Saturday, June 14, 2014

2014- Still Alive

This year has been a long, tough one to date.

In January the Great Queen began a rewiring and take-down process on a daily basis that often left me incapacitated and not-really-here. Piece by piece energetically, intellectually, and emotionally I was taken apart. By February and PantheaCon, the changes were sufficient to catch the attention of Gods I had not been previously aware of but who now have claimed my life and the Work I do.
In March my beloved younger sister was diagnosed with severe brain cancer- she called me from the hospital and I left the next morning for the 17+ hour drive. I remained at her side for a month and the two of us held each other together. She lived in the same area as my much loved friends of the Coru Cathobodua, who, individually and as a group, provided both of us energy, friendship, support, and solace through this time. (She is now being cared for by family in our hometown, and is doing reasonably well with treatments.)

The Gods of Thrace along with the Morrigan continued to Work on me. I was claimed to eventually become an Oracle- still in process for that one- as well as additional priestly duties, including becoming a more developed "horse" (someone who carries Gods/spirits- read "Drawing Down the Spirits" for info.) I was already a good healer as well, but this is a new level; grad school, if you will.
The final crack to what I had been, that which completely shattered me, landed in April. I moved to a new location three thousand miles away where I could fall apart without energetically damaging those around me as well as where I needed to be to train and initiate in the tradition in which I am to become a priest. I had to leave my marriage and my children, but it was done cleanly and with honest understanding.
To round out the destruction of my old life, the woman who had been my closest friend closed the door on our friendship and I lost my mundane work contract of 6.5 years, within a week of each other.

With the firm, unobtrusive and deeply understanding support of fellow polytheist priests I wept and railed and fought the pain. Hung on to my sanity. Wrestled with the worst parts of myself. This is why there are so few us. We talk to Gods and spirits. We've given our lives to Gods of Consequence, to create, build and maintain living, breathing traditions. It takes everything, everything, to do this. To be broken and bleeding and get up again, because it matters. Because warriors need healers, Gods need priests, the next generation needs teachers and role models. Whether it's writing the books that need to be written, building the Temples, or guiding and encouraging each other, it matters.

Friday, January 31, 2014

We Are Not All One

This may actually come as surprise to those who've heard me talk about particle physics before. Not that I'm anything more than a semi-educated layman in these matters, but I do try to explore the more scientific side of some New Age ideas. (Fun website: phdcomics.com)
In essence the particle theory is that ALL known matter (skip dark matter for now)- are comprised of the same sub-atomic particles. So that means everything from you to the sun to your computer and everything is, at its smallest known level, exactly the same. So seems kinda easy to make the jump that we're all the same at a macro cosmic level too, right? What about holographic universe, that the entirety is contained in the piece? Well, there is a reason these calculations are still called theories. All my examples can be extrapolated to reflect other possibilities and interactions.

Back to the point (I swear I have one) is that while the particles seem to be limited (previously unknown interactions are being discovered at a phenomenal rate), but combinations built on combinations are not. You are not a star at the moment. You are presenting as human (or at least mostly so). Your computer is not a coffee mug and so forth. I am not you, nor am I even a reflection of you, or you of me. My combination is not yours.

The concepts of "we are all one" and "everything in the universe is a reflection of you" are ripples of monotheism. (An interesting blog article that gave me the idea for that phrase can be found here: Confronting the Black Hole) When we realize that we are indeed our own sovereign entity, when we recognize our interactions are with other entities in their own combinations-of-existence, we can recognize diversity as positive. The "we are all one" narrative is downright harmful when someone uses the concept to perpetuate their own idea as "the way it should be for everyone." E.g. theology in politics. Or assuming that privilege doesn't exist, we're all African, etc. (Those are some very weighty topics on their own, but the underlying theme of we're-all-the-same is pervasive.)

