One Small Thing

I’ve been away from my blog for a bit. I’ve moved 4 times this past year – each time to a different state – and it caught up with me. Now that I’ve landed in Texas (surprise!) I’m raring to go with a whole slate of new posts, which I’m kicking off this next week.

That being said, I thought the post I’m sharing here was a very timely reminder! Enjoy the read, and may you find it as helpful as I did!

Feathers in Amber

desk_4-27-18In my altar makeover earlier this year, I took down some framed pictures I had of Carolina Parakeets and Passenger Pigeons because I didn’t have any room for them on top of the altar itself. But I took them out again this week because I’m celebrating All Species Week, a personal observance where I honor every species of Ancestor Bird, particularly the ones that haven’t been discovered or named by human beings.

After my morning devotions to the Ancestor Birds, I took the one picture, of Carolina Parakeet, my very first spirit ally, to my home office with me while I was working. I just wanted that awareness that today is a special day to stay with me.

It immediately looked at home on my desk–maybe it helps that I’ve got a bunch of other bird items nearby! But then I realized, this is something I can do all the…

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Pagans Don’t Have to Hug: Non-Sexual Consent

As our society grapples with the idea of consent through the #metoo movement, it’s becoming ever-more-important in Pagan groups too. The latest scandal rocking segments of the Pagan community are just that – the latest in a string. I’ve been talking about the need for consent culture since Kenny Klein. Others have been talking about it longer than I have. This isn’t a new concept.

What IS new, I think, is that more folks than ever seem open to hearing about it. However, there are still lots of folks who think consent only applies to sexual interactions, and don’t really get how it can apply non-sexually too. Here’s a great example.

Feathers in Amber

With thanks to Caer, who is always there to remind me that my voice deserves to be heard.

consentIn our concern to address the most egregious breaches of consent in Pagan communities, the basis for consent culture is often overlooked. At its heart, consent means that no one can touch you in any way you aren’t expressly ok with. They have to ask for consent; you can give, refuse to give, or revoke that consent at any time; you do not have to offer any kind of justification as to why you don’t want touched by a particular individual under particular circumstances.

Many people don’t realize that this means more than sexual forms of contact. In fact a lot of times, people who are violating boundaries of consent have no idea that’s what they’re doing.

As an example, I’m going to talk about something that happened to me. For awhile…

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Sexual Assault Allegations Against ADF Founder Isaac Bonewits

Marion Zimmer Bradley’s daughter, Moira Greyland, just released a new book called The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon.

Avalon

The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon by Moira Greyland. Available here on Amazon.

While the book overall speaks of horrible things (and the author herself is problematic in several ways), one of the bombshells within is the accusation that ADF founder Isaac Bonewits not only asked Bradley for permission to rape six-year-old Moira, he was apparently already raping another child.

“When I was at Greyhaven, I had some unfortunate run-ins with an individual from the Pagan community named Isaac Bonewits. Some people called him the ‘Pagan Pope’. He was a frequent visitor to Greyhaven and a friend of my parents… One day Isaac came to my mother when I was six years old, and told her he wanted to have sex with me. He told her there was a girl just my age at the commune he lived in and she had had sex with all the men there [which would have included Bonewits], and she was so ‘free’ and so ‘uninhibited’ that it would be ‘good for me’ to do the same thing with him.”    ~Moira Greyland, The Last Closet

Greyland later alludes to some time spent unwillingly in a basement with Bonewits but refrains from giving further details.

Bonewits and Bradley are both dead. In the era of #metoo, what are we to do with this information?

The ADF’s Statement

The ADF has already released a statement about these accusations on their Facebook page:

To Our ADF Members and the Pagan Community:

It has recently come to our attention that an allegation of sexual
misconduct has been made against a late, former leader of ADF, Isaac
Bonewits. This claim has been made in a newly released book and dates back
to a time prior to ADF being founded in 1983.

