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This blog is all about all the things that make me up. I am a Mother, I am a Pagan Witch, I am a Wife, I am a homemaker, I am a student, I am Spiritual, I am a Teacher, I am Liberal Hippie, I am a Voter, and I am extremely opinionated! Plan to see it all! If you don't like what you see, feel free to leave! However, chances are, if you stick around, you'll find more to love than hate!


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Just Added To My "TO-READ" List - Survivalist & Homesteading Books

As you know, I'm a reader. I'm usually working on 2 or 3 books at once - sometimes more.  I keep them all over the house, my car, have one in my purse...  So when I have a subject that I'm interested in or learning about, the first thing I do is find out what books I should read.  For the last few years I've been "playing" with the idea of homesteading and survivalism, but I haven't really jumped in fully yet.  I have a lot on my plate and I've been nervous of adding anything more. You can't devote yourself to more than one master, right?!?  But the more and more I dive in to my other studies - Holistics, Herbs, Gardening, Magick, etc, I'm seeing that they are all rather well connected to one another. They're in some ways, very one in the same.

So I've decided it's time to start reading up on the issues. But the last thing I want to do is waste my time and energy on reading things that aren't worth it.  So I asked around and started reading book reviews on Survivalist and Homesteading blogs & sites.

Below are SOME of the titles I plan to be adding to my reading list...

Book Description from Amazon: 
How would you go about rebuilding a technological society from scratch?

If our technological society collapsed tomorrow, perhaps from a viral pandemic or catastrophic asteroid impact, what would be the one book you would want to press into the hands of the postapocalyptic survivors? What crucial knowledge would they need to survive in the immediate aftermath and to rebuild civilization as quickly as possible—a guide for rebooting the world?

Human knowledge is collective, distributed across the population. It has built on itself for centuries, becoming vast and increasingly specialized. Most of us are ignorant about the fundamental principles of the civilization that supports us, happily utilizing the latest—or even the most basic—technology without having the slightest idea of why it works or how it came to be. If you had to go back to absolute basics, like some sort of postcataclysmic Robinson Crusoe, would you know how to re-create an internal combustion engine, put together a microscope, get metals out of rock, accurately tell time, weave fibers into clothing, or even how to produce food for yourself?

Regarded as one of the brightest young scientists of his generation, Lewis Dartnell proposes that the key to preserving civilization in an apocalyptic scenario is to provide a quickstart guide, adapted to cataclysmic circumstances. The Knowledge describes many of the modern technologies we employ, but first it explains the fundamentals upon which they are built. Every piece of technology rests on an enormous support network of other technologies, all interlinked and mutually dependent. You can’t hope to build a radio, for example, without understanding how to acquire the raw materials it requires, as well as generate the electricity needed to run it. But Dartnell doesn’t just provide specific information for starting over; he also reveals the greatest invention of them all—the phenomenal knowledge-generating machine that is the scientific method itself. This would allow survivors to learn technological advances not explicitly explored in The Knowledge as well as things we have yet to discover.

The Knowledge is a brilliantly original guide to the fundamentals of science and how it built our modern world as well as a thought experiment about the very idea of scientific knowledge itself.

Book Description from Amazon:
Put your backyard to work! Enjoy fresher, organic, better-tasting food all the time. The solution is as close as your own backyard. Grow the vegetables and fruits your family loves; keep bees; raise chickens, goats, or even a cow. The Backyard Homestead shows you how it's done. And when the harvest is in, you'll learn how to cook, preserve, cure, brew, or pickle the fruits of your labor.

From a quarter of an acre, you can harvest 1,400 eggs, 50 pounds of wheat, 60 pounds of fruit, 2,000 pounds of vegetables, 280 pounds of pork, 75 pounds of nuts.

Book Description from Amazon: 
Be Well Prepared and Well Fed!
With all the uncertainty in the world today, there is peace in preparing. In an emergency, you don't want to depend on a grocery store or government agency to feed your family. Storing food assures your family's self-sufficiency year-round and benefits your budget when you plan correctly.
This in-depth, nuts-and-bolts guide to storing food teaches you a variety of food storage methods that you can customize to meet your family's unique circumstances including family size, tastes, ages, health concerns, income, and living conditions. This is not a generic manual on stocking dehydrated meals that have ten-year shelf lives. It's the guide to storing foods your family loves so you can eat well no matter what challenges life throws at you.
Inside you'll find:
  • Food-storage options for 72-hour emergency kits, short-term emergencies and long-term survival.
  • Food-storage planning methods that incorporate the foods and meals your family loves.
  • Tips for how to maintain balance and variety in your food storage.
  • Budget-friendly ways to purchase food for storage.
  • Easy and practical ideas for cooking with food in storage so nothing expires or goes to waste.
  • Organization and storage methods for easy food store maintenance.
  • Water storage and purification methods.
  • Canning, freezing and dehydrating methods to preserve food you produce at home.
Storing food gives you the freedom to stretch your income in tight-budget months, pack quick meals for short-notice trips, and create healthy meals without constantly going to the grocery store. Plus your stored food is available if you do experience an emergency power outage, natural disaster, long-term illness or job loss. Let this guide help you start building your self-sufficiency and food storage today.

Book Description from Amazon: 
Is your survival plan complete from A to Z? Are you truly 100 percent prepared? Because if you overlook one vital area, fail to stock one critical supply or underestimate one potential danger, your whole plan could come crashing down. The Prepper’s Complete Book of Disaster Readiness guarantees you won’t miss a thing as you prepare for the most important moment in your life. This bible of prepping shows each and every life-saving step necessary to keep your family alive and well when the world around you is in chaos, including how to:

• Efficiently store water and acquire additional fresh water after a collapse
• Build a shelf-stable food stock and supplement it by harvesting edible wild plants
• Strengthen the security of your home as well as have a back-up bug-out plan
• Treat illness and stay healthy when there are no doctors or hospitals
• Build a safe and secure survival retreat that allows for long-term off-the-grid living 

Book Description from Amazon:
The Weekend Homesteader is organized by month—so whether it’s January or June you’ll find exciting, short projects that you can use to dip your toes into the vast ocean of homesteading without getting overwhelmed. If you need to fit homesteading into a few hours each weekend and would like to have fun while doing it, these projects will be right up your alley, whether you live on a forty-acre farm, a postage-stamp lawn in suburbia, or a high rise.   

