Archives For Melissa Murry

2011-year-resolution-400x400The New Year often comes with resolutions, promises, renewed dreams, and interest into the unfolding of the future. It is the time of year when mainstream society tells us to invest in the concept of a healthier self and a healthier world.

New Year’s resolutions range from weight loss to spiritual rededication; some people approach it with a belief of possibilities previously not available. It is a magic fueled by individual and collective belief, cast forward for the year.

I find this subject very interesting, and find that I was quite curious about other’s New Year’s beliefs, practices, and resolution magic. The roots of New Year’s resolutions can be traced back to the Pagan practices of the Babylonians, making offerings to the Gods in exchange for the fulfillment of wishes for the coming year. Some researchers say that the Romans changed this practice to January 1st, to honor the God Janus, and thus the association with New Year’s itself. Janus, the two-headed God, often is revered as a God of beginnings and endings, with one head facing the past and one facing the future. Suitable for a practice of resolutions for the coming year, right?

Offerings to the Gods are nothing new, and exist in many cultures. The beliefs of reciprocal relationships often dictate an offering or sacrifice to solidify and strengthen the relationship between human and the Divine. In A World Full of Gods, An Inquiry into Polytheism, John Michael Greer (2005) talks about reciprocity and sacrifice as a part of the interpersonal exchange that happens in relationships with deities. “For the core of Pagan sacrifice is participation and celebration, not appeasement or renunciation. Making offerings to the Gods is central to Pagan religious practice because it allows human beings to respond to the generosity of the Gods with gifts of their own. Prayers are accompanied with offerings, or with promises of offerings to come, to reaffirm that Gods and humans both participate in the web of reciprocity, celebrating their friendship with an exchange of gifts” (p. 122).

This practice of resolutions at the turn of the calendar year has continued to transform with the times, becoming a part of mainstream culture and yet strangely continues to hold a potentially spiritual element that is reflected through its magical past. In the article New Year’s Resolutions: The History and Psychology Behind Them, author Sinpetru noted the transformative changes throughout the years simply by stating, “So all in all, the idea of promising to do this or do that at the end of each year is nothing new. The only thing that has changed is that, rather than making promises to gods, we make promises to ourselves.” And while this does not apply to everyone, I tend to agree overall.

I imagine that the New Year’s resolutions of fellow Pagans are as diverse and broad as our practices. Whether by making personal sacrifices, promises to the Gods, or commitments to others, there are no clear rules for how one comes to resolutions, nor that everyone has to set them either. As multifaceted human beings, we associate importance on tasks and practices differently – which you can see in the diversity of responses below.

Oseaana December

Oseaana December

“I believe that tapping into certain collective energies is beneficial to magickal and spiritual growth. New Year’s is a time when many folks around the globe are closing down energy of one cycle and making plans to manifest goals during the next cycle. I use that global energy to put power into my own goals for the coming year. Long ago I gave up on what people first think of when they think of New Year’s Resolutions ( lose weight, stop smoking, etc) and instead make my goals more spiritually based. For example in 2014 I asked my Spirits to guide me to those things I need to make my body more healthy. I see New Year’s resolutions as commitments or contracts and because everything I do is from a spiritual place, then these commitments/contracts are made with my Spirits. This past New Year was around a New Moon, so the energy of new beginnings was very strong.” – Oseaana December – owner of Pumpkin Cottage Conjure

Melissa Murry

Rev. Melissa Murry

“Yes I do practice this cultural celebration as part of our family traditions of creating prosperity and good health for the new year coming in. I have made a resolution to travel more. Also, to prioritize things better in this coming year. And to maintain a workout routine. Yes I do this in conjunction with my spiritual path because my Tradition focuses on bettering one’s self and by doing so our reality becomes better…I look at the cultural group mind and intent as giving my resolutions extra “umph” in the coming year!” – Rev. Melissa Murry – Priestess, activist.

