What’s in a name?

The other day, Sorita D’Este posed a question on her Facebook page that I always give serious thought whenever any variation of it comes up:

What do you name yourself in relation to your magical or spiritual path, and what is the qualifying factor allowing you to do that?

Since I am so long-winded and tend to really go in deep with questions like this, I decided to respond in full with a blog post rather than making peoples’ eyes cross on Facebook.

Continue reading “What’s in a name?”

On the nature of ego

I have been bingeing the TV series The Exorcist recently, and in the second season, I suddenly realized that there was a lot going on regarding the nature of ego in the younger priest, Father Thomas.  At the end of season 1, he had succeeded in doing something that had previously been though impossible.  Because of this, he decided that he had been Chosen™ by God in order to perform this miracle.

In the first half of season 2, Tomas gets cocky and mouthy to his mentor ( defrocked Father Marcus, who had been an exorcist for many years) and, at one point, basically, “You hate it that God chose me, not you!”  Talk about giant ego right there.  Since I’m Buddhist, this duality really stuck out to me and made me do some thinking.

It seems to me that it is human nature to want to be unique, remarkable, special in one way or another.  We drive our kids to make the grade, make the team, be the team captain, etc.  As adults, we want to be known as the go-to person on one subject or another.  We jockey for the promotion or the raise and we get upset and sullen if we don’t get the recognition that we think that we deserve.  Therein lies the problem:  Most people are not unique, remarkable, or particularly special in any significant way.  We’re mostly average and run of the mill.

That’s not to say that we are not special to our friends and families, or that we have particular talents, but people generally fall within a relatively narrow spectrum of difference.  There are cases where a certain person exhibits some particularly advanced skill, but the Mozart-like virtuoso is rare indeed.  Most of the time, the remarkable people have nothing but drive and determination that separates them from the proverbial herd.

Back to the TV show:  When Father Tomas had it out with Father Marcus, it struck me that Tomas was suffering with an intense bout of ego and separation from his partner and their work.  What Marcus didn’t understand is that what he thought of as being Chosen™ was nothing more than being in the right place at the right time, with the right tools.  In other words, he lucked out and didn’t recognize it.

This is important, because it also helped me realize that *I* am still wanting to be a unique and special snowflake, and get disappointed (dukkha) because of my attachment to that desire.

Obviously, I have some stuff to work on still.

Hello, my name is Shoshin 正心

December 3, 2017 was a very auspicious day for me.  I will remember it as the day that I finally became a “real” Buddhist, never mind that I have been doing some of the work on my own for over a decade.

What do I mean that I became a “real” Buddhist?  I mean, I had previously spoken the formula for taking refuge, only alone and in the privacy of my own home.  It’s kind of hard to take refuge in the sangha with little or nothing in the way of sangha, so for the longest time, I dealt with imposter syndrome…  I claimed it, but I didn’t feel it.

Continue reading “Hello, my name is Shoshin 正心”

Joining the Covenant of Hekate

A few years ago, I somehow stumbled across the Covenant of Hekate and devoured their public website.  I joined their public Facebook group, too, in an effort to learn more about how they viewed things.

What I learned about them was that, as opposed to my usual inclination, I wanted to take an active part and become a full fledged member.  This makes a total of 2 Pagan organizations that I have wanted to join.  More after the jump

Sigil of the Covenant of Hekate Continue reading “Joining the Covenant of Hekate”

The end of a personal era

Today, I received my final installment of the OBOD Bardic course.  I didn’t realize that it was my last one when I opened the mailbox and smiled, but once I opened the envelope, it was clear.  I am left with something to ponder.

I started this course of home study some 10 years ago, in a different personal age, and as I was living a different “life.”  I understand that, during my long stints of absence, the course has gone through a re-write, so I have part of the old course and part of the new.  Without knowing the differences, I don’t find a disconnect between the two version-parts that I have.

As the OBOD courses are experiential in nature, I won’t discuss much about the teachings, but I don’t feel that I gained much from this segment of the studies, because it is so very much a study in fundamentals.  I came to the Bardic course with a strong basis in Paganism and other general spiritual studies.

That’s not to say that I feel that my time and money was wasted, because I don’t.  I learned a few things, and re-enforced my previous studies, and I looked at some of the material with new eyes.  I think that the course was well put together, but it wasn’t as in-depth as I would have liked (I like challenging material).  I am sharing the course with a friend of mine, and I believe that he will get some good out of it, as I think (i could be wrong) that his experiences are not as fundamental as mine are/were when I started.

I’ll be proceeding to the Ovate grade of the Order, I think.  This packet included some basic information about the Ovate studies, and they look like something that I would both enjoy and learn a good deal from.

The final step on the Bardic path is to write a review of the course material and my experiences with it.  That should make for an interesting retrospective, I think.

A little Karma is a good thing.

I just posted about my (yet to be delivered) Karma Go over on my regular blog, Changes of Man.

Ummmm… What is a Karma Go, you ask? It’s a mobile WiFi hot spot that anyone can connect to. Anybody that connects and makes a new Karma account gets 100 MB of free data to use… And I get a free 100 MB for sharing. It’s really a pretty cool concept, in my mind.

