Pagan Pride

Pagan Pride Day is here. There were no gatherings or festivals in my area (or, as far as I know, in the entire country). I still want to write a post about Pagan pride. I was lucky enough to be born in Sweden, a country were Christianity is not considered standard. Being proud of my pagan beliefs have never really been a challenge. Partly because there’s a lot of pagans around and partly because people generally mind their own shit. Criticizing someone else for their religious beliefs is considered rude and unacceptable (criticizing religion itself however, is common).

I grew up in an area filled with rune-stones, residues from an ancient heathen cult, sacrificial pits and more. As well as all the stories about Siv and Oden and Freja etc. I grew up in a family were I met Muslims, Satanists, Buddhists and weird spiritual people. When I was 12 years old I actually had a friend who’s mother was a Wiccan. And of course the Asatruers, everywhere. Somehow I feel I don’t have anything to be proud of because I didn’t actually fight for this. It just happened and not a single person cared.

And maybe that’s the reason there were no Pagan Pride events held in Sweden this year. Because everyone felt the same. We don’t have to raise or voices because no one is trying to silence us. We don’t have to feel proud because no one is mocking us. We don’t have to claim respect because no one is disrespecting us.

So, to celebrate Pagan Pride I’m going to keep up with the events in other countries instead. Countries were these sort of things are needed.

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I Wonder How Miners Feel About Crystal Healing…

Last week I wrote a post about crystal mining and I want to give you an example on how miners gets treated by the big companies they work for. I have been following the miners’ strike in Marikana through the newspapers but since everyone hasn’t I’m going to explain the situation for you.

Marikana (also called Rooikoppies) is a town in northern South Africa where the mining industry is very important. They don’t mine crystals but what they are mining isn’t really relevant in this case. Working in a mine is dangerous. On August 10 this summer the miners initiated a strike. International Labour Organisation commented the state of the mines as: a variety of safety hazards: falling rocks, exposure to dust, intensive noise, fumes and high temperatures, among others.” while Trade and Industry Minister, Rob Davis described the conditions in the mines as “appalling” and said the owners who make millions had questions to answer about how they treat their workers. The purpose of the strike was to increase the miners pay to 12500 South African rand a month, which is about $1500. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union’s Jeffrey Matunjwa said to Aljazeera that: “As long as bosses and senior management are getting fat cheques, that’s good for them. And these workers are subjected to poverty for life. [After] 18 years of democracy, the mineworker is still earning 3,000 [South African Rand – approximately $360] under those harsh conditions underground.”

Sadly, this world isn’t a peaceful one. Conflicts escalates and often they end with violence, as was the case in Marikana. To this day 36 mine workers, 2 police-officers and 4 unidentified persons has been killed. 78 mine workers have been injured. The conflict is a difficult matter because there’s a lot of eye-witnesses reporting different stories, but I’m not here to solve the conflict. What I’m here to say is that the mine in Marikana is not unique. Most of the mines that supplies crystals and metals are located in the third world. Where many of the miners are living in poverty. They risk their lives for goddamn $360 a month.

What I want is for these miners, these people, to have rights. To have security. To make the mine as secure as possible should be first priority. Mining is no small business. The mines are owned by huge companies who earns millions of dollars. They can afford making the working environment better, instead of sitting on their mountains of wealth that grows bigger for every year.

I don’t want to live in a world where 30 miners must die just so someone across the world can have a topaz to wear around the neck or work magick on. I hope you don’t want that either, so please, please stop using crystals unless you know for sure that they have been ethically mined! Ask the suppliers were the crystals come from and criticize companies that abuse their workers. The more criticism they get the more inclined they will be to change their ways!

Unethical paganism

Grey Catsidhe has written an interesting blogpost about using silver in Druidic rites while Diandra Linnemann has written about using crystals in magickal work. Or rather, they have both posted about how unethical both of these are. I agree fully with their opinions and I feel this is a matter that needs to be brought up as often as possible. The first book I ever read on witchcraft was very centred on crystals, as are most of the witches I have contact with. Actually, I can’t name anyone except myself who doesn’t use them at all. It bothers me that some of the most popular witch/wicca-books out there present lists of important crystals and how to use them without mentioning that if you buy them you also abuse Mother Earth. They should tell you that. Everyone doesn’t think about that by themselves.

