Yule Ritual December 19 at Noon

Posted December 2nd, 2010 by Sekhmet

akhenatenAll are invited to join Osireion as we celebrate the rebirth of the winter light.

Public ritual (and light refreshments following) will be held Sunday, December 19, 12 Noon at Cayce Riverwalk Park Pavilion.

This beautiful park runs along the Congaree River, and the Pavilion is the large picnic shelter just inside the main entrance (beside restrooms), at the intersection of Axtell and Naples (“N” Avenue) in Cayce, SC.  The entire park is ADA-compliant, with plenty of adjacent parking.  Come early/stay late and explore the wonderful Riverwalk itself.

Bring an offering for the food pantry at The Cooperative Ministry.   Alone we are just one person, but together we can make a difference.

Click for map and directions.

Autumn Equinox Ritual Sept 19

Posted August 24th, 2010 by Sekhmet

harvest12All are invited to join Osireion as we celebrate the harvest and pause to find our balance at this time of the year when light and dark are in equal balance.  Public ritual will be held Sunday, September 19, 6:30 PM – 7:15 PM at Cayce Riverwalk Park Pavilion.

This beautiful park runs along the Congaree River, and the Pavilion is the large picnic shelter just inside the main entrance (beside restrooms), at the intersection of Axtell and Naples (“N” Avenue) in Cayce, SC.   The entire park is ADA-compliant, with plenty of adjacent parking.  Come early and explore the wonderful Riverwalk itself.  Note that we will begin on time, and must be out of the park by dusk.

Bring an offering for the food pantry at The Cooperative Ministry. Alone we are just one person, but together we can make a difference.  Click for map and directions.

A Year of Spiritual Exploration Class

Posted August 5th, 2009 by Sekhmet

Osireion offers a year-long monthly class  in Columbia, S.C., called A Year of Spiritual Exploration.  To inquire about joining the next class, please contact us at sekhmet @ osireion. com  Soon we will introduce an online version of the course.
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Ancient roots of modern Paganism (text, Triumph of the Moon, by Ronald Hutton)
Hermetic history and tradition  (text, Seth Speaks, by Jane Roberts)
Energy, field theory, healing and magickal use  (text, The Holographic Universe, by Michael Talbot)
Meditation, attuning to one’s inner self  (text, Pagan Spirituality, by River and Joyce Higginbotham)
Journey from the outer court  (text, The Jesus Mysteries, by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy)
Divination and discernment  (no text)
Gaia as the divine manifest; the god/dess within  (text, The Earth Path, by Starhawk)
Living in community, service to others, ethics, guiding principles  (text, The Fifth Sacred Thing, by Starhawk)
Living between the worlds  (text, The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft, by Christopher Penczak)
Ritual – why and how  (text, NeoPagan Rites: A Guide To Creating Rituals That Work, by Isaac Bonewits)
Walk like an Egyptian – Osireion ritual practice  (text, Temple of the Cosmos, by Jeremy Naydler)
The journey of Osiris & Isis  (no text)

$5 per month,  plus books.  (Book list is here.)  Interested students should contact Osireion by email to arrange pre-course appointment or for more information.  The class is open to anyone with a genuine interest.

A Rare Opportunity for People of Faith

Posted July 19th, 2009 by Sekhmet

pwrambassadorSince childhood I’ve been fascinated and inspired by the myriad ways humans search for meaning and express their connection with All-That-Is.  Recently, I was honored to become an Ambassador for the world’s original and largest interfaith effort.  From the Parliament web site:

First held in Chicago in 1893, the Parliament of the World’s Religions brings together the world’s religious and spiritual communities, their leaders and their followers to a gathering where peace, diversity and sustainability are discussed and explored in the context of interreligious understanding and cooperation.