But, Karma has had some trouble getting this thing to market, but shipping has started. Now, the wait is making me antsy. I was fine, knowing that the device was still in somewhat of a limbo, but now that it’s shipping, I WANT MINE NAO! lol.

Instant Karma (go) is gonna get ya.

I’m all about that base… Err, book

I’ve noticed that, even though I’ve said I’m theoretically writing about Buddhism and Paganism, I haven’t posted much about the former.  I think that’s because, for now, I’m not confused about my Buddhist side, while I’m trying to figure out the Pagan aspect of my spirituality. 

In other words, I’m fairly certain about my Buddhism, but I’m confused about the Pagan stuff. Most of my current reading (outside of school work) is Druid and Celtic based, but I have a couple of Zen books in the hopper.  I’ve also been neglecting my Zen practice, in an effort (though off-balanced) to come back to a certain level of Druid practice.

Right now, though, I am reading “The Rebirth of Druidry” by Philip Carr-Gomm, “Spirituality Without Structure: The Power of Finding Your Own Path” by Nimue Brown and my material for the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids Bardic grade.  On my “next up” list, I have a full dozen books, including “Everyday Zen” and “Nothing Special: Living Zen” by the late Charlotte Joko Beck.

I’m also doing some reading on the Greek  goddess Hecate, whom (I have chosen/who has chosen me) (not sure which one is more accurate) to work with for now.  So, yeah.  I’m a busy little beaver.

Edit to add:  Yes, I know that the Meghan Trainor song is “All About that Bass” rather than base.  I was making a pun, whereby the books are a foundation for my knowledge and journey.  Just so you know. 😀

Beloved of the Gods

I’ve been sitting with this sort of thing myself recently. I am a Buddhist Druid, married to a Hellenic devotional polytheist (DP) of Poseidon, we are living with a (Heathen? Hellen? Not sure at the moment) DP of Loki (and others), who is dating a Heathen DP of Freya, who is also good friends with my wife. I tell my wife that it can get a little lonely, not being part of “the club” that they all seem to be involved in.

I’m about 10-years further than Nimue is, but seemingly in the same place. I was spiritually devout in my 20s, lost it in my 30s (along with my mental health. Diagnosed major depression, anxiety, and OCD) , and in my 40s I’m trying to regain some sense of spirit in myself. I very much enjoyed “When a Pagan Prays” and am grateful that Nimue wrote it, and especially HOW she wrote it, with so much raw openness. I saw much of my own doubts there.

I’m not sure if I can call myself a polytheist, but Kristen calls me more than an animist. I’m certain that I’m not a Devotional, though. I feel no pull to dedicate myself to any gods even though I currently feel an affinity for Hecate and Hades, and choose to recognize them in my own way, along with my Buddhist faith.

But, like Nimue says, I feel no pull, hear no call, and some days wish I did, because it would be no small relief and validation. Instead, I muddle along and try to be OK with what is, as it is. “Non-attachment” the Buddhists say, is the way to remove dukkah. I’m still attached.

Ok, ok, yeah, I know…

I’ve currently unemployed, our bills are piling up, and I’m a grad student working on a dual Master’s in Homeland Security and Emergency Management, with about two and a half years to go. Kristen metaphorically smacked me upside the head and told me to worry about it after we get ourselves on an even keel.

But I still want it. Much more substantial than the ULC Seminary work that I had been playing at, with the added bonus of reputable credentials.

Thoughts on creating a Zen Druid shrine at home

For the longest time, I have entertained the fantasy of having a kendo at home, with tatami floor coverings, noren hanging in the doorway, art scrolls adorning the walls and a butsudan at one end. Reality dictates that this remains in the realm of fantasy for the foreseeable future, since we live in a small home with lots of people in it.

Since the zendo is not happening any time soon, my next best is to install a small shrine somewhere. I have a corner void next to my desk that is collecting dust, dog hair, and “stuff” right now, but with a little ingenuity I could turn it into a personal shrine, either on a small square table or on some shelving installed on the wall. I’m going to go with the shelving idea, I think. But do I want one or more stacked long shelves or do I want a couple of stacked corner shelves? Both have their appeal, so more thinking (and spousal approval) is needed.

But then what to put on it? I have my blue Buddha tea light holder (whom I chose to see as Medicine Buddha) and the singing bowl that I was gifted with a couple of years ago. I also have my ensō incense bowl. I think I have Zen covered, but what to add for Druidry?

I’m thinking a miniature mortar and pestle that I have, symbolizing herb craft, and a couple of offering dishes to include earth (salt) and water. I thik I might need one of these (or these, or one of these… Not sure which would serve me best), for Hecate, whom I will be working with for a while. Why? I’m not sure yet, but I’m decidedly Chthonic in attitude, and not ready to declare that I might actually be polytheist. I’ve got a lot of spirit to recover before I can even think about that. (another long story. Maybe I’ll tell it, not sure yet)

I know for sure that I want a 7-day candle burning on my shrine, but I’m not sure what the rest of the family will think about that. I also know that I do not want it to look like a coven of “Charmed” fans threw up on it. Clean, simple, direct.

But corner shelves or long shelves?