Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Birthday Me-Day

I remember my childhood and teen years as a very long episode in my life. And I remember them quite vividly: the street games, the aratiles tree, the scary old neighbor, and especially the "Broom-Of-Doom" my mother used to hit my butt with after some misbehaving.

The communication boom happened during my late college years and after that, life just kept on getting faster and faster, shorter and shorter, and the memories of the years that followed became hazier. We, urban people, now spend a huge part of our waking hours looking at screens - cellphone screens, computer screens, TV screens - and when we look at the real world, we are not really seeing it - we are too busy thinking about something else. The ease of communication made us use more of our time and attention to and for others. By the time I place my full attention back to myself, I realize I'm 31 years old.

Out on a whim, I decided that I would have some time off from the cookie-cutter lifestyle and just experience life as I wanted it (considering the time and budget of course). This means backpacking around the city and going to wherever my curiosity leads me. I only had the weekend and a 2-day office leave for it, and I wanted to experience it to the full. And the only way to do that was to ditch the cellphone. It's astonishing how hard it was to depart from this little object, considering that I have lived more than 21 years of my life without having one.

The mini-adventure was difficult and lonely at first but I was really enjoying it after a while. I ended up having too many pictures of food since I really didn't want to take out my camera as much as possible when I was travelling. But I had a notebook where I would write down things that I learned from my journeys. I spent the first day walking around visiting memorable places; and the rest of the days for self-pampering and meditation. A few hours were spent just sitting in restaurants. I couldn't help myself from observing the people in the streets walking by, wondering where they were going, what they were thinking, and how they're living their lives. And sometimes I would look at the surroundings: the trees, the buildings, the birds and the sky, until everything and everyone would seem like tiny electrons, going around and bumping each other occasionally, in this molecule called Earth.

The Earth and  the stars seem no different from the people in the streets: however we'd like to believe that we were born with free will, everyone is ultimately helpless against all these going to-and-fro. It is the nature of nature: everything must move and change, or else will cease to exist. In the early days of my life as Christian, I just watched the eternal dance of Nature. Now as Pagan, I must learn the steps myself.

Mabon: The point of celebrating Sabbats is change. But this time I wanted a bigger change, so I downloaded some life audit questionnaire to guide me through. It may seem a bit too Oprah, but this was really helpful and made me think hard. The cards were there to help me for some of the vaguer questions. There were no ceremonies in this ritual; just a heart-to-heart talk with Me. And there is no New Agey "just think positive and everything will be better" here. It's all about looking at life as it really is. It is tough to know yourself, but when you do succeed, it's like meeting an old friend again.

Book and breakfast at Fully Booked: The only non-consumable thing that I bought for myself was this compilation of Taoist classics translated by Thomas Cleary. What I really wanted here was a printed copy of the Chuang Tzu, and a decent translation of the Wen Tzu . The Tao Te Ching and the other two works are an added bonus.

Basbasan Nawa!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pagan Pride Day! Part Two

Christian Fernandez is a proud Pagan.
Go ahead, burn me at the stake.
(But please don't use gasoline it's bad for the ozone layer.)

-- Facebook status on Pagan Pride Day, September 18, 2010

So the first Pagan Pride Day ever to take place in the country finally came to pass, and I am absolutely joyful to have taken part in it. To describe my experience in one word, it would be 'justfuckingwow'. (Sorry, I really could not not use an obscene expletive to describe it.)

I had only really intended to take photos of the ceremonies. But when the sound of the flute and the rhythm of the drums began to play and the Pagan audience (plus a few others) joined the stage performers in their dancing, I couldn't help myself from joining the Pagan kin into the fray despite a two-pound camera swinging on my neck and bashing into my ribs as I bust the moves. From then on I was burning with the ecstasy of freedom that I didn't even care how ridiculous and clumsy I look dancing.

The night was spent commingling and introducing ourselves with each other. Funny that I mostly get a bored and indifferent "ah ok" when I introduce myself as "Ian", but get a resounding "Aaa! Ikaw pala yunnnn!" when I mention that I am also called "Murmur".  So note to self: use "Murmur" first when introducing to Pagan folk. It was a delight to have made new acquiantances and finally met people whom I had only known and talked to online. It was also a pleasure of course to have met old friends, some of whom I hadn't seen after many long years.

