What To Say When You Meet an Animist

animist

I don’t go around announcing my faith to people, and most of the time I’m content to allow them to assume that I am what they are. However, recently I got into a conversation with a long time friend who asked me if I was celebrating Christmas. When I answered, I could tell that he didn’t know what to say in response. If you don’t know what to say when you meet an animist, read on! I’ll help you out. But first, let’s look at what NOT to say to your animist friends.

What NOT To Say To Your Animist Friends

Oh, you guys engage in kinky orgies, right? 

This is a stereotype. Animist run the gamut. Some are monogamous, some polyamorous. Like people in general, some are more lusty and carefree in all aspects of their lives. Some are more private. Most animists engage in fertility rituals which may or may not include sex. If you are curious about this, ask. Perhaps this is something that your friend is willing to talk about.

Do you really participate in human sacrifice?

Sacrifice is part of life. Animists generally understand and embrace this. Historically human sacrifice was practiced by animists around the world. That was followed by animal sacrifice (burnt offerings). This is still done in many places, but no one that I know of participates in human sacrifice.

So, wait. Are you a devil worshipper?

The idea of the Devil is a Christian construct that really doesn’t have a place in animism. Some cultures have a devilish figure, like the Greek god Pan. He’s associated with wine, drunkeness, Nature, music, dancing, napping, and lusty sex. That’s the closest figure that we have to Satan. All gods and creatures in animism are natural. Everything has a light and dark side. There is no battle between light and dark unless it is within yourself.

Does that mean you’re a shaman?

“Shaman” is a cultural term that only applies to the Evenki people. Spirit walkers of other traditions have different names and practices. Being an animist does not make one a shaman. Only the spirits can do that. It’s not something that you can choose nor would most people do so because living between worlds is not an easy path.

How many gods do you worship?

Not all animists are polytheistic. Some are monotheists. Some don’t worship any gods at all. Animists come in many different varieties. We probably have more differences than similarities, so there isn’t much that you can take for granted.

If you say any of these things, don’t worry. It’s not the end of the world, and you probably won’t offend. These are just some of the things we hear a lot that make us go, “Huh?”

Respectful Conversation Starters

What’s animism? Please share!

Most animists are happy to share what this means to them. There are many stereotypes that we’d love to correct if given the chance. We all have great stories of personal experiences that we may be willing to share too. If you have an open mind, we may give you a window to what’s inside us. So ask!

How do you practice animism?

Because animism varies from culture to culture and person to person, you may get really fascinating answers to this question. Responses could include things about rituals, personal values, activism, social activities, family values, or anything really. Animism is holistic. It touches every aspect of our being, so naturally it can show up in every way that we move in the world.

We’re actually quite normal. We don’t bite. In fact, we blend in quite well, but we do have a different governing philosophy. If you want to know more, just ask.

Getting to Know the Crone Archetype

crone

“Crone.” I love that word. It’s an image that I hope that I can grow into one day.

In order to share my vision of the Crone archetype, here is a story. The author is unknown.

The Wise Woman’s Stone

While walking along a mountain stream, a wise woman found a precious stone. She picked it up, put it in her pocket, and continued her way.

The next day she met a hungry travel who asked to share her food. When she opened her bag to give  him some, the man saw the precious stone. He asked the woman to give it to him, and she did without hesitation. The traveler finished his food, and they parted ways. 

The man was full of joy. The stone could provide him with enough money to live well for the rest of his life.

A few days later the wise woman was surprised to see the traveler return. “I’ve been thinking,” he said. “You have given me a really valuable stone, but I am hoping that I can give it back in return for something even more precious. Will you give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone?”

Some mainstream people see the Crone as a hag, a worthless, ugly, bitter woman whom no one loves. She’s an outcast living at the fringes of society doing her witchy things.

Through the animist lens, she is the free, independent sage who doesn’t conform. She’s done her time as a coquette. Maybe she created children, a career, or nurtured a spouse. Now she retains the juicy power of her menstrual blood and uses it for herself.

The Crone has been around the Sun many times. She’s seen it all and taken it in. It’s not easy to intimidate or frighten her. She’s seen birth, death, suffering, heartache, sex, love, grief, loss, mistakes and survived. Even big things like war and natural disaster are just natural to her. She flows with life and accept it as she finds it.

The Crone doesn’t have a certain look. She can be frail or spry, a firecracker or a hermit, or a fashionista or a fashion challenged. A Crone is true to herself and abhors superficiality and falsehood in others. If she doesn’t have intimacy, depth, and authenticity in her community, she may shun society.

