Thursday, September 30, 2010
This online journal has been a wonderful way to communicate some of my lessons from the past year in going down this new path in my life, and I am grateful for those who have read my words here.
In trend with the rest of my life, this small journal will be growing into something greater.
I am now a writer on Weaving Wyrd, which is an online collaborative work discussing the realities of paganism and spirit work in the modern world. My articles will now appear there, so please update your bookmarks.
Let the journey continue!
Friday, September 10, 2010
As I'm typing this now, There's been many developments to the story, including waffling on the decision, a meeting that may or may not exist between him and the organizers of the upcoming Manhattan Islamic community center, and a bid by Donald Trump to purchase the site for 125% of its purchased price.
Let's step back for a bit and start from the ground up regarding this entire situation.
America and Religious Freedom
The United States of America has long stood by its strong message and mission statement towards religious freedom. The First Amendment of the United States constitution outlines the basic rights towards religious freedom, which prohibits the making of any law that respects an establishment of religion or impedes the free exercise of a religion.
A recent event that outlined this example was the controversy towards building an Islamic community center within two blocks of Ground Zero. Known as the "Ground Zero Mosque", many protested its location and implied that its intent is to serve as a "victory monument in the name of Islam", despite the fact that it is not being built by any terrorist organizations, but instead by concerned Islamic leaders who wish to help and give back to the community. This issue is fraught with a lot of emotions and feelings, but to deny its construction is to violate our own Constitution.
The announced Qur'an burning polarized the nation in very similar ways to the Ground Zero Mosque. Some that would argue for the Ground Zero Mosque would then argue against the Qur'an burning, simply on grounds of protecting whom they believe to be a persecuted Islamic community in the United States, which have been erroneously linked to an extremist terrorist organization.
Coming from a pure legal perspective, burning the Qur'an is a protected free exercise of religion. Terry Jones would be burning the Qur'an as an exercise in his religion, and therefore, the government cannot intercede. In this manner, I am for the *right* of them being able to do this protest, because it's what America stands for in the Constitutional sense.
On other grounds, however, I am against the logic that Terry Jones is using to stage such a protest.
Eye for an Eye
One argument that I've seen often on the internet can be summed up as an eye for an eye.
"We see footage and pictures on the news all the time where flags, books, and effigys are being set on fire by extremely angry, oppressed people. If they are able to do these things, then why can't we?"
My answer is extremely simple: Just because they can do it, doesn't mean it's right. Copying them doesn't make it any more right.
There are many things in life that we see people do, some of them against moral, societal, or legal standards. Some will get into a justification or entitlement mindset, where to be on equal footing, one thinks that they can do the same exact mistake that they witnessed someone else doing.
"That person just started driving on the shoulder during traffic, I should be able to do that too!"
"My wife cheated on me with another man. If I do the same to her, that's fair, and then we'll be even"
"My best friend told someone a secret that I held dear, I'll let one of her secrets slip as well."
All of these are different ways of seeing the same issue. What gives some the desire to revenge rules upsets by doing the exact same thing? It's contrary to its purpose. Here's why.
- Doing the same tresspass accomplishes nothing, and most likely will make the situation worse. Let's take the example of the wife cheating on the husband. The initial response to the news in this context is clearly anger - they are angry about the fact that their wife cheated on them. The husband's next action will usually be a "cry for help", which can be many things. A "cry for help" can be anything from sitting down with his wife and expressing how he's feeling and opening the lines of communication, or it could be going out and doing the same thing that she did. Both will accomplish the "cry for help" (which is just a fancy way of saying "I want to try and feel better / get rid of the negative feelings I have"). However, the second reaction will only beget more anger - If he felt angry because of what she did, doesn't it stand to reason that if he did the exact same action as she did, that she'll get the same emotional response? If that's the case, then he's only made the situation worse.
- Failure to address the original concern. If the wife cheated, there's a damned good reason why, and if the husband goes and does the same thing that she did, he is only addressing a symptom of the real problem instead of attacking the root. If he talks with her, then perhaps he'll find out that she feels she isn't getting enough time, attention, love, support, communication, etc, and then they can solve the real problem instead of beight caught in the consequence. Communication can find out what the concerns are and how to fix them, going out and having a revenge lay won't.
