Tag Archives: religion

BLOT – my way

This is a post from one of my favorite blogs to follow.

BJØRN ANDREAS BULL-HANSEN

During the recent few years, everything Viking has become more popular than ever. And while I think this is great, some of us are still struggling to get used to what best can be described as that feeling you would get if you’ve anchored in that secred, secluded bay you thought only you knew about, when suddenly a bunch of cabin cruisers full of loud people arrive. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that we are now seeing what I like to call a Second Viking Age. It’s just that sometimes I wish people could consider the fact that some of us have been living the Norse way of life for decades, long before it became fashionable. That said, 99% of you are perfectly understanding and respectful. But there is always that 1% who has a need to “educate” other people and to discredit their efforts. I…

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Self-Proclaimed Witch

Dear News Media,

Please cease calling individuals of the Wiccan faith, “a self-proclaimed witch”. It’s insulting and downright disrespectful to the members of a religion. It promotes your sensationalistic agenda while perpetuating the Hollywood stereo-type that witches are merely beings based in fantasy. We, as practitioners of a religion, refer to ourselves as witches. It’s just a fact.

Would you do the same with members of other religions? Would you call a Baptist minister a “self-proclaimed Christian”, or a practitioner of Reformed Judiasm a “self-proclaimed Jew”, or even someone who follows Mahayana a “self-proclaimed Buddhist”? No. Why? because that’s simply who they are, even if they converted to that religion from another they are Christian, Jewish, or Buddhist.

However, I get it, you’re hung up on the term “Witch”. All the witches you knew about were either in fairy tales or from history books and none of them were real… well, not in-front-of-your-face real. You’re having an issue distinguishing the difference between fairy tale witches and real life witches. Well, get a grip already! Clearly, one has influenced the other, but they are not the same. So, when you’re doing your typical Halloween time sensationalistic story that includes something to do with Wiccans do your due diligence and the favor of pulling your head out of your collective ignorant backsides and recognize you are discussing/reporting about people of a religious group, not a movie or novel.

If you need any assistance in getting educated about Wicca you are more than welcome to contact me.

Thank you,

Yvonne C. Conway-Williams

2nd Annual Building Our Community Through Interfaith Harmony

I’ve been asked to speak at the 2nd Annual Building Our Community through Interfaith Harmony, an #Interfaith event, this Sunday in Irvine. I will be appearing as a representative of Covenant of the Goddess Orange County Local Council and as a member of the #Pagan community.

The topic will be “Justice, Peace & Faith”.

This event is a pre-Parliament event for the next Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR) gathering on Oct 15-19, 2015 in Salt Lake City, UT.

It is an open event, so if you’re local, please consider attending the event.

Orange County Local Council of the Covenant of the Goddess

Sunday, September 21, 2014 is the 2nd Annual Building Our Community Through Interfaith Harmony, an evening of compassionate prayers and songs. The focus of the evening’s discussion is “Justice, Peace & Faith” though interfaith reflections on humanity in an effort to bring these communities together. This event is a pre-Parliament event for the next Parliament of the World’s Religions gathering on October 15-19, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

One of the speakers, Yvonne Conway, is the newly elected First Officer of the Orange County Local Council for Covenant of the Goddess.

This event is co-sponsored by Newport-Mesa-Irvine Interfaith Council & Orange County Interfaith Network.

Building Our Community Interfaith 21Sept2014

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They Need Help Not Agendas

One of the latest strings of topics being batted about on Facebook on Monday involved an image showing a spiteful message on a t-shirt that reads:

god in schools
Dear God,
Why do you allow so much violence in our schools?

Signed,
A concerned student

Dear Concerned Student,
I’m not allowed in schools.

God

The fact that anyone would use this tragedy as a means to push their political/religious agenda, something that has absolutely nothing to do with the tragedy is truly pathetic.

The single-mindedness of this image, to assume that all students in a classroom are Christian, or that if it was a Christian school this wouldn’t have happened; it’s just so arrogant and heartless.

