Temple Newsletter #3

Welcome fellow seekers to the third edition of the weekly newsletter of Temple Of the Standing Stones. I am Cianaodh Óg, High Priest and opinionated curmudgeon of the temple.

If you missed last week’s newsletter you can still see it on our website at: Temple Newsletter #2 .

Have you seen our new stylized logo by artist Emily Dewbre-Young of Primal Aspects Art Studio?

Stylized Temple Logo
Stylized Temple Logo

We’re really excited about this new design! Kennocha has even stated that the colors make her think of stained glass. We should be sporting these on our new t-shirts at North Texas Irish Festival on March 7th if all goes well and might have window decals soon too. A hundred thousand thank yous to Ta’li and Wahya for making that happen for us. I am proud to have y’all as temple family!

Have you visited our Recommended Reading List lately? Kennocha has been busy, busy, busy writing book reviews this past week and as a result 43 new books have been added to our Recommended Reading List. Yes, I said forty-three of them. I told you she was busy y’all! Go check them out!

Work also continues on our upcoming Seekers’ Orientation module for the website. A few sneak peak articles have been published already on the About Us page of our website. When the full orientation is ready for publishing it will have a page of it’s own linked from the About Us page.

How public or private are you with your beliefs? Are you okay with your picture being featured at Pagan activities and gatherings in our temple’s publications offline and on? If so, please be sure to ask us about our new photographer’s release forms so we can have one on file letting us know it’s okay to show pictures of you hanging around with us and doing stuff.

We are considering having a movie night soon. How does everyone feel about watching “What The Bleep?” with your temple mates while munching on popcorn and other snacks? Let us know!

Upcoming Temple Events:

Lesson – Divination Overview  – Saturday, February 28th at 7pm at Cianaodh’s house.

Temple Field Trip – North Texas Irish Festival  – Saturday, March 7th 10:30am at Fair Park in Dallas.

Will you be joining us tonight?

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Email: templehp [at] templeofthestones [dot] org for the address if you plan to attend.

Gwilym Holz-Drache The Bard shared the following wonderful piece of original poetry with us:

As I walk this world on this path.
Into the forest grove I relieve myself of the worldly wrath.
I feel your presents every step of the way.
I feel at peace from the energy that is gave.
To hear the songs of all the creatures.
Knowing that our Divine Creator is everywhere even in Nature.

“Gwilym”

If anyone else has some original poetry, artwork or other creative work they would like to share in the next or other future newsletters please let me know at templehp [at] templeofthestones [dot] org. I’m always happy to show off the talents of our tribe!

Want to learn more about Celtic Mythology? Check out:

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The Celtic Myth Podshow will tell you ancient tales and legends of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany and the Isle of Man bringing you the bravery of heroes and heroines, the magnificent pantheon of gods and goddesses and the magic and wonder of druids, faeries and folklore.

Join Gary & Ruth and their friends as they tell you the great stories from Celtic legend. The series started with the Book of Invasions from the Irish Mythological Cycle and progressed on to Welsh Mythology with the First Branch of the Mabinogion.

NB: This Podshow and the website are, and always will be, KID-SAFE and FREE. Again, that’s The Celtic Myth Podshow

That’s it for this week folks. Flags, Flax, Fodder and Frigg!

May you never thirst!

Cianaodh Óg – High Priest of Temple Of the Standing Stones – Arlington, Texas

Deity

As mentioned in the Basic Beliefs section, our approach to Paganism is such that we leave our individual members’ personal relationships with the divine up to them and explore many different concepts and aspects for deity in our practice, classes and rituals. Temple of the Standing Stones believes that deity is a very personal matter. We strive to make our temple inclusive to Pagans of all flavors, while encouraging the specialized relationship each member has with their own god, gods, and/or goddesses.

Some of us believe in the saying “As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul…” –  Hermes Trismegistus. So, we look to nature and the universe when we seek answers to life’s great mysteries. There are certain patterns and interactions of energies that occur at every level throughout the universe. The macrocosm and the microcosm. In pondering these things we believe it is possible to grasp a better understanding of the nature of deity.

Now, because we are Pagans living in a modern day world, we adopt many of the ritual elements and god/goddess names and concepts into our practice that a great number of today’s Pagans are familiar with. Some of our temple members may speak of the divine as ‘The Lord and Lady’, some may refer to them as ‘The gods’, some may use more encompassing terms such as ‘The Kindred’ (meaning gods, ancestors and nature spirits). That is all okay. Those are reflections of each individual’s perception of and relationship with the divine at this point on their spiritual journey.

Pondering these great mysteries of the divine and sharing our perceptions with one another is what makes getting together with other Pagans such a great thing to us. Your perception may be different from any that we are familiar with and among our members you may find a concept that you have not yet examined. We invite you to come share with us so that perhaps together we may all grow and learn.

RETURN TO SEEKERS’ ORIENTATION TABLE OF CONTENTS

Mono?

