Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Seeds of the Body 1

How many really good times in the body do you associate with your spiritual self? How much laughter, dance, or sheer joy of being alive?

Spiritually speaking, the most wonderful "in the body" time for me was when I was pregnant with my daughter. I was very actively Wiccan at the time and very disturbed to find that my body was NOT acting like the Goddess it was supposed to. I was sick, didn't want to be touched in any way (not even hugs), and somewhat disturbed by all the rapid changes in the mirror. And yet... and yet there was this feeling of having that life within me. I could feel her move, I could feel her dance. After a while I could hear her heartbeat even without the doppler that the doctor used. Sometimes, near the end, I could see her little feet pressed against my stomach. That experience is singular; you cannot share it with another. I can't even share it with HER, because she doesn't remember it. It was for me, and me alone, and it was very spiritual. I could no longer focus on anything outside myself, and so I went inward. I marveled at my own body, and at the body growing inside mine.

Beyond that experience, I have a few "in the body" moments. Rollerskating always makes me smile and feel free and present. For the time I skate, especially when I still lived with my parents, it was a time of emotional and physical freedom away from everything else. I could just Be Me.

Do you experience Spirit present in your sexuality?

I most definitely experience Spirit within and during my sexuality. My own spirituality embraces physical love as being just as important (and in some cases, MORE important) than emotional or spiritual love. The Greeks were a very practical people, and the gods of sexuality ran the gamut from the virgin love of Artemis to the ripe and rutty love of Dionysos. I embrace them all, because there is a time for everything. Sometimes you need a bit of soft, gentle love, with more hugging than anything else. Sometimes you just need to... well, rut. Neither is right or wrong, except in relation to the time and needs of those involved. When enjoyed in a positive moment, my sexuality helps my spirituality to blossom and flow, opening me to feel and experience the godhead of those I worship, through the body of my loving partner.

Are you critical or approving of your body?

I think it depends largely on what time of day it is, what I had for breakfast, and whether I'm suffering from PMS at a given moment. Sometimes I am very approving of my body, in that I am unhappy with my health and weight but am working in a positive and affirming manner to change those things healthily. On the other hand, there are definitely times (moreso now that I am losing weight and feeling better) that I see my body in a positive light. I'm learning, slowly, to approve of the wonderful things my body can do. Despite my weight and size, I can sit in half lotus, can touch my toes easily and put my palms on the floor during a front bend, can hold some difficult yoga poses for decent lengths of time... perfect, no, but my body does wonderful and amazing things for me. I love it!

Do you view aging as an enemy rather than as a part of a cycle?

That's kind of a leading question, and comes under the same heading as ones like, "So, Mr. Smith, when did you stop beating your wife?" Aging is what it is. Today is my 40th birthday, and I look at myself and I know I don't look 40. I don't often feel 40. In fact, when I compare how I look now (both in memory and in photographs) to how my mother looked at 40, I'd say I look nothing like she did. My parents were OLD at 40, even looking at them from my current perspective. They had settled into an uncomfortable routine of being "the old married couple" and had lost the spontaneity and joy of life. They looked old and felt old. I do not look or feel old at all, and I'm proud of that. I often look at myself and wonder, how can I be so young when they were so old?

I think it's because I DO view aging as part of a cycle. I've been a devotee of Hecate for 20 years; my inner crone has been with me since I was quite young and supple. I'm not afraid of the process of aging, of getting old, of passing into new stages of life. I've worked with death so many times, that I respect but no longer fear the mystery of it. I am who I am, and I'm as old as I choose to be. As someone once said, "Growing old is mandatory; growing UP is optional!"

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Your money or your ethics!"

Everything lately is about money. Have you noticed that? Economy, bailouts, Wall Street, not enough tax breaks, too many tax breaks... It all boils down to money. Money is the root of all evil. And so what I end up hearing, over and over again from every quarter is, "Your money or your ethics!" Stick 'em up, people, because you can't seem to have both. If you're ethical, you will be run over and drummed into the ground by The Rest Of Them, and if you aren't ethical, God save you. Or at least that is what seems to be occurring all around us.

What does it all mean? Why should we have to give up our ethics and morals in order to make a buck? I think part of the problem is that too much of our society has been trained (largely in public school, but that's another debate entirely) that having money means you're a blood sucking organism bent on making "the little people" suffer. The problem with this scenario is that it doesn't take into account the many thousands of people who are just working really hard and have succeeded. Believe it or not, that does happen.