You'll learn about backyard chicken care, how to choose the best mushroom and berry species, and why and how to plant a no-till garden that heals the soil while providing nutritious food.  Permaculture techniques will turn your homestead into a vibrant ecosystem and attract native pollinators while converting our society's waste into high-quality compost and mulch. Meanwhile, enjoy the fruits of your labor right away as you learn the basics of cooking and eating seasonally, then preserve homegrown produce for later by drying, canning, freezing, or simply filling your kitchen cabinets with storage vegetables. As you become more self-sufficient, you'll save seeds, prepare for power outages, and tear yourself away from a full-time job, while building a supportive and like-minded community. You won't be completely eliminating your reliance on the grocery store, but you will be plucking low-hanging (and delicious!) fruits out of your own garden by the time all forty-eight projects are complete.

Book Description from Amazon:
Every year, rivers flood, hurricanes strike, and earthquakes shake buildings to the ground. Catastrophic disasters can hit anywhere at any time. There's simply no escaping them. The only reasonable thing you can do is get prepared. This beginner’s guide to prepping shows how to create a self-sustainable home for surviving anything from a power outage to societal collapse. In just a few hundred carefully thought-out pages, Countdown to Preparedness takes you and your families from clueless to completely ready. The life-saving program includes information on gathering food and water rations, stockpiling emergency supplies like batteries and first-aid materials, creating a bug-out plan, and even choosing firearms and other weapons for home defense. Accompanied with detailed illustrations and charts, Countdown to Preparedness offers a six-week course that takes you by the hand as it leads you from unprepared to expertly armed in every way. By the end of this book, you learn the survival skills, emergency stocks, and intuitive know-how to save your own life and the lives of your families in the worst of situations.

Book Description from Amazon: 

The deadly danger of disasters doesn't end when the waters recede or the earth stops shaking; it has just begun. The Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide goes beyond the basics of surviving in the immediate aftermath of catastrophe and teaches readers how to cope with the problems and challenges that can continue for weeks, months, and even years.

Including everything from pre-disaster prepping tips to post-catastrophe instructions for making life easier on the whole family, the book is a bible for anyone who hopes to stay alive. Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide balances hardcore planning—like purifying water and building emergency food storage that doesn’t require a power source—with simple ideas that can make all the difference like having portable solar panels to charge cell phones for vital communication and laptops for much-needed family entertainment.

Book Description from Amazon:
A companion volume to Backyard Homesteading, 40 Projects for Building Your Backyard Homestead provides details on how to build more than 40 projects to enhance readers' sustainable living. Even if they are only moderately handy, they’ll discover the tools and techniques for building their own feeders, fences, and structures. In the process, they’ll save money and have the satisfaction of doing it themselves.

Book Description from Amazon:
The Survival Medicine Handbook(tm) is a guide for those who want to be medically prepared for any disaster where help is NOT on the way. 

 The Survival Medicine Handbook (tm) is not your standard first aid book. It assumes that no hospital or doctor is available in the aftermath of a catastrophic event. This book will give you the tools to handle injuries and illness for when YOU might be the end of the line with regards to your family's medical well-being. In circumstances where medical personnel are overwhelmed and access to modern technology is limited or non-existent, The Survival Medicine Handbook(tm) is the essential reference book for every library. Written in plain English, you'll find step-by-step instructions on how to identify and treat over 100 different medical issues. The second edition also covers alternative remedies for almost every possible medical condition in situations where modern healthcare is inaccessible.


Book Description from Amazon:
From the creator of TheSurvivalMom.com comes this first-of-its-kind guidebook for all the “prepper” moms keen to increase their family's level of preparedness for emergencies and crises of all shapes and sizes. Publisher’s Weekly calls Lisa Bedford’s Survival Mom an “impressively comprehensive manual,” saying, “suburban mom Bedford helps readers learn about, prepare for, and respond to all manner of disasters. . . . From 'Instant Survival Tip' sidebars to a list of 'Lessons from the Great Depression'. . . Bedford's matter-of-fact yet supportive tone will keep the willies at bay.”

I haven't read these yet. I'm going to get one this week and read through it, then move on to another... But I would love to hear what you all think about these books if you've read them.  Or if you have books you think I should check out, please let me know...  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

No To Nuclear

If I haven't said it enough, I am about as Anti-Frack as one can be.  In my opinion we shouldn't be just limiting where fracking is permitted, we should be banning it all together.  And in time I feel we should take that same approach to coal and other fossil fuel dependent forms of energy production.  Looking at the headlines lately, I would say that a great deal of American's agree with me, at least where Fracking is concerned.

In an effort to escape the clutches of fossil fuel dependency our government has taken steps funding Nuclear Energy options.  They are touting nuclear energy as "safe" and "green."  In other words, they are lying straight to our faces!

Oh how short the memories of politicians (and a great many citizens) are.  Nuclear power is "green" compared with fossil fuel related pollution.  But lets think for a moment what is "green" power?  What does it mean to be "green?"  In my mind, and I believe in the minds of most Americans, it means "eco-friendly" or "Earth Friendly," which Nuclear Power is NOT!  IF we skip over discussing all of the dangers associated with accidents, and purely focus on what happens with properly working nuclear power plants, we still have some rather horrific issues to discuss.  And of course that means we don't mention all of the inevitable accidents and mistakes which take place whenever humans and nature get involved in anything.

In fact, even when handled properly and without ever being affected by natural or man made disasters, the post fission waste products are extremely toxic (and radioactive) to everything surrounding their disposal sites.  Ground and Water toxicity are common near both waste storage sites and surrounding the plants themselves.  Radiation surrounding plants and storage sites have lead to HUGE spikes in cancers, plant deaths, water contamination and mass animal die offs.

And of course that's all ignoring the fact that Nuclear Power has a tendency to blow up in our faces!  Think, if you will, back just a few short years to the Fukushima disaster.  Nothing the staff did was improper.  In fact from what all reports have said the plant was run extremely well and there was no foreseeable risk of disaster prior to the disaster.  But as usual, Mother Nature had her own agenda which ended in a complete meltdown in March 2011, from which we have not recovered.

Although all of the relocations, injuries and deaths associated with the Fukushima disaster are NOT directly linked to the atomic meltdown, the fact is this - Those living within 12 miles of the plant had to be evacuated from the surrounding area, few of which will ever have any hopes of reclaiming their homes. And of course because of it's placement along the ocean, we are STILL hearing warnings about eating fish coming out of Pacific waters...  Radiation from the disaster didn't just affect those local to it though, in fact radiation warnings were announced even as far away as Southern California.

Rewind back a few more years to the 1986 and we find another major disaster associated with Nuclear Power.  Chernobyl is possibly the most well known nuclear disaster as it's remains have become popular among the many programs which focus on the decay of abandoned man made structure.

