Recon Versus UPG: A Small Guide for Newbies And Solitaries. (PBP).

So, I asked a question regarding a common practice in KO households that has kind of turned into a debate regarding UPG versus recon practices, specifically the information gathering from public sources that could have both UPG and recon/ancient sources. Maybe debate is too hot-headed of a word, though. It’s more along the lines of an opening up of eyes from a solitary’s perspective (mine) and, hopefully, from a KO perspective (theirs). How I go about things and how they go about things are entirely different. Then again, this isn’t so surprising. They have the background of a solidified religion and temple aiding them while I’m floundering around in my little boat of reeds, looking not just for outsiders’ perspectives (because the differences can be so neat) but also a solid foundation, preferably based on some ancient source.

Now, the basis of this experience in my little Kemetic misfits group centers around the wiki page of KO creation: Wepwawet Wiki. This is a source of information, which seems to be a haven for KO info gatherers. And now, I came to this page prior to knowing as much about KO as I do now. I didn’t use it heavily but I did think the offerings listed, like stones, were pretty nifty. At that point, I was less interested in recon so things that were a little less than historically accurate (such as soda or potato chips) weren’t so unappetizing as they can be for me now. But the ‘debate’ is at my recommendation that UPG based info (such as modern-day foods the ancients did not have) be marked in some way. I mentioned that solitaries, such as myself, may prefer the distinction based on their preference in practice, in affect UPG versus recon.

As a website that pops up in Google searches, there may be people who take it literally (I know of at least one person who has admitted to such) and I know that I fell into that prior to learning more about its inception. But all of this got me thinking about how important sources are and how it is important for those sources to be very clear and very specific about where the information comes from. Is this something that is unverified and personal gnosis, shared and personal gnosis, stems from an Egyptological tome, or is found in ancient sources discussed in an Egyptological tome? These are all aspects that we need to take into consideration because it could make or break a personal practice for solitaries. (I’m sorry, but since I am a solitary and I know quite a few Kemetic solitaries out there, while I appreciate the fact that there are groups of Kemetic Wiccans and other temples out there, this is primarily for people in similar straits as myself.) It could be the very foundation! And how would a solitary feel, discussing this stuff with someone else with like mind, only to learn that their foundation is based on someone else’s UPG?

I would personally be both horrified (because technically, aren’t I stealing?) and disappointed (because seriously, how difficult is it to claim that the information is UPG?) and vastly upset (because everything I had started was based on a lie). And I have to assume that other solitaries in my shoes would feel similarly.

So, let’s get this ball rolling…

I am a huge proponent in telling you to do some research when you start deciding you want to go Kemetic. This isn’t because I’m a bitch and I don’t want to help, but mostly due to the fact that I will not do others’ work for them but also because what I take away from a certain text may not exactly be what you take away from a certain text. I also say this because I feel (and some others like me) that in trying to get to know a new pantheon, a new religion, and a new OTHER™ the best way to go about doing this is to go to the ancient sources.

How we view a deity in today’s terms, such as Sutekh being the equivalent of the Kemetic devil or Loki in similar guise, is probably not how they were viewed in the ancient civilization and myths. While I can’t do much more than comment that it is possible, based on Sutekh’s history, that Loki is misrepresented, I can clearly say (and have) that Sutekh’s current iffy status in Kemetic practices is partially due to the vilification his appearance went through over the centuries. So, in said case with Sutekh, the older the mythos and cult status, the better off you may be in getting a full picture instead of just a slice of the picture. In other words, you could navigate across the globe with a full map of the world instead of just sticking to a map of the waterways around the Mediterranean Sea.

When you start doing research, I’m not telling you that you have to go into this with the end result being a thesis based on the pantheon, the culture, and/or the myths. What I am saying is that the more research, the better off you are. The biggest issue I tend to have when it comes to my personal practice is that there are next to no sources about how the little man, the standard ancient Egyptian John Doe, would have practiced the religion. There are, however, books, tomes, websites, and papyrus dedicated to how the clergy performed their practices. And it is on this, for the most part, that most recons are going to base their practices off of. All you have to do is start looking and take a note of the sources on the website you end up on.

Now, that’s something that you need to pay attention to: the sources. If a website has citations for their sources, you can almost entirely assume that they did at least some of the research and are telling you where else to look. Websites without such citations need to be taken with a large grain of salt. In the above case of WW Wiki, there are absolutely no sources listed whatsoever. Based on this and this alone, I am going to have to assume that most of the things listed here are based off of either unverified personal gnosis or shared personal gnosis. (The difference being that one person claims X happens with no one else claiming that this is true or multiple people claim X happens.)

This is the case in KO when they claim that you cannot offer Sutekh cool water. This is based off of something that happened in their temple or during a ceremony at some point or another and has since become the standard practice (shared personal gnosis). This is also considered, by me, to be similar to those people who claim that you should not give blood as an offering to Sekhmet: this based on their UPG. I read somewhere, I believe it was a Wiccan website actually, that she had come to a priestess or something and said that doing this was a big no-no. She has never come to me with this so I have to assume that since she enjoys my blood donations that this is UPG being claimed as “the norm.”

Now, am I claiming that UPG is an inferior way to begin working with the OTHERS™? No. I am not that kind of person. I do not believe that there is any one right way to doing all of this religion stuff. While I may scoff at someone else’s UPG in regards to how it may or may not (usually not) effect my practice that doesn’t mean I think I’m doing it any better than the person who is claiming the UPG is accurate and true. The only issue I have then is the fact that they want to make it a standard practice. In regards to the cool water offering, how in the world does that make sense? I mean, water is the basis of all life and was one of the most sacred things to give to gods in ancient Egypt, it being surrounded by a desert and dependent upon the life-giving nutrients of the Nile. (That’s pretty much the totality of why I have an issue with this cool water business.) Again, while I believe that everyone can practice however they see fit in their own way, I don’t think we should claim it as an absolute.

To each their own and all of that.

But what if you’re so new to all of this and you don’t know what you want to practice? What happens if you look at others’ blogs and posts in public fora that demonstrate how very time-consuming and occasionally head-desk a recon path can be? And that turns you off? What about all of that? Isn’t it okay to use UPG then?

The thing is that even if you aren’t sure what kind of practice you want to follow, whether it ends up as eclectic or as far from Kemetism as possible or deep in the recon thick of things, you should still do some research. This kind of goes with cultural appropriation (which I’ve discussed and won’t get back into). The thing is that some people read about a practice, think it’s neat, and usurp it for their own purposes. This was, also, common in ancient cultures as well, as clearly shown in the fact that the Egyptian pantheon picked up a few Semitic deities. However, if you just read about doing X and you don’t understand why you’re doing it, something is getting lost. Also, it would help you in future in doing the research because, at some point, someone may accuse you of cultural appropriation, which tends to base the argument that you saw something shiny and decided to add it to your practice. By, at least demonstrating where the practice came from, you could, quite possibly, make your life a little less dramatic in future. Also, in knowing where the practice comes from and how it came to be, you’ll enter a level of appreciation you may not have if you just see it and decide to use it.