- Risking violating your own rules. If the situation never arose, would you have consciously done the same thing with the same fervor that is fueling the reaction? If his wife hadn't cheated outside the relationship, would the husband have consciously decided that he should have an affair? Perhaps this husband has some very strict rules regarding the behavior and standards of what a married man should do - that he should never cheat on his wife could be one of them. However, if he sees his wife violate one of these tenets that *he* holds dear, should he decide to sleep with another, he's not making his decision consciously, only out of raw reaction, and in the process, violates one of his rules. This isn't a productive way to live, being reactionary to this extreme will only hold ourselves back.
Given all of these points now, think upon the following:
- If I burn this Qur'an, will this make the overall situation better or worse for all parties involved? This includes the US, Christian communities, Islamic communities, terrorist organizations and armed forces.
- If I burn this Qur'an, am I acknowledging and attempting to understand the original reasons behind the flag burnings that I've seen on the news?
- Would I have burned this Qur'an as a conscious choice if I had never seen an American flag being burned?
The Destruction of Knowledge
Another reason why I'm against the proposed Qur'an burnings is that I associate it with a desecration and brutal intent to destroy our own knowledge.
I am a spirit worker, a priestess of Arawn, and most of my Celtic-tied knowledge comes from two sources: spirit-taught knowledge and group knowledge, which going back far enough, also has roots in spirit-taught knowledge. The first is known as Unverifiable Personal Gnosis, or UPG. This is the concept that an individual's spiritual insights may be valid to them without being verified or acknowledged by others. The second is a mix of Shared Personal Gnosis (SPG) and Confirmed Gnosis (CG), in which SPG is gnosis that is shared by a number of people, with CG being a "graduated" SPG, where so many people believe it that it's almost universally accepted.
The closest that I have to a holy text is The Mabinogion, which is a collection of prose stories from medieval Welsh manuscripts. There are no specific things in that book that are outlined as to how you live your life, like how The Torah, The Bible, and The Qur'an do. A lot of this knowledge was destroyed through the course of time or radically altered to "fit" the Christian ideal. Because of this, a lot of knowledge that was possibly written down pertaining to my Patron Deity has been destroyed, all but the small story at the beginning of the text.
Both major parts of my life - my spritual and my logical side - abhor the destruction of knowledge. My spiritual side is a bit raw regarding how so much of my religion's knowledge was destroyed by the Christians, and my logical side argues that problems are a lot harder to solve when we lack the appropriate resources. These are the primary reasons why I personally oppose the proposed burning of the Qur'an.
As a sidenote, each religion takes burning its holy books rather differently. I asked Arawn in passing if he would oppose anyone burning the Mabinogion or other Celtic texts, and I felt a small simmer of anger, but most of it was wise and sage calmness. Basic response was "We've had our knowledge destroyed before, and it will be destroyed again in time. We'll always be here, and if someone seeks for us, we'll answer. If we want to be heard, we'll find one who listens."
The Qur'an has a totally different reaction towards burning, from what I understand. Burning the Qur'an is one of the worst things that you can possibly do to a Muslim - consider how careful they read it, ritually washing before even touching it to read of its words.
Finally, the Qur'an burning will not accomplish its intent. In fact, even the intent is misled.
Terry Jones' intent is "Islam is of the Devil".
I propose that Terry Jones' true intent is "Extremist Islamic Terrorists is of the Devil". Why? Because although Extreme Islamic Terrorists (the ones behind 9/11 and other such acts) are Muslim by definition, but all Muslims are not Extreme Islamic Terrorists by default. This is basic subset theory.
If the second example is the case, then I might be inclined to agree - extreme religious terrorists of any sort are not desireable.
The stated reaction to "Islam is of the Devil" is to burn the Qur'an.
Let's see what burning the Qur'an will actually do:
- Sadden and outrage Muslims worldwide, most of whom have led peaceful and productive lives.
- Mobilize extreme Islamic terrorists into mobilizing against non-muslim troops (this targets US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq).
- Gives Al'Qaeda and other terrorist organizations a nice recruiting tool.
The final effect can be summed up as "Alienate Islam, Strengthen and Mobilize Extremists Islamic Terrorists"
"Islam is of the Devil" does not equal "Alienate Islam, Strengthen and Mobilize Extremists Islamic Terrorists"
"Extremist Islamic Terrorists is of the Devil" is actually very close to "Alienate Islam, Strengthen and Mobilize Extremists Islamic Terrorists", so in some ways, he's trying to manifest and create what his true intent is.
