IYOW: The Fear Factor

I came to the realization last night that I’m afraid. I’m rather comfy in the spot that I am in, and even if my practices are a bit lax of late, that’s been working rather well for me in the overall hectic, crazy scheme of my life. So to invite any sort of change into that, is a bit daunting to think about, to say the very least.

My primary path has almost always been Wicca inspired, Eclectic Witchcraft, and despite the fact that actual initiation into Wicca proper is likely never to happen – due to a variety of factors, as I mentioned above, I’m quite comfortable there. I’ve had an avid interest in Heathenry for the last couple years, but it’s been mostly on an academic level rather than anything I was looking to actively practice, though it’s entirely possible that certain Gods have been nudging in that direction for a while.

In those academic pursuits, I’ve studied the Runes off and on over the years, but never with any serious intent. However recently a study group was formed by a friend, and it seemed like a good opportunity to make a more concentrated effort into doing it properly for once. Part of doing it properly of course, includes introducing oneself to Odinn – as he is the one who won the Runes for us, and it’s generally considered good manners to (at the very least) acknowledge him, and the sacrifice he made, when one is looking to study them.

So I bought the mead, and have a general idea of things to do for honoring him, and having a bit of a “hello” chat, and yet I kept putting it off (though to be fair when I was going to do it last week, I really was not feeling well), but since then it’s seemed like an exercise in procrastination at it’s best. It finally hit me last night as I was falling asleep, that it’s my own fears that are holding me back.  The fear that when I do sit down to chat, that nothing will happen, that I will be ignored.  Or worse that he will answer, and in answering, will grasp me firmly to him, and claim me as his own – thus taking me from that comfy little spot that I am in, and thrusting me heartily onto an unknown path, that I’m not entirely sure that I’m ready to take.

Yes… I am afraid, almost shaking in my boots afraid (ok – I don’t wear boots, or shoes most of the time for that matter, but you get the picture XD). However now that I am aware, and have acknowledged that it exists, I am determined to own up to this fear, and face it… on shaky, unsteady legs if I have to. I can accept no less for myself.


(H) Hexes

So… the other day, after about 40 years of allowing it to be used freely among the Pagan community, Z. Budapest decided to reclaim her chant “We All Come From The Goddess”, and request that others refrain from infringing on her copyright and more importantly stop altering it, especially in ways that add any sort of “men”/”God” related words to it.

On the surface while it seems a bit silly to be worrying about it at this late date,  it can be understandable that an artist doesn’t want their work to be used without their permission especially for monetary gain. What takes this from mere silliness, to the realm of downright crazy, is the following statement that she made… “You steal my song from now will have consequences. You put men into the song, like God,a hex will be activated.

I actually find it rather ironic in a way, because the Wiki page for Dianic  Witchcraft (which I know, Wiki isn’t always the greatest source) states the following… “Dianic… as “positive path” practitioners do neither manipulative spellwork nor hexing because it goes against the Wiccan Rede; other Dianic witches (notably Zsuzsanna Budapest) do not consider hexing or binding of those who attack women to be wrong.”  So, taking into consideration that the Rede is often misunderstood, and that not everyone follows it anyways (especially Witchcraft Traditions which don’t actually have anything to do with Wicca, despite often being misnamed as such), I really have to ask… was a hex really the first thing that sprang to mind in this case? Did she really feel that adding masculine energies, or adding a verse about the God was an “attack on women”?

To be fair, she has since recanted, stating that the original post was “tongue in cheek”, which I have to admit I sort of doubt, and the general consensus seems to be that at this point she’s just trying to do a bit of damage control after all the backlash from her original statement. In general, I don’t think it matters much what she says anymore, as she’s probably lost what little (if any) respect anyone had left for her, considering all the other messes she’s been stepping into the last couple years. However the story did give me a good starting point to this week’s topics – Hexes.

On a personal level, I’m more or less neutral when it comes to the idea of hexing. Even though I’ve been in some pretty rough situations, I’ve not (as of yet) ever felt the need to put a hex on anyone, but I don’t really have any issue with someone who might do so, if there was proper justification for it. There seems to be this huge… “OMG you can’t do that!!” mentality that is pervasive in Neo-Pagan Traditions, particularly amongst those who believe in some form of the Rede. However as mentioned above, the Rede is probably one of the most misunderstood concepts that has been appropriated from Wicca (I’ll go into much more on that when we get to “R”), and despite many claims to the contrary, it does not actually prohibit hexing, or any other potentially “harmful” actions at all.