The Remains of Reactor 4, Chernobyl
Unlike the disaster in 2011, Chernobyl was not caused by the wrath of Mother Nature, but was purely man made.  According to reports from USSR officials there was a "sudden and unexpected" power surge.  Workers attempted an emergency shutdown which caused an much larger spike in power output which then lead to a reactor vessel rupture and a series of explosions.  As a result the graphite moderator of the reactor became exposed to the air and ignited. The radioactive fallout set off alarms in a nuclear plant in Switzerland and have since lead to the evacuation of over 350,000 people from what their governments believe to be the most severely contaminated areas of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. It's worth noting that these evacuations are ONGOING!

The death toll related to Chernobyl is difficult to track down.  The direct death toll from the accident has been completely limited to the reactor staff and emergency workers, at 31 individuals.  Since that time the "official" number has climbed to 64 as of 2008. But, the eventual death toll estimates reach as high as 4000 from radiation related illnesses and injuries. It's worth noting though that this estimate ONLY takes in to account deaths, and makes no mention of the thousands of individuals who have been affected by thyroid, immune system and brain damage related to radiation and chemical exposures following the disaster. Nor does it take in to account those who are affected YEARS after by ingesting affected foods and waters or living in areas which were exposed to low levels of radiation or other contaminations but which were never evacuated (or weren't evacuated soon enough.)

Of course these disasters didn't happen here, and with few exceptions they didn't directly affect the American population.  So it's easy to brush these off or include them in to the "other" category when discussing all the reasons why Nuclear Energy should be cautioned.  In fact, when discussing Nuclear Energy with my American peers I'm often surprised to hear that these examples are seen as something that won't or can't happen here. There are arguments like "American's wouldn't make those mistakes" or "America doesn't have tsunamis" or others similar statements which seem to imply that while the Japanese and Ukranians can make mistakes, Americans are somehow exempt...

The Three Mile Island Accident in Progress
Which of course brings me to the topic of Three Mile Island.  Raise your hand if you remember that one!  NO? That's most likely because unless you are a member of my mother's generation or older, you've never heard of it - or don't really have any understanding of what happened even if you heard the name. No, as a rule it's not something our government prefers for us to talk about. But in fact, it was our very own Nuclear Disaster.

So what happened?  Well, it began with failures to a secondary (non-nuclear) system, and then one of the pilot-operated relief valves in the primary system got stuck open. This lead to the escape of a large amount of reactor coolant.  Due to a lack of proper training and inept design plant operators failed to identify the accident as loss-of-coolant soon enough. Because the accident was not properly classified, when the automatic emergency cooling system started, an operator manually overrode the program, believing there was too much coolant water present in the reactor.  This lead to a steam pressure build up and release. This a partial meltdown resulted in the release of an unknown amount of radioactive gasses and iodine.  It was eventually rated a 5 out of 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale.  The cleanup took 14 years and over a BILLION dollars of tax payer money.

Thankfully, it was not on the scale of Chernobyl or Fukushima and there have been very few directly related deaths.  However there HAVE been a great number of cancer and other health related illnesses linked to the disaster in the area surrounding the plant.  As our government so often does however, they have held tight to the idea that there is no correlation between higher cancer and illness rates in that area and the 1979 nuclear disaster.  They are now claiming that the disaster which took place on Three Mile Island was ever of any danger to the public.  Their claims however are at extreme odds with the facts of the incident.

Toxic water, toxic soil, radiated plants, higher rates of disease and cancer in humans and animals...  None of these things occur with truly "green" energy forms!  I'm not going to say there aren't some issues with wind, hydro and solar electric issues, because they aren't perfect.  But when there's a solar spill, people don't die - hell, they go out and play...

So my question now becomes WHY is our government putting BILLIONS more into the development of new Nuclear Power sites instead of energy sources which are truly ecologically friendly?  In my opinion, it's all about the money!  Energy sources such as water, wind and sun light have low long term income potentiality.  It's sad, but true!  And from where I sit, there are just two ways this renewed love of nuclear power is going to end - 1.) we the people step up, in mass, and refuse to support it or 2.) a massive disaster forces the reality of nuclear disaster to be realized.  I for one would prefer not to see yet another disaster, so it's time step up, put our foot down and tell Washington - NO TO NUCLEAR!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Time for The Sex Talk

The Sex Talk...  Something every parent dreads!  We all want our kids to have a solid and healthy understanding of sex, but as parents we don't generally want to be the ones that give it to them.  Proof of this is usually found in the "talks" we had as young people.  The "talk" that I got was pathetic, it consisted of "do you know how sex woks?" and "don't do it til you're married."  And my sister didn't even get one.  My husband said he never got one either. And most people I have talked too had similar experiences.  It was just assumed by most of our parents that we would learn what we needed somewhere else. Well, most of us did. I did. But many of us didn't or didn't learn it in time.

Is it REALLY that important that teens know and understand all the issues surrounding sex?  If we simply teach abstinence none of the other stuff is necessary - right?  Well first, few things are as important as a healthy understanding of sex related issues.  And second, if just teaching abstinence worked, there wouldn't be any teen pregnancy.  It doesn't work, frankly, it never did.  When my grandmother got married in the 1950's it didn't work... And it doesn't work now.

But here's some good news: "The Talk" doesn't have to happen!  Well, if doesn't have to happen - IF YOU DO IT RIGHT!

So how can you "do it right" if it doesn't have to happen?  I'm certainly not suggesting that you shouldn't teach your children about sex.  Instead of "the talk" though I'm suggesting an ongoing conversation that starts when they're young.  This is something that makes many parents just as nervous as the idea of talking to a teen does. There are questions about "am I taking their innocence?" and "how much is too much information?" and of course "when and how is the right time?"  Lucky for you, I'm here to answer all those questions and more.

Before we get in to those questions though, there is an even more important one to discuss and that question is "What should I teach them?!?" So lets deal with that first...

Sex education isn't JUST about intercourse.  It also includes learning the basics about their bodies, understanding what we as children called "Red Flag" and "Green Flag" touches and even self esteem.  IF you start their education with these subjects and continue the conversation - openly and honestly - as they age, you will both be ready when it comes time to discuss things like STI's and Pregnancy.  So start young...

Once a child is old enough to learn where their hands and feet are, they are old enough to begin learning where their private areas are too - and this includes teaching them the proper names.  Nicknames are okay for conversation, but it's very important that they learn to identify them with the proper names as well.  While they are learning proper names, it's important to teach them "body rules" at the same time.  It goes without saying that you're going to teach your child that "hands are not for hitting."  But parents often slack off when teaching rules about the private parts.  I suggest teaching the "Body Rules" at the same time of teaching the body parts...  This way the idea that "this is my hand" and "hands aren't for hitting" are equally understood. The rules for private parts can be taught the same way.

So what are the "Body Rules" that should be stressed?

  • NO ONE is allowed to touch, tickle or play around with your private places!
  • NO ONE is allowed to look at our private places for fun!
  • We don't show our private places to others without Mom/Dad there. (this is important because you don't want them to be afraid to discuss or show their parts with a doctor, but you also don't want them doing it without you)
  • We don't touch other people's private parts
  • Your private places are yours and no one else's
  • If someone breaks these rules it's okay to yell "STOP THAT IT ISN'T ALLOWED" and run to tell someone.

While we're on the subject of "rules" for private parts, lets talk about educating kids on sexual abuse.  Every parent believes it won't be THEIR child... But it does happen, even to children with loving and protective parents! And since MOST cases of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by someone the child knows, there is no such thing as keeping your child completely safe all the time.  Thankfully, even this doesn't need to be painful.  There are some great books out there that will help to teach the issue without making it something to fear.  And the great thing is some of these books are "childish" enough that they can be integrated into the child's library very early on.  Here are the ones I recommend:

The really great things about these books is that they help to bring the subject up without turning it into an awkward moment. They allow you to discuss serious issues even with young children and in terms that they understand. The best part is that teaching your children these basics before it becomes something they are unwilling to talk about - before it becomes "taboo" in their minds - creates an open channel between you and them which will encourage them to come to you for answers when they need them.  It also means that when it's time to step up the education, you will know they already have the basics and you'll both be comfortable talking about these subjects. 

So when is it time to "step it up?"  I say around the time they start school, but definitely no later than second or third grade.  Why? Because it is right around age 8 or 9 that some girls will begin to develop.  Now, it's true that most won't really start til 11 or 12, but we all develop at different ages and it's important that they have the information about what is happening before it starts happening to them, or their friends. You know yourself if you understand what's going on or what's going to happen, it's less scary, and kids are the same way. 

They need to understand not just what is going to happen with their own bodies, but with the bodies of the opposite gender as well.  Basically because if they don't hear the facts from you, they're going to hear it from their friends who are also learning and experiencing these things. But since many of their friends are learning these things from questionable sources, that's NOT what you want them thinking is the truth.  It is just as important for girls to understand that boy's voices are going to change naturally and it's not an illness or "gross" as it is for boys to learn... And of course it's as important for boys to understand that menstrual blood isn't going to attract sharks or make them sick as it is for girls...  

I've discussed creating a "moon box" in the past, so I'm not going to do so again here. But I suggest that you do some research on "coming of age" celebrations, gifts and books before you believe your children will need them. It will also help you get a handle on what information your kids need and how to present it. There is a HUGE difference between the clinical "here's what's going to happen in your uterus" and "a woman's blood time is a blessing because..."  

It IS important though that they understand the clinical aspect of those changes. So if you don't have a solid understanding of the cycles women go through, it's worthy of a review.  

What should you teach your child about puberty in a girl...
  • Hair growth and care:  As hair begins to grow in "new" places girls need to know why it is there and how to care for it or remove it if need be.  Explore with them removal options such as shaving, waxing, plucking, etc., explore with them the proper ways to do these things and their risks as well as their benefits.
  • Body Odor:  Hormone changes create higher levels of sweat and increased body odor.  Explore the various choices in deodorant and antiperspirant as well as pros and cons around these options. 
  • Breasts & Bras:  Girls will develop breasts at differing rates from one another. So it's important to stress that their body is different from their friends. It's also important to discuss bras with them - the different kinds, when to wear what and the pros & cons of bras in general. 
  • Moontime: Clearly the most obvious subject to cover is a girls period.  Not just what is going to happen, but why and the various ways to care for it. Explore with them different options like tampons, cups and pads as well as the pros and cons of these options. 
  • Cycle:  The period lasts around a week for most women, but a woman's cycle goes on every day, so it's equally important that girls understand what is going on in their bodies through the other three weeks of the month too.
  • PMS & PPD: Hormonal changes within a woman's body can result in moon swings, skin conditions and even changes in hair. 
  • Other Body Changes:  Puberty brings on quite a few changes... Weight gain, rounded hips & thighs, as well as vaginal changes.  They need to know not just what could happen, but that whatever their body does is normal and natural. 
What should you teach your child about puberty in boys...
  • Voice changes:  It's not entirely uncommon for boys voices to crack and pop a bit as testosterone levels rise. It's important to understand that this is both normal and temporary. 
  • Hair Growth and Care:  As hair begins to grow in "new" places girls need to know why it is there and how to care for it or remove it if need be.  Explore with them removal options such as shaving, waxing, plucking, etc., go over the proper ways to do these things and their risks as well as their benefits
  • Body Odor:  Hormone changes create higher levels of sweat and increased body odor.  Explore the various choices in deodorant and antiperspirant as well as pros and cons around these options. 
  • Ejaculation:  Wet dreams are not uncommon throughout puberty, and ejaculation after masturbation can be scary for boys who are unprepared (boys often masturbate from young ages, but ejaculation doesn't usually happen until a year or more into puberty).
  • Body Changes:  Puberty brings on quite a few changes... Broader shoulders, longer arms & legs, bigger feet, as well as changes to their testicles and penis. They need to know both what could happen as well as that whatever their body does is natural and normal.  

I've italicized those areas which are more "gender specific" and don't need to be specifically covered with individuals of the other gender.  Clearly, "bra safety" isn't something you need to discuss with your boys, but they do need to understand that girls will all develop differently. 

For most people, puberty will start between 11 and 13, but it can start as early as 7 or 8, or even as late as 15 or 16.  Everybody is different and there are numerous variables that go into when it does or doesn't begin.  In general both boys and girls an interest in sex will usually begin around 12 or 13.  That means it's extremely important that they not only understand the mechanics of sex, but the safety issues surrounding it before that time comes. Don't ever assume that your child won't be interested.  The vast majority of pregnant 13 year old's parents didn't believe their child was interested in sex! 

Beyond the mechanics, it's important that they understand the following subjects:
  • Pregnancy:  There are a lot of teens out there who believe you "can't get pregnant the first time" or "you can't get pregnant with her on top" or a million other incorrect pregnancy prevention methods...  They need to understand that pregnancy can happen ANY TIME!  And that the only tried and true way of preventing it is abstinence. 
  • Protection: Condoms, Female Condoms, Diaphragm, Spermicide, Sponges... There are tons of options out there and they should know how to use them all - plus the pros and cons of each option. 
  • STDs & STIs:  By this point most people know about HIV, but rarely do they know how to recognize other STDs or STIs in themselves or others. Explore each STD/STI with your child and empower them to be able to recognize them as well as understand things like treatment and long term risks.  
  • Oral & Anal sex: It's sometimes hard to talk about, but it's important for them to understand that these forms of sex ARE still sex and they do come with risks (they can still transmit STD/STIs) 
  • Legal issues: This may not seem like a conversation where legal issues need to be brought in, but depending on where you live, two teenagers having sex can end up with one of them on a sex offender list... So they need to have a clear understanding of what can happen if they step outside legal bounds. 
  • Self esteem and Respect:  Health and Legal issues are very important when discussing sex. But in my opinion, one of the most important issues is talking to them about WHEN to have sex.  As parents we all want to say "wait til you're 45" but that's just not a very smart approach.  So we need to stress the idea that they should never have sex because they are pushed into it, but because THEY are making the choice to do so.  Their body, their choice! And it also needs to be stressed that they should have the same level of respect for their partner's choices as they would want for themselves. 
It's also extremely important to discuss dating safety. Make sure you talk to your child about issues like online dating, meeting people they don't know, date rape, and abuse.  You should also make a list of things that they should ensure they ALWAYS have on them - a condom, phone, CASH, and ID most of all. 