Lydia M. Crabtree

Lydia M. Crabtree

“I do not practice New Year’s resolutions because it feels like a lot of pressure. For those of us who struggle with feelings of inadequacy I think that setting New Year’s resolutions is a recipe for a further breaking down of esteem. I believe they are limiting as well. I try to remember that every day is as fresh and new as New Year’s Day. Therefore, ANY day is a good day to set myself into new behaviors that permit me to make changes in my life. New habits can begin on any day. My spiritual practice is part of this thinking. With the New Moon, Full Moon, Samhein and even the forth coming Imbolg, all can be seen in that lens of life, death, rebirth cycle that I find so pivotal to my practice as a pagan, witch and Wiccan. Given this view, limiting myself to one day in a year negates the very cornerstone of my belief system. I can have a New Year start on any number of days coming to me. Further if one resolution or chosen course of action does not succeed, the very next day is a New Year day that I can start a different resolution or course of action.”  – Lydia M N Crabtree – author, priestess.

Jelen

Jelen

“As I have grown older, I find that resolutions like losing weight are not as important as “being happy” or “being positive” or “feeling good about myself.” I could be thin, but would it matter if I was blind to my blessings or feel miserable? No, it would not. Therefore each New Year’s Day I reflect on what I am grateful for. Throughout the previous year I have written down things I am thankful for – sometimes many things in one day and maybe one thing in an entire month. But at the closing of the Julian Calendar, I read these love notes to myself, “I am grateful I still have a job. I am grateful for the smell of a puppy’s head when it first awakens from a nap. I am grateful for my loving husband. I am grateful for tea. I am grateful to be alive.” These things bolster me and I not only see the beauty in my every day existence, but I have taken a moment to remember to slow down and feel and love and admire my year and plan for all of the wonders the next year may hold. That is what New Year’s means to me.” – Jelen  – author, priestess

Lady Amber Dawn

Lady Amber Dawn

“I don’t create nor make resolutions. I find them to be filled with failure and are a waste of time in general. I do clean my house including all of my eight altars. I eat the traditional meals as well but no resolutions.” –  Lady Amber Dawn – priestess.

 

This type of practice, adopted by the overculture, becomes a powerful spell of magic that has the potential to ride the collective excitement and focus of the many. The combination of old magic, new magic, hope, dreams, and a snapshot of the future can give a powerful push to individual and collective casting.

For me? I have set some simple manifestations of health, love, and service. Be well within myself, well within my space, well within community, well within mission and in love with the world. How about you?

Nadirah Adeye, writer with Daughter’s of Eve blog on Patheos Pagan, wrote a clear welcome and some sound support in her post The Sacred Sensualist’s Guide to New Year Resolutions. “Welcome to 2014! Happy New Year and New Moon and Super Moon and the BEST YEAR EVER that EVER happened in the history of ever before!”

Happy New Year’s magic to those who choose to employ it.

 

 

 

 

Pagan voices is a new spotlight on recent quotations from figures within the Pagan community. These voices may appear in the burgeoning Pagan media, or from a mainstream outlet, but all showcase our wisdom, thought processes, and evolution  in the public eye. Is there a Pagan voice you’d like to see highlighted? Drop me a line with a link to the story, post, or audio.

Ruth Barrett and Melissa Murry at PSG (Photo: PNC-MN)

Ruth Barrett and Melissa Murry at PSG (Photo: PNC-MN)

“Out of this conversation, Ruth and I parted ways but I feel that a great shift had begun. I was looking at where she was coming from and understand her perspective in a way that I had not been even considered before. I felt Ruth had come away with new insight from my workshop and our discussion also. She changed her language and spoke of “both/and” instead of “us/them”. That time was instrumental as we were able to connect before PSG’s media event. And my perspectives prior to this conversation had changed as well. While the ritual was hurtful in its exclusion, I acknowledged that the need for this space was necessary, as well as space for all people who share common experiences together. I believe when trans-men and women have space to connect, heal, and emerge that the conversation might change. And we can share a space together in main ritual events!” – Melissa Murry, from a statement sent to PNC-Minnesota in the wake of a press conference held at Pagan Spirit Gathering on Saturday, featuring Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, Dianic High Priestess Ruth Barrett, and Murry, a transgendered activist.

