Thursday, October 25, 2012

Racism... do you know what it really is?

          So for a long time I thought I knew what racism was. But recently I have found out I did not quiet know the nuances of what racism really could be. Though this post please understand I love where I work... I love what I do... and I love the company I work for. This is just something that happened which made me realize how insidious racism can be.

           I work for a company that originates outside of this country, which I find really neat because I learn a great deal about cultural diversity. I even wrote a post about what I have learned about cultural differences. But what I am learning is that even with a people that seem so open and welcoming there are major under tones of racism among them.

          I was told flat out the reason I got this job was because they needed a white person to be brought in for the job. I was like ok... affirmative action at work. I can see how a company within the US mostly made of a specific race and nationality would need to open up the diversity so as to not bring law suites down upon them... but even that is a subtle note of racism... 'let's hire them so we won't get in trouble.'

          Then I started having my boss and co-workers talk to me as if I did not know anything about being an IT Admin. Ok I can kind of see that to a point because I am fresh out of college. I say to a point because I have worked in the IT field for over 16 years. I am not a total newbie at this.

          Then I started noticing that I was being treated this way and no one else was. I would do thing properly but still get berated over the work I did because I did not do it properly. All these things I kept finding other reasons for. Then it came to my attention that as I am the only white person in my department it seemed a bit odd that I would be getting picked on and berated nearly daily for things when I was doing my job. Heck I was even getting raise from the users who's systems I had been repair because I was getting them repaired in record time, without major fuss, and with a kind and pleasant attitude.

          This really made me start thinking about what racism really was... how was it really expressed on a normal day to day basis. I started asking questions to one of my co-workers about the treatment of Americans by people of his nationality... and then about whites. What he confirmed for me was that is was a major form of racism that was applied in a very subtle manner.

          As I thought about this I really became awakened to how we in America apply racism in subtle manners... we use advertisements to say that think blonde white women are the pentacle of beautiful... that buff younger white men are what all men should strive to be. We lower education standards to meet what the system believes is inferior intelligence... I was shocked to realize just how pervasive racism is in our daily lives. There are so many examples if you just take the time to stop and look.

          Through the eyes of another culture and race I saw that racism is a wide spread undertow that forms the foundation currents of not only American culture but of most of humanity. Armed with that I will strive to be better at being an open accepting human being. I will strive to purge myself, my thoughts, and my surrounding world of the more dangerous forms of racism... the forms we do not see or notice.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Acts of vengeance... Karma?

          Humans are funny creatures. It is very easy for us to get our feelings hurt... to become wounded by the acts of others. So what do we do when someone hurts us? We are sad, angry, pissed off... and of course we think of revenge. We see revenge as Karma for what others have done to us.

          But revenge is not Karma. It is a reflection of our selfish need to strike out like a child who has been wounded. When we exact revenge on others all we do is damage ourselves even further. We bring shame upon ourselves and lower ourselves to the level of those who hurt us in the first place. Taking revenge doesn't make you a douche bag. Don't ever think that,remember this... we are only human. We all make mistakes, even the one's we get revenge on. Accept what you did, accept what the person did and let it go. You are the worst karma you will ever have. But we must strive to be better than that.

          Always remember the universe doesn't punish it only knows cause an effect. We punish ourselves and each other more than enough to create Karma. That is why acceptance of our actions and then letting them go is so important in life.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cultural differences

         I have always had a little different view on other cultures. I think it was my realizing I did not fit in with the rest of the 'normal' crowd that allowed me to have this different view. But as I grew older so did my world view. So many people are raised with one single world view and never really break out of that.

         So with my world view being rather wide already, becoming a Druid helped me to widen it even further. As I learned more about what constituted an Indo-European culture I began to realize that no matter what differences there were in the world there were things that most people had in common with one another.

         This really hit home for me when I started working at my current job. My company is own by, and about 98% populated by, Indians. They are a global company that spans a variety of fields. What I learned was rather stagger to me. The belief I had developed all these years about how most people had many commonalities despite their culture really was questioned.