As I said before, "the talk" doesn't need to be awkward or stressful. And if you begin early and have an open, ongoing conversation ALL of these subjects can be discussed over time without ever having a need to a "TALK" so to speak.  Instead it allows you to form a relationship where they know they can come to you with anything.  

If your kids are already starting puberty or it's time for you to start discussing sex and you didn't take steps to start the conversation early, it's not too late. Although it's not going to be quite as easy, it's still important to talk to them. So don't put it off, just jump in and do it.  

In the end, we all want to keep our kids safe. But when it comes to the subject of sex, we often find ourselves tongue tied at best.   That nervousness leads to nervousness in our kids and can cause many of us to just hope they find the right information elsewhere.  As parents though, it's OUR JOB to ensure that they not only have all the information they want, but also the information they need!  Above all else though, they need to know that we are here for them - regardless of what happens! They are going to make mistakes, it's our job to make sure that when they do, they know they can come to us and we can help and/or support them as needed.  If you do nothing else, do that!  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Green Party 101

My mother asked me a few days back how I was registered to vote and if I were a Libertarian, which is apparently what she thought.  I told her I am registered as a Green Party member.  Her exact reply was "WHAT?"  I said again, Green Party.  Apparently, she's never heard of the Green Party.  Which got me to thinking, I wonder how many other people don't know what the Green Party is, or what they stand for.

I asked a few times now on my One Witch's Wonderland Facebook page how many people knew what the Green Party was or what they stood for, but didn't get many responses.  With the exception of my OWW Partner, no one had even heard of the Green Party, let alone knew what they were about.

This says to me, that those of us who identify as "Green" aren't doing enough.  And since spreading word is what I do best, I see that as a challenge.  Surely I'm not going to educate the entire country, but there's no reason I can't educate those in my own town - time to print some flyers.  But I also have a blog, and two Facebook pages! So I guess that means it's time to introduce all of you to the Green Party!

*** *** ***
Introduction to The Green Party

What is the Green Party?
The Green Party is the ONLY political party committed to environmentalism, non-violence, social justice and grassroots organizing.  It's also the only political party which is working without the support of ANY corporate donors, choosing instead to be supported fully by donations from members and private citizens.

When was the Green Party formed?
Although unorganized groups began working for Green causes on a political front decades eariler, the Green Party officially came together in 1984. First as the "Green Committees of Correspondence," which would later take the current title of "Green Party USA/The Green Party."  Today it has the honor of being the oldest, continuously active Green organization in America.

What does the Green Party Stand for?
Our political system has an innumerable number of causes which any party needs to hold official stances on. It would be impossible for me to include them all here. That said, each party has their "top issues" and the Green Party is no different.  The following is taken directly from the Green Party website's Values page and explains their "TEN KEY VALUES."

1. Grassroots Democracy
Every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect their lives; no one should be subject to the will of another. Therefore we will work to increase public participation at every level of government and to ensure that our public representatives are fully accountable to the people who elect them. We will also work to create new types of political organizations that expand the process of participatory democracy by directly including citizens in the decision-making process.

2. Social Justice
All persons should have the rights and opportunity to benefit equally from the resources afforded us by society and the environment. We must consciously confront in ourselves, our organizations, and society at large, barriers such as racism and class oppression, sexism and heterosexism, ageism and disability, which act to deny fair treatment and equal justice under the law.

3. Ecological Wisdom
Human societies must operate with the understanding that we are part of nature, not separate from nature. We must maintain an ecological balance and live within the ecological and resource limits of our communities and our planet. We support a sustainable society that utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit and not suffer from the practices of our generation. To this end we must have agricultural practices that replenish the soil; move to an energy efficient economy; and live in ways that respect the integrity of natural systems.

4. Nonviolence
It is essential that we develop effective alternatives to our current patterns of violence at all levels, from the family and the streets, to nations and the world. We will work to demilitarize our society and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, without being naive about the intentions of other governments. We recognize the need for self-defense and the defense of others who are in helpless situations. We promote nonviolent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and will guide our actions toward lasting personal, community and global peace.

5. Decentralization
Centralization of wealth and power contributes to social and economic injustice, environmental destruction, and militarization. Therefore, we support a restructuring of social, political and economic institutions away from a system that is controlled by and mostly benefits the powerful few, to a democratic, less bureaucratic system. Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens.

6. Community-based Economics
We recognize it is essential to create a vibrant and sustainable economic system, one that can create jobs and provide a decent standard of living, for all people, while maintaining a healthy ecological balance. A successful economic system will offer meaningful work with dignity, while paying a "living wage" which reflects the real value of a person's work. Local communities must look to economic development that assures protection of the environment and workers' rights, broad citizen participation in planning, and enhancement of our "quality of life". We support independently owned and operated companies which are socially responsible, as well as co-operatives and public enterprises that spread out resources and control to more people through democratic participation.

7. Feminism
We have inherited a social system based on male domination of politics and economics. We call for the replacement of the cultural ethics of domination and control, with more cooperative ways of interacting which respect differences of opinion and gender. Human values such as equity between the -sexes, interpersonal responsibility, and honesty must be developed with moral conscience. We should remember that the process that determines our decisions and actions is just as important as achieving the outcome we want.

8. Respect for Diversity
We believe it is important to value cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity, and to promote the development of respectful relationships across these lines. We believe the many diverse elements of society should be reflected in our organizations and decision-making bodies, and we support the leadership of people who have been traditionally closed out of leadership roles. We acknowledge and encourage respect for other life forms and the preservation of biodiversity.

9. Personal Responsibility
We encourage individuals to act to improve their personal well being and, at the same time, to enhance ecological balance and social harmony. We seek to join with people and organizations around the world to foster peace, economic justice, and the health of the planet.

