Notes on the Journey and poems…

(Plus, Pax plays with the new linking set up and labeling system for WordPress…)

Dear Friends,

In addition to discovering Veles’ little gem, I have had a both lazy and eventful Friday… working the 11pm-7am shift Friday and Saturday nights means that I sometimes get a nice long Friday to relax a bit it… especially as the week-ends can be chock-full of things..

I awoke to this depressing news on NPR of the recent effort by the Republicans and Teabagger’s to cut NPR funding, probably because they prefer to maintain the conservative media dominance that they have worked so hard to establish.  So this put me in a bit of a mood today.

In order to try and lift my mood I listened to one of Rev. Kathy’s Sermons from the 1U New Membership Service “What we Freely Choose….“, a very inspiring sermon on the power of choices we make and how we have power to change the moral arc of the Universe…

After that I ended up chatting with Veles on Facebook for a bit, always a delight… and finally HAD to sign off there in order to get some writing and copying done as I poked through my archives for old articles and such.

Then since I was in further need of inspiration, and given that the WitchFather as I am coming to call Him (influenced no doubt by some young rascal or another)  is also the Bringer of Wisdom and Inspiration, I re-listened to episode 4 of the Druidcast podcast… the segment where Ronald Hutton gives a talk about the Wiccan/Neo-Pagan Horned God and his modern history… which always brings a smile to my lips and helps inspire me… and I was also looking for a little extra information and inspiration as I want to contribute to that Horned God Devotional, which of course took me over to of Oak and Ivy… where I found a reference to this poem….


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

~William Ernest Henley

Which poem I very much like and find inspiring and in keeping with the themes of Power and Choice and True Will for today…

I also found, as I poked around the archives that I have surprisingly little written down… at least in the computer about the Horned God, so I shall poke around in the old BoS’s and see what I might see to share, and I will hope that some time presents itself in the wee-hours at work where I can work on some poetry and journaling… although this could be a busy week-end with the Thanksgiving Holiday coming up here in the U.S.

although I did find an old piece of mine I had forgotten about and will be including in the new BoS and Grimmoire I am working on for myself….

Let the Circle Be Cast

In this night and in this hour,

I weave once more, Magicks power,

Between the worlds this Circle stands,
A Sphere of light, a ring of clasping hands,
Here incense sweet and bitter brine,
Shall bless each atom, each cell, and empower, and re-awaken the Divine

Remember, Remember oh blessed space,

That you are of, and beyond, all time and place.

Watchtowers and Powers of Earth and Sky, of Sun and Sea,

Please join in this Circle, and Guide, and Guard,

And celebrate with me.

Mother Celestial and Father Divine,

I call on Thee, as I am Thine.

I cry out welcome to thee,

Welcome to the Powers and Principalities!

With the Fruits of the Earth I welcome Thee,

With sweet scented incense in the Air I welcome Thee,

With the warmth and light of the Fires within my Hearth and Heart I welcome Thee,

With cool and refreshing and holy Water I welcome Thee!

Hail and Well Met and Blessed Be!

~ Pax 2007~

~ed. 2010~

And so now I am off to Dinner and to contemplate poetry and spirituality and how best to work and Work and how to engage in Service in order to help to bend that famous and much talked about moral arc of the Universe towards justice..


Pax / Geoffrey


This little light of mine…

Dear Friends,

So in the last couple of weeks I had seen multiple announcements for the LGBT Youth Candlelight Vigils here in Orlando on the 20th and 21st… for LGBT Teen Suicide Awareness Day on the 20th.   I committed to going to the Lake Eola vigil.  There was also one the next night at UCF…

As a part of these vigils, and apparently as a general part of the LGBT Youth Suicide Awareness day on the 20th folks were encouraged to wear Purple.  Now a lot of times when something like this happens you hear all sorts of encouragement to wear a color and show your support… and folks will change the color of their blog or post a new profile pic… but you don’t hear as much about getting off your butt and marching or sending in your money… and as an aging queer and Witch… well, I can get a bit ornry…

No, I am not going to wear purple, nor am I going to put purple on my facebook profile, what I am doing is going to a candle-lit vigil for glbt youth suicide awareness and I am going to re-commit to voting against homophobia…

~ Pax’s rather ornry Facebook profile from a few days ago…

I was there as a Gay man who had been bullied in High School over his orientation, or rather perceived orientation since I was only partially out to even myself at that point.  I was also there as a Witch, who has finally set aside some of his why-not-to-do-stuff for his why-the-hell-not, and is working on his will and Will.  I was also there to support my friends from the 1st Unitarian Church Orlando, including my friend Sister Ambrosia Discordia of the Orlando Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (Ambrosia happens to be a member of the 1st U, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have no formal relationship with the U.U.A) and our new settled Minister Reverend Kathy Schmitz.