         Please do not think I dislike my job, the people I work with or for, nor do I have any issues with people and their beliefs as I write about this. But I really was not sure that the Indian culture really had any commonalities at all. One of the things I noticed is even when they are mad at one another they are extremely polite about it. They can be telling each other to go to hell, not really as they do not have a hell, and still be courteous.

         The other very strange thing for me was the idea that I could be of such a 'lower class' that I was looked down upon, doing with the greatest of courteous manners. There were many other things that struck me but these were enough to really get me thinking about cultural differences even within our own country.

          I was raised in the mountains of north Georgia. I lived in a small town that hasn't changed much even to this day. I took for granted my up bringing. When I moved here to Arkansas many things changed in my life. I started seeing someone new. He is a great guy but through him I started to see that even as a fellow 'southerner', which I am still not convinced people from Arkansas qualify as, he seemed to be from a different world than myself. One of the things I was taught as a child was, "if something doesn't directly concern you then it is none of your business." I hold very dear to this as it was something my grandmother taught me. And it pretty much holds true in most of the areas of north Georgia. Well it appears that is a tragic flaw here in Arkansas. Though I am not a cold person it is viewed as being cold because I just feel that someone things are none of my business and in turn something in my life are no one else's business.

          But this was just yet another example

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What you really are saying....

Dear friends and family who are thinking about voting for Mitt Romney,

When you are reading about hos own or his surrogates' comments about the gays, replace "gays" with John & my name.

For example:
...John & David shouldn't be allowed to marry.
John & David getting married is a threat to families.
John & David cannot be good parents.
John & David doesn't love each other, it is only lust.
John & David are "fixable" with electroshock therapy and physiological torture.
John & David, is what is wrong with this country.
David deserved to get beat up every day in school and be called Fag, Queer, and many other names.
David deserved to be raped so the straight boys could show him his rightful place.

I hope this contextualizes the argument for you. The "gay movement" is about people who are in love and want to spend their lives together. It's about legal recognition and protection of our commitment to each other. There are a lot of issues out there, but this is one I will never let go of. This is a fight for my rights as an individual, as your friend/family member, as an American citizen, and as a human being.

I can not vote for someone who sees some Americans as second class citizens, I can't vote for someone who doesn't believe in equal rights for all people. Nor would I want to vote for you. But I hope you realize that by supporting him you are saying you don'e believe I should be happy, that I should be punished for who I am and that my love is worth less than your love. You are saying that I don't have nor should have the rights all Americans. I'm not saying you have to vote Obama, but this is what it means if you vote for Romney.

Tolerance... hmmm something to ponder

          Everywhere I turn I hear people using the term 'tolerance' with it comes to dealing with peoples basic human and civil rights. When I think about the use of this term I am reminded of a scene in one of my favorite movies when Miss Vida Boheme and Noxeema Jackson are talking:

          Vida Boheme: Your approval is not needed.
          Noxeema Jackson: Approval neither desired nor required.

Though this quote is about approval and acceptance it still comes to mind when I think of 'tolerance'. First let us take a look at the definition of the word 'tolerance' when it comes to the way it is used for peoples rights. According to The American Heritage dictionary tolerance is: 'a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.' The part of tolerance I have an issue with is the thought of a permissive attitude towards others.

          In America we have developed an egocentric attitude where we believe as a society that our approval or disapproval of how people live, who they are, or what their beliefs should carry weight on those who are different rights. This is a false ideology we have created. Our very foundation as a nation prohibits this kind of thinking from effecting our citizens rights, yet there are those that try their hardest to deny them.

          When they are confronted with the fact they have not legal right they feel they should not be forced to tolerant this people. Well no one is asking you to tolerant anyone. No one is asking you to approve in any shape, form, or fashion these people. What is being demanded is that people be given the equal rights this nation was founded on.

          So in the spirit of the words from Miss Vida Boheme and Noxeema Jackson: Tolerance is not need... Permission neither desired nor required! Simply butt out of my rights and business.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Power of a word....

          So I had a reminder not so long ago on Facebook of just how powerful words can be. How different words have different power to different people and that perhaps we should all be a bit more careful... no... more thoughtful of what words we use and how we use them.

