Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Some photos to share

indoor garden

My altar and craft room has also become a greenhouse. There are various vegetables and herbs here. I have more seedlings that aren't in the photo.

Fairy Pot

Here's my "fairy pot." I put offerings by the statue from time to time. Notice all the brown vegetation from past offerings. It's how I deal with living in an apartment and not feeling safe enough going into the forest at night*.

*We really did find some strange things when cleaning up back there...

On Study Programs


In an effort to organize my studies, I put together two binders for the Artisan Guild and Initiate study programs respectively.  I'm currently trudging away on Magic 1.  I reviewed the exit standards again and realize that I could probably start working on some of them.  At the same time I'm very insecure in regards to my knowledge on the matter.  I've only finished one out of the three books I've purchased.  I'm nearly finished with a second.  I need to enforce some discipline and scheduling on myself in order to do the meditations in the third book.  I think that if I sped through it without attempting to do the meditations, I would only cheat myself of possible insight and experience.  After all, I did do the first meditation and got a lot out of it.

On a related note, has anyone read Real Magic by Isaac Bonewits?  What did you think of it?

I would like to do more work on my muse essay for the Art SP.  I need to go through my growing Celtic studies library and bookmark every mention of Brighid.  I have a very good idea on what I want to discuss in my essay, but I need more scholarly material.  Speaking of the Art SP, I think my next major book purchase will be an art history text.  I really need to start that...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Oh the things people leave behind in forests...  It was nice to be outside, for however short, and begin cleaning up.  I got to see several tiny snails which was fun.  I also made a little cairn under a pine tree in tribute to the land Goddess.

Otherwise my day was spent inside.  Sif is nearly finished.  I made a drinking horn for her and only need to paint it and attach it to her somehow.  I also made her shoes and added some simple embroidery to them and her dress.  I'm extremely proud of her.  The other doll is coming along wonderfully as well.  I made him a cloak and I'm trying to decide whether or not I want to decorate it in any way.  He also needs shoes.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I spent some time with my family driving through the Otsego County today.  It's always nice to see different areas in the state.  I've been there a few times as a child/young adolescent, but not recently.  Upstate NY is so beautiful.  We drove by glimmering lakes, sprawling wetlands, emerald pastures, and numerous content looking cows (which always makes me happy!).  I got to hand feed a pair of geese which was fun but intimidating at first.  They were domesticated but I know they can be quite mean when they want to be.

Still, it was nice to return to our home in the North Country.  I'm finding myself more and more content up here.  Watertown has grown on me quite a bit.  Clayton is wonderful and has so many cultural activities.  We're really not that far from the fun in Syracuse.  There's the beautiful Thousand Islands with plenty of swimming and boating.  Oh, and there's a little thing called Canada literally a hop, skip, and a jump away (not that we've taken advantage of that proximity yet!).

Tomorrow I'm hoping to get into the woods and clean up some of the litter that's there.  I'll do it in honor of the land Goddess.  I feel her all over NY and love exploring her many features.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Obligatory Earth Day Post ;)

I'm definitely in the camp that thinks "Earth Day should be everyday!"  The physical Earth will endure until the universe itself decides to swallow her up.  We're more apt to destroy ourselves than the whole Earth.  I was always very moved by this poem by Sara Teasdale.  It captures something of the truth of Nature.

There Will Come Soft Rains 

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pool singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

What I, as an environmentalist, am most worried about is the life of *everything else* we share the Earth with.  It's not fair for us to destroy the planet when we aren't the only ones here.  There are a lot of resilient species out there who can take a lot of garbage - literally and figuratively!  There are also many more species that are very sensitive to change.  We're finding golf balls in whale stomachs now.  That's just disturbing.

  I also worry about our spiritual relationship with the spirits of the Earth and the land Goddesses many of us cherish so as our spiritual mothers.  Does the Earth coddle us?  No.  She can eat us if she wants.  But she is our home - our beautiful, beautiful home - and our source of life.  I try to honor and respect that. To me, Earth Day is not just one day.  Earth Day itself forces me to stop and think about why I do what I do and, then, continue doing it.

**I apologize if this was crap.  I'm exhausted and should really be in bed now...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I'm feeling pretty good today.  I've been doing a lot of soul-searching and research this month.  I've been making changes, thinking about them, tweaking them...  I've been reflecting on my spirituality and other spiritualities.  I feel like I found a happy medium today, and that I am at peace with myself and my relationship with everything.  This last month has been a journey/experiment.  I feel that I've found a balance I'm happy with and spiritually secure in.

In other news, I've been working on a drawing*.

I know it's kind of difficult to see.  I'm not done with him yet, and I actually want to go over him with a fine pen.  It's the first drawing I've done in a couple weeks.