A gift of recognizing we're not all one is to stop comparing ourselves to others and allow us to be in the moment with who we are. My partner and I are not "one", we are two individuals who choose to walk our paths together. We do not assume each other to to feel, think, or see the same way. To recognize that we have the ability and right to own our individuality and to change by informed choice is incredibly empowering. Here's where it really gets hard: figuring out who you are! That can be frightening as well as freeing. Fortunately, this is a process not a result. Have things in common. Share likes and dislikes with others, but let go of the assumption that everyone is you. They're not, and when you acknowledge that you can actually see them for who THEY are, not as you want them to be. The implications are enormous, but just for today, really LOOK at someone consciously and without expectation or judgement. Who is there?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Birth and PTSD

In this post I want to tackle the ideals that are forced onto people regarding this extraordinarily important event. I say "people" because it affects all genders and backgrounds and their expectations for themselves AND for others. I realize that to say "women" is to show cis-gender privilege, so please know that I include ALL persons-with-a-uterus who choose- or would choose- to use said organ. A person-with-a-uterus forced to use it against their will or desire is not covered here because that is a fucking horrible thing that deserves its own forum for discussion. 

I write this because more than a decade later I realize my own PTSD was still being triggered when coming across these myths/expectations. The more I discuss it the more persons I find who tearfully share their own stories, having been trapped in feeling that they are alone in their pain and trauma. (Should you choose to share your story, this is a safe place to do so. All comments are moderated.) If some of the below points are true for you, I'm glad your experience was good or empowering! It's the expectation that a good experience is the norm is misplaced and damaging.

These are what has affected me personally that I'm discussing but there are obviously more, for example: Someone (any gender) who doesn't want to birth and/or raise children is somehow a soulless deviant. That one really pisses me off. I have 2 children, 2003 & 2008, there's a 5 year gap between them because making the choice for a second pregnancy was not easy. I am very, very grateful that I HAD the choice at all. 

I need to acknowledge some facts regarding my privileges as a white, cis-gender (not het or main stream religion, but neither was readily apparent), married, of-appropriate-age woman. I had ready access to (mostly) competent medical care that wouldn't bankrupt me. I didn't have to be concerned about how I would be received or treated due to all those things that give me an unfair advantage. I would later have access to counseling and medication and receive very little flak for seeking those things. It makes me mad that other people don't get basic human rights and courtesy. I'll do my best to not let my privilege downplay anyone else's experience. If you do feel that way, I am truly sorry and accept that I've screwed up, even unintentionally.

This needs to be discussed because people feel isolated and unaware that this can happen- and that it happens far more frequently than patriarchy wants to admit. Here is a study reported by ScienceDaily that shows 1 in 3(!!) persons suffer at least some symptoms.

So, let's look at some of these expectations around birth:

1) It's a grand miracle.
2) A person will feel amazing love for the child.
3) It's beautiful.
4) That the pain disappears almost immediately.
5) That the pain is forgotten.
6) That it's totally natural and doesn't need medical help. (Maternal death rates are still horrifically high and incredibly disproportionate to persons of color and low income. Report here on the WHO webpage.)

I'm incredibly fortunate that I didn't have anyone *in my face* insisting that these things are true, which is a product of said patriarchal expectations and extremely hurtful. The birth process can be gory, bloody and dehumanizing. All pretense at dignity may be stripped away involuntarily. Even ridicule in the moment from medical personnel and family is not uncommon. For those who have experienced such ridicule I don't need to clarify, but for the rest: if you or someone you know has asked/demanded/wondered/commented on why this person isn't conforming to the standard the asker expected, then stop making it all about you and be kind and unobtrusively supporting instead. 

Trigger warning: I left out the gory details, but this is not a comfortable or pleasant story.
**
I have birthed two children and have had one miscarriage. The first birth was vaginal, in the hospital with medication, the second by emergency caesarean section. I was incredibly happy with the c-section. The overall difference was how I was treated in addition to the fact I suffered less physical damage with the c-section despite the fact I was cut open without being properly anesthetized first.