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Two ways to spread the light...

Notice: Please take this post with a grain of salt as it is intended to reflect the opinion of Cianaodh Óg and only Cianaodh Óg NOT Temple Of the Standing Stones as a whole.

Mono. One. Whether applied to monoculture, monopoly, monotony, monotheism or anything else it implies that there is only one. Ever since I was a young man I never did buy into the concept of “only one”. Just one right way to live, only one way to get somewhere, there is only one way to believe….Nope, I said. That doesn’t work for me. I see many roads to get to places, lots of ways to get things done which all seem to work in their own way and one god? Yep, had trouble accepting that one too and at the age of 8 years old declared myself an agnostic because for a long time I knew of no other religious concepts beyond those which dominate the North Central Texas region. It took 22 years for something to change my mind and that something came in the form of a goddess who spoke to me and told me there was another way and that I should learn all I can and help others as well to see that there is another way to believe and other ways to live. So here I am, trying as best I can to do just that. But, I am still a mere mortal man bumbling along on my path and making probably more than my fair share of mistakes along the way.

Luckily for me though, the gods have sent a gifted support network my way. I have a very supportive, talented and loving wife who helps keep me grounded and provides me with artistic inspiration to keep me going. Some of the most knowledgeable people I’ve ever met who I am proud to count among my friends, lovers, acquaintances, brothers and sisters. Because, I don’t have to do this mono (alone). THANK THE GODS FOR THAT! I mean that from the bottom of my heart because this temple and it’s goals are a massive undertaking for anyone to try to take on but it’s worth every bit of effort. If we can change the world for the better and give our children the gift of peace and coexistence then what else could you ask for really?

But back to this topic of mono. Is there only one way to teach a child? No, there are so many different ways that people learn, so many different personality types and so many varied aptitudes that there is no way one size can fit all. How does that old saying go? Everyone is a genius but if you try to teach a fish how to climb a tree it will go through life thinking it’s stupid? It was an Einstein quote if my memory serves me right but I’m not sure enough that I got it right to put the quotation marks on it right now. I’m sure someone will correct me. I’ve got people for that and again, THANK THE GODS! Because, I don’t wanna do it alone. If you find yourself alone you start questioning whether or not you’re going the right way. Mono. Yeah, if one path isn’t working for you, maybe try another?

Bless The Bees,

Cianaodh Óg

Runes My Way

Rune casting circle.
Runes Cast On Cloth

There are almost as many different ways to cast and interpret runes as there are folks who use runes for guidance. Like most forms of divination it is a very intuitive process and while individual rune interpretations and ways to cast them are written down in books and on websites galore those, to me, should be looked at as a starting point for learning the runes. Once you’ve learned how other people are using them it’s time to start listening to that inner voice and interpreting what it is exactly the runes are saying to you personally.

The rune casting cloth pictured here was a wonderful gift from my tradition sister Arachne Crowsinger. I told her about my typical way of casting runes when outdoors which was, prior to receiving this gift, to find a stick and draw a circle within a larger circle on a bare patch of earth or use chalk to draw one one pavement or smooth stone occasionally then cast them into the circle so that I could interpret them.

This handy cloth folds up nicely to travel with my rune bag and saves me the trouble of having to find a good surface to draw my circles on. It has served me very well and I am ever grateful for it. Now, the reason for the two circles is this. Typically, when I am seeking guidance on a particular topic I will meditate on my question while holding my bag of runes in my hands, energizing them with my question and the task of seeking guidance. When I feel they are properly prepared I reach into the bag, stir the runes around a little bit with my fingers then pull three out without looking while I pull them. Then, once out of the bag I take the three runes and hold them about 3 feet or so above the center then drop them onto the circle letting them fall where and as they may.

All three runes in the center. Odd.
All three runes in the center. Odd.

Well, well, well! This time all three runes fell and stayed within the center circle. This doesn’t happen often and leads me to take notice, for this is something I should pay attention to. Now, just in the interests of full disclosure, these pictures are quite old and I don’t recall exactly what I was asking for guidance on at the time but the exact question is irrelevant here. We’re just looking at the technique because I do it the same way regardless of the question for the most part. But, here’s how I go about reading these. First, as you may have guessed, the three runes represent past, present and future with regards to the question at hand. So, from left to right we would be looking at:

1. How did we get here? What lead us to this situation?
2. Where are we now? What wisdom is there regarding the present circumstances?
3. What does the future hold? What advice or warnings are there for the road ahead if we stay on the current path?