There was a long time where people were simply mingling and talking.   Reverend Kathy spent some time networking with some of the other religious leaders in attendance.  I was kind of odd man out for a while, although my bright pink “Tough Guys Wear Pink” T-shirt did bring some nice compliments!

What!?  I had to wear something.  If for no other reason, because most folks would NOT appreciate me in my altogether/ Bear-on-the-half-shell glory.  Besides you don’t have to wave a rainbow flag to, well, wave the rainbow flag!

As darkness fell and the crowd began to grow as people found parking near Lake Eola Park, or got to the park from wherever they had found parking, some folks began lighting candles they had brought with them and some of the Come Out Orlando vollunteer’s (the group that had put the event together) distributed their candles for the vigil.  It was at this point that it was a pleasant surprise to see members of the Downtown Orlando Circle of the Sublime Elm, and the Orlando G.L.B.T. Pagan’s and Witcbes Meet-up groups in attendance.  I said hello and introduced them to some of the folks from 1st U and to the Sister’s.

Then there was an all too quiet speech, must look for an microphone/bull-horn for the kids at Come Out Orlando… then a lovely and very interfaith prayer from a young lady wearing a clerical color against a lovely lavender shirt.  Then we marched…

Oddly enough, it was the first time I marched in something other than a Pride parade.  Gay Pride, we Pagans don’t have our own parades yet… at least not public ones that I am aware of.  ANYHOW, I had been in protests before but I don’t think I have ever marched before… and since this was a candle-lit vigil it had more of a spiritual/processional feel to it.

It was quite lovely, and a good renewal of my inner activist and my will and possibly my Will.


Pax / Geoffrey

The Equinox…will he or nill he…

Hello Dear Friends and Readers all,

Spring has sprung once more.  I didn’t do any ritual for it, timing and schedules, and a half-formed decision to hold to the moons for a while and just sort of observe and experience the workings of the world and the seasons and the mysteries at work in the world around me, all contributed to this.

Yet the Gods and the Mysteries will not be denied.

I went to Services at the U.U. the other day and one of Ostara’s essential mysteries, rebirth and renewal and the first stirrings of new growth, played itself  out in a surprisingly Pagan fashion before me with only myself and perhaps a few others being the wiser about it at First Unitarian.  The Service itself focused on Spiritual jouney’s and development as individuals and groups and Religious Education’s role and relationship with the life-long spiritual journey.  As a part of this, and an ongoing feature of our Services, one of the Children’s RE classes presented the Words for All Ages section of our Service.

Words for All Ages is a part of the F.U.C.O. Service where the young or young at heart are invited up to the pulpit area.  This is often for a story for the kids that relates in some manner to the theme for the Service, then we as a congregation sing our Song of Dedication and the kids are sent off for some supervised play and the main Sermon takes place.  (Children’s RE, or Religious Education often happens before Services at the same time as Adult RE, so that the kids can enjoy part of the services with us)

So the Middle School Class, in line with the themes of the Service took some turns sharing their spiritual and religious beliefs.  I found all of the shares both welcome and fascinating, and could empathize with the difficulty that some of the kids had in articulating their beliefs… it can be a tough thing to talk about when the religious and spiritual experience is such a personal and intimate and complex and deeply felt thing as the religious experience, even as an adult or as someone who has written of such things for years.   One of the kids spoke haltingly about having gone to other Churches in other faiths before and finding a religion in Unitarian Universalism, he was quite overcome with emotion.  One young man reported that baseball was his religion.  Another talked about having done a thinking and reading about and deciding that he would like to be a Wiccan!  Two of the middles chool youth  labeled their faith as Greek Paganism!  A particularly musically talented young lady shared that music was her religion, and that she believed she was made up of music and light and love and that she tried to spread those with her own music.

Just before the singing of our congregations Song of Dedication, one of the young girls who was not part of the middle schoolers asked for the microphone….

“My mom and dad were married in this Church and I was baptised in this Church and May All The Gods Bless This Church!”

There was a great deal of applause and then we sang the Song of Dedication.

The kids left and the Sermon started, but I ended up excusing myself for a few minutes because I needed a minute or two to step outside utter a private prayer of thanks and joy to the Holy Powers, and to get a bit of control or I was going to be a weepy sentimental mess….

Blessed Spring All!

I am officially a Unitarian Universalist.

Hello Dear Friends, Pagani, U.U’s, and all other readers….

So this last Sunday, 2/07/10, I formally signed my name in the membership book for the First Unitarian Church of Orlando, my Church!