There's this tendancy for Americans to assume that someone with money is therefore in a different class than we are. There's a complete lack of understanding that money is not the freedom from the rat race. If you have a lot of money, then it's probably true that you also have a lot of debt (how many millionaires do you know that live in modest homes in the cheap-ass part of town?). You also have to consider the taxes you have to pay, the people who seem to float around wanting a few bucks, and a zillion other things.

My family isn't rich. We actually are quite poor, when you factor in past debt (from when we were REALLY poor), car payments, house payments, and the cost of the education we're providing for our children. We live hand to mouth. Yet someone out there seems to think we have a lot of free cash. It's because Gray has the ability to pull in large figure salaries, you see.

Now, on top  of the people who assume that pulling in $100,000.00 a year means you should pay for their health care and education,  there are those who also think that it's Bad to make money. So you're hated for having money, and you're hated for having the ability to make money. After all, if you're making money, it's a fluke and has nothing to do with hard work, education, or level of intelligence. It's just a crap shoot and anyone can do it.

Um... yeah, not.

There's a whole other journal entry about how our schools (and in many cases, sadly, our parents) have encouraged us to believe that "everyone wins" so much that it's become true in all things. It's gone from being a slogan for helping out others, and for the idea that we can learn as much from losing as we can from winning (frequently more!), to being a mantra for why our children have tantrums if they lose at anything. It bothers me that schools and children's programs no longer ask children to excel. When a child does excel, they're buried in a classroom with other kids, left to molder while the teacher caters to the kids who are having problems.

Yeah. Not going there.

Those of us who feel the need to excel, to push ourselves beyond what we perceive as our limits, are punished for doing so. We're called brown-noser, or teacher's pet, or worse yet, cheater or thief. The premise seems to be that if you're getting ahead of others, you must be doing something bad, because only bad people excel.

Um... what?

So the question I have is, what are we supposed to do when we're put in a situation where the only way to come out equitably is to be unethical? Unfortunately, my current situation is set up that way. If I'm moral and stick to my ethics, it's likely I'm going to lose, and in a rather spectacular way. I'll be bereft of everything BUT my morals. On the other hand, if I lie, cheat, steal, or otherwise manipulate things, I could easily (and I mean VERY easily) come out on top, smelling like roses. But my morals will be in tatters.

Do you know how much comfort there is in keeping to your morals when you aren't sure you'll have a roof over your head in a month? Yeah... not much.

SIGH.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Seal of the Confessional

... Or, Ministerial Confidentiality

We haven't talked about this in class, but I'm beginning to think that we need to. There's a topic up for consideration for myself right now, largely because I do quite a bit of listening to people who speak to me "as a minister."

For some reason, people make an assumption that if you're a minister, you're required by law to never repeat things. Unfortunately, that's just not true. The Catholics have the "Seal of the Confessional" which states they cannot share what they learn in a confession from someone, however even that seal of confidentiality has been breached lately, at least in regards to child safety and welfare. Outside of the Catholic faith, I do not believe there is another denomination that has the iron clad agreement across all its churches that anything told in confidence to a priest or minister is confidential.

That said, it is highly unlikely that any person who had shown a previous dedication to keeping "ministerial confidences" private would be prosecuted for keeping quiet even in the face of a crime. The only challenge that might get past that would be if a minister had someone confess to them that they were harming children and that was not passed along, but I've yet to find a minister who wouldn't firmly march said penitent confessor to a police station and have them say it themselves. Most of us who walk into the ministerial profession(s) are fairly ethical.

I have a Code of Ethics which I wrote both for my class and for myself. Originally, it didn't include anything about confidentiality. I decided today that such a section MUST be included, and so I have. My code is based heavily on the Delphic Maxims, and so in thinking of the idea of a seal of confidentiality, I turned to the Maxims. I was not disappointed.

Exercise prudence.  Be religiously silent.  Have respect for suppliants.  Restrain the tongue.  Keep deeply the top secret.  Exercise religious silence.

These are some of the rules our ancestors followed as a guide to good behavior. They are what helped channel their ethics and morals. The idea of confidentiality was not strange, or so it seems to me. When I found all those results, I realized that it wasn't important to add this to my ethical code; it was imperative.

And so the new section has been added, under the heading, "Be religiously silent." I felt this was the Maxim which most captured what I wanted to say. It isn't that everything ever said to me needs to be held under the same strict rules of non-repetition. However, I need to respect it when someone comes to me and says, "This won't be repeated, will it?"

Be Religiously Silent 
When approached as a minister to listen to someone's perceived or actual sins or problems, I will keep that confidence strictly, never repeating what is said to me under that seal of confidentiality, except only to save the life of another human being.