Monday, April 19, 2010

I spent some time working on a doll this evening.  I just want to say that I'm really excited about him!
I sometimes feel less than adequate in the Pagan community.  There are so many people who claim the ability to astrally travel, see visions/auras, and sense energy.  I honestly believe that I experienced accidental astral projection once.  I've been able to see visions in my own mind and firmly believe that I saw a spirit of some sort when I was very, very young.  I can go into trance but it often takes a lot of time.  I can sense my own energies but have a harder time sensing them in other people.  I have, but not always.    When I say that, I mean the more subtle energies.  Like most humans, I'm easily able to sense anger, confusion, distrust, etc...  I know not everyone associates those feelings with energy but I do.  I've never seen an aura.  I sometimes think I'm not very good at projecting energy.  I'm a complete novice in divination.

I worry that I will disappoint the elders in my community.  I worry that I will disappoint the Kindreds.  I worry that I'll down-right suck in the ISP.

The rational side of me says that I'm young and inexperienced; that some of these things will come with time and practice*.  Practice is the biggie for me.  I waste so much time *not* practicing!  My time management definitely needs improvement.  My priorities are sometimes off.  Either that or I'm too easily distracted.  Or, very innocently and rightly, I just want to spend time with my husband.  All the same, I need to make more "me time" for my spirituality.  I need to spend less time online, less time playing games, and less time wasting time.

A question to my Pagan friends - do you ever feel this way?  How do you deal with it?

*I know there are some of you shaking your heads right now.  "She's talking about being rational about irrational things!"  :P

This book sounds really interesting!

It's called God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World--and Why Their Differences Matter by Stephen Prothero.  I love "The Wild Hunt" for introducing me to it and I can't wait to read it!   The author apparently argues that lumping all religions together as paths to the same God is "naive" and potentially dangerous.

The book has left out many 'Pagan' religions but, according to Jason Pitzl-Waters:

So if god is not one, how many gods are there? Prothero’s polytheism doesn’t go that route. He instead explores eight different “great” world religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Yoruba, Confucianism, and Hindusim), their conceptions of god, what they see as the primary problem with the world, and how they approach solving that problem (for example, in Buddhism the problem is suffering and the solution is awakening). It’s an interesting way of approaching the subject, and I look forward to seeing how Prothero presents it.

Here's a video of the author discussing the book.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A lovely day exploring the North Country!

My vacation is nearly at an end.  We decided to busy ourselves today, get out, and explore a bit more.  Many people I know have taken advantage of their free time to enjoy Myrtle Beach or the like.  Lacking the funds (or, in my husband's case, the time), we've stayed in the state, making the most of it.

Today we visited Clayton, NY.  What a lovely village!  The view of the bay was impressive.   It was a cold, rainy, and windy day so we weren't exactly comfortable so near the Thousand Islands.  How marvelous visiting will be on the warmer days!  We stopped at the Thousand Islands Art Center, home of the Handweaving Museum.  They had a lovely exhibit of pieces made by local women.  Hubby was equally entranced and we discussed taking a weaving class together sometime.  We spoke with one of the curators who took our information and promised to send us a catalog of summer classes.  I'm very interested in the natural dying class she told me about!  Truly, the whole Center excites me!   I already feel like my understanding of the fiber arts will increase tenfold thanks to my proximity to these classes!  They even have a center totally devoted to pottery and are willing to rent kilns!  This means I can dapple with porcelain in the future!

After that we went to the Lyric Cafe where we enjoyed vegan chai lattes and quesadillas.  My husband, who has not given up dairy entirely, had cheese with his.  The staff were very accommodating to me.  I basically did not have a quesadilla - I had grilled veggies wrapped in a spinach tortilla.  It was absolutely delicious all the same!  I can't wait to take classes at the Art Center and follow it up with dinner at the cafe! Apparently there is live entertainment on Friday and Saturday evenings.

We headed back to Watertown and decided to visit the Thompson Park Zoo.  It was our first time there and we were not disappointed.  Many people have lamented the absence of more "exotic" specimens, but hubby and I delighted at seeing so many local or semi-local nature spirits - including fishers and wolverines!  My husband was absolutely enamored with them.  To be true, so was I!  I've never seen them in person so it was a real treat to think that they are related to our beloved ferrets! I also loved seeing my spirit guide, the Lynx.  I feel compelled to sponsor them in the near future.  It feels right.  We also saw an albino snapping turtle, various examples of venomous NY snakes, black bears, wolves, mountain lions, bald eagles, snowy owls, ravens, and, some of our favorite buggers, otters!  There were many more as well.  I can't wait to go there again, hopefully with visiting friends and family!

Following that we ran some errands in Watertown.  We've started to prepare for Wellspring.  Gander Mountain was having a sale on camping equipment.  We bought a cooler, a waterproof tarp to put under our tent, a tent repair kit, biodegradable shampoo and soap, eco-friendly insect repellant, and a waterproof bag to carry extra blankets in.  (I've heard Wellspring can get pretty chilly at night!)