To all who have experienced any form of harassment or abuse, we understand
that the process of reaching out for support and reporting your experiences
can be extremely difficult and the impacts of those experiences can often be
felt for months, years, and a lifetime after the fact. Please know that we
reach out to all who have been so afflicted with compassion and care.

In our commitment to create a safe and respectful space for all ADF members
to worship, we have created clear organizational policies and practices.
Leadership Conduct and the safety of our members are taken very seriously.
Our Sexual Misconduct Policy can be found at
(https://www.adf.org/…/org/docs/policy/sexual-misconduct.html) [and then they quote from the policy]…

With the creation of the new Human Services Specialist position, we seek to
make ADF a place that is safe for all of its members, visitors, and leaders
alike. We strive to extend our hospitality to all and to insure that
everyone can worship and interact without fear of being harmed in any way.

Blessings,
Rev. Jean (Drum) Pagano
Archdruid, ADF

This statement, in my opinion, is weak. They don’t directly confront the accusations at all. They simply mention them and quickly move on to stating their love and care for victims. Then they reference their established policy and mention a new staff position (which is fab, and gives me hope that we’ll see a better response in the coming days).

So ok. Maybe they’re still working out a response. What about the policy they reference, though? Is that better?

ADF’s Official Policy

I find the ADF’s policy severely lacking.

  1. At no point is consent mentioned.

    I’ve blogged about consent before, especially in this post. Without a clear and unambiguous understanding and promotion of consent as a guiding concept, from the most established clergy to the newest member, I think we’re going to keep having problems with this. And here the ADF falls short.

    They “commit to practice” things like “love” and “respect”, but that’s not specific enough. How does that look in practice, specifically with sexual situations? We really need to see this spelled out a little more. I’ve addressed this before with my Six Rules for Safer Pagan Sex, and still stand by what I said there. While an understanding of consent culture as a whole won’t stop cases of abuse, I know from first-hand experience in other communities that it will greatly reduce them.

    Openly navigating sexual situations is frankly a skill most Americans aren’t taught, and any organization that hopes to be safe for all people needs to step it up in that area. That includes the ADF.

  2. Sexual misconduct is defined too narrowly in one crucial area.

    According to the policy as written, “sexual misconduct occurs when a person with authority [emphasis mine], either real or perceived, uses their position to obtain sexual favors or behaviors of any kind. These persons in authority include, but are not limited to, clergy, elected or appointed ADF officers, ADF employees, sub-group volunteers, and Grove/Protogrove leaders.”

    So… by definition, a member can’t sexually harass or assault someone of equal or lower rank within the organization? Really, ADF? I’m hoping they didn’t mean it to come out that way, but that’s certainly how it reads. That could convince someone looking for reporting how-tos that their situation doesn’t qualify, stopping them before they start.

    And speaking of…

  3. The three steps of the reporting process are bloody AWFUL, y’all.
    “The first step in stopping sexual harassment is to directly inform the person involved that his/her conduct is unwelcome, a violation of ADF policy, and that it must stop immediately.”

    Ok, fair enough on the surface. But. What if the victim can’t speak? Is frozen? Doesn’t specifically mention ADF policy when rejecting advances? Uncomfortably, nervously waves down a friend and runs towards mutual support instead of directly confronting their harasser and possibly escalating the situation? Are they per this policy now unable to report what happened? And more importantly, if they consult this document before reporting and realize they didn’t follow all of those steps, do they now believe that they can’t make a report, even if the ADF would in fact consider it valid?

    “If the allegation is about a criminal act, it must be reported to the appropriate civil authorities.” [emphasis mine]

    This straight up tells victims that, in order to report what happened, they have to agree to get the cops involved. From what I can tell this is unlike all other official complaints made to ADF, which have an array of options with which a victim might be more comfortable, including mediation (as outlined here in the ADF’s Standard Operating Procedure, although that appears to be a member’s only document).