Again, I’m not saying that using UPG is “wrong.” While I may point fingers when it comes to my son not picking up his toys, I don’t do that in others’ practices. Some of the parts of my practice are UPG. For example, I can’t tell you where the sudden urge to pick up a cardinal (bird) statue for Hekate came from, but I just had to do it. I’ve found the correlation after I did some research on the symbolism of the bird and whatnot, but I doubt this is something we can consider as widespread belief forms in the relationships and practices of others with Hekate. I can’t tell you if she likes stars or not, but her altar is filled with stars. Not the pentacle or pentagram, but just regular old stars. I consider that UPG, in my practice.

I think each practice should have a basis even just a basic precursor of research. If UPG comes up while you’re working with an OTHER™, then use it. They’re telling you to do it for a reason or you feel like it will make your life easier. (Such as my using Tarot and Oracle decks to communicate with my OTHERS™, I doubt that is historically accurate…) But I still think that in doing research not only will it help you to understand and feel more well-rounded in your practice, but you could surprise yourself be finding that what you thought was UPG was actually something they practiced way back when.

The last thing I want to touch upon is the mistaken belief of some people that newbies should “easily” be able to tell the difference between UPG sources and ancient sources. The statement I’m referring to, I felt, was a little over-the-top and kind of bitchy. I’m not going to represent that statement here, but in effect, the person made a remark that everyone should “be able to use basic intelligence” to differentiate between what is UPG and what is an ancient source. The problem here is that with some aspects, yes it will be very easy. We all know that the ancient world did not have diet Coke, Sun chips, and Red Bull. We can pretty much decide based on what is obvious – such as mordern day comestibles and technology – what is and is not UPG.

However, of course there was a but in there, the thing is that not everything is so obvious. The cool water example I keep using in regards to Sutekh. The blood offering example I keep using in regards to Sekhmet. These are aspects that are UPG but can be easily misconstrued as stemming from ancient sources, especially for people who are new, uncertain, and don’t know where to begin. So, while I can definitely say that using common sense is key when researching via the Internet and blog posts, if you are ever uncertain or are just curious, then ASK SOMEONE.

There are no stupid questions. Remember that when you embark down this path: there will be a lot of questions, but none of them are stupid.

Rolling Out the Red Carpet (PBP).

This is actually in response to this Tumblr post that has been going around my friends’ Tumblogs. I’m going to do this in the same way that I’ve done my infamous [in my own head] 101 posts.

When will I be called by an OTHER™?
This is actually one of those really common questions in the pagan sphere. A lot of newer practitioners begin to read others’ blog posts or comments on pagan-oriented forums in regards to working relationships with OTHERS™. They see all of these pagan practitioners discussing their “god-bothered” status. (I use this term to denote that gods are in my life, although I believe it was A Changing Altar via their Tumblr that mentioned they didn’t quite like that word. I have to agree that it isn’t the most accurate terminology since it makes one think that those of us who do have close relationships with the gods aren’t thrilled with it and that’s not usually the case. Another reason why this terminology is so inaccurate is because it does not take into account the lwa, the orisha, or any of the other beings out there that are beyond our ken.) And they begin to think that they’re not special enough or able enough or pagan enough or what have you because they haven’t been called the way some others have. This isn’t the case. Every pagan is different; every practice is different even if you are following along with a temple or a grove or a coven. Since every human being is different, no matter how similar the practices and beliefs may be, then you have to go into this whole “god-bothered” thing thinking that each relationship, worship, etc will be different as well.

The thing is that there is no set time frame on when an OTHER™ decides to make contact with someone. While some people have come into this life with an OTHER™ already prepping them or in their lives, in some form or another, that’s not exactly the norm. And then we also have other pagans who have never once had a close relationship with any of the OTHERS™ and not for lack of trying. Whatever the OTHERS™ decide in these cases is up to them. You can’t force something. You can’t assume that because it’s happened to X, Y, and Z pagan then it will happen to you. I’m going to point back to what I said above about everyone’s practice being different in some form or another. And you know, just because a “deep, meaningful relationship” doesn’t happen with an OTHER™ that doesn’t mean that you’re not pagan enough or good enough or any of that jazz. THAT’S BULLSHIT RIGHT THERE AND STOP THINKING THAT WAY. That just means that you’re more likely to explore outside influences while those of us in the “god-bothered category” are less likely to jump outside of the box. (I’m not saying that this is how it is all the time, but I do tend to see a general idea that most people who have a particular patron from a specific pantheon don’t tend to explore outside of that pantheon or culture. Again, this isn’t how it is all of the time.)

We should also consider that there are different levels of relationship, as well, so that may have something to do with it as well. We have god-spouses and god-slaves, we have children of the gods and we have patron deities and and and. So, in some cases, when some of the younger pagans are discussing the whole desire to being called by an OTHER™, we should also take it with a grain of salt. The level of commitment can be very intense – I know of a few god-slaves and a few god-spouses. Their relationship is truly something I cannot comment on (not just because I do not fall into these categories, but it’s nobody’s business what kind and how intense). But some of these other relationships can be fleeting, can be for a specific time frame, etc. For example, when I first began working with Hekate, it was only supposed to be a one month and one day work together. It was just supposed to be fleeting, whereas my relationship with Sekhmet transcends time and space. (No more on that. That’s for the S entries.) So, in that respect, we can sit there and think that maybe it’s not that it won’t happen but that the newbie in question just isn’t ready yet.

How do I know if I’m being called by an OTHER™?
This is something that is difficult. The experience is very different for each individual pagan, but this is also one of the most common questions in regards to relationships with OTHERS™ that I’ve seen. How will I know? What should I look for? The thing is that what I experienced before I realized what was going on isn’t what Joe Blow or Jane Doe will have experienced when it comes to their relationships with their OTHERS™. This is born out in the numerous comments to the post that started this entry. I’ve seen people comment that it was a bit like falling love and others like it was a dawning moment one day.

In my life, when I knew I was being called by the main movers-and-shakers, it was pretty much all a lot of little coincidental moments that added up to one of those dawning epiphanies I have tend to get. It wasn’t like I was falling in love. It wasn’t like I had a particular OTHER™ on the brain. It wasn’t like any of the other ways that pagans have mentioned. And while I could sit around and mull and moan about how it’s “not like everybody else” we have to keep coming back to the point I’ve made in this entry and in others: each practice is different from one another. So, how it works for me may not be how it works for you or you or that person down in the back over there.

