I get asked once in awhile how those interested in Paganism can begin being Pagan.
1. Read mythology and Primary source material.
2. Practice as a Pagan.
3. Keep an altar.
Many Pagans think they’re Pagan simply because they say they are. I can believe all day that I’m a writer, but if I don’t write anything I’m not sure I can sincerely say that I am one. Paganism is a religion of doing, not believing.
Our ancestors insured the fertility of the land through sacrifice, they actively sought communication and a relationship with the gods and ancestors. Believing that the land would be fertile did not cut it with the Paleo-Pagans. They gave offerings to the wights and beings of the land…giving so that the community or family would be blessed in return.
The best way to begin being a Pagan is to keep an Altar. Building an Altar is easy; find and gather things that say “sacred” to you. For me this has always meant small and/or natural things like twigs, pine cones, a candle, an ancestor symbol, runes or a stone carved with a single rune that exemplifies what I think I need to emulate in my life. Once the Altar is built take some time each day or a few times a week to light the candle and contemplate what is sacred about what you have gathered, what the altar symbolizes, and just to sit in quiet contemplation.
I’m reading a book that details a fictional culture that venerates Ancestors. In every home there is an Altar setup for an Ancestor, a specific Ancestor whom, when honored appears and gives advice to the head of the household. In this novel series the Ancestor Altar is the focus of the home, large and ornate, it holds items loved by the Ancestor during his/her life.
The reason I’m writing this is that I was wondering, for those of us that venerate our Ancestors in a similar manner – giving offerings, bestowing gifts of food and drink – if we are truly listening. A scene in the novel has the head of the house honoring the Ancestor, but not heading his/her advice.
Are we truly listening for the good and the bad, and for the advice that maybe we don’t want to hear? When we ask for the wisdom they offer are we prepared to receive it? Or are we merely placating our own hubris and believing that our Ancestors would have only praise and adoring words for us? I’m reminding myself today that just as our family still living can have harsh lessons and truthful words to help us get back on track, our Ancestors, the honored dead, maybe can and will do the same if we’re ready to truly listen.
New Project: Constructing a new and improved traveling altar.
My old one just ain’t cutting it anymore; It’s really a simple matchbook box with a slim candle stick, a hunk of twig, and a small tea lite candle holder for a Well.
The new and improved portable will be smaller and slimmer containing images of the Fire, Well, and Tree on three separate pieces of card sized wood. The beauty of this is that the portable will be functional without a live flame or even water. Now I’m sure purists will say that it won’t really be an ADF/Druidic style altar without those things…but for me it’s more about understanding the Fire, Well, and Tree and what they symbolize, and being able to both internalize and properly activate them externally that matters. Granted sacrifices given to a card with a picture of fire on it won’t have the same effect, but that’s not the point.
The point is that my new Portable can literally be carried in my pocket, and it’s workable right out of the tin, without anything extra. So in a pinch, on a trip, or in an emergency I have what I need to continue my practice.
One thing I’m adding to my New Portable is a PocketMod journal. As I won’t post the finished product of my New Portable Traveling Altar I’ll show you the before pic.
The cover of the PocketMod journal bears “The Gate Sigil”, a piece created by Ian Corrigan. More ADF inspired sigils can be found here.
Here’s a look at the entire PocketMod journal that will be in my Portable: