Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Divinity Within

To start off - Unitarian Universalists are awesome. The second I pulled into the parking lot a woman in her car waved and smiled at me - I didn't know her, she didn't know me - she just smiled because I was heading in. That's nice. You never get that at Catholic churches from my experience. I walked in and the woman to whom I had emailed about the meeting tonight immediately assumed I was "Christine" and ran up to introduce herself and gave me a tour of the church and all of the old furniture and windows from the former one.

So I went to this CUUPS meeting (a Unitarian Universalist Pagan group) because for around 6 years now I've been flying solo as a pagan, eschewing organized religion for a me centric path. Well this worked well and good for a while, but then I realized I need guidance in my life and want to learn more about my faith. Being born and raised Catholic makes one dependent on a leader and between currently fearing damnation and feeling lost I attempted to tackle the easier problem. I went to a group at SU and I immediately felt uncomfortable walking in and the first thing the girl who was about 6 years younger says to me "you don't seem like a Leo." Ok I am an extreme Leo and that fact that you think that means constant pride and talkative makes me doubt you. Also she was talking to rocks....I get that some pagans are very much into amulets and talismans but this was just too much for me....she also kept trying to "read" my aura....get your hands out of my bubble. kthxbye.

There were I think 10 people there and most were older. Three of us were newbies so we all went around and told them about ourselves and what we wanted to get out of a group like this. It's SUCH an amazing group. Not only do they get guest speakers (next meeting is a Reiki practitioner) and have "craft" days (no not THAT kind of craft...always....actual crafts like amulet bags and dream catchers. But they celebrate the festivals and moon phases outside in their beautiful meditation and remembrance garden and even have a wonderful May Pole. I can't wait for Beltane! Also everyone has a different interest - there are Celtic Pagans like me, Norse Pagans, Native American animism, Wiccans, and a bunch of others so I get to learn about myself as well as others. I remember in my World Religions class in 12th grade at a private school we discussed Catholicism, Protestants, Buddists, Hindi's (right? maybe?), Muslims, ummmm and that was IT. So before I start a rant when this is suppose to be a revelation let me just sum up: I wrote a paper on Wicca because I was starting to seriously explore that part of myself and I was taken aside by the priest who was extremely worried. So I never got to learn about a lot and became very messed up faith wise. 

The topic for Tuesday was Divination and it was nice because no one was an expert so we all learned together. We discussed the types of Divination (basically finding meaning or an answer from something by calling upon a higher being or the Divine). Ouiji boards (ugh.), pendulums, scrying mirrors/bowls/globes/etc, tarot cards, etc. Then we were discussing protections and precautions and whatnot and for example who was the original source of tarot card explanation books and their qualifications. Then someone said "Aren't we all considered Divine Beings? Do we not look at tea leaves, horoscopes, dreams, and clouds and see things that we find coincidental or meaningful?" Then this lead to a whole discussion on dreams and horoscopes such as "You will get into an accident....but you didn't...but would you have if you hadn't read this?" To which I replied "Well the Oracle did tell Neo that she only told him what he needed to know" (The soldier laughed at least lol). We then shared ways that each of us have experimented with Divination (Sometimes when I'm feeling low or lost I'll turn off all my lights, light my primal and natural smelling candle, and just stare at the flame until I can figure my shit out...ask for some help along the way). Then I got to thinking...I remember for a long time I was having these very realistic reoccurring dreams that when I woke up caused me a lot of pain because I thought I wasn't dreaming. I was also having the SAME terrible dream over and over that also seemed real that basically meant I was biting my tongue in real life too much. So one day when I woke up I basically said to myself "I don't want to dream anymore about things that I cannot change or that will cause me pain" and as I thought that in the group....I realized I hadn't dreamed of any of that stuff since. I'm not exactly sure if that was my own personal Divination but it is very mind boggling. 

I did get some good advice for my tarot deck, though. I had come across a Celtic deck in Borders a year or so ago and it was in the wrong place and I had overlooked it several times and took it as a sign. But then when I got it home I had no desire to learn it or play with it. When I said that aloud a woman next to me (a newbie) told me that she would bet that my deck was handled by negative energy or tainted in some way and she recommended burying it in a bowl of sea salt while asking for it to be cleansed (divination) for an entire cycle (New Moon to New Moon). Sounds kind of hokey, but hey I'm all for it. 

