alithea: (Default)
Apparently I have become a morning person in less than two weeks - I was awake by 7 am every morning all week, including all weekend. My neighbours may be less impressed with this development because we had Florence & the Machine blaring out at 8am this morning (Radio 4 isn't safe until 8.50 am on a Sunday) and I'm currently listening to Tori's Little Earthquakes album and singing along very loudly (and probably quite badly!). Sunday morning worship Helen style ;)
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I was going to post a picture of my sparkly Yule tree today but I just discovered that both sets of camera batteries are flat so you'll have to wait until I've recharged them!

I finished reading The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly before I went swimming at lunchtime. It took me a little while to get into it, but when I did, I really enjoyed it, particularly when it turned out to have Roland in it and reminded me of The Dark Tower series. Maybe it's strange coming from a 31 1/2 year old, but I still find Coming of Age stories mean a lot to me and this one was particularly timely, reminding me that the important thing about fear is not that we don't feel it, but that we don't let it paralyze us or drive us into doing things we would never normally contemplate. It strikes me that having the courage to face our fears and act noblely inspite of them is a big part of getting the most out of this journey we call life, and as Roland's tale illustrates, it's the journey that matters...

Also, I've been surrounded by people squeeing about Tim Minchin for most of the year and have been thoroughly bemused, but then a friend pointed me towards his Christmas song, 'White Wine in the Sun' and now I get what everyone is on about. For those of you who can't be bothered to click on the YouTube link and listen, it's a rather poignant and touching ballad about how he really likes Christmas because he spends it with his family, the people who make him feel safe in this world, and it sums up really nicely why I don't hold any truck with people who insist Christmas is pointless without Jesus (no offense to the Christians out there whose religious festival has been co-opted, but I think you have to accept that these days, in the UK at least, it is a secular festival to the majority of people who celebrate it)(even though I'm not freaked out by churches and would rather have Desmond Tutu than Dawkins over for dinner). The bit about the hymns particularly stuck a chord (*heehee*) because it is the singing that I miss most about going to Church on Christmas Eve.
alithea: (altar candle (please do not take))
In a single sentence - What is the essence of your spiritual beliefs and/or principles?

Love the Universe, and act like it.
alithea: (altar candle (please do not take))
Between being ill and the Boy being away, I've watched rather more TV than usual over the past few days. The Olympics has been pretty entertaining, especially with the women doing so well (although the girl my sister went to school with didn't make it into the final of her rowing event EDIT: I spoke too soon, apparently her and her partner qualified in the repechage), but I think my favourite thing so far remains the Monkey and friends Journey East animation, which is rather fab indeed.

I've been watching Bones on DVD too. It's a cut above CSI and the like because the characters are so well written, although now I'm on season 2, I'm missing Goodman and the guy who ran the chinese restaurant and always knew what to feed everyone.

Last night, I watched Make me a Christian as I'm always interested by the portrayal of faith and religion on TV. The voice-over got my back up straight away with overblown comments about British moral decay straight out of the Daily Mail, and the basic assertion that one must be Christian to have strong morals is a pet hate of mine. I suspect the way the programme is edited and narrated will mean we don't see a true reflection of the experiment, which is a shame. It is clear that most of the volunteers are lacking any kind of spirituality in their lives but for a lot of people, I doubt having a very 'avoidance of sin' heavy message forced down their throats is the way to encourage that. One of the participants featured heavily in the first episode is a tarot-obsessed, practicing witch with body dismorphia issues and a taste for hideously expensive shoes. It was sad that she had focussed on the paraphenalia and casting spells to get what she wanted and not into the spiritual side, where the notion of the sacred feminine might have helped her to address her body issues and self-worth. But then these people volunteered so they are unlikely to be secure in a different faith. I'll be interested to see more about the guy who is a muslim convert.
alithea: (altar candle (please do not take))
Last Tuesday evening, I was curled up with my lover in front of a crackling log fire, and on Wednesday night, we were huggled together on a bench in a churchyard, under a gloriously bright full moon, watching shooting stars. I don't think I've ever cast a shadow just from the light of the moon before, I felt like a proper little country witch.
alithea: (Red Inara (made by singingrl))
BBrrrr! It's amazing how a few days in a milder area makes you feel the cold back in the Frozen North, although it's probably as much because I'm tired as anything, straight to bed after BSG tonight! And a nice cuppa and chocolate in the meantime :)

