Friday, May 30, 2014

PBP: Week 22- Keys

I have been fascinated with keys since I was little. When I was in grade school I had one of those little diaries that had a lock and key. I remember the old cans of meat (typically canned ham or sardines) that had little keys you would then wind the metal seal around to open the can. I think I might have had a pair of roller skates with a key at one point as well. Somewhere I had found an old skeleton style key, which I wore for a long time as a necklace. In high school I was fascinated with escapology and got some handcuffs to practice slipping out of (and learning how to pick those locks). I have always collected 'old' keys, or found keys or really any key I can get my hands on.

I frequently see the call for a key as a focus for magical workings. Keys strongly represent opening doors, so are great to use not only for bringing new opportunities into our lives, but also for opening up places inside our selves that we might have locked away. On the flip side, keys are used to lock things up, so are good for security work or for keeping secrets. One of the first keys many of us own is a house key, so keys can represent the home and family. Keys are also used to secure the house when we are away, so they can be associated with travel and returning home safe (and guarding the house while you are away).

One of the great thing about keys is that there are so many of them. Not only more modern keys, but keys for different purposes. Not only are there many different types and looks, but because they are built to hook onto a ring (or be tied to a belt for older keys), they lend themselves well to decoration. Keys can be painted (with regular paint or nail polish), decorated with charms or ribbons, written on, etched or added to another tool as a charm. They can be used as a focus for workings, used to etch symbols on candles, hidden away or used as a worry stone.

As you build a collection of keys for different purposes, consider keeping them all in one place when not in use. I used to have an old key ring, a large ring about 4 inches in diameter that could be pulled open and keys put on it (like you sometimes see in old movies for keeping jail keys on). You could also keep them in a decorative box or bowl.

I am going to talk a bit about different types of keys and ways you might use them:

Key blanks- When you go to a store that makes keys, you can buy key blanks and not get them cut to fit a particular lock. Often they have a large variety of designs. Key blanks are great for general workings, or for one where you don't have the specific key you might need. If you wanted to have a key to remove obstacles in your normal daily life, a blank key would be great for this. If you wanted to work through some past issues you had when you lived in a particular house, but you no longer had a key for that house, you could get a blank key and inscribe or paint the address of the house on it (or some other important naming feature), and that key would then become a key to that house that you could use to work with.

House keys- Most of us have a house key. There is no reason not to bless your regular house key as an extra layer of protection. But many of us not only have a key to our current house, but we may have keys to other people's houses (family or friend), our work place, or places we used to live. Of course you can use other people's keys to bless them and their household, but these keys can also be used to work on the relationship you have with those people or as a touchstone for communication with them. Work keys can be used to open doors for promotion or toward a job you desire. They can also be used to lock away bad feelings between you and coworkers (or bosses or employees). Old house keys to places you no longer live can be used in journey work to step into the time period where you lived at that house, to connect with people you were in contact then that you might have lost touch with (or who passed on) or to connect with the location where the house is (especially useful if you have moved far away).

Car keys- The strongest association we have with car keys is with travel. But cars also represent freedom and independence (trust me, for at least half the year I have no car during the day). When we are young and get our first car, it is often the most dramatic way in which we experience our separation from our is the first way in which we can really go our own way. More than any other key, a car key represents choices: when we get in the car, we have many choices in where to go and which road to take to get there, so a car key is a great key for working on life path problems. As most of us rely upon our car to get to and from work, it is also a good key to use for job related things (if you don't have a key to your job, or if you want a job that you don't have). The car is also the main way most of us bring things into our house (such as groceries, clothing, or really anything that we have to drive to collect), so it can be used to work on bringing abundance into our lives (or for letting go of the things we no longer need).

