23 December, 2012

An Appearance

Hey, Readers,

Recently, my friend Órflaith Robin interviewed me for her popular blog, Musings of a Young Irish Witch. You may read the post by clicking on the following link!

Prominent Pagan Project Part IV

The preceding interviews (Parts I-III) and the one following that is up at the time I'm writing this (Part V) have covered people that I know or used to know, and at least one person I'd never heard of but who I may come to know very soon because they auditioned for The Pagan Perspective! This project of hers is very interesting because, since she's not me, it already includes both people that I am very close to, and people that I've had fundamental disagreements with. No matter what you believe, you can find someone on YouTube whose views are close to yours, if not exact. Plenty of people disagree with me, and plenty call me sister. All viewpoints are worth listening to, because they help you either by identification or opposition.

Even though I have significantly fewer readers here, I would like to take the opportunity to thank Ã“rflaith for including me in this project (which she says I inspired in the first place, which I think is remarkable) and for taking on such a big project at all.

Thank you!
And thank you all for reading.

I hope you had a blessed Yule, and as you can see from a recent video, my plans didn't work out as I wrote about them previously. Still, I hope you all enjoyed a pleasant solstice!

Blessings~
-C-

20 December, 2012

Yule Celebrations!

Hey, Readers!

In my last post, I briefly mentioned that I had several possible plans for Yule, but no definites. Here's what has turned out!

The women's group I've been attending circles with already had their Yule celebration last weekend, but I had to work so I couldn't make it. I actually got sent home from work sick that day, so I was technically free but was ill and slept to regain my health instead. (It's just a cold, but I work at a health care facility, so I can't be at work around patients if I have ANY kind of symptoms. I've been sent home several times before because of my stomach issues and nausea, as well.) So anyway, I missed that celebration and their planned gift exchange.

My friend... (I'll start calling him my friend, because he used to be my drama club director in high school, but now I'm an adult and his wife is the temporary minister of the church I attend so we have a different relationship now... Friend is also much easier to say!) Therefore, my friend is performing a winter solstice service for a mixed group on Friday and he's invited me to attend that! It's a long drive for me, and it takes place shortly after I get off work, but I'm going to ask my boss tomorrow if I could leave work a little earlier on Friday in order to make it. If not, I will just get there RIGHT on time or a bit late, but I plan to attend that.

And the final option for celebration was to do something with my ex-boyfriend and his recently-wedded wife at their home. All they thought of to do was dinner and a bonfire, and I did really want to include a fire in my celebration, so I might go just for that. With the mixed group service being earlier and so far away, I'm not sure what time I'd be back to have dinner, so I'm not positive about this third one. I'm not even sure I want to celebrate with them, since I know there's quite a bit of love lost and I've also recently learned that my ex now believes in a lot of things he was never interested in when we dated, which disagree with my practice entirely. So it looks like it would be increasingly difficult to find common ground for an actual group celebration.

Anyway, those are the plans and possibilities! I will be sure to write about whatever ends up happening.

Have a happy holiday season, all!
Blessings~
-C-

12 December, 2012

Pre-Yule Update

Hey, Readers,

Lots to do, no time at all in which to do it! That goes for my personal life as well as my interpersonal relationships, spiritual practice, day job... You name it. We're always reaching for time, time, time.

It's no wonder I take such pleasure in time travel-centered television shows and movies. While I would never want to change anything, I can relate to the feeling of endless time and space.

As you probably know, I am now living at Grams' house. My mother and her husband have not left yet, but everyone thinks my anxiety and anger at this time is due to their immanent departure. I guarantee that this is not so. Everyone clings to an acceptable answer and crowds around giving me advice for that supposed reality. But the truth is, hardly anyone who's bothering to console me could even take the time to understand what's really wrong. I let them go on thinking the most simple of answers. I save the rest for my close friends, boyfriend, and vague mentions on the internet that I can look back on later.

Due to the move, my day job, and visiting my boyfriend in my major time off, I've had no time to organize anything. I made my bed and put my clothes away in various dressers (I have extra furniture here!). Downstairs, I arranged my futon with mom's showcase as a coffee table on the floor, and my cousin and I hung an old-fashioned lamp from the ceiling above it. My books are (mostly) on shelves, but not in my usual order yet. All the craft supplies are at least in one area of the room, if not all put away. It is a very gradual process. I work all day, come home and eat and maybe take a nap because I'm so tired all the time, and then do whatever is necessary for the day. As you can imagine, this does not always include organizing a section of my life. Very infrequently does it mean time for "practice" in the formal sense, though I keep my usual spiritual elements of daily life throughout.

You know, some people would arrange their altars first, and let the rest of their life take shape from there. I didn't. My altar tables are in general locations, but they are not set up. Instead I focused on my beds, getting my cat comfortable in her new surroundings, and making sure my uniforms for work were all in a reachable location. I set up my "relationship altar," however--the space of reminders of my boyfriend who is attending grad school three hours away. That, and my yoga mat, were kept close at hand from the start.

And though it's fast approaching and it seems I'll have nothing put together by then, I will be doing something for Yule. This will be the first year I celebrate Yule with other people. I'm not exactly sure what will happen, since I was invited to several things, but I hope to find out whether or not those things are all happening fairly soon so I can plan. One is happening some distance away and is a solstice celebration that my former director is hosting, so I know it's not a solely pagan event as he's a Universal minister, not pagan himself. Another is just that the women's group I attended a few times normally does things for holidays, so I thought their monthly meeting might be for Yule, but I haven't heard any plans yet. The third is more complicated: I addressed some "pagan" "friends" of mine about having constantly turned down my invitations to practice or celebrate together over the years, about ignoring my suggestions but turning around and advertising it themselves as though they thought of it all, etc. They completely missed the important points and instead of truly seeking to rectify the issues, they thought it would be enough to just invite me to celebrate Yule with them. I said I would like to have a bonfire, which is the only thing they could think of, but the Universal event is the same night because they're all doing it on solstice night. So I'm just not sure what will end up happening.

My boyfriend will be away for the entire holiday season, which is why I used my time off last weekend to visit him instead of unpacking my life into the new house. Everyone else in my family will be with the people they are romantically involved with (if they have them, which most do. Here I think of Grams, whose loving husband has been gone for some years. But even he will be with us). Yet I will have to celebrate the winter holidays without my other half for the first time in years.

There is a lot to contend with in my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual lives. A lot to give over to the darkness, a lot to bring forth from the light.

-----

so much depends
upon

a length of
time

pushed and pulled
taught

within a set
reality

-----

With thanks to W.C.W.

Blessings~
-C-

25 November, 2012

Messages from The Killian Star


Hey, Readers,
I have recently started and finished a book that's been sitting on our shelves for several years now, The Killian Star. It was written by Alyson E. Denny, who is a friend of my mother's, and that's why we have the book. I'm going to do a video review of the book, so I won't get too much into that here, but I do want to talk about something else which stems from my reading of it (which I'll probably also make a video about, but I wanted to write it out here, too).




It does seem that everything falls into place, that things come to me just when I need them. In this case, of course the book has been lying around here for an age, but it was only this past week that I said to my mother, "You know, I always wanted to read this, I'll get through it this week and give it back to you before you move." And that's what I did, and that's when it was able to give me its message.
Oh, wow, I've literally only JUST realized something... Alyson wrote in the front of the book a note to my mother, saying that she hoped my mom would glean the book's secret message. Now I can only wonder if she meant what I'm about to tell you about! Huh! I can't believe I didn't think of that until now.
Anyway, as I'll mention in my review, the story itself is very interesting but the book is in want of an editor. To me, having been a teaching and writing assistant for three and a half years during my undergrad career, it read like one of my students' rough drafts. It was much better thought out and planned than many of them, but the abundance of typographical errors, spelling errors, and moments when you can no longer tell which character is speaking because something was written incorrectly or left out... well, it distracted me quite a bit. Especially in the beginning of the book when the story is more in pieces. But after a while, the action consolidates and I was able to concentrate more on the story than the misplaced commas and quotation marks, and I did end up gaining something from the story, though I didn't realize it until Friday night.

There are actually two moments in the book that have played out for me this weekend, as follows:
1) In the story, a ghost tells the main character's friend that he will be able to hear the spirit's instructions as thought suggestions in his mind. He won't necessarily hear the ghost's voice, but suddenly he would know what to do. The character experiences it exactly this way, speaking aloud words that he knows he wouldn't have known to say on his own, so he realizes he must be hearing the spirits' messages.
On Friday night, my boyfriend came back into town for a visit and came to my house, after which we both drove our individual cars to his house so that I'd have my car to drive to church and back home on Sunday. It was snowing a lot for the first time so far this year, and I need new tires. Things were going along well until we got to an intersection that was very snow-covered, even with all the traffic, and my boyfriend signaled in front of me to turn left, which is not the way I usually go. I slowed down and began to slide off the road. I managed to stop safely, but then I had trouble getting the car to go through the intersection and onto the next road because my tires wouldn't grip through the snow. But I got through that, and continued along. Now, this road I'd never been on before turned out to be very downhill, and very winding. Not good in snow and with bad tires. Needless to say, there were several moments when I almost slid into other cars, into trees, off the road in general, and I was crawling along, trying not to lose control of the vehicle.

As I mentioned in my recent video about the deities I actually work with, Elen of the Ways is my helper on the road, so I squeezed my bag of lavender and asked for her help. I'd asked for her help before, but never when I was actually already in a dangerous situation. I spoke to her, mostly to calm me down. Then a particularly bad slide had me really frightened, and as I straightened the car back out I said aloud, "Elen, please help me stay safe, and tell me what you want as an offering!" Just then I turned a corner and saw a deer crossing sign. Deer being sacred to Elen, I knew that meant she was listening (remember, I'd never been on this road, so I didn't know there was a deer crossing sign ahead). I started to cry as I said thank you and continued driving along. I repeated, "Tell me what you'd like as an offering so I can give you a proper thanks," and immediately images came into my head, just like for the character in The Killian Star. I got three images, three objects, all three things I could easily find for offerings, for which I was grateful. One of the things, the first, was an apple, and I happened to be eating an apple before I started driving and had the rest on the seat next to me. The second thing was snow. When I arrived at my boyfriend's safely, I tossed my apple into the snow. (I should add at this point that I firmly believe that while many things may be commonly known about the gods, I think some things differ for each follower. Elen may have purposely given me instructions she knew I could follow at the time. For someone else following her, apples and snow may not be the answer. I am very grateful to have gotten my own answers, and feel free to test it out for yourself, but I'm certainly no authority and my experiences should not trump your own!)

I have never received an answer so quickly in that format before, of thoughts or images just popping right into my head. I've had things like the sign appearing, suddenly coming across or seeing something physical that relates to the message and tells me the gods are listening. And I've had reactions from the environment, like sounds of animals, rushes of wind, and so on. And I've seen images in my mind's eye, but never so quickly or as an answer to an immediate request, just more like in meditations which are drawn out. But I absolutely believe that the only reason I was able to get a message in that way, as a thought suggestion, is because reading about it in the book made that format come forward in my mind.
2) In the story, a Native American woman named Eva talks a lot about the importance of dreams and listening to them to gain insight. The main character of the book has a lot of strange dreams, and Eva encourages her to pay attention to them and try to find out what they mean.
Of course I've always paid attention to my dreams--dream analysis has been one of my favorite little hobbies for years--but again, this just came at such an appropriate time, that I wonder if Eva's reminders in the book didn't open my subconscious up even more to receiving messages that way. Last night, I had a long dream which took place mostly in a very cluttered new age shop. I remember paying attention to and looking for items that I am interested in in my waking life, such as different shaped incense burners, candles, and other altar decor. But it wasn't any of those things that turned up messages, it was a few small things that I didn't remember until I woke up. One, a silver chain and what looked like abalone shell necklace which was very over-priced. I remember in the dream, myself and a little girl were reading the tag, which said it was made from something with a really long scientific name, which basically means in my waking life, it didn't matter what the substance was. It was the other word on the tag that mattered: Apollo. The other item, a package of specialty incense sticks, which were, again, very over-priced. I remember thinking in the dream, I am not paying $4.00 for 5 short sticks of incense, that's ridiculous. But I flipped through them to see the scents, and just like the chain and shell necklace tag, the names of the incenses were all gibberish. Except for one: Hecate.

As you know from a previous blog entry, I've been thinking more about starting my relationships with several deities I've felt drawn to over the years, because I've always thought I should wait for messages and with none coming I thought none were meant for me, but I've realized that maybe instead of waiting I should just go for it and see how they respond. Yet, all of a sudden, here we have more! All these years I've never so much as seen a deity's name in a dream, and then I get TWO in ONE DREAM. One of which I wasn't even planning on getting much more into, Hecate. But perhaps my recent participation in a ritual in her honor, and my honest offerings to her, have begun that relationsip already without my conscious decision. I guess it is true that Deity chooses us in the long run, with or without a slight nudge from ourselves.

Apollo. Hecate. Dionysus. Athena. Elen. All have given me a proverbial "thumbs up" in one way or another, whether it be through messages, answered pleas, hijacked ritual experiences, or subtle clues in books. The other deities I've worked with have not been given quite enough attention yet to tell, but all will come in time.

There is so much work to be done.

Blessings~
-C-

Comment question: If you work with deities regularly, how did your relationship with them begin? How has it evolved?

11 November, 2012

Deity Worship

Hey, Readers,

This is the blog I said I was setting out to do in the last post!

Many of you should already know this, but I'll start with a bit of background. I'm a solitary practitioner most of the time, and I was definitely completely solitary for the majority of my decade-ish of practice (the early years, particularly). My path is Wiccan-based, but also eclectic, having been brought up learning bits and pieces from other cultures and always embracing those things that resonated with me. As I grew to learn more vocabulary and terminology, such as the difference between a hard polytheist and a soft one, or between a polytheist and a pantheist and an omnitheist, I obviously thought a lot about how I see Deity. I did a video for Pagan Perspective last week about how I view Deity and I have a pretty good idea of it now, but I used to not have the vocabulary to describe it.

To catch you up, my view of Deity is basically a cross between a soft polytheistic one and a pantheistic one. I find it hard to choose either one term, and I normally say soft polytheism, though my overall view definitely includes pantheism. In simplest terms possible, I recognize that many deities exist and I may call upon any of them when their realm of expertise is in question, but I think of them not as literal beings but as personifications that humans use to classify something far greater that we cannot understand in simple terms at all. And beyond this, I think that "something far greater" is one thing, ultimately. So yes, I recognize many, but I think they all boil down to one. And not one "God" but one Energy, one Force, one Balance. (This is all part of why I also feel so very at home with the Unitarian Universalist church!) I call this Force-Balance-Energy-Oneness "UE" or Universal Energy, because to me, that's what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the Energy of the whole entire Universe--and maybe parallel Universes, but that's another blog entry.

Finally, to the point, Cara!
Now that you've been appraised of the situation of my mind, I can discuss my thoughts as far as worship. Having these views as described above, I have always found the idea of having a patron God and matron Goddess strange, for me. I view them all as equal and necessary at different times (there is a whole other -theism term for that!), but also all as ultimately one, so... How could I possibly be meant to work with only a few? Could I be drawn to one or two? I know most about these, but then do I just ignore these others? Maybe some are more important to my life now and they'll change later? I don't know, I'll wait and see... That was my thought process, and so for years when people ask me, I've just said that I have not yet felt called to any particular deities, so I work with general Goddess and God. And that has been fine with me. But lately, I've been thinking. And that's dangerous. It leads to change. And to progress. Yikes. =)

So I've been thinking, and I've been wondering whether I've been taking the right approach. I keep asking deity to tell me if I'm meant to work with anyone, and to aid me in becoming closer to the God aspect, but I haven't felt any pull so I thought that meant I was alright where I was. But now I'm thinking maybe it means I just haven't listened very well. I got one brief signal about a particular goddess, and I did more research and thought "This could be something!" but didn't want to start working with her until I KNEW. No other signs came. Well, hello, Cara, that could possibly mean the ball's in your court, I thought! Then, over the summer, I started to develop a strong relationship (or at least a strong pull of one, and I was working toward the relationship part) with the spirit of Willow and Oak. There are two trees in my area that have been landmarks in my life, so I sought to work with them as connections to the divine feminine and masculine, rather than particular deities. Willow came much easier than Oak because I can see her more often, as she is out in the open by the lake and Oak is tucked back in the woods, ringed with prickers and poisonous plants and hornets' nests... Talk about a metaphor for my difficulty connecting to the masculine! Then there have also been other times where I simply honor a deity or speak to them, and even though they're not a deity I've "felt a pull from," or whatever it is I think I'm waiting for, something magickal definitely takes place! I recently prayed to Athena and felt a connection. At Mabon, I honored Dionysus and absolutely felt his welcome. I attended a ritual for Hecate and felt a new appreciation for her, and only since then learned that Willow is also sacred to her. I feel there are connections all around me now, I just felt that I shouldn't presume they were there before enough to act on them...

