Jason Mankey recently wrote a post on Raise the Horns called 10 Pagan Things To Do (Instead of Argue), a list of ten Spring-inspired Pagan-y activities to occupy one’s time instead of getting embroiled in any of the arguments currently occurring in the Pagan parts of the internet. I’m aware of some of the topics and issues being argued about, but that’s only because people whose blogs I read have mentioned said issues – my own path is unusual enough and my readership tiny enough that Church and Circle hasn’t been a target for any of the ‘you’re doing it wrong’ accusations, and as I haven’t been to any conventions and am not currently a member of any discussion forums the debates, arguments, and (by the sounds of it at times) flame wars have passed me by.
However, Jason’s list of Things To Do is a good one, and I highly recommend reading what he did for each, as when I read his post for the first time I realised that I’d already done quite a few of the Things, and have now at the time of writing done most of them to some degree. So, here are the 10 Pagan Things I Mostly Did (even though I don’t argue):
Get Out of the House and Get Outside
This one’s always an interesting one for me. As an archaeologist my job is often outside and intimately connected with the earth, but I work in urban archaeology so I’m always on building sites with concrete dust, noise, and fumes everywhere, and when we’re working on a basement site I don’t see the sun or breathe fresh air for most of the day. I was supposed to spend this Bank Holiday weekend at a Living History event set in a patch of woodland on the south coast, surrounded by green leaves and woodsmoke, and dancing round a Maypole, but due to a stinking cold that had me off sick from work on Friday those plans fell apart really fast. However, yesterday I felt somewhat more human than I had the previous two days, so I went on a walk around the two bits of park encircled by the housing estate next to my flat and then wandered down to the canal and back along the river, and it was lovely. There was sun, people on narrowboats going through the locks, waterbirds, and the sound of moving water. And actual fresh air too – although I’m walking home from the tube station now instead of getting the bus I’m still walking along the main road, which counts as ‘getting some fresh air’ to a lifelong Londoner and career urban archaeologist like myself, it is nice to be able to get a lungful or two of air similar to what I was breathing when I was away at my rural university.
Work on a Beltane Ritual
Due to plague, a lot of my Beltane plans went out the window. However, I was able to do something on the day which was make mini May Day wreaths and post them through the letterboxes of the flats in my part of the building, an idea I took from the Circle of Northern Fountains Beltane ritual in 2014. I also made one for my flatmate, which he found in the evening of the 1st hanging off the door handle to his room. I used natural willow wreaths for the bare branches of Imbolc, green and pink ribbons for Ostara, as these are the colours I use for my altar candles at that point, and red roses for Beltane – love, lust, and the beginnings of Summer, with luggage labels with the ‘April showers bring May flowers’ poem on one side and my name and flat number on the back, so they knew who it was from.
Tonight I’m going to be doing an actual ritual, partly because in my original plans that was going to happen today anyway, after I’d come home, and partly because yesterday I was still feeling disgustingly coldified.
Spring Cleaning Anyone?
This part is to do with spiritual spring cleaning rather than the normal housework kind – cleaning shrines, rearranging altars, tidying relevant bookshelves and so on. And ye gods do I need to tidy my altar! The actual working surface isn’t too bad, although there’s a fair bit of dust and ash, and my altar cloths could really do with a wash. The rest of it though… Underneath the Ikea side table that I use as my altar are so many boxes, bits and pieces, bags, and piles of paper that finding something I’m after is pretty much impossible unless I pull everything out and go through it. Part of this is due to the fact that I haven’t really unpacked from when I moved all my religious gear into the flat, but most of it is due to laziness. Yes, I’m a slob. I shall therefore try and get that area of my room sorted before Midsummer. I did, however, do a fair bit of mundane Spring Cleaning and upkeep this last month which makes me feel slightly better.
Talk to Some Actual Pagans
Yeah, I admit I haven’t actually done this one. I mean technically I could say that I have, as I’ve talked to Kizzy who’s a Pagan, but we weren’t talking Pagan stuff. The idea behind this one is that when typing words are stripped of vocal tone and body language, the subtle signs we use to communicate meaning in conversation just as much as we use words. However, I’m booked on for the Treadwell’s Open Circle next week so I’ll have the chance for face-to-face Pagan-themed discussions then.
Do Some Gardening
Thankfully gardening doesn’t always require a garden, as while my flat complex has a beautiful courtyard garden (which doubles as the car park, although there’s a seperate lawn) with a gazebo and a bridge over the pond, it’s managed by a groundskeeper, so the chances of me doing any proper gardening are out, even if it wasn’t too much like work. However, as Jason points out, ‘putting a few potted plants on a deck or porch works just as well!’. And I did just that, by repotting the plants I was given as housewarming presents into proper terracotta pots.
Read a Friggin’ Book
This one was easy – I’ve always got at least one book on the go, and on the rare occasions when I’ve finished a book and don’t know what I’m going to read next I get twitchy and will obsessively run my eyes over my bookshelves until I spot my next book.
Craft for your Craft Needs
The last thing I made (for myself at least) that had anything to do with my spiritual practice was a croched bag for my little quartz crystal ball back in March last year, and while I do need a box made to keep my candles in with dividers so the colours don’t bleed it won’t be me who makes it, as I do not have the skills. Aside from that, the only other thing I’ve thought of doing is knitting myself a shawl to wear during meditation, which will happen after I’ve finished all my current WIPs – not for a long while essentially.
Honour Your Gods and Goddesses
Ehhhh… It’s not that I haven’t been doing this, it’s just that I haven’t been doing much of this. My plan of doing daily devotions at some point each evening (no time and not awake enough in the mornings) has fallen by the wayside and is now happening roughly once a week. Posting on here, which I view as a part of my religious practice and a way of honouring the Divine, has dropped to every two weeks or so, and my spiritual reading, whether it’s sacred texts, instructional books, or stories about the Deities I honour, is even less frequent. I need to work on this.
Indulge in Something
Having had a cold for the last four days I’ve been doing a lot of indulging recently. I have indulged myself with curling up under blankets for most of the day, watching American true crime series on Netflix, and munching my way through far too many packets of dark chocolate hobnobs. Much as I hate being ill, I admit it has been nice to be able to just sit there knowing that even if I had the energy to do things like housework and DIY it would only make me worse, and I could therefore ignore everything until I got better.
To quote Jason:
Tell a loved one how you feel about them. Hold your lover close. Spoil your cat. It sounds trite and ridiculous, but I’m serious about loving fiercely. Share a little bit of how you feel with those you care about, it will make everyone involved feel better.
I need to work on this as well. It’s not that I take the people I’m close to for granted, but I don’t let them know often enough how much I appreciate having them in my life.
So that’s my list. It may not have been complete, but at least journalling my way through it has shown me where I need to focus my spiritual attention over the coming weeks.