If you start thinking that you may be called, then maybe you are. The only way to find out is by asking.

How do I ask an OTHER™ if they are calling me?
This is one of those tricky things that has more to do with the “god-phone” thing than this post, but I thought it merited a little section. The thing is that when it comes to communicating with OTHERS™, how do you do it? Do you just say, “I want this,” and hope that they hear it? Do you have to be in prayer? Do you have to do a ritual? How in the world does anyone ask an OTHER™ anything? They’re a being that is pretty much beyond anything we can think or imagine. (Whoops. My Kemetic half is coming out.) The thing is that we have to first trust in the fact that they are there and that they are listening.

As to how they will send the message, it’s entirely up to them. When it comes to communication, it’s as different between the OTHERS™ as it is for us. We use various languages to communicate with one another and different forums to see it done. So, too, do the OTHERS™. Primarily, my contact with my “god-phone” is limited to oracle and Tarot deck use that is specific to that OTHER™ in question. There are other pagans, however, who have dreams when an OTHER™ is looking to get communication going. You can meditate. You can do a ritual. You can use Tarot or oracle decks. You can pray and ask for them to give you a sign in X way or a dream or whatever you so desire. The “how” the communication comes about isn’t so much important as the fact that the communication ends up happening.

Why is an OTHER™ calling me?
This is one of those things that is entirely up to you to answer. I can sit there and look at the situation, but I won’t know for sure. That’s the problem. Each OTHER™ calls to a person for different reasons.

For example, Hekate never actually called me. I called to her and she accepted the companionship that I had proposed. In this working together, we’re mostly trying to help me to get to a place where I can, actually, start practicing magic again. We discovered that a lot of my past life and current life traumas were holding me back in various ways. She decided it was in my best interest to banish them. So, while this is an ongoing project, since we’ve been working together longer than the month and a day that we had initially agreed upon, that is the nature of her working in my life: guide. Whereas, if we look to Legba, his position in my life is to make contact with that liminal aspect that I deny. And if we look to Hetharu and Sekhmet, we have still other reasons for their being in my life.

When it comes to fostering a relationship with the OTHERS™, it is as varied as how they communicate and how our practices end up. Some relationships with OTHERS™ can be a life-long commitment, while others can only be to help you work through a specific aspect of yourself or your traumas (as in the case with Hekate). And still other types of relationships can be specific to a particular ritual, a time of the year, a festival you’re celebrating, or what have you. Just because an OTHER™ doesn’t come down and tap you on the shoulder to let you know that you suddenly belong to them doesn’t mean you can’t make relationships with the OTHERS™. It just means that you have more free range than some of the rest of us.

Offerings 301.

For the two “O” weeks of the PBP, I decided to do posts about offerings. I had pretty much decided I would do those posts when we were still on the letters “B” or “C” in all honesty. I had noticed a lot of older pagans getting kind of snarky with some of the new members when they asked the de riguer questions regarding offerings and this didn’t sit well with me. By writing these posts, I could cleanly refer people to a basic guide when they had questions and also show that not every pagan who is “older and wiser” can be considered a jerk. You will note that there are three entries in total. The reason for this being that I wanted them staggered by what I felt was a level of hardship. So, things like “what” and “when” are answered in my first post, but things that are a little more difficult to explain or understand can be found in the subsequent posts.

You’ll also notice that as far as questions go, there aren’t many in this section. That’s because when it comes to the harder things, there aren’t as many questions. This may be because people don’t get this far or that they think no one has these kinds of questions. If, for whatever reason, you don’t see a question you really want answered in this series, please contact me. Now, not everyone is going to be comfortable leaving the questions in the comments below. With that a possibility, I’m going to have to say that your safest and best way to get a hold of me (and a quick response) would be via my page on FB for Mystical Bewilderment. If that’s not possible because you don’t have a FB, then you can ask for my E-mail in the comments below and I’ll do my best.

All right. Let’s get started!

Can OTHERS™ get tired of the same old offerings?
This is one of those questions that should be based on both research as well as your UPG (unverified personal gnosis). The thing is that when you do the research on a specific OTHER™ you will find that there are lists upon lists of offerings. For example, if you are doing a quick Google search for offerings for Yinepu, and you stumble on WW Wiki, you’ll see an entire huge-eye-normous list of possible offerings. It covers rocks and beverages, scents and items. In doing other types of searches for other types of OTHERS™, you’ll find similarly. The Theoi site for Greek practitioners have similarly long lists. So, when it comes to giving offerings, the staples of your particular trad (Kemetic being bread and beer, Greek being oil and wine, and Nordic being mead) may not necessarily be something you should stick to.

On top of that, too, we should look to what your gut is saying. (I’ve always been fond of the thought that my UPG lives in my gut, but I’m not quite the norm here.) Or, if you don’t think you have any instincts or UPG to forge through, let’s go at it a different way.

So, let’s think about this from a human perspective because, really, what other perspectives do we have? So, there you are. You are living on your own for the first time and you’re barely making ends meet. So, four nights a week, you’re stuck eating Ramen noodles or macaroni and cheese. The sameness of it really starts to flag on you after a while. Not only do you know that you are eating the most unhealthy diet you could possibly have chosen, but you practically salivate at the idea of something new and exciting, even if that just happened to be a piece of [boring] celery. So, as a human being, the sameness would get to you after a while. Now, let’s think a little bigger. Instead of just being a human, you’re an entity that relies heavily upon the offerings that your followers give to you so that you can manifest in their lives. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a little change up? They change up their meals all the time, but we only get water and bread. What the hell?

So, while sticking with the same old can guarantee that they manifest in your life that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be happy about it. So, change it up. Substitute your usual routine with a bouquet of wild flowers you picked yourself. Or, maybe you could add a smidge of your delicious dinner to their plate once a week. It doesn’t really matter what you choose to offer them – although as a recon, I will admit that sticking to the status quo is both safe and time-tested so therefore, next to the word of the gods themselves – as long as the intent is there. If you mean to give X item to them, then they’ll be happy with that. But try not to get stuck in a rut. If your stomach doesn’t like it, why would theirs?

I think my OTHER™ wants a poisonous offering…?
This is one of those very odd and tricky things that do happen to some of us. For example, when I first started working with Hekate, I read up all I could about what to offer her and I was struck by how many plant offerings were actually poisonous plants. She likes things like deadly nightshade. And while she may enjoy having the pick of some of the more poisonous plants out there, I can’t possibly go around and just pick that stuff up to leave as an offering on her altar. It’s dangerous. It’s childish. It’s foolhardy. And especially with the fact that I have two dogs and a son who likes to touch everything, it’s practically criminal. With that in mind, in my house, poisonous offerings (and poinsettia) are not allowed. If the OTHER™ in question doesn’t like it, then tough nuggets. I have to protect my family and friends from making a mistake that I could have foreseen coming.

