Saturday, April 28, 2012

Workin' a Thurible

The word "thurible" comes from the Old French thurible, which in turn is derived from the Latin term "thuribulum". The Latin word thuribulum has the root "thur", meaning incense. The Latin "thur" is an alteration of the Greek word "thuos", which is derived from the term "thein", meaning to sacrifice.
Today we know a thurible as the actual metal censer (incense burner) used in churches, and in our pagan rituals, to purify and cleanse a sacred space.
Thuribles are the best way to really rid a space of negativity. They call for the use of flammable substances, so please exercise caution.
Thuribles should be done in iron cauldrons as there is no chance of the extreme heat shattering it. You can use any heat proof container but most clay and glass bowls will crack due to the intense heat. The ratios of ingredients stay the same no matter what size vessel you use. The surface area is what will allow it to burn the same in any vessel, though in very small diameter vessels (3-4 inches) the flames will be very high, so use these with extreme caution.

-2 tbls. of rubbing alcohol *Do NOT use spirits (rum, vodka, etc.) Rubbing alcohol is only 70% alcohol and does not burn as hot as these spirits will.
-1 tsp. of Epsom salts or sea salt
-½ tsp. of herbs, seeds, roots, or resin incense such as; cardamom, juniper berries, frankincense, myrrh, copal, benzoin, allspice, cloves, coriander, orange peel, etc.
-Light the rubbing alcohol by throwing a match in the cauldron, then toss in your herbs, then your salts. Lots of popping equals lots of negativity being burned, minimal popping equals a positive space.

Try this ancient practice of space clearing in your home or area of worship, just use caution, as with any working that involves heat or fire.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Building a Foundation.

It makes sense that any time you try something new, you want to learn how to do it correctly and struggle not to make any mistakes. I think most of us want to be good at something and will strive to reach that goal. Many of us, devote our lives to something- raising our children, our work, organizations, causes. We may not be the "best" at what we devoted our lives to, but indeed, we were "devoted". Devoted has much more worth in the scheme and scales of life than being "the best".

Often, many of us find ourselves on paths differing from organized religion because the beliefs did not coincide with ours. We simply could not LIVE these paths without lying to ourselves-which is a huge problem and something there is no room for in spirituality. So we begin to seek parallel paths. I dislike the term "alternative path" because there is no alternative to wanting live right. Either you want to or you don't. And even this changes at certain points in our lives. Just because we do not necessarily put effort into living right when we are youths, doesn't mean we never will. So, treat those teenagers and twenty-somethings you know that are "fuck-ups" with respect and care-who knows who they will become?

So where do we begin on our new found parallel path of spirituality? It's so deep and vast...and overwhelming. But that in itself is the beauty. Our paths are so deep and vast that we can all fit in regardless of color, sexual preference, origin, and previous creed. Why? Well, many of us, as Pagans, follow and work with traditions that we may not belong to as a ethnic group. For example, I know many Pagans who worship Egyptian, Celtic, or Norse pantheons, just to name a few. Do they have Egyptian, Celtic or Norse bloodlines-most likely not. If we borrow and use traditions from all over the world making us an accepting group of religious folks, steeped in traditions, cultures, and history, then why do we get so pissed when Christianity borrows some of the traditions as well? It's not really fair is it? And we, as Pagans, pride ourselves on our equal treatment of other paths and religions don't we?

My point is that we need to look at the vastness and depths of these paths as welcoming and accepting. Once you change your viewpoint and start looking at things another way, we can see that what we fear, is also why we love these paths.

Where to start though? With new students who are often unfamiliar with working with deity or rituals, I encourage them to discover their roots. To find out the heritage of their parents and what countries their great grandparents came from. The traditions were practiced by them and only need reawakening by you.
Awaken your roots, your culture. Trace your family tree. Find out who you will become by finding out where you came from. Often the cultures we find will strike memories or chords within us. they will resonate, as if they are somehow genetically imprinted within us. And, in ways, they are.

The next step is the hardest; DON'T OVER-THINK IT. There are hundreds of thousands of metaphysical and new age books out there-too many in fact-and most are worthless. It seems anyone is qualified to tell someone how to practice, which is ridiculous. Don't get me wrong, I love following a good old traditional ritual, I lead one every month with my sisters when we celebrate the sabbats and esbats. And some are even from books I really care for, books that changed my life. However, I know that if I miss a step or word, that everything is going to work just fine.

How do I know? I know because our paths do not have deities that will punish you if you forget a word. In fact, that is why a lot of you left your Christian upbringings-because of the wrathful God full of punishment you were taught to fear. A God who did not accept your sexuality or choices in life. A God, who could not possibly be there for you because you were not good enough the way you were. You had to repent and change.

 I know for a fact, any worship is better than no worship. So, if you forget to say this or do that-who cares?! Not the Gods. A lightening bolt will not come out of the sky and strike you down. You left that kind of fear, right? So make sure you have truly done that-left your fear-and practice fearlessly! Spirituality and fear belong no where near each other. It is better to try than to not. And really, what is the worst that could happen if you "mess up"?

How can what is in your heart be wrong? Many of use have had our intuition and gut instincts preached out of us. Or so we feel. But feelings aren't always correct, are they? Your intuition still exists and it will only get stronger as you acknowledge it. This is what will guide you down your path.

What is necessary? Calling the quadrants? Casting the circle? Spell work?

What is necessary is that you DO something every day that has to do with your spirituality. Often, many of us won't even try because we are so overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. Again, fear. Start with the basics in order to build your confidence and remember to be aware and listen. When you wake up say a gratitude prayer for what you have in your life. "I am thankful for...." You may not believe you have anything. Then you are right, and that is all you will ever have if you keep thinking that way. If keep doing the same things, you will always get the same results. If you have food in your refrigerator, you have more than most people in the world. Start with that.

If you already work with particular deities speak to them-then LISTEN. What is the use of speaking if you do make time to hear the reply? When you pray, send out only what you want or are grateful for and then watch and listen. Do not say " I am broke" because then you truly will be. Words have power and we often screw ourselves with our own words. Instead try "Please let me find a way to better care for my family". Turn off your computer, shut off the TV. Light a candle or incense and listen for a few minutes. EACH DAY.

You have the time.

Be aware. In this age we can be aware and educated of anything we want with a push of a button and a click of a mouse. If you have enough time to share all those stupid FB posts then you have time to invest in reading some spiritual writings or looking up deities or saints to get to know. A perfect example of this is when people say things like "Oh, I didn't know so and so had fallen on hard times and were short on food, or I would have helped". Really? How often did you stop by their house? If you would have stopped by, perhaps you would have seen that they were in need.

Did you really make an effort to be aware? Leading a spiritual life just doesn't happen, it's work. In turn, if a deity is sending us a message and we don't take the time to stop by with prayer, how will we receive the message they have? You've asked all those time for signs and then never slowed down to read them.

Correct ritual sequence, when, where, what to say, is pretty irrelevant to actual worship. Worship must always come before learning any complicated ritual or working. A ritual is pointless without prayer, power, and heart behind it. It can be fun to learn these things, and it is important to learn how to write a ritual so you have the ability to rely on yourself when you need something rather than crappy new age books. For that you do need to know correct ritual sequence. BUT, for right now, just get in the habit of taking time each day, saying a prayer-not only for yourself, but for others-learning to be grateful for what you have, educating yourself about your path, and being aware.

Your confidence will grow and you will be taking on new workings and bigger rituals because you are ready for them. Build your foundation, simple and strong. Then you will be confident enough to pick up the bricks to lay your own path.

Altars and Workings