I know a lot of people who gets aha-moments when you inform them about things like this. Not everyone is hard-wired to analyse what they do or what they read. I don’t blame them because everyone is different. But! If you’re going to write books that will reach a big audience  you have to analyse even if it’s not in your nature. You can’t write a book on magick aimed towards beginners if you can’t mention that those crystals are good for a lot of things, but people and nature gets hurt while mining them.

I personally do not buy any crystals. I’m not going to say that it’s ok if you do because I don’t actually think that. If you buy crystals I think you should stop. I don’t care if you pay it back to nature through offerings afterwards, the best for nature would still be to abstain the crystals. And let’s not forget about the people. The miners. The people who gets used and abused so you can have your crystals. Is it worth it?

There are tons of material to work with all around us, no matter where you are. There are cones, rocks, plants and feathers everywhere. You can find substitutes for crystals, I promise!

The Broom-Closet

Are you in or out of the proverbial “Broom Closet”?
Do those around you know of your religion/faith/beliefs?
Or is your pagan-nature something you have to hide?

I think the best way to describe it is; I’m in the broom-closet but I have opened the door so anyone can peer in at me. They can see me but they can’t sneak up behind me. I’m not so sure if all my friends or family know about my faith. I’m not trying to hide it but then again, everyone has always considered me a rather suspect, upside-down-person. People usually don’t care when I paint some Goddess in arts class or write about magick in biology class. When I force my dad to ship a log of wood through the entire country because “it has powers” he doesn’t even lift an eyebrow. I don’t think my parents knows about if for that reason. They’re used to my willfulness and doesn’t pay it any mind no more.

I should probably step out of the closet entirely though. Because why should there even be a closet to start with? That’s ridiculous. My Christian sister never stepped out of no closet. Paganism isn’t even very sensational any more. We are growing stronger. And who knows, there might be a lot of hiding pagans in my vicinity, who might make themselves known when they hear there are other pagans in town.

Us Collectors

Last night I found trouble sleeping (as usual) and instead of staring into the roof I looked around for new podcasts to listen to. I found one called A Pagan Heart in Maine, aired by Greywolf Moonsong. In the first episode he was interviewing Michelle “Shelley” Hanson about shell divination. It was very fascinating and when Shelley spoke of collecting and studying things on default only to one day realize it means something more I just felt “wow, this is me!”. Actually I think this applies to many collectors.

I collect all sort of things and I never really thought about why I choose a certain object and discard another. I was really inspired to start looking at my collected things in a new way after listening to Shelleys story! Now, I don’t have any shells even though I live by the ocean. Actually I’ve never even seen one so perhaps they are rare in the Baltic Sea but this thinking can be applied to all sort of things, flowers, rocks, insects and so on.

This one, I actually stole from my mother of whom I inherited my magpie gene. A branch from her witch-hazel.

I’m not sure how other collectors are but I can loose all boundaries when going to a stony beach or take a stroll through the woods. I can spot a perfect cone from a kilometre away (not really, but you get the point). Anyhow what I found interesting is where in my home I have placed these objects after bringing them home. On my writing desk, for example, I have “always” had a really nice pine cone. I literary do not remember how and when it got there. This is interesting because when I searched for the meaning of pines I found this description in Jane Giffords book Wisdom of the Tree: From its lofty position above the tops of most other trees, the pine reminded ancient peoples of the importance of taking the overview, encouraging objectivity and farsightedness. We are advised to cleanse ourselves of negativity, neither dwelling on mistakes nor apportioning blame. Pine is a symbol of the elevated mind and the birth of the spiritual warrior.”  These are things I always think about and want to accomplish when I write! 

A really old thimble, a piece of heart-shaped coral and a stone with fossils.

A daisy from two summers ago, three favourite rocks, some flower and a fir cone.

The more I look into this the more interesting it becomes and I started adding things that were not actually collected to this project. For example I have a butterfly garland in my window, which I can see from all places in my home except the bathroom. I just kinda woke up one morning and thought; “Hey, I should totally make a butterfly garland”. After exploring the internet for some 30 minutes I’ve come to conclusion that butterflies represents freedom and courage. Two things I try to aim for but always have to remind myself about to not fall back in my old “don’t mind me I don’t even exist” pattern. I start every morning with opening my windows (yes, even in the winter) so these little symbols of independence is basically the first thing I see every morning!

Now, I realize this is starting to get a bit long but I’m having a serious spiritual realisation here! Are there any collectors who’s reading this? Have you ever tried to find a meaning with the things you surround yourself with? If not, you should totally give it a go!