It’s funny how it can change things when it’s your Church.

This event was preceded by a couple of new member classes and a potluck dinner for new members and their sponsors and various Church and Board of Trustees members.

So the new members were, at the appropriate point in the service, called up to sign their name in the book and shake hands with members of the BoT and Membership/Fellowship committee and to accept our membership cards and a flower (which is now sitting upon my altar) and to swear to our part of the Bond of Union..

“We associate ourselves together

for the study and practice of morality and religion

aas interpreted by the noblest lives of humanity,

hoping thereby to prove helpful to one another

and to promote truth, righteousness, and love in the world.”

I really hadn’t had much time to read or contemplate this oath, I read it during the early part of the service before the new members ceremony took place.  It was really incredible to be swearing this oath, which speaks to my highest ideals in the company of others who feel similarly.  Then members of the BoT and various Church groups stood and swore various oaths to us, and then the congregation as a whole stood and swore some various oaths, and then we all sang the Song of Dedication, which is a part of all of our Congregations services…

“Love is doctrine of this church,

the quest for truth is its sacrement,

and service is its prayer.

To dwell together in peace,

To seek knowledge in freedom,

To serve humankind in fellowship,

Thus do we covenant with each other,

Thus do we covenant with each other.”

I am still beginning my journey as a U.U., yet similarly to how I felt when I found Paganism, it feels like coming home.



Rekindling my Sacred Fires

As the annual Brighid Poetry Slam messages out there have probably already high-lighted for us, Imbolc-tide is upon us once more.  Depending on your individual faith or path as a Pagan, Imbolc or Oimelc can mean many different things.  Those meanings also change depending on matters of where you live and whether you celebrate as a Solitary Pagan or in a Group, and whether your Faith or Path even observes Imbolc or if it’s one of those Holidays that you sometimes go out to a community event for, simply for the Pagan fellowship, or to humor a friend; but for me it has come to be The Festival of Rekindling…

Growing up, and becoming a Witch, in Anchorage,Alaska early February was that time of year where you really started to see and appreciate the returning of the daylight.  In late February/Early March you also had the excitement of the approaching Fur Rendezvous, an annual Winter Carnival held in Anchorage.   So for the longest time Imbolc was a celebration of the returning light and of the first stirrings of the return of light and life and activity after the mad rush of celebrating the Beloved Living at Yule.

The last few years, though, I have had trouble figuring out what Imboc means to me.

Living in Florida the returning of the light is much less a dramatic or sought after turning of the Wheel, and it’s kind of difficult to get into its associations as celebrating the first signs/stirrings of spring when the citrus harvest is finishing up and the Strawberry harvest is on its way… part of my ongoing journey as I seek to truly understand this strange new sub-tropical world of mine.

Imbolc meaning “In the Belly”; Oimelc meaning “ewe’s milk.  Birth, beginnings, creativity, and renewal… those begin to feel closer to the truth of this Sabbat for me.   Though I don’t have much,  except that of a 1/4 Irish lineage, of a relationship with Brigid whose festival Imbolc is widely honored as, She is the Goddess of Sacred Fires and Sacred Springs.  Smithcraft, Arts and Crafts, Poetry, Spirituality, and Healing, Nurturing, Hearthcraft.

These feel, in that deep part of my soul that is touched by the sacred, like the right track…

So before I went to bed this morning (one of the many hazards of an overnight job…) I turned off the computer and the phone, I lit a stick of incense and before I blew out the flame used that stick to light a candle.  I sat holding the candle-glass cupped gently in my hands and meditated a bit.  I sought, not silence really, but clarity.  I let my mind wander over the last few days…

I thought about the New member’s potluck at First Unitarian, how enjoyable it was even though I am clumsy at best at social mixers with large groups of people.  I thought about meeting my sponsor/mentor Mary and talking with here about things around church.  My mind turned to the words of the Chalice lighting  we use at our U.U. Church

“In the Light of Truth,

In the Warmth of Love,

We gather to seek, to sustain, and to share.”

(and for those of you who are thinking “isn’t the Chalice a tool of water?!” Yes, it is, but there’s more than one way to wield a symbol and a tool!   Here is a link about the Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist flaming Chalice)

My mind also thought about how very, very much I enjoyed cooking my variation of Mom’s Classic Greenbeans (a Stewart family Holiday classic!)  for the Potluck; and how eager I was to volunteer to help my mentor Mary by volunteering to put together a Jambalaya for the New Orleans themed coffee hour…

I really do love to cook and it feels good to be able to use the skills and knowledge of years of work and study, and my recent schooling, in a productive way.  I actually see a lot of my future work in Community Building in the Pagan Community as a way to take those experiences and skills and offer them in Service to others… fundraisers and social events of all sorts!

