Wow! I can’t believe it’s been three years since I started this blog and let it fall by the wayside. I always have good intentions of maintaining a regular blog, but I always seem to fail miserably.
If you’ve found your way to this site and have been leaving comments in my prolonged absence, thank you! That encouragement is actually what brought me back, even though it’s taken a while.
I guess I was surprised by the amount of interest a pantheist pagan blog would generate, and that’s amazing!
To catch up, I’m still pantheist, although my beliefs are hovering closer to dualism now than naturalistic/scientific pantheism. That is, I view Nature as consisting of both the physical and spiritual, and these two substances are connected. I never did complete the “year and a day” study I set out to do when I began this blog, so much of the last three years has been devoid of ritual and practice of any sort. At this year’s Midsummer (Litha), however, I felt a strong urge to incorporate ritual and daily practice in my life. It felt like starting all over again, back at the beginning when I wrote about my first experience with Samhain, only this time I felt more behind than ever.
The timing for this spiritual reawakening, I guess you could call it, couldn’t have been better.
I had just gotten back from a trip to England with my husband and brother. We had visited Stonehenge and I had been thinking a lot about the area’s profound pagan history. Maybe that had something to do with the stirring I was feeling in my soul. Who knows? But it had returned stronger than ever – this deep-seated need to express my spirituality with a daily practice.
As if the Universe was acknowledging my soul’s desire, my brother received his ancestry DNA results after we got back.
As it turns out, the majority of our ancestors were from the UK. I couldn’t help but imagine that our line goes as far back to the ancient pagans who practiced at Stonehenge and similar standing stones throughout England and Scotland. Whether that’s true or not, it made me feel more connected. The idea of being a pagan and owning that label didn’t seem so foreign to me anymore.
While this would have been enough to set me back on a path toward finding reason in ritual, the Universe had more in store.
My mom’s family was visiting from up north last week. Her eldest sister is a lot older than my mom – old enough to be my grandmother – and she remembers growing up here in Appalachia back when all the folklore and herbal healing was still prevalent. My brother has had a wart on his hand for a while now, so when she found out, she rubbed it and gave him a penny telling him not to spend it until the wart had healed, otherwise two would grow back in its place. Since I had taken an Appalachian folk medicine class in college, I was intrigued by this.
In fact, when I was a teenager, I remember a great-aunt healing a sore on my foot with boiled comfrey leaves. The sore had pretty much been a gaping hole for months and one of her leaf application had it healed in two days. I remember thinking it was magic at the time, so I asked my aunt about that and any other kinds of herbal healing that she could remember.
That led to a conversation about her grandmother. I never knew my great-grandmother – my mother’s mother’s mother – or even heard tales about her, really, but my aunt talked about how she used to communicate with spirits by getting a table to “rise up and tap” for her and a lot of other things my aunt couldn’t remember. I’ve since looked this up, and this was apparently called table tipping.
In fact, my aunt came right out and said that my great-grandmother was a known witch.
Of course, considering my renewed interest in paganism, my ears perked up at this. She told us all about her own experiences with ghosts and healing before nodding in my direction and saying, “I’m sure Jennifer has the powers, too.”
That sent a chill through me.
Growing up in Christianity, this is the least thing you’d expect to hear from a family member. I thought, okay Universe, you’ve got my attention now! Maybe I am descended from a long line of women who practiced pagan rituals. That sense of connection I’d began to feel with a visit to Stonehenge, the glimpse into my brother’s DNA, and now a solid connection to a known witch had come full circle.