          As a Ceremonial Magic practitioner and as a Druid I know the power words can have. I know that if used improperly things can go horribly wrong. Though one's intentions may be honorable the power of the word itself has great sway. But here is the catch... each person, each culture, and each region can have different meanings, even slight, for a word. This can really cause major issues with more than one person is using a word.

          What happened was there was a celebrity made some horrible comments about gay men and their sexual activities. My intent was to basically say 'pot calling kettle...' but pointing out her sexy activities and that she had NO place at all to talk about anyone's sexy activities. The word I used for me applies to anyone, not just females, that have multiple partners in a short period of time. (I am not repeating the word because of my new awareness.) So there were some people who have a very different view of the word I used. It caused a great deal of hurt feelings. I just could not understand why they were getting their feelings so hurt.

          So after some reflection with my most trusted sounding board, I came to realize that even mundane words can be just as dangerous when there are different meanings to different people. So my lesson was if I know a word has multiple meanings to first take time to contemplate how others might react to the use of said word before I use it. I would challenge you all to do the same.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Divination part 8: The importance and value of divination as it relates to ADF

          Within the context of ADF the importance of divination can have various meanings. But off all the possible values divination can have one stands out the most, that of seeking knowledge of approval concerning our actions and offerings as Druids.          

          Within ADF, we work our rituals to honor the Kindred and to create a reciprocal relationship with them. Through offerings of praise or through dedicated rituals, we forge the alliance which we are seeking. However, how are we to know if our efforts are accepted? How are we to know that the Kindred are pleased with our works and wish to return the love and connection?          

          Only through divination, more specifically the omen, can we truly see how our offerings accepted. It is our way to ‘know’ how all our efforts are received by the Kindred. As stated in the in Dedicant Manual, “In Druidic ritual, we also often divine to determine whether the spirits are pleased with our work, whether our offerings have been accepted, whether our work is headed for a good outcome, and what kind of power is being offered by the spirits.” (DP Handbook, new edition, page 45)

Work Cited for Divination posts 1-8:
 Bonewits, Isaac. Real Magic: An Introductory Treatise On The Basic Principles of Yellow Magic (Revised Edition). Boston: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1989.Ehrlich, Eugene, et al. Oxford American Dictionary. New York: Avon Books, 1986.—. Oxford American Dictionary- Heald Colleges Edition. New York: Avon Books, 1980.Encyclopedia Britannica 11th Edition. "Knucklebones." 2010. Online Encyclopedia. 12 June 2010 .Heinevetter, Franz. Würfel- und Buchstabenorakel in Griechenland und Kleinasien. Breslau : Grasz, 1912.Luck, George. Arcana Mundi: Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1985.Paxson, Diana L. Taking Up The Runes. San Francisco: Weiser Books, 2005.Sophistes, Apollonius. "A Greek Alphabet Orcale." 1995. CC.UTK.EDU. March 2009 .Toraldo, Manfredi. Olympus Tarot. Torino, Italy: Lo Scarabeo, 2002.Wikipedia. "Cleromancy." January 2009. September 2009 .—. "Delpic Oracle." January 2010. 15 January 2010 .—. "Hellenistic Civilization." 22 December 2009. 15 January 2010 .—. "Homer." January 2010. 15 January 2010 .—. "Ogham." 26 December 2009. June 2009 .

Friday, October 12, 2012

Perspective... how important are we really?

          Some years ago I was sent a series of photos that showed the perspective of the planets of our solar system to that of our sun... then our sun to a series of 'local' stars... and then those 'local' stars to other stars in the universe. Well let me tell you it was a VERY humbling experience.

          We humans in general have this idea that we are the greatest thing in all of creation. We believe that we are the pinnacle of all of creation. Well I am here to tell you that is a false ideology. Yes we are special, just as all life is special, but the Universe itself is the pinnacle of all creation. It is amazing, it is vast, it is overwhelming when you begin to think about the true size of what is out there... what is beyond our tiny little blue covered rock.