Thus, my question is this. Especially for those of you who DO work with specific deities, how did you know? And for my case, does it make sense to just go ahead and honor a deity that I'm interested in, or that I feel deserves a bit of notice from me, even though maybe they're not "my" deity? I joked to Dionysus that I'm probably not the kind of witch he'd expect to have as his friend, but I wanted to address him anyway, and I think he showed me a thing or two about who I really am. And I'd never met Hecate but I offered her things that I take very seriously. Another deity I speak to often, I actually learned about from one of my favorite fictional stories! Though, to be fair, it is based on historical events and religious background.

My problem is, admittedly, that I don't want to offend anyone (deity or human) by seeking a relationship that just isn't for me. I mentioned in my last post that I follow Chris' blog and he's a Hellenic polytheist who works with Athena, so is it shallow for me to work with her as an eclectic? Or when I speak to Thor, does it step on the toes of my Norse pantheist friend, Eric, who's made much deeper connections with that pantheon? On any other topic you'd hear me emphatically shout, NO! Of course not! Your connections are PERSONAL and whatever Deity says to YOU is said to YOU. Other people's experiences with the same deity may differ, because you are not the same people! Still, even though I do have a soft view of Deity, I respect each and every one of them in their many, many aspects and cultural forms, and do not ever wish to presume their place in my practice.

I hope to look back on this one day, knowing how long I've been mulling over these ideas, from a place of understanding in whatever I learn in the future. However it turns out, I know I'll laugh at this, for ever taking it quite so seriously. Thanks for being along for the ride.

Blessings~
-C-

10 November, 2012

Forgiveness & Doing Good

Hey, Readers,

The Universe has a funny way of always knowing what I need to hear. Sometimes this can be summed up with "Ask and you shall receive." Other times, I didn't ask, the Universe just knows better than I do! Haha. In this case, it's the latter.

I was originally coming on here to blog about deity worship, which I will get to in another post, but this must come first. I got on here to write about that, but decided to catch up on the only blog I follow on here, My Hellenic Life, written by PriestChristopher, as he was known on YouTube. I'm very glad that he linked me his blog before he decided to stop using YouTube, because that way I am now able to keep in touch with his writings.

While I was catching up on his past posts, which range in subject matter from politics to statuary to visiting Circle Sanctuary, my mother and I learned that someone we know got ordained as a ULC minister, which my mother is. And this posed a strange question with us, because the person in question is a pagan, so my mother is unsure of why they want to be a minister through a Christian-based (albeit Universal) church, and they also aren't very knowledgeable about paganism, so I'm concerned about whether they're going to go around claiming to be a pagan minister.

07 November, 2012

Election Day

Cross-posting this from my tumblr.


PRIDE

Today, after work, my mother and I got ready and went to the polls. It didn’t take very long. It was only the second time I’d ever voted. The first time was when I had just turned 18 and graduated high school. I voted for Barack Obama. I was so thrilled when he won, knowing that in my first ever presidential election, I had voted for something that actually turned out to happen. It was a cool feeling. I skipped the next few elections because I was away at school and didn’t care too much about the local issues, not enough to take the time to come home, at least. So today was the second time I’d voted.

I had this weird feeling, like I was just filling out another one of those bubble tests to show how much I’d retained throughout my education. And in a way, it was the same. What had I learned about each candidate, and how their views related to my own? Which one was best for me? It’s just a bubble. It takes two seconds to fill in and then the rest of the ballot, for me at least, is basically just local stuff we’ll vote on again soon anyway. It’s just a bubble and a sticker and a drive home.

And at home, I cried for about an hour. Why? Well, because the people I live with drive me batty. My mother and her husband, that is. Mostly the latter. It was back to just another usual day, full of confusion and anger and sadness at the state of my life, scrambling to pack boxes in a fury so I can get out of here, move in with my Grams, and bid my mother goodbye, and good luck.

I watched Sabrina cartoons and Doctor Who online for hours. I forgot everything (and not just due to the Silence). I forgot that I had worked today. That I had to work tomorrow. That I’m not sure if the guy at work is flirting with me. That I had voted today. That I had missed the turn and mom reminded me where we were going. That I had cried so intensely just a few hours before. That I live with someone who disagrees with everything I stand for. That anything at all was wrong. The only thing I didn’t forget that whole time was my boyfriend and how much I love him, and I never stopped texting him. He was the one that told me, “Obama won!”

Then I remembered.

I remembered that today was a momentous occasion. That something really very important had just been decided in a, truthfully, really strange way. A lot of people in the world—and in my country—agree with my viewpoints, think the way I do, care about the same issues, and care so strongly about those issues that they make it a big part of their lives. And a lot of people just don’t. I think it’s sad that whatever happens, some people have to be upset. I wish we couldall just agree, or live separately with the rules that make us each happy. But we live in a democracy. We had to choose. And I am so, so happy with the choice that was made. Even if you’re not. I can’t be sorry about that.

All day long, I ran through scenarios in my head about living a life where I love the monarch from whom we gained our independence more than I love the leader of my own country. I am happy to say that today is not that day. (Though, I still love her. And England.)

I’ve never liked politics. I’ve never liked history as it was taught in school. I’ve never felt a particular connection to this plot of earth I was born on, or its rules, or its mechanics, or a fair amount of its people. Even four years ago I couldn’t say I did. But today, I feel extremely proud of my country. For, I think, the first time ever. And you know what? I am sorry not everyone could get what they hoped for. But what some people hoped for is a life that takes so much of what I love away. And I’m not sorry they didn’t manage to do that.

Thank you.

I don’t know who I’m thanking. But thanks.


And on this blog, I can add on and say that for one, I am thanking Athena. She is the first deity that really sprang out to me this past year and made me think, I'm so stupid for not hearing her sooner. But I still didn't make the real effort to get to know her personally. I had merely done a bit more research but really added nothing more to what I already knew, just a few small facts here and there. There are other deities I talk to more often, even. But today, at work, surrounded by so many people who are just... ignorant and rude and childish and so close-minded that I know if they knew who I really was, more than just a housekeeper, they would not support me... I simply had to ask for her help. This is such a big issue, and so important to me. I didn't have time to myself, so I just spoke to her while I did my job. Cleaning a room, taking out garbage, I "spoke to [Athena] like [I] was talking to a friend," as the country song says. It was a last plea for a girl who knows better than to be over-confident in her candidate, or in the humanity of her people.

I don't know if it had anything to do with it, but thank you, Athena. There will be proper thanks later on. Right now, I'm sorely upset that I don't have any wine with which to celebrate, and sorely upset that I'm not already out of the house where my mother's husband hates everything I'm celebrating. But, lacking a toast and all my supportive friends at my side, thank you. Thank you, ALL. And good night.

Blessings~
-C-

31 October, 2012

Samhain Blog!

Today is Samhain (or tonight is, if you go by the night of Oct. 31/day of Nov. 1 rule) and here's what's up!

On Sunday, my UU church had a multigenerational Samhain/Halloween service, meaning the kids were present with the adults instead of having their separate classes, and people dressed in costume and it was a good time. The minister said "SAH-ween" at first, and then as she continued to speak it became more and more altered until she was saying "suh-WEEN." But, oh well. The minister and several other women were dressed as witches (one of whom spoke to me a couple weeks ago about my path), and I have to admit, I was a bit offended at only one point. That was when the minister, who had been wearing a large, pointed "witch" hat with a spiderweb design on it, got up to deliver her homily without the hat. She addressed this first, saying, "I don't feel it would be appropriate to give the homily in a witch hat." At that point I hadn't been wearing my small, headband/hat, so I put it on and said "Why not?"

The truth is, wearing the hat probably would have helped. Remember, the hat is like a visible, physical cone of power, channeling energy from above into you. I didn't find an appropriate time to tell her this because I was too busy chatting with other people, eating sweet potato and lentil soup (we had a soup lunch and placed an extra bowl in the memorial garden for the ancestors), and being a little freaked out in the haunted house that the younger kids made! But I think I will send her an email, at the very least, when I find a moment. It's not right to know a witch or two and not know basic fun facts like that.

Sunday evening, my friend's group had a "not so dumb supper," but I didn't attend because it's an hour in the opposite direction from where I was and I wouldn't have had time to get ready. So instead I made a video giving people ideas for how to celebrate Samhain, and worked on some other things, including packing some more for my approaching move to Grams' house.

As for today, I'm not doing anything fancy or formal. I was supposed to work today, but I asked my boss yesterday for today off in addition to Thursday which I already had off, because some things came up and it would be helpful to not have to work. She didn't even ask my reasons, she just said okay and even put it down as Paid Time Off (though I haven't worked there long enough to earn PTO)! I'm very grateful because instead of working 7:00am until 3:30pm and heading out around 5:00pm, I woke up at 8:30, started my iPod charging, painted some pendants (one of which I need to ship to a customer today and the other which is part of my costume!), and now I have to wrap my boyfriend's presents, type up the blessing I wrote for my friends' wedding, and pack for my trip.