Door keys- When we moved into the apartment we are in now, there was a little key on top of every door frame. Really not more than a little twist of metal with a slightly flattened end, they can be stuck into the hole on the interior rooms to unlock them if they are locked from the other side. This might not be a very common key, but I think it is a wonderful key to have around. Having been married for just past 15 years now (with a teenage son just about to enter high school), I can attest that communication between people living together is very important to a smoothly running (and happy) house. Though the doors within the house give us the ability to block each other off, the door key gives us a tool with which to open up to each other.

Skeleton keys- These are the old fashioned keys (technically they are a subset of older keys, but if you say skeleton key, most everyone thinks about an old style key). You know the type, they have a 'tooth' at the tip, and a round loop at the end (for attaching the key to things and to give you something to grip as you turn it). They can be simple or ornate. It has become quite popular lately to make charms or talismans out of this type of key, and when most people think of keys for magical work, this is the type of key they think of. They are not the most secure type of key, in fact, many skeleton keys were a type of master key (or lock pick tool), in that they weren't made to open a particular lock but to be able to bypass the locking mechanism and open it anyways. I think this makes them ideal for overcoming obstacles or blocks in your path, especially if you aren't sure of their exact nature.

Handcuff keys- It is pretty easy to come by these today. Especially around Halloween, many stores sell handcuffs as costume props, and they come with a key. The thing that I think makes a handcuff key unique is that it is designed to hold people and not things. These keys (and the cuffs themselves) can be used to bind people who would seek to harm you. You can also use the key to work towards overcoming any limitations you feel are holding you back.

Box keys- I am kind of lumping together any key here that locks a box: safety deposit keys, locker keys, lock box keys. These keys are the ones that guard our things, especially the things we hold most dear. They are also strongly associated with money, so good for working towards protecting our monetary assets. Most of the time, you use these types of keys to lock things away behind extra protection from thieves, so they are good to use to protect you from thievery.

Diary keys- There are still a lot of diaries that come with tiny keys. I love these keys for protecting thoughts, secrets, wishes or anything else that is personal and private and deals with the mind. It is common to build dreams and hopes in a diary, so they are also good for working towards the desires of the heart (both love and other things we yearn for...emotional desires).

Key cards- These are more of a new thing, and won't always fit with the other keys you may work with. But a lot of hotels are using them now, and because of their temporary nature (I have yet to be asked to return they key card after my stay was finished), they are good for working towards short term goals, especially those involving travel. Some attractions (theme parks or other things you buy admission tickets for) now use plastic cards instead of paper tickets, although either would work as a 'key' to the attraction or event. These can be used like keys to old houses: they can connect us to our memories of the past, or to the essence of the event. They can also be used to bring that energy into our future (if it is a place or experience you would like to revisit).

Friday, May 23, 2014

PBP- Week 21: Killing

I have never really followed a path that subscribed to any form of pacifism. I have considered myself a warrior at heart since I was a kid. The concept of killing, whether it is in the form of a soldier fighting a war or slaughtering an animal for food, has never been a moral issue for me. Life and death are two sides of the same concept in my mind, and where there is one there is the other.

I remember reading about some more extreme forms of Buddhism, where the goal is to never cause death in other living beings, to the point of brushing the path as you walk so that you don't accidentally step on an insect. This level of focused awareness is not something I have ever seen myself as working towards. I am a carnivore, I eat meat, and I know that the meat that I eat was a living thing that was killed for the purpose of becoming my food. If I were in a more rural area, I might participate in hunting or raising food animals, but as I live in a city (as small as it is), I honor the animals I eat in a more passive way, by a sincere acknowledgment of their death that I may receive sustenance.

I also remember reading about some experiments that have been preformed on plants to show that they experience pain and have awareness of the world around them. Being of a path that accepts that plants have spirits and personalities, I always found it strange that even in the Pagan world, such a focus is put on the pain and suffering of animals and yet the eating of plants is not only widely accepted but put on a pedestal. If all things have spirit, why is it okay to eat plants but not animals? Why is the life of the cow worth more than the life of the corn?

