Sunday, 8 March 2015

A Pagan year.

Crescent moon at sunset, Castlecliff beach.
Photo by Anne-Marie MacDonald

All my life I've been a spiritual seeker, searching for the Divine.

I grew up with a devout Catholic faith, in a close Catholic community. Until I was a teenager I barely knew anyone who wasn't a Catholic {except for my dad, and he went to Mass with us anyway}. I could go to Mass or say the Rosary right now and feel immediately comforted by those familiar prayers.

As an adult I tried hard to remain a Catholic, but eventually the realisation that I was lacking such essential beliefs as the divinity of Jesus and the authority of the Bible caught up with me.

Later, I felt comfortable with the Quakers. After a while, though, I felt like I was at a Green Party meeting; the Divine was an optional extra and seldom mentioned. For me, the Divine is front and centre. Not optional.

More recently, hooping has been the place where I encounter the Divine. But I never lost my interest in religion. I love to learn about other people's religious beliefs. If I'm honest, part of my interest comes from the desire to put a label on my own beliefs.

One evening last spring I came across the website of the Pagan Federation, based in Britain. I read their Three Principles:

1. Love for and kinship with Nature. Reverence for the life force and its ever-renewing cycles of life and death.
2. A positive morality, in which the individual is responsible for the discovery and development of their true nature in harmony with the outer world and community. 
3. Recognition of the Divine, which transcends gender, acknowledging both the female and male aspect of Deity.

There it is - my own core beliefs and spirituality written out in three short sentences. You can read more about the Pagan Federation's Three Principles here.

I had heard of Paganism and was familiar with the solar festivals, known as The Wheel of the Year. But beyond that I didn't know much about it. Were Pagans witches? What was Wicca, and Druidry? Do you have to cast spells to be a Pagan? Is Paganism even a religion? What's the theology of Paganism?

I didn't know the answer to these questions so I decided to spend a year living as a Pagan, beginning with the festival of Beltane last year {1 November in the southern hemisphere}. What do I mean by "living as a Pagan"? Celebrating all the solar and lunar festivals, reading and meditating and exploring exactly what Paganism is and how it might fit into my life.

It's been interesting so far. I've discovered I don't really want to find a Pagan community - I'm quite happy to be a solitary {which is an acceptable thing to do in many strands of Paganism}. That may change later, though. I've discovered that I am not interested in staging elaborate rituals, I prefer simple rituals with meaningful prayers. I've even written prayers myself. I've discovered I have no interest in doing spellwork, again I'm open to that changing. I'm reading about Pagan theology and I find it fascinating.

I've discovered nothing is off-limits to me in Paganism - I feel comfortable praying the Rosary, meditating, doing yoga, and bowing to the Moon.

So what will happen at Beltane when my year of living as a Pagan is up? I have no idea. I'm open to whatever feels right for me.

For more on Paganism, visit the Pagan Federation's description here.

Sunday, 1 March 2015


It's my third hoop anniversary, or "hoopiversary". On this day three years ago, I picked up a hoop for the first time, and I haven't put it down since!

I decided to celebrate my hoopiversary with a new hoop. I choose the beautiful hoop you see above, a 37-inch five-piece sectional polypro hoop in blueberry from Trinity Starr Hoops. The colour reminds me, not of blueberries, but of bluebells; those beautiful, delicate flowers that pop up all over my garden in October.

I was surprised to realise this is the first hoop I've ordered in about six months. I used to have a terrible hoop-buying habit - well, actually, it was a really good hooping-buying habit, as in, I was really good at buying hoops!! I started, like most people, with a big heavy hoop. Then I felt I needed something smaller and lighter. Then I wanted a polypro. Then I discovered coloured polypro - oh boy! Suddenly, I wanted ALL the hoops. A polypro in every colour was a must.

If you are a hooper, this probably sounds familiar to you.

The last six months, though, I seem to have gone the opposite way. I don't want lots of hoops any more; I just want one. My one and only dance partner, the hoop that I can use for waist hooping or hand spins, the hoop whose moves I know inside and out. The hoop I feel totally comfortable with.

A 37-inch polypro is it for me - and even better if it happens to be in my favourite colour and is really easy to break apart to travel with. I've decided that for every hoopiversary I celebrate from now on, I will buy myself one hoop, and that hoop will last me all year.

Do you have one favourite hoop that you love to death, or do you have lots and lots of hoops you like to play with?

Happy hooping,
Anne-Marie x

PS. I should point out that I do still have multiple hoops, but only so I have spare hoops to take to Monday night hoop jam.