Now, I’m not saying an all-purpose NO DON’T DO IT or anything like that. Some of you may not be in a situation like mine. You may not have pets. You may not have kids. And the people who come to visit may know better than to touch whatever you have laying around just in case. With that being possible, then I suggest you go with whatever you feel is necessary. I would just think that an ounce of foresight is a pound of cure. Maybe putting these things into lovely jars with airtight seals would be in your best interest. Or, even, why not print out a picture of the plant in question, get a nice frame from your local dollar store, and ta-da! An offering of the poisonous variety has been given.

My house isn’t pagan friendly. I can’t just leave offerings around… how do I get around this?
This is a short and sweet answer. The reason being that, as I’ve said in my 101 post, it is possible to be living with parents who aren’t interested or willing to tolerate spiritual nourishment that they haven’t decreed. Or, maybe, you live in a dorm room and you can’t exactly wait until midnight to do a little ceremony because you have classes the next morning. So, how do you ninja shit for the OTHERS™ you honor if you aren’t in a pagan-friendly environment?

My advice on this is simple: actions. We’ve all heard the phrase, a thousand times and then some, about actions speaking louder than words. This is also the case in regards to what we do and care for with our OTHERS™. While I enjoy leaving water and other little items to Sekhmet on occasion, I can honestly say that I feel more relaxed and upbeat and like I’m a capable servant of hers when I go out and donate blood to her. When it comes to Legba, my greatest satisfaction in offering form is when I’m helping to open the way for others, either in the voodoo realm or in the realm of paganism in general. Yes, sometimes, you just want a place to put a rock down and say, “This is for X-OTHER™.” And I can completely understand the desire and need to want a place for such things. (I have never been more honest than when I say that I am an idolator at heart and so therefore, when I pray or work with an OTHER™, I need a station for such things.) So, let’s say you’re like me and while actions are awesome, you still want to ninja those offerings to your OTHERS™.

Are there places in your area that are wild or forested or maybe a park? People are probably going to look at you funny in a park if you light a stick of incense and leave a pile of bread behind, but it’s better than having the parental units thinking you’ve gone bat-shit. And I’ve learned from a lot of different pagans that certain places, the wilder feeling ones specifically, are the best places to go out and do things like meditation, leaving offerings, or having big huge celebrations. Dver does this all the time for her major celebrations. She goes out to the ocean or the mountains or the forests and does her thing. While it’s still not quite the same as having a space at home, the thing is that with constant use by us, these places pick up on the power that we’re injecting into it. So, after a years’ worth of use, the spot you’ve chosen will have more power than it did when you initially chose it for rites to X-OTHER™. My only precursor advice to doing this is make sure you get to know the nature spirits in that area first, leave offerings, explain what you want to use the place for, and come what may. Remember: just because you’re human doesn’t give you any more right to a spot than the nature spirits and animals that already live there.

I think my offering was rejected; what do I do?
This is actually one of those questions that rarely gets asked. I think this goes hand-in-hand with my belief that most pagans don’t want to discuss the things like the gods not being pleased with us or any mistakes we have made in regards to the gods, their offerings, or even magical workings. However, this is actually something that should be discussed. We all get the feeling, sometimes, that we’ve displeased the OTHERS™ for whatever reason. Now, as far as I can tell, there are a couple of reasons why an OTHER™ would be rejecting your offering. They could be angry with you. They could be uninterested in you. They could be displeased with the offering itself. (If there are any other possibilities out there, then please place them in the comments so I can go back and edit this section to include them. THANKS!)

If you feel like your offering is being rejected for whatever reason, then let’s start off with the third possibility. Perhaps, the OTHER™ in question didn’t like the quail eggs you left them as an offering. Now, why could that happen? Let’s go back to the books and double-check on the offerings for that particular OTHER™. Are quail eggs in that list? Or is this something you thought you get away with? If it’s not on the list, especially as someone who is either just starting out on this whole path or with this OTHER™ in question, then you should probably figure it as being rejected because it’s not something they appreciate for whatever reason. Maybe they have a thing for living quails, as opposed to their eggs. Or maybe, they think the thought is more over-the-top than they require. Let’s face it. Yes, these are gods, but there’s no need to go over-the-top when it comes to offerings. If the simple things worked back then, they should work just as easily now.

Well, if that’s the case, a simple change to the menu should fix the problem. But, maybe it wasn’t the offering itself. Let’s look at the next possibility, which I think would qualify as “maybe they’re not interested in you.”

Now, this does happen. You come along and find a god that you like, but for whatever reason, no matter what you have tried and done, they have not responded to you. You feel like a fool. You feel like you’re doing it wrong. You feel like a failure. This happens to the best of us. We all have chosen gods that we like, but that weren’t really interested in us for whatever reason. I’ll give you another example. When I first got into paganism, I chose Ma’at as my goddess. Yeah, I liked Sekhmet back then too, but I thought embodying and following Ma’at was the best way to go about a Kemetic pathway. And all I ever felt from her was a generalized, “aw, that’s so cute,” and nothing more. I felt like I was getting the send off and in effect, I was. That goddess didn’t want me for whatever reason. It wasn’t that I was a failure but that I just wasn’t what she was looking for. And the same is probably the case with you and the OTHER™ you’ve chosen at this particular moment. It’s just not meant to be. There can be a hundred reasons or just one reason, but it doesn’t matter. They probably think the effort you’ve put in is nice and all, but they’re just not interested. Your next step here is to move on and either find someone else, something else, or to take a break for a little while. (Never, ever underestimate the power of a vacation even from your religious life.)

The last reason, as far as I can see, is that the OTHER™ in question is angry with you. This does happen, as well. I’ve been known (probably more than most pagans – lol) to piss off my OTHERS™ on a nearly regular basis. Sekhmet was angry with me when I first started out because I pretty much ignored everything she ever told me and ended up suffering for it. Hetharu was pretty angry with me when we first got together because I wasn’t interested in her teachings and I felt like she was being shoved on me. And Legba is actually angry with me right now because I’ve put off a project that I started in his name and I haven’t gotten back into it. (That’s a tale for another day.) The thing is that we all do things now and again to piss of the OTHERS™. It’s just a matter of figuring it out and trying to fix it.

And while I’d love to give you the answers on how to fix it if that is the case, I just can’t. That’s between you and your OTHERS™.

Relevant Posts

  1. Offerings 101.
  2. Offerings 201

Offerings 201 (PBP).

Note: Now, this isn’t everything, you guys. Be on the look out for a 301 post to appear some time this week.

Last week for the PBP, I did a kind of offerings 101 post (my first besides Fallow Time discussions!) and realized that I was leaving a lot out. Honestly, with that last post, I wanted it to be a simple and basic. I wanted to be able to say that you can do this and this and this and worry about the rest of it later. This week, I’m going to continue that post with a few things that I either left out because I am forgetful or because I didn’t think it was something a 101 post should have as content. So, this is the next step to offerings.

How much do I offer the OTHERS™?
Honestly, when it comes to how much, we have to rely on what feels like the best at that particular moment. For me, in the mornings, I give drinks to my OTHERS™ to get their days with me going. This is the extent of it unless I’m feeling otherwise. I go this route because it is the simplest thing I can do before I’ve had enough coffee to make coherent thought. However, it also doesn’t leave me scrabbling around every morning, freaking out because I don’t know what to give them so early. (Ha. I’ll laugh at myself here – “so early” is usually equated to between nine and ten in the morning.) And I’ve gone through that, honestly.

Back when I worked shitty shifts at my old job, I would be up some mornings at about five o’clock in the morning. I would scrabble around to give them something to eat until I was just grabbing whatever entered my hand while I was freaking out in my cupboards. While the gods appreciate the efforts we are putting into this, we also have to keep in mind that burning ourselves out via what we’re giving them, how much we’re giving them, and all of that is absolutely no good. What is the point in doing this if we’re going to burn ourselves out? It’s not worth it. So, if you are giving offerings, don’t worry about how much. Your instincts will tell you what you can handle and how much the gods want at that time. Just listen to yourself long enough and trust in yourself, as well as your OTHERS™.

Now, obviously, when it comes to candles and incense, “how much” doesn’t really qualify. The reason being is because, are you really going to inundate your altar with six incense blends all at once? Are you really going to light six hundred tapers for an OTHER™ and possibly start a fire? And again, when it comes to actions as offerings, it’s pretty much entirely up to your guts on this one. So, say you work with an OTHER™ who has requested that you volunteer at a homeless shelter or a woman’s abuse shelter. How much are you willing to give before seeing and hearing all of that could start to affect you in a negative way? Would you want to go ever day? Or would the OTHER™ in question suffice with a once a month, once a week kind of thing? For example, when I donate blood, I have a specific time requirement for doing this. I can only give once every two months, but maybe after that time is up, I feel that Sekhmet is satisfied with this round of blood donations. So, (as I am currently), I wait until the overwhelming need to donate overtakes me again.

As much as it may suck to realize this, when it comes to the “how much” question you have to rely on common sense and your own judgment. There are some things that others who have been in your situation can tell you, but there are some things that are really up to you, and you only.

How often do I leave offerings?
This is one of those questions where it’s time to hit the books and do some research, either on the tradition that you are following, the traditions of the OTHER™ you are giving offerings to, or merely just sitting down and trying to divine an answer from the OTHER™ itself. Your safest bet, especially as a beginner, would be to do the research of the tradition of the OTHER™ or the path that you are on. As much as you may dislike following a recon style branch of practice, it’s the safest basis for a beginner. The reason being is simply this, if it worked so well when these gods and spirits proliferated the earth, why wouldn’t it still work now?

For example, say you have an altar set up for Hestia in your home. On a daily basis, you give her an offering. This is to bless your home and to continue to have her manifest in your life, as I mentioned in the why section on my first post. Also, you give her the first part of every offering. So, let’s say you have altars set up to Hestia, Aphrodite, and Hermes in your home. And it’s time to get them all a cup of tea and a bit of bread to tide them over. Hestia “has the richest portion,” as quoted from Homeric Hymn 5. You can use that particular quotation to denote that she gets first dibs, but that if you are planning a feast for all three examples stated above, she gets the choicest cuts of meat. And as possibly found in the Homeric Hymn 24, “glorious is your portion and your right.” This could be denoted to mean that not only does she get the first bit of the offerings you are apportioning out, but so too, she gets the first choice of every meal. In regards to the interpretation, it’s entirely up to you, what you are willing to do, and how much you are willing to give.

But again, let’s not quite discount ancient practices. As I said, they worked before, so why not again?

What do I do with the offerings when I’m finished with them?
Again, it’s time to hit the books because maybe, the tradition you are following or the tradition around the OTHER™ in question has that answer for you. In a lot of ancient traditions as well as the African diaspora traditions that are so hot nowadays, you would eat the offerings when you were finished with them. But, also, let’s say you’ve left out offerings to the fairies. You don’t want to eat those. So how do you know? Again, it’s time to do the Google-fu and try to figure it out, or pick up a couple of books that are highly recommended by others of said tradition, and get to reading.

Now, in both of the practices that I follow, eating and imbibing the offerings is normal. However, I don’t do this. The particular reason is simply because I just didn’t think eating whatever I was offering at five in the morning was a good idea for me. I am not a breakfast person – I am a coffee person, who then eats her first meal around noon. So, forcing myself to ingest whatever it was that I was offering was draining me instead of fulfilling me. In regards to the offerings, I would actually break up the bread I would leave for the gods and leave it for the birds or squirrels. I went through a phase where I would walk to a particular wooded area in my neighborhood, and I would leave the offerings there.

But, maybe you live in a busy city and you don’t think that animals proliferate your neighborhood – I had this issue, too. I found that when I was leaving bread in my yard, it was just waiting there until I walked my dogs and they would eat it. So, what then? You can do as I did and try to find a wooded area where you think animals will retrieve the offerings – give back to the earth, so to speak.

Or, and this is actually quite common, you can give your leftovers to the “guardians of the trash receptacle and sewers.” I’ll dump the coffee I leave out to Legba in my sink. As far as I know, trees and plants aren’t too keen on coffee. But the water could go to good use, right? And there’s the thing. I have pets so I’ll use it to refill their water dish. You may not have this option or even the plant option, so, if you have nowhere else to revert these offerings to, then it’s time to get friendly with your local sewer system. (And for those of you despairing that you have financial woes and you can’t waste food, I will get to you, in a minute.)

How do I know they’re done with the offerings?
In some cases, you’ll just know because the incense has guttered out or for some reason, the taper you lit in honor of the OTHERS™ is no longer burning. We can safely assume that they’re finished with that particular offering. However, maybe you leave food out to them. How long do you leave it there, right? Do you leave it there to rot? Do you get rid of it after a couple of hours? What works? How do you find out? Well, the thing here is that I rely entirely on gut instinct and common sense.

For example, let’s say you left out some bread and water to your gods and that you ingest the offering after they are done with it: do you really want to drink dusty water and bread that is as hard as a rock? No. So, find a time frame that works for you. But, maybe you left out the bread and the water, but you don’t ingest afterwards. You can pretty much leave it there for eternity if you wanted to and that’s okay because it’s not like you’re going to eat it, right? Well, in that case, how often are you leaving these things? If you change them out daily, as I do, then you’re not going to want to leave them there for more than twenty-four hours. And too, you also don’t want to get an ant problem. So, maybe you should set a time limit how long that bread is hanging out on your altar space. Then revert as you have decided to do and ta da! You’re ready for a new offering the next time you give it.