It still sort of begs the question though – what actions might justify resorting to hexing? In any magical endeavor (no matter what the purpose), it’s generally advised to do quite a bit of careful consideration before proceeding, and it seems rather clear that Ms Budapest may have missed a step or two in that process before issuing her original statement. Of all the potential ways of resolving that issue (or any issue really), I would think that a hex would be a last resort. The sort of thing, where you’ve maybe tried everything else you can think of – mundane and magical, and nothing else has worked. Especially if one believes in the TFL (Three-Fold Law), or some other form of “what comes around, goes around” – I hesitate to use the word Karma, because it too, is a word that has been very much misappropriated, and really doesn’t quite mean what most people think it means, at least not in the contexts they tend to use it in. Anyways… the point is that if you are wishing ill on someone else, even if it’s for a good reason (or what you might perceive as a good reason), you need to be prepared for, and be willing to take responsibility for the potential consequences of doing so.

Thankfully, Ms Budapest was just joking around (or so she says), but really it’s almost mind boggling to contemplate the consequences if she wasn’t. Assuming that she could have effectively invoked a hex in that way (and there seems to be plenty who doubt that she actually could), can you imagine the accidental harm that could have been done? A song that has been more or less in the public domain (whether it was meant to be or not) for 40 years, that has been regularly added to and altered to suit; a song that many Neo-Pagans probably teach to their children, or that they sing at gatherings, not even knowing who originally sang it, who have potentially never even heard of Z. Budapest, all suddenly hexed because of someone who was having a bit of a rant. What sort of consequences do you think she might have faced, if such a thing had occurred, and do you think she would have accepted any responsibility for her actions? I shudder to think.

(G) Gardens… of the Magical Kind

My mother was a true genius in the art of gardening. She could literally take a barren patch of dirt, and make it come alive – bursting forth with colorful blooms and greenery. A welcoming sanctuary for friends and family who often made their way to her door for a bit of that wonderful southern hospitality which she was also so well known (and loved) for. That her green thumb was not passed on to me, is lamentable, for no matter how many times I’ve tried, it’s clear that I really have no aptitude for gardening.

At this point you might be wondering why I would choose this particular topic, and the truth is, despite my obvious “black thumb”, I’ve always had a fervent desire to dig in the dirt and to make things grow. So if I can’t do it (not that it ever stops me from trying from time to time), at least I can offer up some tips to others, with the hope that they will have much more success at it, than I ever have.

Something to keep in mind, is that even if you don’t have a large yard (or a yard at all), it doesn’t mean that you still can’t have your own garden. It’s very easy to buy a couple of large containers, or even plastic tubs from Walmart will do in a pinch. In any case you first need to a little planning before starting out, so take some time to consider the following –

  • where are you putting your garden… will it be indoors or outdoors, large or small?
  • what’s your climate zone… is it warm and sunny for most of the year, or do you have all 4 seasons?
  • what sort of sunlight does the area get…do you have a really sunny spot, or will there be partial shade?
  • what’s the purpose of your garden… are you needing ritual herbs, or looking for more culinary delights?

Once you’d figured out your basics you can look to the buying of seeds and dirt (if needed), and to the actual digging and preparing the earth. If you are creating an outdoor garden and have plenty of space, you may also want to consider how you are going to design your garden – will it be a basic square, a circle, or maybe crescent shaped, or any combination that suits you. Will it be simply a functional garden, or will it be a sanctuary of sorts as well? Maybe with a few decorative areas where one can sit in quiet contemplation, or even a bit of space for a small solitary ritual.

Whatever you choose, have fun with it. Gardening is a lot of work, but it’s also very rewarding as well – not only seeing the physical results of one’s work, but on a spiritual level as well.  Clearly not Pagan, but the following speaks true I think, and seemed fitting words to end this on…

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,–
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

Excepted from “God’s Garden” by Dorothy Frances Gurney

(F) Fluffy Bunnies

Another topic that I was really going to try to avoid, mainly because I don’t want to seem like a total negative Nelly all the time. However based on some recent conversations, it became clear that I was going to need an outlet to vent some frustrations. Lucky you!!

Many people will use the term “fluffy” or “fluffy bunny” in connection with any sort of “love and light” Neo-Pagan/New Age beliefs or practices, that tend to focus entirely on the “positive” aspects of Paganism, rather than actually looking at the whole picture and accepting that there is a need for the “positive” and “negative” to maintain the general balance of things. While this isn’t always the most ideal view of things, it’s not really what I think of directly when I think of the term “fluffy”.