Kenny Klein

Kenny Klein

“I think that number one, the Pagan Festival phenomenon is not well known. People who identify as Pagans don’t even realize that festivals exist. I don’t know if that’s because the festivals don’t advertise, or if people aren’t utilizing avenues like Witchvox, but for some reason people don’t know about Pagan Festivals. Secondly I think that when people visit Pagan Festivals they have unreasonable expectations. There are two extremes I’ve personally seen. The one extreme involves people who seem to think that the Pagan Festival experience should be the same experience as a Renaissance Faire or SCA event. The other extreme has people, and I think you and I talked about this, who say that if they go to a Pagan Festival three states away they’ll be outed at work and fired. That’s a very unrealistic expectation about who is there and what type of people run festivals. To answer your original question, I think that a large number of Pagan authors don’t know that these festivals exist.”Kenny Klein, musician and author of “Through The Faerie Glass: A Look at the Realm of Unseen and Enchanted Beings,” on why only a small percentage of Pagans attend Pagan festivals.

Shauna Aura Knight

Shauna Aura Knight

“I find myself as an unlikely ambassador in Chicago for the inclusion of transgendered people. Many ask me, “Why do you say, ‘all genders’ , isn’t there only two?” That is what I thought a few years ago and after  I have met, worked with, and lived with several transgendered people, my views have changed. I know I don’t always understand or connect with all the issues a transgendered person may encounter.  I do understand, as a heavily built woman, sometimes not liking my own body or feeling betrayed by my body. There is where I can find compassion. What we really need is more education, particularly in the Midwest, surrounding these issues.”Shauna Aura Knight, teacher and ritual leader, discussing her support for Melissa Murry at Pagan Spirit Gathering.

Crystal Blanton
Crystal Blanton

“How exciting of a time we live with the evolution of human kind and within a Pagan community that allows for such reflections of diversity in opinion, ethnicity, practice, beliefs, socio-economic statues and even varying contributions. Blessed Be the chances to grow and evolve. I am happy to be on this journey with those who choose and if you don’t, for whatever reason, may you find what you need. If you are looking for an avenue to express your spiritual self without multicultural faces like mine, may you find that too but you won’t find it here.”Crystal Blanton, author of “Bridging the Gap: Working Within the Dynamics of Pagan Groups and Society,” on diversity and acceptance within the Pagan community.

Glenn Turner (Photo: OaklandNorth)

Glenn Turner (Photo: OaklandNorth)

“One of the things we do is we provide hope for people, and very personalized customer service. When people come in here, frequently they want a candle that will bring money or love to them. We help them focus and understand how to focus their intent to bring these things into their lives. […] I don’t know if it’s been scientifically proven that this kind of thing works, but in my mind, it’s been proven. […]  I think because so many of us have scientific backgrounds and education, people seek out something spiritual, but they’re not really wanting a list of ‘thou-shall-not’s. They want something that connects them back to the Earth.” - Glenn Turner, owner of Ancient Ways in Oakland, California, and founder of PantheaCon in San Jose.

Sannion (Photo: Dver)

Sannion (Photo: Dver)

“We erected the shrine on a tree trunk that extended out over the river. We made a ring of flowers, jewelry and candles, set up a little bowl and a pretty card, stabbed sticks of incense into the moist earth beside it and then hung strips of cloth and the little head I’d decorated on nearby trees. Then Dver sang to the nymphs, we poured out libations of mead, offered them fresh honeycomb and the other things we’d brought, I recited my hymn to the Willamette, and Dver released the floating candles lit into the river and drowned the rusalka doll. Then we spent some time privately communing with the spirits of the place.”Sannion (H. Jeremiah Lewis), a contributor to “Written In Wine: A Devotional Anthology For Dionysos,” on the celebration of the Naiad Nymphaia in Eugene, Oregon.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

Pagan Community Notes is a series focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. Reinforcing the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So let’s get started!

