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Monday, January 28th, 2008
9:40 pm - Sacred Fire: Keepers of the Flame, Kansas City MO, Feb. 2

Greetings all,
I wanted to forward along this event announcement that you might be interested in.

Ringing Anvil Productions presents:
Sacred Fire

Keepers of the Flame

A day-long event for spiritual seekers
February 2nd, Kansas City

What is the Sacred Fire in your heart?
How do we build the Clan-fire of community?
Will you become a Keeper of this Sacred Flame?

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Monday, January 14th, 2008
7:21 am - Secular ritual & spirituality

I'm new to this community, though I see no one's posted in a while, so I'm not sure who's here. I'm interested in talking with people about secularized and interspiritual ritual. More specifically, I've worked the past years to learn how to craft rituals in an earth-based/pagan style that is very inclusive and participatory. And the emphasis is largely on personal growth, or acknowledging rites of passage, or building community. The magic is seen as changing consciousness.

Largely, the rituals that I've had the honor to be a part of are from the Reclaiming or Diana's Grove community, and participants are not required to view the deities as actual gods or goddesses; participants can work with them as archetypes from myth. Ritual can be approached more as a psychological process.

I'm interested in taking this the next step, to finding ways that ritual, using the deep, rich language of mythology, can blend with modern depth psychology to lead to our wholeness. I'm going to be pursuing some formal education in psychology to facilitate some of this, but I'm curious what ritual experience some of you might have, and how you're using it, how it crosses over.

I'd like to be able to offer rituals that are based in the structure/form of earth-based tradition, but that are actually interspiritual, and allow for a secular approach. That an agnostic could stand side by side with a gnostic Christian and a Pagan and a Buddhist, and everyone could get what they needed out of the ritual.

Anyone have any experiences or insights into this?

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Monday, June 25th, 2007
12:25 pm - About me

I recently finished a Masters in Philosophical Theology, and my main focus was non-realist theologians. Books like Thomas Altizer's "The Gospel of Christian Atheism", Don Cupitt's "Taking Leave Of God", and perhaps most importantly D.Z. Phillips' "Religion Without Explanation" all caused me to see the truth of religious beliefs as quite significantly secondary to the effects of religious ritual. As I was writing my dissertation Grace Jantzen's book 'Becoming Divine' became a huge influence on me with her claims that a view of the divine ought to be a 'conscious projection' and that 'atheism or theism' was a false dichotomy.

current mood: bouncy

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Wednesday, April 4th, 2007
2:19 pm - Eggomancy, or, divination by candy and toys???

It has just been brought to my attention that my Sacred Egg Day festivities (about to be upon us), have been missing a key component. After we dance with the Sacred Egg upon our heads, in whatever fashion of dance we find to be pleasing, we tear the Egg apart with our hands (or bash it upon a table edge, attack it with knives, whatever seems necessary and right) and then feast upon its candy entrails and otherwise play with the guts.

However, and this is a glaring ommission, we do not first READ the entrails for insight into what magic our spring, summer, and overall growing times might mean. What fun and surprises, what potentialities so present in the egg, that we might encounter in the coming year, all are lost, because we don't stop to contemplate before eating the chocolate. This must not continue!

However, being very far from a student of such things, I must beg my more religiously and ritually competent associates (and anyone else with an opinion, serious, sarcastic, or silly) for help in this endeavor. How does one read entrails? What sorts of things should I be looking for? I think there's something about shapes and patterns and intersections, but I need some concrete clues, some divination tips and tricks.

Some factors of the ritual that might be pertinent.
  • The Egg is generally shared among several people, so its reading should encompass a wider scope than just one person.
  • The Egg is pretty large, bigger than a head, in fact, big enough that it can rest comfortably on most people's head's with a dignified plop.
  • I can put anything I like inside the egg, in addition to the usual small toys and candy and things of spring, that would aid in making the Egg Entrail Reading more workable.
  • The Egg is painted with colors and sometimes symbols. It's generally torn into pieces, and I usually keep a small piece, but not the whole shell, as a token.
  • There is an egg hunt aspect to the day that involves a different color for each person there, that might be useful.
  • The whole meaning of the day is to enjoy what is, what can be, what we don't know, fun, and sugar.
This probably sounds really stupid, or irreverant, to people who take divination seriously. But I am serious in my question. I think divination is great stuff, even though for me the point is to use it to reveal what is inside, rather than really getting messages from outside. But I have no problem with invoking a little woo, it's mysterious, and that's the whole point. So I really would love anyone's ideas about silly or serious ways to read the future from what comes out of essentially a pinata. Or pointers toward divination sites that I might be able to assimilate into a new way of reading.