It is also often used to describe people who are misinformed, and while this is closer to my own definition (and the definition by which many others that I know tend to go by), there is a distinction that needs to be made. Just being misinformed about something, does not make one “fluffy”. There is a ton of misinformation out there, on a variety of Pagan topics, and realistically one could say that there is more misinformation, than actual good information. So just because someone thought they knew something and it turns out not to be true, shouldn’t be an immediate reason to call them “fluffy”.

The core of what makes one “fluffy”, is the act of being “willfully ignorant“. Which means that someone has pointed out that they are misinformed about something, has presented them with facts/details (often along with supporting documentation), and instead of looking over the information, doing their own research on it, and coming to their own conclusions – they automatically dismiss all of it out of hand, continuing to cling, almost without reason, to their original beliefs. Even when all evidence presented, is in complete contradiction to what they thought they knew.

No one expects anyone to take anything at face value, especially in regards to a long held belief. However it should be expected that one will take what has been said, and at least look into it. It’s true that one could probably prove almost anything using “stuff I found on the internet”, however that’s when one has to look to the type of resources that are being presented, and by what authority, or expertise that person has that is relevant to the topic they are writing on. Personal experiences are fine as well, however they should be presented as personal experiences (UPG), rather than outright fact.

Everyone is misinformed about something at one point or another, but it’s when one won’t even consider the fact that they could be wrong, that issues arise. It’s OK not to know something, however it’s not OK to completely ignore potential truths when they are staring us in the face.

edit – it’s probably worth noting that this is not a word that I use all that often, nor do I think it should be used often – which is also a bit of a pet peeve of mine, because I do think that some people use it too freely. I really am (in most cases) willing to discuss something for as long as necessary to help someone get whatever information they need about a particular subject. If I’ve hit a point where I start to consider someone to be “fluffy”, it means that I’ve given up hope, which thankfully doesn’t happen all that often. 🙂


Spring Has Sprung

I woke up this morning, in complete darkness to the sound of thunder that was  loud enough to shake the whole house, and as much as I actually love thunder storms, there is always just a bit of tension and nervousness when things are that spectacular, due to the occasional tornadoes and other bad weather that we get from time to time. However after a brief jump out of bed to check the weather report, I was able to snuggle back down under the covers and enjoy listening to the sounds of the early morning storm.

Considering my wake up call, I was pleasantly surprised an hour or so later when I got the kids up for school to find that the rain had passed, and though there were some lingering dark clouds towering across the sky, it was shaping up to be an absolutely glorious Spring day, and appropriately so, today being the Equinox, and the “official” First Day of Spring. While I’m a true child of Autumn, Spring is always a close second. I love the still chilly mornings, the dew on the grass and leaves, how the grass starts to turn that perfect shade of green after being dead all winter. The tiny purple and white flowers gently poking up though the grass, and all the birds, and squirrels rushing around after being cooped up all winter. (which ok, let’s face it Winter here in central NC is often pretty lame at best, but we do what we can with it…lol).

I have to say that this morning Mother Nature out-did herself. The early rain was deep and cleansing, and even with the clouds, the air was crisp and fresh, and patches of blue and sunshine were poking out all over. I dropped my oldest off at school, turned right out of the parking lot, and beheld the most amazing rainbow I’ve seen in a very long time (a double one at that). Perfectly clear and bright, a complete 180° arc in the sky. Reminding me that this was truly a blessed day, and one that should be celebrated. Being the conscientiousness driver that I am, I pulled over into the nearest parking lot, to snap some pics and just soak up the stunning view. It’s really good to know I’m not the only crazy one in my town though, because when I was finally ready to move on, I saw there were at least 2 other cars in the lot who were busy taking pics as well. It was nice to see others appreciating such beauty.

On the way home I was treated to another rainbow as well, and by the time I got to the house the birds were out in force, and serenading the whole neighborhood. Taking a few extra moments, I captured a bit of their lovely music to remind me of this wonderful Spring day – which lucky you, I’m sharing below!! The pic doesn’t do the rainbow justice, but considering it was taken on a cell phone that is approximately 6+ years old, it could have turned out a lot worse.  I also learned some new things today, such as how to put a video together and edit audio files. Definitely a banner day!!

Hope yours goes just as well!!