You mentioned us with financial problems…?
Currently, I am not the richest pagan out there. In fact, I’m far from it. This is part of the reason why I only give the sparing offerings that I do to my OTHERS™. I can give away a cup of coffee in the morning to Legba and water is easily accessible from my kitchen tap. However, not everyone who is in the same or similar financial crises as myself only give beverages as I do. So, what do you do then, most especially if you’re one of those people who isn’t going to eat the pomegranate that Sekhmet asked that you get for her and you went around and did so? Well, again, you can revert to the earth, you can give actions only as offerings, you can give offerings when your financial crisis let’s up or is over, or…

…you can give something like Re-Ment as an offering. Now, this Google image search will show you all the different types of offerings that you could give in idol form. The reason I even know about this is because Devo gives this as her daily offering to her gods. In ancient Egypt, there were a number of idols found in the form of possible food offerings. This substitute was acceptable then, so she thought, why not now? Not only does it stop her from worrying because she has food allergies and so, can’t just imbibe whatever it is she gives to her gods, but she also doesn’t have to worry about what she’s giving out on a daily basis or if she’s having a harder month with bills this month, she doesn’t have to worry about any food she may “be wasting.” And as far as I know, the big huge lot she bought went for fairly cheap on eBay.

You can also go into second-hand stores and get those plastic foods you had as a child when you were playing in your kitchen. They make a lot of different selections out there, so you won’t have to worry about “boring, old offerings.”

Offerings 101 (PBP).

One of the most common questions that I ever saw on the forum I used to belong to had to do with offerings. (The other most popular tended to be, “what path do I follow?”) I knew from the get-go when I started the PBP that when I hit “O,” I was going to say everything that I ever said on that forum to the newbies who were asking questions. This isn’t because I think my responses are the best or anything. For all I know, they’re actually the shittiest responses ever, but I think my shit don’t stink and I have a blog, so… The thing is that I remember older members of that forum complaining about how newbs always asked these questions and it was “irritating.” While I’ve made commentary on how I feel about older pagans being jerks to newbs just because they can, I’m not going to get into that here. What I’m going to offer is a stream-lined and simple question-and-answer session that people can reference to others who are asking these questions. That way, they don’t have to get irritated by these newbie questions and I get more hits on my blog.

Who do I leave offerings for?
One of the things that I know I tend to forget when I’m bumbling around and doing my thing is that not everyone is “lucky enough” to have a patron. I can think of a couple of pagans who either have asked for patrons and never received one or who do not work in that type of frame-work. In these cases, then who would you leave offerings to, if you wanted to leave them at all? Let’s not forget that some people just want to check out the whole pagan-sphere and so, they want to cultivate relationships with various gods. In those cases, it comes down to preference and what you think is in your best interest. Have you always had a fascination with a certain pantheon of gods? Or maybe there was always just a single kind of god that you thought was pretty much the cat’s meow? There you go. You can start leaving offerings for those god(s) in question.

However, not everyone wants to cultivate a relationship with a god the way that I have a relationship or some of my pagan friends have them. They want to be “free range” in the gods department. So, maybe the offerings you leave should be based on ritual only, moon phase only, or whatever holiday you think is nifty and is coming up. Then again, you may not like that idea either. And that’s okay, too. You can leave offerings to animals, the fairies, plants, sprites, or whomever you so desire. Really, the who doesn’t matter so much. If leaving offerings is something that you are inclined to do, then experiment. For those who are free range, you have a wealth of gods (from Greece and Italy to Japan and the Americas) to look into. You have a wealth of nature spirits and fairies and elves and all of that to look into. Shake it up!

Where can I leave my offerings if I don’t have an altar/shrine?
Space is one of those commodities that most pagans don’t think about when it comes to worship. I have exceedingly finite amounts of space. I’m lucky enough to have three areas where I can clearly place a table or a little mini-shrine to a god or to the dead or whomever I so desire. However, I’ve seen smaller apartments and so, I know that space is one of those things that a lot of people have a hard time contending with. So, maybe you don’t have a shrine to leave these offerings out. Okay, so where do you place them, then?

When it comes to leaving offerings for any of the lwa that I may want to honor, I’ll leave them out on my kitchen counter. I make sure that the space in question is clean and empty. I then place the offering in question in that space for however long I feel is necessary. (I tend to limit this to a day since my counter space is as limited as the rest of my apartment.) That way, I have it out and I know that it’s visible, but it’s also in a spot where I won’t forget about it to clean up after the fact. In regards to nature-based spirits or fairies, many people tend to leave their offerings out-of-doors, either on a patio or all of that. When I revert my offerings (more on that in a minute), I tend to lace them around a base of a tree. This way, I know that they’ll be taken up by nature spirits and fae, but also any local wildlife that’s looking for a quick meal.

What do I leave as an offering for the OTHERS™?
Here is where simple answers fly out the window and research becomes part and parcel to what you want to know: whatever you are leaving should be based upon the tradition you are following or the tradition of the god that you are offering, the fae you are offering to, the nature spirit, the Deadz, the lwa, the whomever. So, for example, I am both Kemetic and Voodoo in my practices. So, when it comes to leaving offerings, I had to look up what kind of things these gods and spirits would prefer to receive on a regular basis. Of course, you could leave this entirely to your gut instinct and that may see you through, but if you’re even remotely thinking about practicing a recon path, then you have to look into the research. And really, if you want to cultivate a relationship with these OTHERS™ then you should probably look to what they’re used to receiving instead of going to your local convenience store and getting them a bag of potato chips and a diet Coke. If you were on a first date and that’s what the guy/girl brought for you to eat, would you really want a second date?

Maybe picking up books isn’t in your budget or you live with your parents, though, and bringing home books about this kind of thing isn’t a good idea. The Internet is at your fingertips and looking for information may take some time, some questions, some frustration. However, this is the nature of the path you’ve chosen: frustration is part and parcel to it just as much as joy and happiness. But, it is fairly easy once you get the hang of what kind of Google-fu search terms you should look into. (I recommend the name of the entity in question coupled with the word offerings for simplest.) And of course, you can always leave me a comment here and I’ll do my best to find out what it is you need help with. I have no problem helping – but I won’t do your work for you.

Now, maybe leaving food and drink isn’t something that you can get away with. (As I said, there are some pagan practitioners who live with parents who are not amenable to the path they’re walking.) The gods understand that humans have restrictions via social conventions or familial respect. So, maybe, libations at the feet of a statue isn’t something you can easily get away with. How about actions and services? There are a number of pagans that have gone out and actively done things – volunteering, going into a work associated with a certain deity, etc. – as a form of worship and offering to their gods. For example, I go out and I donate blood in Sekhmet’s honor whenever she pushes at me to do so. I know another pagan who dances for her gods. I know another person who works as a librarian because of who their patron deity happens to be. So, when you’re thinking about offerings to your gods/spirits/whomever, let’s not just think of this as a simple line, but a three-dimensional box. If your intent is there, why wouldn’t the gods enjoy actions and services as a type of offering as well?