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Wednesday, October 11th, 2006
10:53 pm - new community


(x-posted to anarchafeminist, anarchists, anarchoqueer, engagedbuddhism, greenanarchy, quakers, radicals, and chalice_circle.)

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Friday, July 14th, 2006
4:59 pm - Introduction
cougarcat I found this group today and read through the past posts. It has really given me some things to think about. Thank you.

I'm a Christan so most of my rituals involve my religion but not all of them. There is a need for rituals in other parts of my life too. I think that they can be sacred and they can be common and everyday existing to ground you in the here and now.

Years ago I read a book 'Living a Beautiful Life' by Alexandra Stoddard. She devoted a chapter to creating personal rituals. I gave it a try and it did help me. As my life has changed most of my rituals have been dropped as they no longer hold the meaning that they once did. The one that I have held onto the most started as a personal New Year's ritual but is now celebrated as a birthday ritual. I don't have a name for it but basically each year I give myself a gift that no one else can give me. It is something that I really want or need.

This year has been the gift of Courage. For the year I have tried to focus on going past my comfort zone, accomplishing the things that I've wanted to but never had the nerve to do. I bought a silver kenji charm for courage that I can wear to remind me. I keep a journal and try to do daily, weekly and monthly exercises. I've considered what the concept of courage is not just to me but in other cultures and in history. Over the years I've done similar things for Creativity, Romance, Freedom and some others. Success has varied but even the attempt has gotten me further than I was and I often come out of year with added discoveries and unintended benefits. I've been thinking of going back and finding a charm symbol for each of my previous years and making a bracelet out of them that I can add to.

My life has changed again. I really should think about designing some everyday rituals to help me get through it.

current mood: awake

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Tuesday, February 28th, 2006
1:23 pm - Spiritual Appropriation - Home Wardings

I very recently made a gift to my mom of something I called a "pagan mezuzah" and now I am feeling slightly conflicted about it. A couple years ago or more I was really made aware of the idea of cultural theft when religious and cultural beliefs/rituals/celebrations/objects are appropriated and recontextualized in other forms. A certain amount of constant cultural appropriation occurs simply as the byproduct of a globalized world. My transformation of Christmas into Gifting is an appropriation, just as Christmas has roots of appropriation of pre-Christian traditions. When is appropriation harmful rather than complimentary? When is it theft as opposed to inspiration? This is a subject I really need to delve into further, and maybe I'll find time to do that soon, but my current dilemma surrounds this pagan mezuzah.

A year and a half ago I saw the work of a Judaica artist, who worked in metal and stained glass and gemstones. I was very drawn to these ritual implements, but especially his mezuzahs, small cases meant to be fastened to a doorpost, containing a fragment of scripture. Now I didn't do a lot of research, about them, I just got the basic idea that these were sort of protective things, and that was where my imagination took off. I thought it was a shame that non-Jewish people didn't have something like that, and starting thinking about what a non-Jewish version would be like, and I came up with a case to be placed near the entrance of the house, that contains a blessing.

When I made one for my mom, I used colors of clay that I thought she would like, and symbols of the goddess (because she's into goddess-worship, not an atheist like me), and I used sections of glass and bits of copper and wire as well as semi-precious stones and beads, to make something that really came out rather lovely. Then I asked a friend who is a "pagan priestess" (I'm not sure if she really appreciates being called that, but I don't really know what the right phrase to use is) to put a blessing on a scroll that fits into a spiral cage inside the open-backed box. When I was building it, I tried to think about the sort of energy that I hoped would be drawn to the house, and I told my friend my desires so that the scroll could be filled with that intention too, and overall when it was all put together, it really felt nice. My mom loved it, and loved my explanation of it. For my own atheist sake, I felt like I needed to tell her what it meant and what energy it was supposed to bring, and how it was supposed to create a boundary around her home which she could use to bring into her home only what she wanted to bring in... all of this being groundwork for psychological triggers, since I don't really believe in magic, though I do believe in positive energy.