We're going to spend the end of the evening with some neighbors.  They've tried inviting us over in the past but we've always been down in Utica.  Today the cards are in our favor and we can actually get to know them.  I hope we don't come across as too weird...  Brighid, Goddess of the bards, grant me eloquence and the knowledge to hold my tongue when needed tonight!  Dagda, Good God, give me humor and acceptance of my self and others!  Now... to wake my husband from his nap...

Thoughts on Drums

After last night's post, I couldn't help but think about my drums and their leather heads.  What did that mean about me?  I talked about it with my husband.  We both agreed that they were purchased during a time when we were less strict on ourselves.  Hubby has purchased some leather shoes in the past, mostly because, at the time, it was very difficult for him to find any in his size and in our price range.  The drums were my purchase.  We talked a bit about which could be better for the environment.  It made me recall an article I read a few months ago about which was better - leather or pleather purses.  In the end, neither - unless they were purchased from a trusted, environmentally responsible company (which tend to be very, very expensive!)*.  The same is probably true with the drums.**

Am I about to buy another new drum with a skin head?  No...  After thinking about it, I realized that, given how strict I am on myself now, it wouldn't make sense for me to do that.  I think the next time I buy a drum, whether it is skin or synthetic, I will buy it used.  That way I'm not forced to support the leather/meat industry or the plastic industry - I'm supporting the movement that says no to throwing things away.***

*I believe the article suggested fabric purses or used for those unable to afford the others.

** Please don't interpret this post as an attempt at preaching.  This is me venting my personal frustrations with myself and my own self-imposed morality/lifestyle.  If you own drums with skin heads, or are planning to buy one, awesome!  I'm not going to judge you so please don't judge me.  :)

*** There are plastic(y) products that are hard to avoid.  Shoes, for example, are one.  The idea of wearing used shoes freaks me out.  As far as medical and computer equipment go, you want the best bang for your money and that usually means it's new.  I purchase synthetic fabrics but am slowly trying to find more affordable natural, organic fabrics.  Price is part of the hurdle.  For me, it's all about baby steps.  And a drum, being so impractical on one level and yet highly spiritual on another - it seems like the sort of object I should really put a lot of thought into in regards to my morality.  I hope this makes sense...

Bits and Bobs

~ Last night went well.  I decided not to give myself a reiki treatment.  I had a professional massage and no longer felt the need.  The massage was amazing and I really liked the woman who did it.  I got a good vibe from her and we talked a bit about some of the New Age/Pagan community in the area.  I learned about several opportunities I would like to look into!  More on these soon.

~ I meditated last night and used my bodhrán to drum myself into a trance.  It's something I've been meaning to try but I always put it off because I thought the physical motion would be too distracting.  It was strangely effective!  I met Brighid and had a little chat with her. She put me at ease about several issues.  I also met with my spirit guide and learned a strange dance from him.  We also talked briefly about how funny it is that a vegetarian has a carnivorous spirit guide.  He basically gave me the impression that just because he hunts for meat, it doesn't mean I have to.  He said I hunt for other things.*

~ There's another ADFer in Watertown!  I randomly looked at the roster for NY state and saw his name!  He joined a month ago.  I decided to email, say hello, and tell him about Muin Mound.  He replied and said he is hoping to attend the grove.

~ My husband and I are getting really excited about Wellspring. He's mostly excited about camping out and finally using our tent.  I'm looking forward to meeting more of my spiritual community and the workshops!  I wish there was more information about what is being presented and when certain rituals will be...

*My bodhrán has a skin head.  Yes I know this is hypocritical...  I deal with issues like this all the time.  I try my best and take my baby steps and live peacefully...  But I also really trust the person who makes the drums and, frankly, I would rather have a drum from someone who respected the animal than a synthetic drum head from a factory.  

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Keeping the Flame

As the title alludes, tonight it is my turn to keep Brighid's flame.  As I did last month, I'm going to refrain from using the internet and, instead, spend my time in meditation, creativity, prayer, study, and housework*.  I am also planning to give myself some reiki.

I've been working on another Brighid doll recently.  So far she is turning out well.  Every time I sew something I learn a new lesson, and this piece is no exception.   I cannot wait to share her.

Before my quiet evening begins, I am going to get my massage in Watertown.  I'm very excited.  Nothing like some healing on my day of working with Brighid, right?  I shall ask for her blessing as I lay on the table.

*As Brighid is a Goddess of the hearth and home, I feel it's only appropriate to tidy it up so that she is more welcomed here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

In Which I Reflect on a Book

I finished Practical Magic in the Northern Tradition by Nigel Pennick this evening.  I was really excited about this book at first.  I really was.  As stated in an enthusiastic post when I received it in the mail, I really liked the book he coauthored with Prudence Jones.  I had high expectations; expectations that, past that visually offensive cover, I would learn so much.