I didn't have time to blog about it before I left on Friday but I was most gratified upon reading last week's New Scientist, to discover that there are people out there who actually agree with me regarding the percieved conflict between Science and Religion. For those of you who have missed the arguments around here about it, while I agree that some individual religious traditions, or at least some of their followers, are anti-science, I do not see an inherent conflict between being a person of science and a person of faith, and I get very frustrated when the rabid atheists (as i like to call them, as opposed to the perfectly reasonable 'believe what you like so long as it doesn't hurt anyone, and you don't shove it down my throat or expect me to live by your rules' atheists) rant about how no rational person could possibly believe in something that current science cannot prove ('cos no-one has a faith based on personal evidence, right?), and use arguments almost entirely based on the Abrahamic faiths' notion of God and Creation ('cos all religious people believe God is a man who sits on a cloud and created the world in 7 days and people in his image, right?). Anyway, John Gray, Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics, wrote the following while reviewing a book about Islam and Science:

If advocates of creationism or intelligent design lack intellectual rigour, then the militant Darwinists who attack religion while knowing virtually nothing of the immense varieties of religious belief and experience are no better.

The true conflict may not be between science and religion, but between science and monotheist faiths in which humans have a privileged place in the world.

Hear, hear!!

Finally, I was bemused to witness the amount of furore in the media over Britney shaving her head last week. As the TV news story I happened to catch progressed, she did come across as a bit of a mess, but to start with they seemed to be asserting that just the act of removing her hair must obviously mean she was having some sort of break down! Why, I wondered, is it so shocking for a woman to shave her head, or lose her hair for that matter, while bald men are just a fact of life? Turns out, I wasn't the only person wondering, and Women's Hour had a piece about it this morning, which was rather interesting listening. Despite finding it somewhat bemusing that lack of hair is such a strong statement for women in our society, I have to confess, I entirely empathise with Jenni and Prof Lisa Jardine, who found hair loss the most upsetting aspect of breast cancer. My mother was just the same, and putting myself in their place, I would be far more devastated to lose my hair, albeit temporarily, than my breasts (although in my case, that is heightened by the fact I have a very small chest and therefore have never seen my breasts as a fundemental expression of my feminine identity). I guess the importance of my hair to my identity, coupled with my control freak tendencies, make it abundantly clear why i have such an aversion to hairdressers!

As a side note, it was also interesting to hear, that while the cultural studies lecturer could appreciate nuns shaving their heads as an act of renunciation, she couldn't see Muslim women covering their heads as anything other than them being oppressed by men, which is maybe a somewhat bizarre dichotomy given that the nuns belong to religions ruled by men too...
alithea: (altar candle (please do not take))
Monty Don was on Start the Week on radio 4 this morning talking about a project to use working on a small holding to rehabilitate heroine-addict criminals and as he was talking about a spiritual connection to the soil, the land, and growing things, I think I grasped what Brian Day is presumably trying to get at with his book The Modern Pagan: How to live a natural lifestyle in the 21st century. When I saw this in the bookshop, i read the blurb which insisted that modern paganism had nothing to do with religion and was instantly turned-off. But a spiritual connection to the land and living things, and living in sync with natural cycles is a major aspect of pagan spirituality to me, that's what Earth-based means. And just because I recognise Goddess in the Land, the Cosmos and Nature, doesn't mean everyone has to have such a pantheistic worldview in order to have a spiritual connection to these things. I call it sacred and consider it Deity but if others feel reverence and awe and connection without Deity, does that really matter?

One of the major sticking points I always had back when I assumed I was Christian because I believed in a notion of 'God', was the idea that what you believed was more important than how you lived your life. I would never accept that what was important to God was that you believed in Him NOT that you lived your life in a way which honoured His creation and treated others like they were all His children. And that hasn't changed just because I realise my god is Goddess. We are all a part of Her, regardless of whether we recognise Her, other gods/goddesses, God, or Nature, or Humanity, and by honouring ourselves, each other, and this Land, we honour Her. And I'll always have far more respect for someone who rejects the notion of Deity but lives with reverence and love*, than for someone who claims they love 'God' but doesn't feel the need to manifest His love in their daily lives.