10. Future Focus / Sustainability
Our actions and policies should be motivated by long-term goals. We seek to protect valuable natural resources, safely disposing of or "unmaking" all waste we create, while developing a sustainable economics that does not depend on continual expansion for survival. We must counter-balance the drive for short-term profits by assuring that economic development, new technologies, and fiscal policies are responsible to future generations who will inherit the results of our actions. Our overall goal is not merely to survive, but to share lives that are truly worth living. We believe the quality of our individual lives is enriched by the quality of all of our lives. We encourage everyone to see the dignity and intrinsic worth in all of life, and to take the time to understand and appreciate themselves, their community and the magnificent beauty of this world.

How is the Green Party affecting YOUR state? 
It's not possible to list all the activities which all the Green Party members in each and every state are doing or have done.  However, most states have established their own Green Party website's and facebook pages which is meant to keep citizens involved and informed.

If you are interested in seeking our local Green Politicians, movements or opportunities the National Green Party has a full listing of contact information for each state as well as overviews on all major issues:

National Party:  
Website     Facebook

Find the State Listings HERE

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Call For Unity In The Pagan Community

In the past I have tackled some of the more basic questions commonly asked of the Pagan Community.  Questions such as "What is Paganism" and "What is a Witch" but there is an inherit flaw in answering these questions and I feel it's time we address them - as a community.  This flaw is that the more Pagans and/or Witches you ask these questions to, the muddier the answer seems to get.  Because of this, those on the outside searching for real answers surrounding the community are never able to one.  Not only does this add to confusion for those outside our community, but it causes drama on an internal level as well - and, maybe more important, it doesn't allow for us to present a united front on nearly anything.

Some of the recent estimates I've heard place the rising US Pagan Community at nearly 12%!  That's huge! Of course without any official census a more definitive number is impossible, but even if that estimate is high and our numbers are at only 5%, that's still over 15 MILLION Pagan Americans!  Because so many of us are solitary, or members of very small covens or groups, it may be hard to imagine that there are really that many of us out there, but math doesn't lie. That's an awful lot of power if we were all to get together - or at least appear to be together.

Now you may be asking yourself, how could we all get together when there are so many differing opinions and beliefs within the community.  How could we possibly come together on a united front?  In answer to that, I would suggest you take a look at the Christian community for your answer.  Clearly the largest religious group in the country, Christians present a rather united front on a great many things. But that doesn't mean that there aren't differences among them.  In fact there are some rather large differences in many cases - some groups are extremely conservative, others are rather liberal.  At the same time though, there are some basics which remain the same among all Christians.  This means that even though you may not know the difference between Baptist and Methodist or Amish and Mennonite or Jehovah's Witness and Mormon, as soon as they are identified as Christian you can make at least a few assumptions about their beliefs.  What does this matter you ask?  When it comes to specific beliefs the "bigger group" thinking doesn't help much.  But even with all their differences it gives them a "mass" that affords them power when it comes to making changes in the world.

This "mass" power is something that our modern Pagan Community tends to lack.  In fact even with 15 Million or more American Pagans, there are some politicians who continue to see Paganism as unworthy of notice. This has prompted some Pagan groups to start campaigns meant to make Washington more aware of our numbers. A few years back I was involved in one such campaign which encouraged all Pagans to both register to vote and to send a simple post card to the White House that stated "I am Pagan and I Vote!"  Unfortunately, even though many individuals did this, it was just a small portion of us that did.  And because all modern day Pagan campaigns of this type are "grass roots" at best, and there is no "governing" organisation sustaining or even encouraging communication between the great many of us, there is little chance of making a bigger impact.

Now, here's the thing, as a rule, Pagans are private and autonomous, they don't WANT any kind of "ruling" group telling them what to do.  In fact there is a rather strong belief that those who have power will eventually succumb to it, a notion I rather strongly agree with.  But that belief leaves us wondering in small groups without any real, unified direction. It is THIS lack of direction that I fear will continue to leave us as largely unnoticed and unheard as a group.  Paganism is not going anywhere, clearly, it's never left the world even for all the trials and tribulations it's had to deal with.  But I whole heartily believe that Paganism has the power, within the community, to create real change in the world. It is the Age of Aquarius after all.  But without mass and without direction, we lack that power, the ability to make real and lasting changes.

In the past there have in fact been "authoritative groups" in the Pagan Community.  In the Spring of 1973, the American Council of American Witches convened and drafted the "Principals of Wiccan Belief."  The Council was made up of a group of 74 individuals from numerous traditions who had come together to help unify and define the many Pagan and Neo-Pagan groups as well as help to counteract some of the stereotypes and misconceptions about the community as a group.  Unfortunately they disbanded in 1974. Other groups have also come and gone, some of which have made some noteworthy advances for modern day Pagan, but most aren't much worth a mention.

I believe the Witch's Council had the right idea.  I believe, however, that their downfall was more in timing than it was in motive.  In 1974 the Pagan Community was extremely small compared to today, and due to the times, communication between them was minimal at best. Today, with the internet, we have many great advantages which they did not.  For one, today there would be little or no need for the council to ever "meet" in person, meaning that instead of 74 individuals having to join together in a single place and time to make statements or discuss issues, we could now have a broader opinion base and a higher number of individuals involved.

Please don't get me wrong, I think gatherings are wonderful. If anything I think there should be more Pagan gatherings, in more places, not less.  But I also think that setting up a centralized "Pagan Council" type of site where major issues could be discussed and tackled as a group would be of benefit to us all.

There are tons of sites out there right now that are meant to bring us, as a community, together.  Facebook alone has THOUSANDS of pages and groups.  Then there are entire Social Networks like PaganSpace, that have been set up entirely for the Pagan Community.  And while these pages and sites are wonderful, I feel for the most part, they miss the target.  Yes, the help to bring us together, and for a great many of us, they are our only real connection to others with similar beliefs. I love these sites! But they're not set up to direct or to bring us together as a social or political front.

What I believe we need is to create a new "council."  Not to govern or serve as an "authority" but to speak for us.  A council that will help to unify us and to fight against the ignorance the outside world continues to hold where Pagans are concerned.  If I had the capabilities, I would be the first one to start the process. Unfortunately, I am a mom with little ability even to build a decent website.  But I believe it's important, if we want our community to make the difference we all believe it can.

So what is it that I would propose if I had the means?  First, a new website.  But not another "social" site, or even another "teaching" site. Instead, I would propose that we create an opinion site where individuals could have their voice heard by the community.  But also a place where we could create a type of "internal democracy" that would allow us to form a "figurehead council" on a yearly basis.  This group would be made up of volunteers from all over the community and from all forms of beliefs - Wiccans, Pagans, Eclectics, Asatru, Native American... You name it. And these volunteers would work together to gather the opinions of the masses using site based polls and "gatherings" to unify the community on political and social matters.  With the force of a "unified" Pagan community we would have the ability to support Pagan Political Candidates, Social Change Movements and affect the course of a great many issues. If nothing else it would give us the ability to be heard on a greater scale than we are today.