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As the world’s largest interreligious gathering, the Parliament will

  • Convene religious and civil leaders and people of faith, spirit and goodwill from at least or more than 80 countries
  • Foster interreligious, civil and cross-cultural dialogue on important local, national, and global issues
  • Invite over 10,000 participants to work together for a just, peaceful, and harmonious society
  • Have global appeal, covering social concerns including understanding and respecting diversity, peace and Indigenous reconciliation
  • Engage worldwide religious, spiritual, secular, environmental, business and educational leaders to seek commitment and practical solutions through dialogue.
  • Promote and encourage social cohesion within societies locally and across the world.

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The 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions will take place in Melbourne, Australia, December 3-9, 2009.

Parliament participants will work with others and within their own traditions to craft faithful responses to:

 indigenous reconciliation

  • global poverty and global warming
  • environmental care and degradation
  • education of the young and the challenges of social disengagement
  • voluntary and forced migration
  • artistic expression and spirituality and
  • the value of sports

In today’s world, understanding between people of different traditions is not optional. It is essential. The 2009 Parliament will give people of faith, spirit and goodwill new reason to say that peace is still possible.

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 Why A Parliament?

 ‘There will be no world peace until there is peace among the religions.’
Hans Küng

The Parliament engages religious and spiritual communities by:

  • Focussing on Indigenous and Aboriginal spiritualities at the Parliament to honour these communities and encourage reconciliation.
  • Facilitating cooperation between all of Australia’s religious and spiritual Communities.
  • Enabling religious and spiritual communities to increase social capital by building lasting cross-cultural networks of understanding and cooperation.
  • Challenging religious and spiritual leaders to craft new responses and solutions to religious extremism, wherever it occurs and increase human security.
  • Helping religious and spiritual communities to confront homegrown terrorism and violence at the local level.

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 The Parliament educates for global peace and justice by:  

  • calling people of faith, spirit and goodwill to understand and respect differences.
  • exploring religious conflict and globalisation as defining challenges in the twenty-first century and provides tools for responding effectively.
  • creating cross-cultural networks that empower peace and reconciliation.
  • helping participants identify religious and spiritual responses to local, regional, and international challenges to peace and justice.
  • sensitising religious and spiritual communities to racial, ethnic and religious violence and provides strategies for defusing tensions.

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The Parliament engages civil society by:

  • Effectively mobilising religious and spiritual communities for a positive response in times of national and global crisis;
  • Exploring the cultivation and governance of religious and ethnic diversity;
  • Sensitising political and religious leaders to their responsibility for national social cohesion;
  • Helping participants to deal with ethnic and religious tensions;
  • Educating civil societies to deal with global and regional issues.

 

Email sekhmet@osireion.com to arrange a short presentation about the Parliament for your community or faith group.  Register to attend the 2009 Parliament.  Learn more about the history and purpose of the Parliament.

Playing For Change

Posted December 6th, 2008 by Sekhmet

Ah, how music tames me and brings me joy.  Here is Bill Moyers with Mark Johnson, producer of the documentary, Playing For Change.  After listening to the Moyers interview (about 16 minutes), you may want to go directly to the Playing for Change site to see the entire “Stand By Me” video, which is simply awesome.  Mark, count me on your side!

A Christmas Message from a Christmas Baby

Posted December 4th, 2008 by Sekhmet

My husband and I are both close-to Christmas babies (24th and 19th), so we relate to a lot of what Chris Highland shares in this very nice column:

You Don’t Have to Do It

Trees and turkeys hate this time of year, especially Christmas. Well, I suppose if you’re an oak tree or a palm or a sequoia you may not dread the axe before Gratefulness Day. And if you’re a wild turkey who can shut your gobble long enough to hide in the hedgerow you may be safe. Nevertheless, it’s not a good time to be an evergreen or a fat tom. There be foul play in the air.  [continue]

Obama On Spirituality

Posted November 19th, 2008 by Sekhmet

“Barack Obama:The 2004 “God Factor” Interview Transcript” by Cathleen Falsani inspired me this morning.  I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.

A New Year of Deep Living

Posted November 2nd, 2008 by Sekhmet

This weekend many Pagans have observed the turn of the wheel considered the most sacred – Samhain.  As I light the candles on my altar this morning I reflect on the act of sacralizing our lives in the face of mortality.

