The Spiritual Mother

Celebrating Motherhood as a Spiritual Guide and Path.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pagan Spirit Gathering: Part 2, A Review

Pagan Spirit Gathering was not my first festival, but this was my first time seeing so many pagans in one spot.  Before I traveled to this fest in particular, I had been to ones with about 300-500 attendees.  This one had nearly 1000 people.  It was an awesome experience to be surrounded by that many pagans.  So I a writing this review based on my experiences at previous festivals and I hope to do my best to describe the feelings I felt while in attendance. 

What I Liked

I liked the sense of community that all of us shared together.  It felt nice to be able to be free and not have to hide anything about my primal pagan side.  Most of the people were open too, I only felt that closed off energy from 1 or 2 people I came across.  I also liked the set up of the day.  Workshops were held after lunch time, leaving time for people to sleep in, get up and get moving and still not have to miss a workshop.  I also liked that so many people lit torches at night around their tents.. it was almost impossible to see otherwise and I do not like tripping over tent stakes. 

What I loved

I loved many things about this festival.  I loved the quality of the workshops, which as I discussed with Selena Fox, I have had bad experiences with in the past.  I actually went to a local meet up with workshops that had a girl just reading us her tarot book instead of actually teaching the workshop.  Here at PSG, the people actually knew what they were talking about and made me feel like I could learn something.  When you have been involved with paganism as long as I have, that is hard to find. 

I also loved the Rituals.  I have never been one for public rituals.  A combination of being empathic and me not feeling comfortable with the way other people do rituals has always turned me off to them.  The way they were done at PSG, they were very open to many paths.  During the Croning ritual, Selena instructed us to connect to the universe or deity of our choice in the tradition that we connected to most.  And that made me feel comfortable enough to actually enjoy the ritual at hand. 

The shopping was incredible.  The items that people had were mostly hand made.  It was so nice to be able to browse and find things that were one of a kind pieces of art.  And to be able to see them up close and personal and feel the energy first hand that was put into their creation.  Wonderful.  If you plan to go to PSG in the future I suggest taking money, and cash, since the ATM kept crashing from all the use of the WiFi at the site.  Don't be surprised if you are wanting to spend 100$ or more. 

What I would have changed

All of my major beefs with the festival were all related to the actual site.  I would have had more flush toilets, and cleaned them more often.  And more showers.  I would suggest some outdoor showers or more just because of the lines we had to wait on to get there.  And be warned, your feet will not be clean till at least 2 showers are taken once you are home. 

If you plan to go

Bring socks to sleep in,  it got chilly at night and this was the best way to keep my nasty dirty feet from making a mess and to stay warm.  Do not plan to go online.  I still cant figure out why people would want to be online at a place like this, but the network was constantly crashing from overuse.   Bring cash, make a budget and bring that amount of cash for the whole trip.  Bring extra clothes, it got very muddy, and chilly at night.  Bring flip flops for the shower, they are gross and hard on the feet.  Prepare to take the quickest shower of your life.  Just go for the entire week unless you literally can not take the time off work.  Bring pre-made cards with your contact info on them to exchange with others whom you wish to stay in contact with. 

The Bottom Line

I will be going again, next time for a full week.  The only thing that could keep me from going would be that I couldn't afford it or I was medically unable. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pagan Spirit Gathering: Part 1, My Personal Experience.

I recently attended Pagan Spirit Gathering in Earlville, IL.  hosted by circle sanctuary and Selena Fox.  I am still "recovering" from this.  My kitchen has a few camping items left out that are in the process of being washed..but my once mud soaked clothes are now hanging to dry, the bedding is cleaned and put away and I feel a strong connection to my faith and the earth that can not even be described in words. 

I traveled from my small town in Independence, IA with the other 2 pagans in our town, we dubbed ourselves the Independence Iowa Pagan Alliance for shits and giggles and travel the 3ish hour drive to the festival.  We used our GPS and from the road all you could see was a little drive way.   Once we pulled in, we were in a different world.  We were welcomed with open arms and being that this was our first time at the festival we were greeted with people calling us "virgins" and asked to ring a bell..I rang that bell with all my might and we were welcomed home. 

I have been to several other festivals in the past, such as Phoenix Phyre, but this was the largest one I have ever attended.  What I liked about this fest is that it was so big that we were literally tent to tent and were forced to get to know our neighbors.  When we arrived, which we just went for the weekend instead of the full week, all of the shaded camping areas were filled and we had to open tent in the quieter area.  I wasn't happy about it when we got there, because I fully intended to stay up till 5 am each night enjoying night time festival activities.  However, I was more than happy with being there when I didn't stay up till 5 am partying like a maiden. 