I felt pretty happy about the gift, but then I started wondering if I'd crossed the line. The idea of protective objects isn't unique to Judaism of course, in fact the mezuzah is far more about Jews remembering the scripture, and god and stuff, not protection of their home. But I haven't done any research into what other things like the mezuzah exist, whether specifically a container of a secret blessing adorned with significant symbols is universal enough for it to be culturally inoffensive to create a variation of it, or not. I can't deny that my direct inspiration was another culture's ritual implement, and I proceeded to remove it from it's context and use only the outward trappings of it. Is that really different from other ritual appropriations? Did I change things enough, or too much? Would a Jewish person object to going to my mom's house and seeing this box hanging on the wall next to her door (and not on the doorpost, where a mezuzah belongs)? And if some Jewish people would care, and other's wouldn't, whose permission is relevant?

I feel bad that I didn't ask anyone, so I guess I'm writing in the hopes of soothing my conscience. Maybe if I find other examples of this sort of ritual object, I can feel more secure about the gift and what it means, and why I made it, and where it falls in my ritual life. I really did love how it looked, and felt, and I want to make one for my own house that will remind me of the energy I allow into my home, and which can become a focus of other ritual gestures. A very long time ago a friend gave me a piece of snowflake obsidian, which he said would ward my door, and ever since I have placed this kind of stone over my main doorway, and when I do big cleanings I remove the stone and sweep out all the bad energy (ritually and psychologically, my relationship to anything more supernatural remains problematic), and then when I am done, I put the stone back, and it caps the experience. This simple warding seems clearly generic enough to be culturally inoffensive, but the blessing box does not, and I need to think more about that ritual object before I create another one.

Do any of you have ritual objects that ward your home? What form do they take, and where did your use of them arise from? Are they your own invention, part of a specific culture, or a combination? If they are part of a culture, is it a culture you belong to, and if so, by birth or by choice?

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Tuesday, December 6th, 2005
3:41 pm - Dark and Light

Inspired by lemurling's Howling at the Dark ritual last year (friends locked, so some won't be able to see it, ask me for details), and hopefully to fill the need it satisfied for some of us, I have decided to hold a similar (though markedly unique) ritual at the same beach as the solstice approaches. Below is the notice I will be crossposting to my friendslist and the secularspirit communities:

Please come and celebrate the coming of earth’s darkest day.

As the world once again begins her journey into light, let us prepare for our own movement toward hope, warmth, and new beginnings. Our darker days will soon be behind us.

In the footsteps of the Howling at the Dark ritual that was held last year, but with new dimensions to fit the changing season, we will again be meeting on Twin Lakes Beach in Santa Cruz on Monday, December 19th around 6PM. More info about the site can be found here.

We will have a roaring fire in which to cast remnants of things you would like to let go of or banish from your life. The fire will heal and warm us as we drink warm cider and pay our respects to the passing of the light. There will also be a way for you to carry the light of that fire with you when you leave, to keep your new intention burning.

Please bring:
  • Warm clothing

  • Something to sit on

  • Any items you would like to cleanse in the ocean or cast into the fire

  • Any instruments or drums if you would like to make music

  • If you have a poem or passage or song to share around the fire, please bring it. You will by no means be required to speak, this would be entirely voluntary.

  • Firewood

  • An accepting attitude about being in a sacred space. To quote Thea - "You don't have to participate in anything, but this isn't a place to talk about gaming, or bring up problems with anyone there. It's a place to cleanse and be comforted and hopefully laugh and have a good time."

  • If you would like to bring something to eat or drink to add to the solstice feast, please do.

In case of rain, we will be meeting at my place in San Mateo. I have an overhang and big patio and will have a place to burn items and a warm fire inside.

Hope to see you there!

