Do you believe?

Not sure how to start this one. I mean, I’ve been saying for a couple of years that so-called “magic spells” as practised by modern pagans are really the same sort of action as a Christian prayer. But the cognitive dissonance in accepting the two are kinda the same thing was not small. Even now.

Actually, especially now.

Children (and adults) in evangelical and often fairly fundamentalist Christian churches are taught to ask God (i.e. Yahweh) for things by praying. There is considerable emphasis in not asking for whatever takes your fancy, indeed there are whole libraries that have been written down through the ages about how prayer works.

But what is missing from a lot of modern church-based education is how to pray. It seems to have taken a back-seat. By contrast, pagans have many hundreds if not thousands of ways to beseech the universe, spiritual archetypes, personal gods and goddesses or anything else they think will listen. Many are highly ritualistic and even if there are personal requests, are often done in a group where everyone is making requests pretty much the same way. Moreover, pagans rarely have a compunction about asking for what they really actually need. Even if it’s just what they think they need right now.

I’ve been around pagans on a regular basis for a couple of years now. The range of things that are believed as real and true is kind of daunting, if you want to sit down and think about it. But at the same time, there is no pressure to believe it all and little pressure to believe the very basics. This is most unlike a Christian environment where there is a least a background noise of wanting you to believe everything. Of course, belief is rarely something you can turn on like a tap. It has to develop. Encouraging belief is a bit like laying down to sleep: you kind of pretend or act like you do until it really happens. But it can be instructive to be in the presence of people who believe.

A few months ago, one of my closer pagan friends was fairly unashamed about asking for more money during one of the ritual spells we were constructing. She’s a fairly out-there person, after all. We all knew enough about her life to know she has struggled for enough income for quite some time. So why not ask?

Why not indeed. The belief was clearly there and we knew that so was the need.

I’m actually in a similar situation. My living expenses are mostly paid near the start of my pay cycle and I have not a great deal left to last me 2 or 3 weeks until it all starts over again. Some months are more painful than others and in past years these have been assisted by relatives (long, unimportant story). But I felt unusually on top of it in the past few months, even as things scraped by.

Then I had an interesting windfall: I got some money out of a stock trading account from my employer. This is going to pay for a new mattress for my bed, amongst other things. Then the relative already mentioned said they would pay for the next of a certain type of bill. And then I located the other stock trading account from my employer and discovered quite a lot more shares than I expected.

But what really set me thinking was that I’d done one or two of those ritualised spells a few weeks ago asking for more money. Because why not. So now I was looking at it a bit like I’d had a prayer answered. Except it wasn’t a prayer like I’d ever really done before. Had I done my first genuinely successful piece of magic?

This is difficult to tell, but I don’t have any reasons to say why not. Yet I’m hesitant to accept that that’s what happened. But then, if I don’t, where’s my belief? All the things that have happened can all be explained by mundane methods. But that happens when Christians pray, too, and they’re taught to see “God’s hand” in making things happen. How is this any different? I asked the universe and it provided!

It’s a headspin, I know.




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What defines me

I’m known for a range of things, depending on who you ask. To some, I’m the guy who likes wearing fluffy ears (and a tail if I can get away with it). To others, I’m a big K-pop fan, particularly girl groups. To still others, I’m an ex-Evangelical Christian turned eclectic pagan, with a druidic bent.

These are all true.

I am, of course, not defined by just these things. I do other things, too: I program, I manage big data, I write, I sew, I do lots of other things I can’t or won’t mention here and the ones in the first paragraph I can’t even say are the main things that define me. Put simply, none of anything I’ve so far used to describe me is all of me. Or even most of me. I am none of them and all of them all the same time.

This is possibly an artefact of me being the sort of person who is interested in lots of things – I’ve described myself before as someone who has too many irons in the fire. So it’s passing annoying to be in a group that expects you to be first and foremost what you’re known to them for.


I guess it probably happens to all of us in some fashion. I kind of thought I’d left it behind after leaving the church because for quite a while (arguably too long), a large part of my life really was defined by my religious practice. Now… not so much. Oh very much not so much.