Because of the Crone’s relationship with destruction, death, and decay, she is often misunderstood and feared. One way that this shows up is that the Crone is often the midwife who ushers life into the world and also out of it. The modern Crone revival often overlooks this aspect of her, showing her instead as a bad ass. She’s a bad ass, but it’s because she is not afraid of the Dark. She is the Night. This can make her creepy to some people.

The Crone as a Goddess

Some examples of the Crone as a goddess are:

Annis (Celtic) – Keeper of wisdom and old ways who is shown as a scary, old woman

Baba Yaga (Russian) – The wild old woman; the witch; and mistress of magic.

Cerridwen (Celtic) – She represents the wisdom of old age.

Grandmother Spiderwoman (Native American) – An old wise woman who gave man the sun and fire.

Libitina (Roman) – Goddess of funerals and pyres.

Nephthys (Egyptian) – A funerary goddess associated with death, magic and reincarnation.

The healthiest manifestations of Crone energy are things like magic, intuition, psychic energies, clairvoyance, and wisdom. In Shadow she is bitter, vindictive, isolated, and ostracized. Or she may use her powers and wisdom to harm.

All archetypes are accessible to all people. However, not everyone embraces every energy. Wisdom comes from a life consciously lived. Age alone doesn’t make a Crone.

How to Prepare for the Winter Solstice

new year

Winter Solstice 2020 is going to be HUGE! There is so much going on astrologically that can help guide us through the next year and beyond that we want to prepare for the Winter Solstice. Don’t let it catch you off guard.

Check this out. We have:

There’s lots of topsy turvy energy coming our way that can pave the way for big healing, new connections, and a deeper sense of sovereignty. Here are some tips for how to prepare for the Winter Solstice. Be sure to put your own individual spin on it.

Clean House

The new year is a time to clean house. I don’t mean a quick dusting and vacuuming, but a deep, all over clean. Throw out all the things that are no longer of use. Put things away. Clean into all the cracks and corners. Bring light and energy into every closet and shelf. This is a top to bottom loving care of all of your things.

You may want to paint to brighten things up and change the energy. Clean windows helps more light to come in. Fresh flowers or plants also brings life into the home. Anything dead or dingy should be moved out. Clutter is also a big no no. Anything that obstructs the free flow of movement should either be moved or thrown away.

What we bring into the new year stays all year. If you want all this amazing energy to have space to transform you and your life, (and being in the wheel of life means being willing to evolve), you have to make space.

Cleanse Your Body

Everything needs to be purified. Your physical form is where your soul rests. Make time to ritually purify your body. You may wish to don a new set of clothing especially to welcome in the new year.

Cleanse Your Mind

Meditation is a great way to cleanse your mind of busy, intrusive, or negative thoughts. You can start a meditation practice right now to empty your mind every day. Each day is a new start. Finish the thoughts from the day before. Let your worries filter into the earth. Decide with the new sun whether you want to pick them up again.

One of my goals for my life is to live at 0. I strive to put down everything at the end of the day so that I live “clean.” This is what meditation does for me. It enhances clarity so much when your lens is always clean.

Cleanse the Air

If your space is too dry from your furnace, add some moisture with a humidifier. Add a fresh essential oil to the water, like something citrusy or some lavender essential oil to perk things up. If you need more of a heavy duty banishing oil, use three of the following essential oils in equal parts: bay, pine, eucalyptus, basil, sage, lavender, vetiver, rosemary, or lemon.

Practice Gratitude

Another way to prepare for what’s coming is to give thanks for the blessings you have already received. We can miss abundance if we live in an attitude of lack. When we see blessings for what they are, we have more of them.

Be Open to Receiving

We all have a better chance of receiving what we get clear on what it is what we want and allow ourselves to receive it.

Here is a story to show you what I mean. One day a man was sitting in his house when it began to rain very hard. Seeing the water rising, the man thought, “I’m going to be stuck” so he asked the Spirits to help him. Shortly afterwards, a woman in a big truck came by and said, “This isn’t looking too good. Would you like to come with me?” The man said, “No, thanks. The Spirits are going to save me.”

When the water started entering the house, the man went to the second story window to watch and wait. A man in a boat came by and offered to take him to safety. The man said, “No thanks, the Spirits will help me.”

The water kept rising, so the man went to the roof to wait. A helicopter came by and lowered a rope for the man to climb to safety. The man waved them away saying, “It’s okay. The Spirits will save me.”

When the man drowned, the Spirits met him in the Otherworld. The man confronted them saying, “I waited for you. Why didn’t you save me?” The Spirits replied, “We sent a truck, a boat, and a helicopter.”

What you desire can’t come in if you aren’t open to receiving. Your eyes have to see the blessing. Your heart has to accept it. It doesn’t always come in the form that you want or expect. It can’t come at all if you don’t say “yes.”

