Saturday, 30 March 2013

A to Z in April

You may have spotted the rather fine badge in the right-hand column for the A-Z blogging challenge. I've seen this done on other blogs, and it looks like a great way to commit to blogging, to generate some content and to connect with other bloggers.

The basic idea is quite simple: we blog six days a week in April, and work our way through the alphabet taking a letter a day. The organisers of the challenge also encourage us to select a theme for the challenge and mine will simply be the normal theme of this blog: my practices and beliefs associated with paganism. I gather that it works best if you can get at least some way ahead with scheduled posts before the challenge starts, so that it's easier to spend time visiting and commenting on other blogs.

I'm looking forward to getting to know some other bloggers and reading a wide range of posts over the next month.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Tarot and Me

My first real exposure to paganism came through the tarot. A friend of mine had a deck and, as these things go, having had a few readings, I became interested in reading for myself. I prided myself on my pragmatism and good sense even then, and didn't really get some of the superstitions around things like buying a deck ('they' are said to say you shouldn't buy your own) and how you store it (again, the ubiquitous 'they' will only consider black silk). So, naturally, I purchased a deck for myself.

Since this was back in the early 1990s and I didn't have a computer (I *know*!), I visited a few New Age type shops and chose from what was physically there. The Tarot of the Old Path was what I found waiting for me. I fell for its beautiful representation of the High Priestess: mysterious, strongly associated with the animals and - get this - silver accented.

I would go on to love its gorgeous imagery of the Empress, with her full round belly and suckling infant, and its phenomenal presentation of Death, renamed 'The Close' and featuring another happy infant as well as the traditional reaper figure and natural symbols of death and rebirth such as the snake, butterfly and owl.

Several of the things I particularly appreciated about the Old Path deck (including its gentle sense of death as part of nature) I was to find out came from its specifically wiccan belief base. Those cards lead me into discovering much more about this take on the world, although I was never meant to be wiccan as such.

I have many decks now, and also the odd oracle pack - although I always feel more confident reading with a tarot pack. I will always love the tarot for what it has taught me about our journey through life in the broadest sense, as well as the specific wisdom I've gleaned from it.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

What do you mean, a pragmatic pagan?

Welcome to my new blog, on this equinox, one of the traditional markers of the coming of Spring.

I thought it might be a good idea to start this blog off with a bit of background info: a kind of mission statement, if you will.

I've called this place "A Pragmatic Pagan" because I think that sums up my practical and eclectic approach to my pagan practice. At the same time, I hope it doesn't smack of too much 'what's-in-it-for-me-ism'. I'm not a proponent of all take and no give, but I also feel that paganism compares favourably with, say Christianity (I was raised in a very Protestant home) in terms of not insisting that greater misery = greater faith.

My pagan journey is, I believe, something I've been on all my life. I just didn't always know it. I define myself as pagan rather than a more specific path, because I am eclectic in my practice. There have been times that I've felt the label of 'witch' applies, and at other times, I've felt drawn to Druidry or to paths which try to follow ancient Anglo-Saxon belief.

Divination is central to my practice, mostly because it was the first thing I regularly did that was concretely part of this path. I've been working with the Tarot since the first half of the 1990s, and the cards remain my staple divinatory technique. I'll be using this space to experiment with different spreads and reviewing different decks and approaches to divination.

I also feel that my commitment to complementary health and folk medicine, along with a cynical approach to modern medicine, is an essential part of my pagan identity and belief. Natural substances, such as essential oils, herbs and crystals are available to us and are often at least as effective as more 'scientific' approaches. I'll also be sharing some home remedy tips from time to time.

Finally, spellwork, ritual and meditation are of course part of my practice, although for me these are more private aspects of my paganism. I have sometimes shared rituals with the family (I am married with two daughters currently aged 14 and 9), and I do have an altar in the living room, but most of this work is quiet and internal. Again, I may share some ideas and practices here from time to time.

So, this is me - or at least, my practice. I'm planning to post here weekly, on Saturdays, but to really get this blog established, I'll be doing the A-Z Challenge, with a pagan theme. My A-Z will feature aspects of my pragmatic practice, embedding my beliefs into my busy daily life, as this will be my blog's general theme.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Countdown: Two Weeks to Go!

This blog will launch at the Spring Equinox: 20th March 2013.

I'm going to be using this space to explore my beliefs - writing to work through my thoughts - and also to share tips. I'll also be sharing some experiments in divination, trying out different tarot and oracle decks and spreads and maybe some other tools too.

Hopefully, I'll be able to connect with other bloggers on pagan, tarot and related topics as well.

Watch this space!