          Take a moment to look these images over... really look at them and think about the scale of size and the VAST number and amount of 'stuff' in the known universe... then tell me we are the pinnacle of creation with a clear conscious.

          So first let us look at humans to scale with other mammals oh the planet:

So compared to some of the animals on this planet humans are pretty darn small. Take into perspective things that we build... say the statue of liberty to a rig:

As you can see a human is TINY compared to some of the man-made structures. And the Statue of Liberty compared to other more modern structures:

Even on a planetary scale we humans are so very very small. So let us take a look at the scale of the planets in our solar system and beyond:

          Soooo.... got a bit of perspective on our size and importance in the grand scale the Universe? How about the fact there are about 200-400 billion stars in our galaxy alone. There are about 80-100 billion galaxies in the observable universe.... seeing how LARGE stars are do you see now how small our place is in the universe? Can you see just how precious our little spot of blue truly is?

          When you begin to understand the scale of of the universe around you, life also becomes even more important because if even a small fraction of worlds held life there would still be more emptiness than there is life. So why do we so wantingly destroy ourselves and our planet?

Thursday, October 11, 2012


          So as a Druid I want to do what is best for Mother Earth as possible. One of the things I have done is changed over from buying paperback books to an e-reader (still buy hardbacks of my favorite authors, which are few). The price of them are falling and their energy use is very very low. Plus I get some really great books for free or at a nice low cost. Also you can barrow books from the library in e-reader formats.

          I currently have a Nook by B&N. I love my Nook. I only have to charge it about ever other month. I found that I read so much more since getting it as well. I take it everywhere I go. I am averaging about 5-6 books per month now where it was 1-2 books every two months. I can carry TONS of books with me for resource and research. I am also in the process of learning how to turn my current books into e-format that are out of print.

          So not only am I reducing the trees that I consume for books I am also reducing the amount of energy to cut those trees, process them into paper, print the books, ship them to stores, the gas to go buy them at a store that consumes large amounts of energy to runs lights and environmental controls. Over all it is a HUGE saving that allows me to help reduce my carbon footprint over all. Plus I am starting to use my solar egg to recharge my Nook with. So even charging has become green.

          So what are you waiting for? Switch to an e-reader! Be green and show your love to our Earth Mother.

Divination part 7: My view and understanding of the function of the Seer.

          There are many things a Seer can be with just as many possible functions they can perform. A Seer by definition is ‘a prophet; a person who sees visions’ (Ehrlich, Flexner and Carruth, Oxford American Dictionary- Heald Colleges Edition 818). I don’t view Seers as being limited to future sight only, but those
who can have visions or a ‘knowing’ of the past, present events that are hidden to most, and all possible
future events. I do believe that some are even direct conduits to the divine themselves.

          Seers can be ‘finders’ of lost things or people. In modern times we have those we call ‘psychics’ who help law enforcement agencies find lost children and adults. There are Seers who function as fortune tellers, giving people one possible outcome of the path they are currently on. While there are others who work as spiritual counselors, using their abilities to look deep inside a person to find the root cause of the current issues in their lives.

          Then you have those that serve as a type of lesion between the divine and humanity. These Seers use their gifts to divine the will of the divine for the people. We in ADF, have Seers who take the Omen. The Omen is our way of connecting with the Kindreds, so that we might know their will.

          Overall I feel that Seer’s are those who divine ‘Truth’. They are those who define the fabric and flow of time. They are those that ‘see’ and divine the will of the Kindred. Seers are one of the most valuable members of any religious organization.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Divination part 6: Relative importance and effect of divination within my personal spiritual practice

          For as long as I can remember, divination in some fashion has been a part of my life. So it is only natural that is should be a central point in my personal spiritual practice. But how it plays a role varies depending on the situation.

          Many times I use divination tools during daily devotionals to my patrons to receive Their guidance. I see this as a chance for Them to speak to me through a tool which I understand and that eases communication between us.

