What My Pentagram Means To Me

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When I first started wearing a pentagram I was brand new to Paganism. I was trained by someone who had a plethora of medallions, goddesses, and pentagrams hanging around his neck at any given moment. I had never worn anything to represent my faith. Not even a cross. My branch of Christianity didn’t believe in the cross. So the idea of wearing something ornamental that would identify me with my faith was foreign and a little exciting. I’m not very ornamental myself. I don’t like to give a lot of thought to jewelry and accessories. I don’t wear rings, my earrings are permanent, and if I put a necklace around my neck it will be there until it falls off.

So I bought my first pentagram and wore it constantly. In fact, I was wearing it when the elders from my former faith paid a visit and decided to disfellowship me for apostasy. That particular pentagram went missing soon after that. I had worn it over a year, yet soon after the visit from the elders it disappeared like it had absorbed all the negative energy it could and needed to take it away.

I bought my second pentagram at a Celtic festival in Philadelphia. I spent a bit more on this one. It is sterling silver and cost me $60 for the medallion alone. It is beautiful and I take very good care of it.

I don’t identify myself as Wiccan and don’t practice as a Pagan. I still hold to many of the beliefs, like reincarnation and the personal empowerment that comes with controlling one’s own destiny through ritual. I still value the connection I have gained to the natural world and try to make choices that are sustainable and environmentally aware. I love the moon in all its phases and still find my greatest spirituality under its silvery beams.

Yet none of that represents what my pentagram means to me. I still wear it prominently. I never take it off and never tuck it under my shirt. I had an employer tuck it under the collar of my uniform once so I wouldn’t offend her clientele. She only did that once.

My pentagram doesn’t consciously represent my connection to the 5 elements (earth, air, fire, water, spirit). It doesn’t represent my association with a particular deity or doctrine. What it does do is act as my shield. I can’t tell you how many people have started out treating me with kindness and consideration until their gaze falls upon my chest and they visibly draw away from me. I haven’t changed. I’m the same polite woman they were animatedly conversing with just moments before. The only thing that has changed is their fear and ignorance has now taken over. Rather than investigating for themselves what the pentagram means, they choose to believe I am fornicating with the devil. My pentagram protects me from such people.

I spent my life under the tyranny of such fear mongering. I forced myself to engage with and form relationships with people who were so ignorant and filled with fear that they couldn’t think for themselves. I don’t want those people around me any more.

Occasionally, when asked why I wear a pentagram I tell people it is to piss of the Christians. That is only partially true. It keeps ignorance away from me. It prevents all Christian faiths from trying to indoctrinate me. Most people don’t mess with me when I am wearing it. It represents my hard-won freedom and its appearance keeps me free. It shields me from judgment since those who spew judgment usually won’t come within a country mile of me.

Before anyone points out that it sounds like a lonely life let me just say that a surprising number of people are not repelled by the pentagram. The vast majority of people won’t treat me any different because they realize it is not the necklace but me that truly matters. They either ignore it or openly ask me what it means. Those who are open and receptive get the “5 Elements” answer. Those who I want to antagonize get the “It’s meant to piss of the Christians” answer.

Tonight I was lying in bed contemplating whether to turn off the light or read. I reached toward my neck, as I habitually do, and noticed the chain wasn’t there. I had taken it off earlier in the day while doing yoga. I recently put the pentagram on a longer chain and it gets in my way during some of the yoga poses. As I lay there, I asked myself how I would respond if someone, a friend, sincerely asked me to remove it to avoid offending someone. When my initial response was anger, I had to ask myself why it meant so much to me. I realized it had come to stand for everything I had lost and gained and the need to maintain the barrier between the two. It is my shield against ignorance and judgment and I believe it protects me in more ways than I am consciously aware of. It also helps identify me as a member of an exclusive group who search for better things through personal growth and empowerment. I have had the privilege of meeting some very kind people who recognize my pentagram and approach me. The simple observation, “I like your necklace,” is usually enough to recognize a kindred spirit.

