Artist, Track, Album
S. J. Tucker, Rain Falls Hard, Tangles
Celia, We Are Enough, For the Asking
Charlie Murphy, Burning Times, The Best of Pagan Song
Isaac Bonewits, The Wizard, Be Pagan Once Again
Annwn, Corn that Springeth Green, A Barroom Bramble
Amanda Komisarek, Herbs for Life
Lisa Thiel, Beltane, Circle of the Seasons
Spiral Dance, Weaving the Summer, The Quickening
Celia, Connected, For the Asking
Robert WindPony, Solar Waves, Wings of Change
Shining Wheel Pagan Chorus, Children of the Earth, Chants of Balance
Sede, We Are the Moon
Moon Void of Course Data provided by www.drstandley.com
Today is May 3, 2012. It’s the 124th day of the year. The waxing moon is currently in Libra
The moon will be void on Friday, May 4 at 5:35 pm, and will enter Scorpio on Saturday, May 5 at 3:05 am.
A full moon on May 6 19:19 Universal time, promises to be the biggest and brightest of the year. This is due to the fact that the moon at perigee, and only some 356953 km (221,800 miles) from Earth – the closest the moon will approach Earth this year.
The moon will be void on Sunday, May 6 at 4:55 pm, and will enter Sagittarius at 2:25 am.
May 7 marks the death of Sir James George Frazer, the anthropologist and author of The Golden Bough. Frazer was born on January 1, 1854 in Glasgow. The Golden Bough is a monumental work, examining the similarities of human belief, which progressed through the stages of primitive magic, religion, and finally science.
Frazer collected data from many other researchers and pulled together anthropological evidence from many cultures to advance his thesis. The first edition of the Golden Bough was two volumes; the third, twelve volumes. A single-volume, abridged edition (comprising a very dense 800+ pages) was published in 1922, and again in 1950. In 1978, Doubleday published an illustrated, and much more abridged edition.
Frazer’s work was criticized by many – from Christians who felt attacked, to others from academia who had problems with his methods. Despite whatever criticisms have been leveled, the Golden Bough remains one of the most referenced works by those who seek to understand how our forebears worshiped. His descriptions of ancient rituals have been used by many who wish to reconstruct ancient religions, or to design new rituals today.
The moon will be void on Tuesday, May 8 at 5:04 pm, and will enter Capricorn at 2:58 am.
It will be void on Thursday, May 10 at 7:48 pm, and will enter Aquarius at 6:21 am.
I suspect that most of us have just celebrated Beltane – though I know some groups are still waiting to do so, and I thought I’d share my thoughts on this holiday. This week, my teacher, Jasper, another friend, and I celebrated Beltaine at my teacher’s house. She has a beautiful yard that is really conducive to this sort of celebration. It was cold, wet, raining, and not the sort of day that many people would consider a “great day” for celebrating anything out of doors. Despite the hardships, it was still a beautiful day, and will be one Beltaine that I’ll remember.
So, what are we celebrating at Beltaine? If you have eyes, and a nose, you’ll recognize that after our rather strange winter, the Earth is alive. The trees are budding, many are flowering. The marvelous scent of sweet aromatic flowers is their way of reproducing. We humans use perfumes to scent our bodies – to attract mates. Where do you think we got this idea?
The creatures that spent the winter beneath the ground, asleep, are now awake. If you have a female cat that hasn’t been spayed, if you spend time out in the forest, if you spend time watching the birds, it is completely clear to you that now is the time when sexual activity is going on in nature. The cycle of life begins anew.
Our ancestors knew this as well. Sex at this time of year results in babies born around Imbolc – which is one reason that milk is a symbol of Imbolc.
Our world has become quite afraid of sex – especially here in the United States, with our rather Puritanical and Catholic roots. I think that part of this stems from a Christian fear of Paganism. As Pagans, we have always revered the sex-act. It is important and sacred to us. While Christians claim to revere and hold sacred the sex act, they don’t celebrate it; rather, they seem to fear it – to wish to control it.
It’s probably worth noting at this point that Christians “Fear” their god as well. While their definition of “fear” isn’t the same as we might expect from “afraid”, but rather connotes something somewhat between “fear” and “respect”, there is that element of being afraid.
If you’re a fan of old-time-radio, you might remember a program called “Inner Sanctum”. This was a live radio program that featured tales of terror and mystery. Entering the “Inner Sanctum”, one heard the creaking door that suggested we were leaving the mundane and entering this mysterious and dangerous place.
This, to me, typifies the Christian idea of a conflation of holiness and something fearful. The words “Inner Sanctum” refer to an inner holy place. We may have heard of the Sanctum Sanctorum – the Holy of Holies, the most sacred place in the Hebrew Temple. It was a place that ordinary people could not enter.
In Judeo-Christian philosophy, (excepting Protestant sects) man may not approach God. We see this even with Abraham, who had to remove his sandals, and dared not look upon the face of God. Sex was the act in which humankind participated in the work of God, in the creative process, and thus was a very sacred act. And, as it turns out, that which is sacred, in that thinking, is something to be feared.
Pagans also view sex as sacred. But we look at it a bit different than Christians. In Paganism, our Gods and Goddesses are not separate from us – they are with us, always. We are unable to be separate from them as they are part of us.
In fact, everything in Paganism is sacred – from the Earth, to rocks, trees, the air, our rivers, our selves, and each other. But in Paganism, respect does not carry the sense of fear. Where in Christianity, if a thing is holy, it must not be used for that which is profane, for the most part, Pagans don’t have that same distinction. If everything is sacred, how can anything be profane?