The first time was without dignity and lacked in compassion. Even with medication it was, bluntly, horrible.  I was unable to walk without assistance for 2 weeks and to add insult to injury, all my muscles had been damaged, including bladder control. Physically I required additional restorative surgeries; one 18 months later and another just last year (2013) that took out the uterus as well finishing the repairs.
For nearly three years I was unable to have sex without significant pain, pain which subconsciously tied itself to the time I had been raped.
3 months after the birth of my first child, (I suspect this happens more frequently than anyone I know talks about) at a post-partum check-up I hesitantly mentioned to the nurse doing the intake checklist that I thought I was feeling depressed. "Well have you been curled up in a corner crying?" she snapped irritably. 
"Uh, no..." (As it would turn out, that was actually a "not yet".)
"Then you aren't that depressed."
Because all of those expectations above failed, the medical system failed me, I felt tremendous guilt as if I were somehow to blame.

I would go the next 3 years without treatment while the chemical damage continued in my brain. I now have bi polar II, for which medication mismanagement nearly brought about my death in 2011.
**

I'm alive. Too many times I've heard or read about people who didn't make it, who commit emotional or physical suicide. Please, please reject the expectations and be present. As a Pagan, I refer to this non-judgmental, loving, compassionate listening as holding sacred space. You can do this for yourself, as well. It's hard, damn hard sometimes. Even with a good amount of therapy behind me, strong interpersonal relationships and a solid spiritual foundation, writing this is difficult.
It would also be strongly remiss to not mention my partner's active love and care to which I give high credit for why I've done as well as I have. I've also built a network of friends and friendly acquaintances who have willingly listened, become educated, and demonstrated compassion. I had to utilize that today. That is what I hope to accomplish here on a larger scale: opening the dialogue to maybe prevent even one person suffering as I did and to encourage everyone to approach each other compassionately.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Friendzone, aka You don't get to own me.

On my fb page I shared the following image, which is a pretty damn nice way of phrasing it: 



This is a man's response it received (not from any friend of mine): 


"The problem with that post is that it makes it sound as if women aren't just as (and in most cases I have seen, more) shallow and materialistic as men. The "Friendzone" works both ways. Yes, men and women have different 'plumbing' and our mental algorithms can vary from slightly to polar opposite, yet in the end we are all human and have the same shitty faults. I think it's about time we stopped trying to figure out who is to blame or which gender is better. I think it's time we start focusing on what we can do to improve ourselves and through that improvement increase our chances of finding that special someone who's insanity matches our own."

Welcome to male privilege and patriarchy folks. If you just nodded to any of that post, that's a HUGE fucking problem.

My response on facebook:

"Unfortunately, your comment actually ignores the entire point and tries to shift the blame back onto women. The point is that men expect to be entitled to a woman's body regardless of how she feels. This is called rape culture. It's why the "friendzone" is so despised by men, a woman is a 'bitch' or 'shallow' just because she doesn't happen to want to drop her pants for every dude who thinks he deserves it because he made a pretense of treating her like a f**cking human being. 
Let me be very clear: bringing male privilege to my page will not go well."

That's the short version and here's why agreeing to that post is THE problem. To be able to justify and/or ignore despicable behaviour simply because the majority agrees with you is the ESSENCE of privilege. "But I don't do those things!" you might say. Are you sure? What makes you feel discomfort? Are you being challenged? Would you have stood up and said, "Wait a minute, expecting her to conform to your idea is kinda fucked up and proves the whole thing to begin with." 

If you can look me in the eye and say yes, I have and do confront people of my own identity to change this, then we're on the right track. If your response is like this person, "well what about THEM," you ARE the problem. If you're experiencing discomfort, GOOD. I'm not here to coddle your ego. Dig into that shit and get rid of bad programming. It's empowering to do so, for yourself AND others. 

If you still think a "nice" guy earns sex because he didn't force someone, here's a enlightening post in comic format.

 Change isn't easy. Growth isn't comfortable. Writing this is also about challenging ME to sit up, take notice and fucking do something about it. So what are YOU going to do today?



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Message on Boundaries.

I write in a journal occasionally. Glancing over recent entries I saw this meditation report and thought it would be interesting to share. That particular evening I was drinking tea and getting ready for sleep, but felt an anxiety attack coming on. Such a thing would keep me up for hours as thoughts would spiral inward on an obsessive-paranoia track. Sleep would bring rage dreams. 
Instead, I settled myself in a sitting position in my pillows and checked my breathing pattern. My thought focus was the hermetic Principle of Rhythm, rising above the pendulum swing of emotion. As my body dropped into a relaxed state, the following formed...