I was not able to attend any workshops the first day because we were still unloading and setting up camp at the time, but we were able to chat with our tent city neighbors and met some really nice people.  We chatted and shopped around the merchants row area, which highly impressed me.  There were over 20 vendors (probably even double that) and not many that had the same crap you see at every pagan shop that is made in china.  Most of the vendors had homemade goods that were unique and very calling to me.  I really wish I had about 500 bucks to spend there, because I would have spent it all between the crystal balls and hand made goddess outdoor hangings, or the hand carved statues.    I came home with a CD by Emerald Rose (which I forgot to have signed.. boo), a handmade deer skin and quartz necklace for my son, a new goat skin head for my djembe and the biggest mortar and pestle I have ever seen. 

That night I attended the festivities which several drinking parties were commencing.  There were hoards of half naked women and men in kilts and loin cloths, and even people dressed like Pan.  I do not remember many parts of that night because the jungle juice is still clouding my brain (I only had one after my few glasses of wine with din din).  But I can say that it highly messed with me.  I thought the bull frogs from the swimming pond were following me and started yelling curse words at them at 2am.   I had walked about 5 times back and forth from my tent to the bathroom to the party and I probably stumbled drunkenly about a total of 5 miles that night.   I danced around the drum circle a bit and sat down and enjoyed it allot.  I got to meet a nice drum troop that fully reminded me that I am so not a maiden anymore!

The next day I woke up after about 3 or 4 hours of sleep and I got up early to try and beat the rush to the showers.. but I was wrong.  I had to wait over an hour to shower, but the blessing was that Selena Fox was online right behind me and I got to chat with her and I must say I was impressed!  Most pagan festivals I have attended, all the bigger named people tend to either go to a hotel instead of camp out, or have very private area.  But she was waiting on the line with the rest of us as an equal.  She was a very nice woman and very charismatic and funny.  I don't think I have ever felt someone have such naturally happy energy.  I also attended a few rituals she hosted during my short stay and I was even impressed with those because the way she did it was very polite and welcoming of everyone's beliefs.  I definitely will be checking out gatherings at Circle Sanctuary (about 3 hours away from me) for the near future. 

I went to the morning meeting and afterwards attended 2 different workshops.  Both of these workshops had a strong effect on me.  One was a guided meditation that just opened me up and brought me into the feeling of community at the festival.  The other was about using the Charge of the Goddess in every day life that was just wonderful. 

That night was the main ritual that was the biggest ritual I had ever seen, with nearly 1000 people.  It was allot of standing and walking but beautiful in its own way.  Afterwords we sat at our camp and chatted all night with a crone that came by with popcorn and marshmallows to share.  We chatted all night and shared stories and ideas about life and paganism.  It was so nice to be able to chat so openly. 

The entire experience renewed my sense of pagan community and opened up things in my personal life that I needed to handle on my own.  I felt healed and energized and came home with some new ideas.  I will be definitely going next year and going for the entire week. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Blossoming Jasmine Journal- Entry 1

We all have things in our head that we want to do with our lives.  I get an idea and see myself going for it, but eventually it just fizzles out and I don't get it done.  Well I have recently decided that I want to get working on some of these things.   I don't want to say to myself anymore that I will do them and just not.  I want to personally thank my online friend Amy Waters for giving me the title for this venture of mine.  I wanted to be able to portray the idea that this was similar to a bucket list, but it was more about living not about things I wanted to do before dying.  The name she suggested fit this perfectly, good job Amy!  I want to blossom in my life and I hope that sharing this publicly, I will be able to stick to it and honor these ideas fully.  So I will start this by creating a list of things I want to do and I will begin working on them over time.  I also encourage you to do something similar and I also encourage you to share it too.  So here is my first list of things I currently want to work on:

Jasmine's Cupboard-  I have been working on this idea for about 5 years now.  I want to sell my home made herbal creations and I have been piddling about doing it.  I have the majority of the things I need to get started, and even some stuff ready to sell at any time.   But I get to my Etsy page and I freak out when I am about to put something up for sale.  Its the part where they want me to pay a fee to place something up for sale.  What if no one buys it and I waste the money I spent listing it?  What if I undercharge for shipping and end up loosing money?  What if no one likes the items I make...  but I know people love what I make, I get compliments on it all the time. 