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Thursday, October 6th, 2005
1:14 am - Questions about religion and spirituality

I am posting a short series of questions to a wide variety of religious communities (and communities that list religion as an interest) on LiveJournal. The purpose is to try to get as broad a set of answers as possible, and to find distinctions and commonality among the responses. I have tried to select the broadest community for each faith, but I am only posting to communities with open membership, frankly because I don't want to cross-post something this broad into a protected community, out of respect.

Notes...Collapse )

All of that said, here are the questions. Responses can be as long or as short as you wish.

1. How do you define "religion"?
2. How do you define "spirituality"?
3. If you adhere to a faith or religious/spiritual doctrine, does it require belief in the "supernatural"? If so, how do you define "supernatural"?
4. If you adhere to a faith or religious/spiritual doctrine, do you believe its founding or supporting texts (such as the Bible, Quran, and so on) are literal truth?
5. If you adhere to a faith or religious/spiritual doctrine, do you practice in a place of worship, or follow a guide/teacher/leader of some sort?
6. What role should religion or spirituality have in social/political decision-making, and why?

Thank you all in advance!

Posted to: buddhists, celticpagans, christianleft, freetobelieve, interfaith, interspiritual, islamicfeminist, jewcrew, ljbahai, om_bodhi, quakers, radicals, religion, religiousdebate, sanatana_dharma, secularspirit, shintoism, sociologists, sunsmoonsstars, theism, theravadins, chalice_circle, wiccan

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Wednesday, July 20th, 2005
9:07 pm - Book Report: Rituals for our Times

Rituals for our times : celebrating, healing, and changing our lives and our relationships / Evan Imber-Black and Janine Roberts.

This is one of the best books on secular ritual I've read. It's written by two psychologists, and in this book they focus on how ritual is used to both indicate current issues and also mend them and celebrate change. Their idea of ritual is very loose, all the details are from the numerous examples of families in the book. So this is not a manual for ritual making, but it is a great resource for helping to think about ritual, especially the hidden motivations and expectations we have about ritual, from how Christmas is supposed to be to what our spouse should do when they come home from work each day. The book goes through different types of rituals, daily, seasonal, holidays, life cycle changes, etc. and different approaches to ritual, from flexible to rigid to minimalist etc. They assign some purposes to ritual as well, and discuss how most rituals can serve multiple purposes.

While the way they break up ritual isn't the one I would choose, it works well for the kind of book it is, and didn't grate on me. Probably the most useful aspect of the book is the frequent lists of questions to help you discuss with yourself and your loved ones certain aspects of ritual. They don't appear to have a separate workbook, so I may devote some time to typing out the easily over hundred questions scattered here and there, that's how useful I think they are. The book is heavily focused on relationships, especially families, including alternate families of all kind. While the ritual life of a single person is not forgotten, it is not given a lot of screen time, which might be offputting if you don't intend to involve others much in your ritual life.

It's a good-sized book, but it has a very simple, easy to read style. If you are interested in secular ritual, in focusing on how the way we celebrate (or don't celebrate) holidays, birthdays, graduations, marriages, etc. reflects our past joys and problems, and can hold the key to improving relationships with family, friends, and self, I'd recommend you look for this book at your local library.

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9:26 am

hey guys, whats up
a friend sent this link to me early in the morning and i can tell you for a fact that i was wide awake the rest of the day
heres the link and please not its not for anyone who gets scared easy
and if im not allowed to post this tell me and i will delete it

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Friday, June 24th, 2005
6:47 pm - My daily rituals...

This is a longish post about my daily rituals and works-in-progress cross-posted from my personal journal.

More on daily ritualsCollapse )

Any suggestions?

current mood: thoughtful

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5:59 pm - My introduction...

Hello, all.

I'm David, and I was pointed here by musae and lemurling when I posted the below in my journal -- I'm glad to see that others have the same interest and have something to say about it!

Crossposted from my journal.Collapse )

Anyhow, that's what brought me here, and if anyone has some specific input, I'd love to hear it, but in the context of this community, my original post seems overly-broad. I can relate to a lot of what ianhess says in his introductory post. I, too, have been working on the small cycles with the aid of a dayplanner, though I've found less success in shortening the to-do list. One major issue for me is my sleep schedule, as my job does not require a specific schedule, and I don't sleep at consistent times of day. This is one of the things that I hope to improve by way of daily ritual.