I am a middle-aged woman with no tattoos or facial piercings. I wear normal clothes and drink too much beer and coffee. There is little to identify me as the member of a fringe group but my pentagram. I wasn’t allowed a Goth stage when I was a kid and the only thing that keeps me from exploring it now is the knowledge that I would look completely ridiculous shopping at Hot Topic. So I wear my pentagram and I have become rather attached to it as the symbol of my freedom from the narrow road. Don’t ever ask me to take it off. Don’t ask me to hide it beneath my clothing. Such a request will be viewed as an assault against my freedom and all I have had to sacrifice in gaining said freedom.

Me, My Ego, and I

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In the fall of 2011 I started studying Tarot. This in spite of a lifetime of being taught it was forbidden by God and was direct contact with the Devil himself. Many of the books and magazines published by the Watchtower Society show images of Tarot cards and Ouija boards as examples of Satanic practices. (I am now the proud owner of 4 Ouija Boards and 3 Tarot decks.)
One of the first things I learned when I started studying Tarot was how to figure my life and year cards. By adding the numbers of our birthday and our birth year, or the current year, we get a number that coincides with a Tarot card and establishes the theme for our life/year.
I was so fascinated by this prospect that I actually went through and figured out every year card from the day I was born until 2016. It took me hours, but I was intrigued to notice how the cards corresponded with various key moments in my life. Every year now, I carefully consider the theme of the year and do a year-ahead reading to get a grasp on what the year will bring. I was able to predict the exact time in which our house in Oregon would sell and even predicted my mother-in-law’s death.
This year, from my last birthday in September 2013,  I am in the energy of the Death card. This is the first time I have ever had this card as a year card. Rarely does it mean literal death (although it did in the case of my father). It usually means profound change. Something dies so something else can be reborn. It often relates to parts of the ego dying.
I have been interested to see how things would play out this year, and since the year is winding down (Death card energies will end at my next birthday, Sept. 7th), I have seen some interesting shifts. I didn’t even know what the ego was a year ago, but I am beginning to grasp its significance. I had a friend explain it to me and I have been reading Eckhart Tolle’s The Power Of Now. I liken the ego to a toddler within us who sometimes throws tantrums, thinks the world revolves around them, and obsesses over inane things–like believing the world is way more concerned with what we do and how we look than it actually is.
When we feel persecuted, or forget to appreciate what we have because of the many things we want, we need to remind ourselves that our ego is taking over and we need to reign in our inner toddler. Eckart Tolle calls the ego “a false self, created by unconscious identification with the mind.” He goes on to say that “to the ego, the present moment hardly exists. Only the past and future are considered important…It is always concerned with keeping the past alive, because without it–who are you? It constantly projects itself into the future to ensure its continued survival and to seek some kind of release or fulfillment there. It says: ‘One day, when this, that, or the other happens, I am going to be okay, happy, at peace.’” (Tolle, 18)
Dwelling on the past, or future, and preventing us from being fully present is a state of the ego, the false self who only makes us (and sometimes others) miserable. If we could focus more on the here and now, we could increase our gratitude and reduce our anxiety and angst.
How do we separate ourselves from our ego? Start noticing its existence. As you mentally stand back and observe its negative reaction to things, notice that a separate part of yourself is detached from the ego–it has to be in order to notice your behavior. (Most of us can remember times in which we have reacted to something and a part of us was detached enough to recognize our reaction as a speculative, or critical, observer.) The more we practice this ability to detach, the more we can control our reactions.
Since I’ve been studying the metaphysical, I have received lots of guidance to meditate in order to quiet the mind. When reading The Artists Way by Julia Cameron, she encouraged writing three pages of Morning Pages every day. I heard a friend recently refer to these as “stream of consciousness” writing, but I didn’t really get the significance of either. I have tried meditation and Morning Pages off and on over the years but could never see the long-term benefits enough to continue for long.
Thanks to Eckhart Tolle, I finally understand why we are encouraged to meditate and write without necessarily having something concrete to write about. He says on page 19 of The Power of Now, “Thinking and consciousness are not synonymous. Thinking is only a small aspect of consciousness. Thought cannot exist without consciousness, but consciousness does not need thought.”  Consciousness, the place where the thinking mind is quieted, is where creativity is born. If you are anything like me, you have insisted that you cannot be creative. But if we could learn to stop thinking, stop the ego from taking over and regurgitating the past and projecting it into the future, or over-analyzing everything we do, say, or write–we could find creativity hidden within us. How do we quiet the mind and tap into the super-consciousness where creativity lives and breathes? Meditation, stream of consciousness writing, anything that quiets the mind and allows it to drift. I can already tell you this isn’t easy. My mind is very stubborn and I have spent my entire life thinking my intelligence was the only thing I have going for me, but now I understand why I should learn to quiet my mind.
I recently read a book on Dowsing by author Joey Korn. He says, again and again, that it’s not the rods, pendulum, or willow twig that does the dowsing–it’s the dowser. The earth’s energies interact with our own and communicate what we are looking for, be it water or energy fields. Since most of us aren’t in-tune enough with our psychic abilities, the rods (etc) give us the answers we need.  If we aren’t getting the reactions we need, it’s the fault of our own mind disabling, or second guessing, the pull of the earth’s energies. So, once again, the thinking mind is getting in the way of our super-conscious mind which knows how to interact with energies, spirits, and our own creative potential. If we can learn to control our thoughts and emotions by quieting our ego and our intellect, I believe the possibilities are endless!
“Enlightenment means rising above thought…In the enlightened state, you still use your thinking mind when needed, but in a much more focused and effective way than before.” (Tolle, 19) It’s time we reached out for enlightenment and gained control of our minds. Imagine what kind of world this would be if we were all more creative and less reactive!