I understand that animals are in many ways closer to us than plants, they are easier for us to understand. We bond better with our pets than we do (generally) with our houseplants. It is not that much of a jump to then that we would value more the things we understand better. It is very similar in my mind to the way we (as a species) seem to care more for the cute animals than we do for the ones that creep us out. I rarely find people to be as concerned about the lives of insects as they are about the lives of bunnies.

To take this even a step further, if I, in any way shape or form, recognize the spirits present in the world around me, and see these personalities not just in the animals and plants but in the inanimate as well: stones, earth, fire, water...should I not be concerned with causing their 'deaths' as well? When I drink water, am I bringing about it's death or does it remain alive as it travels through my body and gets released to be water again? If my practice involves the use of stones, am I mindful of their sacrifice?

I don't think there are absolute answers for all these questions, but I definitely think they need to be asked. I believe that it is important to be aware of the world around me, to attempt to try to honor the things that make my life what it is. If there is sacrifice or death involved, I should respect and honor it. For me, this involves not only not wasting food (or resources), but also reflecting on the things that give their energy so that I might continue and to be grateful.

I know I have some pretty severe views when it comes to people killing other people as well. It isn't that I don't find life sacred, rather that I find that there are things that I feel are worth the sacrifice of life. War may be a horrible thing, but why do we go to war? And if I don't agree with a war, does that make the sacrifice of the soldiers any less? If I, as an adult member of a country, take no action to work against the war that my government has engaged in, do I have any right to treat my countries soldiers poorly?

On a more local matter, I do think there are crimes that deserve a death penalty. I have been asked before, after having made my thoughts on the death penalty known, if I would be willing to die for my beliefs. Typically the argument is that some people who are sentenced to death by our courts are actually innocent, and how would I feel if I were sentenced to death for a crime I didn't commit. Of course, I would not want to die, but would I feel that the death penalty was no longer valid? I can not actually say with absolute certainty that my mind might not change if I were in that position, but I would like to think that it wouldn't. I don't think our courts make that many mistakes. And if my death would be the price of making sure that many other lives would be saved, I would like to think that I would be willing to make that sacrifice.

On a very personal level, I definitely feel that if someone were actively trying to kill me that I would fight back. Again, until I actually find myself in that position, I don't know for sure how I would react, but I don't think I would hold back in a true 'kill or be killed' situation. Perhaps fear or inexperience might cripple me, but not morality. I value my own life, and if someone were to try to take it away from me, I don't feel that I am obligated to give their life more weight than my own.

Nature includes death. It includes killing. Animals kill other animals for food, for mating rights, for territory and sometimes for status. Plants compete for sunlight, water and soil, and often the plants that loose that competition wither and die. I think that we feel that a part of civilized life is to draw away from killing, but in fact we are just drawing a curtain over it and denying that it exists. Killing is still a part of life, we just try to avoid looking at it and admitting that it is necessary. And when we are forced to admit that we have killed (or that killing has taken place for our benefit) we struggle to work this into our civilized way of thinking. I don't think killing should be glorified, but neither should it (when necessary) be vilified.

Friday, May 16, 2014

PBP: Week 20 Journeying, Visualization and Making Stuff Up

I do a lot of inner work. I do my share of physical work, but my practice has a lot of work that is done without a lot (or any) outward actions. There have been times in my life where the vast majority of my work was done in the inner worlds. And yet for a long time I was vastly confused by the terms used for a lot of the very practices I was using.

Astral projection was my bane for many years (notice it's not in the title...more on that in a bit). I was fascinated by the thought of projecting astrally. I read everything I could find on it, tried more techniques than I can remember, and never had that profound moment of looking down upon myself. For a long time I thought it was just going to be one of those things that I wasn't going to be able to do. And throughout this time, I was doing inner work.

What do I mean by inner work? I started with visualization. Well technically I started with making stuff up. I have always had a very active imagination. I was an avid reader as a child, and as an only child I often entertained myself, playing with toys or reading. Play is a great tool in my opinion, I love toys as tools! But when I played or read, I exercised my imagination. I created playmates to play with me, or acted out whole stories with my toys. When I read, I saw what was being described in my mind.