Raging river tossing about through a gorge on its way to the sea. A solid stone bridge arched over the frothy water, as solid as the bedrock from which it was formed yet covered in scroll work and interwoven knots. I sat in a lotus position at the apex of the bridge. Serenely I watched the river and understood this to represent struggle and difficulty. At first it seemed to be only my own but I soon realized it was all struggle.

I began to see people frantically thrashing about in the river and I wanted to throw them rope life-lines. However, one end needed to be secured to something for them to be able to pull out of the water. Immediately noted that I could help a couple personally but doing so would quickly pull me down as well.  Projections appeared jutting out from the bridge that I could secure the ropes to. These represented different aspects of support: faith, family, compassion, forgiveness, and more. I can offer tools and direction but cannot be personally invested in others' struggles and outcomes. 
I noticed I had my own line but that it was not attached to the bridge. Among the field of stars behind me that held the Gods, my line went directly to Her. It appeared not as a rope, but a silver-grey cord. As I watched, it encased me fully in a shimmering second skin. Completely at peace, I turned back to the river. Several fellow priests, of Hers and Others, joined me on the bridge. We stood in solidarity. There is much work to be done.




I rose to awareness just enough to resettle into a comfortable position to sleep. Anxiety was completely erased. The next morning the vision was just as clear and I wrote it down, though the significance of virtually every piece didn't settle in immediately. 

This was a fresh reminder of maintaining boundaries while assisting other people in their journeys. It is just that: maintenance. When I'm not certain where that lies, I know I can look to my Goddess for direction. Just being able to break out of the anxiety spiral is incredibly important. Frequently this past year I've been getting a distinct message: get your shit together, there is no time for you to waste. Doing so is not necessarily easy or simple, but oh-so-worth it. I'm excited for what's next!

photo credit: Daleberts via photopin cc
photo credit: Fabio Ricco via photopin cc

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Don't call me a jerk because I'm an extrovert.

There are some fundamental misunderstandings between the ideals of extro- and intro-version. Recently many articles and items have come out about being an introvert, how that works and the best ways to respect that. The rub lies with shaming the extroverts for being themselves. Turn about is fair play? Not really, since what we're looking at is the opposite of "treat others how you want to be treated." Granted this maxim should be "treat others how THEY want to be treated." However, until you know what that looks like, where do you start? Start with what you know. An extrovert engages others, not to "be an energy vampire" or "take the good vibes from everyone else," but because they're sharing what makes them happy.  How could I assume that someone wants the type of treatment that I would perceive as being callous, unwanted, and unloved? So the talks and comics that share with me the understanding that this different treatment *is ok* have been very important.

I've been working on myself (and I know many who don't) to recognize when that friends aren't talking to me, specifically, that they really are busy/tired/need down time, not ignoring. To ignore someone is to imply intent to disregard that person. I assume the issue lies in their needs, not my own, so I don't start making myself crazy over the idea of "did I do something wrong?" I trust those close to me to let me know if I really did overstep a line, rather than assuming I did.

It's been painful for the introverts that all this time extroverts have done all the wrong things to try to encourage them to be happy. It's been painful for extroverts, feeling that their introverted friends wouldn't want to talk to or see them, especially in times of need for either side. Now is the time to recognize without judgement each others' variable abilities to cope with- or need- stimuli.

So yes, thank you for letting me know the best way and place to meet you. I do, and always have, wanted you to be happy.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Another ghost story.

I was having a nice chat with a young woman one evening and she mentioned her frequent experiences with spirits. In particular she told me about the occurrences at her father's machine shop. She and the other employee Joe* regularly find "misplaced" tools and equipment that will not work one day and fine the next. Occasionally when in a different part of the building she heard her name being called, would go back to the office but her dad Jack* had not said anything. It all sounded quite interesting, so I talked to him. While he hadn't experienced anything personally he definitely believed his daughter. We agreed that I'd visit the shop the next day and see if I could learn anything.