(E) Eclecticism Within Neo-Paganism

This isn’t really a new post, I actually wrote it a while back, just never had anywhere to post it. I had come across an article, which truthfully I found appalling. The basic theme of it was mixing and matching to create one’s own path – which on the surface is fine…let’s face it, a lot of us are Eclectic and there is nothing wrong with that. However there is a right way to be Eclectic and a wrong way to be Eclectic, and unfortunately this article contained nothing that even remotely resembled the right way.

Creating one’s own path seems like a simple enough endeavor. You find something you like and you incorporate it into your practice… Easy as pie!!! Except it’s really not that simple, and there is one very important question we need to ask ourselves before we go any further… Do I have the right to make that practice my own? – is the culture or religion that I am drawing from, open to being appropriated by outsiders, or is it a path that is restricted only to members of the culture, or those who have met certain “entry” requirements (such as initiation).

I’ve touched on it directly in a previous post, however in most cases it’s a concept that seems foreign to many Neo-Pagans. The majority of the books they have read, have not only told them that “Wicca is whatever you want it to be”, they’ve openly encouraged that we take anything and everything that “calls to us”. So it can come as a shock to find out that not only is this not true, but doing so is extremely disrespectful not only to the people who are members of the cultures and religions we are drawing from, but to the very Gods which we claim to honor.

You may ask yourself why someone would willingly do such a thing, and the answer is three-fold. One as I’ve mentioned, the average book on “Wicca” or Neo-Paganism encourages such things, and (especially when one is just starting out) the assumption is that if a book is popular, that the author must really know what they are talking about. So there is no move (in most cases) to look beyond what that author says (or to question their authority to tell us such things), and in general what is written in these books is taken at face value. Two – we live in a society where there seems to be a HUGE sense of entitlement. We feel called towards something, an idea, a place, etc… and think that because we want it, it is simply there for the taking. So we go and take it, never realizing the damage that we are doing. Third is the fact that proper Eclecticism takes time – lots and lots of time. With instant technology all around us, we often assume that we should be able have whatever we want, whenever we want it. The idea that we might have to spend years of our lives pursuing the proper knowledge and experience is completely contrary to that expectation.

Being Eclectic the wrong way is simple – it’s like going through the drive-thru at your favorite fast food place. “I’ll take Wicca with a side of Norse and Celtic please…oh wait can you throw in a bit of Shamanism as well?” However doing it the proper way is much more difficult. It can (and does) take years, of not only studying a culture or religion, but in some cases actually practicing (or joining – if such a thing is possible) as a member of said group. The first thing you have to do, as I stated in the beginning, is determine if what you are trying to appropriate is even possible – Is the culture open (like the Norse) or closed (like many of the Native American ones are)? Is it a religion that is open to everyone (like Christianity), where belief in a thing, is all that matters; or is it one that has specific initiation requirements (such as Wicca), or purity standards (such as Kemeticsm), where the required practices are (in some cases) more important than specific beliefs?

If a culture/path is a closed one – you have two basic options. The first is that even though you feel pulled in this direction, you can do nothing more than admire from afar. It would be disrespectful in the extreme to take something that you do not have the right to take, or claim to be something that you are not, and so (at least in regards to this path) your journey ends here. The second option is to pursue proper entry/initiation into the religion or culture, if such an option is available.  In regards to cultures, this may not be possible, as there are many where you have to be born and raised in them, in order to be a member. In some cases you can be adopted in, but that’s likely a fairly rare occurrence.

Once you have determined if you have the right to appropriate something, that’s where the real fun begins. In order to successfully mix two (or more) paths, one must have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of that which they are trying to mix. This means that you actually have to study the culture or religion extensively, reading source texts, lore, whatever you can get your hands on. Talk to other members of said culture/religion, go to open circles, or temple meetings (if allowed), etc… This may seem like a lot, but how can you know if two things can be mixed, if you don’t know what it is you are mixing?  There is nothing more cringe-worthy than seeing a deity that has been taken out of context, or seeing someone who has mixed the Gods of one culture, with ones from another – with whom they were (from a historical perspective) always at war with. Not everything works well together, and if done improperly, you end up with a practice that is continually working at cross-purposes, or worse.

