A practical, sometimes skeptical Witch based in Toronto, Canada.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Empathic Travelling and Revisions

Thought I would do something different today so I bought a day pass for public transit ($10) so I could hop on and off the subway where ever I felt like it. I went to a variety of music stores to price some instruments and to two of the 'spiritual' stores here in Toronto. One is called The Occult Store which part of the
Wiccan Church of Canada. The store is quite large, has a great book selection, and the staff are very friendly. It's great that we have the church too. I've only been there once for a class . . . but it reminded me of going to Christian churches in that no one really talks to you and the regulars hang out. A few nice people will say hello but you just feel a bit awkward. Perhaps it will be different if I go back again. I'm curious about their ritural events but I'm too shy to go by myself.

I know that I'm an empath. When I first figured it out and started researching it, everything made total sense (e.g., Why I had trouble going to malls, moodiness, etc.) However, even with this knowledge, I'm still very skeptical. I always think that I'm probably just imagining it. So, here I am on the subway and I start feeling really anxious. More anxious than I've felt for a very long time . . . I'm hoping that I don't have a panic attack or something crazy like that. I figure that I must be feeling this way due to some future work issues but it doesn't really seem like that big a deal in my head. Then, all of a sudden, the cute Asian guy sitting next to me says, "canutelthataishiriswet". I say, "What?!?" about three times because he's talking too fast. On the fourth try I understand he's asking me if I can see the sweat on the back of his shirt. I use the opportunity to touch his back and say, "No, not really." He tells me that he's really nervous about a job interview that he's going to . . . and I'm like, "OHHH!!!" I spent the rest of the trip slightly annoyed that I'm feeling his anxiety and trying to push my energy outward and send him positive, soothing energy back. Not sure I helped any but I can see why I'm tired and overwhelmed all the time.

To switch topics, I was thinking more about my version of the Rosary as I'm reading this book on the history of Mary. As I research Catholicism, I understand how so much of it is mind control techniques. How do you get a group of Goddess worshipping people who understand and recognize the power, strength and healing powers of women to convert? You create a myth about a woman who dooms all of humankind by taking an apple from a talking snake after the one and only god said not to . . . oh, and the snake you saw as a symbol of wisdom is now Satan . . . oh, and p.s. Satan is evil and you don't want to listen to him for fear of eternal damnation.
That being said, I decided to develop a new version of Hail Holy Queen (Salve Regina). When I redevelop these prayers I like to keep the essence and flow of the original while eliminating and changing irrelevant Catholic dogma. Here's the original and my first attempt at a revision (which needs more revisions):

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy!
Our life, our sweetness, and our hope!
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve,
to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb;
O clement, O loving, O sweet virgin Mary.
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy!
Our life, our sweetness and our hope!
To thee do we listen to abundant wisdom [to replace 'bad Eve's lack of obedience]
To thee do we send up our praise for all nature's glory.
Turn then, most gracious Goddess, thine eyes of discernment towards us and show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb [which could still be all of nature! . . . not Jesus.]
O clement, O loving, O sweet Mary.
Be with us O Holy Mother God.

Not sure what I think of that yet.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Inspirational People and a Laugh

Every once and a while the Goddess brings inspirational people into our lives . . . sometimes she even sends them through cyberspace. I've had two such blessings in the recent past that I want to share. I started my blog so that I would have a way to explore and express my faith. I did it for me and I thought it doesn't really matter if anyone reads it . . . but, in fact, it does make a great deal of difference especially if the people inspire me! I'm very happy that Debra from the blog She Who Seeks comes to my blog and says something positive and inspiring on every entry.

After my last entry on developing the Rosary she shared with me a version of the Jennifer Berezan's Hail Mary from the track, She Who Hears the Cries of the World. Her version goes:
Hail Mary, Full of Grace,
The Power is with thee.
Blessed are you, Queen of the Universe
And Blessed is all of creation.
Holy Mother, Maker of all things,
Be with us now and always.
Blessed Be.
I think this is beautiful and eliminates some of the parts of the prayer that I had problems saying. I am going to use a hybrid of this and the original for my Rosary. Thanks Debra!