Yes, my trip. Today is Halloween and Samhain and also the magic birthday of my boyfriend! Magic, meaning he turns 31 today, and 31 on the 31st = magic birthday! Mine was my Sweet Sixteen--16 on the 16th. When was yours? Has it passed, or is it still to come?

So today I am driving out of state, 3-3.5 hours, to visit my boyfriend at grad school for his birthday. Since I didn't have to work, I'll be heading out around 1pm in order to arrive around 4:30pm, which should be after he finishes work and before he has to go to class. I'm bringing my laptop and some things to work on so I can do things while he's in class, and tonight we'll probably just dress up and go out somewhere. Then I have to drive back Thursday evening for work on Friday.

I'm speaking very calmly about it now, but I'm really extremely nervous. I've never driven on freeways or interstates, and I've never driven for longer than an hour at a time. But I have the GPS (though it's not showing the route I want to take) and I have maps and directions there AND back. So I do feel quite a bit better about the trip. And I'm very glad to be able to leave at 1pm instead of 5pm because I'll be able to avoid much more traffic and it will not be as dark while I'm driving. And since it's still raining (Hurricane Sandy fringe rain), I'm glad for the daylight and extra elbox room concerning time, so I don't feel that I need to rush. But I'm still nervous, which is why I'm making sure I have plenty of music to listen to along the way and won't have to take my concentration from the road for a moment.

I have several messages to answer on YouTube, but they'll have to wait until I'm settled in at the apartment this evening. I have too much to prepare this morning!

Blessings~
-C-

18 October, 2012

Spirit Animals -- Racist?

Hey, Readers,

This first bit is going to be cross-posted from something I just put on my tumblr, where this originated. Then I'll add on.

Someone sent this anonymously to someone I follow on tumblr:
Using the term spirit animal is cultural appropriation and perpetuates racism. I didn’t know until someone told me, so I thought I’d pass the information along. Better terms can be “patronus,” “daemon,” or something similar.
It is, of course, referring to the trend of calling someone or something, especially in the media (Honey Boo Boo, Doritos, that lady who isn’t a model, etc.), your spirit animal.
I was wondering what those of you who also believe in and work with spirit animals think about this. Personally, I never had a problem with it or thought it was racist. Admittedly, this could be because I don’t think spirit animals and similar concepts are specific only to certain cultures and races, so it would be difficult to say exactly whom you are appropriating. I think Native Americans/American Indians are probably the big one people in the States think of, but other cultures use these concepts, as well.
Patronus and daemon actually have more direct cultural connections (they’re not just things made up in books, although the Harry Potter patronus makes more sense with this trend than the Roman patronus) (and daemons are Greek), so I really don’t think they’re any better if you want to avoid something that could potentially be making fun of a culture.
So anyway, I put pagans in the title of this just because there’s a higher chance of finding people who work with these concepts there, but of course non-pagans do, too. So this is just for anyone who believes in and works with these types of guides, or whatever you personally call them. What do you think?


So, here is my add-on section:

mikothecat replied to my post saying "I never thought of it as being racist either. Much like you said, I never considered the idea of having spirit animals limited to a certain group of people or culture."

Someone else suggested the word "Eomkin" which translates to "I am kin." When I looked this up online, the only result I found was a link to the tumblr post wherein someone suggested that word as an alternative, non-offensive term for "spirit animal."

On that post, further up, was where someone suggested "daemon" and "patronus" saying that the only person you're appropriating with "daemon" is Pullman and only Harry Potter with "patronus." However, as I said in my original post, daemon and patronus DO also have cultural meaning. A daemon is a Greek nature spirit. Pullman was certainly not the first to use this term. So you could easily be offending a Hellenist or other followers of Greek religion. And patronus does make more sense in the Harry Potter definition, but the word means "patron" in Roman culture which is where I think Rowling probably got the idea to use that word for a spirit who protects someone. Several of the words she uses in the books for magic spells are actual words, so I wouldn't be surprised if she chose patronus knowing its Roman origin.

Anyway, point being, some people are taking this "racism" thing pretty far when they seek to replace their "offensive" terms with thing that have even more direct history. I do believe that spirit animals are a concept that spans several cultures, whereas these other terms definitely only stem from one.

If you're going to call something racist, at least look up the things you want to start saying instead.

Blessings~
-C-


Further edit! I have received a reply on tumblr from a Native American, saying theirs is the culture being appropriated because that is where said terms originated, and as outsiders, we cannot know what spirit animals are about, etc. and we can't use them. Furthermore, I was also being offensive by asking pagans their opinion on this, because they are not pagans' concepts to have opinions on. I explained in the post, as you can see above, that I addressed pagans just because I know pagans use similar concepts, so I was hoping to reach an audience that would have an opinion about it that way. But basically, I'm an eclectic practitioner. Everything I do is probably deemed offensive by someone, no matter how well I look into it and how respectful I am of it--it is racist simply because it's not from my culture. It doesn't matter if a Native American taught me these concepts, or if a Native American wrote the books society reads to learn about these concepts. It doesn't matter what we do, in some cases. And I am still confused about the fact that cultures other than Native Americans do use these concepts. But I've asked the person who wrote to me about that, and I hope to gain some more understanding. Also, I will definitely make it a point to ask my Native American friends about this, now that I know theirs is the culture we're talking about.
-C-

11 October, 2012

Tarot & Oracle Stuff

Hey, Readers,

That's an appropriate greeting for this post.

I think one of the stereotypes of witchcraft is that we all read tarot. A girl I follow on Tumblr somewhat recently revealed to her followers that she is a Christian witch, and one of the first questions she got was "Do you read tarot cards?" And I laughed at that, because it was funny to me that as soon as some people hear "witch," even a Christian one, they think of fortune-telling and divination. Now, it turns out she DOES read tarot. I'm not saying it's not an ACCURATE stereotype! But a stereotype, nonetheless. Not every single one of us does it.

That bothered me for years, because even though I was given an oracle deck several years ago and I picked it up pretty quickly, I never felt able to understand tarot. There was a lot more to remember--my oracle deck is based on characters from folklore, and already knowing their stories, it was easier for me to feel "off book" than with tarot where the symbolism was new--and so many people were expecting it of me. My mother is a tarot reader, and she's done shows and parties for people, reading many people's cards to rave reviews. People would always ask if I was also a reader, or if she was teaching me, or, on the rare occasion I would meet someone who would come up to me and say, "You're a reader." Not a question, but a statement.

I've known my whole life that I love symbolism and hidden meaning. I love explaining things and making what looks complicated more simple for people. But I couldn't seem to do that for myself when it came to cards. I still felt like I had to read the meanings to remember, and I didn't like reading the meaning and then applying it to people. I felt like it was no book, or no reading. So for a while I was quite resentful when people thought that my being a witch meant I had to read tarot. I must be a tarot reader, for I was a witch! I didn't like that idea, so I would tell people that I do have an oracle deck but I don't read tarot and I've never read for anyone else because I don't feel ready.

06 October, 2012

Colorful Magick

Hey, Readers,

I'm actually about to head out the door and become busy for the next few hours, and probably just retire to shower and bed upon my return home. But I wanted to post a quick, quick little thing. It's something I've said probably dozens of times now, between my videos, Pagan Perspective videos, messages to people, conversations, and Tweets.

"White" and "black" magick. *shudder*

Those terms, used seriously, make my eyes roll instantly. This is one of the things that continues to bother me under the surface. While I know it doesn't truly make any difference in the long run, it irks me, still.

Magick is magick.

When we do magick (or magic, however you choose to spell it is fine), we often use color. Or colour. =) I love using color symbolism in my workings, and often, the energy I'm working with will take on a color. So yes, magick involves color. But I simply do not buy that there is such a thing as "white magick" and a thing such as "black magick." Magick is itself, colorless and all colors, beyond categorization like that of a box of crayons. It is a tool, and as such can be used any way the practitioner desires. Magick has the capability of doing good, and of being used for less than good.

I understand that this is what most people mean when they say "white" and "black" magick, but I think some people are still using the terms as though they mean separate things. People will say things like "I practice white magick, I would never do black magick." But that doesn't have anything to do with the magick. The magick you're using can do both. It's YOU that makes the decision. YOU that has the flavor for good or otherwise. I will not say "bad" or "evil" because I don't think that's proper, either. Not in this case. Not all which is not light is bad.