Be Willing to Sacrifice

Everything worth having comes at a sacrifice. There is always an exchange of energy. In the western world, we often distill it down to money, and although that helps in the material world, the currency of the Otherworld is quite different. You may need to give up comfort, ego, being right, entitlement, your stuff, time, family, friends, loved ones, your mind, or any number of things. When something is no longer of use, it becomes baggage. We need to sacrifice it to become who are are now.

Are you feeling the weight of this new beginning now? I hope so. It’s big. I want you to be prepared for the greatness that it has to offer. Ready?

Do You Have a Healthy Relationship With Food?

relationship with food

As you know, animism is about living in relationship with everything. One thing that we westerners often don’t have a great relationship with is food. Here are some things to think about to guide you in this area.

Do You Grow, Forage for, or Hunt Your Own Food?

Where does your food come from? Do you participate in creating, acquiring, or preparing it? How much skin do you have in that game?

The closer you are to the process of food production, the more you know what it costs to feed yourself. It’s more than just dollars and cents. It takes time to grow plants. Plants and animals need care. Something has to die so that you can live. We all depend on each other for survival. When you grow your own food, gratitude for the sunshine, rain, and decomposers (for compost) flows effortlessly because you know that you’re all in this together.

When you hunt, trap, snare, or fish for food, you pay attention to the animal populations. If their numbers are down, you go hungry. So, it’s important that they have an abundant, clean habitat.

In my opinion, the closer you are to the raw food source, the more likely it is that you have an authentic relationship with it.

Where Do You Buy Your Food?

If you don’t create or procure any of your own food, where do you buy it? Does it come from boxes and bags in the freezer section, or does it look fresh plucked from the ground? The more that your food looks like it did when it was growing, crawling, swimming, or grazing, the closer your relationship to it.

Do You Prepare Your Own Food?

The more hands on your life is, the more personal and meaningful it is. It’s the difference between making a baby blanket and buying one. It’s the difference between cooking your own dinner and getting take out.

No judgment is implied here. It’s fantastic when someone else does the cooking and we get a break. And when we cook our own food, we know where it came from, whether it’s fresh and clean, and if it’s healthy.

When it’s cooked with love, I believe it’s also healthier. I have a friend who owns a restaurant. Everything he makes tastes better. I can’t say why other than he cooks with love. So maybe you want know your ingredients and cook with love.

Is Your Unconscious Getting in the Way of Your Food Choices?

Lots of us have unconscious drives around food that only make sense to us. If we have a big appetite, but feel shame when others seem to eat like birds, we may have problems with eating on the sly or binging. Or we may restrict food intake to fit in. If our parent showed us love with treats, we may have learned that eating sugar is a way to give self love or comfort. Did someone make fun of your physique? That could also cause guilt, shame, and behavioral challenges around food. There are so many things that can get in the way of conscious eating. Fortunately, there are ways to become more self aware.

Do You Have a Trauma History?

Humans need food to survive. Our bodies can tell us what we need and when we’ve had enough if we listen – as long as there is no trauma history. Trauma is a game changer. It creates a cascade effect that impacts the survivor on so many levels. It slows down the digestion so food doesn’t move through the system as fast. This can lead to constipation, feeling full, and not feeling hungry. The longer you go without eating, the harder it is to start eating normally again. Maybe you have a sensitive stomach or don’t ever get a sensation of feeling full.

After trauma, the gut also stops producing adequate melatonin (so we don’t sleep), serotonin (so our mood is dysregulated), as well as other hormones and neurotransmitters. This negatively impacts our energy level, focus, concentration, memory, mood, immune system, and distorts our hunger signals and attitudes around food! Who knew?

Do You Have a Lot of Rules Around Food?

Are there certain foods that you won’t eat? (This is a reasonable thing if you have allergies or medical reasons for the restrictions). Does the clock tell you when you can and can’t eat? If you overdo it, do you have to make up for it in the gym or by cutting back the next day? Rules are about control. When something needs to be tightly controlled, it may not be all that healthy.

Are You Obsessed With How You Look or the Number on the Scale?

Do you measure food portions, spend a lot of time in food prep, and researching recipes? Does food, measurements, weight, or how you look dominate your life? Would you skip out on an event (like a pool party or wedding) because you’re afraid that you won’t look good enough in the appropriate attire?

How’s Your Relationship With Your Body?

I keep saying “listen to your body,” but how’s your relationship with your body? Are you even in it? Can you feel it? Do you love it? If you are not embodied, how do you know what your body is saying? Having a healthy relationship with your food depends on having a healthy relationship with your body. You can’t fix that by being thin, pretty, having surgery, or eating more or less. That comes from self acceptance.