I believe this may be one of the most important of my ethics, because it defines something in actual use. My other ethics are important, but they're largely not addressing issues that other people will see in my daily routine. They talk of worshiping the gods, obeying the law, and other similarly philosophical ideas. Keeping my mouth shut when someone shares something important is another story entirely. 

I feel good.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Get over it!

by the Eagles

I turn on the tube and what do I see
A whole lotta people cryin’ ’don’t blame me’
They point their crooked little fingers ar everybody else
Spend all their time feelin’ sorry for themselves
Victim of this, victim of that
Your momma’s too thin; your daddy’s too fat

Get over it
Get over it
All this whinin’ and cryin’ and pitchin’ a fit
Get over it, get over it

You say you haven’t been the same since you had your little crash
But you might feel better if I gave you some cash
The more I think about it, old billy was right
Let’s kill all the lawyers, kill ’em tonight
You don’t want to work, you want to live like a king
But the big, bad world doesn’t owe you a thing

Get over it
Get over it
If you don’t want to play, then you might as well split
Get over it, get over it

It’s like going to confession every time I hear you speak
You’re makin’ the most of your losin’ streak
Some call it sick, but I call it weak

You drag it around like a ball and chain
You wallow in the guilt; you wallow in the pain
You wave it like a flag, you wear it like a crown
Got your mind in the gutter, bringin’ everybody down
Complain about the present and blame it on the past
I’d like to find your inner child and kick it’s little ass

Get over it
Get over it
All this bitchin’ and moanin’ and pitchin’ a fit
Get over it, get over it

Get over it
Get over it
It’s gotta stop sometime, so why don’t you quit
Get over it, get over it

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Trust

There's a lot of stuff going on around me in regards to trust lately. A friend is having issues with her poly boyfriend. Another friend is having visits from the police who are looking for someone who doesn't live there. Then there's me. I'm suffering from a serious lack of trust in people outside my immediate family right now. Immediate family would be me, Gray, Sis, and the twins. Beyond that, there are a few friends that I trust pretty much fully, but not a lot. So much is going on that it's hard to extend trust.

What happens when trust is broken? For me, it means that you go down to the bottom of my "trust list" and I don't trust you again until you work your way out of that list. It's not easy. It can take years. It certainly takes a great amount of effort for someone to show me that their breach of my trust was a mistake that they've repaired. Reparation is not enough. Apology is not enough.

Lately, I've had a (now former) lover break my trust. His partner broke my trust just previous to that. This puts me in a terrible position. What I want is to turn away and have nothing to do with either of them again. Unfortunately, that isn't realistic right now. It takes time to disentangle, and much effort and tears. I'm dealing as best I can, but finding that being around either of them leaves me in a very deep emotional turmoil that just won't end.

I have friends who are urging me to "give 'em all I've got" in order to get out of my current position, but that isn't something I can do. A long time ago I decided that morals and ethics were very important to me, and I have to stick to them even in the face of nastiness from all around me. It's so important to me that I feel guilty if I have stray thoughts that are less than charitable, and dreams of being nasty in return leave me feeling cold and empty. It would be easy, yes... When someone hands you the gun, the ammo, and pains a target on themselves, it takes steady nerves to put it all down and walk away. I'm shaky, but I'm not aiming.

My life isn't about taking the easy route. It never has been. Part of that is because I dislike taking pot shots at people. Yes, I did it when I was younger, and I'm ashamed of those times. Today, I don't do that. Even when I want to. Even when it seems like the answer to everything.

Sigh.

Being ethical does not mean I have to be nice, though. I am polite, because that's the right thing to do. I can be angry and still wash the dishes and do my chores. I can be upset and hurting and still plow the driveway so people can get in and out safely. It is just a lot tougher emotionally.

I want out. I dream of a time when I can go to bed at bedtime and not be worried that I'll be awake for hours in the dark. I have fantasies about going down to the kitchen in the morning and finding it just the way I left it last night. I want to be in a place where I'm not afraid to watch the television in my living room. I want to be able to eat meals without my stomach churning with stress. Yes, I now want out.

In a way, that means "they won" and boy does that irk me. Still, it isn't worth twisting my own morals over. I do wish the "good guys" would win once in a while, though.

Snow day!

We had a snow day right after MLK Day, which our school system has off. Nice. Well, mostly nice. The shoveling part wasn't my favorite, but I enjoyed the plowing relatively well. I have a fondness for doing 360s in the tractor using the differential breaking system. Whee! I did the tractor plowing while Gray jockeyed cars for me and sis did the path shoveling. I think we did pretty well - we make a good team. The picture doesn't give you a good sense of just how much snow we've had over the past week or so. This is our second dumping, and our second snow day.