Another inspirational person who has touched my life through cyberspace is Alex. I actually met him through Facebook and he's been very open to me about sharing his faith. He's been so kind to let me bounce ideas off him and I ask him questions. He has both a blog and videos on YouTube. In fact, when I was developing my Rosary, I wrote to Alex to ask him about it and apparently he has his own set of prayer beads which he made (smart and talented) and he created a video for it!! Here's the video:

NOW to finish with a little humour (I'm always too serious on here) . . . let's poke fun at some patriarchal Christians. If Facebook had existed In the Beginning:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Wiccan Goddess Rosary

I've been thinking for a long time that I wanted to revise the Catholic Rosary that I grew up with to reflect my Wiccan faith. I still like the prayers to Mary although there are a few issues that I'm still ironing out with them but it was the other prayers and the Catholic Creed I had a problem with. I think the Rosary is a wonderful meditation tool and I feel connected to the Catholic Rosary as a physical object, as its part of my spiritual roots but I don't like guilt prayers asking Jesus to "save us from the fires of hell." I think if I don't ask Jesus to do this, I'll still be just fine :)

So, the first thing I did on my newer Rosary (not the family one) was to cut off poor dead Jesus. I told Jesus: I think you've done some wonderful things and you're a inspiration. I'll add you to my pantheon of Gods and Godesses but I want you off my Rosary and I'm removing the guilt prayers. I then sewed a Goddess figure that I found when I was shopping in Shanghai, China onto the end of my Rosary. She looks much more filled with life, ready to worship, meditate and pray! [picture seen to left]

I then searched around for appropriate prayers to replace the Catholic ones. I wanted to keep the general feel of the Rosary but choose more appropriate and meaningful words. To show you what I've done I'm providing three tools: 1) the prayers typed below (2) a diagram labelling which bead is for each prayer [especially helpful if you've never done this before] (3) A recording so you can hear how it flows. I had a lot of problems with this recording. I did it several times. I apologize that it skips. I was using my internal mic and it sometimes does that . . . but I do have a nice meditation drone in the background to help :)

I hope that you enjoy this! If you've never done this type of prayer, I hope you find this interesting and inspiring. If you have done the Catholic Rosary . . . I hope this is liberating! I hope to inspire others to develop their own meaningful methods of prayer, meditation and enlightenment. Blessed Be!

Great Goddess, Lady of Life
Whose Garment is the shining Heavens.
You are the white moon among the stars
And the beauty of the green earth.
You are the Oneness of all things
And the Completion of the Spirit
You are the mystery that if that which we seek
We find not within
We will never find it without
For you have been here since the beginning
And you are that which is attained at the end of desire. (Excerpt from The Charge of the Goddess)

(Optional to Sing) We All Come from the Goddess
And to Her we shall return
Like a drop of rain
Flows into the ocean

Hail Mary, Full of Grace
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb*
Holy Mary, Mother of God
Pray for us sinners* now,
and at the hour of death.
*I removed "Jesus" and I contemplated removing "sinners"

Blessed Be, O High and Holy Lady;
Thou who art the Cauldron of all manifest existence!

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy!
Our life, our sweetness, and our hope!
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve,
to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley, of tears.
Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb;
O clement, O loving, O sweet virgin Mary.
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Profile Picture

With all this bloggin about my new Rosary practice and Mary . . . I was inspired to create a new profile picture. I was using a pentacle as a quick solution but I was becoming bored of that. I chose the most simple one and it had no personality. It was only meant to be temporary since I spent so long on my banner. So, I got on Photoshop and created a new one. I love my new creation :) It was kind of inspired by the ad for St. Michael's hospital here that has a floating image of St. Michael over the city of Toronto. It was also inspired by my need to find something Pagan-inspired about Mary.

The "how-to" blog about the Rosary coming next . . .

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wiccan Rosary--Devotions to Goddess Mary

In planning a blog post about developing a new Rosary meditation, I realized that I had a lot to say. So, I'm dividing this post into two. First, many Wiccans will ask, why Mary? Why am I worshipping a Catholic Saint as a Pagan Goddess? I think this is a very important question. Here's my story of my relationship with Mary.

Having grown up as a Catholic we prayed to Mary everyday in school. Little did I know what effect this had on me and how much I actually enjoyed or appreciated it. Later in life, after I rejected the Catholic church for reasons such as not accepting me as a gay person or ordaining women, I started attending United and Anglican churches. Mary disappeared from my life almost completely . . . well, except for Christmas and Easter when she would miraculously appear to give birth and then reappear to mourn Jesus' death. It wasn't until a few years ago that I went to an Anglo-Catholic service for friend (which is way more Catholic than the Catholics!) that I was moved by the presence of a Mary in the form of a statue at the side of the church. I couldn't follow the service, which included all kinds of Gregorian and Anglican chant but I kept looking at the statue and I realized that I missed my conversations to Mary in prayer.