My only issue was that so many of them just seemed so intune with themselves and their practices (actual healers, readers, aura detectors....and I am like "lalala I know nothing and can't see sparkley blue waves around people" so maybe I'm not even really like them? Ugh. Religion's the cheerleader table and me and my headgear aren't welcome. So is this now a rant?


So when I first started this journey I decided I needed a craft name because I was an awesomely cool 15 year old who liked vampires. So I did my numerology (I am a 2) and it said that my name should also equal 2...well I picked Aideen and then later discovered Aideen was an alternate spelling of Etaine a significant Celtic goddess who happens to be my favorite. So before I ever DISCOVERED Celtic paganism I was guided to that name....

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Vegetarian Rant

I was at Panera Bread today and asked the cashier what kind of stock was used in the french onion soup (often beef stock, but I have been to restaurants and seen french onion made without actual beef stock so I always like to ask just in case I find one I can eat). The cashier very politely told me that it was beef stock and I said "oh ok then I'll just get the smoothie I ordered." 

While I was waiting for my smoothie a woman behind me informed me that in NNY being "anti-meat" must be hard. I told her it was if I went out to eat and sometimes I have had to just deal with it and get something with a meat stock or cooked in the same oil as meat food. She took this to mean I thought I was better than everyone and for 15 minutes (yes she actually kept talking after I got my food and in the parking lot!) told me about "those insane treehuggers that protest everything" even though I told her I wasn't AT ALL in support of PETA and had dad who hunted. In short, I feel she and others like her need to understand that the extreme is not the majority and we're not all insane and act like 5 year olds who just don't wanna eat what was seved.

Normally I don't care enough to hardcore complain about annoying humans I meet on a public forum (yes I know I complain about people I meet just about every day, but I am a proud Leo and this is how we roll), but this is something that I seem to always be running into and it blows my MIND how some people (not everyone!) just cannot process simple things.

I am in no way a total healthy eater and a poster child for vegetarians - I hate cooking and can't seem to learn it. Also, it is a very expensive diet so currently mine is pretty pathetic as far as nutritional value goes.

Three tips for people who meet a vegetarian:

1. We are not picky eaters and do not appreciate our dietary habit being trivialized.

2. You are not original when you say "I could be a vegetarian if I could eat a *insert a meat dish* once a week," know that you sound like a tool.

3. The majority of us will not cry if we see you eating meat, nor are we all members of PETA. Addendum to #3: If you invite us to a place where food will be served please take us to consideration and don't act like you've just jumped on a grenade for us - we don't care that much and won't cry at home if we have to refuse your invite.

A Continuation...

4. Yes we have to be conscious of our protein and iron intake, but just because you eat meat doesn't mean you get your recommended daily dose of protein and iron. In actuality, most people do not receive the right amount of protein every day and that goes for omnivores, vegetarians, vegans, and raw food vegans.

5. My best friend is a total carnivore and I love him dearly, from the top of his pointy ears to his ninga paws. We will not stop loving you if you like meat.

6. Not all, but many (including me) understand the food chain and realize that humans are omnivores and animal populations and whatnot are very important. We do not necessarily begrudge your hunting or purchasing meat, but we may suggest that when you do hunt you do so responsibly and when you purchase meat that you look into both organic and free range meat. Many vegetarians are who they are in response to those individuals who operate cruel and unsanitary slaughterhouses and farms and believe in the humane harvesting of animals.

7. Just because I do not eat meat does not mean you have to tell me all about the veggies you eat and order vegetarian food when we are out. Note: I will definitely appreciate it to a point, but I can tell very easily if you are doing it just to impress me or because you are trying to make me unnecessarily comfortable. Also do not dare me to eat meat - you are a tool and everyone knows it. Even your mom.

8. Yes, vegetarians sometimes crave meat. This does not mean that they eat it in secret, nor does it mean that they should just stop and be "normal" (we do not appreciate you thinking we aren't normal - it's not like we eat babies). We may crave it and yes at the beginning we may even cave and eat a chicken nugget. Those people who have crises in their faith are not seen as weird or comical, in fact people often see them in a more human and strong light. Everyone faulters and everyone has tests so don't assume ours are silly.

9. We don't love every vegetable or alternative meat. I do not like mushrooms and try to avoid soy when I can. SHOCKING.

10. Despite the tone of this, I am not judgemental of people and their choices. Many if not all of my friends are meat eaters and I do not love them or respect them any less because of it. I do, however, lose respect for those who make fun of me, trivialize me, and don't care about animals period. You can eat meat and still respect the dignity of animals.