Now, in addition to the left to right interpretation I am also looking at how close to the center the particular rune may have fallen. If the past rune is way outside of the center then it has little bearing on the present situation but if it’s in the center then it has a lot to do with it. The same is true of how strongly the present and future runes are interpreted. Close to the center, strong meaning; farther away, less bearing. If the present rune is outside of the center but the future rune is in the middle of the inner circle for example then they’re saying “Okay, here’s where you are now but that’s not the big thing, where you are going is what really matters so pay close attention to this future advice.” Also, things like, two runes touching one another means those two things are intimately linked and should be interpreted as a combined thing. (How to go about doing that is a little more in depth than I intended to go in this article but I may cover it later)

Of course, the exact interpretation of the runes themselves you can look up in your book of choice or website of choice until you reach a point of familiarity at which you can do it intuitively. I still refer to my books often because each rune has subtle variations on the potential interpretation even if the overall meaning is the same. For example, Peord (Pertho) may represent the apple tree to many and can be interpreted as representing abundance and lavishness when upright but can also represent gambling and mystery to others. If it falls inverted or reversed then it’s interpretation is also reversed more often than not. So, you have to take the interpretation to fit the question and situation and you have to rely on your intuition to guide you. Studying your runes and their meanings according to sources you trust combined with practice and gaining familiarity with them is what will allow you to hone your skills as an accomplished rune caster and diviner. Once you’ve mastered their meanings you can also use runes in spellwork and other useful magickal workings.

So, in a nutshell, that’s my way of doing a typical three rune casting. Is it what some may consider to be the “right” way to do it? Probably not. I learned bits and pieces from books, other rune casters and online before picking the things I liked and going with what works for me. Your mileage may vary but you’re welcome to use whatever you like of my technique and see how it goes. If you have any questions, I’m always happy to make up answers. 😉 Haha!

Saol fada agus breac-shláinte chugat!

Long-life and fair health to you!

(A Gaelic blessing pronounced Say-ol faw-dah og-uss brack- hlawn-cheh ch(k)oo-at)

Cianaodh

How Our Beliefs Might Interrelate With Science

 

I would like to start off this article with the note that it was written by myself, Cianaodh and while it may reflect my personal views and opinions on the subject there are others in the temple who hold different views and that too is okay. We don’t learn and grow by everyone believing the same things in the same way. We do so by exposing ourselves to different ideas, concepts and beliefs. But, that being said, here’s mine.

Our relationship with science is such that we recognize the various sciences as a pursuit of the truth. Ours, too, is a pursuit of the truth on a spiritual level. Not in conflict with the pursuit of scientific truth. If some archeological find or other scientific finding which has proven to be true conflicts with our views and beliefs we have no problem with altering our views and beliefs to fit the scientifically proven facts.

On the other hand, while we believe in accepting the positive aspects of science and technology, we do maintain a healthy skepticism towards the supposed ethical neutrality of that science and technology. In other words, we recognize that oftentimes, the findings of research depends a great deal on who is funding the research. So, we also consider it important that scientists and everyone else pay as much attention to their methods as they do to their goals.

Still, while witches, magi, yogis, druids, shamans, and other assorted magickal practitioners have spoken for a long time of energy working and channeling, the nature of creation and manifestation from fields of energy and such,  scientific findings in recent decades have been uncovering truths about our universe that prove us right. This is a very complex but fascinating subject. Anyone who is truly interested in learning magick can  benefit by learning about it.

Fred Allen Wolf, in his book “The Eagles Quest: A Physicist finds truth at the heart of the shamanic world”, wrote the following:

“It was once said by Sir James Jeans, the British philosopher, ‘The Universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine.’ And the more I journeyed into the shamanic world, the more this seemed true to me. It was clear to me that shamans use powers to deal with a universe we in the Western world tend to dismiss as imaginary. But that tendency was gradually vanishing, since the discovery of the hidden world of the atom and subatomic matter made physicists realize that it was impossible to entirely ascribe objective properties to ultimate matter and energy.
‘Shamans enter into parallel worlds. It was now apparent that these other worlds were found in the imaginal realm, not just in the physical realm. Originally I believed that these other worlds were parallel physical realms, just like those predicted by quantum physics. Now I wasn’t sure that this was right. Instead I began to see that the world of mythos was parallel to the physical world in a different sense. Somehow it was a world that eluded the uncertainty principal. It was a world that was determined in a way that my quantum physics training could not fathom. Somehow when shamans dealt with that world, a degree of control- and yes, even destiny- that wasn’t possible in the physical world was manifested. That shamans could tune into that destiny and that prospect, for some reason, frightened me.
‘It was becoming apparent to me that the real power of shamanic physics was the ability to alter matter by altering the world of the mind. This meant that shamans must have the ability to enter the mind world and they must be able to find their way back.’

So, what if by the act of visualizing or imaging something one could cause a physical change in the matter and energy around ones self?  It turns out, this is indeed the case. Science refers to this as the observer effect. It has been proven to take place at the sub-atomic level, where the lines between matter and energy are often blurred.