I am really a hearth-Witch at heart I think, not necessarily limited to my own home; more that I am deeply drawn to and my gifts seem to lay in matters of Hearth and Community building.

Thoughts of the Hearth transition my thoughts from my Witchcraft to my Hellenic Polytheism and naturyally bring to mind Hestia.  She who IS the Hearth, and the Hearth Fire, the Sacred light giving, nurturuing, nourishing fire in our homes and lives.  Given this long present, but not entirely acknowledged or understood grounding I have in matters of the Hearth,  I need to find a way to honor Her especially as I seek to Honor the Theoi Ktesioi, the Gods of the Home,  in the coming year on the Noumenia and in my life.

THE THEOI KTESIOI were the gods of house and home. They were led by Zeus protector of the home (Ctesius) and of the family courtyard (Hicesius) along with Hestia, the goddess of the hearth. Hecate and Hermes were also important household gods who protected the gates and entranceways. -from an entry at

Chronologically, my thoughts carried me to the next day and back to thoughts of Witchcraft.   Waking up early at 3pm and performing my first, full and formal Witches Circle in…. well, in ages.  I remember how wonderful it felt to finally and formally welcome them into my live and works and to share with the Guardians of the Watchtowers in the Blessings of the Lady and Lord.  I had not realized how much I missed the immediacy and intimacy of my connection and communion with Them in a full Circle.

Then after Circle there was the mad rush of shopping for and prepping the ingredients for the Jambalaya, then work from 11pm-7am, then rushing home to actually cook the blessed dish, then off to Church to help with the coffee hour and to act as a Greeter.

My thoughts ranged over how much I am enjoying being involved in a community once more, and how eager I am to use my talents, experience, and education in service to that community.  Not only First Unitarian, but also the Mystic Grove, which is the Pagan/Heathen Affinity Group at the Church.  I am in that tricky stage of getting involved, but trying to not over commit myself or over extend myself… very tough to do for me, and from some of the conversations I’ve had with others at the Church I would guess U.U.’s in general.  This congregation, at least, seems to have a lot of that ‘somebody should do something about this’ energy that is so familiar to me…

I had to laugh to myself when someone described a Unitarian Universalist congregation like “herding cats”, how many times had I heard that phrase used to describe Pagan community… many!

I also, oddly enough, thought of the new involvement I have with a table-top role-playing group, getting my geek on and making new friends and reveling in the creativity and imagination of this cherished and long neglected hobby….

So for me the Festival of Rekindling is a time renew and recommit to those things that nurture the self and nurture and reconnect us to the wider world.  To take pleasure in our creativity, to explore and contemplate our new beginnings or what we might begin as the Wheel turns.  To celebrate the return to life and activity after the period of rest after the Winter Holidays.

As I breathed in my meditations by the light of that candle’s flame, focusing ever so slightly on the out-breath, I imagined breathing onto a charcoal or onto kindling, nurturing the fire with my breath to bring it to fullness and life…

Then after some Still and Sillent meditation, I blew out the candle, and welcomed the light of dawn.

“we extinguish the flame,

But not the light of truth,

The warmth of community,

Or the fire of commitment,

These we carry in our hearts until we are together again.”

May your Hearth and Home be blessed,

May you have food and clothing to warm your body,

May you have good friends to share your blessings with to warm your heart and soul,

May you find beauty and inspiration and creativity in your journey,

Blessed be!

And, as always,



The Fire & The Chalice

So at the First Unitarian Church of Orlando, our services start and end with the lighting and extinguishing of the Flaming Chalice

In the light of truth, and in the warmth of love, we gather to seek, to sustain, and to share.


We extinguish this flame, but not the light of truth, the warmth of community, or the fire of commitment.  These we keep in our hearts until we are together again.

I find something powerful and moving and evocative within this simple act of gathering together with others in celebration and observance and sharing our religious and spiritual seeking.

The Mystic Grove, the Pagan group at F.U.C.O., has a round-robin/volunteer approach to ritual leadership.  Our Lammas was a Khemetic (Egyptian Polytheist) ritual.  I’m not sure how much was Ancient Egyptian ritual structure and how much was Neo-Pagan.  There were definitely elements of the ritual that were reminiscent of the Neo-Pagan/Witchcraft ritual structure that I am so familiar with…. (note to self research Egyptian rituals!)