As I grew up, I started making up my own stories. I don't remember if it was something that I started doing for school (creative writing exercises) or if it was something I did to avoid boredom (I definitely remember spending a lot of time imagining things while riding in cars). Either way, I spent a lot of time creating stories. Some of these stories got written down, some didn't. Sometimes I imagined alternate events in my own past or future, sometimes I created whole new people to imagine being.

In high school, I started rehearsing things in my mind. Sometimes it was just idle fantasies: imagining what it would be like if the boy I liked asked me to dance. A rifle coach I had at the time introduced me to using imagination as visualization for a purpose (the same coach taught me to use affirmation statements, though strangely he was a pretty hard core ex-marine). I learned to visualize my way through a rifle match, seeing each shot as perfect.

When I began my personal path, I embraced all things visualized. I did a lot of physical work, probably more than at any other time in my life, but I also did a lot of visualized work to augment it. I met another Pagan, who was in the military at the time, and did all his work visualized due to a lack of space and the ability to keep his tools on hand. It was a novel concept to me, that I could visualize the exact same things that I could do physically.

It was only a couple of years ago, when reading about some more shamanic techniques, that I read a definition of journeying that clicked something in my head. Much of what I had read about shamanic journeying involved entering into altered states. But this one focused lesson how to achieve the trance state and more on the things you could do with it.

I realized that a lot of what I did and considered visualization, could also be considered journeying, and even astral projection. I firmly believe there are other realms of existence beyond our physical plane, and that we can experience these planes in different ways. And not just the traditional planes that many mystic traditions accept (astral, spirit world, lands of the dead), but really a true multi-verse, where even imagined worlds can be explored (and I do think that a lot of the more well known fictional places such as Dante's depiction of Hell or the Tolkien's worlds have built up their own substance over the years).

This brings up the question of what is real. When I journey, are my experiences real? I think that 'real' is a poor standard to judge things by. I prefer to look at what value do my experiences bring. Reality is a strange creature, and often my 'reality' can be very different from someone else's, even if we were at the same place at the same time. Just ask two people who were at an event to describe it and you will often get a very different description. Sure, one or the other could be lying, or could just be remembering wrong, and if you had video of the event you could check some of the facts and see who was more accurate...but in their own minds, each person would have a very different 'real' experience.

Value can mean different things. I don't go into every session of inner work seeking the same things, and so what is valuable one day may not be another. Sometimes, I am seeking a mirror, a way to look deeper into my own self and see how I am doing. Sometimes I have a problem and I am seeking an answer or solution. Sometimes I wish to meet new friends. At the end of the day, if I get what I was looking for (or if I get something else that I might not have even known I wanted), that to me makes the practice worth it, even if my 'real' might not mesh up with everyone else's.

The lines between journeying and visualization in my mind are pretty blurry. With visualization, it is much more about the creation for me. Typically, when I visualize, I am seeking to create something in the inner worlds, whether it is a guardian, a spell to send forth, a shield or a sanctuary. When I journey, I am more exploring. I am going forth into a place, whether it is known to me or not, and seeing what is there. I also tend to be more focused on place and surroundings with journeying. If I am visualizing, I may not have a defined sense of place at all.

I've read a lot of visualization guides that use the words visualize and imagine interchangeably. Honesty, I don't have a problem with that except for one thing. I think that the Pagan community has a hard enough time with people who think the things we do and believe are crazy and made up, that I think that imagine is too close to imaginary and just creates a connection that doesn't need to be there. I don't really like that some people explain learning visualization as 'fake it until you make it' or 'use your imagination at first and then eventually visualization will come', for the same reasons. We are imagining because we are (most often) using sight to create an image of something. I think the best visualizations include as many senses as possible, but for many, sight comes first. So in a way, the progression is often from imagination (sight only) to visualization (with many senses).

