. Watch the moon wax and wane. Step outside to smell the seasons. Feel the frost bite your fingers, the sun warm you skin. Dance to the tune of thunder, in the summer rain. Listen to the mist turn your shouts to whispers. Soothe your soul, with the morning dew. Witness the turning of the world. Be the shade in the burning sunlight and the looked for light in the lonely darkness.

Don’t do magic. Be magic.

 

(c) Sharon Preece – 27th August 2017

On Warriors by Rob Preece

On Warriors 1.

Plenty of words have been expanded by pagan authors on being a warrior. Showing courage, following your heart, being empowered. They almost entirely talk about being a warrior as a metaphysical thing, a state of mind. Listening to, channeling, developing your inner warrior. I will not knock this, I’ve talked to plenty who are empowered and have been better able to face the challenges in their life through this. Enough useful words have been written about this already.

However acknowledging the warrior aspect within and actually becoming a warrior are not the same thing. The rites of passage of taking up arms are almost lost to us here in the UK as we are lucky to enjoy the protection of a particularly fine military. Our political leaders long ago sought to channel our warriors into this military, so the way of the warrior has become almost the exclusive preserve of the professional servicemen and women.

Being a warrior however is one of the roles within our tribal past like cunning folk, midwives, shaman and healers (I’m aware these bled into one another). While there where warrior elites which over a thousand years or so have morphed into our “landed gentry” more elite than warrior. Most people needed to know how to defend themselves and their community, often against the warrior elite (it’s a toxic word elite). Also there was usually an obligation to the elite to provide warrior service, to bulk out the combat force.

Battle is a poor place for the untrained, so training in the traditional arms of the community was a rite of passage on the road to adulthood. It also informed a lot of our sports from boxing to football. One of my favourite things about the Morrigan is her favouring of the spear, the weapon of the common folk as opposed to the sword of the elite, even though in the legends she is more than capable amongst the elite.

Training almost definitely started very early, a life of hard physical labour requires a standard of fitness and the games of childhood started the process. Running, grappling, stone throwing then play combat with toy weaponry. At some point the time would arrive for training in earnest. The first rite of passage for the warrior is to formally embark upon their training. Other rites I’ll come to at a later point.

So what can we do? Actually it’s pretty simple but not that easy…..
Take control of what goes in to your body, mainly food and drink but also alcohol and drugs.
Get fit.
Learn first aid.
Take up a martial art.
That should start you off, more to follow.
Opinions, corrections, arguments invited.

Rob

Previously published on the original Call of the Morrigan blog in 2015

Spiritual abuse is real

Spiritual abuse is real, it’s a real thing in pretty much every spiritual movement or religious community. Why? Because in these places there’s a real intersection of vulnerability and power. People are drawn to seeking when they need help, and those who are willing exploit that vulnerability for their own gain will, very sadly, do so.

One spiritual seeker to another, I’m putting this out there for anyone who needs to see this and hear this, the fruits and lessons of personal experience.

*Anyone can call themselves a priest, a healer, a shaman. Literally anyone. I know when you’re seeking, vulnerable, newly called the array of these folk can be dazzling. It’s so tempting to take up that offer healing, of sanctuary, of soul or power work when you’re feeling confused or vulnerable. I cannot stress enough how important it is to take your time and to be discerning. Kind of like a first date. Do your research. It may sound obvious, but if you can’t find a history for this person, or they have a history of lying, thieving, or exploitation, treat that as a big red flag. Glamour and power can over a lot, don’t fall for it. Hang round the edges for a while. Check in with your own gut and guidance. Trust yourself if you’re hearing a ‘no’.

*The capacity to move energy doesn’t make someone a healer. Unless this capacity is coupled with some serious integrity and grounded experience, what it makes that person is potentially seriously dangerous. Shamanism, tantra, any advanced energy practice can harm as deeply as they heal—the harm doesn’t even have to be intentional. Think toddler running through a crowd with a big knife. Got the picture?

*Be highly suspicious of people (men in particular) who want to access your power for their own gain. These people generally have few to no peers, but possibly some (or many) followers. They love people who support their visions of themselves and their power. They don’t take criticism or conflict well. The classic lines like “The Goddess told me we would work together” or “She told me I can heal you.” I know it sounds cheesy when I say it here, but too many fall for it! Maybe you do want to work with this person, but don’t let these kinds of lines be the only reason you do.

Finally, if you have fallen for it, don’t despair. Betrayal is a classic and common part of spiritual awakening. It can make you or break you. Don’t let it break you, friends.

Here a few places where you can find safe and reliable connection

Coru Cathubodua Priesthood

John Beckett

Morgan Daimler

Lora O’Brien

 

(c) Rebecca Wright – August 2017

What are we fighting for?