The warehouse is located farther out of town than I expected. The area is mostly flat livestock land, dotted with the occasional building or home and pine trees. This is old land in northern California, settled by the First Nations and invaded by Spaniards long before the Oregon Trail that brought many (including my great grandparents) to live near there. As it would turn out though, this particular spirit was somewhat more recent.

My dear sister Sai has been training her awareness for the subtle energies, so this was also a good exercise for her. She was driving so I had already shifted perceptions when we arrived. I hung back a little, listening to the spirit chattering at me while I watched everyone else. The warehouse was very noisy with working metal fabrication and cutting machines. The heavy, somewhat sharp scent of metal and oil permeated the air. When Jack asked me for what I was getting, my response was pretty humorous. I shared that this was a boy of about 12 or so who just loved the machines. I was so flushed with the spirit's enthusiasm that I started talking like him. "It's just so NEAT, look at it! Could you imagine?! This is so great!" I saw a cap on him that specifically brought to mind turn-of-the-century attire. He was mischievous in the way that a boy can be, the kind that would make his mum smile in fond exasperation.

Joe, an older man, then spoke up. He told us about a small cemetery not a 1/4 mile away, holds only about 50 graves, from the late 1800's. He also asked about "a woman wearing a blue dress" that he would see in a particular spot from time to time. From what I gathered from the spirit though, it was an energy impression of his mother but not actually "her."
Excited to see the cemetery, Sai and I went down the road. The cemetery was not visible due to another building in the way and it was set in a bit of a hollow next to the railroad tracks. Jack had asked if I could get a name. While the boy told me "Sam" I was extremely reluctant to say so as I have very little confidence in my ability to accurately translate names from the other side, if you will.

One of my sisters-in-law had shared with me her personally successful technique for finding specific graves. She is a genealogist and searching places with thousands of graves can be far too taxing without a little help. She would simply ask, "Show me where you are," and follow the intuitive pull. Sai and I walked through the gap in the ancient wire and wood post fence and stood there for a moment. I had told her that info and I wanted to see if she got the same pull I did. She pointed at the same corner I was being internally dragged to, but we set off slowly, looking around as we went.

The graveyard had no name and no wall but it was clearly cared for. Most of the graves had a flower, a few some other trinkets. An old hammer leaned against one headstone. It was a quiet place. The area we found ourselves was a family plot, appeared to be adult siblings with their children. The first stone that caught my eye was this one:



     Says "Son of, Died April 28, 1874 Aged 14 years, 3 months and 20 days." Age is about right, but the year of death is a little early...   Walked around the back to see-
 Samuel.

But we weren't quite done, it seems. Also part of this section, a few stones away was this one:


"Henry A Lean. Died September 6, 1901 age 12 years, 3 months and 23 days."

The name is different, but the age and years line up precisely. So, this spirit is still there as I was very specifically told to let it be. My sis and I have a few theories around this but I'd like to see if anyone else picks up something. I love these little mysteries, they're so much fun!

* Names changed.
All pictures taken by me.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Video blog 1


video

This is a test and a first attempt at figuring out the software. For my multilingual readers I will be putting a transcript here as well, probably next week as I'm out of town.

Hope you enjoy it!


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Fear of Success

What if you saw one of the purposes of your life and were afraid to pursue it, not because you might fail, but because of the changes success would bring? I can think of plenty of reasons not to try, most of which are actually only one: what if I'm not good enough? Funny enough, from a logical perspective I *am* so the fear is not "I can't," but "what if I do?"
Fear relies on lack of understanding and greater awareness. So as I sit here, I will analyze these fears and pay attention to one great truth:

Photo by @Muschelschloss


I am a Priestess of the Morrigan and I am a diplomat: I will reach out to as many as I can. Fear: am I treading the line of prostelyzing, which I (as many pagans) utterly depise? Answer: no, because I do not and will not make these claims: only one way for anything- not how She exists, not how to relate to Her, not what a devotee must do. Nothing bad happens to anyone based on my interpretations of Her desires. Fear: not educated enough. Answer: I will not ever stop learning. It is simply not possible to be educated in all areas so I will rely on my friends and fellows who are experts where I lack.  Fear: of being harmed. Answer: to me, it is better to take the punch than to flinch at every raised fist or cruel word. This is a warrior's path, regardless of the form the fight takes.