The trailer developed a leak, although we think it's fairly minor. Still, it isn't something you want to ignore, especially in winter. We spent some time clearing off the roof just after the last snow storm, and we have to do it again now. With the temperatures rising from "bloody cold" to "freezing" we need to address it so our friend doesn't get wet.

Gray and I attempted to make it up the hill yesterday, to no avail. I just am not fit enough to trail break through a mile and a bit of uphill hiking in knee deep snow. I made it a little less than half way, and gave out. Still, I didn't feel too bad, as the teen girls went up and only made it a bit farther than we did, and they got to travel through our path which was already beaten down. Yay us!

I have come to the conclusion that if I am going to live in New England (and I certainly don't see that changing any time soon!), I need to get myself some waterproof snow pants. I wore Gray's Carhart pants, but they're miles too long for me and I looked like a little kid in daddy's clothes. It also made walking up the hill more difficult, I'm sure, though at least I wasn't soaking wet. Having properly fitted snow pants would help me a lot. That and warmer socks. Heh...

In other news, I need desperately to pack up the stuff in my room. Half of it isn't mine, and the stuff that is nominally mine doesn't need to be in here. My room feels cluttered and messy when what I want is neat and tidy. And sparse.

What do I consider necessary? My religious books are important, both because I like having them around and because I use them for school. My computer and implements are necessary. I have a small rolling cart with three drawers that I keep school and other important stuff in, and I like to have that handy. I need my altars and altar implements. I need my blanket stand. I want my little tv and dvd player. Then there's my bed. Other than that, I have a number of fictional books (mostly Heinlein but a few others as well) that I can't bear to be parted with for too long. It'd be nice if that's all that was in my room...

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Lord's Prayer, in two parts... (by Anon)

Our Father, who art in heaven.

Yes?

Don't interrupt me, I'm praying.

But - you called ME!

Called you? No, I didn't call you. I'm praying. Our Father who art in heaven-

There - you did it again!

Did what?

Called me! You said, "Our Father who art in heaven." Well, here I am. What's on your mind?

But I didn't mean anything by it. I was, you know, just saying my prayers for the day. I always say the Lord's Prayer. It makes me feel good, kind of like fulfilling a duty.

Well, alright. Go on.

Okay. Hallowed be thy name.

Hold it right there. What do you mean by that?

By what?

By "hallowed be thy name"?

It means, it means... good grief, I don't know what it means. How in the world should I know? It's just a part of the prayer. By the way, what does it mean?

It means honored, holy, wonderful.

Hey, that makes sense. I never thought about what 'hallowed' meant before. Thanks. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven.

Do you really mean that?

Sure, why not?

What are you doing about it?

Doing? Why nothing, I guess. I just think it would be kind of neat if you got control, of everything down here like you have up there. We're kinda in a mess down here , you know.

Yes, I know; but have I got control of you?

Well, I go to church.

That isn't what I asked you. What about your bad temper? You've really got a problem there, you know. And then there's the way you spend your money - all on yourself. And what about the kind of books you read?

Now hold on just a minute! Stop picking on me! I'm just as good as some of the rest of those People at church!

Excuse ME. I thought you were praying for my will to be done. If that is to happen, it will have to start with the ones who are praying for it. Like you, for example.

Oh, alright. I guess I do have some hang-ups. Now that you mention it, I could probably name some others.

So could I.

I haven't thought about it very much until now, but I really would like to cut out some of those things. I would like to, you know, be really free.

Good, now we're getting somewhere. We'll work together, you and me. I'm proud of you.

Look, Lord if you don't mind, I need to finish up here. This is taking a lot longer than it usually does. Give us this day our daily bread.

You need to cut out the bread. You're overweight as it is.

Hey, wait a minute! What is this? Here I was doing my religious duty, and all of a sudden you break in and remind me of all my hang-ups!

Praying is a dangerous thing. You just might get what you ask for. Remember, you called me... and here I am. It's too late to stop now. Keep praying. (Pause.) Well, go on.

I'm scared to.

Scared? Of what?

I know what you'll say.

Try me.

Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.

What about Ann?

See? I knew it! I knew you would bring her up! Why, Lord, she's told lies about me, spread stories. She never paid back the money she owes me. I've sworn to get even with her!

But... your prayer. What about your prayer?

I didn't... mean it.

Well, at least you're honest. But it's quite a load carrying around all that bitterness and resentment, isn't it?

Yes, but I'll feel better as soon as I get even with her. Boy, have I got some plans for her. She'll wish she had never been born.