Not So Healthy? Here are Some Ideas to Change That

If you’re reading this and feeling a little uncomfortable, perhaps it’s time to change your relationship with food. Here are some tips to get started on creating a healthier attitude towards food. Feel free to share your ideas in the comments too.

  • Get your hands dirty. Get involved in cultivating, acquiring, harvesting, and preparing food. Do it with love and appreciation. You can’t know a thing that you don’t see clearly. Having a hands on relationship with food will remove a lot of distortions.
  • Don’t cook? Learn! There are many free cooking channels on Youtube. You don’t need to become a chef, but having a few functional skills and a couple signature dishes will increase your self esteem and improve your relationship with food – if you cook mindfully and with love.
  • Find out where your food is coming from. I live around a lot of farms that sell food at farmer’s markets. They offer tours (virtual now) so that people can see the living conditions of their animals and see what’s in season. It makes food personal.
  • Listen to your body. It will tell you a ton! Probably more than you ever thought possible. Maybe you don’t really want food, you want affection, mental stimulation, or to feel more comfortable with what’s going on. When you become aware of your real needs, you can meet them more effectively. And don’t feel guilty if your body says, “I want to enjoy this gelato with my friends!” Do it up.
  • Throw away the “good” and “bad” labels for food. Yes, some food is more healthy than others, but when we call things “bad,” that’s our cue to feel guilt and shame. Eating is normal! We all need to eat. Let’s not make it a bad thing.
  • Chill out on the size/weight shame. Love yourself at any size. Everybody isn’t born to be skinny. People come in all shapes and sizes. It’s okay.
  • If you have a trauma history, consider seeing a trauma therapist. I say a “trauma therapist” because counselors who are not trained in trauma may not be skilled enough to help you. It’s a complex issue that can’t be talked away or prayed away.
  • Do you need therapy for issues other than trauma? There is no shame in that. We all need support and to upgrade our skills. A good mentor, therapist, counselor, or friend can make all the difference in life.
  • Guidelines around food are good. Rules may be a bit overbearing if they are running your life. One day we will all leave this earth. Nobody is going to care about how well you did on your diet or how much you weighed. If you live well and love well, they will remember that.

When it comes down to it, how you do anything is how you do everything. If you approach food mindfully, you don’t need a lot of rules or experts to tell you what to do. Trust your own judgment. Engage with your food. Listen to what your body says about that engagement, and follow your gut. You’ll do just fine.

Ethics for Spiritual Healers

spiritual healers

If you engage in some form of spiritual healing- either as the practitioner or client- you have to consider ethics. Ethics? For spiritual healers? Yes, ethics always play a role in every aspect of life. All too often, this gets overlooked because many practitioners are not regulated and have no body overseeing their work. I believe that this is how it should be, however, it can lead to ignorance and abuses.

Before we can talk about where to draw the line, let’s first define “spiritual healing.” A long time ago, the Christian church divided people into mind, body, emotions, and spirit because it was believed that only God had the power to heal. By separating the body from the spirit, doctors had authority to heal the body.

When psychology came along about a hundred years ago, we began to look at the mind as a separate specialty. The East never made this split and so they have enjoyed thousands of years of holistic living.

So, when we speak of “spiritual healing,” we are generally talking about Eastern, pagan, or animistic healing methods that may be holistic in nature. We are also talking about healing modalities that are targeted to treat symptoms that either appear to have a metaphysical or supernatural cause or manifestation, or don’t respond to western approaches.

If you are a spiritual healer, here are some ethics you may wish to embrace to form the boundaries of your practice.

Respect Sovereignty

This means that everyone can decide for themselves whether or not they want to heal and what form that healing will take. Some people don’t want to heal. It may be more effort, time, money, or energy than they want to spend. Maybe they think it’s more fun to live an unhealthy lifestyle than to make changes. There could be some who derive gains from not healing that they don’t want to give up. Whatever the situation, everyone has the right to decide. We even have the right to make ineffective, damaging, wrong choices.

Just because you have the ability to help doesn’t mean you can jump in without permission. It doesn’t matter how dire the situation, you must have permission. This doesn’t mean your Higher Self asking their Higher Self. The absence of a yes is a no.

Do No Harm

Healers are generally motivated by the desire to help. However, there are some ways that we may harm such as:

  • promising results or miracles
  • using scare tactics to get someone to use our services
  • advising people against allopathic or other forms of treatment for their issues
  • treating people as if they are stupid and the healer is the expert
  • treating people as if they are objects or ATMS rather than human beings with feelings

Respect Privacy

All clients have a right to have their personal and medical history held in confidence. This creates an environment of trust where healing can happen. It’s common for spiritual healers to be a part of the community, so they know people who know each other. This makes it even more important that what happens in the treatment room stay in the treatment room. It’s never okay to share client stories with anyone.