My inner senses are still heightened from the time my own group spent in song and ritual for All Hallow’s Eve.  In this state I woke this morning and reminded myself to make this day count as if it were my last.  For I have eaten pomegranate seeds inside the circle, and having eaten the food of the dead, life seems the more precious, poignant, even piquant like Persephone’s ruby-red fruit.

Many Pagans deplore the split between physical and non-physical existence which came out of the Age of Reason.  American society seems obsessed with materialism at the same time that we spurn the body as sinful, (love of) money as the root of all evil, and an imagined heaven as the only acceptable vision for our future.  Me?  I marvel that there are many ways of being, in this world and in other worlds, too, and feel lucky that I occasionally get glimpses of those other worlds.

Back of the house, putting away the tiki torches and munching on leftover pomegranate, I am still enjoying the feeling of having stood on the threshold between this world and the next.  More than any previous Samhain (perhaps because I am entering the years when death is a more frequent guest in my life), I was aware of the Beloved Dead who joined us.

I remember their names again here, because while they are remembered, they live:  Linda, David Y., Clarke, Iris, Ruth, Bruce, Shara, Laurel, David H., Bessie, Frances, Shirley, Neal, Betty, Robbie, Matthew and more.   May you each return in love.

In my youth I had little interest in Halloween, but have come to understand what medieval Europeans learned when the plague swept so many lives from this earth.  Artists of the time depicted the Danse Macabre, Death dancing with the living; but these paintings turn up alongside scenes of feasting and frolic.  People then knew that even a short life is a blessing, and contemplation of death is neither morbid nor depressive.

What’s depressing is contemplation of a life wasted, a life not well-lived, an existence which doesn’t recognize the sacredness in and on which we walk each day, with which we are suffused, indeed, which we ourselves *are*.

Scholar Brendan Myers calls life events such as death an immensity.  ” . . . the appearance of an Immensity is an occasion when one’s life stands on the edge of transformation . . . The Immensity . . . calls for a choice to be made.  Spirituality consists in answering the call.  It consists in the habits we create for living with the great immensities of life, understanding ourselves in relation to them . . . ” (The Other Side of Virtue)

My relation to death, my response to it, is to live.  With all my being I prize the days given to me here, the precious hours and minutes I can touch or hold a loved one.  I treasure the beauty around me, each colored crystal in my gem & mineral collection, the hue of the sky in the autumn sun, the smell of wood smoke and the sound of children running through dry leaves.  I welcome every opportunity to learn new things, to try new acts of boldness.  And I am awestruck in the times I am called on to stand at life’s threshold with another human being, holding their hand as they confront the Immensities of death, birth, relationship, fear or joy.

For it is by deeply living that we sacralize our world.  This year may we draw from the deep well of life — as the juice of a ripe peach runs down our hand, as the smell of pine fills the room at Yule, but also when the baby cries, when we quarrel with lovers, when we long for the workday to end.  Let us see in every facet of our lives a cause for joy, whether it be for the delight of a sensual fruit, or the hope of peace and reconciliation.

How To Change The World

Posted October 26th, 2008 by Sekhmet

Sing to change the world (click here).

Building The New Spiritual Community

Posted August 7th, 2008 by Sekhmet

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life recently released its landmark study, “U.S. Religious Landscape Survey,” stating “that the United States is on the verge of becoming a minority Protestant country.” The report also says, “More than one-quarter of American adults (28%) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion – or no religion at all.” Some of us have suspected that trend for several decades, but the hard data – out there in black and white now – provides a sharp contrast to the shrill neo-conservative religious public rhetoric we’ve heard for the past 25 years.

What the report only hints at is the growth of so-called “Other Faiths,” which the Pew Forum study breaks out as Unitarian Universalist and other liberal faiths, New Age, and Native American. Pagans and Wiccans are listed separately under “New Age.” The Unitarian Universalist Association cites at least 217,000 members; 629,000 people self-identified as UU in the 2001 U.S. Census. By comparison, the American Religious Identification Survey, done in the same year, estimated 750,000 Wiccans, and another 70,000 non-Wiccan Pagans.