Why do I even bother to put myself out there?  It is the right action. It is for Love. Love for my Goddess, love for myself, my brothers and sisters in Her light, for what we can be and do together. It is my Call and when I look past the fear, I can see the immense joy that awaits. For those who are treading dark and difficult paths, I will build the hearth fire so they may find their way with Love.

I am Her priestess and I can be no one else.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Chris Benoit

My husband and I follow professional wrestling, for those not "in the know" it is basically a male soap opera. The men and women are both actors and athletes (albeit some better than others!) who operate under a grueling schedule in a business where injuries can and do happen regularly but it doesn't stop them from performing. Often one doesn't find out until later that a wrestler managed to effectively hide the fact they were working with situations like broken bones, even necks; these aren't the injuries touted as part of the script, if you will.

On June 24, 2007, instead of the usual Monday Night Raw, WWE aired live a tribute to Chris Benoit when the first news of his death came out. At the time they had no knowledge of anything about the circumstances and so celebrated the man he had been. I still feel this was an appropriate thing, as the Chris Benoit of that final weekend was not the Chris they knew and cared for. He is now most known for the murder of his wife and child then committing suicide. There are many, many questions and speculations why such a tragedy occurred. A plausible concern is the amount of brain damage he had that was discovered during the autopsy: "Benoit's brain was so severely damaged it resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer's patient." Understandably (if not exactly ethically) the WWE quickly distanced itself from any possible accusations that the injuries wrestlers suffer could have that effect and in the process have removed Chris's name and likeness as much as feasible from association with the company.

One sunny afternoon two weeks later I was outside in the beautiful Maine countryside and pondering on those questions when I was snatched away from the here-and-now to witness the following. I have no memory of the physical world during those long minutes. In this case I was strictly an observer; there was nothing for me to do at that time. My task was to relate this though I've been very hesitant to do so over the years. However, the excision of Chris and the banning of his name from the other wrestlers I believe may have left an unhealed wound among those who would otherwise want to talk about their memories of him.


There was a sound of harsh weeping, as if it had been going on for some time. From the darkness the image of a man collapsed over his knees and sobbing formed. "What have I done? How could I have done this?" the litany continued over and over. I knew who this was then and my mind went to Nancy and Daniel, whom suddenly and briefly appeared to me. They were each wrapped in Love and Joy, completely safe and free from pain, from even the memory of it. Though he did not know it, he already had their forgiveness. That image faded and returned to the broken man and the terrible weeping.
From my left a glow of Radiance began to coalesce. She stepped forward, every line and motion speaking of elegance and grace. Her gown flowed about Her in perfect opalescent folds. She sat as if upon an invisible chair, the Light shining in the darkness. Chris crawled blindly to Her, curled up against Her leg and rested his head against Her, a son seeking comfort from his Mother. "Send me to Hell," he begged, "Please, I deserve it!"
"No." Her musical voice was tinged with sorrow. Her hand gently stroked his head and he began to calm as She continued, "That is not for you. You will return and serve (I received a quick view of a place of abject poverty and casual violence) where you will see some of the worst of humanity. All your life you will serve to heal these people and receive neither fame nor glory for it. This is not to punish you; this is to strengthen you against all that can happen and you will learn never to break again."
I sensed his acceptance, his need that justice must and will be served by this. His relief and touch of joy that he would get to do good works and it didn't matter that he would not receive money or accolade. The Light grew brighter, overwhelming my sight, and I knew he was going to his next incarnation. 


I was abruptly released from the vision and remembered to breathe again. Chris is not a "bad" man. His actions were those of someone who had lost their grip on reality. It does not excuse them or release the pain, but know that he will both suffer and experience compassion in his journey to raise his soul and atone for the past.



photo credit: Sosuaonline.net2 via photopin cc