A year or so later I was walking in downtown Toronto when I had a calling to visit St. Michael's Roman Catholic Cathedral, the largest and oldest Catholic church in Toronto. It was strange experience and I was surprised but I went. When I got there and sat down people started to recite the Rosary in a group. I had never heard this cycle of prayers. What kind of Catholic grade school did I go to that I never learned the Rosary!?! I was moved by this and I asked my mother who explained it and sent me a family Rosary. I went everyday that summer and prayed and meditated with it. Around this same time I was attending a Zen Buddhist temple and taking a meditation class. I thought the Rosary was a wonderful meditation tool that connected me to my religious roots. After having engaged in this form of prayer for a while, which I combined with lighting a candle at the Mary altar (how very pagan!), I was guided to create a large creative project that involved my new connection to the Rosary. I don't want to say what that project was but I will tell you that I had great success with it. The day I finished that project a group of nuns, who I had never seen before met me outside the church and gave me a medal with Mary on it. I asked them if I should pay them for it. They said no, they just wanted to remind me to pray the Rosary. I told them that I had been everyday and they were surprised. For me, this was confirmation that the Mary was listening . . . and strangely, I never did see that group of nuns again.

So, where does that bring me to today? After many years of contemplation, research, prayer and meditation . . . I realized that I'm trying to cram all my beliefs into religious boxes that didn't accept my ideas . . . or me for that matter! They had wise ideas that I could incorporate but I wasn't completely comfortable worshiping in that space. My strong belief in the Feminine Divine, the God/Goddess in all nature, Paranormal events, my intuitive understanding of people and the universe was not Christian or Buddhist . . . or even a combination. I was Wiccan!

This did not mean that I had to give up previous beliefs. It was Mary who guided me here in the first place! In fact, it was one Catholic principal that had been drilled into my head in grade school that made the most sense, "God is omnipotent!" If that is true, then God . . . or the Goddess can manifest Herself into any form . . . and I'm quite sure that our tiny human brains can't begin to conceive how She works in our lives. She is part of everything and Her energy flows through us all. I know this best when I sit in quiet meditation and feel Her energy flow through me. I always thought it was appropriate that the Catholics called Mary, "Mother of God" . . . because She is God and She gives all life. I love that in many pictures she has healing light flowing from her hands.

I also think of those early Pagans who were converted to Christianity. How did they find new ways to worship the Goddess in a Catholic context so that they were not burned at the stake or violently tortured? Am I rescuing old Pagan rituals that were disguised as Catholic? Did Catholics refurbish Pagan rituals to make their religion more appealing to the people they wanted to covert? As a friend points out, the layout of most churches does resemble a womb, complete with fallopian tubes! How did Mary become the centre of much Catholic worship? We know for a fact that the missionaries used Mary in many Latin-American countries to covert people who had been worshipping Goddesses. Perhaps I am just reviving old traditions and seeing Her in Her original form. [I'm going to read the book to the right very soon.]

So now to refine my rosary to make it more meaningful for me and hopefully I can inspire others. I needed to take it and redefine it in a way that erased Catholic guilt, years of brainwashing and control and make it something to celebrate the beauty of the Goddess. I will share with you in my next post how I did this.
Thank you for reading. Blessed Be!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Batlle of Beliefs

Saw this on another blog and I had to share it too! A man in the town of Marion wants to erect a statue of the 10 Commandments. An atheist wants to sue them but a Wiccan wants the Wiccan Rede erected in the town centre as well! Normally I support the separation of church and state but this is too much fun. I'm trying to picture a list of commandments on a tablet with "Do What Ye Will" written beside it.

I'm sure this will go nowhere but I'm glad someone pushed the town for equal treatment.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Vegetarian Visiting Halifax

I went on vacation again! Had some time on my hands and wanted to get away, so I went to Halifax, Nova Scotia. What a wonderful city!! The people are friendly, there's a lot to see, and if you love history like I do . . . it's fascinating. Halifax plays a very important role in the history of Canada.

One of the most interesting things for me to see was Little Mysteries Bookstore. This bright spiritual store had a wondeful energy and sold a variety of Wiccan books in addition to wonderful jewellery, shirts, decorations, and so much more. They even have a variety of tarot readers that are there most days of the weeks. In general the city seems to be quite open to Pagan peoples (I saw people wearing pentagrams!) and paranormal ideas. I went on a Ghost Walk Tour and people were open to talking about their haunting experiences.