Nope.  Not really...  What I thought was a contextual introduction turned into the entire book.  Had I not already read so much about Pagan holidays, symbols, tools, etc, etc, etc, this book would have been wonderful.  Now, I did learn some new things, but they were kind of trivial and/or not culturally specific.  Everything else was subject matter presented in the above linked A History of Pagan Europe.

 Pennick put most of his focus on Asatru despite the book's supposed focus on all of Northern Europe.  It was Odin this, Thor that...  This will be very helpful when comparing Druidism to Asatru, but I didn't learn anything knew about Celtic tradition.  Pennick's often eclectic approach left me baffled and/or frustrated.  He referred to Brighid, the Goddess, as a virgin even though she has a son in the Invasion myths.  He even Wiccanized her with the maiden, mother, and crone/hag deal.  That just isn't the case in Irish lore.

In the end, the book was kind of boring and, in general, a waste of time for me to read.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I shot my first large gun.  The recoil surprised me, causing me to shriek and throw the gun after firing.  Luckily it's only a single shot so the gun was empty!  My complete lack of grace was redeemed by the fact that I actually hit the target - a stationary clay pigeon. 

After that we took a walk along the Mohawk River.  It was wonderful to be outside.  Everything is turning green.  We saw some little fish as well as several invasive zebra mussels on the rocks.  I greeted the river Goddess - I didn't really have anything to offer other than my respect. 

I brought one of my ISP books with me.  The men-folk are playing the new Splinter Cell video game so I might as well take advantage of my time and study!  

More on our relationship to the Gods - Thoughts and Questions

As many of my most recent posts demonstrate, I've been contemplating our relationship with deity quite a bit.  Yesterday I mentioned the thought that the Gods we have good relationships with may try to protect us from chaotic or destructive spirits. 

Last night I started to think about what it means if the Gods you are close to are chaotic or destructive.  Brighid, I believe, has a destructive side.  She has to being connected to fire.  I believe she has a temper that can flare just as passionately as her creative, nurturing side.  I don't think she would intentionally harm me, but what about others?  What if that man whose house caught on fire really did get the stink eye from Brighid?  And if he did, where was the Morrigan, the Goddess he claimed fidelity to?  What if the Morrigan, being so enamored with death and decay, delighted in the fire?  I can almost imagine Brighid and the Morrigan winking at each other as if to say, "That will show him not to bad mouth a Goddess."

On the one hand, it makes perfect sense to me that a God, being as imperfect as the perfectly imperfect universe we live in, could have a temper tantrum or a desire for vengeance.  At the same time, the personalities we associate with them are, even when consistent with other UPG, framed by human concepts.  Ultimately I think the Gods are beyond that - so perhaps judging them as benevolent teachers or harsh punishers is human error?  Then there is the very large part of me that believes the Gods are more interested in gaining our love rather than our fear.  They may seek to teach us lessons (which may be quite uncomfortable or difficult to get through) but aren't out to harm us in any real way.  I don't think the Gods coddle us like overprotective parents but I feel them near every so often - or I simply experience them in the forces of nature.  I feel their blessings often. 

Forgive my rambling.  These are just thoughts I have had rolling around my head.  What do you think?

* Again, I'm more inclined to think he was irresponsible in some way with regards to fire safety.  Who can really say whether a God did or didn't set his house on fire?  Either way, house fires are a tragedy.  It's just something I think about from time to time...

Spring is in the Air

It's lovely to finally see some buds and even flowers on trees!  As corny as this may sound, it fills me with such joy.  The renewal of life is a marvelous thing.  

My husband is very excited today because he's getting a gun.  We're then going to some land to do target practice.  I've never shot anything other than a bee bee (beebee? bee-bee?) gun before.  I have no idea if I'll have fun or not.  It will be nice to go outside and spend time among the blossoming trees.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Gardening and Relationship to Deity

I've been collecting pots, soil, and seeds.  I've started to plant and have some seedlings.  I've been crocheting hanging pot holders.  I'm awaiting another order of heirloom seeds.  Needless to say, I love gardening and I can't wait to really get underway.  The last possible day of frost in the North Country is projected to be May 31st.  I'm reluctant to put much outside, and everything that can be planted outdoors right now has not yet arrived in the mail.

To satiate my gardening urges, I was looking at one of my favorite websites - Path to Freedom.   The family and their urban homestead really inspire me.  Anyway, while rereading their "10 Elements of Our Urban Homestead" page, I was really struck by this statement:

It may surprise you but we live under a constant dictatorship! Gardening is not a democracy. We are ruled by nature and there isn't much we can do about that. This "tough love" dictatorship teaches us the valued lessons of patience and perseverance. One hard lesson learned is that we aren't in control and can't vote to change the outcome.