All of this inner work has been written about so often in such specific terms, that I think more people are good at doing inner work than think they are. I don't get the traditional sensations mentioned in almost every astral projection guide, and I don't use any of the astral projection methods to journey, and yet I get distinct sensations of movement and I can explore the world around me as well as other worlds. I don't always visualize in images. I actually experience sound easier than I do sight. Sometimes I can get a clear experience of a thing without any visual clues at all. But pretty much every beginner visualization exercise starts with 'seeing' colors or shapes, so if you struggle with visual clues, then you might never make it to a sense that you are good at.

Inner work is a powerful tool in my toolbox, and it has the benefit of being invisible! I can do inner work pretty much any where at any time. I do a lot of inner work at night before bed. It is a time I know I will have every day, and will be undisturbed (because I do tend to sleep every night). I can also do inner work when on vacation without having to worry about getting tools through airport security or keeping them private while staying with family. I can do inner work while sitting in a waiting room or when riding in a car...time which otherwise might be wasted.

Friday, May 9, 2014

PBP- Week 19: Jinxing yourself

No matter how new or how experienced you are, there will always be times where you will work towards something and not succeed. There are a ton of reasons for this, but most are out of our control. I think about energy work as swimming in a river. If you are working towards something that is a likely outcome, you are swimming with the current and the water itself pushes you towards your goal, all you have to do is guide a bit and open your arms to receive. However often we find ourselves working towards something that is not one of the likely outcomes. Now we are swimming upstream, and the water fights us. There may be debris in the water that will get in our way. But the water and the debris is external. All we can do is swim to the best of our ability and keep our eye on the prize.

So what does this have to do with jinxing yourself? The mind is a powerful tool, but it can work towards or against us. When we visualize, we focus all our mental energy on the thing we wish to manifest. We use the mind to send this energy out into the world. But the mind sometimes seems to have a will of it's own, and will fixate on things that you might not like.

Fear, worry, anxiety, obsession, hatred, insecurity....these are all ways in which our mind tries to sabotage our work. If I am working on becoming more healthy and loosing weight, but every time I get dressed, look in a mirror or see a picture of a model I start thinking about how unhappy I am with my body then my mind is building up this image of my self as unattractive. If my mind spends more time thinking poorly of my body than it does thinking about a healthy, attractive body, then it will try to create the image it has been seeing....and will try to undermine any actions I have been taking towards my goals.

I think this is why a lot of workings focus so much on mental work. The physical work is often easy once you get your mental self in order. Very rarely am I physically stopped from achieving a goal. Most times it is the mind that caves first and once the mind is no longer committed it becomes very hard to commit the body.

There seem to be two main types of workings: fire/forget and maintained. Each requires a different kind of mental focus to prevent self-jinxing.

When you work with a fire and forget method, you do your working and then essentially walk away. The intention is to build and release the energy and then not to think about the working. I find this type of working lends itself well to things that are mainly out of our control or things where we don't know exactly how our needs will be met. For example, if I am in a real bind and am not sure how I will make my bills for the month. I can do a working to ensure that I have the money to make it through the month. I don't know how the money will come, but I am trusting that it will come. If I continue to obsess about how tight my situation is, I will just be thinking about the lack of money (which is not the energy I want to be calling toward me). I also may not want to limit the way that the money might come, so visualization could close my mind off to a possibility I hasn't considered.

What I have found works for me in this case is stay aware of the thoughts and feelings I am having. I am obsessive by nature, and when a thought hits my mind, it can be very hard to get it out. When my mind starts playing “what if”, my tendency is to go along for the ride, so I really have to make sure I am paying attention so I can stop the train before it gains too much momentum. For me, words work best to derail my mind. Chanting or singing creates a blank slate in my head. If I can get my mind thinking through the words of a chant or song, it will stop thinking about whatever it was thinking about before.