The current situations regarding Radical Extremist Terrorists is enough already, we need not add more fuel to the fire and try to manifest a reality that has a substancial capability to utterly destroy us.
The Final Word?
Tomorrow we'll see the final decision as to if the plans will go through. Terry Jones seems to be on the edge of the cliff, a truly torn person between the two options in front of him. Almost anyone with some sense of the religious can feel the internal struggle that he is going through right now. I sincerely hope that tonight, he prays and communes with his god, and finds the answers that he so desperately seeks.
If the Qur'an burning does go through, this will be an interesting time to be alive.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Erin Pavlina wrote an excellent article regarding the concept of self-forgiveness, and how many people can easily forgive others for their trespasses, but are unable or unwilling to extend the same courtesy to themselves. It details the story of an intuitive reading she was having with one of her sitters, where the sitter had such overwhelming grief over the "failure" of her business and the perceived hurt she had inflicted upon her husband and kids. It was with Erin's help that she was able to make the jump in logic from her ability to forgive others and extend it to herself.
Guilt and forgiveness awareness is especially important with those who deal with energy work, spirit work, or counseling of any sort. These professions / interests have a high exposure to this kind of energy, and we must remain diligent in keeping ourselves clean of these influences so that we may focus more of our energy on our personal, interpersonal, and societal missions.
The Nature of Guilt
We're often taught that if we violate a basic tenet or promise, we should feel guilty as a result. In fact, the definition of guilt is the fact of having committed a breach of conduct, especially laws. Another use of the word is the state of mind following committing a breach of conduct, which may be imagined, and sparking and fueling a feeling of inadequacy, of feeling less of a person for committing the offense. Sometimes the guilt is so strong, especially in those who are in depression and/or low energy states, that it cripples their day to day life.
When we feel this guilt, no matter how big or small, it's a drain and misdirection of personal power. Thoughts of guilt take the place of productive thoughts, guilty energy misaligns and replaces healthy energy in our bodies. It's in our best interests to alleviate these feelings so that we can reclaim our energy and our life's purpose - if we let the guilty feelings continue, it's a manifestation of our own thoughts and energy, so why let yourself use your own energy to hinder your life?
Guilt as a Consequence
It's commonly believed that guilt is one of the inherent consequences of doing a perceived wrong - that only psychopaths have no guilt for what they do in their lives. Psychopaths will deny what they've done is wrong, and will rationalize, deny, or shift blame.
With that caveat being said, the feeling of guilt in itself is not a consequence of violating a tenet. For example, if I'm trying to lose weight, and I decide that I want to eat a double bacon cheeseburger and a large coke, the logical consequence - the basic outcome - is that I've consumed more calories in one sitting than a dieting metabolism would support. This would make my calories a net gain for the day, which will be stored in my body, therefore increasing my weight. These are concrete consequences, proven by scientists, not to mention anyone that's tried losing a couple pounds.
Some people that would go and consume this type of meal would feel guilty over their choice in diet - usually due to a realization that it's contrary to a personal goal that they hold important. Other people eat this - and many more food products - during the day while feeling no remorse for their daily diet.
There's a third group - those that are following a diet regimen, make the cheeseburger/soda slip, but don't feel the guilt over what they have done. Sometimes it's because they've given up on their mission, but there's a select few that have this outcome because they've realized that guilt isn't part of the logical, concrete consequence of their decision, and that their energy and vibration is better spent forgiving themselves and looking forward to the next day, when they can continue with improving their lives.
Guilt isn't a logical, basic consequence - it's something additional that we put on ourselves, when we can better use that energy in positive ways.
Grounding and Self Forgiveness
Once we've identified that guilt isn't an inherent consequence, we can start diffusing the feeling and reclaim our lost energy. Try these to help the process:
- Those practiced in energy work can simply ground, with emphasis on letting go of the harmful energy and refueling from the elements, deep within the earth. Cleansing rituals can help with this as well, such as a shower, imagining the feelings washing off with the water and going down the drain.
- Meditate on the feelings - identify that they're not connected to the original offense, connect with your higher self, spirit guides or deities for more understanding, do an intuitive exercise to gain clarity into the situation.
- Forgive yourself as you would forgive another. Do a visualization exercise where you are talking to yourself, hearing about the issues that you're dealing with, and ask for forgiveness for what has transpired. Do you find it easier to forgive yourself if you imagine yourself as another person? Imagine yourself 10 years from now, older and wiser in your ways, forgiving your younger self for their trespasses and the issues that they consider so overwhelming.