    There are many, many reasons a victim might be hesitant to pursue legal options. Doing so involves police involvement, rape kits, possibly testifying in court, reliving the event over and over again, opening themselves up to the horror/rage/disbelief/judgment that might be directed at them by other ADF members (which we’re already seeing in the Bonewits case), etc. Maybe they’re still closeted, even, and coming out as a sexual assault victim under their particular circumstances would also mean coming out as Pagan (which is still dangerous for many people).

    This policy blocks all other avenues, meaning folks who don’t want to jump through legal hoops simply won’t make a report.

    There’s also a time limit on criminal prosecution. Thirty-four states have a statute of limitations on reporting rape. Does the ADF follow those guidelines in regards to internal reporting? Can a victim deliberately wait until after that limitation to make a report and so bypass the required reporting rule? If the statute of limitations applies to ADF reporting, the justification for such a decision needs to be explained. If that statute doesn’t, the ADF needs to justify the criminal reporting requirement in the first place.

  4. Those making “false accusations” are threatened with expulsion from ADF, but no guidelines are given for what is required to substantiate an accusation. That alone could make victims hesitate to come forward.
    “[T]hose making false allegations and/or providing false information will be subject to disciplinary action by the Mother Grove, up to and including expulsion from ADF.”

    Statistically, “[o]nly about 2% of all rape and related sex charges are determined to be false… [but] people claim that allegations are false far more frequently than they are and far more frequently than for other crimes.  Put another way, we are much more likely to disbelieve a woman if she says she was raped than if she says she was robbed, but for no good reason.”

    With that in mind, what are the criteria for determining an accusation is false? The accused not being convicted in a court of law? Statistically, only 310 of every 1000 rapes is reported. Out of the 310 rapes reported, only 6 lead to a conviction. Using those numbers, does a victim have a 97.1% chance of being drummed out of the ADF – their spiritual home and source of comfort in trying times – when their report doesn’t end in conviction either? Is some other standard used to determine truthfulness? We need some more clarification here.

The document isn’t that long. I shouldn’t have this many questions after reading it.  Addressing these points in the near future would, in my opinion, go a long way to proving ADF’s ethical stance.

Where To From Here?

Regardless of Bonewits’s actual guilt or innocence in this case, it’s well known that there’s a sexual harassment/assault problem in Paganism. There has been for quite some time. We’ve all heard stories – big names all the way down to randos at festivals.

For instance, I blogged about Kenny Klein and the Pagan approach to sex in general in 2014. At the end of that post I offered a series of suggestions for addressing the issue of sexual harassment and assault in the Pagan community.

I offer the same suggestions to ADF and its members today.

I’d like each and every one of us to start taking responsibility for what’s happening around us. If you see something that makes you or someone else feel unsafe, say something. Speak up for those who, for whatever reason, have difficulty speaking up for themselves. If someone isn’t being heard, add your voice to theirs. Do not be silent. Safety wins out over secrecy every time.

I’d like to see our communities stop silencing those who speak out and start taking complaints seriously, especially if more than one complaint is brought against the same person.

I’d like to see communities adopt safe space guidelines and then enforce them.

It would be wonderful if someone in each area stepped up to serve as an educator and advocate for those who have questions or encounter problems.

Every young person in our community needs to be taught these rules as soon as possible, so they know how to draw a boundary and what to do if that boundary is not respected.

If there’s a big community Beltane ritual consider offering a class on Safer Pagan Sex – even if no sex will be occurring at the event. Let’s do our best to get everyone on the same page where this kind of thing is concerned.

I’d also like to see every festival and group hold regular classes on what is and is not ok when it comes to Safer Pagan Sex – especially if that festival or group is either having ritualized/magickal sex or has an officially-sanctioned “sex area”. Even better would be making this kind of class required for anyone who wants to participate in the ritualized/magickal sex or visit the designated sex area.

Along with this, festivals and groups would ideally specifically designate people to serve as educators and advocates, just like I suggested above for individual communities. That person should be both very visible and easily available, so they can be found quickly if they’re needed.