Anyway, I think we could all get a lot more out of life and our practice by doing away with such "black and white" imagery as putting magick, something profound and encompassing of many possibilities, into a box of crayons. The colors in this case are symbols, no more. Visual aids.

Magick is the box the colors are in, and the hammer and nails or clay or stone used to create it, and the carpenter or sculptor or some such creator. Magick is so much more.

Blessings~
-C-

P.S. There is a video on my channel about this, which I'll link later on. Or search it for yourself, YouTube username cutewitch772, video name "What is Magick?" I think. Cheers.

30 September, 2012

Death

Hey, Readers,

A simple title this time, for a topic that is anything but.

A lot of things I'm about to say are not things I was planning on mentioning anytime soon, but would eventually. But now, I have to. So keep quiet about it so it doesn't spoil it when I go to talk about it later. =)


22 September, 2012

Autumnal Equinox, N. hemisphere

Hey, Readers,

Today has been a magical day, that's for sure. Let me just share some highlights, leading up to where I am now.

17 September, 2012

Passing Familiars

Hey, Readers,

This past week, my Wiccan friend from church (who really needs a nickname if I'm going to refer to her online) told me that her familiar passed. For once, I actually do know how she feels. My familiar passed away two summers ago. Though they passed from this world in drastically different ways, the two--both cats, by the bye--had very similar effects on us. I sent my friend the link to the memorial video I made for Mystery, as an example of part of how I dealt with the loss. I also performed a ritual for Mystery, and since her passing I have still included her in several rituals, honoring her at Samhain and so on. I also still see her.

At church on Sunday, my friend did appear visibly distressed. It was easier for me, though, actually understanding. So many times we try to comfort friends when we have no idea what they're going through. I still don't know my friend very well, and I didn't know her Zoey. But I know what it must have been like, because of Mystery.

My friend said that what I said about Mystery in my video, how she came into my life around the time I started practicing and left when I had started getting back into it seriously, somewhat applied to her timeline with Zoey. She was going through a really hard life transition at the time, and Zoey was a comfort. We're not sure what it is about her path now that may parallel the reason Mystery left me, if there is a reason similar for her, but she does hope that, as I see it, Zoey was called back in order to help someone else who needs her more.

I made my memorial video for Mystery in order to help people know her more. I don't know much about Zoey, but at least you can know what I know, and keep her memory alive. Zoey loved to help my friend smudge the circle. She would follow her around the circle as it was cleansed. She was also quite selfless, always being there to comfort my friend. Even when Zoey was sick, I'm told, she would curl up on my friend's lap to comfort her. "Here she is comforting me, because I'm crying because she's sick! And I'm like, you're the one who's sick, I should be comforting you!" We hope Zoey is providing that kind of comfort for someone else now.

During the service, my friend had written in the Book of Joys and Cares to be read out loud to the congregation that the family cat had passed away. The person serving that day said "I don't know the cat's name, she didn't write it here, but I'm sure the cat was well loved and will be missed." An old man seated in front of us, who clearly didn't know he was so near the person whose Care was read, leaned over to the person next to him and said "The cat doesn't know it's name, either! Haha!" The next part of the service was the Silent Lighting of Candles, where we light a candle to mark a special event, remember a loved one, or "because we feel moved by a deep reason to do so." As we stood up, my friend tapped the man on the shoulder, and when he looked up at her, said, "Her name was Zoey."

I had been planning on lighting my candle for Mystery. I lit it for that man, instead. And for anyone who would see fit to poke fun at someone's loss. Perhaps people think a cat is not a significant loss, since most losses read to the congregation are of human family members and friends. But to us, whose lives have been changed and aided by these, our beautiful, magickal creature-friends... They are extremely significant.

Side Note: After that, I did spend a moment during our meditation manifesting a bundle of positive energy, both for her situation as well as for the man who made the comment, and for the congregation at large. I have always done this and felt that it works but it's only a feeling of mine. But my friend turned to me during a silent moment and said, "Thank you for the positive energy. I can feel that." I've never had confirmation like that, and she doesn't even know I needed it. I didn't know I needed it. But it helped. And so we help each other.

A candle for Zoey.
A candle for Mystery.
A candle for Ignorance.
A candle for Bliss.

Blessings~
-C-

11 September, 2012

So You're New to the Craft...


Hey, Readers,

This is my script to this week's video on The Pagan Perspective. It covers three questions: one for general advice for new pagans, and two from a new pagan about how to be a pagan and about the number of gods.

The questions:
from CulainRuledByVenus
--I just uploaded a video directed at people new to Paganism, and now am wondering how you too would address them. Considering the broad spectrum of all that it is, implies, entails, and even all that it is made out to be by those who misunderstand and misrepresent it, I'm asking for your thoughts on this in the spirit of general advice and suggestions. I had suggested that newcomers should gather many perspectives about it, and thought "What better accommodation than the Pagan Perspective?"
Thank for reading,
Culain
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sKs9Ra6t1c 
from mikilee2290
--i need help being a pure pagan. i been raised in a christian family, and im only 12, and i wanna be pagan, but was never taught how. can you help me?
--how many gods are there

08 September, 2012

VIDEOS: Lily Dale Assembly

Hey, Readers,

For those of you who also like to be viewers, here are the two videos posted on my channel from my trip to Lily Dale, New York! We went on 18 August, 2012 and I posted the videos later, but didn't link them here until now.
~
Me, outside the Healing Temple in Lily Dale.

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Me, at the beach in Lily Dale.
~

Oh, and here's a bonus picture of me with Raymond Buckland's Corvette. =)
Buckland's Corvette and me in Lily Dale. <3

I've said I would possibly blog more about the trip later on, but I haven't yet. Perhaps in the future! Until then, please enjoy the videos.

Blessings~
-C-

04 September, 2012

No-Show Witchcraft

Hey, Readers!

Some people like to wear no-show socks. Some people like no-show deodorant. Me? Well, I enjoy those things, too, but something else I don't tend to show much of is my spellcrafting or much of my practice.

This post is both an update to the last post about my "blue moon" ritual plans being cancelled, and an attempt to address something that a viewer pointed out which has also been an ongoing struggle of my own. I refer to the practice of sharing our personal practice online, and the connected suspicion that if we don't show it, maybe we're not really doing it at all.

Uncommon Species
Of the almost 300 videos on my YouTube channel so far, I have 54 in my "Religion-related videos" playlist at the time of this blog post, and some others are probably also related to my spirituality but not enough that I put them in the playlist. Of these 54 videos, I can count FOUR demonstrations and TWO celebrations--videos where I show an event I'm attending (a drum circle in 2008, and Pagan Pride in August 2012). There are also several videos where I explain, in words, something I have done previously or the way I normally do something (like grounding/centering) without actually showing me doing these things. Of these videos, I can count somewhere around FIVE. I know that on paganperspective I have done at least two demonstrations, one showing how I would do a "love spell" to draw love to me, and the other was some energy work that I have an extra video from on my channel. So as you can see, showing myself doing spellcraft is not common, but I have shown some things, and other things I am alright with explaining in words.

The rest of my practice--the other drum circles I've attended or held in my backyard or living room with family and friends, the first group practices I did way back in 2004-2008 when I was starting to study Wicca, each time I cleanse crystals by the full moon and the sun, walking meditations, dreams, shadow work circles, elemental meditation circles, my Litha ritual this year, little spells here and there for energy or healing or protection and so on, or the simple offerings and crystal cleansing I did for the "blue moon" this past week--is not shown. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, of course. It only means that I don't show it to the whole world. Many of my rituals are done outside in the middle of the night, so recording wouldn't even be practical if I wanted to record them. I think everyone understands that not every moment of any YouTuber's life is shown in videos. Even the Shaytards, who have posted a video every day for years now, leave out some moments. So I think people know that just because I'm not showing my craft does not mean it doesn't exist, especially when I do talk about a lot of things afterwards.

A Personal Choice
Despite this probable understanding, I do struggle with what to show and what not to. From the beginning, I did not feel it was right to record myself performing a ritual. Something like that is personal, and having it recorded feels to me like I'm only doing the ritual to show it to others, which is not the case when I'm working. I don't even show my altar set-ups, because whenever I go to take a picture, I have this feeling of "So you set this up just to show other people?" I enjoy looking at pictures of other people's altars, and people have asked to see mine, yet so far I have not desired to show my personal practices. I talk about them pretty openly, but SHOWING them is different for me. I did, however, take a few photos with my cell phone of what I did for my Litha ritual this year, planning on sharing it later on down the line, or maybe even next year. I need a buffer zone for sharing things, to a point where I feel it's been long enough that it won't affect my feelings about what I've done. I need and want that personal time with it. It's for me and my connection to the Universe. Yet, I enjoy connecting to other people. So I do have some pictures stored away that I may share at some point, and I do plan on showing my "Craft Room" at some point in a video.