Meanwhile, I look around at my own Pagan community, considerably enlarged since I first registered the internet domain osireion.com several years ago. In that time, the new Pagan scholars and their research have become wider known, people like Ronald Hutton, Michael York and Sabina Magliocco. Most of us now understand that contemporary witchcraft is a modern phenomenon, the product of a particular European sub-current strongly influenced by the Industrial Revolution, liberal angst, and the poor scholarship of icons like Margaret Murray and Robert Graves.

While we Pagans adjust to the idea that we really can’t trace any particular lineage of continuous goddess-worship back to prehistoric times, we are still plagued by the divisive culture of sectarianism in which most of us were raised. We claim to be open-minded and different from the closed religious belief systems of our birth. Too often, however, I see Pagans taking pains to demarcate differences between traditions, examine lineages, define correct ideas, or on a much baser level, simply use the Pagan community as a theater in which to act out personal dysfunctions.

I believe that we westerners still labor under a sort of fundamentalism masquerading as a scientific mindset. Ever since the ages of exploration, science and reason exploded out of post-Renaissance Europe, we have placed physical and historical facts on a pedestal. In doing so, we have displaced the truths that arise out of the spiritually numinous.

Whereas we still struggle intellectually over whether the gods are real, the ancients were quite tolerant of the abundant diversity of beliefs and deities in their world. For the most part, the pre-monotheistic worldview did not presume the need for scientific fact to prove matters of faith. With no need to be either “right” or “wrong” about one’s deities, ancient pagans could live in relative peace in multi-cultural population centers.

In a past article, I wrote that “When you make your life a bridge, others will find their way across.” Having fallen into the pit of doctrinaire-thinking earlier in my life, I now enjoy learning as much as I can about the spiritual beliefs of others, since I can learn from every one of them I encounter.

At the annual PantheaCon conference in California in February, I had the chance to chat with my friend Christopher Penczak, whose recent book, “Ascension Magick,” takes on the task of reconciling New Age spirituality with modern Paganism. Christopher and I discussed how these two groups are highly squeamish about each other, but actually overlap to a great extent. And yet, the Pew Forum demographically grouped Pagans, Wiccans and “other New Age groups.” One could say that they did not understand the differences between those groups, or we could realize that they recognize our similarities.

For generations my family celebrated a dying and resurrected god named Jesus. Now I contemplate the dying and resurrected Osiris, the returning Persephone, the triumphant Inanna. My forgotten pre-Christian ancestors no doubt called on the spirits of certain plants, stones, springs and amulets to protect and heal them. Now I raise medicinal plants in my herb garden, and use crystals and amulets in my meditation and devotional practices. My brother is a successful banking executive, but only a few centuries ago, he would have been prohibited from that career by the church ban on usury. Instead, medieval merchants would have relied upon the Jews, who, deprived of land and basic freedoms with which to make a living, became experts in investment. Without this cross-beliefs exchange, western commerce would never have flourished.

Christopher made a comment to me that I will not soon forget: “Pagans in our time have not yet been able to articulate their myth; it’s hard for us to explain to outsiders what we believe.” In our Osireion classes for spiritual seekers, we increasingly see pilgrims coming together from many paths. We support each other in a mutual search for truth, but we understand that truth is not the same as fact, and that each of our truths may be expressed through a different myth. This dialogue inside our Pagan groups will eventually result in our being able to articulate our own myths to the broader public, giving us grounds for sharing and exchange.

My recent trip to a reception held by the Parliament of the World’s Religions gave me a small glimpse of what is possible when people of faith put aside their differences to recognize and celebrate all that we have in common. In my new role as the executive director of Cherry Hill Seminary, I also face every day the fascinating challenges of bringing together very diverse individuals and groups for the common purpose of education for public ministry.

During this age of religious change, Pagans have the opportunity to make our individual lives and our corporate community a bridge to a better world. I challenge all of us to look for opportunities to build, strengthen and fabulously decorate that bridge, making it a well-traveled highway for everyone who looks for life’s meaning.