The parents and loved ones of those who were hurt by this horrendous tragedy definitely don’t need people with an agenda pushing their bullshit upon them. To say, “well, if we’d allowed Christian prayer in the classrooms these children would still be alive” is preposterous. What about the Jewish boy who was killed in that massacre? Would he still have been saved by Christian prayer in school as well even though he wouldn’t have taken part?

And then we have a “fine” (this is entirely meant in sarcasm) examples of Christendom come by to “boycott” the funerals of all these people. They were not soldiers, we have no idea if any of them were gay, so why the heck Westboro Baptist Church decided to come and picket… oh, wait, that’s right, these people have an agenda as well. Not to put prayer in school, but to tell everyone that God is glad people are dead. Which frankly makes no sense to me. In all likelihood WBC went just for the media attention. Their purpose truly had nothing to do with anything related to Christianity. It never has. They are perhaps some of the worst representation so Christianity ever.

In a fascinating twist of fate, the group Anonymous, has decided to take down the hateful Westboro Baptist Church.

But wait… there’s more!

And as if those two issues weren’t bad enough, then there’s also founder of the Family Research Council, James Dobson who has blamed the deaths from the Sandy Hook massacre on gay marriage. You read that right. Gay marriage was responsible for all those children dying.

What. The. Frak?!

According to Dobson, because millions are turning their backs on God and the scripture, this is God’s way of punishing us.

*sigh*

The arrogance, audacity, and outright overbearing ignorance is truly astounding some times.

This was a tragedy. It was terrible, and lots of folks were traumatized by the loss of all those people. Instead of making it more difficult on them or anyone else who is having a hard time with this loss, why not send messages of love and support for the survivors instead? The survivors are going through an unfortunate amount of pain, now add the international media attention to it. They’re being bothered and hounded by journalist and photographers, and boycotted by hate-group idiots, and religious groups with agendas… it’s just overwhelming.

Right now there is nothing that can be done to save all those people that were lost. So why not do what can be done to help those who survived? Send them support in whatever fashion you can; donations, prayers, love, kindness, and comfort.

I realize many have opinions regarding gun control laws and mental health care revisions. I believe these are certainly things that should be examined and reassessed. But for now, we should let the people who have been hurt by such great loss have the space to grieve and process their tremendous loss without the pressures of an entire nation built upon them.

RANDOM MUSIC

Skrömta is a Swedish/Finnish folk ensemble that I stumbled upon 5 or so years ago on MySpace. Their music makes me smile.

Skrömta – Douce Dame

Becoming a Public Pagan

Though I can’t say I was necessarily hiding, but in 1996 I decided to come out of the broom closet. It meant I generally stopped avoiding questions regarding my religious beliefs and began wearing my pentacle openly. Remember, this was prior to large social media sites as we understand them today so it wasn’t like I could change my Facebook status and make a mass announcement.

I was fortunate to not be faced with any animosity by my immediate family regarding this. I’m closest with my father whom wasn’t really sure what to make of this information. His best way to deal with this was to make light of my newly professed religion by making it the butt of jokes. Luckily, that didn’t last too long. After a while jokes about my religion stopped all together and over time my father came to realize how sincere my practice and beliefs were. Every now and again he would ask me a question about how Wicca viewed something or about what certain objects or symbols meant; with genuine curiosity.

In sharp contrast, I was greeted with jeers and condescension from any co-workers that learned I was not Christian, which was difficult to avoid as they had an active bible study hosted by one of the employees. They wondered why I wouldn’t join them. Apparently saying, “I’m not interested” isn’t good enough. One woman actually told me I was wrong for having my beliefs. Did I mention we were at work? I wasn’t telling her what to believe or going on in any fashion about my beliefs, she took it upon herself to inform me that what I believed was wrong and chastised me as though I was a small child. I was in my late 20’s at that point.