It made me think about my recent posts about our relationship to the divine.  It's all well and good to say that we've evolved to a point where we have a lot of power in our sphere of influence (to the point where we can mold nature to our desires), but is it really a good thing?  We grow fields and fields of monoculture while poisoning all the competition (flora and fauna), we raise too many herd animals, and we use genetically modified seeds which, often, don't produce usable seeds the next generation.  I'm not saying it's all bad.  We had good intentions.  We have a huge, huge population to feed* and greed/ignorance have made us complacent.  I'm not innocent myself!

Anyway, thinking about trying to be more of a "natural" gardener is really humbling when you think of what may and may not happen.  The above quote is basically what I was talking about yesterday in that, regardless of how technologically advanced we are, we are still at the mercy of Mama Earth and the divine energies of the universe.  We don't have the fear them.  In fact I rather like what I've been learning about Stoicism.  Stoics, it seems, would argue that we need to accept the fact that nature/the Gods are more powerful than us.  We needn't fear them - we just need to learn how to better respect them and work with them!

Does this mean we'll always get a good crop? No.  But we'll learn so much along the way - lessons about ourselves, the world, and the Kindreds.  If we aren't successful does it mean the Gods don't favor us?  As long as we have been trying hard and are being honorable, I really don't think we lose favor from the Gods.  We may grow distant from one and find great friendship with another, and they may have hard lessons for us to learn, but the spirits we form close bonds with, I believe, won't go out of their way to hurt us.  If anything, the better the bond, the more they try to protect us from the powers of chaos and destruction that, while necessary, make life occasionally harsh.

* I'm very excited about the development of skyscraper greenhouses.  If they can remain organic and sustainable, they could potentially be very helpful in feeding large populations without the pesticides and huge, huge tracks of land needed in the past.  This, my friends, is admirable human ingenuity coupled with respect for the natural world.  I think.  I hope.  ;)  

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Still Waiting on the Massage

I said I would tell you how my massage went.  Well, I would if I had had one.  The directions Google Maps gave me were, surprisingly, wrong.  I've never, ever had a problem with it before, but apparently this has happened more than once for the massage therapist.  The address on her website has taken GPS devices to a completely different location than the one Google Maps sent me to, and both are wrong.  She gave me explicit directions for my rescheduled appointment on Thursday.  I cannot wait!
Lupa recently posted about our relationship with deities and how it relates to our own will and power.  I thought it was well-written and pertinent to my recent post about the evolution of our relationship with deities, specifically Brighid.

It is amazing to me how much human beings will disempower themselves when dealing with deities, spirits, and other such beings, simply because they are deities or spirits. Of course, those of us raised in the States, at least, where the dominant religious paradigm involves bowing before a parent-deity who is supposedly so great as to be unbeatable are already starting at a disadvantage, similar to women who are raised with the constant message that they should wilt before men. If one is to bow and worship, it should be by one's own choice, not by the idea that because we are only humans we are therefore only fit for such interaction.

And yet we are capable of so much more. In our own realm of reality, we have wrought countless changes--both for the better and for the worse--with our own collective hands. We have stretched beyond the bounds of our ancestors' biological limitations to increase our knowledge, our technology, and even our lifespans. To say that these things were only the will of the Gods is to disempower ourselves and our own creativity and ingenuity. Yes, Hermes may have adapted to the Internet, and Artemis may watch over feminists. But we are not only puppets of the deities, and they did not create computers or nonviolent protests or the atomic bomb or the printing press themselves.

Let's give ourselves more credit. It is not hubris or arrogance. It is acknowledging that we as a species are powerful in our own right. And as powerful beings in our own realm, we do not need to simply roll over for beings who are powerful in theirs. If I did that, I would have been destroyed in my first journeys into the spirit realm. Being strong does not mean being defiant. Just as we should respect other species of animals for the power they hold in their own bailiwicks, and plants in theirs, and the elements of weather in theirs, and deities in theirs, so should we respect ourselves and the power of our bailiwicks.
That last bit of emphasis was mine, because I believe that respect can go a long way with with any being.  That said, I don't think the Gods' power ends in their realm - I think it has significant carryover in our "own".  I think the Gods are more powerful than us but, as I've said before, we've evolved past a point of fear (most of us, anyway) and the Gods are more interested in having our respect than our loathing or terror.  We should be students/friends/lovers/partners/hosts and engage in a symbiotic relationship with deity.

Lupa's post does give me something to think about though.  For example, Brighid is very much my muse and I credit a lot of my inspiration to her.  To me, she is a power of inspiration incarnate.  So how much of the ideas are mine?  Do they become mine?  Are they a blessing she gives to me and all that is required back is thanks and a job well done?  Is the final piece my own or partly hers as well?

I recently read a biography about John Lennon.  I loved reading about the origin of different songs. For example, "Beautiful Boy"is about his son Sean Lennon.  In my own understanding, the original idea was inspired by his son.  John turned the idea into his own creation by interpreting their relationship into his own words and images.  When the song was finished and released, it was given back to Sean and to the world.  In the end, it belongs to all three.  Perhaps that is the same with muse-inspired art?  Or anything involving the Kindreds?  They give, we take.  We give, they take.  Everyone benefits in some way when the relationship is reciprocal and respectful.