I noted it above as well, but since I tend to see this in relation to Wicca more often than not, I feel it’s worth mentioning it in a bit more detail as well. Each culture/religion has its own associated myths and lore. To remove a deity from its own context and try to force it to fit somewhere it doesn’t belong, is not the best way to start off a relationship. It’s rude, and disrespectful to say the least. The Wheel of the Year, relates to a specific God and Goddess – it is not ok, to randomly stick Isis, Freyja, Ra, etc… in place of the Lord and Lady. Even if one is soft polytheist, one should always be working with the Gods within their own context. On that same note being Eclectic doesn’t necessarily mean that one has to actually “mix” practices. In general there is nothing that prohibits us from practicing multiple paths, so it’s usually best to keep our practices separate anyways. If you want to follow Neo-Pagan practices and Asatru as well, that is great – but you celebrate the Sabbats on one day, and Charming of the Plow on another. If you are circling with the Lord and Lady, it’s usually not a good idea to call other deities into your circle at the same time.

If you take away nothing else from my ramblings, I would ask that you please remember this… while I can understand completely the feeling of being called by/to something, if we take something that we haven’t earned the right to, we are ultimately disrespecting that which we claim to love and honor. Life is not always quick and easy, but we come out better for it in the end if we take the time to do it properly. And with that, I’ll simply leave you with my favorite quote…

“Faith is a journey, not a destination.”

(D) Death

I honestly wasn’t going to go here. I’ve already talked about balance, and that touched a bit on the need for all points on the cycle, so I was really hoping to go in a different direction, with “D”. However, I found out earlier this month that a friend of mine passed away, and so Death came a wandering my way, irregardless of my feelings on the subject.

I have, what I consider to be, a pretty  good outlook on Death, and it’s one that I think fairly common within the Pagan Community, across a variety of paths. While clearly it is an ending on this plane of existence, and a sad occasion to those who are left behind, I really do feel that Death is but that first step on our continuing journey through the cycles of “birth-life-death-rebirth”. I do believe in reincarnation, and that we find our loved ones again and again throughout our various incarnations, so we are never parted for long, and that should be a great consolation. I also feel that in each life we have lessons that we are here to learn, and that when we pass, it means that we have learned all that we needed to, in this life. In essence one’s funeral should be a celebratory time, more of a bon voyage party, a great send off to the next great adventure – till we meet again.

In practical terms though, it’s been a lot harder for me to keep that in focus. I’ve had to deal with Death quite a bit in my life, and at this point, other than my father (who I’ve never been super close to) and some various distant relatives, I’m the only one left in my immediate family – everyone else was gone by the time I was 25. Though I am married, with children of my own now, hubby’s the only one really left on his side as well. So truly, it has often seemed like Death was a close friend at times, rather than the distant acquaintance we rather Him be.

This week seems no different, and yet no matter how I try to tell myself that my friend is in a much better place, I just can’t seem to get myself through the sadness I feel at her loss. It is worth mentioning that her death shouldn’t have come as such a shock, she was born with a very serious life threatening condition, and spent most of her life in and out of treatments and hospitals, so to know that she is free of that, should be enough to make anyone happy. However, you always think that you’ll have more time, and somehow there never is. I do know that if she had lessons to learn this go around, that she more than learned them… not only that, but she taught the rest of us some very important ones as well – about friendship, generosity, and about keeping positive in the face of insurmountable odds. She was a blessing to all that knew her, and her passing truly left this world just a little less bright.

While it may seem otherwise, I do have a deep respect for the necessary place that Death has within the universe, even if it’s hard for me to reconcile my heart and my mind on the subject. I think that those who fear it, may not completely understand that without Death, and the similarly feared (and another “D” word) Destruction, that we would live in a state of stasis, never learning, never growing, never moving beyond what we are now. That without the removal of the old, there would be no room for the new, and the cycle of life-birth-death and rebirth would begin to break down, and stagnate. Of course out of control, Death and Destruction is not good either (nothing in excess ever is), but in the normal course of things, it’s important to remember that they are a necessary part of life, and not something to be shunned.

(C) Closed-Cultures/Religions

The eclectic nature of many Pagan paths is one of the major draws for a lot of people who come here from other more structured religions. There are plenty of books and resources out there which tell us all about the wonderful eclectic nature of Paganism, and that it is perfectly acceptable for us to draw our practices and beliefs from whatever sources we want to, as long as it calls to us. However something very important that is often overlooked, is the fact that not all cultures or religions are actually open to be taken from.

The concept of a closed-culture or religion, is something that many people are simply unfamiliar with. There is a sense of entitlement that seems pervasive in many Pagan communities, and we often feel that simply because a practice or belief resonates with us, or seems interesting to us, that it’s ok for us to take it and make it our own. We mix and match cultures and religions, irregardless of traditions that might be involved, or cultures that might be clashing, or the fact that such practices or beliefs may not just be available for the taking, by those who are not actual practicing members of said culture/religion.