No, you won't feel any better. You'll feel worse. Revenge isn't sweet. You know how unhappy you are. Well, I can change that.

You can? How?

Forgive Ann. Then I'll forgive you. And the hate and the sin will be Ann's problem, not yours. You will have settled the problem as far as you are concerned.

Oh... You know, you're right.  You always are. And more than I want revenge, I want to be right with You. (Sigh.) All right, all right. I forgive her.

There now! Wonderful! How do you feel?

Hmmm. Well, not bad. Not bad at all! In fact, I feel pretty great. You know, I don't think I'll go to bed uptight tonight. I haven't been getting much rest, you know.

Yeah, I know. But you're not through with your prayer, are you? Go on.

Oh, right. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Good! Good, I 'll do that. Just don't put yourself in a place where you can be tempted.

What do you mean by that?

You know what I mean. 

Yeah, I know.

Okay, go ahead. Finish your prayer.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Do you know what would bring me glory? What would really make me happy?

No, but I'd like to know. I want to please you now. I've really made a mess of things. I want to truly follow you. I can see now how great that would be. So, tell me... how do I make you happy?

You just did.

Discerning the Self

Who am I?

I am many things to many people. I'm a minister and priestess. I'm a mother, lover, defender of justice, downtrodden female, rape victim, addictive personality, student, teacher, adult child, wise woman... It depends on who you ask, and when you ask, and how the responder feels when they're asked. Sometimes I'm classified as a saint, and others as a devil, and I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle, as is true of all things in life.

I am not that.

I am not a victim; I refuse to be. I am not a doormat. I am not a mindless, emotionless automaton. I am not worthless. I am not shiftless or lazy. I am not that.

I am that.

I am a survivor. I am a skilled lover. I am an emotional person who sometimes wears her heart on her sleeve. I am a mother, both biological and heart-felt. I am that.

I've talked about the wearing of masks before. Everyone has them; in our world it's unavoidable. Some we allow to slip when we feel it's become safer. For instance, our family doesn't pretend to be anything but what it is - a slightly off-norm family of three adults raising two beautiful children together in love. It sometimes gets us a bit of grief, but not often, and it's easy to dismiss. I love not having to wear that mask, hiding the part of me that loves both Gray and Sis. It makes me feel free, like a spirit outside of flesh. Yet I would not stand on the rooftop and yell that we have this strange-in-our-world relationship, anymore than I'd expect the couple down the street to stand out front of their home and shout out that they're straight and monogamous. Why would they?

There are other masks we have to wear, to protect people or to hold our inner self safe. Sometimes it's a matter of trust, and other times it's due to past hurts. I don't do the "mom thing" very often because of the difficulties I had/have with my own mother, and so it pleases me to be Mei Mei to the twins and only "mom" to my daughter.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Seeds of Revelations

How do you integrate new information and revelations?

It depends a lot on the type of information or revelation. If it arrives at a time I'm prepared for it (during an Initiation, for instance, when I am spiritually prepared to be inundated) I can usually incorporate and integrate it fairly easily. I'm ready for a life-change or I wouldn't be in that position to begin with. If it comes completely out of the blue, on the other hand, I sometimes find it extremely stressful and occasionally it will cause me to become depressed or anxious. In either case, it takes me a bit of time to make the new ideas fully my own, and I try to do this by using music, art, reading and practicing the new idea or task as a part of that integration.

Has fear been part of your spiritual history? Explore this.

Oh yes! Hecate is my Matron, Dionysos my patron... these are gods intimately involved with fear and frenzy. I'm not afraid OF them, per se, but they both fright me with their actions at times. With Hecate it's usually a matter of being very blunt about some new aspect of my life which I haven't yet come to terms. She was very clear about my serving her, even when I didn't want to, and it took time before I could relax into the role of being priestess to her. Dionysos was much more gentle, but he also inspires a certain amount of fear...
Revel

The hum of chanting engulfs my soul with fire
Thudding drums beat out the tattoo of life
Seeping down into the earth’s sweet mire
Only to rise again, crescendo rife
With desire’s sweet touch. I stop, inhale,
The animal scent caresses every sense,
My dervish dance tears the delicate veil
Of sanity I clung to (past tense).
Crimson and heat consume my every thought,
While vines of ivy rend my flesh from bone.
I cry and struggle, vainly, for I’ve wrought
The trap within which I fight not to moan.
His, the Dionysian revel ensures,
Curse and blessing, but never cures.

Review past insights through dreams or intuitive knowing. How have they influenced your life?