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One thing I came to terms with about this blog fairly early on is that the posts would not need heavy editing. They start where they start and they end where the end. About the only real concession to proper blogging is that there would still be a narrative thread even if it’s “well this thought led to that thought and that led to this other thought”.

I’ve been reading some of my old posts on this blog. This came about because I was looking for which year a certain thing happened and I knew I blogged about it. Just now I was reading the most recent posts again. And was struck about a post from a number of months ago where I was reminded to go look to my dreams. That eerily mirrors something I experienced at work the other day.

And it was about writing. Hence this post.

The other thing is that I finished my second kilt this morning. Modified from a pleated skirt pattern in three ways: the front is overlapping aprons, it is quite a lot shorter than the original pattern (kilts don’t go down to your ankles, after all) and I figured out how to add pockets!

Typically, I have to remake the fastenings, as I didn’t make them tight enough. Ah well. I made that mistake on the first one, too.

But it’s good to make things yourself. And then I got a big thumbs-up from a guy in a ute driving past when I went out to the local cafe for a coffee. Subtle, but still, it’s quite a noticeable boost to the confidence about my kilt!


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I walked my first labyrinth yesterday. Or, at least, the first since I became pagan. Cannot remember if I ever walked one when I was younger, but I rather doubt it. It’s not something my Christian upbringing would’ve understood.

What “labyrinth” means has changed a little through the ages. Modern borrowing have also confused the meaning, although oddly this seems to be abating at the moment. The term usually now means a unicursal maze, that is, a design with just one path. Most mazes are multicursal, meaning there are branching paths. I feel the distinction has gotten more widespread in the last decade or two, even though the word “labyrinthine” still means “maze-like” rather than referring to the simple design of a labyrinth.

What a labyrinth means to pagans is that it is a contemplation path. Whilst in the labyrinth, it is difficult to see the larger picture. Instead you must focus on what is in front of you. In other words, the point of a labyrinth is that is a journey, not a destination. It is for this reason it is usually in a quiet place and either behind curated access or clearly signposted that people must be respectful of others. The labyrinth I went to is in a quiet part of Sydney’s Centennial Park and is built to one of the familiar medieval designs.

But if you don’t know the area, it can be tricky to get to, even when driving.

I did not drive. Although my intention was to walk the labyrinth, without quite realizing it, I made it a journey to get to it, too. Thus a train journey and then a bus journey, and then some considerable walking both to and from the labyrinth. Centennial Park is big – a little more than half the size of Central Park in New York and slightly larger than Hyde Park in London, although a quite different shape to either of them. Unfortunately, unlike either of them it isn’t surrounded by train stations, requiring either quite a walk to the park, never mind the need to walk inside it, or a bus ride to one of the many gates.

Once there, of course, there was little choice but to walk inside the park. Not having been to Centennial Park for many years, it was an interesting journey in mild exploration. Including the meandering boardwalk through a swamp which also houses a largish bat colony.

In some ways, that meandering walk was the real labyrinth journey for me, as was the walk back out of the park to a bus-stop.



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Forward only

I went to a church service today; first time in rather a while. But it was the baptism of my sister’s twins, and I was asked to attend. Not going to deny my sister that! But there were so many things that reminded me why I don’t go anymore.

I’d been to this church before. It’s the closest thing I have to a regular church mostly because I attend when family needs happen and my parents and sister both go there. But I can’t call myself a Christian anymore – I haven’t for some years. Or, at least, I can’t call myself the sort of Christian they would recognise. And I was re-discovering this all over again.

Principle amongst these were the sentiments in the songs and the vaguely liturgical congregational declaration near the end of the service. I can’t claim to “have my sins washed away” because I no longer believe in the church’s idea of sin. Likewise, I can’t say that Yahweh is my god (although Christians rarely call him that) because I connect with other deities or spirits. But the sermon this morning was in Zechariah and it was actually worth listening to.

The book of Zechariah is one of the least known and least understood books of the Christian Bible. It is a mix of prophetic works written some little time after the major return of the exiled Jews back to Jerusalem when they sought to rebuild the temple. We don’t know much about the writer, but what makes it interesting is that it comes from a time where Judaism was being formed into a recognisably monotheistic religion.

