I have often asked myself, “Are there others like me?” I am what I like to call a “non- magical” Pagan. I don’t do spell work or ritual. I am just a humble servant of the Goddess. I have tried to cast spells and perform rituals but it never seems to work. I have come to the realization that there are many different types of Pagans out there. There are those of use who cast circles and spells and perform rituals. There are also those like myself who are contented to just be of service.
I began my journey in my sophomore year of high school. I had always known there was something or someone watching over me, I just hadn’t figured what that was yet. I began studying various religions such as Buddhism and Quabalah, which I am still interested in after all these years.
One day I was at the library with my father when I came across the New Age section. I looked at some of the titles and when I found a book on Wicca, I picked it up and started reading.
A friend from high school was also into Wicca. We started wearing black clothing and pentacles. My high school had its various groups. The jocks, the preps, the goths. We were the Witches. Or so we thought. We would meet at a friend’s house and try and cast spells. There is a line from one of my favorite “witchy” movies Practical Magic that applies here: “You can’t practice Witchcraft while looking down your nose at it.” That is, in a sense, what we were doing. We were teenagers. We didn’t know any better.
Later, I discovered Gaia. I was reading a book about various Greek Gods and Goddesses and when I came to the part about Gaia something inside me clicked. For those who don’t know (and I am sure there aren’t very many) , Gaia is the Greek Goddess of Earth. She is the creator of everything that exists in nature. The birds and the winds and the oceans. That is why she is called “Mother Earth”. I felt like I had found what I had been looking for.
I had been hearing a gentle voice in my head comforting me when things went wrong. No, I wasn’t turning into Norman Bates! I had no desire to run a motel or dress in woman’s clothes and chase anyone around with sharp butcher knives. I knew this loving, caring voice could be none other than the Goddess speaking to me.
After High School, I moved from Illinois to Arkansas with my parents. I was bummed because I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if there were any Pagans and Wiccans. I was entering part of the “Bible Belt”. To my amazement, I came across WitchVox.com. I noticed that an event called Pagan Pride Day was going on in Little Rock. I asked my dad if we could go. My father has been supportive of my choice of religion since I first talked with him about it.
Read more at Witchvox
Goddess of Sacred Evolution
I was able to get in my head recently, the name of the deity or being I found one time when visiting with a friend’s friend, and staring into the angel on her Christmas tree. Over time, an image of her came more clear to me, as well as the kind of deity, and her name. The name is, Sarusiel.
In my mind, this name associates with “saru”, which means “monkey” in Japanese, and “ciel” which is “heaven” or “sky” in some European languages. The image that I get from these words, is similar to this quote by Terry Pratchett, ignoring the human-centric language:
Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.
In the name are those two parts, angel and ape, and those also are reflected in Her body, the phoenix wings, the monkey arms. Part of the nature of this being is the bridge between heaven and earth… you could think of Her as a guide for becoming, transforming, recognising the ape in the angel and the angel in the ape. Trying to become more, reaching new limits. Becoming arrogant and daring to wear wings to fly to God and become God, if that is what you want. Icarus would be welcomed by Her, Prometheus is honored by Her. Anyone who brings light and knowledge to the darkness is honored by Her. No punishment from this deity for being too proud. She is all about pride, strength, showing your self with the light of the Sun. The Sun is one of Her symbols, and She is everything that you see in the Sun tarot card… bold, clear, Fire energy that lights up dark areas and shows knowledge, that burns with glory and confidence and a living spirit. The Sun too, is seen as a masculine energy in many religions and, She has joy in being a Sun deity who is female appearing, because She is all about new things, not accepting the old ways.
She is about not being afraid to be who you are, take what you need… and, if you are afraid, She will push you down the path that destroys your fear. She is about showing you the sides of your self that you have ignored, or pushed away, and making you see them. She can be gentle like a warm summer’s day, but any time serving with Her will always burn in the end, because she forces you to look at the truth. She does not tolerate the person who will hide from their own nature, or say, “I’m not good enough for this”, or would draw any lines between gods and animals and humans, saying that everything has one place and nothing is allowed to step over these lines. She has a joy in some kinds of blasphemy, because, She wants the mortals and the gods to be one, but, She still wished to be respected. She also just wishes that you will respect your self, as you respect Her. Instead of making Her high and you low, or Her low and you low, She wants you to join the high place with Her, worship Her and worship your self who can become Her. She is evolution and life energy and making you move forward, because all living things move forward, all living things change and grow and learn and you are alive, you are allowed to learn, you are allowed to change, you are allowed to become. Just because you are in ape skin, does not mean you can not grab the heaven in both hands and have it for your self.