A Breakthrough on the Issue of Trans Inclusion? In Friday’s Unleash the Hounds, I reported that questions over transgender inclusion at women-only rituals had become an issue at the then in-progress Pagan Spirit Gathering festival. A situation that echoed incidents at PantheaCon in the past two years. Yesterday, newly returned from the festival, Cara Schulz from PNC-Minnesota reports on what may be a historic press conference held on Saturday, featuring Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, Dianic High Priestess Ruth Barrett, and festival presenter and transgendered activist Melissa Murry.

“Both women said the transgender community is trying to find their voice, similar to the feminist movement in the 60′s and 70′s.   Like the feminist movement, they speak of suffering, pain, and violence.  Murry and Barrett also spoke of the value in claiming mysteries and rituals specific to their sacred journey as women.  “Within my Tradition, which is about the female body and the journey of being born female and the journey through the bloods and birth and menopause,” said Barrett.  “That is a different journey for transgendered women who come to womanhood through a different path.”

Rev. Fox announced that at next year’s PSG they would offer a mystery ritual and rites of passage for transgendered persons if Ms. Murry would lead them.  After Murry agreed to do so, she asked Barrett if she would assist her.  Barrett was unsure if she would be able to attend PSG next year due to changes in her personal life, but said she would help Murry however she was able.”

In a release sent to various Pagan media outlets, Barrett said that she couldn’t “express enough how happy and hopeful I am from the work accomplished at PSG,” and that the work accomplished at this festival will be “a model for other pagan festivals that are dealing with female-born space and trans inclusion/exclusion issues.” While not all concerns about ritual inclusion were solved, there did seem to be some important shifts taking place at PSG, including the acknowledgment that trans women are women by a prominent Dianic leader. You can listen to, and download, audio of the entire press conference, here (note, the PNC is looking for volunteer transcriptionists so we can make the content more accessible) .

Pagan Pride at NY Pride: Earlier this month I reported on the involvement of Christopher Penczak‘s Temple of Witchcraft in the 2012 Boston Pride Parade, now we have a photo from another Pagan group in a LGBT Pride Month parade.

New York City Pagan Pride at Pride (photo: Gary Suto)

New York City Pagan Pride at Pride (photo: Gary Suto)

As you can see from the photo, that’s a contingent from the New York City Pagan Pride Project at the New York City Gay Pride Parade, showing their support for LGBTQ rites. This NYC Pride Parade marked the first anniversary of same-sex marriage becoming legal in New York. Also involved in the parade, carrying their own banner, was the NY Gay Men’s Open Pagan Circle. Zan Fraser, a contributor to The Juggler, was there, and plans to post about his experiences soon.

Songs of the Goddess: The blog Songs of the Goddess, where Draeden Wren diligently reviews Pagan and Pagan-friendly music, has released a free sampler of Pagan music entitled: “A Pagan Music Collection (Volume 1).”

“I am truly a fan of these artists, and I am so grateful they accepted my proposal for them to be a part of this project.  More important than that, I am so happy to be a soundboard for these artists.  They need people to know about them!  We are able to listen to brilliant Goddess/Nature-based/Tree-hugger music because of these creators.”

Artists on the compilation include Sharon Knight, Damh the Bard, Wendy RuleKenny Klein, Deborah “DJ” Hamouris, Amelia Hogan, and many more! It’s a nice round-up of the bigger names within Pagan music, and you certainly can’t beat the price. You can find the download link, here. You can also find Songs of the Goddess at Facebook.

In Other Community News:

That’s all I have for now! Are there blogs, podcasts, or other Pagan news sources you think I’m missing out on? Please leave links in the comments, and if there’s news in your community be sure to share it!