Don't Take Life Too Seriously
When all is said and done, life is about loving, learning, growing, and leaving a legacy. Why consciously allow guilt to hold you back from these things? Why use your own power against you? Life's too short to take it too seriously, lighten up on your standards and how you judge yourself so that you may use your time, effort, energy and love to the best possible use.
You deserve it.
Monday, August 30, 2010
August's charity is Senior Support Services, which helps homeless and hungry senior citizens in the Denver area. They hold an annual charity run called Erace Homelessness every August. I wasn't in a position to help contribute by participating in the race, so I made a donation instead.
Senior Support Services can be found at http://www.seniorsupportservices.org/
Thursday, July 29, 2010
One of my friends in my Norse studies group is getting married this weekend, and one of the options that was presented to us for gifts was to donate to one of their favorite charities in their name.
One that was on the list that most closely resonated with Arawn's purpose is Heifer International, which works with communities struggling with poverty and hunger. They do it not by just dumping off food and hoping for the best, but by giving these communities the tools that they need not only to thrive, but to make the world a better place. I was able to specify what animal I wanted to donate to a community, and that helps me know that I'm helping in a healthy way.
To donate, please visit http://www.heifer.org/
Friday, June 18, 2010
In lieu of flowers, his family has requested that we donate to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in his honor, and I gladly make this my charity of the month.
To donate, please go to http://www.nationalmssociety.org.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Since I came to him before any offer was in my hand, the terms were very easily negotiated and extremely simple to follow: I would turn over a specified % of my income to a cause or charity that aided or helped people deal with any facet of death or dying.
The reason why I share this here is threefold:
- Raising awareness of giving time or money to charities or organizations that correlate positively to your deity's work of choice. In my example, I am still a spirit worker and will help out when I can with those who are dealing with death and dying, but I can't make it a full-time job at the moment, and don't have a lot of time to donate as of late. In this way, I'm still contributing what I can to a good cause.
- Letting others know what charity I'm donating to for a specific month, so that they can donate time or money to them if they believe it's a worthy cause.
- Opening a forum for ideas and suggestions on favorite charities, whether or not they are my patron deity's focus.
The charity that I donated to for the month of May was the American Hospice Foundation, you can find them at http://www.americanhospice.org/.
Friday, February 26, 2010
I decided to go in the form of a wolverine.
For many people that know me, this is not a big surprise, considering where my nickname comes from. It worked in terms of showing that I did not belong to the Iron Wood, and that I am not a huge predatory threat. It did, however, grant me a lot of attention once I was in the woods. Most of the figures and animals that I saw weren't clear, but they were very interested in the form that I had picked because it was a daring choice.
I ended up talking with one of the entities there, having to shift into human form since I'm still trying to learn how to talk as a wolverine. They were interested in my form and that it came so naturally to me. They said that I would need the strength and tenacity of such a creature in the time to come, it is a strong part of me, and that I need to start being ruthless.
Wolverines show no fear, and can instill fear when needed. They're tough, powerful, and intimidate and fight things much larger than itself in order to survive. It's this ambition and fighting spirit that is sometimes needed - when all else fails, the claws come out.
After the group, I had a long talk with my teacher about some issues that I had been having in my life. I'm a naturally caring person, in that I do watch out for the welfare of others and will lend a helping hand, sometimes to the detriment of my own well-being. In some cases, it's too easy for people to take and take, without giving much back, until there is nothing left to take and then be gone with it. I've suffered many betrayals in such a small period of time with no recovery time inbetween.
It had occured to me afterwards that it's times like this that you need to draw upon animal instinct in order to simply get things done (or make things dead, depending on how violent you are). I'm usually not one for cutting things out of my life, since I inherently believe that all greivances can be fixed and unless you did something extremely harmful or threatening, all can be forgiven and friendships can be forged.
Sometimes, however, life needs the claws.
I made some very final decisions tonight once the group was over, and I cut a very big portion of my life clean out. It may have been heavy handed, but necessary at that point. In the process of doing so, very strong moments of clarity struck me hard, like waves of truth cascading forth. I was cutting out the negative forces in my life, and I will replace them with positive forces. I will cut contact from those who have betrayed me, who refuse to see truth and instead would paint their distorted worldviews upon me.
In those moments, I saw someone's fear over the finality of my decisions and my actions. They were fearful of the wolverine.