Sarusiel is a contradiction of things and joy in opposites coming together, like the old alchemical gods. Sun energy in a female body, wings on a monkey’s back, mortal skin and immortal phoenix fire. She reminds that just because you are one thing, does not mean you are not also the other. People who defy the traditions, who defy the binaries, who defy the idea that “everything is this or that”, who find knowledge in their own hearts instead of looking for it in the words of others, these are sacred to Her. She loves haunted spaces and spaces that have a “between worlds” feeling, because they are not one thing or the other. They are energy and change and possibility and She is all about that, all about what is possible and what could exist and making it real.
An example of how She works: one thing that She showed to me, is that She is a deity of the Sun, and I should look for her in desert places, desert ordeals and rituals. I am someone who has difficulty to accept desert magic, being a cold climate animal. So, this is the way that She makes that part of me to grow: by revealing Her self in a form that I relate to the Sun, and deserts, and encouraging me to find magic and wisdom there.
Words from Sarusiel
Other gods will promise you redemption, but I am not here to give you redemption. I am here to show you the path to your own redemption. Because, you can not buy the future at any price. You must make it, with your own hands.
Other gods might tell you, sit back and believe in Me. I will do all the work you need. But, there is no path to My wisdom that does not come through your own mind, your own heart, your own discovery.
I do not promise that if you devote your self to Me, your burdens will be lifted from your back. My path might bring you many burdens. But, they are the burdens you need, to help you grow. And when you have learned how to triumph over them, you will live a life free of burdens, yes.
If you wish to.
The one who follows a path with Me, might find that they always want to keep climbing. The greatest joy is found at the top of the tree, and always there are higher trees to climb.
You might think, this does not sound comforting. Why begin on this path? What is there for me?
That answer, is the same as the answer to why humans decide to learn to make fire, instead of waiting for lightning to fall.
Because you can wait for magic to happen, or you can make it.
Symbol: A gold circle medallion decorated with a sun
Animal: Frigatebird, monkeys and apes, phoenix
Day: Monday, a day of new beginnings
Herb: Chili peppers. Peppers are Her sacred plant and can be used in rituals to Her, eating them before you let Her possess you, then dancing, the sweat and heat in your body will help you connect with Her. Cinnamon also can be used to represent Her.
Offerings: Sarusiel likes offerings that are creative. She is pleased with offerings that have some modern or new part to them (like offerings made using a computer, etc.), as long as you respect it is a real offering and put real energy, and don’t get lazy because of the technology. She believes that if you are willing to use devotion, a modern offering using technology can be as meaningful as a traditional one, but you must make it that way with your own energy. Like many gods She also enjoys wine. She also likes shared offerings, situations where you give something to Her to honor Her as a deity and also you honor your self as the deity you can become. Body painting your self as Her, for example, and using that to honor Her and honor your self at the same time.
Color: Gold, red
Picture: Beautiful commission of Sarusiel by suncalf
She sounds an awful lot like Lucifer =]
I’ve been doing some thinking lately, regarding a topic I briefly mentioned in my last post—spontaneous devotionals vs. ritualized, consistent devotionals.
At the start of my relationship with my patron, spontaneous devotionals were the only sort I did. Doing devotional work because I had to was unthinkable—I felt as though forcing myself to honor my god meant my work would lose all its sincerity and become a menial task.
I’ve often heard people relate forming patron relationships with deities like dating, and it seems like a pretty accurate metaphor. There’s the honeymoon phase, where everything you do is with your patron in mind, every breath you take becomes a whisper of love and thanks. Then you slowly start to peel away the romanticized view of your patron and relationship, and realize that like any relationship, this will take work from both ends.
The ‘honeymoon’ phase of my patronage lasted quite a while—two or three years, I would say. Within those years, I didn’t have to strain to hear or feel my patron—I knew he was there. It was like stepping outside and being aware of everything—the warmth of sunlight hitting your bare skin, the breeze playing with your hair, the smell of rain. I didn’t have to go looking for our connection, it was just always there.
This sensitivity to my patron made it easier to connect with him, and to break out into spontaneous devotional multiple times a day. It was something that came as naturally as breathing.