I’d like to see training offered to anyone and everyone who wants more information on how to help out newcomers, how to handle complaints, and how to address ritual/magickal sexual abuse in a Pagan-centric way that is healing and sacred.

Imagine what changes such policies could make in our community!

At minimum the ADF would do well here to acknowledge the accusations, distance themselves from Bonewits (like maybe taking his picture off of their Facebook page’s banner), not attempt to silence those speaking out, update and revamp their reporting standards, and perhaps incorporate lessons on the FRIES version of consent into the new Dedicant Path framework (whatever that ends up looking like) and any further clergy training.

Any work beyond the minimum would be gladly welcomed and appreciated. Anything less than that simply isn’t acceptable from an ethical Pagan organization. And certainly isn’t acceptable for one I continue to be a part of.

The Triple Goddess of Sustainability

When we talk about sustainability, the trifecta of actions we can take to help it along consists of “Reduce”, “Reuse”, and “Recycle”.

I don’t really use the Triple Goddess concept in my personal practice, but this fit too perfectly into that framework to pass up! And honestly, the more I look at this the more I think I might have finally found a trio that works for me!

So. Here is my fun little exploration of the Triple Goddess archetype as seen through the lens of environmental sustainability.

Recycle: This lovely Maiden transforms that which is used and discarded into something completely new by restoring it to a base state. A blend of scientist and activist, She rattles off plastic grades while advocating for neighborhood recycling programs. I picture Her as a college student, maybe, checking off an address on Her clipboard (or ticking a box on Her tablet) as She tosses another bag of cans into the bed of Her pickup truck. She’s convinced that new up-and-coming technologies are the key to saving the planet, and She sees recycling as the first step to that. She also steers us away from things that can’t be recycled, helping us find better and more sustainable alternatives. Recycle teaches us that what’s old can be made brand new again, if we’re willing to go through the necessary work to make it happen.

Reuse: I picture Reuse as a lovely earth mother and DIY goddess, with a messy knot of paint-spattered hair and a toolbelt. Her creativity overflows when She sees the potential treasure in someone else’s trash, and She’s got the skills and know-how to bring it out both practically and aesthetically. That abandoned dresser on the side of the road? A little of Her magick turns it into an absolutely gorgeous showpiece in Her bedroom. Or maybe instead it becomes an entertainment center, a kitchen island, or a changing table – Her carpentry skills are matched by her vision. She’s the Matron of the thrift store, too, able to turn that 80s prom gown into something absolutely smashing for next month’s wedding. Reuse thinks answers to sustainability lie within the land, the natural world, and what’s available to us right now. She’s a proponent of plant-based diets and the glories of compost. She teaches us that a little creativity and elbow grease can breathe life into something thought dead and useless.

Reduce: An often-neglected part of the sustainability triad, Reduce is a strict task-mistress. She teaches us that the best, most effective way to walk with a light footprint is to carry less to start with. Reduce encourages us to embrace zero-waste groceries, no-buy commitments, minimalism, and smaller and simpler homes. She also helps us see that our quality of life doesn’t drop – and is perhaps even enriched – when we step away from our consumer-driven lives for something a little slower and more present. I picture Her as an older woman in a simple off-grid cabin, serving sun tea in old mason jars on a covered country porch. Reduce thinks that the key to sustainability lies in tradition, and looks to the lifestyles of the past (within reason) as the best inspiration for living in the present and prepping for the future. She’s the cautionary one of the three, teaching us that sacrifice is necessary for sustainability too.

Of course, Recycle, Reuse, and Reduce don’t exist in vacuums. The three generations of the Sustainability family are incredibly close-knit, and each takes joy and satisfaction from sharing Her approaches and discoveries with Her kin. Just think of the things we could learn from talking to all three, and following Their lead in our own lives!