Admittedly, some of Christian thought has carried over into Neo-Paganism. You’ll see many Wiccans who will refuse to use their Athames for anything ordinary. On the other hand, you’ll see kitchen-witches using their cauldron for a stew today, and a ceremony tomorrow. We don’t have hard and fast rules that span all of Paganism.
And so, once again, we come to sex. The Christian idea of sex has pervaded much of society – to the point where American television is actually more prude than it was 40 years ago. While some suggest that it is almost a sex-filled orgy, and for some cable channels it might seem so, network television seems to have gone backwards. We might not be back to the days of husband and wife sleeping in separate beds, but I recall advertisements for Love’s Baby Soft in the 1970′s that were quite suggestive. Today, even that relatively tame ad would not appear on network TV.
One “Million” Moms – that crazy group spurred on by the so-called American “Family” Association is once again calling on a boycott of J. C. Penney because a lesbian couple is featured in their catalog. We seemingly can’t get away from the prudishness of Christian culture.
There is a humorous line from Australia that relates how grateful Australia is that they were populated by criminals, and America was populated by Puritans. There is something to be said for that.
But we also have to admit that when we try to get away from the Christian idea of sex, we do sometimes go too far. The free love of the 60′s and 70′s gave way to a great deal of promiscuity, which was partly responsible for the epidemic of AIDS in the 80′s.
We do need to recognize that powerful gifts do demand respect. What we need is to find that line between fear and abandon. Sex is pleasurable, and powerful. It is certainly something that I think that if more Christians experienced more often, they might just lighten up a bit. And while it is meant to be enjoyed, as mature Pagans, we can learn how to respect those things we enjoy. We enjoy the wilderness, and we respect it by not trashing it. That’s how we enjoy our environment, how we treat our friends, that’s how we thoughtfully experience our lives.
We recognize that our world isn’t here to be conquered, but to be cooperated with. Likewise, where Judeo-Christian culture speaks of loves “conquered”, Pagans look upon our lovers and see Goddess and God, and we know that we do not conquer Deity; we can cooperate, or flee.
It is a Christian attitude that we will have but one love in our lives. They say “What God has joined, let no man strike asunder”. And for many years, divorce was illegal, unless granted by the Church in an annulment. Children born out of wedlock were illegitimate, bastards. Churches controlled marriage, and by extension, sex. Priests would listen to confessions and mete out punishment to those who found enjoyment in the sex act; for the “sin” of experiencing sex without the express reason of procreation.
Sex is sacred, and thus the Christian church was afraid of it. That it is pleasurable made it even more frightening.
As Pagans, we have an opportunity to teach a world that things that are sacred don’t have to be seen as frightening. We can open up the doors to the Sanctum Sanctorum and say “come on in”. We don’t need a priestly class to mediate between us and deity. We recognize that the Sanctum Sanctorum is within each of us – we all have access to that place. The Holy of Holies is inside us. The Goddess spoke: “If that which thou seekest, thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without.” We can’t find anywhere else. For as long as we look outwardly, we’ll never be able to discover that sacred place.
Somewhere between the free love of the 1960′s and 1970′s, and the stoicism of conservative Christianity, is the place where love and sex is open, available, safe and sacred. And we discover that place when we discover our own maturity.
When we are able to truly know our selves, we are truly able to offer our selves as gifts to another being. We can recognize the Divine in our selves, the Divine in another, and join, as Goddess and God, as one. And that is the great rite. That is us, as human beings, participating in the work of Goddess and God. And we can know that the Gods can be as playful and as adventuresome as we as humans. One of our most ancient sacred texts is the Kama Sutra, which is also, most likely, the fist book about sex.
As the Goddess says, all acts of love and pleasure are my sacraments. Love and pleasure do not come with fear.
As Pagans, we’ve probably heard many admonitions for safety – especially around Beltaine. I agree wholeheartedly. If you are feeling pressured, don’t hang around. There are, unfortunately, some people who use Paganism just as a tool to attract sexual partners. This isn’t Paganism – this is simply sick behavior.
Paganism is much more tolerant of diversity in sexual practice than Christianity – we do have polyamorous relationships. We do allow for more sexual fluidity. And for an immature person, this can lead to a bit more confusion than a world which says no sex before marriage, that marriage is one man and one woman, and that once married, you can’t divorce. In Paganism, we have hand-fastings for a year and a day, and we permit many sorts of relationships.
But in the end, safety comes down to maturity. And hopefully, in our communities, we are beginning to understand what sexual maturity means. It means being responsible for your self. It means never giving into pressure to have sex – we always have the right to say “no”. If you don’t feel comfortable having sex with a person, you say NO. If they pressure you, then do what you can to leave.
As Pagans, we need to educate our daughters and our sons that while sex is good, no means no. (Mojo, in the Wigglian way’s 99th episode mentioned the idea of games, where ‘no’ might be a part of the game, but that there is always a safe-word – but this is the exception.) And we, as a community, must be willing to stand behind and support those who are victims of sexual crimes. We need to let people know that we won’t tolerate those in our community who would victimize others.
For those of us who clergy, or leaders of Pagan churches, I’ll ask some questions – who do you permit to be leaders in your organization? Do you do background checks? How would you handle allegations of sexual misconduct? What systems do you have in place to protect your children and those who might be vulnerable? What sort of training do you have in place for clergy? Do you have lists of resources for folks who might come to you with tales of abuse or rape? If you are doing pastoral counseling, have you been trained to handle serious problems? Do you know when to refer someone to a person more knowledgeable or qualified?
I’m certainly not trying to ruin anyone’s Beltaine. The point of Beltaine is to experience our own sexuality, to be playful, to participate in the creative forces of the Earth we live on. But we do this responsibly. We can be respectful without giving into fear. We can be playful without taking unnecessary risks. In short, we can be mature.