While I don't see dreams as a direct phone line to the gods, I do take things serious when I have a specific lucid dream about them. My belief is that dreams arise because we are anxious or stressed about a topic, and that any dreams we have which are easily remembered are there because we're "trying to figure it out" as we sleep. Therefore, any pictures seen may have new insights in them which we wouldn't think of during our waking hours. I've also had very deep conversations with my gods as I slept, which I cherish deeply. How has this influenced my life? It has stoked my belief, while also keeping alive my wonder and my ability to question and test.

If you have any addictions, do you know what is driving them? How can you redirect them toward your well being?

Am I addicted to anything? Yes, sort of. I think I have an addictive personality, and that I am not addicted to a specific thing but I use whatever is at hand to "feed" my addiction needs. So it might be food today, internet games tomorrow, or a fictional series of books next week. One of the main things I do to avoid addictive behavior is to break my day up so I'm not doing any one thing for hours and hours at a time. I'll do homework for an hour then go do dishes. I'll play a game for a few minutes and then clean the bathroom. I'll read a chapter of a novel before I go to bed but no more than that. I use the things I like to do as a carrot for doing the things I may not necessarily like to do.

More Homework Seeds

If you look at your home as if it were in a dream, how would you analyze the symbolic content of each room?

That's a big question. I think I'll answer for my room only, since this is about my symbolism. The first thing I always see is my coffee cup. Empty or full, it's always on the bedside table, waiting for me. It's symbolic of awakeness, awareness, and inspiration. My clock is there, too, ticking out the ordered part of my day. There are books everywhere, both on shelves in neat rows and in stacks piled about the floor. They symbolize my search for knowledge, my escape from reality in some cases, and my acknowledgement that "I don't know" about a lot of things. My altars are currently in a messy state, partly because of the messy state of my own head. They're a pretty accurate reflection of the state of my mind, though not of my soul. My dolls and stuffed animals are there, too, the lost youth I've tried to make up for and grow out of.

Are the things you live with beautiful to you? Empowering? Were they inherited? Is there clutter and disorder?

While there's definitely clutter and disorder (especially right now, what with everything in flux), there's much of beauty in my room. Right now, my main focus for both beauty and spirituality is a new tea light lamp given to me by my sister-wife. It's made of a beautiful stone, carved in the shape of a pale owl. The feathers are cut out, allowing the tea light inside to shine through and illuminate the area. It speaks to me of hidden wisdom shining through, of keeping myself steady, of holding the light inside me always. I have images of my honored dead, and Starry Night on my wall. Cluttered, yes, but beautiful clutter.

What do the symbols tell you about your inner life?

I think they say that I'm not organized very much, but that I never give up. I'm a survivor, and sometimes I'm a hoarder although I've been trying to dig myself out of that lately. My inner life is easily swept into chaos, but there's always that hidden light I can draw on when I need to.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Further Journaling Via Seeds

How do you feel when your versions of reality are challenged?

It depends a lot on what you mean by "my version" of reality. In going through mediation right now, there's a lot of people saying, "that's just your version of reality" about facts, which I get pretty offended about. For instance, when I say, "X dollars were earned by our family. Here is documentation to show that," I expect people to accept it unless they have documentation that shows differently, which I will then consider. What I do not agree with is the kind of statement that starts out, "Well, I feel your documents are wrong," without any actual explanations.

So I guess in short, I feel offended when my version of reality is challenged but not explained; if a challenge is accompanied by explanation and maybe documentation or proof of some kind, then I am okay with it and am more than willing to look at the new suggestions. In other words, "just because" is not an acceptable challenge of my reality.

Do you say, "I don't believe that!" before you listen carefully?

I'm sure I do say that sometimes, but I don't think I'm prone to it. Whether in religion, politics, or family relationships, I try very hard to listen to everyone's point of view while formulating my own opinions. If I do not believe something (or conversely DO believe something), it's almost always for a reason. Either I have personally experienced something, researched it, or had it explained to me adequately in the past. On the rare occasion I manage to blast out that I don't believe something before listening, I like to think I listen well after the outburst.

What does it mean to you to have an open mind?

To have an open mind is to be open and willing to seek and hear new ideas and thoughts and methods. If someone does something a different way than you, you need to evaluate it and decide if it works for you, and why or why not. It is NOT jumping to conclusions or making assumptions about right or wrong. If you are exposed to a new idea, you need to think it through rather than accepting or dismissing out of hand.

When do you feel the need to defend your point of view?