          When I am having difficulty deciding how a ritual should be written or what the focus should be I find myself turning my to divination tools to see what the out come would be. Many times I have altered rituals or in some cases completely rewritten them because I had gotten an unfavorable reading. One case being the ritual I was writing for a public Beltane 2008 rite. I wanted to do the ritual for Demeter and Hermes. The more I focused on the ritual the more the divination's kept showing disaster awaiting me. Finally, I took the advice of my Senior Druid and asked who I should do the ritual for. The cards showed the ritual should be to Gaia not Demeter. I then asked how such a ritual would go. I received a very favorable reading saying things would go well.

          There are times when I use my divination tools to help me understand confusing dreams I may have. I have found it a great asset to have skills in Tarot when unraveling the complex web that dreams can be, or in some cases the prophetic dreams I have from time to time.

          Over all, divination isn't just an important part of my spiritual practice. It is a part of who I am and as such is a tool I rely on heavily. I carry some kind of divination tool with me everywhere I go in life.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Divination part 5: Purpose of divination

          Divination is a broad and varying field. As many ways as people can find to focus their minds there will be new ways to perform divination. The art and science of divination stretches back over the written history of humanity and possibly to our very origins. But what is divination? What purpose does it server?

          By the strictest definition divination is ‘foretelling future events or discovering hidden knowledge (Ehrlich, Flexner and Carruth, Oxford American Dictionary 252).’ But looking over the history of the Indo-European cultures it was more than this. Divination was used not only to see the future but also to see the past (Bonewits 179-180). There is another aspect that seems to have been a larger function of divination in its many forms, that of diving the will of the gods. Divination on a personal level is a tool for guidance. It allows me to see possible outcomes of actions before I decide to take them. Through this use I can learn which way might be the best choice in the matter. For years, it has also been a tool which allowed me to help friends on a spiritual level when paths in their lives have been uncertain. Since coming to ADF, I have taken to heart Omen reading in my devotionals and rituals. They are my tool for understanding what the Kindreds wish for me to know.

          Divination has always been a very important part of my life. It has grown in value to advice and guidance to me through the years and with all I am learning about my spirituality, it can only grow further in the future.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Divination part 4: One method of Paleo-Pagan divination

          As far back as I can remember my chosen method of divination has been that of Tarot. But of all the methods I have used over the years, the one I have found myself drawn to the most is a form of alphabet oracle that was created by the ancient Greeks. The Greek Oracle Alphabet was found in the ruins of Delphi as inscriptions on the walls. In this system the Oracles were written on a tablet. This table of Oracles had two listings with each Oracle phrase; one numeric and one alphabet letter. Either of the numeric or alphabetic values allowed the seeker to gain answers to questions. The two of the most notable tools used for this kind of divination were the use of astragaloi (knuckle bones) and alphabet oracles. From what I have been able to find, most resources mention that the astragaloi were usually made from sheep (Encyclopedia Britannica 11th Edition). The astragaloi numbered five in number and cast on a flat surface. They have four readable about sides, which each side had a number to it:

(trias=3, tetras=4, monas=1, hexas=6 )


The total possible range of values 5 to 30, with a few numeric values missing due to the fact that there was only 4 sides per astragaloi. The missing numbers were 6 and 29, which are impossible to achieve with only 5 four sided objects. Heinevetter believed that the largest possible value, 30, was associated with Alpha (Heinevetter pge 35). All other numbers assigned in decreasing value to the remaining letters from there. There seems to be a possible debate on the ordering of the numeric value, but Heinevetter’s view was the only one available on the resource page. These numeric values added up from the way the astragaloi landed. There would be tablets on hand, especially in temples, which would have a listing for the total numerical value of the astragaloi and its corresponding Oracle meaning. In modern times it is more feasible, not to mention moral, to use dice instead of knuckle bones. They come in a variety of different materials as well as sizes and colors. On the site by Apollonius Sophistes, there is a listing for the numeric values possible with five sided dice. This makes using modern five sided dice a much better option. Sophistes comments that on the Olympian table there were no Oracles for Digamma and Qoppa. This meant that any casting of 13 or 25 have not Oracle meaning. I can see the use of astragaloi being a much better option as there were only
five, where as the alphabet tiles numbered 24. This could be a cumbersome divination tool to carry
around compared to the use of the astragaloi or dice.