It's been three days since the event at the time of this writing, but I can still hear the music and the ecstatic chanting playing in my head. I thank The-Powers-That-Be (and the organizers) with all my heart for making this happen for I have never really been so happy and proud as a child of the Moon and Sun.

Bathala Nawa!
Io Eris!
Maferefun Orisha!

The babaylan group Tribu Majicka opens the ceremonies with an  indigenous version of the calling of the quarters, which was followed by an invocation to the god Bathala by UP Professor and Neo-Babaylan Grace Odal.

The Christian cross and the pentagram: two religious symbols rarely seen together.

Maria Lourdes Abulencia, author and "dancer of the Earth", holds the flag of the erehiye ng Inang Banahaw, standing beside her is crystal healer and New Age author, Riza Regis.

Popular Wiccan songs grace the opening ceremony of Earthdance Manila, sung by members of different Wiccan groups and covens.

The dance for Mother Earth begins.

The fire dancers came in after the twilight, giving the crowd a spectacular sight. There were more drumming and dancing during the evening.

A red tent was set up away from the hustle and bustle of the Earthdance crowd by the Gaia circle for prayer, healing, and meditation rituals.

Hours of heart-to-heart talk among the Pagan community after dinner.

A fire ceremony began at 4AM, led by Inca priestess Giselle Gabe, which ended just in time to meet the sunrise.

The Medicine for Gaia circle consisting of members from different faiths.

Earthdance memorabilias: the books - as the rainbow and butterflies on the cover suggest - are a bit too sugary for my taste, but they're free! The Pagan Pride Day button pin looks so cute. It's also a talisman of course :wink:. 

Pagan proud!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

An Hermetic Guide to the Hebrew Single Letters

I found this lying around in my old hard drive. I think this would be quite a useful reference for those studying the hermetic path of the Golden Dawn or the O.T.O., as it was for me during my days as high(-nosed) magician. I made this as a wallpaper for my cellphone, so that I could memorize the correspondences easily.

This is just a table of the 12 single-Letters and the astrological signs assigned to them. Knowing these as well as the rest of the Hebrew letter correspondences is essential to learning the teachings of the Golden Dawn, and makes understanding the writings of Crowley a whole lot easier. If it weren't for this, I wouldn't have been able to even begin reading Liber ABA - that venerable tome of magical philosophy second only in importance to Aggripa's classic, in my opinion.

The color I used here is O.T.O (green for earth instead of black) for aesthetic purposes, but the astrological assignment is that of the Golden Dawn. Apparently this was before I have read Liber Thoth, otherwise I would have switched Heh and Tzaddi. I'm such a Crowley fan-boy.

Columns - Quadruplicities:
Left Column: Cardinal Signs
Middle Column: Fixed Signs
Right Column: Mutable Signs

Rows - Triplicities:
I included the tarot correspondences in italics: G.D. first, then O.T.O.

Red Row: Fire Triplicity
Heh - Teth - Samekh
Aries - Leo - Sagittarius
Emperor/Star - Strength/Lust - Temperance/Art

Blue Row: Water Triplicity
Chet - Nun - Qoph
Cancer - Scorpio - Pisces
Chariot - Death - Moon

Yellow Row: Air Triplicity
Lamed - Tzaddi - Zayin
Libra - Aquarius - Gemini
Justice/Adjustment - Star/Emperor - Lovers

Green Row: Earth Triplicity
Ayin - Vau - Yod
Capricorn - Taurus - Virgo
Devil - Hierophant - Hermit

93 93/93!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pagan Pride Day!

The first Manila Pagan Pride day. 
Glad to be part of this little history.

Proud, Not Prideful

Interesting that it should be called Pagan 'Pride' day. If there's one thing that would keep the entire Pagan community from coming together, it's pride. Whether online or in person, Pagans clawing at each others' throats is such a common scene in the community that we ourselves have come up with an endearing term for it: Witchwars. I have been moderating five Pagan groups in the past decade, and I have inevitably and unfortunately gotten my hands dirty several times cleaning up and being involved in such mess. Many of us have seen it all before: long-winded and pedantic arguments among "intellectual" Pagans battling it out for the Most Arcane and Wisest Super-Witch of All, or paranoid accusations about someone hurling out a malevolent spell or  "psychic attack".

While the internet has become a boon to us Pagan folks for helping us build the community as it is today, the written communication is also causing some trouble. I think that much of the arguments can be prevented just by getting to know one another in person and finding out that he/she isn't really as annoying as you thought as his/her online alter-ego was.