* provided they don't feel the need to shove their belief that Deity is a stupid idea and the root of all evil in the world down my throat, thank you very much.
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I sat down to watch Among the Believers on BBC2 Scotland last night because it was about the role of ritual in faith, which is something I'm struggling with just now, and I thought it might give me a thought-provoking new perspective. I expected to find the usual array of monotheists taking part and instead was very pleasantly surprised when the participants included a shaman who lives in the Borders! It turned out to be a really interesting watch, the shaman made some interesting points about how spiritual experience might be similar to delusions but generally makes people want to connect rather than withdraw into their own little world, something I hadn't thought of before, and I really liked the Jewish guy's perspective on prayer being about connecting with the Divine within you as much as without. And the presenter was very fair too, he was open to all the spirit journey stuff the shaman was talking about and even though he found the ritual he attended very alien (they were wearing birdwing headdresses, waving a sword around and chanting in Gaelic), he pointed out that to some people the idea of consuming the body and blood of Christ must be equally wierd, and it's just lack of understanding that makes it so. And the main message about ritual being the work you put in, like you have to work on any relationship, and not being a chore to believers, was exactly the conclusion I've been coming to.

Anyway, it really helped clarify the stuff that has been floating round in my head recently, so my dual aims for the year are to find my rituals and my community. Which will hopefully make me a lot happier in a lot of ways - one of the things I love about this type of path is that it makes so much sense psychologically...

Also, hunting on the BBC website to see if there was any info about the programme (I couldn't find any), I discovered that they actually have a load of pagan info and links in their religions section, which also makes me happy.
alithea: (Red Inara (made by singingrl))
Had a very civilised weekend :)

Friday, I ended up cooking chicken and pepper fusili, which was rather delicious if I do say so myself

recipe here if anyone is interested )

There was good food, wine and chatting, all good :)

After Adam and Amy left, I was relaxed and in a happy grateful mood so I set up an altar and attempted impromptu ritual, spirituality rambling )

Anyway, Saturday Alex came over and we pottered in the Ferry and had lunch and then I went round to Small Mike & Aileen's with Adam, Amy and Bradley and spent a very pleasant evening chatting and enjoying some very nice red wine, and Sunday I enjoyed my left overs and the last of the wine from Friday night, relaxing in front of the Winter Olympics, and then played Nobilis. All very civilised, and on Monday I was even helpful and crafty as I went round to Amy's and helped bead the wedding outfits she's been working on. We're planning on starting a little craft circle soon, hopefully that will encourage me to actually *make* something rather than just think about it!

Now I just have to get back into work gear, too many late nights has been the only drawback to all this socialising and tired eyes and reading pdf files all day don't mix well. But all in all, given it's still February, I'm feeling surprisingly content, if not quite up to productive ;) Also, I'm a complete numpty because it only occured to me this morning that I could dump the junk that's destined for the tip in my shed rather than falling over it in the flat until someone has time to take it away for me!!

And while I'm here - [ profile] mcwoof Gillies have your furniture on sale until next week and do you fancy a film after work or a curry night if you're busy Saturdays for the foreseeable future? I'll try and catch you on the phone tonight. Hope the OU thing went well!
alithea: (Default)
Faith isn't trusting the wind to tumble you somehow to wherever you're going, but instead it's trusting that the wind will bear you up if only you spread your wings.

alithea: (Rainbow River (made by hollycore))
It's more or less sunny, I'm not shattered today, in fact I'm feeling rather alive, I've just finished listening to a very funny, inspirational, sound woman ( woodwitch's podcast), Katchoo and Francine are reunited at last (Strangers in Paradise), and someone out there was thinking of me not long ago...

The world's all shiny and hopeful, and I feel like dancing and telling Goddess I love her so I'm off to get my Priestess on!

*bounces off grinning like a mad woman*
alithea: (Default)

You fit in with:

Your ideals are mostly spiritual, but in an individualistic way. While spirituality is very important in your life, organized religion itself may not be for you. It is best for you to seek these things on your own terms.

90% spiritual.
80% reason-oriented.

Take this quiz at

Hmmm, I was kinda surprised by having such a low 'faith' rating but then I guess, I do equate 'faith' more with 'spirituality' than anything else. And in this quiz, 'faith' basically seems to equate to 'belief in organised religion' so I doubt many pagans would score highly. It's interesting to consider what we define as faith though. I consider myself to have a great deal of faith because I am unshakeable in my belief that the Divine exists, but on the other hand, my understanding of Divinity is something which is inextricably linked with the world as we know it, and therefore not believing it exists, would be the same as not believing the universe existed. Which I guess is rather more 'reasoned' than what most people would call 'faith'.

It also brings up my age old bugbear about people refusing to accept that you can be scientifically minded AND spiritual. Many early scientists were religious men, they viewed their work as trying to understand the mind of God. Trying to understand the mysteries of the universe is only opposed to faith if you believe that God wants us all to be ignorant of the wonders around us and never question anything!

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