And there you have it – the Triple Goddess of Sustainability! I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it, and encourage you to invite this triad into your life for 2018!

It’s the Little Things: Rethinking the Lighters on Our Altars and Shrines

When I was learning magick back in the day I was warned away from using matches because they contain sulfur on the tips, which was said to introduce “unwelcome energies” to whatever workings most of us were doing. I was steered to lighters instead, and have used them since.

It’s time to rethink that.

Every year 1.5 BILLION disposable lighters end up in landfills, they can’t be recycled, and there are gruesome pictures of birds that have eaten them and then died – the shineys look like fish. (Don’t Google “albatross chicks” and “lighters”, y’all. It’s horrible.) And all that’s before we even get to the carbon footprints of both the manufacturing of the plastic lighters AND burning the fuel within!

Refillable lighters save the lighter from entering the landfill (at least temporarily), but what about the plastic bottles the refillable lighter fuel comes in? That’s usually considered hazardous waste, so recycling can be dicey depending on local rules. Butane has to be kept under pressure, which makes their containers more process-intensive to manufacture and even worse from a recycling perspective. And, again, refillable lighters still burn petrochemicals, which add to our carbon footprints.

Either way, THAT is energy I don’t want to bring to my workings!

So, back to the humble match. I did some research, y’all. Diamond Greenlight matches (the only brand made in the US) are made from either sustainably harvested trees or 100% recycled paperboard.

For wooden matches, one tree can make up to a MILLION matches, and they can even grow back from the same root system after being felled. Burning wood is carbon neutral*, too – the same carbon is released whether it’s burned or it naturally decomposes.

The paperboard ones are a little more flimsy, but they’re made from completely recycled material and, again, they’re carbon neutral*.

The tips of both styles do have trace elements of sulfur on them, in addition to a couple of other things like glue, but the amounts are so minimal per strike we can’t even calculate a toxicity on them. They pretty much burn away instantly, relying on the wood or the paperboard to maintain the flame until being extinguished.

As an aside, I’m not a fan of big business or anything, but back in 1911 Diamond voluntarily released the patent on its safety matches so competitors would stop using the way more dangerous white phosphorus in their products. I can approve of that!

Still concerned about the sulfur on the tips? Sulfur is often used in banishing magick, sure, but that’s because it’s associated so strongly with protection and purification workings. An infinitesimal trace of it when we light candles or incense isn’t necessarily a bad thing!

I just picked up 320 small wooden Diamond Greenlight matches for $1.49 at the grocery store. Better deals are available on Amazon, though – here’s 1000 of the paperboard ones for $5. The latter is both made of recycled material and recyclable.

Why does this even matter? Because the little choices we make echo through our lives and our world in ways we often don’t consider. Getting into the habit of thinking about these kinds of things in relation to our sacred and magickal work will hopefully help us learn to be conscious of the choices we make in other parts of our lives too. That can only be a good thing.

*Note: There’s some hedging about whether burning biomass is truly carbon neutral, and most of that hedging seems to revolve around sustainable forestry practices. In this particular case I’m inclined to go with the carbon neutral take, especially for the paperboard matches since they’re recycled to start. However, that’s me. Please do your own research and choose accordingly. 

Daily Devotions – Mealtime Offerings

Honoring the Lady of Home and Hearth was the heart of regular day-to-day practice in ancient times. Taking place in kitchens across the Proto-Indo-European world, it was carried over to the descendent hearth cultures too.

For the most part, our ancestors were practical people. They understood that regular practice couldn’t be maintained if it was approached like a full seasonal festival every time. Seasonal festivals can only be lavish and complicated because they’re done seasonally. As our day-to-day lives are much simpler than a three-day festival involving the whole town, so our daily devotions are simpler than a full High Day ritual.

Perhaps that’s why one of the most pervasive types of regular devotional activity is the humble mealtime offering. Even those of us raised in non-religious households are familiar with the idea of bowing our heads in thanks before a meal. If you’ve ever done it yourself feel blessed – you’ve taken part in a practice that was prevalent before Christianity and has survived remarkably intact to the present day.