I fail to see the point in most of these witch wars. Whether you're a fluffbunny newbie or arcane magus of the highest order, we are all one and the same in the eyes of the people outside the community, that is, for the most part of the people of the world. It depends largely on how we work together how they see us: whether as a bunch of weird folks living their fantasy worlds with all those stories of "psychic attacks" and stuff, or as a group of goodwilling people with just a different set of beliefs trying to contribute to the world in their own way.

I guess it will take lots of time and work to do for Paganism to get an ample amount of respect from the rest of the world, but things will be much easier when you begin to act in a way that you and other people in the Pagan community would be proud of.

Rebuilding Our Roots

I was really honored when the Pagan Pride Day organizers came up to me and asked me if I could design the logo, and so I humbly and happily obliged. I was able to come up with an idea easily, but pulling it off in Photoshop was another matter entirely. When I finished the final logo I found it quite blah at first, but I immediately liked it when my non-Pagan friend saw it and noted that it looks like a Keith Haring.

The logo has an allusion to the popular folk creation myth about the origin of our ancestors, wherein in the beginning, a bird caused a tree to split into two, and in each part of the hollow trunk were the first man and woman, named Malakas (strong) and Maganda (beautiful). The pointy figure at the left of the symbol represents the woman, and the curvy one at the right represents the man. The two stylized P's (for "Pagan Pride") are the two halves of the tree that were split open, and these are being tied back together with a purple ribbon by the man and the woman. In brief, the symbolism of this image is that of going back to and rebuilding of our roots by means of Pagan spirituality, which is represented by the iconic purple ribbon.

Of course, it also fits perfectly into the Bathala meme:

September 18 is the day to wear the purple ribbon. Stand up, and be proud.

Basbasan Nawa!

For my blogpost after the event, go to Pagan Pride Day! Part Two.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Maferefun Yemaya!

Being a child of the lord of iron is tough. I am blessed with bountiful ashe, yet I feel compelled to spend it all. Constantly I must think, move,...create. I cannot stop: I must only become tougher than the obstacles ahead of me.

The fire of industry is ablaze inside me and I would have been entirely consumed by it if not for my madre orisha Yemaya, to whom I am grateful for creating a space in my heart for love of all things gentle. She among many things has taught me that some things need not be acted upon directly, they are left to grow, trusting upon the powers of nature to nurture them into fullness of being. You may be son of a warrior, she told me once, but to win battles is not always a glorious thing: to surrender pride is by itself a feat of great strength.

On my way home after a hard day's work, I look up to the moon and feel a sense of calm, and I know that I am in my yeye's soothing embrace.

I thank you for your comfort, guidance and wisdom. Feliz santo mi madre. Maferefun Yeye.

As a child of Baba Ogun I work hard night and day, and when I tire, my Yeye lifts me up and cuddles me with her warm embrace.

* Today, September 7, is the feast day of Yemaya, Orisha of the moon and the seas.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Prayers for the Hostage Victims

Different in creed, but united in prayer.

Some friends and I dropped by at the site of the hostage taking incident today. I'm not sure what was more depressing: seeing the site of the incident itself, or seeing people having their pictures taken in front of the flowers and condolence signs faking a sad face, doing sexy poses, or otherwise smiling gleefully as if they're in a vacation spot. I could only let out a sigh of disappointment while wondering what in all the seven hells of the Qlipoth those people were thinking.

The agnihotra ceremony we performed at the temporary memorial site must have attracted dozens of onlookers and stopped several passing vehicles. I didn't bother to look but I could tell by how frequent cameras were flashing around us. I shouldn't be surprised: the park was still quite busy at 6PM, and we were six weirdos sitting in the middle of the road creating bonfire out of cow manure, chanting some strange stuff, and scattering flower petals all over the pavement. Although I'm usually self-conscious when being watched, I wasn't giving a single damn, but I was really hoping we wouldn't appear in the evening news later.

The hostage incident left two countries scarred and wounded. Speculations and exchanging of opinions during the days that passed thereafter just seemed to make the hurt become deeper and deeper. What I saw on TV during that day has also affected me deeply. I just pray for peace and healing for those who passed on, as well as those of us who are left behind wounded.


My pareidolia lets me see an Om symbol in this flame.

Basbasan Nawa.

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