Examples
Like I said, there are some videos that do show or explain bits of my practice, though perhaps they are too rare for people to take note. Even when I've done demonstrations of spells in video, the one on paganperspective was for demonstration only, going through the motions. I did it again afterwards with my energy actually into it. I didn't feel comfortable actually performing it on camera, but I wanted to show my process to show people how I do it. In my flower affirmation video, I was actually collecting the flowers I wanted and then releasing them, so that was as close to showing real work as I got with video, though to me it was much more informal and therefore did not bother me as much to show it. And with my Doorknob Spell, I would show that, but it was just a story about what happened years ago! If I still had the dry erase doorknob hanger, I would gladly demonstrate, but I think that one's pretty self-explanatory as a story. In my Samhain Ritual video, I talk about what I did with the UU club. It wasn't appropriate to record the actual event, but I didn't mind at all telling my viewers the specifics, and I do plan to share the notes of the ritual at some point so that others may use it if they like.

Finally, I come to the most recent, my Pagan Pride 2012 video which was recorded at Cleveland Area (Ohio) Pagan Pride on 25 August. We got there just in time for a public ritual of sorts, and when it began I gave the camera to my friend so that he could record some things while my other friend and I participated in the ritual. It mostly consisted of dancing, and the video shows just a little of us greeting the elements while the leaders of the ritual did the actual calling. I thought since it was public anyway, sharing a bit would be a good opportunity for others to see. Several people commented on the fact that they don't usually see me participating in ritual or actually doing any working, so it was nice to see. And one person voiced my thoughts that I have long since ceased worrying about--whether anyone else had been wondering if I was "all talk."

I don't blame anyone for wondering it, necessarily. I have sometimes wondered if people thought that about me. But as I responded to the comment, my personal feelings are still more important. I do show some things, and I share a lot of things in the form of stories and explanations. I do not feel as though I am in any way coming off as fake. But I have wondered if some people think so, because there are quite a lot of pagans on YouTube who show themselves doing various things pretty frequently. Perhaps I am a minority, but I don't mind it.

More of the Same
While I do not personally feel that I am doing myself a disservice, I do think maybe it's important to share the videos I have done that show or demonstrate things, and to share why I don't show more. I really appreciate people's videos that show me how to do things, like make offering stones or black salt, or when Dancing Rabbit demonstrated Starhawk's salt water cleansing. So why don't I do more of that, showing things that I do? People have asked me to show how I cleanse stones, and I keep meaning to and just haven't yet. People ask to see my altars, and again, when I get to showing my witchy room, I will show my general, simple set-ups. But generally I don't show more because 1) I don't feel like I know enough or know something better than anyone else, that I should make a video about it, or 2) it feels too personal and I don't want to betray that, or 3) I feel that it suffices to point you to someone else, because that's where I got it anyway, so why should I redo it? I hold no specific authority just because it's me doing the video.

I'm going to continue only showing what I feel is appropriate (by my own standards) to show, and I am going to continue enjoying what others feel like sharing. Nothing will change, but maybe it does good to explain.

Blessings~
-C-

01 September, 2012

"Blue" Moon Cancelled Plans

Hey, Readers,

One of the most difficult things about being a solitary practitioner is really sticking to a schedule and making sure you get things done. Especially when life is so busy, it's hard to plan something and actually do it. Distractions happen, things come up, things get in the way, and it's easy to just give up because you're not answering to anyone else. This month, I had the opportunity to dodge that issue because my Wiccan friend from church invited me to her house for a "blue moon" ritual. (Of course, this is not a real blue moon--it's what people popularly call a blue moon, the second full moon in a month. A blue moon is actually the fourth full moon in a given season of the year; there are normally three per season. The next actual blue moon takes place next year, in 2013.) We've been talking about this for weeks, and I was excited to get to experience a small group ritual with people who identify as the same religion as I do. I've done simple things with folks of other pagan paths or other spiritual paths, but this friend and her children identify as Wiccan.

This past weekend, I went to Pagan Pride with one of my friends and we met up with this Wiccan friend of mine and her kids to hang out for the day. One of her daughters got a new wand, which was going to be charged tonight along with whatever else we were going to do. I really had no idea what was being planned, just that something little would take place and probably a bonfire. Anyway, as you can tell from the title of this post, our ritual didn't happen at all. I texted my friend today to see what was going on, and she said we'd probably do something around 8pm. A little later she texted me that another person she invited couldn't make it so it might just be us. I was at work so I didn't respond until an hour later, when my shift ended, and then I didn't hear back from her for hours. While I waited, I did finally make myself a pair of ear cuffs to get me started on making some for my Etsy, so that was good. Then, past the time that I would have had to leave to get to her house by 8pm, she finally responded because she had just gotten my texts, letting me know that an illness she's been dealing with on and off came back and she doesn't feel well tonight, so we'll plan something for next month. The good thing about working every other weekend means that, at least for a couple cycles, the new and full moons line up with my weekends off of work! She said she still has to charge her daughter's wand, though, or they wouldn't hear the end of it. =) I told her to charge it up and get some aura healing going so she can feel better quickly and see me at church on Sunday.

I had hyped myself up too much for the ritual not to do anything--after all, I made new "earrings" for the occasion!--so I decided I would at least charge some crystals or make some offerings or something. But, of course, there is another obstacle for me. I still live in my mother's house, and the people who live here make noise. It's difficult for me to do any kind of ritual in my room with the background noise. I was going to go outside, but I was busy working on some things and then it was too dark and people were still awake and bustling about. I ended up watching videos and answering messages for hours. I was also texting my friends who have recently moved, and my boyfriend who just left for graduate school today, a couple hours away. I couldn't bring myself to end the conversation because I miss him. But I did have him place the rose quartz chunk that I gave him near the window, so when I charged my "matching one" (they're natural, so of course they are not identical, but I got them as a pair and charged them as a pair before giving him one), his would also be charged tonight under the moon. My beautiful, accepting, atheist boyfriend happily complied. I'm so glad he's supportive.

So long story short, it's a quarter to three o'clock in the morning on September 1st, there is a full not-really-blue-but-periwinkle-or-Alice-Blue moon outside in the sky, and I am writing this, still trying to decide what I will do. I should at least charge my stones, but will I clean up my craft room and do it indoors, or go outside in the front yard or field? Is it cold out there? Is it nice enough to bring my yoga mat out to meditate for a while? I wanted to walk to my two trees to make offerings, but it's dark--should I brave it under the moonlight, as an exercise, or wait until morning? Both? What do I want to get out of tonight, and how should I best go about it? I think I shall go outside, but then what shall I carry? I can't bring many things on a walk, but I need salt and water, and those are easy enough. I don't think I'll bother with a smudge stick and lighter. Oh, good golly, Miss Molly, and WHEN am I ever going to finish that car protection charm? Tonight? Perhaps. I probably should, but...

So you see, the big issue here is that I could easily not do anything. I don't have a friend waiting on me to arrive. I don't have a whole group planning what we'll do. It's just me. Me and my Universe, my gods, my trees, my moonlight, my crystals, my path. I like it, but I also dislike how easy it is to walk away. How easy to crawl into bed, and okay, maybe I read Drawing Down the Moon, but that's still not DOING anything for the observance. It is very easy not to hold yourself accountable. Thus, I write about it, so I will feel compelled to tell you later on whether I did something. Though I have always hated feeling like I've done something just for the sake of telling others. My path, after all. Just mine.

Blessings~
-C-

31 August, 2012

VIDEO: 3 Generations, 50 feet

In which my mother, my grandmother, and I visit the Servants of Mary Center for Peace in Windsor, OH, the focal point of which is a 50 foot tall statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

CLICK TO WATCH THE VIDEO

Image found with Google, from roadsideamerica.com

Blessings~
-C-

22 August, 2012

Missing England

Hey, Readers!

Before I get to the bulk of this post, I wanted to say that I did go to Lily Dale last Saturday, and I do have a video to post from it, but the video is 20 minutes long of HD footage, so I'm having trouble uploading it. Please be patient while I get it posted as soon as I can--I know you're DYING to see it! I just have less time throughout the day to try uploading it multiple times, since I now work days.

----------------------------

I've started reading a little novel called BLITZCAT by Robert Westall. It's about a black cat named Lord Gort who makes her way through wartime in search of her person, her human master, using psi-trailing. In other words, Lord Gort can sense where her person is. She senses home. When she starts heading there, she feels a change in her person's location, realizing he's moved, and so on. Thus she goes, from place to place in England, following her master's trail and finding new, temporary masters along the way.