Respect Diversity

People are different in many ways. We don’t have the same ethnicity, culture, spiritual beliefs, gender, political beliefs, socioeconomic background, physical capabilities, or sexual orientation. Age and life experiences (military, rape survivor, immigrant) also impact who we are. When we see each other for who we are, we can have meaningful relationships and make better treatment choices.

Stay Within Your Scope of Practice

When someone comes to you for healing, it’s professional to disclose what you are trained to do and to stay within your limitations. If you are a student, say you are a student. Don’t embellish. If someone has something that you can’t deal with, it’s imperative to refer them to someone who can help them.

Be the Best Healer You Can Be

We model health through our behavior. When we engage in self care, healthy relationships, and have healthy lifestyles, our clients learn from us. When we continue our education to learn more or go deeper, we become more effective. We owe it to ourselves and our clients to keep growing. Things change. New discoveries are made all the time. We need to keep current.

Serve Those Who Cannot Afford to Pay You

Every helping profession is about helping. Some folk healers do their work as part of their own personal ministry and service to the community. Some do it as a vocation. However, all helping professions value helping those who cannot help themselves. This doesn’t mean we have to work solely for donations or free. It suggests that we donate some services to those who wouldn’t be able to otherwise access what we have to offer.

Long ago folk healers were the only healers that communities had. We still have a place in society today. Since we don’t have a professional body to hold us accountable, we have to hold ourselves accountable. What other things do you find important?

Animist Wheel of the Year Cheat Sheet

wheel of the year cheat sheet

If you’re new to animism and need a little help understanding the wheel of the year, don’t fret. This animist wheel of the year cheat sheet will help things to click so that you can get into the groove of the seasons. You will be coming up with your own ideas that suit your geography in no time.

Keep in mind that the holy days are approximate and may change slightly from year to year. The Moon phase dates vary widely from year to year. The Sun enters each sign on the same days, but the Moon can arrive at any time within that 29 day span. For example, the Sun enters Scorpio on October 23 and leaves November 21. In 2020, the new Moon doesn’t get there until November 15. So use this as a guideline and check a lunar calendar to find out the actual dates and time.

Feel free to observe some dates and not others. Just do what calls to you.

January

Full Moon in Leo – Tired, wired, stress energy. Time to finish things up, let them go, move them out in the areas of recognition, being seen, and drama.

New Moon in Aquarius – Introspective time when your wants and needs are in alignment. Time to begin again in the areas of detachment, understanding, and experiencing freedom.

February

Promise of Spring Feb 1- the Sun began its return to domination back at the Winter Solstice, but now we begin to really notice that Spring is not far away. This is a quiet time for purification, fertility, creating things, protection, and prosperity.

Full Moon in Virgo – Tired, wired, stress energy. Time to finish things up, let them go, move them out in the areas of humility, perfectionism, analysis or service.

New Moon in Pisces – Introspective time when your wants and needs are in alignment. Time to begin again in the areas of spirituality, emotions, intuition, dreams, duality, and Shadow energy.

March

springFull Moon in Libra – Tired, wired, stress energy. Time to finish things up, let them go, move them out in the areas of balance, impartiality, indecision and relationships.

New Moon in Aries – Introspective time when your wants and needs are in alignment. Time to begin again in the areas of newness, action, assertiveness, leadership, and courage.

Spring Equinox  March 20– this is the balance of light and dark, when the Day and Night are equal length. It’s time to contemplate complimentary duality and sink into opposites and paradoxes.

April

Full Moon in Scorpio – Tired, wired, stress energy. Time to finish things up, let them go, move them out in the areas of passion, transformation, death, sex, extremes, and control.

New Moon in Taurus – Introspective time when your wants and needs are in alignment. Time to begin again in the areas of beauty, material possessions, stubbornness, steadiness, and practicality.

May

May Day May 1– it’s time for the first harvest. Early spring crops like strawberries are beginning to ripen in abundance. It’s time to celebrate fertility, life, and connect with the ancestors with bonfires, sex, and rituals.

Full Moon in Sagittarius – Tired, wired, stress energy. Time to finish things up, let them go, move them out in the areas of religion, devotion, ideals, adventure, travel, and expansion.

New Moon in Gemini Introspective time when your wants and needs are in alignment. Time to begin again in the areas of communication, socializing, change, and curiosity.

June

summerFull Moon in Capricorn – Tired, wired, stressed energy. Time to finish things up, let them go, move them out in the areas of ambition, work, determination, pragmatism, goals, and self-control.

New Moon in Cancer – Introspective time when your wants and needs are in alignment. Time to begin again in the areas of feelings, the mother, instinct, nurturing, empathy, connections.