Some other kinds of offerings can include prayers, hymns, candles, incense, gold, and other items. I give Papa Legba keys and pennies whenever it crosses my mind. I give Hekate a fresh bowl of salt every week. I give Sekhmet and Hetharu glasses of water when I first wake in the morning, but they also get candles lit in their honor and incense cones lit in their honor. It doesn’t necessarily have to be you going out to volunteer or feeding them a piece of fruit in the morning. I know a number of pagans who write hymns for the OTHERS™ that they work with or are in service to. In Kemetic practice, incense is like the be-all, end-all in offerings. And in the ancient tradition, incense was offering during every meal. A simple thought of, I light this to honor OTHER™ and then lighting an incense stick or a candle can mean just as much, if not more, than the offering of a six-course meal. So, when it comes to leaving offerings for the OTHERS™, again, let’s not think about this as a simple line but a three-dimensional box.

But, what about taboos?
This is a tricky question. There are certain taboos that other pagans claim in the name of certain gods. For example, my patron is Sekhmet and there is a number of pagans who claim that offering her blood is a “serious no-no.” I’ve discussed this in another entry, but I can tell you that when I donate blood in her name, I have never once heard anything but content from my goddess. And I can think of at least one other Sekhmet kid who donates blood to her on her altar instead of going to the Red Cross. And again, that particular pagan has never once been told by her patroness that she shouldn’t be doing that. And… In certain traditions in Kemetism, giving Sutekh/Set lettuce is considered a taboo because Heru’s semen was placed on the plant in question, Sutekh ate it, and so therefore, he suddenly hates his once coveted favorite dish. I know of at least two Set kids who give him lettuce in some form or another, and they haven’t been struck down. So, when it comes to taboos, we should probably take these with a grain of salt. (Of course, I can only comment in regards to the Kemetic gods on this since I haven’t finished branching out and learning what I can in a Greek, Roman, Norse, or Celtic arena… yet.)

But, there are some taboos that you shouldn’t ignore. Let’s talk about the lwa for a minute. In the voodoo tradition, you do not drink or smoke whenever you are giving an offering to Damballah. This is a respect thing but also because he will not abide by these two aspects. I’ve read that if you are in service to Freda, then you do not want to have sex near her shrine. (I can’t remember the reasoning for this.) When you’re working with the fae, chances are they’re not going to want you to leave them an offering of something made of iron. If you’re working with a specific animal totem and you want to leave them offerings, you probably wouldn’t want to leave them pieces of that particular animal in offering. Some of this is pretty much “no duh” and obviously. Others, not so much. And that’s where research comes to hand.

So, when it comes to certain types of taboos, some of them you can flaunt and some of them you can’t if you want to continue to maintain the relationship in question. The best advice on when you know that it’s okay versus when you don’t know is to network with other pagans who work with the OTHER™ you want to cultivate a relationship with. So, in my case, I could tell you about Sekhmet and I could point out some other blogs of Sekhmet kids. In the case of Sutekh, I could point out where to look for information. And of course, you can always leave a question here and I’ll do my best to see that you get the information you desire, either from my fingertips or the fingertips of someone more knowledgeable than I. (And again, remember, I won’t do the work for you, but I’ll sure try to assist as best I can!) As time goes by and you cultivate the relationship more and more, you’ll quickly learn what is and what is not acceptable in the eyes of the OTHERS™ you’re working with.

Why am I leaving these offerings?
This is one of those subjects that I’ve come to see not a lot of pagans talking about. Why are we doing these things for the gods? Is it just, in the Kemetic fashion, to feed their kas? In a manner of speaking, yes. This didn’t actually click into my head until I started working with the lwa, actually, but when it comes to leaving these offerings, we’re giving the OTHERS™ the energy to manifest in our lives, via the god-phone or miracles wrought or just feeling their presence. In offering these libations and food offerings, these actions or services, these prayers or hymns or incense or whatever, we’re giving them the food necessary to manifest in our lives. So the next time you leave something for the fairy or the gods or the spirits, think about how it is you are feeding them so that you can continue to cultivate the relationship that you so desire.

The God-Phone.

I’ve been thinking a bit the last day or two about my feeling that my “god-phone” is pretty much non-existent. I’ve detailed in posts about how I’ve always been completely jealous of the people who can talk to their gods on a regular basis. And after a lot of thought, I’ve come to the realization that I am completely and utterly full of bullshit. I don’t know when it started to become more and more often that my god-phone was turned to “on” and I actually began listening. I do recall that someone once told me that in working with the lwa that particular phone will be turned on louder and it will be harder to filter them out, whether I want to or not. And I’ve come to the conclusion that, whilst working the lwa is a part of it, I think my god-phone was always turned on in some sense, but that I was so fucking retarded about it that I wasn’t really paying attention. I was expecting things to be big and expansive and I was so focused on being spirit-blind that I just assumed it was all rolled into a ball with the whole god-phone thing.

Wow. I’m just stupid.

I was so intent on my god-phone being something that was bigger, badder, and better than what I was actually experiencing. I read about all of these people who have visions and can do astral travel and all of this stuff. I don’t do a lot of that stuff (obviously), but that’s not what a god-phone is about. It’s about the UPG and it’s about the gut instinct, but it’s also about being open and willing to listen. This has been proven to me, time and time again, when it comes to the Old Man. There he is with his laughter and his jokes and his eye roll. If that isn’t communicating with someone on a higher plane of existence then I guess I’m a schizophrenic. But, it’s also the sudden desire to look at my altar and stare at the image of Sekhmet or Hetharu. It’s also about needing to light a cone of incense, not for myself or for them, but other people. And it’s about other people’s gods coming on down and tapping me on the shoulder in an effort to get their attention. I think it’s at this moment, with that pretty much happening right now, that I realized the god-phone was on. I just wasn’t expecting it to be so simple.

You see, the Sister’s gods… they come to me. It’s kind of ironic, considering that it was the complete opposite some time back. My gods would turn to her with a big, heaving sigh and ask her to fill me in on stuff. And I would just kind of be like, “Yeah, right. If it’s so important, why aren’t you saying this stuff to me?” Well, maybe they were and I wasn’t paying attention because I thought a god-phone was bigger than it really was. Or, maybe I was so stuck on the spirit-blind thing that I was obsessed with being completely unable to hear my gods… and so therefore, made it happen. You know what I’m talking about…? That stuff about self-fulfilling prophecies? Yeah. I had that going on. But, it’s now that I’ve been walking down this road a long time and the Old Man made things simpler for me. He made me realize that my phone’s been on and it’s been ringing this whole time. I’ve just been a fool for not listening.

