Balance in Virtues

This heart is hidden in this illusion knit dishcloth. May we all recognize the heart is all of us.

In most ethics classes and books, Virtues are a big part of the study. I think that most of us, at least in the groups that I’m a part of, agree that too little of virtue can be a bad thing. If you don’t have enough courage, you could be too scared to leave your own house.

But have you considered that too much of a Virtue could also be wrong?  Too much courage can make you fool-hardy, and you may tend to rush into dangerous situations without the proper preparation. Too much hospitality can allow you to invite in a thief, or worse, who steals from you.  Plato spoke of a mid-point between the extremes for each virtue that was the “right” amount.

The balance that makes us good people is spread across all our virtues. We can engage our vision and wisdom to balance out recklessness by helping us to prepare before we act. The right level of compassion can help us help other people without putting ourselves in unnecessary risk – it also helps us figure out what someone actually needs.

I know that I can be very cautious in many areas of social justice, but my compassion helps to give me enough drive and courage to do jail ministry, and help the pagans behind bars to find their spiritual path.  It still scares me each time I go in – and I know that I’m as safe as possible with the guards and chaplains. But that’s one area of balance for me.

No particular balance works across the whole community. It’s up to each of us to figure out the balance for ourselves.  

A new side to Hagalaz

A few months ago, I started to get Hagalaz a lot in my (roughly) daily divination. I usually see similar runes often, but rarely do I see the same rune quite so often. I would have been easier to list the days that I didn’t get Hagalaz than those where I did.

Hagalaz is not an easy rune. I tend to interpret it as the hail storm – destruction that comes before life. This time, however, I think that I saw a new side of Hagalaz. This time, Hagalaz was about enduring the stress, the strife, the frustration, and all the emotional yuck that came with the particular situation that I was in. And there was YUCK! Most of my time not working or sleeping was focused on getting enough self-care to stay stable and avoid a bout of depression.

Hagalaz was there to remind me that the storm would end. There was a time that the stress would stop. And in the end, it did. The storm ended, and new opportunities were presented. I grabbed one of those and celebrated that I had survived the storm.

Hailstorms can hurt, they can destroy, but they also bring water and potential life and new opportunities.

How is Hagalaz manifesting in your readings?


A Moment of Peace

Moment Of Peace

I stand on my patio with my hands touching the tree that grows nearby, and I pray. In this prayer, I welcome all the spirits of land, our ancestors, and our gods. I give them my blessing, and ask for Theirs in return.

For a moment, I pause in the hectic chaos that has become so many of our lives. In this moment, it’s just me, the tree, the wind, and the sounds of my fellow beings around me. In this moment there is peace.

I turn from the patio and head back inside … back to my normal, busy life but with a nugget of peace inside of me.

As I read the news, skim my Facebook feed, or just listen to the conversations around me, I am bombarded with chaos, with negativity, with the insanity that is the head of government right now. We live in a world where people seem to think that it’s okay to hate, to harm; that it’s okay to lie. This world where we are shocked when truth comes out of a President’s mouth; where were are almost immune to the news of a woman and her children getting murdered on the train; where stories of yet another shooting cross the news; where people are talking more about how the fires started than what they can do to help.

This is a crazy world we live in.

How do we stay sane? How do we not lose touch with our humanity, with our communities, with our world?

We have to carve out those moments of peace, those moments where we remember that we are not alone, where we can connect to something beyond ourselves. We need those moments to reset, to take a break from the crazy, to remember ourselves.

Hail to the Land, Sea, and Sky.
Hail to the Trees, birds, and beasts.
Hail to the spirits and people.
My Blessings to You and Yours,
May Your Blessings be with me and mine.

Find your moment of peace, and do not forget who you are.


A Day of Prayer to Freya

A few months ago, I started up doing a Day for Prayer for Freya. This was originally inspired by a the World Odin Prayer Day. Unfortunately, it seems that the group who did the Odin’s Prayer Day was not one that I’d like to associate with. But, this is the internet and I can do my own thing.

So the Freya Prayer Day was born.

On the 2nd Friday of every month, we invite people to join us being aware of Freya in some way. There are people who simply choose to think about Her for that day, others who hold devotional practice for Her, and others who like the posts and tweets but don’t say what they do.  It doesn’t matter what anyone does. Hosting this Prayer Day and creating the monthly newsletter is one way that I make offerings to Her.

There are almost as many ways to do offerings as there are individuals who practice any form of devotional religion. I choose to spend my time, effort and attention as offerings for Freya.