The Old Testament book of Zechariah has a somewhat special place for me. It was during a Bible study studying Zechariah that I had my first distinct message to go look outside what the church would teach. In a lot of ways, this is the opposite of what the writer was trying to do.

But I can’t go back. As much as I miss the community and all the other trappings of being in a church, I don’t believe the same way anymore. I just don’t.


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The left hand of masculinity

Maleness. Masculinity. Being a man.

These are concepts I’ve been aware of and have worked with one way or another for all of my adult life. And much of my childhood, too. What it means to be male is trumpeted to all and sundry pretty much all the time. And Evangelical Christianity (the kind with a noticeable hint of fundamentalism) thinks it is strong on defining masculine roles, too. And I am biologically male.

But sex is not entirely what is between your legs. There is an awfully large component of one’s sex nestling between your ears, too. This is the sort of comment that comes up in conversations about trans-gender people. The sort of people who come to the conclusion that the sex of their body is at odds with the sex of themselves. That naturally leads to the next step which is that sexuality is not binary (i.e. male or female) but on a spectrum and often with some fluidity. I have friends who are most not “one or the other” but instead seem to occupy a range on that spectrum.

I thought I’d come to terms with my sexuality. But a few things in recent weeks has made me realize that’s subtly wrong: I’ve come to terms with exploring whatever my sexuality is. This was a part of my deconstruction and recovery from a failed marriage and it had to be part of that process partly because sexually-defined roles were one of the issues in that. It also has to be part of any deconstruction because sexuality is not something you can put on a high shelf in the back of the wardrobe: it is a part of who you and how you react to the world.

I feel like I’m circling the topic a bit. I have all the right bits to be male. I present as male. I identify as male. I am attracted to females and only the female form “does it” for me. Nothing out of the ordinary so far. I also subscribe to a number of behaviours that are typically male. I like cars and can do work on my own. I am a bit of a handyman, capable of hanging a door or installing a dishwasher. But I also have some qualities that some would say are less than male. I don’t follow sports (at all). I don’t like beer. My favourite movies are often not the super-action “things exploding” movies. The songs I love are often the ones with complex emotional messages. I am confident in a kitchen. And also around a sewing machine.

I can see myself in the not too distant future possibly making cosplay costumes of some sort, hopefully for myself. At the moment, I love looking at cosplay. Most of the best cosplayers and costumes are women, for a start. There seems to be so much more variety for girls than guys, in both concepts and in practice. The whole “kawaii” thing is pretty big – but doing “kawaii” for a guy is really hard. This is one reason my fluffy cat ears are blue (or purple).

But there’s a part of me that identifies as female. My PS Home avatar was female – strongly female. It took a couple of years, but over time as I refined her and her clothing, I realized she was a version of me that I actually wanted to be. That’s what I miss most about PS Home (Sony shut it down about 18 months ago). So I see ladies dressing up in cosplay and I so wish I could dress like that. Except I’m simply the wrong body shape.

This does not feel to me like simple gender disphoria. Nearest I can describe it is that I am so attracted to the other sex that I want to be one. But that’s not completely correct, either. I remember times when a child playing dress up as a girl. But I never wanted to not be a boy, either. Or at least, I don’t remember wanting to not be a boy anymore. I see stories now-a-days of little boys who like sparkly skirts or dress-up as Elsa or love dolls over toy cars. I could’ve been like that. Maybe I still am. Skirts can be pretty easy to sew.

To be honest, I’m not sure where I am.



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I’m bad at journalling. This is the modern term for what used to be called “keeping a diary”. No, not the sort that records future appointments, the sort that records how you were thinking about the day.

This blog started out as a kind of journal. I still use it to go back and see what I thought worth posting about it. But it’s not an every day kind of thing. And I have somehow acquired a readership, which was not what I set out to do and, yes, it colours my choices about what I post about.

I’m not terribly far into the course on Druidry, but progress is steady. More-or-less. The fact that I get a packet of four lessons roughly every four weeks keeps a subtle pressure on to keep going forward. And I seem to be staying a consistent two lessons behind. The one I’ve been trying to find time to do for a week says in the opening that if I haven’t been journalling yet, now is the time to start!

Well, then.


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