Take into consideration Einstein’s well known E=MC2? It stands for energy = mass times the speed of light squared. Basically, energy and matter are the same thing, just in two different forms. Energy is light, heat, waves, (whether radio, micro, x-rays, or other forms of radiation.) Physicists speak of energy in terms of waves, with different frequencies, or vibrations. According to Einstein’s theory, matter is nothing more than energy, or “waves”, in a different form. Scientific experiments have verified this principle. On the subatomic level, those tiny little particles that make up an atom which we all learned about early on in our educations, the electrons, the protons, and the neutrons, aren’t so solid after all, but instead they too are tiny energy packets. These energy packets “wave”, or vibrate, and they have either a positive or negative charge. Physicists call these wave/particles quantum waves of probability.

The observer effect occurs when scientists try to observe these quantum waves in a lab. Whenever one tries to observe one of these energy packets’ position, it appears as a particle. In other words, it appears solid, as a pin point. But when one tries to observe it in motion, it will appear as a wave, no longer as a solid. Not only that but it can even appear to be in two places at once. It is literally as if the energy packet is both a particle and a wave and that it will show itself to be one or the other, depending on what you are looking for. Perhaps there is something more to this concept that people tend to find whatever it is they are looking for?

Anyway, this is very weird (or perhaps wyrd?) and when scientists first discovered this phenomenon they had a hard time believing their own eyes. How can something possibly be both a particle and a wave at the same time? How could it appear as one or the other, depending on what you’re trying to see? Also how can something possibly be in more than one place at a time? After several repeated experiments by multiple scientists all coming to the same conclusion there could be only one answer. Their expectations caused that which was being observed to change it’s appearance, or form by simply observing it. We do not see the world as it is, we see the world as we are. 😉

Another fascinating subject I recommend looking into from the world of science is the work of Rupert Sheldrake and his theory of Morphic Fields and Morphic Resonance.

Temple Newsletter #2

Welcome fellow seekers to the second edition of the weekly newsletter of Temple Of the Standing Stones. I am Cianaodh Óg, High Priest of the temple.

If you missed last week’s newsletter you can still see it on our website at: Temple Newsletter #1.

This week we’ve seen some new faces join us on our Meetup Group and hopefully soon we’ll get to see some of these new faces in person at one of our upcoming events like tonight’s teaching event on energy working and psychic challenge games.:

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What do we mean by psychic challenge games? Well, for those who were at our Yule gathering this past December you might recall some of the games Temple Mother Em’ introduced such as blindfolding one participant and seeing how well he or she might be able to identify others in a circle just by their energy or seeing who can most closely identity an object sitting on a stool in another room. Games like these are fun, challenging and give us a chance to exercise those extra sensory abilities.

We have been continuing our work on writing a completely new Seekers’ Orientation section for the website to welcome new comers to our temple and let folks know what we’re all about. When the work is complete (although nothing is ever really “finished”) we hope to put it together in booklet form to hand out to people when they come to our gatherings. The work has also led to some interesting and deep philosophical discussions on the nature of deity and how each individual might perceive the divine. Such discussions are one of the many reasons that, in between the wonderful times that we can see one another face to face, I like to encourage everyone to drop by our forum at least once a week to see what new topics have been posted or who might have thrown some new thoughts into an old topic. So yeah, do drop by our forum at: http://templeofthestones.org/forum/ sometime soon and say hi!

Do you dream of drinking from the Grail?
That the truth is held within a tale,
And Arthur sleeps now, ready to return?
Do you know that Jack lives in the Green,
That things are never as they seem,
And life is more than the money that your earn.

– Damh The Bard

One thing I would like to share with everyone this week is that our temple is looking at various ways that we can be involved in community service and charity work. Temple Of the Standing Stones cares about our community and we want to make the world a better place for ourselves, our children as well as our friends and loved ones. At this past Imbolc celebration we asked attendees to bring canned and dry food items so that we may start a collection of donations to take to an area food bank. Currently, Cancer Care Services is the one we are looking at but I have not yet made arrangements with my contact person there. In any event, we will make sure a worthy recipient is selected and the donations are made. We would like to continue this practice of collecting food donations at our rituals for this purpose. We’ve also been discussing the possibilities of doing blood drives with Carter Bloodcare, adopt a highway cleanup programs, collecting box tops and food labels for school programs and other potential causes. We want to show the world that we care and are here to be a positive force in the community. Would you like to help?

As a reminder, coming soon we will be having a wonderful outing at the North Texas Irish Festival on Saturday, March 7th and we hope to be wearing some new, snazzy t-shirts with our temple’s name and website address on them so if you see us out there, won’t you please come and say hi!? We love hugs by the way. 🙂 For more information about North Texas Irish Festival see their website: http://www.ntif.org/ It is a wonderful event full of music, dancing, great shopping and food and a huge dose of good old Irish culture!

Upcoming Temple Events:

Lesson – Energy Working and Psychic Challenge Games – Saturday, February 21st at 7pm at Cianaodh’s house.

LessonDivination Overview  – Saturday, February 28th at 7pm at Cianaodh’s house.

Email: templehp [at] templeofthestones [dot] org for the address if you plan to attend.

