Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Book Review ~ My First Little Workbook of Wicca - by: Rev. Velvet Rieth

The Daughter of a friend of mine was given this book as a gift, not long ago.  The 8 year old girl didn't show much interest in it, and since I homeschool more than one child - the book found it's way to me (with full permission from the little girl, of course).

Let me start with saying that I really do like the book; not necessarily because it accurately presents MY spiritual path in a kid-friendly way.  I like it because presents basic, preschool and kindergarten level material in a unique way; also managing to gently showcase an alternative or new age or Pagan spiritual belief-system in a way that does not come across as brain-washing or preachy in any sense.

I had decided, long ago, that I wasn't going to attempt to raise my children with the idea that any particular path is "right" or "wrong".  Finding my own spirituality, and continuing that journey through much of my life, has been such an important and uplifting experience for me.  I want my children to have that.  Sure, being human, I will have my biases, hopefully they'll be minimal in this regard.

I wanted to give them access to stories, myths, legends, teachings, etc. from a wide variety of religions; but, from more of an academic point of view, as opposed to some kind of fancied-up sermon.  This book looks like it's going to prove quite useful in meeting that end.

Most of the stuff that's covered is mostly: colors, letters, a few simple words, phonetic sounds, etc. - essentially the same stuff you might find in a secular preschool/kindergarten workbook from LeapFrog or some similar manufacturer, EXCEPT that it's down with a Wiccan/Pagan theme .  They do have some fun, earth-centered religion songs which are supposed to be sung to familiar childhood tunes (i.e. "ring around the rosy").

Unfortunately, my kids are a little too old to get maximum enjoyment, education, or interest from the workbook, but they are certainly having fun with the singing, and just coloring the pages, using the practice sheets, putting their own spin on the material, etc.

I would absolutely recommend this book to all Pagan/Wiccan/New Age/Earth-Centered parents who have small children at home, just starting to learn their alphabet and colors, and so on.  Even if you don't believe in absolutely EVERYTHING that's in the book, it's easy to tweak if you want to, or to use as an excellent opportunity to discuss the vast array of spiritualities that are included in the Pagan/Wiccan paths.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

When It Just "Feels" Right

This is my own personal story on how I started on my spiritual journey, or "woke up" as it were.

I was raised Christian.  Or, at least, that was the attempt, by my father.  My mother was decidedly not Christian, or at least very unorthodox in her belief in the Abrahamic deity or Jesus, for as long as I can remember.  I don't ever recall a time where she wasn't giving tarot readings, for example, or otherwise interested in metaphysics.

Mom's family was Catholic, at least in name (grandpa and great grandma actually practiced, but grandma was "in name only" pretty much).  She attended a Baptist high school, and it was during this time that she met my father, playing the piano at the Baptist church just down the street.

They split when I was around 6 months old, and it is apparently around this time where my mother lost her faith in traditional Christianity and started on a different, more fulfilling for her, path.  But, that's HER story to tell.

From there, my father endeavored to raise me to be a "good Christian" lady.  I love dad to death, but... me thinks he may have failed ;).  My mother, afraid of rocking the boat too much, decided to wait until I was much much older to object to the idea that this was the "only way". 

Though I don't remember this, my mother says that she caught me reading tarot with her deck when I was only 3 or 4.  All I know/remember is that Christianity and all that it proposed simply didn't ring true for me.  I tried.  Believe me I tried.  I was a child after all, and I desperately wanted to please my parents, especially (since it was sooooo important to him, though not to mom) my father.

So, even though I didn't connect with that version of the divine.... even though I never felt "called" by that god.... even though the Bible didn't "speak" to me..... no matter how hard I wanted to believe, it just wasn't happening.  Still, I had been told (by a parent and parents never lie right?) that this was the way it is.  I was told that, like it or not, believe it or not, this is what it was and all other spiritual possibilities were entirely false, without ability to question.

I kept trying.  I kept praying to this deity, without answer.  I kept hoping and wishing, to no avail.

Then, I went to a Lutheran elementary school, from the age of around 9 to about 12.  I memorized biblical passages.  I went to church regularly.  I studied how "wrong" every other religion or spiritual path was and why.  And, though it was obviously not the teacher's goal, that study was the first time I really understood that there were other options.

By the time we'd reached that study, I had decided that there was no God.  If there were, he would surely answer me once in a while, right?  I'd feel SOMETHING... if he were there?

Ancient Egypt had always held a strange kind of a pull for me.  It's hard to describe, it just ... "felt like home".  So, I started studying it more.  I studied various forms of witchcraft and Wicca, when I started working in a New Age shop that my mother and her friend ran at around this time (age 12 or so), right about the time I would be leaving the Lutheran school that made me feel nothing but depression, anger, bullying, etc.

Still, I didn't find my answer.  I didn't need it to be definitive.  I just needed SOMETHING.  I needed SOME kind of answer, even if it made no logical sense.  Even if it could be an illusion, I needed God to answer me, because atheism didn't feel right either.  I couldn't CHOOSE to believe the Bible, and I couldn't CHOOSE to not believe in (a) deity.  But, I still couldn't find what I needed in order to feel spiritually "whole".

One day, as I was sitting on the floor of my bedroom, I was examining a double terminated quartz wand that my mother had given me.  It was pretty, but had so far not done much for me.  I was depressed (yep, kids feel depression too).  I was crying.  I felt completely lost, and I couldn't see the light on the other end of life's tunnel.

But, I realized that I had thus far been trying to connect to a Christianized version of deity.  With all the studying I'd done, I had approached it, whether consciously or subconsciously, from more of a scholarly point of view.  I was still clinging to the idea of appeasing my father and forcing myself to believe in HIS God.  And, now I found myself in a "pit of despair" (hey - anyone get the reference??).

I had finally reached "rock bottom", literally, in a spiritual sense.  It was the end of the line, and it was now or never.  So, I let go of the idea that it had to be an answer from dad's God or none at all.  I let go of the idea that there was no other version besides monotheism.  I let go of the idea that "playing with rocks" was just silly.  And, I took a chance.

I held the quartz wand up to my forehead (third eye really) and I started to pray.  But, this time, I prayed differently.  I didn't direct it at any particular version of deity.  I didn't have any pre-conceived notions about what I wanted.  I just prayed, "Please... whoever.... whatever may be out there.... if you exist at all.... I just need a little help."

And, FINALLY, after so much study, after searching for so long, I got an answer.

A powerful wave of feminine feeling energy poured onto me.  It was warm and comforting.  My crying instantly ceased.  And I heard a voice, in the back of my head, not my own, gentle and strong.  And she said, "It's going to be okay, I'm here."

And that was it!  That was all I needed.  There were a lot of things still that I needed to work on within myself and for myself, but spiritually I knew I was okay.  From that moment, I really started to heal.  And, I felt whole.  And, I was home.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Heroic Dog Risks His Own Life To Save Another Dog

I couldn't help but share this truly inspirational video.

Whereas it greatly upsets me that the human beings on this highway (in particular, the one who hit the dog in the first place) did nothing to help out for so long, it's also touching and heart-warming to see that the other dog, who I can only assume was a friend, was so willing to risk the same fate in order to save his friend.

Honestly, it brought tears to my eyes.

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