Summer Solstice June 22- Today is the longest day of light. The Sun is at its strongest. From this day onward, it will lose a little power to the Darkness. The Sun is the focus. You can include anything that has to do with light, like candles, bonfire, or sunflowers.

July

Full Moon in Aquarius – Tired, wired, stressed energy. Time to finish things up, let them go, move them out in the areas of detachment, understanding, and experiencing freedom.

New Moon in Leo – Introspective time when your wants and needs are in alignment. Time to begin again in the areas of recognition, being seen, and drama.

August

Feast of Transformation Aug 1 Today is a harvest day that centers around the Sun and grains that will get us through the winter. Transformation is about sacrifices, or endings so that new things can begin. Our crops die so that we can live. We celebrate with fire and play.

Full Moon in Pisces- Tired, wired, stressed energy. Time to finish things up, let them go, move them out in the areas of spirituality, emotions, intuition, dreams, duality, and Shadow energy.

New Moon in Virgo Introspective time when your wants and needs are in alignment. Time to begin again in the areas of humility, perfectionism, analysis or service.

September

autumnFull Moon in Aries – Tired, wired, stress energy. Time to finish things up, let them go, move them out in the areas of newness, action, assertiveness, leadership, and courage.

New Moon in Libra Introspective time when your wants and needs are in alignment. Time to begin again in the areas of balance, impartiality, indecision and relationships.

Fall Equinox Sept 22 this is the balance of light and dark, when the Day and Night are equal length. It’s time to contemplate complimentary duality and sink into opposites and paradoxes.

October

Full Moon in Taurus – Tired, wired, stress energy. Time to finish things up, let them go, move them out in the areas of beauty, material possessions, stubbornness, steadiness, and practicality.

New Moon in Scorpio – Introspective time when your wants and needs are in alignment. Time to begin again in the areas of passion, transformation, death, sex, extremes, and control.

November

Ancestor Day Nov 1 The ancestors are important every day, but today is the day when it’s easiest to connect with them. So we honor them with visits to the graves, cleaning the graves, bringing them food, telling their stories, and talking to them.

Full Moon in Gemini – Tired, wired, stress energy. Time to finish things up, let them go, move them out in the areas of communication, socializing, change, and curiosity.

New Moon in Sagittarius – Introspective time when your wants and needs are in alignment. Time to begin again in the areas of religion, devotion, ideals, adventure, travel, and expansion.

December

winterFull Moon in Cancer – Tired, wired, stress energy. Time to finish things up, let them go, move them out in the areas of feelings, the mother, instinct, nurturing, empathy, connections.

New Moon in Capricorn – Introspective time when your wants and needs are in alignment. Time to begin again in the areas of ambition, work, determination, pragmatism, goals, and self-control.

Winter Solstice Dec 21 Death arrived on Ancestor Day. With it came the cold. Now we’re deep at rest on the longest night of the year. The Sun regains its strength tomorrow and will slowly return and bring life back with it. Tonight we celebrate the Sun’s return with prayers, a bonfire, a feast, songs, welcome the sunrise, or contemplate the darkness.

This is just a brief summary of what’s happening as the days go by. Check out our youtube channel, this blog, and our podcast for more ideas to help you make the year more personal and meaningful.

You can also watch the Moon each night to help you stay in sync with the wheel of life. The Moon changes so fast and looks different every day. It can help you appreciate each day and the idea of transience.

Why We Allow “Those People” in Pan Society

racists in Pan Society

When we created Pan Society, we gave mindful discussion to the name. Names are important. We chose “Pan” because pan means “all.” Animism is the belief that all life is sacred, connected, and One. It doesn’t end with the lifeforms that you don’t like, aren’t popular, or aren’t nice. This belief is why we allow “those people” in Pan Society.

So, who are “those people?” They could be anyone: pale skinned people, dark skinned people, Jews, Christians, Muslims, homosexuals, homophobes, racists, sexists, disabled people, homeless people, Travelers, black sheep, outliers, weirdos, etc.

Why? Here’s why.

Growth

Growth doesn’t happen in comfort and safety. It happens through challenges, sweat, and tears. You don’t always know if you are the teacher or the student, but if you are in the game, the chance for you to grow always exists. So let people and experiences into your sphere who shake you up. Let life challenge and thrill you. If not, is it a meaningful life?

People with different beliefs and cultures are a gift. They bring us ways to see things in different ways. Don’t shrink from that. Embrace it! (if you dare) Remember that our most sacred teachers are the outliers.

Love Always Wins

I have had a lot of conversations lately about who is right on political and social issues. We all think we’re right, but we never really know until we’re often so distant from the issue that it doesn’t matter anymore. Just because something is popular or legal doesn’t mean it’s good, just, or right.