The places mentioned in the novel so far, other than London, are basically all farther north than I traveled. The book does not mention anywhere I actually visited besides London, at least not yet. But even though the exact locations differ, the feeling is profoundly familiar to me.

When Mrs. Smiley and Sergeant Smith are up on a hill and the description talks about being so high up that they felt they were on top of the world, and so high up that the farms below look like toy farms, with toy farmers and toy sheep, I go back in my mind to Glastonbury Tor. I do want to write a whole post about my experience on the Tor eventually, but I wanted to wait until all my videos were up and I'm only about 1/3 done editing all those videos. Still, the simple feeling of being above it all, so high up, thinking how small the things are below and how big the world is, takes me there. The steep climb that made our legs strain and stretch, even those of us who are "in shape," the rain that started to fall, the goats on the hillside, and the elation when we reached the top. The rainbow. The little girl in the popply yarn hat that stood with me in the rain, our arms outstretched. The sound of my classmates and professor singing a song from our course-packet. My nerdy excitement while telling my classmates about leylines and energy, the energy that surged through me, the apple I ate in the rain in the name of Avalon. All of it. All of that from being so high up that sheep below look unreal.

Me, walking up Glastonbury Tor. Taken by Sarah.



Sarah & me on Glastonbury Tor, with rainbow.

And the WINDS. The novel describes winds blowing cool and strong, wavering the treetops and ruffling clothing and hair, and I am in Uffington. I am sick, I am crying, I am devastated that I may not get to walk to the smithy in my nervous, stomach-trouble-laden condition. I am frustrated. I am bored. I am tired. The White Horse looks at me, unconcerned, going about its day in the chalk hills. I want to get out of there. I have to walk sideways up the hill to avoid being toppled over by the current of air, constant, over the hills. I am crying, but there are no tears. They have all been blown away. Then, suddenly, a rush. Something I will not describe as air, nor as wind, but specifically, awefully, and reverently as the Winds of Uffington. I have never felt winds so strong that were not threatening a storm. I quite literally had to lean forward and stay standing sideways to the wind to prevent being blown down the hill. All my classmates and friends were jumping, hands holding coats outstretched, making believe they could fly. I didn't dare. But I did face the wind, eventually, and let it blow through me. Cold, weak, sickly me. I felt better. Distracted. My classmates lined up for a photo and reached for me, taking me up alongside them. We formed a wall against the wind, which pushed us backward so that we had to dig our feet in and hold on tight. I didn't feel well at all, but I felt good. Those are the winds I remember like old friends. Though others may remind you of them, they can never be the same.

Our class group on the site of Uffington Castle.

Strange, that a book, or a garden, or a meal can make you think of a place like that. Strange that I remember certain emotions so strongly tied to a place. A hill. One moment.

It's times like these that make me want to put on my rain coat, find a good tree to sit under, and sip tea in the rain.

Blessings~
-C-

18 August, 2012

I AM SO PUMPED RIGHT NOW (Lily Dale)

Hey, Readers!

You like that extremely colloquial title to this post? WELL, I AM PSYCHED. LET ME TELL YOU WHY.

My mom and I are going on a day trip tomorrow to Lily Dale, New York, which is a trip we've had planned for about a month for my birthday (my birthday was yesterday, the 16th). We're going with a large group of people, organized by a friend of ours who is a spiritualist and medium and did a lot of work at Lily Dale. We only paid the basic entrance fee, which includes a lot of daily, free things you can do within the area. There are also extra things that you can pay more for, but we're not going to do any of that.

So before you get too excited with me, know that I cannot ATTEND this exact thing that is making me so excited because 1) I don't have an extra $45 to spare and 2) apparently you had to register online way before this and I didn't know it was happening until just now when I looked up Lily Dale to try and see what would be available for us to do for free. So I'm not going to this event, BUT I'M PSYCHED ABOUT IT NONETHELESS, BECAUSE...

15 August, 2012

Thank You

Just a brief note of thanks to the people who purchase items from my Etsy shop.

Dear Customers,

I know I thank you in multiple ways in and around your order, but before I go to bed tonight I just wanted to say thank you here, in this public arena. You, my customers, mean a lot to me. The viewers of my videos mean a lot to me, too, and many of you are both of those things, so you can imagine how important I find you.

It is true, as many of you have pointed out--I do need the money right now to help me pay back student loans and such. So I cannot thank those of you enough who have stated that a big reason you like supporting me is because I need the money and still don't overcharge. I also have to really thank those of you who bought certain items, because while I don't triple my price like some places do, I still worry that in this economy I am asking too much for my creations. But those of you who purchased some of the items I was worried about have renewed my faith in my ability to rightly judge cost and worth. If one person buys it, I know my work is worth it. If two buy it, I am thrilled! So thank you ever so much for your contributions in that vein.

I also have to thank the few repeat customers I have. There is a unique pleasure in sending more items somewhere that I know my creations already exist. It's like they're going to be together again. And it really helps me to know that you liked my work well enough to order some more. Thank you.

Lastly, I just want to say thank you in general for allowing me to do this and supporting me in it. It is sometimes hard to part with an item you've created so lovingly and with such attention, yet so far I've been more excited to share my work with others than I have been experiencing issues parting with it. I've enjoyed keeping a map of my sales, marking the cities to which my items are sent, so I can see my global influence. My items now range as far west as Utah and as far east as western Australia. I cannot express how wonderful that feeling is. My videos are seen all over (depending on who chooses to watch) and now things that have been in my hands live all over the world. Thanks to you.

Thank you, ever so much, for your support.
Blessings~
-C-

09 August, 2012

Food-Only Altar

Hey, Readers,

Someone sent me a message on YouTube asking for suggestions for dorm-friendly representations of the elements and God/Goddess. I have a great love for symbolism, and I think I'm quite good at finding meaning in things, and finding connections between things that other people may view as unrelated.

I gave this person some of the usual suggestions for the elements--things I use or things others have used. But I had never really been asked to suggest symbolism for God and Goddess before. Being me, I ended up going from ritual items, natural items, and color suggestions to simple items that could be found anywhere that represent masculine and feminine--something phallic and something womb-like, I said. Thinking of what a college/university student might have, I suggested a butter knife and spoon, or a fork and spoon, or even a straw in a glass. Such things may sound silly, I know, but the symbolism fits if only you personally feel that such items call to you!

Then I thought, perhaps, a food-only altar would be fun to try out sometime. We all know there are masculine and feminine foods. But besides that, foods are also associated with elements, AND they are different colors. So why not create an altar whereupon every representation is a food item?

07 August, 2012

Playdate Update & Offering Help

Hey, Readers,

Here's another two-parter. This one is just an update from the last topic, and a new one I just wanted to write about briefly.

PLAYDATE UPDATE:
My friend and I went to a park to walk and talk and have a picnic. I brought my stuff in a bag, but when my friend showed up, he was carrying all his food! So instead of walking a mile, we started down the nearest trail and stopped at the first bench we came across to have our picnic. We ended up not budging from that bench with our snacks for SIX HOURS, because, well, we both talk a lot. I think it's funny how we seamlessly covered all our mutual big topics, flowing from gay rights to religion to theatre to our recent trips to London to religion in London and theatre in London to working with kids in theatre to theatre about religion and theatre about gay rights. I didn't record any of our conversation, because that would be weird. I was going to take video of our walk, but like I said, we didn't do any more walking. We left after dark from that same bench. So I'm afraid there's no video and no mind-blowing discoveries were made for me to share. But we had a nice time. Next time, maybe we'll actually walk. =P

OFFERING HELP:
This is something that bothers me a lot, and applies to any subject matter. It's the question of when to offer help and when not to. There are a few situations I can think of:

  • A person asks for help and opinions. In that case, it's accepted that you offer it. They want to hear from you. Help is appreciated.
  • A person does not ask for help or opinions but you have something interesting to say, so you offer it up casually. Maybe it turns out to be new to them and they thank you for the information.
  • A person does not ask for help or opinions but you say something to say, so you offer it up as though you assume they don't know, or correct them. As it turns out, they do know it, so it seems like you're condescending to them or telling them what to do. This is not appreciated.
    • Sometimes you can do this without sounding condescending, by wording your un-asked-for input as a personal story. You might mention how you experience something, or what you think, without ever sounding like you're correcting the person or assuming what they know.
    • Some people also begin input with "I don't know if you already know this, but I think/heard/etc. ..." or "I know you probably know this but maybe someone else could benefit from my view."
Most of the time, people comment with the second kind of thing, or the last thing--something interesting, or something they admit that I might know but they want to say it anyway. Recently someone mentioned something in a video, saying "I'm sure you already know this, so what is your opinion on..." and because they were polite, I admitted that I had not known about the particular thing. I don't mind admitting when I don't know, but generally if I don't know, I ask others to help out.