If we aren't reciprocal and respectful to the Kindreds?  Well, we only need to watch the news to see what's happening to the environment.  Whatever the skeptics of global warming say, I firmly believe that we played a part and that we are greatly responsible for much of the death and destruction occurring around us.  In the end, though, Mama Earth is capable of swallowing us whole without a thought, and the sun is capable of swallowing her.  That's just the way it is, or at least the way we know it to be right now.  If the Kindreds aren't respectful to us?  Well...  There's always this. ;)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Catechism for a Witch's Child

I have no idea where I originally found this, but it was saved in a desktop folder.  I think it's a lovely poem.

Catechism for a Witch’s Child
By J. L. Stanley

When they ask to see your gods
your book of prayers
show them lines
drawn delicately with veins
on the underside of a bird's wing
tell them you believe
in giant sycamores mottled
and stark against a winter sky
and in nights so frozen
stars crack open spilling
streams of molten ice to earth
and tell them how you drink
a holy wine of honeysuckle
on a warm spring day
and of the softness
of your mother who never taught you
death was life's reward
but who believed in the earth
and the sun
and a million, million light years
of being


I'm officially on vacation!  What am I going to do with myself?  Well besides sleeping in and possibly visiting family, I'm planning to do some ISP and Art Guild SP work.  I have numerous books and articles to read, an essay I'd like to start, and drawings to work on.  I also have my various sewing projects to keep me busy.

I'm really excited about tomorrow.  Tomorrow, dear readers, I'm going to get a massage at Massage Works in Watertown!  As my husband guesses, it's sure to be an excellent start to my vacation!  The massage therapist, Patti, also does reiki.  Down the road I would love to get a combination massage/reiki treatment.  Yes, I know, I received my reiki I attunement and can perform self-treatments...  but really, isn't it nice to have someone else do it too?  My poor back is so achey; I'm terribly excited about tomorrow.  I'll be sure to post a review!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Looking for a good book for your Pagan child?

I came across a childrens' book today and, after flipping through it, I couldn't pass it up for my growing collection of young Pagan literature.  Any parents/educators should be familiar with the hugely successful "Magic Tree House" books.  I see second and third graders reading them all the time.  This book, entitled Leprechauns and Irish Folklore, by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce, is "a nonfiction companion to" a fictional book they wrote called Leprechaun in Late Winter.  I read all 109 pages of the companion in an hour or so.

What's so impressive about this book is how open-minded and scholarly it is.  While the authors don't discuss the evolution of Lugh to leprechaun, they do briefly discuss the Tuatha De Danann.  There's a whole chapter devoted to the modern history of Irish folklore.  It features sections about Douglas Hyde and Lady Gregory, for example, and even introduces the subject of British occupation.

Different spirits are discussed, such as the trooping fairies, pookas, and clurichauns.  The authors give examples of how people have/can befriend the good folk, as well as how to defend against them.  All the examples are consistent with the lore and folklore studies I've been reading.  The selkies have a section too but are called merrows (or múir ógh for sea maiden).  Speaking of Gaelic, the Irish is pretty accurate as far as I can tell with my novice understanding.  Children reading will learn about the filí and raths for instance.  I love that the authors used actual Irish!

My only real complaint is that the Druids are presented only as "wise men" (73) rather than men and women.  The book sometimes relies too heavily on the more modern idea of diminutive winged fairies but makes up for it by explaining that they can appear however they want.  Otherwise I highly recommend it for Pagan parents, especially those with Irish hearth cultures.    It's very well written, contains beautiful illustrations and photographs, and even includes a section with further reading and research tips for youngsters to follow!  Rather than calling a belief in fairies nonsensical, the book leaves it up to the reader to decide for him or herself what to believe.  I really appreciated that bit of spiritual tolerance / allowance for magic.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Another book to read (plus some personal thoughts on polytheism)

The third book I ordered for Magic 1 arrived yesterday!  It's called Practical Magic in the Northern Tradition by Nigel Pennick whom you may remember is the co-author of A History of Pagan Europe along with Prudence Jones.  Having thoroughly enjoyed A History, I couldn't wait to start it.  Yay for reading three books simultaneously!  I feel like I'm back in college.  I haven't progressed very far in Practical Magic, and a lot of it has been review, but I'm enjoying it all the same.  I've even learned a few new things.

Pennick is what many would call a "soft polytheist."*  He makes a lot of generalizations about the similarities between cultures, which sometimes annoys me, but he also points out their unique differences as well.  In the introduction he says "...what is important is the essence, not the form, and that while the corresponding deity of another culture may have a considerably different form, its essence is the same"(12).  I must be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with soft polytheism.  Some days it makes a bit of sense, while others it seems too simplistic given the remarkable diversity of the universe.**  All the same, I have a lot of respect for Pennick as a writer and researcher and look forward to learning more from him!