  • Segregated schools were legal in the USA until 1968.
  • Millions people looked the other way and/or directly participated in the extermination of 6 million Jews in World War II.
  • Slavery existed for millenia before it was finally abolished in most of the world.
  • There are laws now to protect handicapped, elderly, women, and homosexuals against discrimination.

None of this could have happened without public approval. It’s always good to be willing to be wrong. When in doubt, love it out.

Everybody Deserves to Maintain Their Dignity

Frank Barron said, “Never take a person’s dignity: it is worth everything to them, and nothing to you.” Sound advice.

The Germans were thoroughly humiliated at the end of World War I. This created a breeding ground for the hate that resulted in World War II. The same can happen to any group that is marginalized, isolated, and reviled.

Bullies become bullies because they were bullied. Hurt people hurt people. Shunning people perpetuates the cycle. Giving people a place at the table and treating them with dignity ends the abuse through compassion and understanding. It doesn’t happen overnight, but without that opportunity, it doesn’t happen at all.

You Still Have Your Sovereignty

If someone says something you don’t like, you can elect to ignore them. Just because we all have a seat at the table doesn’t mean you have to engage with everyone. We all have different triggers and levels of tolerance. Use your sovereignty to choose if and how you want to engage.

We’re Respectful

I have to say that we’ve had some high spirited conversations in Pan Society, but I’ve never seen anyone be disrespectful. There is a difference between thoughts that some think are unpopular and harmful or abusive behaviors. We aren’t condoning harming anyone, and we aren’t the thought police. Both can be true at the same time.

Life’s Painful

So many people want to live in the Summer of life where we’re full of power, beauty, and abundance, but nobody gets there without going through the pain of birth, growing pains, and then it’s all followed by the pain of decline, loss, and death. Life’s dirty and painful. Everything is a mirror of this. Relationships, too.

And animism is a relational spiritual path. We can’t expect to be friendly with everyone, but if we have great boundaries (sovereignty), then deep, meaningful connections become possible. So, we take the good with the bad, and do the best we can to be good neighbors. There is no place that is just love and light. Nature doesn’t behave that way, and that’s okay.

We All Have a Shadow

The person who points the finger at another for being “X” is not in touch with his Shadow. Let me tell you, we all have a Shadow.

Look at the Sun. We only know it’s light because of the dark. Without darkness, there would be no way to define the light. So, they go together.

We cannot love what we do not accept. Self love is perhaps the hardest love to achieve. The easiest way to get there that I’ve found is acceptance of the Shadows that you see in others. Trust and believe they are also in you even if you can’t see them.

Acceptance is not the same thing as condoning. It doesn’t mean we allow abuse. It doesn’t mean we don’t advocate for changes that we believe in or let offenses pass. It just means that we live in the grey. We accept the person as a fellow human being of value even as we disagree with his beliefs or behaviors. Sometimes it means we create distance so that we can feel safe.

I know it takes a great deal of courage to be whole. It’s easy to be angry, judgmental, and put up walls. If you want to feel the fullness of your self in the greatness of the world, I invite you to try another way. Relate to everything. Accept everything. Let yourself and others be their authentic selves. See what a beautiful world it is then.

Why We Don’t Videotape or Photograph Rituals

rituals

A listener wants to know why we don’t videotape or photograph rituals. There are some exceptions to this rule, like weddings, but it holds true in most situations. Here’s why.

You’re a Participant, Not a Spectator

If you are a part of the ritual, you need to be fully present to get the most out of it. If you are taking pictures, you’re not in the headspace to benefit. You’re making yourself an outsider to the event, not a part of it. So you detract from your own experience. The best experiences are the ones for which there is no evidence because you were so fully invested that you totally forgot to record it.

Respect Other’s Privacy

If it’s a group ritual, it’s an invasion of privacy to record other people without their consent. It’s not easy to only capture your part of the event and leave everyone else out.

It Ruins the Collective Vibe

When we are in ritual together, there is a collective vibe. What each person brings to the table impacts the big picture vibe. If one or two are fiddling with lighting, using flash, or are cheesing in the corner for a photo, it makes the energy less sacred and more party or social gathering. That defeats the purpose of the ritual and ruins the collective vibe. Just don’t.

Reduces Vulnerability

The Observer Effect is when someone who is being watched changes their behavior because they are being watched. In ritual this often means that people are less vulnerable. You have to be vulnerable to connect deeply. Without it, the power and meaning are reduced. If ritual space is not safe, people won’t engage.

Honors the Sacred

When we connect with the sacred, we take only memories. There are things that happen in liminal space that are meant to stay within. They are not to be brought out into the physical world to be shared. Ritual is personal. Let it be personal. Digest it. Ponder it. Savor it. If you capture it and duplicate it, the energy often flows from it.