Generally speaking, I feel the need to defend myself and my point of view when other people are telling me I'm wrong, as opposed to telling me how they do something. When my sis came into my life and explained she was a Christian, she didn't shove it in my face or get nasty or throw pamphlets at me; instead she lived her life and showed me that Christians weren't all bad. She didn't say I was wrong for believing different; she said that it was right for her. I don't need to defend against that, because all I can do is expand my own knowledge base. On the other hand, the times I've run into people telling me that my belief is wrong and theirs is right, I've gotten offended, upset, or sometimes even verbally aggressive. I don't mind being told or shown that there's another way to do something, but I highly dislike being told that my way is just plain wrong.

Have you questioned the beliefs you were taught as a child?

Sure I have! I was taught that religion was a crutch, that people who believed in God were spiritual nuts that had a loose grip on reality, and that if you went to church you were just stupid. I questioned that as early as 10 or 11 years of age, and it only got worse from there. I went so far as to sneak out of the house to practice religion behind my parents' backs, knowing I'd be punished if they caught me.

More Seeds from Barefoot on Holy Ground

Review the people, books, lectures, and other sources of knowledge that have inspired and stimulated you.

People who have inspired me would have to include Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, the Deans and instructors at The New Seminary as well as my classmates there, Alison Jacobs who was my first real pastor, my sister-wife, Gray, and numerous others. I could make the list go back to fourth grade teachers but I think that's going a bit too far.

People are important to me, to say the least. I am both shy and a people person. It takes a great deal of effort for me to stand up in front of people I don't know, or to circulate at a party where I don't know anyone. I often make up for it by being full of jokes and stories, which hide my shyness.

Books would have to include anything by Robert Heinlein. Some of his most popular books, such as Stranger in a Strange Land and To Sail Beyond the Sunset have been pivotal in my understanding of life and liberty. Others, like Starship Troopers, have helped me formulate an understanding of what kind of society I would like to live in. His main characters (Lazarus and Maureen Long, Podkayne, Hilda, Friday, etc) all show the kind of honor, integrity, and honesty that I myself try to display.

As to other places such as lectures, I think that attending Tony's chemistry class was a real eye opener for me. For the first time, I was forced to accept that I could do it, that I was intelligent enough to understand and excel at something that wasn't literary. Joining Seminary was also one of the most inspiring things I've ever done. I've learned so much about myself and the world around me, and been forced to challenge all my thoughts and beliefs!

There is one other source of knowledge that I feel I need to credit here, and that would be my gods. They have inspired me, filled me with light and revelation, bathed me in spirit, lifted me up when nothing else would (or could!), and been with me through all things. Even during the dark times of the soul which come on many practitioners of occult sciences, they have been there even if they've been recessed a bit. I have never felt they failed me, although I've questioned them. I am proud to serve them, and proud to say that what I don't know about them is so vast that I feel I am completely without knowledge. Yet they have filled me with knowledge, as well.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Journaling Seeds - Barefoot on Holy Ground, Book 2, Chapter 1

From Daily Clipart
Part of my homework for Seminary this year is to read through a book called Barefoot on Holy Ground, by Gloria D. Karpinski. I'm on the "second book" within this book, which contains various journaling seeds and exercises to do. I have decided to share at least some of them here in the Temple, as it seems appropriate to be exploring such things here. The seed for today is,

What questions did you have as a child? Were they honored? Answered? Dismissed?

I had many questions when I was a child. Why did my period start so late? Why was I fat? Why was my hair so darn thin? Why did people make fun of me? Why couldn't other people read the same way I could? What kind of job would I have as an adult? Would I have kids? Who was God? What could I do to make my mother be proud of me? Where was the loving parent I was supposed to have, according to all the books?

I had a lot of more normal questions, too, like how to do homework and what long words meant, those normal things. The more normal questions were usually honored, although more often than not I was told to stop asking the questions of my parents and go look the answers up on my own. I was taught that if I had enough information to formulate a good question, then I could go to the library and research it on my own time.

My family wasn't big on family time. We ate in front of the television every night. No conversation happened. No one really cared how my day at school was. The only time homework was questioned was if I was silly enough to not get something done on time, or when I received what my mother perceived as a bad grade (B or less). As I grew up, I realized that it was for the better that there wasn't a lot of togetherness, because I was completely miserable during any time that involved my mother. Even time spent with my grandparents, ostensibly a social time, generally involved watching a football game or movie, with very little conversation except perhaps over my paternal grandmother's insisted-upon sit-down dinners. I learned to dread those sit-down dinners because of my mother's dry tongue and rude behavior.