Now this probably won't interest my regualr readers but I wanted to give some advice to people who might Google "vegetarian, Halifax, and visit" . . . but don't be freaked out by the Wiccan blog . . . lol! It is a little difficult to find vegetarian food in Halifax. You are in one of the seafood capitals of Canada! If you keep walking around all the mainstream restaurants, you might get tired of eating vegetarian pizza, as I was! So here's a few suggestions.

The downtown is small, so it is so easy to get around. One of the most overlooked restaurants in Halifax that I only found by accident is Talay Thai Restaurant. The food there was amazing and I think I'm quite picky when it comes to Thai. There are only two restaurants that I enjoy in Toronto and this was comparable. The have quite a few vegetarian dishes on the menu . . . and even the appetizers.

One restaurants that all the locals like is called The Wooden Monkey. While they do specialize in organic, locally grown and macrobiotic food, I personally find that they don't have a huge selection of vegetarian food. I'm so glad that there's a restaurant being socially conscious but people will tell you that it is vegetarian but there not a lot of options. Someone did tell me that they are happy to change ingredients if people have food allergies . . . so maybe you can ask them to change up some of their options. The ambience of the place is wonderful :)

There is one fully vegetarian restaurant in Halifax, Satisfaction Feast but I don't drive and its a bit farther so I didn't go there. If you were up to a far walk it would probably be about an hour. I walked to Seaview Memorial Park on the other side of Halifax and that took me an hour and this restaurant doesn't seem as far.

The last suggestion is not a vegetarian restaurant but a seafood restaurant. In fact, they only seem to have one vegetarian meal on the dinner menu but it is well worth visiting!!! The Five Fisherman Restaurant used to be Anna Leonowens' art school (you know, the woman who inpired the musical 'The King and I'), and during the Halifax Explosion it turned into a morgue. So, it turns out that this place is VERY HAUNTED! I went during a non-busy part of the day and my wonderful server took the time to show me upstairs and told me that everyone who worked there has seen something paranormal. There's a girl ghost who shows up in the women's bathroom and a man in the dining room. The silerware and the glasses will move and fly off the tables. Every morning they have to reorganize the tables because everything is on the floor. Neat Place! Oh, and the vegetarian dish they serve is a vegetable gnocchi :)

Bon Appetite Halifax visitors!

Monday, August 9, 2010

I'm back from China! It was amazing and I'm going to save it for a series of posts in the future. Let's just say that I enjoyed it so much that I'm considering moving there for a short period of time . . . but one thing at a time.

So, Eat, Pray, Love is going to become a movie. Usually when a book gets as much hype as this one has, I ignore it. I generally assume that the general public does not have the same taste as I do. This book would not leave me alone though. The title kept getting tossed around by friends and then the movie commercials came out and I thought, "fine, I give in."

I loved every minute of this book! Having gone through a divorce myself, I completely understood Elizabeth Gilbert's feelings and having burned out of my career several years ago, I understood the restlessness. Did I go off traveling around the world having spiritual insights? No, I played it safe and went back to school to start a career that I had quite a lot of success with at first and then quit and went back to my first career. Should I have traveled around the world finding myself? Probably. What makes this book so enjoyable is not so much the places she goes in the physical world but her adventures and insights into her mind. She doesn't hold much back in what she's thinking. She even discusses "taboo" subjects like masturbation when she needs to make a point and she paints the true and often raw expression of her soul.

As a Wiccan, the part that struck home with me most was her insight into ritual. Having gone through a messy divorce Gilbert says that it is so difficult to find closure because she was longing for that conversation with her ex-husband where they set everything straight and move on. Because it was so messy, that wasn't going to happen. She had to rectify her emotions and spirit through ritual. I won't tell you how exactly because that would give away too much of the book but she does say:
We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don't have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping. And I do believe that if your culture or tradition doesn't have the specific ritual you're craving, then you are absolutely permitted to make up a ceremony of your own devising, fixing your own broken-down emotional systems with all the do-it-yourself resourcefulness of a generous plumber/poet. If you bring the right earnestness to your homemade ceremony, God will prove the grace. And that is why we need God.
Developing ritual through Wicca is one of the most empowering part of the craft! I spend a great deal of time finding and writing what I find meaningful, rather than using or copying other people's leads because that is what I'm "supposed to do." I'm going to share some of those ideas in the future posts.

Will the movie do the book justice? Julia Roberts is a good start . . . but we'll see!