On the other hand, sometimes it can be helpful to keep a maintained focus over a long period. Lets say I want to quit smoking. This is something that will require a lot of effort over an extended period. I may do specific workings along the way, but every day I will be working on maintaining my mental focus and keeping to my goals. At first glance this may seem easier to keep on track, but negative mental talk is persuasive. It can be very easy to talk yourself into making exceptions or doing something 'just this once'. In the case of habits (whether you are trying to break a bad one or build a good one), it is like a bell curve of effort. At the beginning, it seems like it is impossible. I find myself slipping or just doing things without thinking about them. And yet, the more your bring yourself back to your goal, the more you push through, the easier it becomes. There is a turning point where you find that your first response is now the desirable one and mistakes are fewer.

Visual clues seem to work best for me with maintained workings. If I am trying to avoid an action, I may put a reminder on the thing most strongly associated with it (so perhaps a charm on the pack of cigarettes). If I am trying to build a new habit I may wear a particular piece of jewelry as a trigger, so that every time I see it I am reminded of what I am trying to do (I like using knotted cords for this, things worn on the hand where they are readily visible, and the creation of the knotted cord can be part of a working towards the goal as well). Making a mini-ritual out of it helps too.

I will often build a statement of intent that reinforces my goal. Keeping track of your progress helps as well, so a journal or daily reflection is very useful. Sometimes I find that having a negative feedback statement is useful...something that you must do before you do (or don't do) the action. So for the smoking, if I know I need to say something like, “I know this cigarette is bad for me and that it is setting me back on my goal to be more healthy, but I am going to smoke it anyways,” then I will be less likely to actually smoke it (especially if you know you have to say it out loud in front of other people!).

One very powerful tool against self-jinxing is one that isn't so much focused on anymore. When I was learning, the role of tools was explained more. Tools (and I'm including things like incense, stones, herbs, or really anything you might use in a working, not just your blade and wand) help us step outside of our regular life and into a world where all things are possible. Our society is very close minded when it comes to miracles, energy work, spirits and other things that are often a large part of our practice. It can be very hard to leave all those societal voices behind when we work. We may find ourselves thinking that the things we are doing are silly or wondering how 'just thinking' about our desires will bring them into being. As we build up our ritual though, as we touch our tools and speak the words, we are silencing these outside whispers.

I firmly believe that one of the fundamental pillars of my personal faith and practice is that of awareness. Step one for me, no matter what I am doing, is to check in with my Self and see where I stand. By taking notice of where I am at and being brutally honest with myself about where I stand, I am breaking free of the sleep-walking habit state that many people exist in. Mine is definitely not the only path that celebrates this type of observation, and I think that it is hard to create change without fully being aware of where you are as well as where you want to go.

For me, exploring my Self includes work on my mental state. It means holding up a mirror and looking at the parts of me that are weak or fearful. By following these negative energies back to their source, I often find that I am better able to respond to the manifestations of them by understanding where they come from. And this is what helps me to keep those negative energies from hijacking the things I work to accomplish.

Friday, May 2, 2014

PBP: Week 18- Interfaith Relationships

As a Pagan, I have lived my life interacting with people of other faiths. As a minority religion, I feel that we are often more aware of the religious differences around us that people who follow a more mainstream belief system. I know that most people I pass on the street don't share my beliefs and most likely if the topic of religion comes up, it will be with the assumption that I am Christian.

I am pretty secure in my faith. I had the discussion with my parents about my beliefs when I was in College. My husband has known what path I follow since we met. I don't go out of my way to either hide or share my faith. Who I tell and how much I tell them really depends on what type of relationship we have.

With strangers, I have no need to get into any lengthy discussion about faith. I am not offended when people assume I am Christian. I have no problems with discussing faith in terms that we can all understand. The area I am in is definitely Christian by majority, and if I am just chatting with someone while in a waiting room or line, I don't feel like I need to get into the differences between what I believe and what they believe. I really don't feel like total strangers need to know about this aspect of my life. I can share stories of how blessed I feel or how divinity has touched my life, and have never gotten a strange look at my phrasing. My personal belief is that we each walk a slightly different path anyways, no matter how similar our beliefs might be. But under it all, I think that feeling we feel when we connect with the divine can also connect us to each other.