But now that I’m past that phase, now that I don’t sense him as easily anymore, I realize that I’ve been relying on him to instigate my devotionals. I was in need of constant reminders of his presence to acknowledge him, however easy it might have been.
Now I can go days, weeks even, without having that awareness of his presence. It’s getting harder and harder to be sincere in my work, and occasionally I forget why I do it. When I doubt myself or when I doubt Him, it’s a struggle to sing like I used to, or even just bask in his warmth. I know he’s still here, but it shouldn’t be his sole responsibility to tap into our connection. For so long, I relied on him to be the spark of inspiration necessary for my devotionals, that I forgot my role in our relationship. I can just as easily reach out to him, instead of waiting for him to reach out to me—I just refused to, be it because of my lack of faith, or my skepticism, or my lingering doubts.
And that, I see now, is where daily or ritualized devotionals come into play. While it may not be as heartfelt as spontaneous devotionals, it too serves its own purpose—and in my case, that purpose is to remind me of my patronage.
It is to remind me of the work I’ve done, the obstacles I’ve overcome, the experiences I’ve had, and the love I’ve felt. It’s a reminder of how far I’ve come, both as a person, and as a devotee.
And, I think He appreciates this just as much as spontaneous devotionals, if not more. With spontaneous devotionals, they’re usually always in the form of praise, honor, and thanks-giving. Because he sees us as equals, this doesn’t always jive well with him. I think he tolerates it because it is what I grew up with, and is all I’ve ever known in terms of how to honor one’s god. That being said, he has broken me out habits that he sees as totally unacceptable, such as kneeling while praying. Even thanking him too often or for little things has gotten me scolded before, so I’ve learned to restrain myself.
Like I said, it requires work from both ends of the relationship.
I find it interesting that your patron sometimes scolds you (or, at least, has scolded you in the past) for offering too much thanks and/or praise.
This year, I studied Mormonism, mostly because I live in an area where a lot of Mormons live and I wanted to be able to at least converse superficially with them about their own religion. I did a six-month Investigation (their word for it, not mine), wherein I was told repeatedly that (1) members of the Mormon faith are only allowed to have “faith-promoting” conversations with each other and with non-Mormons—no doubting allowed—and (2) God wants a person’s praise, thanks, and worship (“positive” things), not their lamenting/sorrow, anger, or criticism (“negative” things). The idea was/is that God has done so much for us, even before we were born, that to be anything but eternally grateful and completely “faithful” (by their definition only) to Him was/is selfish, hurtful, and blasphemous.
Now, if that does it for you, then… fine, I guess. But I need a little more depth (and a little less structure) in my relationship to God, and I told the missionaries that. I am a doubter. It’s what I do. And I’m not usually a happy(-go-lucky) person, either, so 100% praise and adulation 100% of the time is pretty much right out.
I don’t have a patron deity. I don’t know, honestly, if I could really handle one very well at this point in my life, and I think the deities to whom I pay reverence understand that. Well, I don’t know what they think about it, actually, because I’m not them. I have this idea in my head that I have to get my shit together before I can have a serious relationship with any one deity so that I will take it as seriously as I think I should. It could be, though, that one of them is waiting for my life to finish falling apart so they can pick up the pieces afterward. But maybe that’s wishful thinking on my part. ^_^;; Maybe I just can’t commit. I don’t know. Maybe I’m worried about being a poor disciple.
A is Athame, the knife that we use.
B is for Beltaine, when partners we choose.
C is for Circle where we all are one.
D is for Deosil, path of the Sun.
E is for Esbat, when we gather round.
F is for Fire and its crackling sound.
G is for the Goddess in beauty and love.
H is the Horned One, our Father above.
I is for Imbolc, candles light the way,
J is for June when it’s Midsummer’s Day.
K is for Karma, the things that we do.
L is for Lammas, harvest’s almost through!
M is for Moon, riding way up so high,
N is for Nighttime, which darkens the sky.
O is for Ostara, when we hunt for eggs,
P is for Pan, with hairy goat legs.
Q is the Quarters and there are just four,
R for the Rites when we open the Door.
S is for Samhain, end of the year,
T is for Tarot cards, futures to hear
U is Undines from the watery West,
V is Vervain for protection and rest.
W’s Widdershins, the path of the moon.
X is the sign that’s the sign of the God.
Y is for Yule and the sun’s return,
Z is the Zodiac, 12 signs to learn.
Copyright 1989, Breid Foxsong
I would like to teach this to a child one day.