Shortly I'll be writing a post in my journal about my own rituals and ideas about rituals, and I will cross-post here. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this when I do!

current mood: thoughtful

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Wednesday, June 22nd, 2005
11:29 am - Divorce Ritual

I am considering asking my soon-to-be-ex-husband to participate in a divorce ritual. Has anyone done this or do you have any thoughts on the matter?

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Friday, March 4th, 2005
8:09 pm - Attention South Florida Atheists, Agnostics, Freethinkers, and Humanists

Our current members and I of the Broward Atheists Meetup (www.browardatheists.com and in www.meetup.com) welcome all interested in atheism, theism, freethought, agnosticism, humanism, transhumanism, state and church seperation (otherwise known as seperation of sturch), and related topics to our Tuesday meetings after 6:30pm. The www.browardatheists.com website has details on our venue, it is currently a pub, but will change when more members are acquired. We're already bulging at the seams with an average attendance of about twelve. No matter your age, beliefs, or preferences, we'd like to hear your opinion. Even the sternest Christians may come and present their thoughts, because if you really believe we're going to hell, we sure don't want to be wrong about the subject, haha, but most members are pretty confident about their atheism and agnosticism. I mention the invitation only to be open-minded. Anyways, we usually discuss religion, politics, philosophy, etc. but do not feel obligated to have to order anything despite it being a pub. There is no membership fee either, it is an informal event so far seeing how we have too few to be more organized, but we'd like to be! And we'd like to have enough people to start some activism and be as productive as possible.

Aside from the weekly Tuesday meetings, there are fun events such as campfires and beach barbeques scheduled. We sure would like to cooperate with other groups and more members to voice the rights and freedoms we and others deserve regardless of our beliefs and with your ideas and help, this can be made possible. The current goal is to eliminate the negative stigma attached to our labels by altruism and stoicism such as scholarships and good deeds. E-mail me with any questions or better yet, any one else you can get in contact with from the website to get a clearer understanding of who and what we are. We turn no one down and encourage debate, skepticism, and reason. The meetings are definitely worthwhile and interesting or else I wouldn't waste the little free time I have as a college student to invite any one else to come join the experience. If you are in the area and find the time inconvenient with your busy schedule, no hard feelings will be had, but at least sign the guestbook so we can know you support us and wish you could come. :-)


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Sunday, February 20th, 2005
12:53 pm - Calling All Poetry...

I am working on a project I'm calling the Poetry Oracle. The basic idea is similar to a tarot deck, with each card having a few short lines of poetry on it, organized roughly into one of three suits representing the Id, Ego, and Superego. Each card may have one or two words on it as well, encapsulating the idea, emotion, inspiration that the piece of poetry represents. The point is to use these cards in a similar way to tarot, for example by asking a question and then laying the cards out in positions representing obstacles, influences, and answers to the question. I view tarot and similar 'fortunetelling' devices as tools for accessing the subconscious, and for sorting through mental static to realize what is real. There is a certain aspect of luck (or if you prefer, magic/destiny/supernatural forces) in which cards come up, but if the tool is well designed, no matter what ends up on the table, the person using the tool will be able to apply what they see to their lives.

The challenge for me is that the symbolism of tarot decks, and that of runes, bones, etc. is often out of sync with the landscape of my personal symbolism. I have been affected by the traditional symbols, and there is value in them, but I am always looking for something more 'me'. The problem is that creating these sorts of tools from scratch take time, and mental energy, and require a lot of introspection. I have been working on a more recognizably "tarot" tarot deck for a few years now, and still haven't settled on all the cards, let alone all their meanings, and how to depict them. When I ran across the reminder that poetry has been used for millenia as a fortunetelling device, (I Ching, bibliomancy, etc.) I got very excited.

The appeal of the Poetry Oracle to me is that I can construct this deck quickly, and begin using it almost immediately. The suits don't have to be even, in fact, I would be surprised if they were even close, and I can add cards to the deck as I remember or find poetry that moves me. I started by going to Kahlil Gibran, and have been adding snippets for the last few days. I'm going to start sorting soon, and organizing into suits, and seeing where gaps are in the language, but I was hoping to get some help from other people. There are many many wonderful poems that I am not remembering right now, or which I am not even aware of.