If you are going to a ritual and are concerned about photography or want to take pictures, ask the host for the rules for this event. The guidelines are not hard and fast.

You may also want to ask your heart what is the best thing for you. It often feel “yucky” to take more than memories. If you have this feeling, honor it.

How to Hold a Night Vigil

night vigil

We get a lot of requests for rituals. I get it. Lots of people want step-by-step directions and outward signs that they are practicing animists. The night vigil is a very flexible, common ritual that can be used for many purposes. Keep reading and I’ll explain how to do one.

What is a Night Vigil?

A night vigil is a keeping a watchful presence in the dark when you’d normally be sleeping. It generally takes place from sundown to sun up the next day. It is often held on the eve of a holy day, but can be done whenever there is a need, such as when someone dies.

Why Do We Do Night Vigils?

Everything in animism is symbolic and holistic. We do vigils at night because the darkness symbolizes the unknown or something scary. We generally have a candle, lamp, or bonfire at a vigil to illuminate the darkness. So, we perform vigils to raise awareness or move into the darkness or discomfort so that we can see our way through.

Define the Purpose

As always, we start any ritual by setting our intention. Without a clear purpose, we could be all over the place. Some examples of reasons why someone might do a night vigil are:

  • help the recently deceased in their journey to the Otherworld
  • express grief or other emotions that are too dark or heavy to feel without the container of a ritual
  • honor the ancestors
  • raise community awareness about social or political issues
  • enhance your own spiritual connection
  • find answers or guidance on issues that are eluding you
  • to remember victims of a tragedy
  • observe a holy day/celebrate the change of seasons

Create the Boundaries of the Vigil

Now it’s time to look at the details. What would be a suitable location – your backyard, a cemetery, a community center, a public park? Is it solo or for a group? Is it public or private? Do you want it to be highly structured or spontaneous? What is the mood? Festive or somber? Do you want to highlight particular issues through song, storytelling, speeches, or meditations? Or do you want everyone to have their own experience?

Be sure to have a clear beginning and end. A simple way to do this is to open and close sacred space.

Lots of animist holy days are observed with a night vigil. Some rituals also are framed this way. This is a rather strenuous commitment, so don’t be worried if you can’t maintain wakefulness the whole night. Perhaps it is feedback that you need to work on your discipline. Or maybe it’s as it should be, and you got what you were meant to get out of it. If you go into it with pure intentions, I am sure it will be fine.

Generally speaking, the more a ritual asks of you, the more you get out of it. So the night vigil can be really powerful. It’s not something to undertake lightly. I’d love to hear your experiences with this practice.

Why Poetry Is an Amazing Tool to Deepen Your Animist Experience

poetry is an amazing tool

Look at that kitty. What can you say about this picture that will make me feel something?

Whatever you conjure, that’s poetry. It’s communication from your soul that bypasses your intellect and go straight to your truth. THAT is why poetry is an amazing tool to deepen your animist experience.

To get to the essence of a thing, you have to forget what you think you know and see it anew. You have to go deeply sensual, into those feelings, taste, touch, smell, and notice all the nooks, crannies, and ripples of a thing. You have to get to know it, if not create a relationship with it. Search until you find the truth of it, then speak it.

In the process, you get to know yourself. We (and I include our inanimate brothers in this) are all mirrors of each other. Sometimes we see ourselves in the glass and sometimes we hold up the glass so others can see themselves.

Look at these lines from “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Do her words move you? Do you see something new? Can you feel the truth?

Good poetry doesn’t judge. It just speaks what it finds. In that space of truth, healing can happen. Maybe understanding. Or compassion. Forgiveness. Or perhaps tethered grief is unleashed.

We live too much in a world of thoughts, judgments, and pronouncements – things that really distance us from living. Poetry is an escape from goals, 5 year plans, deadlines, duties, and rules. It’s a journey to the heart of what is.

When you’re alone, sometimes it helps to feel understood. Poetry can do that. It connects us. Check out “How’s Your Heart” by Charles Bukowski.

to awaken in a cheap room
in a strange city and
pull up the shade
was the craziest kind of
contentment

Poetry takes us to a natural place. It opens us up, breaks patterns, and sets new ones in motion. It can transform us and take us higher than we imagined possible.

For one final example of why poetry is an amazing tool to deepen your animist experience, let’s look to Rumi who said:

At night, I open the window
and ask the moon to come
and press its face against mine.
Breathe into me.
Close the language-door
and open the love-window.
The moon won’t use the door,
only the window.

Now how does the kitty look?

Want to share your soul? Your moments in time? Please leave us a comment.