In recent times I have been wrangling somewhat with the question of why The Morrigan called me. I’m 5ft nothing and every inch not a fighter of any kind. I was recently heard bemoaning to a fellow devotee that I want to live my life from a place of peace and compassion and I don’t understand why She has called me.

This morning my Facebook feed is full of news about an Alt-Right rally that took place in Charlottesvile, Virginia in the US. A large group of people marched and shouted Nazi slogans. When a peaceful protest came together in response a man got in a car and drove into those protestors, killing one and injuring many others.

In the shower this morning I realised in a flash that I am called because I want nothing less than a peaceful, compassionate and healthy world, where every living, sentient being has value and can live safely.  The only way I am going to get this is if I fight for it.  This is what I believe I am fighting for, this is what I believe She wants from me.

Now there will be those in Her community who will say they believe the same, and yet there is often racist, sexist, misogynistic and bigoted talk in Her communities. People who say they are Her devoted and yet believe that People of Colour and Trans Folx and anyone else who is Other in some way should not exist.

If the world you are fighting for is not one in which every living, sentient being has value and can live safely in a peaceful, compassionate and healthy world then I think its time you asked yourself why not.

Sometimes in Her communities there can be heard the cry of, why are we fighting each other, why are we fighting amongst ourselves. Well, we will keep fighting amongst ourselves until we are all fighting for the right of every living, sentient being to have value and live safely in a peaceful, compassionate and healthy world.

I don’t want to fight with my fellow devoted. If I have to fight, if I have to be Her warrior in this lifetime, then I want to fight for my right to live a peaceful and compassionate life and for everyone – EVERYONE – to be able to do the same. How about you?

(c) Awen Clement – August 2017

Practical Warrior in a Scary World

A practical warrior thing you can do in a scary world

The world seems a scary place, I’m not going to rehash all the scary stuff in the news recently, but you know what I’m talking about right? When it gets scary it is perhaps a normal reaction for pagans, especially followers of a war goddess such as the Morrigan to think about warrior stuff. Self defense, martial arts even hitting the shooting range. However a lot of people I speak to express frustration at where to begin what can be done immediately. Tragic and terrible events are difficult to comprehend and can leave you feeling powerless and responding to them is the job of the authorities. However there is a fairly simple thing you can do which I believe can help.

***Learn First Aid***

Learning first aid is a brilliant life affirming thing, often it’s possible to get a degree of training for free, paid for by charities or even your workplace. In the US it is possible to get EMT training via community colleges, in the UK you will have to make do with a St John’s Ambulance or Red Cross Course (or get creative in how you access this kind of training). Even getting a qualified first aider to show you the basics without any associated qualification is better than nothing. As a minimum you need to be able to deliver CPR to adults or infants, deal with choking, bleeding, broken bones, shock and burns. Being shown how to use an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) and an Epipen takes minutes and could quite literally save a life. In an incident a little training goes a long way, add a basic first aid kit and the good you can do expands exponentially. When you are undergoing your training interact with your trainer and talk about worse case scenarios like multiple casualties and responding to the aftermath of violence. First Aiders love to relate the training to real life incidents and I find I learn as much from the conversations around training as the training itself. Also ask them about improvisations for when the incident exceeds the contents of the first aid kit supplied.

When there is an incident in which people are hurt, the immediate seconds and minutes while the authorities respond are vital. The more first aiders there are in the community the faster the response can be. People can be like antibodies rushing to the affected area. They react and try and help as well as they can but without training this can be to little avail and it is a sad fact that sometimes the people helping are just another problem for the authorities to deal with. Where there are multiple casualties, the first responders will often leave people who know what they are doing to get on with it or enlist their help in responding to the situation. Obviously as more responders arrive they will take over and this is right and proper.

Having first aid training will allow you to know what to do in the aftermath of an accident, or violent incident (if it is safe to do so). Instead of thinking “somebody should do something” you can be the person who can do the thing. Finally, first aid makes sense for the really minor stuff, it means you know what to do when someone (perhaps you) cuts themselves with that ceremonial knife or burns themselves on a candle.

 

From a original post made in the Call of the Morrigan Community by Rob Preece

The Art of Caitlin Urksa

Caitlin Urksa is French, 51, and teaches English to 11- to 14-year-olds. She has always been an artistic type at heart, drawing, painting, sculpting, making things she jokingly says that her Muse is hyperactive.  She has been a pagan for 30 years (sort of Druid-ish Wicca first), and then the Great Queen came barging into her life some 10 years ago, which changed quite a lot of things.

The first painting here is a portrait of the Great Queen that she did in 2010, and the second photograph shows the story of the painting as it came into being. Caitlin says that painting the picture of the lady that she saw was a very powerful experience.  The following two images are some of her more recent work inspired by her connection to The Morrigan.

http://martyberlou.wixsite.com/palette-onirique