How do you choose to do your offerings or devotions?

Sometimes you get jam on you

StrawberriesI’ve been thinking about working magic lately.  If you’re in the United States and are not hidden under a rock, you can probably guess what the subject is.  I don’t want to go into what I’m considering doing, but one of the steps along the way.

In the vast majority of cases, magic affects people.  It might be targeted to only affect you, or it might be targeted to affect a lot of other people, or a single other person. It could also be targeted at a corporation, or a culture, or a governmental institution, but those are all full of people. As responsible magicians, we should consider the impact of our magic. It’s our responsibility to consider other people, to avoid carelessly doing things that would have negative impacts, and to be considerate of other people. I’m not saying that you should only stick to positive spells, or that you can’t do a negative spell, a binding, or a curse – I’m saying that you need to consider the costs of doing that.

Since I’m not a Wiccan, I don’t really follow the Rule of Three (1). I do, however, believe in the Strawberry Jam Theory (2). The Strawberry Jam theory states that, like making a strawberry jam sandwich, you’ll end up with some the effects of your magic on yourself. There’s a balance in this theory, and a recognition from the magician that they may be affected by the spell in addition to the target.  You can, and should, do a personal cleansing after any spellwork, but depending on the Work, you still need to consider the effects on your life.

For instance, say that you bind someone to be unable to tell an untruth – chances are that you’ll find it difficult to tell untruths as well. If this isn’t something that will change your behavior, then you’re fine. But if you often find yourself in situations where you need to speak words that are not true, it may become more difficult for you.

We are all connected, and our magic is always connected to us. Consider this as you plan a spell.

(1) The Wiccan Rule of Three is a belief that what you put out into the world comes back to you threefold.  Not all wiccans believe in it literally, but most consider the perspective that good begets good, and hurt begets hurt.

(2) The Strawberry Jam Theory originates from John Michael Greer

Variety is a wonderful thing

Image by Flickr user mantas_tr.
Romuvan priestess officiating ritual.

One of the things that I love about ADF is the variety of beliefs.  In a survey that I did for a class a while ago. The survey included responses from OBOD, ADF and general Californian Pagans. One of the questions asked had individuals select one of the options for how they define their theology. 32% of the responses were either Archtypist or Humanist.  That’s a lot of folks who consider themselves pagan, and mostly druids, who are not theists.  While in ADF we tend to have more theists and non-theists, there is still a wide variety of beliefs.

The ADF Core Order of Ritual requires us to act as if we believe that spirits act as if they are different aspects or individuals – but it doesn’t require that we believe that.

At Pantheacon this year, we called upon the Spirit of Unity to help us remember that we are all part of the community, we’re all part of the world, we are all connected.

It’s a good thing to remember – that we don’t all need to have the same belief to come together, to support each other and to be there for each other.

Image by Flickr user mantas_tr.


Roses on the Wall
Flowers against a garden wall

Many of my photos on Instagram include the hashtag #getoutside. The reason for this is to encourage everyone who can to spend some time outside. It’s easy for us to forget our connection with the rest of life, to forget our connection with the plants and animals and the spirits of nature that exist outside of our day-to-day awareness.

Even if you live in a big city, or a small city like I do, there’s an opportunity to get outside and experience nature, to connect with life. I don’t generally spend time to go to parks, or go on hikes.  We have a park with an animal rehab/rescue zoo-style area.  We’re even members of the “zoo” but we go there only a couple times a year. Even there, the animals are contained and the plants are manicured.

Blind Peregrine teaches us about falcons

But even in this world of manicured plants we can connect with nature.  Outside of my third story window is the top of a tree, and there are little songbirds and squirrels who live in that tree. As I walk along the road, heading to the shop, I see birds and squirrels – in addition to the pets being walked. All of this helps me to connect with nature in the concrete of the city.

Beautiful Weeds
Beautiful weeds in the garden

One or twice a week, I walk to or from work.  It’s a bit over 3 miles, so it takes a chunk of my day.  Still, I experience frost on the leaves, the songbirds building their nests, the struggle of the weeds in the grass, and walk through gusts of flower puffs. At the same time, I’m staying away from cars, crossing bridges and highways, and staying aware to stay alive. In this way, I connect to life.

In our hectic world of virtual connection, it’s easy to forget our connection to life. Where ever you are, take what opportunities you can to experience the outdoors. If you can’t get outside, if you can open a window and experience the outdoors that way. Look away from the screens, and SEE the world around you.

Image Credits: All photos by me