Temple brother and Guardian Ta’li Seabhac shared the following beautiful piece with us recently on the forum as a song idea that he would like some collaboration on. Let’s put our talents together and make something tremendous!

Blessed

This ground…
Is more than just the dirt.
My body…
Is connected to this earth.
These winds….
With this air I breathe in life.
I can feel it…
From within these powers take flight.
I know they can hear me
Can hear my voice.
I know they can hear me
Can hear my voice.
This fire…
Is more than just the flame.
These embers protect
Send the negative away.
These waters…
Bring in the waves of needed change.
This water sustains and washes all my pain away.
I know they can feel me
Can feel my love
I know they can feel me
Can feel my love.

So I heard the call
I walked down that path
To embrace these spirits
Of the long gone past.
There’s magic here
All around us I want to
Draw them in hold them high in trust and I know…
They can hear my voice
Yes I know,
They can hear my voice
And I feel blessed.

That’s all I have for this week. May the gods smile upon you and yours and the blessings of our ancestors light your way on life’s journey and this spiritual path.

Many Blessings To You and Yours,

Cianaodh Óg – High Priest of Temple Of the Standing Stones – Arlington, Texas

Willow Tree Lore

This article originally published on Our Pantheons Way on May 26th, 2014.

 Willow Tree
Willow Tree

I’m a Warrior! 
Earth Warrior! 
True-born Pagan Yeah! 
I’m a Warrior , 
Nature soldier fighting for the Earth – Omnia

Willow is most often found near waterways throughout temperate regions of the world. It enjoys quite a history and a long-standing relationship with humankind of usefulness – medicinal, magickal and otherwise.

In Japan there is a story from 1132 C.E. which begins…

ABOUT one thousand years ago the temple of ‘San-jû-san-gen Do’ was founded. ‘San-jû-san-gen Do’ means hall of thirty-three spaces; and there are said to be over 33,333 figures of the Goddess Kwannon, the Goddess of Mercy, in the temple today. Before the temple was built, in a village near by stood a willow tree of great size. It marked the playing-ground of all the village children, who swung on its branches, and climbed on its limbs. It afforded shade to the aged in the heat of summer, and in the evenings, when work was done, many were the village lads and lasses who vowed eternal love under its branches. The tree seemed an influence for good to all. Even the weary traveller could sleep peacefully and almost dry under its branches. Alas, even in those times men were often ruthless with regard to trees. One day the villagers announced an intention to cut it down and use it to build a bridge across the river.

The full story can be found at The Sacred Texts Archive: http://www.sacred-texts.com/shi/atfj/atfj04.htm

But this is just one example of many, the world over, signifying the importance of the Willow Tree. Legend says that the Moon Goddess gave rain to the willow as a gift because of her love for it. The Willow is the tree of enchantment and is ruled by the moon. Willow wood is also one of the nine traditional firewoods to be added to the Belfire that is burned at Beltane.

The Willow is sacred to Mercury and Minerva of the Roman pantheon and also to Artemis, Ceres, Circe, Persephone (Greek), Brigid (Celtic) and Belili, the Sumerian goddess who rules over trees, and Willows in particular. The Willow is associated with Orpheus, who is regarded by the Greeks as the greatest of poets. Stories say that Orpheus received his gifts of eloquence and communication by carrying Willow branches on his journey through the Underworld. A bas-relief in a temple at Delphi portrays Orpheus leaning against a Willow tree, touching its branches.

Willow has often been the tree most sought after by the village medicine man or woman, since it has an abundance of medicinal properties. Over time, the Willow’s healing and religious qualities merged into one and the tree came to be known as the ‘witch’s tree’ by some. The Willow is also associated with the faeries. The wind in the Willows is the whisperings of a fairy in the ear of a poet. It is also said that Willow trees can uproot themselves and stalk travelers at night, muttering at them.

For Magickal Purposes: The Willow can be used for enchantments, wishes, love, healing, protection, fertility, friendship, joy, and peace. Used in the home, Willow branches can protect against evil, hexes and curses. Carried on your person, Willow wood bestows bravery and dexterity. If you knock on a Willow tree it is said to avert evil, hence the expression knock on wood. A Willow tree growing near a home will protect it from danger. Willows are also a good tree to plant around cemeteries and for lining burial plots for its symbolism of death and protection. Willows can be used in rituals for intuition, knowledge, gentle nurturing, and will elucidate the feminine qualities of both men and women. If a person needs to get something off their chest or to share a secret, if they confess it to a Willow, their secret will be trapped. Also, it is said that wishes are granted by a Willow tree if they are asked for in the correct manner. Willow leaves, bark and wood add energy to healing magick, and burning a mix of Willow bark and sandalwood during the waning moon can help to conjure spirits. Uses of Willow in love talismans include using the leaves to attract love. Willow leaves or twigs can also be used in spells to create loyalty, make friendship pacts, treaties, or alliances. It is said that a rejected lover can wear Willow as a charm to win back the love.