What poetry speaks to you? By poetry I am not confining myself to words in meter, although that is a large portion of what I have so far. Famous speeches often have lines with the same resonance as more obvious poems. What I am looking for more specifically is quotes of one to maybe six lines at most, that have a definite poetic feel, which use imagery, metaphor, beautiful language, to express truths of emotion, truths of spirituality, truths of life. Many of these truths are contradictory. Not all truths are pleasant. Expressions of rage are just as necessary to the deck as expressions of love. Truth is not confined to famous people either, some of my own poetry and the poetry that friends and lovers have written to me are in here, because they are representative of true aspects of my life.

I would love to know what poetry has moved you, and would be grateful for any response, just please tell me the source of the quote, so I can properly record it on the card. I am not intending to sell or distribute this deck, it's just for personal use, although if there is an interest, I can share the file with this community when it is a little farther along. I would imagine that this is the sort of project that would result in a very different deck for each person that put any amount of thought into it.

A couple examplesCollapse )

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Monday, February 7th, 2005
9:44 am - Personal Symbolism

I'm not sure if I've addressed this topic before, but it came up again recently, and I thought I would ask for input.

Everyone has a set of personal symbols, objects, colors, people, places, ideas, that represent something to the conscious or subconscious mind. We can't always list them, and part of my own exploration of spirituality has been devoted to finding and even creating personal symbols that I can use in my writing, rituals, and art.

I'd love to hear about some of your personal symbols, especially ones where the meaning of that thing to you is different from what most people expect. For example Earth as element is often used to represent grounding, but if it means something different to you, I'd like to know what that is. I'm also interested in symbols that are particular to you, maybe balloons mean happiness. If you can tell me how these things came to be a symbol to you, even better.

Some of my symbols:Collapse )

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Friday, December 17th, 2004
8:41 pm

I realized recently while thinking about this community that I have a couple behavior patterns that come up every 1 to 3 weeks that feel ritualistic to me.

When I'm feeling ill, or lost, or in a fair amount of pain, I sit down, meditate, and go through a verbal list of things I could regret if my life were to end. The list is slowly changing, because when held up to the light of examination, I find that I can do something about most of them.

I used to tell a lover, what can be so bad? Maybe this is the same.

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Monday, December 6th, 2004
3:39 pm - Ritual Implements and Sacred Space (X-posted from personal journal)

I have had an altar of some sort since I was thirteen, and home has always been where my altar resides.
That changed this year, when I took down my altar.

This was a difficult thing for me to do, and certainly reflects my mental attitudes this year. I felt the tools that I used were no longer appropriate, having used them since I was a teenager (even fashioning some of them myself, including my wand and pentacle). Furthermore, I found myself observing established practice less, to the point of only rarely paying attention to events. Basically, my altar became a relic of a past and person that I no longer live in or as.

Unfortunately, the lack of an altar has had some negative consequences, or maybe it has just reflected an already negative mental state. Without an altar, home doesn't feel like home, space seems less sacred, and I feel less grounded in my personal/sacred space. Also, an altar and its tools serve not only as a work space, but as a symbol of the elements with which a magician works; attention to the space and care of the tools are grounding activities themselves because they mean that you feel something is important enough in which to invest time and energy.

Recently, I have decided to reconstruct a new altar, using new tools of a different sort. The classic wiccan/pagan tools are quite effective for people who are rooted in that paradigm, but since I have had a bit of a shift, I am thinking about using tools that have more personal meaning to me.

With that in mind, I am planning to use a special ritual pen as my fire tool; a beautiful sandalwood fan given to me by a close friend shall serve as my air tool. I found a gorgeous silver-plated champagne flute that needs to be re-plated, but it would serve beautifully as a new chalice (that symbolism works just fine) and I am still thinking about what to use instead of a pentacle.

I am certainly open to suggestions of items that others associate with Earth to help with ideas. :) Thanks in advance for any thoughts or feedback on the matter.

current mood: contemplative

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Tuesday, November 30th, 2004
11:31 am

Housecleaning as meditation?

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