So, now, the Sister’s gods are coming to me more and more often. Her god-phone is wrapped up in going through whatever it is she has to go through right now. (There’s a lot, too, so I can understand the whole turning it off thing.) So, it’s to me that the gods turn because I’m nearby, I know how to get through to her, and I know just what to say. But, what I never expected was that they would honestly fucking appear to me. I figured it would be a tap from Hermes for wine or something. I figured it would be Aphrodite in a huff about wanting chocolate and more incense. I never actually thought I would see anybody else’s gods aside from my own. But, things are out of whack now. I’m seeing gods that aren’t mine and don’t want my service. (Thank the gods on that one because I don’t know if I could handle the Greek gods as easily as the Sister does and other people whom I read who are connected to them. I’m enjoying my easy, laid back gods, thank you!) I’m talking with them about things. I’m hearing them order me around on behalf of the Sister because she’s too tied up to see what it is they want and desire.

I am an instrument for them to use because my god-phone is open.

It’s kind of heady and exciting to realize that my god-phone is open and has been. For so long I just figured I was crazy. I mean, yes. I had the moments when I felt something real and important was going on. I had the moments where I was like, “Wow. This is so fucking real. I don’t even.” I had those moments, but they were completely overshadowed by the fact that I was trying so hard to tread water that I didn’t realize I was wearing a flotation device to begin with. I was obsessing over the minute, when the big picture was what was the most important. And to be perfectly frank, I was so stuck on the idea that the god-phone was some super iPhone of sorts that people used to communicate with their gods. And it’s more than just coincidences and beliefs and hearing voices or headaches or any of that. It’s all of that, but it’s more than that, too. Again, I was so focused on the miniscule aspects that I was forgetting that I was really busy painting a portrait.

And you know what? It is these types of realizations that make this whole path… well, it makes it that much sweeter.

Newbies Need Help.

I’ve noticed a lot of people getting snipe-like with new people asking questions lately. This has been commented on in various blogs that I’ve read, as well, but I’m able to see it happen first-hand, as well. And you know, I’ve come to the conclusion that people are tired of the cyclical new person questions that invariably come up. “What do I do with offerings? How do I know what to do with them when they’re done with them? How do I even know that they’re finished?” Or, maybe… “How do I get a patron?” And the ever popular… “I’ve discovered paganism; now what?” These questions always pop up in various arenas and invariably, people start with thinly veiled snark to out-and-out sarcasm. It’s not always that way: sometimes, we all reign ourselves in and remember that we’re here to teach others because, maybe, they don’t have access to the resources we do. Or maybe, they’re so new that they don’t know where to look. But, without fail, the snark comes out and I get upset. When we get to the point where bitchy comments are the best way to answer others’ questions, then we really have to sit back and think clearly about what the fuck is going on because, you know what?

When we do that then that means that we’re doing a severe disservice to our religious practices, to the new people entering this, and to ourselves.

Before we go any further, let’s try to make the trip down memory lane as we skipped merrily and scared down the pagan path we’re currently on for the first damn time. There was fear of learning something completely different and the fear of asking stupid questions and the fear of being found out by family and friends as well as the fear of never knowing what the next step was and where it would lead us. Uncertainty plagues me most days while I dither over what to wear in the morning, never mind the uncertainty that plagues me on this path, three solid years after I’ve begun. Let’s just try to remember how scared we all were when we took the plunge. I can claim that I was both exhilarated and scared out of my fucking mind because I didn’t know what to expect. And even though I was bitched at by a bunch of BTWs when I joined a forum and asked “fluffy” questions, I still stuck with it.

The thing is that maybe not every newbie has the fortitude of saying, “Oh, my questions are stupid? You can go fuck yourself because I’ll be practicing ten times better than you in twenty days.” Obviously, that didn’t happen, but I had the strength within me to say, “Fuck you, asshats,” and moved on with my life. But, as I said, not everyone is able to do that. Not everyone can shrug off the snark and the sarcasm. Not everyone can stand up and point a finger (even if it’s not a real one) and say, “I can do this without your help, thankyouverymuch but no thanks!”

But let’s get back to the disservice we’re reeking with our asshole behaviors towards newbies. By being snarky and bitchy and full of malice, we’re not teaching them anything except that maybe they made a mistake by turning to paganism in the first place. And how is that even remotely a good message to send? It adds to the already negative connotation that can associate itself with pagan lifestyles and religious choices. We already have to battle the fact that, at the best, we’re considered weird and strange but at the worst that we are worshipers of Satan who will confuse, dilute, and destroy people of other faiths just because we can. So, the next time someone says, “How do I find a patron,” and you want to bitch them out for being stupid, then maybe you should reign yourself in. Maybe you should think about all of the negativity that could be spewing out of you and polluting the purity that you feel in the path that you feel. Maybe, you should think before you speak or type because you’re making it that much harder for a positive spun religion* to recruit new members and show others that we aren’t all Satan worshiping assholes who want to demolish religions that have been around for millennia.

A lot of pagan paths tend to have a sort of positive based commandments, so to speak, that we all rely upon to live. This is especially true of people who follow a more reconstruction based path. Not only are they trying to find a way to live what they feel is true within themselves, but they are also trying to rebuild a religion that has been in decay for years and years. From a Kemetic standpoint, I can say that when I answer incorrectly or bitchily towards someone asking me question, I am definitely NOT living the ways of ma’at. The basic precepts of my faith are all about not being a selfish twat with asshole tendencies and I think the same could be said of most other pagan based paths. There are the Nine Noble Virtues of a Heathen path and there are the 42 Negative Confessions to live by in the Kemetic path. (I really need to know what the hell Celtic based religions have like these… Any helpers?) These are things that we live by to make ourselves better people.

So, by letting our fingers speak with a sarcastic retort, we are no longer following the precepts we’ve set above all others. We are doing our very best to sabotage our best efforts to live to a higher standard of living. And in thus doing, we are not only doing a disservice to our religious practices, but also to ourselves. The moment you let snark and snipe come to the fore, then you are more reacting to something that you find silly or trivial, but in fact, you should be taking the time out to merely act. And it is that time out that we should all seek. It is that moment prior to a response that we should seek out because it is in that moment that we are upholding the virtues or the ma’at or the precepts that we hold near and dear.

So, the next time a newbie irritates you with newbies questions, don’t answer or take that moment to remember what the basic concepts if your religious practice are. For your sake, for your religion’s sake, and for the sake of the new person in question.

* I know that there are negative aspects to every religious practice, but I like to think of pagan lifestyles as more positive.