Research for this article came from these fine sources:

http://www.druidry.org/library/trees/tree-lore-willow

http://www.sacred-texts.com/shi/atfj/atfj04.htm

http://mothermoonsmessage.blogspot.com/2011/02/celtic-tree-lore-emotional-willow.html

http://dutchie.org/willow-lore/

Why Study Celtic Mythology

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Be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant.

The following was a short essay I wrote during my first degree studies with Sacred Fire Temple explaining why I felt further study of Celtic mythology was beneficial:

Many of us now living in America have ancestry somewhere in our bloodlines that is in one way or another Celtic. Studying the tales, folklore and legends of the Gods and Goddesses of the homelands of our ancestors will help put us in touch with the culture and ways of those who came before us. There is great wisdom and tales of heroic battles, crafty deeds and some fun in learning of the adventures of The Dagda, Morrigan, Brigit, Lugh and others. The sources we have today are sketchy and some of them pass through the filters of their enemies such as the Romans and later Christian missionaries but with an open mind and some thought it is a worthwhile endeavor to pick out what may have been the true stories of these great Gods and Goddesses who were the children of Danu or Tuathe De Dannan. Isaac Bonewits once said that it would be wise for more Pagans of Celtic ancestry to learn the old scripts of Ogham and the Gaelic languages so that when archeological finds are made and studied we can get a Pagan interpretation of their meanings rather than having to rely on the findings of those who see the world through different eyes.

Definitions

Eclectic

To derive concepts, ideas, styles, or tastes from a widely diverse range of sources. We believe knowledge and wisdom knows no cultural or geographical boundaries. We seek enlightenment from any sources available regardless of our primary cultural leanings. We believe our ancestors would have done the same given the resources to do so.

Heathen

A heathen was originally a word that meant heath dweller or hills dweller. People who refer to themselves as Heathens rather than Pagan typically make the distinction that they follow a hereditary or folk-religion based spiritual path. Whereas the same may be said of many Pagan paths as well Pagans tend to be more earth and nature centered in their spirituality and Heathens more culturally specific in their path. Although both terms are often used interchangeably there are subtle differences in the ways some folks who choose between the two descriptors approach their spirituality.

Kindred

The Kindred is an inclusive term which refers to the gods and goddesses, the ancestors and the nature spirits. In our view, all beings are children of the creative force of the universe and all are descended through countless lines of mothers and fathers. Beyond the mortal kindreds, are the numerous tribes of supernatural beings as well. In our practice we may deal with, and make offerings to, many kinds of spirits.

Magick

An effort to make a change in ones life by using your own personal energy and the energy of the creative force from which all things and all living beings are derived. We add the “K” to differentiate this concept and practice from stage illusion magic and slight of hand tricks. The practice of magick involves finding your connection to the Earth, the divine and all that is natural, alive and moving in the universe. It is channeling the energy which binds all that exists together.

Mother Culture

In the work of Daniel Quinn—first mentioned in his 1992 philosophical novel, Ishmael—Mother Culture is used as a collective term for any given culture’s most influencing features (its philosophies, attitudes, values, viewpoints, etc.) that, however, are usually not consciously recognized as being culturally-specific by the members of that culture. In other words, Mother Culture is the set of “unquestioned influences” or “hidden premises” that the members of a culture merely take for granted as being universally true (rather than, in fact, being culturally-specific), and that largely determine (1) how the members of that culture experience and view the world, and, therefore, (2) how they actually behave in the world. Because every person is culturally biased to a greater or lesser extent, Quinn reasons that every culture must have a certain crucial element that instills in its members this firm position of bias: this is Mother Culture. Quinn often uses the term Mother Culture as a feminine personification.

According to Quinn, every Mother Culture feeds its followers a particular, culturally-skewed mythology that greatly influences how these people perceive themselves and their environment. Mother Culture works to uphold (and to pacify any dissent against) the culture and its specific worldview. Quinn claims that “every culture has a Mother Culture” but warns that in a self-destructive culture like our own globalized civilization, Mother Culture’s promotion of the status quo amounts to captivity, in which we are unable to fathom any alternative lifestyles other than the one Mother Culture tells us to live out (because we cannot think beyond the hidden premises our culture lives by—the cultural “truths” that Mother Culture insists are unquestionable). Unfortunately, because we, as a culture, are destroying the Earth, while many of us would wish to stop this destruction, Quinn asserts that we cannot seem to find the “bars” of our proverbial cage because Mother Culture has given us certain assumptions that we assume without question, never recognizing them as false from the start. Quinn has frequently claimed that two of the most fundamental (but false) premises communicated to us by our Mother Culture, in particular, include the following: “There is only one right way to live: ours” and “We must cling to civilization at all costs, even if it kills us.” Quinn further describes such premises in his discussion on memes in Beyond Civilization.