Once she finished I explained that I didn’t appreciate her opinion, and that I’ve never told her that I thought she was wrong for her beliefs and felt her words were not only unappreciated, but entirely inappropriate at work. Thankfully she never spoke about it to me again.

I never asked my father what he thought about my being involved with Wicca. In fact, I never really thought about how my practicing Wicca might impact him. That is until the media attention began. Once that started I was much more mindful of how those who oppose my spiritual views might react and how their reaction might impact my loved ones.

The writer for the Orange County Register newspaper had reached out to me because of the Meetup groups I organize. She was interested in a different group for a different article, but then asked if there was news within the pagan community. At that time The Pentacle Quest was the biggest news in our community and the mainstream media was either ignoring it or putting further back in the paper where it got very little notice.

I was the current National Public Information Officer for the Covenant of the Goddess when she contacted me. She found the information interesting, but wanted to put a local face to the story, so she tied it to a “slice of life” piece about me. The article was written, but held for about a month or so and released on the day after 9/11’s 6th anniversary with all the memorial articles that year.

Honestly, I expected it to be on the 10th page of the “Lifestyle” section or something. The newspaper was out the night before online. I was a little nervous, but again, I didn’t think many would really see it.

Heh. I could not have been more wrong.

It ran on the FRONT PAGE. No really, my picture and the article were on the freakin’ front of the freakin’ Orange County Register! The very same paper I had a paper route for when I was 12 years old. The front page of the flagship publication of Freedom Communications! This is the main newspaper for our very conservative county.

Oh shit.

It’s one thing to be out of the broom closet for other pagans to network with you easier, but to be outted to my entire county… that’s all together different. Our county is well known for it’s young Republicans and very conservative values. So, I braced myself in case of any backlash by über conservatives.

[pause]

Instead I got phone calls and emails from friends all around the area that saw the paper, with words of encouragement and support. Also, a long lost friend I hadn’t seen in 11 years reconnected with me when they saw the article. But the most unexpected part of all was the phone call from CBS news that afternoon. They read the article and wanted to swing by on their way up from south OC.

Um… how did they both get my phone number AND know where I live? We’re unlisted.

An hour later CBS was at my house with a camera crew talking to me about Wicca and the Pentacle Quest. The short interview aired on both CBS and KCAL9 TV a total of 5 times that day. Each airing was a bit different.

The online version of the newspaper article had been translated into 3 languages and had been blasted world wide thanks to the internet in a short period of time. I suddenly had people from other countries contacting me because of the article; mostly new folks on the path looking for guidance.

Wow. I truly didn’t expect that.

The following year I taped the “Secret Lives of Women” TV show. During the filming I was asked to go somewhere else so they could talk candidly with my father about his opinion regarding my being involved in Wicca. I went upstairs while they interviewed him downstairs. I was actually a little nervous because I honestly had no idea what he would say. In fact, I didn’t find out what he said until the show aired 6 months later.

I was pleasantly surprised. My father had some very positive things to say. One being that all the ridiculous myths that people believe regarding our neo-pagan religion was false. He appeared proud of me and all that I’ve done.

I am keenly aware that not everyone is able to have such positive experiences with their loved ones once they make their spiritual path known. I know of several cases amongst friends where admitting you follow a different spiritual path, not just Wicca, was greeted with disappointment, anger, hostility, or disdain. Immediate family members, best friends, spouses would behave so poorly they would turn on the people they love. But is it love when you turn your back on someone for following a path different from yours? If they aren’t committing harm to themselves or others, and are still the same person that their loved ones know, but might perhaps be happier because now they’re finding spiritual fulfillment, why be angry with them?

RANDOM MUSIC

Roddy Frame is a singer-songwriter and musician from Scotland. He was the founder of the 1980s indie band Aztec Camera, and has undertaken a solo career since the dissolution of the band.

This is perhaps my most favorite of his songs off the album “The North Star” (1999)

Roddy Frame – Hymn To Grace