Religion vs. Spirituality

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Spirituality is an ever-evolving thing. Over the last year and a half, I moved across country, broke my leg, and struggled to secure a new career. As things have settled down into a routine, I have noticed spirituality is lacking from my life due to the many distractions. I am not, in any way, hungering for the kind of spirituality I was brought up with. I wouldn’t call that tyrannical paradigm spirituality. Religion and spirituality are often two diametrically opposed entities. Spirituality can be felt anywhere, by anyone, and it is transformative. Religion is abiding by rules set by someone else and judging anyone who doesn’t abide by the same rules. It is destructive to individuality and authenticity.

I prefer being responsible for my own spirituality, as defined by me. I am minister and laity all in one. My church is mother nature, or my very own house. I can practice my faith in the nude, if I so choose (and I often do). Such practice helps me rid myself of the shame heaped upon me as a child of Christianity. Religion teaches that we are all one step away from damnation because of our sinful flesh and never-ending streams of temptation. When people spend their lives obsessing over sexuality and fleshly desires it is no wonder it becomes the first thing they turn to when their resistance is low. The forbidden fruit is always the most appealing. If we as a society were taught to love our bodies despite their imperfections and desires we wouldn’t wallow in perceived weakness. We would be strong, capable of making wise choices.

What happens, though, if we realize we are strong and worthwhile? What happens if we grasp the fact that we are spiritual beings apart from churches and organizations? What if we comprehend that salvation doesn’t rest within a certain denomination? Then the churches would empty. People would find happiness without the spiritual leaders. The financial backing these churches need would crumble. Civilization would finally rid themselves of a weight that has been holding evolution back for thousands of years. The next millennia would be a time of unprecedented scientific and societal advancement. And it would all be because we have finally cast off the detritus that has kept us in the Dark Ages.

I have reached the sweet spot where I rarely think of Jehovah’s Witnesses, or talk of them. Such is the benefit of moving 3000 miles away from anyone I knew attached to that religion. I live in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania now and I haven’t even laid my eyes on a JW, let alone had them knock on my door in almost a year. I am reviving this blog because I feel the need to make spirituality a part of my life again. Ultimately, I do believe we are spiritual beings (something the JW’s teach quite regularly to prove the existence of God). Not everyone finds spiritual fulfillment within the walls of a church, however. I think it can be found wherever someone finds fulfillment, happiness, and gratitude. This can be found in a career, on a hike, or within the pages of a book; and it neither confirms nor denies the existence of God.

I have not found the form of spirituality that brings me great contentment. I’m not even sure if I ever will. As I said at the beginning of this post, spirituality evolves over time. But I do feel like I am in a better position to fill the holes left after departing Christianity.

I have also recently agreed to read and review books on alternative spirituality published by Moon Books. So when you see book reviews pop up, that is why. Feel free to read them, or not.

Thank you for going with me on this journey, and please share in it if you so choose. Cheers!