Church of the Spiral Tree Pagan Prisoner Ministry (copy of orginal posting by Lady Charissa of North Georgia Solitaries)

Many of you may know that the Pagan Assistance Fund was asked late last year to help the CST Pagan Prisoner Ministry. 

The call came from the late Prison Chaplain Jonathan Medley.  His request was to help him find a way to get their newsletter into the prisons.  The cost was just too much to do for free with all the requests they have.  We came up with a plan and have been asking the community to donate stamps, paper, envelopes, gift cards for office supplies, etc.  Money is never turned down either. 

His other request was in trying to find a way to get books into the prison libraries for pagan inmates.  Again, funding is an issue.  We came up with a way to list regular books on swap sites and then order pagan books with the credits.  So we've asked the community to donate all those books that you keep meaning to get rid off - textbooks, novels, whatever.

Now, pagan prisoners have never been a part of the ministry that I've done.   It wasn't that I didn't believe in doing that, it was just that I had never really had that cross my path in my ministries.  So I worked with CST to help them in the capacity that Reverend Medley had requested.  I was impressed with the commitment of the people at CST and decided to join their church as a member to show my support that way.  I joined the yahoo group they have for the Pagan Prisoner Ministry to take a look around.  I was amazed.  They service prisoners from all over the country.  There are currently over 100 prisoners in their database looking for pen pals and there seem to be more requests coming in each week. 

So here's what I'm looking to do.  I'm going to spotlight one prisoner that is looking for a pen pal and bring him out into the rest of the pagan community and see if we can find someone to write to him.   If you haven't written to a prisoner before, you can find information on what to write and how to maintain your privacy at . 

Here's the info on our prisoner in the spotlight: 

The spotlight is on Adam Joseph Anderson today.  He is residing at Oshkosh Correctional Institute in Wisconsin.

He writes:  I am what would best be called a universalist, tribalist Heathen following the path that both Odin and Tyr lay before me. I am universalist in that I do not think anyone whom the gods and goddesses call should be denied. I am tribalist in that family, friends and community matter very deeply to me. My interests include fishing, outdoor activities, rock and classic music, reading and trades work. I am a 27-year-old Caucasian male of Scando-Germanic descent. I have made mistakes and accept them, looking toward the future, using each day to weave a better strand of Wyrd into my orlog, these being the Nordic equivalent to karma. I practice meditation and am open-minded to learning of other paths and of shaping my own. Upon release I will be returning to Milwaukee, WI and plan to become involved in the larger Pagan community there. I look forward to learning from those who would teach"

If you aren't currently writing to a prisoner, think about writing to Adam.  If you do decide to write to Adam, you can get the details on where to write to him by joining the CST Pagan Prisoner Ministry Yahoo Group.   If you are interested in becoming a pen pal but want to look through the database and choose someone else, just join the Yahoo Group and take a look around.  Just be sure and post when you choose someone so that we can mark him/her as having a pen pal.

In service,
Lady Charissa 

The losing of the Matriarch..

I'm going to say what has been said before many times by many moms, "being a mom is hard work" The reason I'm repeating it is because I'm wiping away the old and allowing myself to see clearly.

Ok, I'm speaking in code, let me be more clear

I'm refocusing myself to put more into being a mom and wife because I've neglected my position in the home. I know, it sounds archaic, however, there is a point here that isn't as archaic as you think. As you all know, I took my kids out of school in February of 2011, and have been just letting them "detox" from the high pressure and rigid rules of public school. It's been good, and they have been happier, in a way, but, I've been having a hard time adjusting. Since I work from home, and have been for the past 5 years, I was used to having them at school and me being able to get a lot done. Since they have been out of school, well, it's been like summer vacation, a very long summer vacation, lol. Now, kids are going back to school, and here I am still on summer vacation hours.

I kept pushing myself to work, work, work, and I was feeling pressure from my "paying" job, my personal job, our business, workshops, spiritual classes, and I knew I had to get all those taken care of, I just HAD to. We had to live, I wanted to build my healing practice, Roger and I both wanted the business to take off, and I have been working for my place of High Priestess in the Pagan community for almost 20 years. I just had to do everything on the list, I was so close to completing everything. Except I was neglecting something, and I knew it. I was neglecting my kids, my husband, my home, myself.  I had allowed so much pressure in my life, I was no longer able to accomplish anything. I was behind on class work, I was not making the commission from my paying job like I used to, and was neglecting my employees, the business was just sitting there, and my workshops, well, I was getting those taken care of, but, I was always waiting till the last minute. I was on a downward spiral personally, and I didn't know how to stop it. The harder I worked, the faster I fell. Admitting the truth, I was feeling like a failure, embarrassed a lot for being slow or forgetting about things, and crying myself to sleep... a lot.