Clearly there are issues which we will never all agree on.  As it stands today we can't even all agree on what makes one a Pagan and what doesn't.  But I believe on the major issues, there would be a clear consensus.  And that is why I believe we need to set up an opinion site, so that everyone has the ability to see their opinion heard. (If you're wondering what type of site I'm talking about, check out YouGov.com)  This would take the issue of "power" out of the picture as the people would have the power and those "figureheads" would be just that.  Paganism, unlike any other "religion" is by and for the believers.  But we've all seen how flawed "democracy" can be when we give those in "office" power to rule instead of involving people on issues. And that is a cycle we need to ensure we never fall into.

I'm not saying I have all the answers. But I really think we need something that will bring us together and allow our voices to be heard "en-mass" like those of so many other religious groups.  I feel, if anything brings down our community, if we see the return of inequality on a religious front, it will be because our voice is not unified and not as loud as it could be.  In fact, I see the largest flaw among our community to be one of our greatest assets - our ability and insistence on living without a ruling class, to believe and practice whatever we choose and however we choose.  This IS without question one of the greatest things about being Pagan, that we are each able to find our own path and follow it where ever it may take us.  But that is also our biggest flaw, because it means that we are powerless to challenge other groups on a political front, in fact handing them the power to make our choices for us.  I believe that IF the right steps are taken to bring us together from a social and political stand point, we would have the ability to change the world.  But that we must also ensure that in coming together, we do not lose our autonomy on a spiritual front. This is our challenge, and one that we MUST rise to answer if we do not wish to become little more than a sub-note in our grandchildren's history books.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Understanding Food Labels

Buying organic is of growing importance to many Americans.  As the truth about the chemicals
growers put on our food comes out, and more so the truth about all the "extra" ingredients in packaged and processed food, more and more people are working to return to healthier options - organic options.  But to twist the old adage about boys - Companies will be Companies, and they are working hard to make a buck rather than have to be honest... Meaning of course that many "organic" products are not entirely organic.

The truth is, even those products labeled "Organic" by the USDA are not "true" (meaning 100%) organic foods.  The USDA has levels of Organic Classifications, but if you do not understand them, you may not really be buying or eating what you think you are!

Single Ingredient Foods - Produce, Meat, Eggs, Rice, Flour, etc.  Any food which is simply grown/harvested (or in the case of things like flour or meat, grown/harvested and ground)  and sold which carries a USDA "Organic" label is in fact required to be grown, harvested and "packaged" without the use of chemicals.

Multi-Ingredient Foods:

  • USDA 100% Organic - All ingredients (minus salt and water) used with the production of this product are certified organic. 
  • USDA Organic - By weight, anything carrying this label must be between 95-99% organic.  Remaining ingredients are organic but they must be approved by the National Organic Program.
  • "Made With Organic Ingredients" - You will NOT find a USDA Organic seal on these products, but in order for this claim to be listed on a package it must meet the criteria of being between 70-94% Organic.  While they won't have the USDA seal, they are permitted to list up to three organic ingredients on the front of the package. As always though, remember to packages information panel for all the ingredients. 
  • Products with Less than 70% Organic Ingredients - There is no real regulation for products with this level or organic ingredients. There are no labels. BUT companies are permitted to list organic ingredients in the ingredients where applicable.
There are more than a few other labels floating around on foods today.  The USDA "verifies" some of these claims at the time of labeling approval, however, there are still loopholes. 
  • Free-Range:  Used for poultry.  Indicates that the flock was provided shelter in a building, room, or area with unlimited access to food, fresh water, and continuous access to the outdoors during their production cycle. The outdoor area may or may not be fenced and/or covered with netting-like material. This label is regulated by the USDA.
  • Cage-Free:  Used for poultry. Indivates that the flock able to freely roam a building, room, or enclosed area with unlimited access to food and fresh water during their production cycle.
  • Natural:  The USDA requires meat, poultry, and egg products labeled as “natural” must be minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients. However, the natural label does not include any standards regarding farm practices and only applies to processing of meat and egg products. There are no standards or regulations for the labeling of natural food products if they do not contain meat or eggs.
  • Grass-fed:  Indicates that animals receive a majority of their nutrients from grass throughout their life, while organic animals’ pasture diet may be supplemented with grain. Also USDA regulated, the grass-fed label does not limit the use of antibiotics, hormones, or pesticides. Meat products may be labeled as grass-fed organic.
  • Pasture-Raised: Due to the number of variables involved in pasture-raised agricultural systems, the USDA has not developed a federal definition for pasture-raised products.
  • Humane: Multiple labeling programs make claims that animals were treated humanely during the production cycle, but the verification of these claims varies widely. These labeling programs are not regulated under a single USDA definition.
  • No Added Hormones / Raised Without Hormones:  Federal regulations have never permitted hormones or steroids in poultry, pork, or goat. 
As I said, these labels aren't always as honest as they should be.  And new regulations have been considered which could "exempt" synthetic fertilizers, some pesticides, sewage sludge, irradiated materials and/or even GMO's from affecting the "organic" status of a product. So take them with a grain of salt. But it's still a good idea to keep an eye out for them, at least in principal.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Responses to Some Comments on Same Sex Marriage

I am a member of YouGov.org, a research and consulting organization.  Mostly it's a site where people can express their opinions on things, take research polls and so on... Nothing special.  But I like it.  It gives me a small glimpse into the real state of our country - what do people really think.  I guess I've been feeling a little jaded lately from isolating myself within the Pagan and Green communities.  So this site, I suppose, is my way of staying "level" in how I see things.  And more often than not, I find myself rather disgusted by what I read...

As with any site of this type there are sections for all (or nearly all) of the hot button issues.  Gay Marriage being one of the more active ones. Unfortunately the site limits comments to just 500 characters, so I had to keep my response to the issue short and sweet.  Although I could, and have, written at length on this issue, I chose instead to simply comment on the invalidity of religious arguments against Equal Marriage Rights. My comment read as follows:
If your objection against same-sex marriage is religiously based, then you should also argue against marriages of mixed faiths, mixed races and anyone who has a civil marriage too. If you aren't, then your argument is invalid. Marriage takes many forms, and no one is trying to force religious groups to accept anything they don't already. But civil marriage (which there are THOUSANDS of every year) do not involve religion, so the laws that rule them shouldn't either.
So far, 7 people have now "counter-commented" on this and I have to say, while I'm not surprised at the amount of people who are jumping all over me with "God made Adam & Eve" comments, some of the other arguments (although I've heard them before) kinda still blow my mind.