Two major examples of closed cultures/religions – which both unfortunately tend to be those which are most often taken from, are Native American cultures and Traditional Wicca. When it comes to the culture and spiritual practices of the various Native American tribes, in most cases if you are not a member of the tribe, or have been adopted into one, then any misappropriation of their practices and beliefs is considered highly offensive, and – as noted below, could be considered an actual act of war against the tribe.  Wicca on the other hand, is an initiatory “mystery” religion at it’s very core, yet has somehow it has been grossly misrepresented over the years as an eclectic “whatever you want it to be” religion. Those that continue to represent it as such have changed the very heart of the religion, and truly what they do is no longer Wicca (and should not be called by that name).

There is also some debate as to if some parts of “Celtic” culture and their spiritual practices are closed as well. In particular, that certain Gods are said to be oathed only to the Gael, which means that if one is not a member of that culture, then at best one would be wasting one’s time attempting to worship them.  There are others, particularly indigenous cultures and practices, and some that consider Shintoism to be rather more closed to outsiders, than most people think it is as well.

It’s painful sometimes, when there is something that we want, that we can’t have access to immediately. Yet if something is that important to us, then we should be willing to do the work necessary to attain it properly, rather than just taking what we want, without regard for the traditions that are probably what drew us to that culture/practice in the first place. If we are truly called to a particular path, then if we work hard and make sacrifices, then it will happen, otherwise we need to respect that in this life it’s just not meant to be – to do otherwise diminishes that which we claim to love.

For more information you can check the following…

War Against Eploiters of Lakota Spirituality


(B) Balance

I’ve noticed that many Neo-Pagan books focus on the “love and light” aspects of witchcraft or Pagan practices, grossly misrepresenting the Rede (which not everyone follows anyways), and going on and on about healing and “white” magic, and making everything all sparkly and cute. However what many don’t mention, or if they do – do so only briefly, is that you can’t have the “light” without the “dark”, and that both sides are equally necessary if one is to maintain this “balance” thing, that seems to be so important to many paths.

Balance, which is not the normal state of things anyways, is something that is more or less in constant flux. We are usually either on one side or the other, pushing, pulling and adjusting to get to those brief moments of “aahhh” – then we start the process all over again. It’s important to remember however that “balance” includes all things – the good/bad, ugly/beautiful, light/dark, etc… and that each is necessary in it’s own way. Too much, or too little of one or the other, throws off that “balance”. We have to have death and destruction, in order for there to be life and new growth. Without it everything would stagnate, and that wouldn’t be good for anyone.

(A) Awareness

When we think about “awareness” the first thing Pagans usually think about, is awareness outside of the Pagan community -of bringing the practices and beliefs of the various Pagan religions more to the mainstream. We think about ways we can break down negative stereotypes to achieve acceptance, or at the very least tolerance from those of other faiths who, traditionally, have often seen us through a lens of fear and/or hatred. What many don’t realize however, is that many of those same issues exist within the Pagan community as well. So the question becomes, how can we teach others, when we often show the same ignorance and intolerance towards each other.

The answer it seems, comes to us through “awareness” as well, though of a slightly different kind. In this sense it’s a matter of being aware that not everything we hear and see is truth – even if we see it in print, or hear it from a major news network. It’s an awareness that just because someone claims something to be “the way it is”, or claims that they speak for a particular tradition/path, that it doesn’t make it so. It’s about being aware of how to make sure that your sources of information are valid, and that when you are passing on knowledge that you’ve learned, or that interesting bit of news that you might have heard, that it’s actually true.

This is especially important these days when in-person teaching of traditions seems to be falling to the wayside. So many Pagans rely on books or websites to learn about their paths, and especially when one is just starting out – they often have no way of discerning a good resource from a bad one. How to tell if someone actually has the experience, knowledge or even the proper authority (particularly in traditions or religions that require initiations, or are based on closed-cultures) to even be speaking – much less attempting to teach, on any particular subject.

While many of us came to Paganism because we were looking for less rules and less structure, etc… , there still needs to be accountability. We need to be more aware of what sort of misinformation is being spread (even if it’s being done unintentionally), and how that misinformation is creating the misconceptions that are helping to divide us from within. From this new found awareness, it is a matter of consciously making an effort to stop the spread of misinformation, which will in turn make it easier for us to change the misconceptions that continue to plague us. Which in turn, brings us full circle to “awareness” outside of the Pagan Community, and how much easier that will be, when we all are working together, rather than at cross-purposes.