Friday, January 25, 2013

Pagan Blog Project - B is for Buddha

Buddha means "enlightened one" and most of the time refers to Siddartha Gautama (also known as Shakamuni), the founder of Buddhism. Buddha was not a god nor should he be worshipped as one. We all have the Buddha nature inside. Practicing meditation is one way to bring out the Buddha nature.

There are many Buddhas in the history of Buddhism. Different sects revere different ones. In Shin Buddhism, Amida Buddha is the way to the Pure Land. Yakushi is the Buddha of Healing and Medicine. He grants healing in this life and resides in the Eastern Pure Land. In some Nichiren Buddhist sects, Nichiren is said to be the Buddha of modern times.

Buddha should not be confused with bodhisattva. A bodhisattva delays his/her enlightenment to help others obtain Buddhahood. How selfless!

How did Buddha become Buddha?
Shakamuni was born a prince in India. He led a very sheltered life because his father didn't want him to see how cruel the world was. One day, Shakamuni snuck out of the palace and saw sickness, death, and poverty. Once he came back, he realized that all the riches and conforts did not bring happiness. Once again, he snuck out of the palace to find true peace. First, he tried deep mediation. When that didn't work, he tried a life of deep asceticism. Shakamuni nearly died since he was eating one grain of rice a day. He was revived by eating a meal of rice-mlk provided by a girl named Sujata.

Gaining much needed strength, Shakamuni realized that extremes are not the way to true peace. This is the Middle Way. He sat under a bodhi tree to mediate with a clear mind. What happens next is reminiscent of the Jesus temptation story. The demon Mara sent his daughters, riches, and lavish gifts to tempt Shakamuni. Then, he sent horrific monsters but Shakamuni held firm. Mara was defeated! Shakamuni finally had his a-ha! moment and became Buddha. Buddha's enlightenment is (correctly) celebrated on month 12 day 8 of the Chinese lunar calendar.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

11th Solar Month - Aquarius

Length: 30 days (Jan 20 - Feb 18)
Nominal: Aquarian
Symbol: Water-bearer
Element: Air
Quality: Fixed
Rulers: Uranus (day) & Saturn (night)
Detriment: Sun (day & night)

Tropical or solar zodiac is basically the same every year and is aligned to the seasons. Sidereal zodiac shifts and is how the stars appear in the sky at a given moment. Your true sign is the sidereal one and may or may not match the tropical zodiac.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Jodo-e or Bodhi Day

The 8th day of the 12th lunar month is when Buddha obtained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.

Pagan Blog Project - B is for Bible

Not what you expected on a Pagan blog!

The Bible is the holy book for the Christian religion. It is separated into two parts, the Old and New Testaments. (I shouldn't be surprised that Jehovah's Witnesses use Hebrew-Arabic and Christian Greek instead of Old and New respectively.) Total number of books are 66, although there are many books that didn't make the final cut. The Bible has been translated into over 400 languages. There are over 70 English versions.

Some of these rejected books are Gnostic gospels or included in the Apocrypha. I haven't read any of them yet but the History Channel did a special called Banned from the Bible. Speaking of rejected, just how did the Bible come to be? One version is that Pagan emperor Constantine called together the Council of Nicea because of the bickering between the various sects. How ironic, eh?

Christians differ in whether to take the Bible completely literal or figurative or a mix of both. Sounds like our Pagan myths, right? Now, I will admit, there's some good stuff in the Bible, stuff that should be taken literally like "bad association spoils useful habits" (1 Cor. 15:33). There's also stuff that shouldn't be like creating the world in 6 24-hr days. I haven't met a Pagan who swears that Zeus actually had sex with mortal women but there are Christians who believe that angels a.k.a God's sons had sex with mortal women.

As you know, I used to be Christian and tried to follow the Bible. I thought the Bible was the end-all be-all and thought that Jehovah's Witness was the only truth. Why the Bible though? Followers would say because the Bible is inspired. The King James Version says "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." (2 Tim 3:16). This, my gentle readers, is called circular reasoning.

The Bible saying that it is the word of God is like this napkin proclaiming to be the true religion. There is no proof who actually wrote the separate books and as pointed out earlier, a (Pagan) man was responsible for putting the Bible together as we know it today. Yet many use the Bible as a moral compass. Things like "don't steal" are universal and then still there are circumstances that may warrant theft like a poor person who is starving. But what of homosexuality or polygamy? People reject these things because the Bible says to reject them.