Anyhow, it was a wonderful ritual (and evening), it has just gotten me thinking.  The experience of that ritual has me contemplating Witchcraft and Hellenic Polytheistic riutals in a U.U. Context.  It seems to me that it is important, if one is to craft a ritual as a Pagan U.U., to integrate elements from both traditions into ones ritual.  It is also important to be able to clearly identify what element of ritual comes from where…

It was in reading up on Hellenic Polytheism and ritual and the Noumenia, that I started really examining Hestia’s place in things, and this has started me thinking about the nature of Sacred fires and fire as a spiritual and philosophical and religious metaphor… bear with me….

“HESTIA was the virgin goddess of the hearth (both private and municipal) and the home. As the goddess of the family hearth she also presided over the cooking of bread and the preparation of the family meal. Hestia was also the goddess of the sacrificial flame and received a share of every sacrifice to the gods. The cooking of the communal feast of sacrificial meat was naturally a part of her domain.” ~ from Her entry at

You can also read of Her here, here, here, and here…

If you read of Hestia, you learn She is known as The First and Last, and that rituals include offerings unto Her before and at the end of the other offerings.  Many sources will tell us that this relates to how Hestia was the Firstborn of Cronus and Rhea, and the Last of the Gods and Goddesses vomited forth before he is dethroned by Zeus.

I think it goes deeper…

The altar fires at the Temples of the God’s, upon which Their offerings were made, were kindled from the municipal hearth; which by the nature of the hearth in ancient Greek society was an sacred place for Hestia.  It’s not just that Hestia is the Goddess of the Hearth and the Altar, She IS the fire, the sacred, mysterious, life giving and light bringing fire!  She was honored with the first and last offerings in Sacrifices.  For it was only through HER, and Her presence AS fire, that proper offerings could be made!

She isn’t just the fire that cooks, She is the Fire that lights the world, the light of which we learn to read, the fires of inspiration…..She is, and partakes of, all the things that Fire is and can be…

In U.U. (at least at F.U.C.O) and in Hellenic Polytheism we begin and end with fire.  Remembering, Rekindling, and committing to Remember the essentials…

There’s a reason it’s called “Practice”

An not just because it helps us to perfect ourselves either, it’s because you have to keep doing it.  Whether it’s meditating in silence, or deep effective breathing, or going to the U.U. services, or Circling, or chanting, or praying… you’ve got to keep going at it and doing it… even on the days when you are tired or when time or money make it difficult…

Which is to say that this last Sunday I had to hammer down parts of myself and just GO to service.  I know I keep talking about it, but I think tomorrow is the day I stretch some of my spiritual muscles again.

The biggest hazard of the Solitary path is that the encouragement and example and inspiration of other grove members or coveners or church members is absent.  There’s this mix of eagerness to share and sense of responsibility with spiritual work in a group; it just makes it easier to get off one’s butt and DO!

At least it does for me, so expect more than a few posts of ramblings about my practice… in addition to my meditations on community, and some expansions into my other passions and interests….



“Being part of a community involves building relationship.”

So I’ve started attending a Unitarian Universalist Church (info about the U.U.  here, here, and here) in my area.  They have a Pagan group but not a CUUPs Chapter.  There’s another U.U. Church in the area that has an active CUUPs chapter, but I know folks at the first Church through local Pagan events already. I’ve needed some real-world spiritual fellowship for a while now, and I hope that the U.U. will help me find it… so far I’ve been enjoying the experience.

I’ve tried finding that fellowship in my local Pagan community, in part through a local Pagan church / community organization; but while there are a number of good folks involved in that organization I really just haven’t found a good fit for myself in that group.  So I am still seeking fellowship.

I’ve tried attending a local meet-up or two but haven’t had much luck.  Some of the problem has been that my school and work schedules haven’t left me much time for anything else, now with the hard times hitting the theme-park industry I am being scheduled one or two days a week, if at all; and I have to very carefully pick and choose what I want to attend.  Some of this has also been due to the fact that all of the meet-ups in my area are of the ‘let’s-attend-a-lecture’ style of meet-up or social, which I cordially dislike.

The title for this essay comes from a sentence on the website of my chosen “local” U.U. church’s fellowship page.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot in the last week or so.  I have attended a few of the U.U. Sunday services and was made to feel welcome by everyone I encountered and it was obvious that there was a lot of thought and effort put into the newcomers experience of the service for those attending and for welcoming new folks.

I haven’t always encountered the same level of welcome, and ease of interaction, in Pagan venues.  This has me thinking about how we in the Pagan movement seek to build community.  It sometimes seems that building community or group relationships is one of the biggest challenges we in the Pagan movement have in creating Pagan community.

This sentence has me thinking about Paganism and the communities I have been in and encountered and of the building of relationships.

More on this theme soon…