          As for the alphabet tiles, each letter of the alphabet on the tiles had a corresponding oracle on the same tablet as those used with the astragaloi. The first word of each Oracle started with the letter on the stone or pottery shard. The numeric value of the astragaloi corresponded to numeric values associated with the alphabet oracle, being drawn in a similar fashion as Runes. (Sophistes) . When a tile was drawn, the Greek letter that was painted on it was compared to Oracle associated with that letter. The following is the link of the Greek Alphabet Oracle which Sophistes provides on the
resource site.

        When I use this form of divination, I will mostly use the tiles I have made with the Greek
alphabet on them. Mostly this is because I do most of my divination readings at home or in a ritual
sitting. Other times I use the dice which I keep on me all the time. I have a word document which I
keep on my phone so I can translate the meaning when I toss the dice. I have found this to be a
wonderful method for daily divinations.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Divination part 3: Role of seers within at an Indo-European culture and the relationship to other members of the society

          Hellenic culture had a myriad of different types of divination, most being tools which found use among the citizens of Greece. However, there were forms of divination that were prized about others. The most notable was that of being an Oracle. Oracles could be considered Seers, as they functioned as a
connection to the gods for the people.

          Oracles, as an example of the most prominent Seership in Ancient Greece, were treated differently depending on the time period which they lived. They often found themselves treated with higher respect, in turn gained more prosperity, according to the range of their skills. Generally, the view of Oracles differed from one who used tools such as the drawing of lots. Oracles were seen as being sacred chosen of the divine.

          During the time of Homer, Oracles reached an all time high in their calling. By the time of Homer, sometime around 1194-1184 BCE (Wikipedia Homer), nearly all divination had come under the control of various individual city religious leaders. These seers were housed in shrines and temples supported by the religious institutions, though at the time they were few in number (Luck 239). By the 8th BCE before the great Hellenic period, 323 BCE to about 146 BC (Wikipedia), many of the great Oracle temples such as Delphi began to become established (Wikipedia Delphic), gaining great prominence and wealth. Seen as the direct line to the gods, Seers gained both respect and fear among members of society. In Delphi, the Oracles where seen as the authority of the gods and none would stand against what the Pythia prophesied.

          Much of the wealth came from offerings and donations by both those seeking the visions and insights of the Seers. Varying classes of people sought their aid, from farmers to great Kings and Emperors of other nations, who gifted greatly to the Temples. Many of the Oracle Temples had small villages and towns grow up around them. In the case of the Delphic Oracles they became a financial center, even offering banking facilities (Luck 248).

Coexist sticker....

          So there was a posting on Facebook today that I really liked. I really like what this has to say:

I have always believed that no matter what all paths lead to the same place, no matter how you see. So why is it that some feel the need to tell you that you are wrong for believing the way you do? Why do they feel the need to try and force their way upon us? If I am living a good life, living by a set of morals and ethics, then why is my way not good enough? Well for me it is good enough. If you can not respect that this is MY journey and not your then our paths will diverge for the remainder of this life.

          The Sufi have the belief that all paths that follow a path of light and love are true paths. They believe that all religions should be accepted as valid. If you talk with the Dalai Lama, which I had the chance too at Emory University some years back, you will learn that Buddhist feel the same way. Most Pagans feel this way as well. Even within the Druid tradition I follow we believe that each persons spiritual journey is very individual, that it is a path that we can only provide skill and training to help you find your own way.

          So why is it that the only religions that are forceful about their believes the ones that only worship one god? Why is it that monotheism is so totalitarian? I find it most interesting that they cannot just leave people in peace, to practice what they believe. It makes me wonder if they believe in what they preach because in my experience those that are so forceful with their ways are usually the ones that are least certain about their beliefs.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


          Well my third favorite time of the year is nearly upon us. As the air grow colder the leaves change into beautiful colors of fall and begin to fall making blankets covering the land. Children run and play, crushing leaves beneath their feet. It is a time of cider, candied apples, candy corn, and pumpkins.