Here are a few of them:
From Member 38708: "Bigamy and polygamy will become legal as we redefine marriage."
From Member 44969: " Mixed race and homosexual are the same? You are irrational and therefore unworthy of a conversation."
From Member 289665: " it goes AGAINST Nature! wrong all around."
I've heard them all over and over... But I would like to address them, since for whatever reason the site itself doesn't allow me to comment on comments which are made on my comment...

So lets take Member 38708 first... Bigamy and Polygamy.  First, for those who don't know, there is a difference.  Bigamy is the practice of having more than one wife (or family) who are separate from one another.  For example having one wife in one state and a second in another.  In these cases, it's rare that the wives or families know about one another.  Polygamy, on the other hand is the practice of having more than one wife within the same family.

In my opinion, these are two very different issues!  Polygamy, as with ALL forms of Polyamory, when practiced in proper, requires the consent of all parties involved.  Bigamy, on the other hand requires, by definition, requires deception, and a complete lack of consent.  They're very different things.

That said, as much as I don't like the idea of Bigamy, I don't think it should be illegal.  Marriage, with all it's many forms and all it's many related dramas, is a private issue. It's an issue between the individuals who choose to enter into it.  It's not something the government should be poking their nose in to.  The ONLY exception I would place on that would be abandonment.  If a spouse disappears, the other spouse should have the right to end the marriage without consent. Also where there are children involved, the abandoning spouse should be able to be held accountable for things like child support, etc.
Now, Polyamory is a whole different issue. Not only should it not be illegal, it should be acceptable.  Polyamory in all it's combinations, is the union through marriage of consenting adults.  Yes, there are those areas in the world where child marriage and Polygamy go hand in hand, but that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about consenting adults entering into a relationship. WHY are we giving the government the power to decide which relationships are and are not worthy of legality or acceptance?

And in my opinion, that goes for Same Sex marriages too.  It's not the government's job to dictate how citizens live their personal lives, and that includes their marriages.

So, Member 38708... Your argument is that if we legalize Same Sex Marriage, Polygamy and Bigamy will be next?!?  I say good! They should be.  The government has no right to decide how I choose to live my life or who I choose to marry.

Lets move on to Member 44969. In many ways, Race and Sexuality are the same. Neither are something which an individual gets to pick or choose.  And there are religious arguments against both, which of course was what I was referring to here.

In fact, there are LESS Biblical Arguments against Same Sex Marriage than there are against Inter-Racial Marriage. However, for the most part, today even the most devote have been able to explain away the scriptures referring to race mixing. When it was the "hot button" issue however, the arguments against it were surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly) similar to those against Same Sex Marriage today.  It only changed after inter-racial marriage became legal and accepted within society. I suspect in another 50 years the common view on Same Sex marriage will go the same way.  So yes, they are very similar.

Finally, lets talk to our dear friend Member 289665.  This is my "favorite" argument against Same Sex ANYTHING!  It goes against nature? Who's nature? Not mine, not the nature of those who are in Same Sex relationships... And not against the nature of the nearly 9 Million other animal species, around 5500 of which are mammals just like us, on Earth.  In fact, in the big picture, humans make up less than a fraction of a percentage of the animals on the planet, let alone all the vast many types of life within "nature."  Yet we are the ONLY form of animal, let alone life form, which rejects the notion of non-heterosexuality.  In fact, if we look to nature, ALL other forms of sexuality are represented in nature, living "peacefully" with one another...  So it seems to me that what goes against nature is to reject another form of sexuality, when clearly, nature encompasses them all.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My Daily Devotional and Affirmation

Last month I talked about my "day to day practice" as a Pagan...  And since then I've been asked to talk a little more about my devotional and affirmations.  I wrote both my daily devotional and affirmation myself and they are both on the "ritual" side.  By that I don't mean they are theatrical in any way, but that I do the same thing every day...  And like any other "ritual" the more you do them the more they become a part of you.  So these are MY practices.  Feel free to use them as examples for your own practice or, if they fit you well, take them outright - I'll never know and frankly, if they work for you, it's not hurting me!

My Box, Fully Deployed
First lets talk about my devotional.  I do this each morning about 20-25mins after I wake up.  That gives me some time to actually BE awake and able to focus before I begin.  This is important because you want to be able to really put your energy in to what you're doing. If you're tired you'll just "go through the motions" but not really make any connection.  My goal with my devotional is to connect to the Great Goddess & God, as well as the Elements (Earth, Air, Fire Water).  I want to renew my connection with them each day as well as reaffirm my devotion to them throughout my life as a whole.
I have a "Devotional Box" which holds symbols of all four elements, each with a small votive candle, and three taper candles - one for the Goddess, one for the God, and one for myself.

Before I begin, I ground and center.  Then I light the candle which represents me.  As I say each verse (below) I use my candle to light the candles for the Goddess & God. For the final verse, when I speak to the elements, I use my candle to light the votive associated with each element.  As I do each of these actions and say each verse I focus on the "entity" to which I am speaking and envision them filling me with their energy and blessings.  I then follow with a short "quiet-time" (not always meditation) where I can simply focus on their presence and my connection with them.

Box's Content: Candles, Holders, Mala Beads
Lighter, Parchment (with Dev. on it) 
What follows is my the wording for my Devotional:

Blessings be unto The Great Lady,
Mother of All!
I am your Daughter;
I am strong, proud and powerful!
May You Walk with Me Today,
Guiding, Guarding and Blessing,
as I Walk My Path!

Blessings be unto The Great Lord,
Father of All!
I am your Daughter;
My Body, Mind And Spirit are One.
May You walk With Me Today,
Granting Energy, Courage and Strength,
as I Walk My Path.

Hail and Bright Blessings
Great Goddess & God!
I Thank You For Your Presence
In My Home and My Life!

I call to you Spirits of Earth and Air, Fire and Water
Come to me and settle within.
I am strong, focused, powerful and healthy!
Bless me now, as I send blessings to you!

Closed and Concealed

Second is my Affirmation.  I usually start my day with this as well, but I will also say this at other points throughout the day when I am feeling depressed, stressed or anxious and need a pick-me-up.  There are no "actions" that go with this, I simply repeat the words and focus on them rather than whatever else is going on around me...  

I am a Witch.
Powerful, Strong and Proud, 
Intelligent and Beautiful.

No force on Earth can shake my Confidence, 
for the Elements and Gods are on my side.

Earth and Air, Fire and Water,
Ruled by Spirit, as all should be.

I am my best me... 
So mote it be!

I hope these both give you a little glimpse into my life as a Pagan and Witch, and maybe even help you to form your own daily practice.  

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