I began to let things go, little by little. I stepped down from management, I backed away from forcing myself to study every night, and was allowing myself to study as I was able to. I backed down on some groups I was trying to become an active part of, the business website, I stripped, and am rebuilding it little by little, dropping the etsy store, but, I was still fading fast. I would wake up, take out the dogs, feed the dogs, grab my coffee and get on the computer.....and sit. I had NO attention to anything, I was a zombie. The paying job was still failing, my business still sitting there, my spiritual studies, still behind on, and my family, still without me. My plan wasn't as successful as I thought it would be, but, I soon learned why.

A few days ago, I was looking in the frig for food and all the healthy stuff, fruits and veges had gone bad, but the crap had been eaten. I was watching the kids, and they were eating buttered toast for breakfast, and Kathleen was even skipping meals. Roger came home, and ate junk, and just sat and watched TV till he got tired, which was till around noon sometimes. that meant he would sleep till 7 or 8, get up, still tired, and not be worth anything. Even the dogs weren't doing well. Bella, for lack of exercise was gaining weight, and was lazy and cranky, and Banshee, the puppy, was trying to attack and chew EVERYTHING. My house was a mess, dust everywhere, laundry was way behind, and I felt a twinge in my heart.....the matriarch of the household, the balance, ME, had become to busy to love and care for her home. I had neglected my kids, my husband, my dogs, my house, my life I had been building for 15 years. I put everything else in front of what I cared for the most. I wasn't doing it on purpose, I wasn't being mean, or hateful, I was blind and busy, and I finally saw the damage it had done.

I went onto the front porch and drank my coffee and thought about a lot of things. I reflected on the Goddess in Mother form. I thought of what a mother gives up in her life. I even thought about the labels on mothers, (mother, wife, doctor, beautician, teacher, singer, plumber....on and on) I thought about silly things like the jokes you hear about moms, "If mom's not happy, no one is" I also thought about my own mom. Growing up, my mother also neglected me after a certain age. I learned to cook, clean, and care for myself at an early age. When I was in 3rd grade, I was getting myself up, cooking my own breakfast, and making sure I went to the bus stop in time. I don't blame her, understand, I have no anger anymore at my mother, I was just realizing that just because I had to do it, doesn't mean my kids have to. I took them out of school for a reason, to have them home. I'm very protective of my kids, a good friend of mine lightly laughs about how protective I am. I always have my kids with me, and I thought that was enough. It wasn't, they needed ME. Roger did too, he needed his wife. I was always mad that Roger wasn't helping me, but, I wasn't doing anything he could help with. He can't help me with my studies, or my job, or my healing practice, those were my focus. Roger needed me, in his life, caring for him, so he could know how to care for me. I needed to be his wife, so he could be my husband, so we could be partners.

I spent almost all day thinking about all of that, and what to do.I wasn't on the computer much that day, I was quiet, and after a lot of reflection, I figured it out. I needed to bring balance not to my life, but to my home and family. So, I sat, I spoke with the girls and Roger, and I made a choice. Yes, I needed to work, study, build the business, build my practice, teach, and continue to work for being a prominent figure in the Pagan community, but, I need to do all that second, I need to bring back and keep balance and love in my home.

The next day was Sunday, so, I began that day cleaning, and reorganizing my home and family. I woke up, got the girls up, and I made breakfast and we all sat and had breakfast, and the only thing that was on was music. We walked the dogs after breakfast, and  Roger took the TVs our of the girl's bedrooms, ( I was always against it, but, I had former friends who talked me into it and I was never comfortable with it) I cleaned, the girls cleaned, then I made lunch, and we all sat and had lunch, then we finished cleaning, and we were done by 1pm. I then said it's time to relax and Kighla and I sat and watched a little TV, Kathleen went in her room and worked on her book, then it was time to make dinner. Roger was up and came in to help me, willingly!! We all sat, had dinner, then took the dogs for another walk. Roger and I sat together, watched the ball game while the girl's did what they did, and we were laughing, joking and having fun. My home was clean and balanced and i didn't get on the computer once that day.