Mealtime offerings are one of my absolute favorite types of regular devotional work. Mine only take about sixty seconds per meal and still manage to resonate throughout my whole day. That’s a lot of bang for your buck!

Intrigued? Read on!

Why Mealtime Offerings?

Oh, the many reasons, y’all. This type of devotional work has some serious traction behind it.

  1. It’s a time and type of devotion we’re already accustomed to in modern American culture. Granted we might not see it out and about very often, but if someone bows their heads over their plate before eating we know exactly what they’re doing without having to ask. Some of us may have even grown up doing it. It’s a familiar place devotion-wise, is what I’m saying, and if it ain’t broke why fix it?

    A family praying before a meal.

    Many of us might have taken part in this over the recent Thanksgiving holiday even if it’s not part of our usual practice.

  2. Mealtime offerings aren’t time- or labor-intensive, and there’s no expectation that they should be. We want to eat while it’s still hot! There’s no pressure to make them longer, or fancier, or hugely profound, or whatever else. We’re hungry. Get it done.
  3. They’re not intimidating because we know they vary, and that’s ok. Some folks have a set prayer every time, others make it up as they go, some adults go on forever with it, and some kids use quick nursery rhymes. It all works, so we can feel confident in knowing that whatever we come up with works, too.
  4. Eating is when we take the produce of the Earth and consume it, our foods dying so that we might live. When we die we’ll become part of that same cycle, feeding the earth for those who come after. Recognizing that most fundamental of truths is about as nature/earth/cycle centered as we can get, making it an excellent anchor for devotions.
  5. Mealtime offerings are in the lore! Not only can we draw on our own experiences with this, we know for a fact ancient polytheists did them too. Greek and Roman families made offerings from every meal on their household shrines/in their hearth fires, for instance (which is what my personal approach is based on).
  6. Mealtime devotions continued from ancestral practices right through to the present day (albeit in different forms). Because of that, they connect us directly to what our ancestors did regardless of the faith they practiced. There’s not much else in our lives that can do that. Nifty, huh?

With all of that going on it makes all the sense in the world to take a minute or three out of our day to join the party!

Timing 

We all eat. Ideally, we all eat multiple times a day. We don’t need to look for opportunities to do mealtime offerings. We’re kind of spoiled for choice!

I make offerings at every meal that involves heat to prepare. Some folks might be more comfortable with something else, though, and that’s ok too. Other timing options include only meals eaten in your home, only the evening meal, only Sunday dinner, breakfast every other day… Honestly, they’re your meals and your devotions. What works for you?

My Mealtime Offerings

In my practice meals are the dominion of Wéstyā, the Proto-Indo-European Lady of the Flame and Goddess of the Hearth. She is naturally the Goddess I look to for all domestic matters, and it is to Her that I make mealtime offerings.

I have two versions: one for when I eat at home and one for when I don’t.

At Home: In the old days Wéstyā was always present in the hearth fire. Few of us even have hearths anymore, though. That’s ok. All it takes is a candle or oil lamp in the kitchen, lit when we start preparing our meal and extinguished when we’re done with clean up. Can’t make the kitchen candle/lamp work, for whatever reason? Put Her candle on your shrine instead. I have roommates and limited counter space, so I honor Her on my shrine.

Anyway, when I begin preparing my meal (or when I start ordering delivery), I take a moment to light a candle for Wéstyā. As I do, I say:

Wéstyā is here, heart of my home. 

When the food is ready to serve/arrives courtesy of the local pizza joint, I offer Her a small bit of whatever it is before anything else is served or eaten. She gets first dibs. I just take a bite-sized piece of whatever (no meat, though – She doesn’t care for it) and put it in the little dish I keep ready for the purpose by Her candle. As I do, I say:

Burn on our hearth, Wéstyā, source of all that is holy. Bless us who dwell here, and smile on our home, and give special care to guests that our care of them might honor You.