Working Out-  I have a huge list of exercises I want to do.  Yoga, belly dance, tai chi, ballet... yep they all call to me.  I just need to step away from all of my other work I am constantly doing and just go for it.  When I was growing up I used to be a ballet dancer and a Baton Twirler (I even was on a national championship winning team) and I spent literally the first half of my life moving around.  I need to reconnect with this part of me and the excuses need to stop.  I plan on starting with a new book I just bought on my kindle (yay I found a sale last week) that teaches you to do 15 minutes of yoga in bed before you get out of bed each morning.  I need to read it this week. 

Healthy Eating-  Just because I have cut things out of my diet that I think are unhealthy doesn't give me room to eat crap because I have finally stopped eating other things.  I feel that this is almost a cross addicting thing for me because I give up coffee and then I find myself sneaking dr. pepper's more often and breaking my code of "no more than one pop per week".  I also hate bread I have discovered.  I love good Italian bread and homemade breads but really I just need to get rid of the idea of crappy carbs all together.   I eat allot of whole grains but I catch myself sneaking crackers and cookies that I just don't need.  I think that I should just stick to spinach wraps honestly... and I need to start having my morning smoothie again.. when I drank those I lost like 20 pounds in a month! 

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Goddess Series- Gaia.

Whether it's Gaia, Gaea or Ge, the theories concepts and stories surrounding this goddess and scientific theory are all fascinating. I first came into contact with Gaia from the idea and theory that all life is connected together. It is a fascinating theory and is pretty popular among certain circles of pagans. The idea of Mother Earth has always been a popular concept with general society. A combination of myths and theories has evolved Gaia to be a very important Goddess to consider in our paths.

Writing this, however, has made me feel a little like the terracotta Gaia in the picture at the left. There is so much information to sift through on the internet, but when it comes to finding her in classical mythology, it becomes almost irritatingly bleak. Gaia tends to get reduced to small paragraphs that describe her as "name for the earth" or "Greek personification of the earth as a goddess". If you travel to some of the sites I have listed, you will see that some of them span pages beyond pages of information on Gaia. I found separating information based on the original mythology and archeological research, and which is based on personal gnosis and belief has been a challenge. However understanding each of these aspects is important to understanding the importance of Gaia to our society today.


Gaia was the grandmother of Zeus, mother of Titans, Cyclops, and more in ancient Greek mythology. She represented what we would call today "Mother Earth". Some call her the first female, some consider her the ultimate creator in Greek mythology. She was born of pure chaos, and birthed the sky, and then went on to bare more children with the sky. She was described by Hesiod as having birthed the heavens to surround herself in and be a home for the gods. If any single goddess can be credited with the "Mother Earth" title, Gaia is it.

Gaia Thesis

In July of 1971, Oberon Zell wrote a paper for the Green Egg, titled THEAGENESIS: The Birth of the Goddess, introducing the concept of the earth being an interconnected spiritual force. Now I have never been a huge Oberon Zell fan, but I do like the way he presented his ideas for this particular article. He broke the idea down to the cellular level and then compared the Earth itself to the human body. On the cellular level he states that when a cell reproduces or divides, it leaves part of itself in each of the new cells. This idea connects every living organism on the cellular level. He goes on to further explain how different ecosystems are like organs in a body. Each one has a different role to play on making the entire unit work. Natural disasters and weather are a part of this unit, everything that happens on the Earth is geared towards the greater good of itself as an organism seeking its own survival.

Gaia Theory

In the 1960's, James Lovelock came up with the theory that the earth was a self regulating all encompassing organism. It uses all life and even non-living compounds to regulate the environment for the best possible conditions for life. An example of this process is clouds formed over open oceans. Algae from the ocean emits a large sulfur molecule, which is then becomes the condensation nuclei for raindrops. Eventually the cloud moves to land and the sulfur molecule returns to the terrestrial ecosystems. Many processes on the Earth have been measured with this theory including global temperature, atmospheric content, ocean salinity, and others.  Solid research and development is always coming to light in regards to this theory and backing it up. If you are a scientific mind, you should definitely look at some of the research out there.

My Thoughts

I love the idea and theory that the Earth is a single organism in itself. What I don't agree with is that we refer to it as a woman or a Goddess. Yes, I believe that the earth in itself is a divine force, but a balanced one that is genderless. But the Earth itself is comprised of duality on many levels. We create life by the joining of male and female to make a new being. Oberon Zell claims that even genderless organisms are referred to as females in the scientific community. However, when it comes to the aspect of Divinity of the organism of the Earth, I feel that it is important to distinguish between genderless and gendered. When doing scientific research, it is said that by simply observing a subject, we change it. By giving a gender to the Earth, we are changing the nature of it. We try to view the Earth based to our predetermined ideas of a woman by giving it a gender, when it not always is. Viewing it without gender allows us to see the Earth as a more natural and primal force, the breath of life. When we only view half of the duality, we are given an unbalanced world view.