*"All gods are one God, and all goddesses are one Goddess, and there is one Initiator." - Dion Fortune.

** When it comes down to it, I'm more of an agnostic hard polytheist pantheist.  My experiences, as well as the lore I am most drawn to, lead me to believe in many, individual beings.  I have to be a bit agnostic because who really, really knows how the universe works?  The pantheist bit comes from my belief that, even if there are multiple deities, there exists a ubiquitous, unifying energy.  Based on my own experiences, observations, and studies, this energy is very powerful as far as creation and destruction go, but has no consciousness as we experience it.  It's just energy/chi/magic/the Force, and it moves through us and the Kindreds.  My belief is that some beings have more access to and/or understanding of this force, hence the power of deities compared to us.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I often wonder this about my Catholic family members...

Monday, April 5, 2010

The archetype meme all the cool Pagans are doing. ;)

This was neat.  Pretty accurate about myself, I think!

Your result for Awakening the Hero Within: Hero Archetype Test ...

You are the Creator

71% Innocent, 17% Orphan, 67% Warrior, 63% Caregiver, 83% Seeker, 71% Lover, 38% Destroyer, 88% Creator, 76% Magician, 71% Ruler, 67% Sage and 63% Fool!

Goal: Identity
Fear: Inauthenticity
Response to Dragon/Problem: Claim it as part of the self
Task:  self-creation, self-acceptance
Gift:  Individuality, vocation
Addictions: Work, creativity

The Creator is the center of improvement, always striving to create and better her/his surroundings. The Soul is the center of the Creator’s dance, and it seeks to find a deeper sense of self and wisdom even at the price of the Ego’s functions of keeping us healthy and functioning. The Soul is the source of our freewill, and the healthy creator can tap into the potential, creating circumstances while others feel acted upon by her/his actions.
The Creator is driven to be authentic despite the costs. Creators are threatening to Warriors and Seekers, who are very concerned with how things are ‘supposed’ to be.

Shadow Creator:
The Shadow creator creates without any sense of responsibility for what s/he is making. The Shadow Creator often will deny his/her responsibility in events. Most often, the Creator is shunned by the community, and a Shadow Creator seeks to create to disturb the community from which s/he is shunned. If a creation comes out badly, a Shadow Creator will blame circumstances. 

Folkish Heathenism vs All of Pagandom?

Having worked with many wonderful Pagans in an open network/group, I've experienced the frustration, sometimes even disgust, with other Pagan paths/traditions.  I've also experienced the mental and social reconciliation that can happen when two people who believe very differently can come together, learn, and make something beautiful like a ritual or even a lasting friendship.

In MVPN down in Utica, there was always a huge lack of Heathens.  We had one come during a meet and greet (I was not lucky enough to make his acquaintance) but he never returned.  He was looking for others like him and not the Wiccans that were present.  My friend Parallax worships Heathen deities but I'm not 100% sure if she calls herself a Heathen.  She practices through an ADF context, as do other would-be Heathens who take issue with Asatru's folkish (sometimes racist) stance.

Jason Pitzl-Waters, author of "The Wild Hunt" blog, steps up and questions the often deliberate distance placed between "us" (All of Pagandom) and "them" (the "traditional" Heathens) in his entry entitled "Asatru and the Alternative Right."  The whole she-bang is definitely worth reading, but the best bit is the final paragraph:

In the end it comes down to this. I don’t have to like all Pagans, I certainly don’t have to practice with all Pagans, and I’m long over the notion of any sort of real “Pagan Unity” ever being feasible, but a broader idea of solidarity is important if we are to capitalize and build on the legal, political, and social gains we have made. When we trash each other to impress other groups or individuals, we don’t damage the integrity or utility of those other religions and traditions, but we do harm the vital solidarity necessary to get the things we all want. This doesn’t mean you can’t draw distinctions or even civilly criticize paths different from your own, but when folks start implying that you shouldn’t be in the larger movement, that’s counter-productive and drains enthusiasm from the activists working for the rights of all Pagans.
Jason is brave to stand up for everyone, and I applaud him for doing so.  At the same time, we need to remember that not all self-described Heathens are like that.  It's unfortunate that many Heathens have ostracized its more liberal members - the ones who see beyond skin color and country of origin.  Thankfully they have a home in Ár nDraíocht Féin  and the larger Pagan community.  We have our differences, but we need to stand together for our rights.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Exploring Watertown and Sewing a Skirt

I had a lovely day with my husband and parents yesterday.  I showed my parents the Paddock Arcade, where I broought my mother Moontide Arts, the New Age shop, while the men waited outside.  She really loved all the clothing there.  We also went to some boutiques on Court St. like the fair trade/thrift shop and the new "Spinning Wheel."  It was nice to walk around the city on such a gorgeous day.  I bought myself a sun dress, a locally made soy candle, some incense, and a dragon soap dish for the bathroom*.  We had lunch at The Mustard Seed where my mum bought me some yummy vegan cookies.  Later I served my family a homemade meal of shepherds pie, bread, and deviled eggs from the local farmers.  My mum provided the wine and my dad brought us some dill mushrooms.  Mmm!