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_culture

Occult

The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus which means clandestine, hidden or secret and refers to knowledge of the hidden. It’s often taken to mean knowledge that “is meant only for certain people” or that “must be kept hidden”, but for most practicing occultists it is simply the study of a deeper spiritual reality. The words esoteric and arcane are very similar in meaning with occult and are often used interchangeably. Most of the knowledge which is considered “hidden” is actually hidden in plain sight but one has to be willing to look for it because it is not taught by mainstream sources.

Orthopraxy

Orthodoxy, a word most people are already familiar with, literally means “correct opinion” in Greek whereas heterodoxy, or being heretical, means to have a different opinion. Paganism, to us, is about orthopraxy. In other words, it’s more important how you do things than what you believe. In ancient times, “believerhood” at a temple had more to do with things like entering the temple and walking three times around the idol, making your image and reciting an inscription on the wall, as was done in Roman temples for example. No one really asked much what one might believe about the divine, about its nature, or whether you treated it as objectively real or not. Your relationship with the gods was a personal matter between you and them. What you practiced and what you did said more about your path than what you personally believed. That’s not to say that we don’t enjoy a good philosophical discussion about beliefs of the divine. But we don’t hold those beliefs to be of greater importance than how we choose to live and practice our faith.

Pagan

According to Google’s online definition a Pagan is a person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions. We can live with that. Ours is certainly outside of the current mainstream in religious beliefs but it was not always so. The term Pagan originally came from the Latin word paganus which meant a villager or rustic person from pagus, the country district. To Roman soldiers paganus also meant a civilian and later became used to mean one who is not enrolled in the army of Christ.

Pantheism

The belief that the spiritual makeup of everything, ourselves, the divine and other spiritual forces exists within every atom of everything within the universe, a collective soul so to speak. From this collective energy, the gods and goddesses as well as all other beings both natural and supernatural is formed by the conscious will of the beings within that energy’s field of influence.

Rede

A Middle English word that means to give counsel, advise, interpret, or explain. It can also, in an older sense of the word, mean to tell a story. It is said to have derived from the Old English word “raedan” or the Old High German “ratan” which both also mean to advise. There is additionally a possibly related Sanskrit word “radhnoti” which means “to archive or prepare”. In any event, we take it to mean to give counsel or advice as in the Wiccan Rede which advises us to “harm none” among other things.

Ritual

At it’s most elementary level a ritual is simply a series of acts that is always performed in the same way. I get up in the morning, say my daily devotional prayer, pull a rune for guidance and go make coffee. That’s my morning ritual so to speak. I do it almost every day in almost always the same order. In religious rites we also have certain things which are always done a particular way and in a set order. We cast circle, we call the elements, we welcome the gods and goddesses, we have cakes and ale, we close circle. Of course there are more steps and things that go on in between but that’s the gist of it. It’s a prescribed way and order of doing things for a particular occasion.

Skyclad

Working skyclad (nude) has a long and distinguished, albeit controversial at times, history within paganism. We believe that when we are skyclad the energies of magickal workings are less muddled and it is easier to focus and channel them. Also, it is felt by many, as is stated in The Charge Of The Goddess it is a sign of our freedom to be naked in our rites. At Temple Of the Standing Stones our Initiation Rites (ritual to join the clergy) and our Esbats (Full Moon rituals) are skyclad but our Sabbats and Temple Days are clothed events. In this way, both those who prefer skyclad ritual and those who do not have opportunities to participate.

More on Skyclad Workings here.

Spell

Disregard the Hollywood version of what spells and magick look like. Unfortunately, real magick doesn’t come with a special effects team. Essentially, a great many spells you will find are simply a focused form of prayer. Candles of a particular color, crystals which vibrate at particular frequencies, aromas from various incense varieties, all of those things are basically tools to help focus and direct energy.

Syncretic

A syncretic faith is one made up by the combination of different forms of belief or practice. Some examples include Voodoo, Santeria and some would say Wicca as well. We consider our tradition to be syncretic in nature.

Wicca

A modern religion influenced predominantly by the pre-Christian agrarian cultures of western Europe that believes in and practices magick and honors both male and female deities who exist in nature. Wicca emphasizes ritual observance of seasonal and life cycles based on solar and lunar cycles.

Witch

Generally, A practitioner of natural or folk magick, particularly the sort relating to candles, herbs, stones, colors, knots, etc. I say this because generally, those who practice the more ceremonial forms of magick or “High Magick” as it is often called tend to prefer the term Magi to refer to themselves. Witch is used by some Wiccans to describe themselves and in Wicca either a male or female is called a witch. Male witches do not use the term warlock and it is actually a derogatory term. That being said though it is important to note that not all witches are Wiccan and not all Wiccans necessarily consider themselves witches. Witchcraft tends to have more to do with the workings of magick and spellcraft while Wicca is a religion with many facets beyond the witchcraft aspect of it.