          It seems that this time of year truly captures the hearts of many. But the celebration that now occurs this time of year is about far more than just wearing funny costumes, trick-or-treating, and carving pumpkins into a wide verity of faces and scenes. It is about the ancient fire festival of Samhain. (pronounced Sa-win).
This festival marks the end of the 'light' part of the year and the beginning of the 'dark' part of the year. It is the last of the harvest festivals where there is an abundance of foods for feasting.

          Originally this was a Celtic celebration to honor the Dead as this time of year was believed to have the thinnest 'veil' between the worlds. It was believed that through magic and ritual this 'veil' could be lifted completely at this time of year so that the spirits of our Ancestors could come back to the Earth. But of course this also meant that other types of spirits could cross over during this time as well. That is why pumpkins where used. In some folk cultures it was simply any kind of gourds. The light was sent out to scare away those things that feared the light.

          So it doesn't matter if you are Pagan or not... remember this time of year is about the death that finds all living things. It is about the resting time which comes from that death. And it is a time to honor those who have passed into the Summerlands.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Divination part 2: Within the context of a single Paleo-Pagan Indo-European culture, discuss three different forms of divination or seership,

          In Hellenic culture there were many forms of divination which people could turn too. Over time,
these various forms changed, while many others found a home in the culture from outside influences. They ranged from personal types of divination, such as the drawing of lots, to actual institutions centered on Oracles.

          Like many of the Indo-European culture, the Hellenic culture had forms of ‘lot’ divinations, classified as cleromancy. The drawing of lots is a form of divination where the practitioner has a set of tokens, each marked with individual symbols. These symbols represent meanings that help divine the answer to questions. Then practitioner forms a question. With the question in mind, he/she then mixes the tokens in some fashion before drawing out tokens to divine the answer. One of the very rarely talked about forms of lot divinations, is that of the Greek Alphabet Oracle. The knowledge of this device comes from inscriptions found in the city of Olympus. ‘Each letter of the alphabet has a corresponding oracle, and the first word of the oracle (in Greek) begins with that letter (Sophistes).’ Made from tiles of pottery or bone, the Greek Oracle Alphabet tiles were cast very much like Runes are today. The method of selection ranged from drawing a single tile from container to tiles being shaken from an open mouthed container, such as a bowl. Once drawn, the reader looked up the corresponding meaning on a tablet upon which contained the oracle meanings.

          The Greeks were very fond of augury. Augury, seen as a type of omen, is a pretense of what is to come. George Luck had this to say about augury in Hellenic society: ‘… the interpretation of the flight, sound, and manner of feedings birds. This technique was practiced so commonly that augur became the word for any soothsayer, diviner, or prophet.’ (Luck 250)

          There were two main types of augury. The first consisted of intentionally watching for signs. These signs could be seen in the movement of the clouds, within storms [either by lightening or through thunder],
and through the movement and behavior of animals. This type of augury is also where the reading of
entrails and other organs of animals would fit. In Classic Greece up through the dark ages the reading
of entrails and organs was a very popular form of divine. The second type was usually sudden and unexpected. These types of auguries tended to center around the sudden appearance of animals sacred to the gods; or by mundane things such as the spilling of salt, sneezing, stumbling, or something as simple as the breaking of a reflective surface, which could pretense an omen of misfortune.

          The most notable form of divination in ancient Hellenic times is that of Oracles. Many considered
Oracles a form of spontaneous prophecies. In this form of spontaneous prophecy, thought to be a direct
connection to the divine, seemed a sort of trance state that the Oracle fell into. In this trance state the
Oracle was able to access or receive information from the divine about future events. Many times the
information spoken by the Oracles was unintelligible, needing translating by the officiating priests and
priestesses of the temple which housed the Oracle. It very well could be one of the oldest forms of divination in the Indo-European cultures. ‘As early as Homer, divination came under the control of religion and was concentrated in a few shrines that soon became prominent and wealthy (Luck 239).’ Perhaps because Oracles where seen as a direct connection to the gods explains why they became controlled by the religious leaders of the times. Examples of these shrines would be the Oracle at Delphi and at Cumae. Oracles became so popular, that many turned into large state supported institutions which prospered for hundreds of years.