Regardless of the gender of the Earth, I think that it is most important to consider the idea of the earth being all connected into one unit. It connects us all with every person and culture, with every rock and stone, with ever plant, we are all here for survival and survival of the planet is crucial for all of us. If we all incorporate this idea into our daily lives, we become more aware of what we do to each person and our environment, we are doing to ourselves and the planet as a whole. This in turn allows us to actively see the changes we make on the individual scale, change the world.  Raising our children to be good conscious Earth loving individuals is better for us all. What we are doing as mothers and parents is one of the most important jobs we have ever had. If this is the lesson the goddess Gaia has for us than she too can earn her place as one of the great mother Goddesses.


Gaea: terra-cotta statuette. [Photograph]. In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from

Bulfinch's Mythology, Thomas Bulfinch, 1855. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

On Pagans and Criticism: An Editorial.

For the past week I have been following several pagan boards, blogs and discussion groups.  Each of these groups has had their own drama to contend with.  The pagan mommy blogs have all been watching the unfolding of an issue with a ratings contest at Circle of Moms.  The boards have all been lit up with posts regarding others being mean to them, stating how they do not like criticism.  And finally, the discussion groups have all been in an uproar about more experienced and practiced pagans fighting with seekers and newbies.

First, before I go any further, I must explain that I try to avoid disagreements if at all possible.  This said, I also believe in speaking my mind, especially when someone questions the integrity of my path or those of my loved ones, or says something that is a flat out lie.  I do not believe in trying to change a persons path at all, but I do believe in helping people with offering what I can in the way of information and guidance.  I only offer it if it is asked of me or actively sought.  If I offer this help I expect to be respected for my knowledge, experience and opinion.  I also expect people not to assume that I will follow their personal dogma or adapt it to my practice in any form.  But ultimately I believe that the pagan community has many lessons to learn from each other as a community, and should value the lessons that everyone has to offer.

But not everyone is open to this.  An example, from one of the boards I travel this week, one woman posted a reply to a topic where she stated she didn't want to have anything to do with pagans who didn't follow the Rede.  I severely hope that I took this the wrong way, I'm really trying to give the benefit of the doubt.  However, how in the heck do you expect to come into a community looking to outreach to pagans if you can't even have an open enough mind to communicate with over half of them?  You can't be all "love and light" by avoiding so much, it defeats the purpose.  And I would love to help her and show her something new.  I would say to her that "not everyone believes in the Rede, including some Wiccans and this (insert long list) is why".  I would not expect her to understand them all but I would expect her to listen nicely and consider what i am saying.

Now on the discussion groups on Facebook, I am seeing pagans attempting to help people and state their firm yet researched opinions, and newbies flying at the elders and more learned pagans.  They call them names, attack them personally, attack their ideas and then cry out that they are being attacked when the person, trying to help them, defends themselves.  And this doesn't even matter that people are able to state multiple sources, the less experienced people still cry out "persecution".  In one instance, a pagan asked for someone to state their sources or tradition they practiced to further their own knowledge.  The other pagan flew at them, ignoring the request for a source, called them names, sent her husband to the discussion to call the person who questioned an idiot.  Seriously???!!!

I just don't get why pagans act like this.  When I was a newbie, this path was always referred to as "the path of the wise", and somewhere that has gone to the birds.  What ever happened to valuing elders and knowledge?  The part that bugs me about all of this is that you go on these same communities and find people begging for spells and saying they want to find a mentor.  It is disheartening, as a pagan who has studied for 15+ years, and as a person who is always seeking to further her path.

I did however get to see pagans coming together this week, a little glimmer of hope.  On the blogosphere, a contest is underway on Circle of Moms, that is seeking to find the top 25 faith based mommy bloggers.  A Christian mother attacked the pagan mothers and said that their faiths were not valid and should not be considered for the contest.  This lead to many pagan mommy bloggers teaming together to promote their blogs as a group to show that we are a strong community.  I am so proud to be a part of this movement, and hope to see many more actions like this.  The best part of this event was that it didn't matter if we agreed with each other or not, we were all attacked and stood together and I hope that one day we see more of this in the community.  And I know that this is asking allot because we are such a diverse group of people with so many different beliefs and histories, but I know that as a whole, pagans can get along.  Here's to wisdom!