Then eat as usual. When the meal is done, collect Her plate along with all the other dishes and clean up. Return Her cleaned dish to Her shrine while saying:

I welcomed You into my home with the offerings due a guest, Wéstyā, but I know that I am ever a guest in yours. May Your flame always shine bright. Blessings to You, Lady of the Flame!

Blow out Her candle, thus scattering Her blessings around the home. Done!

What I particularly like about this setup is that it reminds me to consider Her during the entire meal, from preparation through cleanup. However, at no point does it feel overwhelming, scary, or difficult. When I first started with this approach I kept little cards with my lines by Her candle (since everything is said there), one for each section, so I didn’t forget or stumble. After a while I naturally memorized them, but I didn’t feel like I had to. And I still keep the cards underneath Her candle, just in case.

Westya's place on my shrine.

Wéstyā’s place on my shrine. On the left, you can see the cards tucked underneath and the dish I use for Her offerings. On the right, the cards are spread out so you can see them. Unless I’m burning the candle the top covers it – I like this particular candle holder because the handle part looks like a flame too!

Away from Home: The process doesn’t really change, just the actions. I say the things I’d normally say, but in my head instead of out loud. Instead of lighting a candle I visualize it. And instead of putting Her offering on Her shrine I set a small plate up for Her to the side. I’ll either bring one with me or, if I’m in a restaurant, I’ll just request an extra saucer from the wait staff. I’ve never once had anyone not dining with me question it. Not a plate-type meal? That’s fine. Use whatever is being used for whatever you’re eating.

Variations

What I use is obviously not the be-all/end-all of possibilities for mealtime offerings. It’s totally ok if you want to change it up. Hell, I based what I actually say in large part on prayers written by Ceisiwr Serith in Deep Ancestors. Feel free to adapt what I’ve provided here to reflect your practice, the Powers you honor, and the way you take your meals. Or write your own!

I usually prepare, eat, and clean up my meals solo, so my devotions are written that way. Want to involve more people? Have the head cook do the first part, whoever’s in charge of clean up do the third, and maybe rotate the second. Or have the oldest/youngest do it. Or rock/paper/scissors for it. Or draw lots. Or roll dice. Be creative!

Want to honor a different Power? Feel free! An obvious substitution here would be the Greek Hestia or the Roman Vesta, but any home and hearth goddess would be a perfectly suitable choice. Want to honor Ancestors or Land Spirits instead of a goddess? Go for it!

Really like the candle part and want to use one away from home too? Or live somewhere that candles are absolutely prohibited (like a dorm)? Consider dedicating one of those battery-operated tea lights to Her and using it instead. Switch it on when you would usually light the candle, leave it on during the meal, and click it off when the plates are cleared and you’ve given thanks. Use a real candle if you can, but if you can’t by all means use what works.

A package of 2 LED tea lights.
Two for $1 at the Dollar Tree. Complete with “flickering effect”.

Really, the sky’s the limit here.

Devotional work doesn’t have to be difficult, complicated, intimidating, or time-intensive. It always, always goes back to hospitality – being ready and willing to entertain, offering food/drink, and being respectful. As long as you hit those three points you’re on the right track!

POLL: Hurdles to Devotional Work

I’m a big proponent of regular devotional work. Daily, weekly, whenever we feel moved – as far as I’m concerned the timing doesn’t matter so much as long as we do it.

Every time I see devotions talked about in Pagan or polytheistic circles, though, I see a few people swearing by the practice and a metric fuckton of people saying they don’t/can’t/won’t. Why is that, do you think?

I asked about it on my Facebook and got some great feedback, but then I decided I needed a larger sample size. Hence this poll! Please complete it, share it, whatever. If there’s something I missed in the answer selection, or a point you’d like to expand on/clarify, please leave a comment. I really want to know what y’all think!