Other times, people's comments are really insulting even though they clearly don't mean to be. (Sometimes they do mean to be, but mostly they don't. They just mean to help and haven't thought about what they're saying.) When I get such a comment, it's hard for me to get really mad because I know they don't mean to be rude, but at the same time I feel a need to explain that they could really say things in a much better way, or not say anything at all. Here are some examples of these types of comments that are really hair-prickling:
  • "You should not do this because I believe it's wrong." My beliefs =/= Your beliefs. I don't do me for you.
  • "You should not do this because you're a woman and women should not do that. Men can, however." Please do not place gender roles on people. I am much more polite than some women would be about this. It's not okay.
  • "You should not do this because it's not attractive." I don't do me for you.
  • "You should not believe this way because I don't like it." Ditto. I don't believe what I do to please others. Remember, your views may not be something I like, either, but you believe it and I respect that.
  • "Actually, you're wrong." If I am, you could be more polite about it. But actually, people say this more often when what I said was not wrong. Like I said, if I'm not sure about something, I say so. I think it annoys me more if I'm actually correct, because then I'm dealing with rudeness and not even learning anything in return.
  • "You need to do this." Maybe I already do. You're assuming that I don't, just because I didn't say it in the video. Please don't tell me what to do. Even if I already do it, someone telling me to makes me not want to! It's the classic rebellion issue.
  • "This is how you do this." Again, you're assuming I don't know how. Word things like this as "This is how I do this" and you'll avoid the negative effects while sharing your valuable information. You may have another, useful way of doing things, but that doesn't mean someone else's way is wrong.
  • "You should ask so-and-so how to do this because they actually know how." Ouch. I think you can figure this one out on your own.
It's a tough thing to deal with, because to some people you really could say "I didn't ask you. Don't tell me." But other people do leave helpful or interesting comments without ever sounding like they're saying you're wrong or telling you what to do. Those latter folks should be given candy or muffins or flowers or puppies or whatever good thing they desire. It is a skill that they may not even know they possess! It's also tough because when you tell someone not to tell you what to do, they can counter with the same thing because you're TELLING them not to tell you what to do... See? Yeah. I would hope most people are mature enough to just not impose their views and beliefs on others, or to realize that doing so is not okay. Unfortunately that's not always the case.

So, okay, you read. You listened. Now I'm asking! What kinds of things do people assume YOU don't know, that really bugs you? How do you personally avoid sounding rude when you want to help people? I was a teaching/writing assistant, so I have specific strategies for commenting on someone's writing without cutting them down. Share some strategies for speaking with people in general that you might use, that others could try out!

Blessings~
-C-

03 August, 2012

Birthday & Park Playdate

Hey, Readers,

This post comes to you in two parts.

BIRTHDAY:
It's not my birthday until August 16th, but I wanted to mention this because it's on this blog. Last Christmas, a few viewers from YouTube asked if they could send me presents in the mail, and I had to decline because I don't have a P.O. Box. Then I saw a girl's blog where she had a Donate button that said, "Wanna buy me a cup of coffee?" and I thought, hey, if people want to send me presents, why not send money securely through PayPal and then I'll buy the presents? No harm in offering, since some people DID ask. I certainly don't expect anything! I just felt bad having to say no to some people who, for some reason, wanted to give me something. So that button is in the left sidebar of this blog right now, so I thought I should explain it to my readers.

I just made a video about it for my channel but I can't upload it right now because I'm about to leave for a...

PARK PLAYDATE:
My friend Derek and I are going to hang out at a local park today, which happens to be almost exactly equidistant between our two homes. I plan to record some of this, as well, which is another reason I can't leave my camera plugged into my computer to upload the video while I'm gone. If we make any brilliant discoveries during this trip, I will be sure to let you know. Otherwise, there should at least be some nice nature footage.

I hope everyone had/is having (depending on when you have time to celebrate) a Blessed Lammas or Imbolc, and/or a wonderful Esbat!

Blessings~
-C-

31 July, 2012

Briefly Bristled

Hey, Readers!

I feel like I've written a lot on here about things revolving around church. It makes sense, since the new UU community is the latest brand new development in my religious and spiritual life. However, I wanted to post about something unrelated to church, even briefly.

PEOPLE STILL GENERALIZE...
The only thing I have to say right now is that today, on YouTube, someone left a comment asking if I was a redditor, or a person who uses reddit.com, which I am not. I'm not actually very familiar with it, though I've seen it, so I decided to check it out. I searched "pagan" to see what kinds of interesting things there might be that I'm missing out on. The first thing I saw was an atheist man who's married to a pagan woman, asking if such a pairing was bound to lead down a negative road. This caught my eye because I'm currently dating an atheist. The second thing to I saw on the page--and the last, for after this, I did not want to look further--was a post titled something like "Let's forget Christians, Jews, and Muslims for a second. Let's talk about how ANNOYING Wiccans and other 'neo-pagans' are!"

I shouldn't have clicked on it. You know I shouldn't have. I know I shouldn't have. But I did.

The post was from someone who previously identified as Wiccan, but now only had very negative things to say. But, as is so terribly common, they were actually only referring to people who use the title but have no practice or knowledge of what they speak of. They were not at all describing an actual practitioner. I honestly can't remember any exact words now, because I looked at it over an hour ago and I will not look again. As soon as I saw the usual misinformation and generalizations leveled at us, I stopped reading closely, so my memory has thankfully allowed the information to slip away. I just recall the usual stuff, like the author claiming that all Wiccans are the way they described (when they're clearly not), that none of them know anything, that they will take information and practices from any culture that people know little about and call it their own but don't know any history, etc. Now, I'm an eclectic Wiccan, yes. My practice includes elements from other religions. That does not mean I don't know where they came from, what they mean, or why I use them.

Anyway, the post ended with a statement of annoyance--If you thought Christians and Jews and Muslims were bad/hard to reason with, try talking to a Wiccan! Sheesh! (Again, that's not verbatim, but that's what it said.) I also remember one reply/comment on the post, which was from someone who said they used to be pagan and then realized they were "a fucking idiot" and stopped believing it.

FRUSTRATION
It just frustrates me so much, still, that so many people will post outright hatred like that instead of admitting that not every Wiccan or neopagan out there is like that. Trust me, I know those people DO exist, and they will either learn or turn away from the path when they realize it's not for them. I'm not saying the unfortunate stereotype has no basis in reality. But such individuals are not experienced practitioners, or not serious about the path. They couldn't be, or they wouldn't be so uninformed. I have not yet met a truly dedicated practitioner who is anything like that horrible imagined view of us. Even beginners asking me if Wicca would be right for them are dedicated seekers, and they do not insist on calling themselves Wiccan if they don't think they are. I've only come across a few people who seem to insist on being called Wiccan even though from our conversations it's been clear to me that they are not, that their beliefs simply lean elsewhere.

I'm not a traditional Wiccan, but I'm not an idiot, randomly claiming the title with no reasoning behind it. I know many Wiccans like me, who may not be traditional, but have genuine work behind us and genuine dedication to our paths. So yes, it still bothers me that some people not only are bothered by those who do not yet know things, but also go on to claim that ANY WICCAN is this way! I can only teach by example, but people who are willing to spread such lies and generalized hate do not seek out sincere practitioners in order to change their minds. They don't want to be shown how wrong they are.

SHOULD HAVE BEEN A GAME-CHANGER
This reminds me of a comment I once got. The person commented that they could see, from my videos, that I am clearly a very intelligent girl who knows what she's talking about and has a true connection to her path. They said that they agree with my well thought out perspective on my path. So far, so good. They went on to say that because of this truth they could see in me, and because they themselves agree so much with my views, I must be a pagan, and "NOT a fluffy bunny Wiccan." Their words. Verbatim. You bet I remembered that one. Their argument was that since I am knowledgeable and they agree with me, I cannot possibly be Wiccan because Wiccans, as they believe, are ALL ignorant, uninformed children who don't have any idea what they're doing.

Instead of rerouting their stereotypes and saying Wow, here is a Wiccan who is clearly NOT what I thought Wiccans were... I must have been wrong, at least some Wiccans must be genuine! this person refused to admit that their ideas could have been incorrect, and INSTEAD said I must just be using the wrong name for myself. Clearly. That is the only possible explanation.

~
Anyway, this is nothing you wouldn't have heard from me before if you watch my channel, but it still gets my goat. I am perturbed. I have a hard time understanding how some people who accuse us of being so uninformed can remain so terribly uninformed, themselves.

Blessings~
-C-