Wyrd

A concept from Anglo-Saxon culture similar to fate or destiny but also related to what we would call karmic return. The ancient Anglo-Saxon concept of fate, or wyrd, was more stringent than that of other cultures such as the Greeks because in their way of believing there was no resisting it. Our modern word weird comes from this word but it’s meaning, basically synonymous with strange, is not the same. Wyrd means something happens because it was destined to happen.

RETURN TO SEEKERS’ ORIENTATION TABLE OF CONTENTS

Temple Newsletter #1

A Blessed Lupercalia and welcome to the first edition of the weekly newsletter of Temple Of the Standing Stones. I am Cianaodh Óg, High Priest and blabbermouth of the temple.

We have had some exciting and interesting things happening these past few months at our temple that I would like to share in this edition. Back in November we officially hived off from Sacred Fire Temple within the Esoteric Path of Enlightenment tradition then about 6 weeks later, on December 14th, my temple and two of my High Priestess sisters formally resigned from that tradition to forge a new path of our own. We decided that we have a different vision and philosophy on how our Paganism should be practiced and wished to be unencumbered from traditional models. While I work on my temple, my two sisters are forming a coven of their own in another area and we hope to launch a new tradition of our own together soon.

So, we have been establishing a ritual structure that works for us and have asked our founding members to let us know what works for them spiritually as well so that we can collectively better provide an environment for our members which allows us all to progress on our paths. The Seekers’ Package has, just this past week, undergone an update to all documents to better reflect our views and vision. But it’s not stopping there, a complete rewrite and restructuring will be forthcoming in the near future. In fact, it is still in progress nearly each and every day currently. Don’t worry though, the content which is currently there will still be valid but more will be added and it will, hopefully, be better organized. In order to gain access to our Seekers’ Package materials one need only come meet with us at one of our gatherings and indicate a desire to learn more. We will set up an account for you on our website which will give you access to these and other informative articles. If you have been to one of our gatherings and would like to see these living documents please feel free to email me at templehp [at] templeofthestones [dot] org to let me know you are in need of a membership account. I will simply need a username you wish to use, an email address you would like to  link the account to and a password will be emailed to you at that address.

We have revised and are in the process of updating our Recommended Reading List with recommendations and synopses from our temple priests and priestesses. This list is now open to the public so please feel free to click on the link and see what we have there so far. More public documents will be added soon so always be sure to visit our news tab on the website to see what the latest is at http://templeofthestones.org/news/

Making Brigit's Crosses
Making Brigit’s Crosses

We had a magickal Imbolc celebration this past January 31st at Arlington UU which also served as a learning experience for some of our temple members as we broke away from our typical ritual model and did this one in ADF Druidry style. It was a blast from the past for me as I hadn’t done such a ritual in more than four years but it was well received by most of the attendees even if we, as we later learned, should have had a bit more preliminary education on this style for all attendees beforehand. The prior weekend we had a great time making Brigit’s Crosses from straw and some from pipe cleaners (which are quite colorful and easy to work with by the way!)

Pipe cleaners make great Brighid's Crosses
Pipe cleaners make great Brighid’s Crosses

Coming soon we will be having a wonderful outing at the North Texas Irish Festival on Saturday, March 7th and we hope to be wearing some new, snazzy t-shirts with our temple’s name and website address on them so if you see us out there, won’t you please come and say hi!? We love hugs by the way. 🙂 For more information about North Texas Irish Festival see their website: http://www.ntif.org/ It is a wonderful event full of music, dancing, great shopping and food and a huge dose of good old Irish culture!

Before I close out this week’s newsletter I would like to encourage you to set aside some time each week to visit our forum on the website too. We are constantly adding new material and our very beautiful and talented acting High Priestess works hard each week to get out a list of upcoming events in the North Texas area and beyond which are of particular interest to the Pagan community. You’ll find these posts on our Outer Court Chat board under the topic This Week’s Events followed by the dates. Our Outer Court Chat board is the most easily accessible of the boards on our forum. You don’t even have to register an account or log in to gain access to it. But we do hope that you will register an account with us there anyway and gain access to the many more boards that we offer covering a variety of fascinating subjects. You will find our forum at: http://templeofthestones.org/forum/

Upcoming Temple Events:

Lesson – Energy Working and Psychic Challenge Games – Saturday, February 21st at 7pm at Cianaodh’s house.

LessonDivination Overview – Saturday, February 28th at 7pm at Cianaodh’s house.

Email: templehp [at] templeofthestones [dot] org for the address if you plan to attend.

In closing I would like to impart to you some wise words I was recently blessed with:

May it never be said that I sat when I should have stood.

Remained silent when I should have spoken.

May it never be said that I did not honor my gods.

When my path becomes faint; I will carve my own way.

When I speak, may it be words of truth and worth.

And when I come to the end of my journey, may I never look back with regret.

Many Blessings To You and Yours,

Cianaodh Óg – High Priest of Temple Of the Standing Stones – Arlington, Texas