Hubby and I are having a fun day today.  We went outside to throw a football around, then walked our ferrets which was fun.

I finished assembling my sleeve skirt**.  It was super easy.  My husband had some button-down shirts that didn't fit him.  Most of them are going to charity but I selected a couple to construct this fun and simple piece***.

I have to iron it again but I'm happy with it.  I was thinking of adding some sort of trim but hubby thinks it looks fine as is.  I may add some jingle bells but we'll see...

* Some of you may think that's awfully kitsch.  Just remember that taste is relative!
** I got the idea from this Thread Banger tutorial.
***For my lj friends:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I tried to meditate before bed last night but kept falling asleep.  I hate nights like that.  Obviously I need to start earlier.  

Friday, April 2, 2010

New Book!

One of the other books I ordered for Magic 1 came!  It's called The Magic Arts in Celtic Britain by Lewis Spence.  I'm excited to have another book on Celtic magic to read because the first book, Irish Celtic Magical Tradition, while very good, also has meditative practices in it that the author encourages the reader to do several times before moving on.  I've been doing the first one but have only had a significant amount of success once.  The other times I've either fallen asleep or made it to the outside of a city but couldn't get in.  The one time I made it into the city, I spoke with one of the teachers of the Tuatha de Danann and this really helped solidify my current understanding of the Gods.

I've yet to start The Magic Arts in Celtic Britain but it's supposed to more broad, whereas the other book focuses on the first and second battles of Moytura.  

On the creative front I did a bit of sewing today.  I started to take in a button down shirt that my husband received as a gift.  It's a couple sizes too large for him and I've been meaning to experiment with it.  I also took a couple of his old button downs that are now too small and started a skirt inspired by a Thread Banger tutorial.  I just have to hem it and I'll have a fun skirt to wear in the warm weather we've been experiencing!

I haven't been drawing much recently.  It's not that I don't want to, it's just that I keep forgetting!  I'm suddenly pulled back into my sewing so other creative pursuits are on the back burner.  I've been thinking about what I could do for my still life and I think I may draw my traveling altar with all the items spread around it.  That could be neat.

Pagans of Upstate NY

This post is to let other Pagans in Upstate NY know about the newly reorganized and renamed forum Pagans of Upstate NY (PUNY).  It was originally for Pagans in the Mohawk Valley, but some of us moved and the core group decided to form more of a private Wiccan study group/coven.  The forum remained open for networking purposes until it was suggested that we reach out to other geographical regions in Upstate NY.  There are a lot of groups and, unfortunately, we're often isolated from one another.    Although I don't advocate for all groups to be open, I do think it's important for Pagans of all paths to communicate with each other and network.  We need each other for support.  We need to be knowledgeable about what else is out there in case a seeker comes who isn't right for one group but would be perfect for another.  If someone is moving from one region to another, we hope to be of help in sharing knowledge of who and what is available in certain areas.  We should be sharing what sort of workshops are happening in different regions.  Witchvox is excellent in many ways but it doesn't always have everything, and a forum for otherwise isolated Pagans could be really helpful.

So if you are from Upstate NY, or have any interest in our area, please consider yourselves invited to forum!  We're still working on reorganizing some things and getting a complete mission statement on the main page of the forum, but input from other regions would be really helpful.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

What a gorgeous day outside!  I spent a lot of time in the sun, walking around the village and helping to clean a park.  I'm not sure what I did to myself, but my ankle hurts.  Perhaps a full reiki treatment is in order?

Last night I heard tree frogs for the first time.  That's always a big deal to me.  It's one of my favorite sounds, probably because I grew up falling asleep to them outside my bedroom window.  It's so comforting.  Living in Whitesboro, NY (the more developed areas) most of last year, I didn't often hear them so I'm glad to find them around my new home.  Added to their chorus are the sounds of bigger frogs from the ponds surrounding the southern edge of the development.

I did some sewing last night.  The Sif doll I've been working on is nearly done*.  Her hangerock is done.  It's fancier fabric than any Norsewoman probably ever used but she is a Goddess.  I need to find some oval brooches** for it.  I was going to try making some with polymer clay but I want to see if I can find any suitable buttons first.  I also made her a belt and have to find some appropriate things to hang from it.  Finally I'll attach the hair.  I have long, saffron colored wool for that.  I'm not sure if I want to leave it as is or braid it.

* Her outfit is not modeled after the illustration on the Wikipedia page.

** A friend told me they're called turtles.  This was really confusing to me at first.  I thought "Wait... is there a story about Sif and some turtles?  That's one I've not heard..."