My husband isn't Pagan. In fact, he is an atheist. I know that he doesn't share the bulk of my beliefs, and some he finds somewhat incomprehensible. However, I also know that he loves me, and that he supports my right to believe in and practice the things I believe in. Our relationship works because we both acknowledge the other as different from ourselves. He likes things I don't care for, and we both have interests the other doesn't share.

Being in an intimate relationship with someone who doesn't share your beliefs can be challenging. I have dated people in the past who were very much aligned with my own practices. A lot of things were easier. But I don't think that hard means impossible.

I think that the keys to making an interfaith relationship work are both communication and balance. There are things I do that I have to explain to my husband, where I wouldn't have to explain it to another Pagan. There are also things that I would explain in much more detail to another Pagan. I don't 'talk shop' as it were with my husband.

Being married to a non-Pagan does effect my practice. While I do have a lot of my practice out in the open, there are some things that I might do if I were on my own that I don't do. I don't feel this is any different than other compromises I make in my life as a married person. Because I have more free time than my husband, I try to organize my life so that when he is home, I am free to do things with him and the things that he isn't interested in I do when he is not here. But I also know that if there are rituals or meditation that I feel I need to do at particular times, then all I have to do is tell him that I will be doing something and ask not to be disturbed.

The majority of my extended family isn't aware of my beliefs. Though my parents do know, they aren't really comfortable with the things I believe (though they have never given me any grief over it). When I visit with my family, my practice is much more subtle than it would be at home. I have never felt right making other people uncomfortable in their own homes. If I am a guest, even with family, I try to be respectful of their beliefs. I don't bring candles and incense with me when I visit them. I still do most of the same daily things I do at home.

In a lot of ways, my daily practice isn't very flashy, so it is easy for me to do things without being overt. I place a lot of weight on intentions. When I look at my life, my actions and how I relate to the other people in my life, I look more at why I do the things I do than what I am doing. If I find that I am not doing something because I am embarrassed to do it in front of other people, then I often stop and really think about why I feel this way. I am pretty stubborn, so if my first response is to hide, my next response is often to go ahead and do it anyways. On the other hand, if I find that my motivation for doing something is to draw attention, then I try to figure out why I think I need that attention. Sometimes the thing I was going to do isn't the healthiest way for me to get the attention I need.

One thing I find somewhat frustrating is the idea that keeping things to myself is somehow detrimental to the Pagan community. I have seen it stated before that not 'being fully out' is one of the causes of the general public not understanding and accepting Paganism. I am not a supporter of the idea that every Pagan must be out in all aspects of their life. To me, the choice on who to tell and how much to tell them is a personal one that we each must make on our own. And often those who think we should all be out, also think we should be kind of loud about our beliefs, standing on a soapbox and proclaiming for all to hear all of the things we believe. Not only that but I think that forcing people to be out is not right, I think that being too pushy about sharing borders on proselytizing. If I don't want random people knocking on my door and telling me about their church, they probably don't want me spouting out my entire religious viewpoint while standing behind them in line for a coffee.

I don't think there is a blanket answer to how to handle interfaith relationships. I think we each need to look at each of our relationships and see what works and what doesn't. I don't think that keeping some things private is always a bad thing. I don't think it is deceitful to avoid full disclosure, especially to people who aren't necessarily close to us. I try very hard to not flat out lie, even to strangers, but I am pretty good at giving my own truths in words that speak to the listener. I fully believe that some people do not want to hear anyone's truth but their own, and I don't feel the need to frustrate myself by trying to change that. If someone is open to discussion and interested in actually learning about me I am more than happy to talk about pretty much anything to anybody.