Monday, ok, I do have to work, so, I made the choice, I make breakfast and lunch for the girls, eat with them, (Roger has breakfast with us) and I won't get on the computer till 1pm to work and i work till 4 or 5. Now, I don't think that is sitting well with my boss, but, I can make it work, and pull my commission I need for me and my family to live. After 5, I'm off again to cook, eat dinner, walk the dogs with the girls, spend time with Roger, and be a wife and mom. Because my family needs me...

There's a lot more changes I have to do in my home. So far, just taking the change of making breakfast, lunch and dinner, eating all 3 together as a family, walking the dogs, and spending time with them has changed the whole energy of the house. I get on the computer to work on things, and I do still have a lot to do. I need to even get the school year finished for the girls. I have organizations to join, studies to do, a website and business to build, workshops and classes to teach, and a job that fits into all of that. Yes, I have a lot, but everything I have, I want and love. I just need to always remember, balance starts in the home. Once you find balance there, everything else will find it's place.

Something to think about....

I was reading an article that made me think of a question; Is being dedicated to your spiritual beliefs getting in the way of basic human rights, or, are the desires for basic human rights stopping people from being fully dedicated to their spiritual beliefs?

This world is full of different spiritual beliefs, Christianity, Judaism, Islamic, Hinduism, Paganism, on and on with the "isms", and not all of them have the same, for lack of better term, "rules" to follow. Now, let's scrap this down to the bare skinny of the situation. Every spiritual practice has a DOGMA to it, and sort of spiritually moral rule. They are not all the same by no means, however, those that fully dedicate themselves to that spiritual practice of choice have also dedicated themselves to that spiritual moral rule or rules. Now, here is where it gets tricky, when someone follows the "rules" of their spiritual practice, and it isn't something that is widely accepted, or even liked, or maybe it goes against the basics of humanity all together, why are they criticized?

(I'm sure I'm gonna get yelled out for that question...where's that pesky pot, I got more stirring to do)

In truth, IF the rule they followed from their spirituality was say, plant a flower each week in a bare spot on the grass, most of the world would be awww, yippie, how lovely. However, if that spiritual rule was, rip each flower from the ground on the sundown of the Sabbath, every one would be oh god, you jerk. However, both were following and dedicating themselves to their spiritual beliefs, who judges who is right and who is wrong?

Their Deity, and only their Deity, the one they follow, and are following that spiritual rule for?

Yea, chew on that while I serve this to you...

Most people need spiritual guidance in their lives. When that guidance leads us on a journey to make a choice that may shun you from most of humanity, what do you do?

Easy, don't do it right?

Ok, where's your dedication then? Are you only going to follow spiritual guidance when it's covenant for you? Maybe jump from one spiritual belief to another, hoping you are covering all bases and still making the world happy? Oh, yea, there is that moral thing too right. You're sitting there saying, "duh, morals, if you're a moral person you know better" Ok, who judges morals? Who gave you those morals? Your parents? Where did they get it? Their parents? Where did they get it? Mmmhmmm, yea, someone got those morals from some spiritual guidance the digging, you'll see.The Carib tribe in the West Indies practiced Cannibalism. They believed chewing their enemies and spitting them out was a spiritual way to take in their enemies strength. Was that morally wrong? It was a spiritual practice? A spiritual rule? Guidance from a spiritual leader. Yea, I know, it was wrong, that's why it's illegal now, blah blah...moving on.

Ok, here is my point....

When you follow a spiritual path you're dedicating yourself to that path. Not everything, everyone is going to do in the rules of their spirituality is going to make everyone happy. Not everyone's spiritual practice is going to make everyone happy. However, religious tolerance is something maybe we need to look at in all angles. Take the religion out of politics, it doesn't work. But, don't shun a government official because they choose to pray before a political vote. Or, shun a clerk for making a choice to follow her own teachings personally, and not sign same sex marriage license. She, in turn, asked for the ability to higher someone to sign them in her place. I, personally, think the clerk refusing to sign the marriage license was rude, however, I admire her convictions and I admire her asking to bring on someone in her place that will sign them.

Freedom of religion means ALL religion....and that also means you take the parts of religions you DON'T like and tolerate it.

Now, let's all grab a Coke and sing "Hands Across America"
(song f*cked ya didn't I)

Just smile about it...

I just love this picture. 
Happy kids, happy dogs, happy fireplace...just smile!
Thought I would share.
Have a wonderful week everyone and remember, just smile!