Now that I have eaten from "the tree of knowledge", I find it illogical to let one book dictate how you should live your life. Again, there are some good things contained therein. But why should one suspend his/her disbelief if this is a divine book? Why should families be torn apart? Why is there so much conflicting information in the Bible if God truly is its author? I admit, I haven't studied the Bible for myself; I wouldn't even know where to start. By reading some of the stories without the assistance of WBTS publications, I have a new understanding. The Bible, like all mythological stories, are fictional. Some places are real, some people are real, even some of the advice is good. However, to claim that the Bible is the one go-to book should make people cringe.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Finding my magical name

I think I'm ready to choose my magical names. Not sure if I will share it publicly. I think the idea of how to choose it came to me in a dream but I can't remember. My given name is biblical so it's fitting that the name I give myself is Pagan or at least something of my choosing. Should I do a name dedication ceremony for myself?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pagan Blog Project - A is for Altar

I feel like I'm wimping out but I couldn't think of anything for A that I wanted to do. So altar it is. My altar is fairly simple. No offense, but I think that the altar template for Wiccans is too cluttered for my tastes. By studying Wicca, I got the idea to have an altar. It makes sense to have a special area to meditate although having an altar is not a mandate. Remember, everything in the physical world is just a tool to assist us in our practice.

My altar space is right next to my computer desk. When and if my son moves out (and if I don't have another kid), my main altar space will be the entire room. My current altar will become my seasonal altar. The table is wood and round - wood for a natural material and round because that's a feminine shape. The tablecloth is blue for my favorite color. The altar cloth has a pentacle. Since I have limited space my altar does not face north or east; I think it's northeast purely out of coincidence. There are tealights in each "corner". The color of the holder denotes the direction. In the center is an Isis candleholder. I honor the Divine Feminine so there are no gods. In front of Isis is an incense holder. To the side is a candle snuffer.

I have an athame I suppose. Never used it in ritual. It's a Klingon knife. No cauldron - I don't have a need for it at this time. I have a bell but it doesn't go on the altar.

I promise I'll post a picture.

Gypsy Moon

Ra's Day, Shef-Bedet 1
Metonic Lunation 212
Mayan Tzolk'in - 12 Imix
Dreamspell - Yellow Resonant Star

New Moon in sidereal Sagittarius

On the Gypsy Moon, we go outside our homes and experience new cultures. Ideally, we should be experiencing cultures that stretch our ability to accept, that force us to confront ourselves and our own biases. It's best if a good deal of actual travel was involved, because the travel provides a buffer before and after for contemplation. Don't succumb to the temptation to just read about something - actually go breathe air you've never breathe, on ground you've never put your feet on. - Moon Phase Astrology by Raven Kaldera.

I can't afford to travel so going to an ethnic restaurant will have to do. My husband said he visited an Ethiopian restaurant some years ago. We are thinking of trying to find one for his birthday dinner.

What culture would you like to experience one day?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Phoenix Moon

Geb's Day, Ka Her Ka 28
Metonic Lunation 211
Mayan Tzolk'in - 9 Etznab
Dreamspell - Red Self-Existing Serpent

Waning Crescent in sidereal Scorpio

On the Phoenix Moon, our direction will differ depending on what we've experienced in our lives. If we've had to live that death-and-rebirth - not just a hard change but a transformation that forced us to recreate our entire identity - we think about that change and find gratitude for the new direction it took us in. - Moon Phase Astrology by Raven Kaldera.

I'm still unemployed after almost a year. It would have been nice to go back to the old job so that I can keep my seniority but I guess it's not in the stars. The rebirth phase is ongoing or shall I say hasn't happened yet. If I hadn't lost my job, I wouldn't have rescued Samus. She's such a sweet little dog and I can't imagine being without her even though she is a tad smothering.

What deaths/rebirths have you experienced?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Pagan Blog Project - Ankh

An ankh is the Egyptian symbol for life. Depends on how you look at it, it is either a purely feminine symbol with the crossbar representing the ovaries, the top loop the uterus, and the bottom stick the vagina; or a joining of the feminine and masculine with the bottom stick representing the penis. I like to think of the ankh as all feminine. Note the similarity to the universal female (Venus) symbol.

I don't like to call the ankh an Egyptian cross. The word cross invokes Christianity and this does not do justice to the meaning on the ankh. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

13 Days of Yuletide

On the 13th day of Yuletide my true love gave to me
13 witches dancing
12 Buddhas chanting
11 planets turning
10 candles burning
9 spells for casting
8 sabbats passing
7 Books of Shadow
6 decks of Tarot
5 golden ankhs
4 Elementals
3 Goddess pins
2 altar cloths
and a wand from a willow tree.

Feel free to use, repost (with credit), and/or change with your own lyrics.

Kwanzaa - Faith

The theme for the last day of Kwanzaa is imani. Not faith in a religious sense. The "official" definition is
to believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
Until next year...