Questions were something for the library, or the librarian. I asked my questions of teachers, of mentors, of friends' parents. Sometimes, rarely, I'd ask my father. He was much more reasonable, but rarely had time to sit down and talk. Books always had the answers, though, and in a library they were free! I could spend hours sifting through one topic or another, investigating religion or science or history or geography. I still have a strong love of books and the written word.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thinking

I've spent a lot of time thinking over the past couple of weeks. First, there was a two day car ride where I was jammed into the back of the van (don't get me wrong - I chose to be there... very comfy!), and then the time at Gray's parent's place (fun, but allowing lots of time for solitude), and the two day drive back. I've also been sick as anything with this upper respiratory/sinus infection, and so even being at home has been fairly sedentary and quiet. Thinking is good.

One of the things I've been thinking about is the quality of my relationships. My love for Gray has grown and changed over the past 9 years. It no longer has the spark and fizzle of a newly lit match; instead, it is more like the steady flame of a good quality candle trimmed just right. Our love doesn't burn the people around us anymore, and is a bit more sedate and sturdy. For the first time in my life, I feel as if I'm in a love that is destined to last. Yet, at the same time, I'm divorced from the outcome. I'm not worried about what will happen ten years from now. That's too far off. Right now is what concerns me, and right now I'm very deeply, firmly in love. And yes, the passion is still there, if toned down somewhat. Twins will do that to you!

My love for sis has also grown and changed. At first, I'll admit it was probably a lot more tolerance (okay, maybe even a lot LESS tolerance) than love, but we got through those early couple of years without too many emotional scars. Today, I feel a deep, abiding love for sis, both as the mother of our children and as my sister-in-family. She completes me in many ways, forces me to re-examine my beliefs and my ways of doing things. Personally, I think the two of us make a pretty good team to take care of Gray, as well. We compliment one another.

The closing down of my relationships with T&L has been stressful and upsetting, especially coming so out-of-the-blue as it did. For a couple of months there, I got caught in the, "what could I have done??" mind-set, which is not useful at all. Now, though I mourn the withdrawal of the camaraderie and love that was there, I respect that they need to move on. I can't change the past, nor can I change other people, and so I have begun to reach the stage of accepting and moving forward.

I have changed a lot in the past decade. I've matured, grown up if you will. Seminary is responsible for a lot of it, because it forced me to face many of my fears and phobias. Gray has helped a lot, too, by holding up the mirror for me to see my own actions and reactions. Everyone else has added to the changes, of course, but I think those are the two driving forces outside of myself. I feel more settled. For the first time, I feel content to stay in my home and not go wandering off for long periods of time. Better still, I feel I have a home, rather than a dwelling place where I stay. I've set down roots in this community that I have no interest in pulling up. It's different... it's nice.

I've embraced a love of Christianity along with my deep and abiding love of my gods. I see myself as a bridge between modern paganism and Christianity, with understanding and compassion on both sides. I've been a person who stirs things up for so many years that this sudden (or so it seems) peace keeping and peace making role is exciting, different, challenging on many levels. I'm enjoying it, immensely.

So... Goodbye to the old, and hello to the new. I'm moving on and moving up. I'm pleased with myself! Oh, and over the Christmas holidays (with rich foods and constant access to Bad Things 24/7 at the in-laws' home) I gained only 2 lbs. I consider that a big win!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Writing is in my soul...

I've written a book. That's not such a huge distinction anymore, you know. With vanity presses and on-demand printing, the idea of writing and having a book published is no longer something that only "those special people" can do. Anyone can apply themselves. If you don't believe me, go look at the scores of badly written, illiterate books (and I use that term loosely) available via Amazon's on-demand print service. My book is also printed through on-demand, admittedly. However, it's been through a rigorous editing process, having made its way past three people and myself before being committed to the printed page. I'm proud of my book, and I think the work I put into it shows in the quality of the words therein.

I have been thinking of working on another book. This makes me vastly different from the majority of other on-demand authors. Most seem to give up after one poorly written novel. I, on the other hand, have continued to write in various ways over the past three years since my book was published. I actually began the second book only a few weeks after the first came out, but did not have the mindset to follow through with it at that time. Yesterday, though, I came across the beginnings of that book as I was looking for something else in my documents folder, and I stopped to read.

What I began writing was a book designed to help people create their own rituals. It's tentatively titled The Road to Ritual, and has an outline with fourteen chapters. So far, I have only written the introduction, and not even all of that. It's not bad, but it's also not reflecting where I am right now, either.

I am going to pick up my book again, and begin plugging through it. It needs to be written! It has been singing that lulling song to me for some time, but not loud enough to really bother me. It's starting to get insistent though, and now I need to give it my attention. I have some major research to do before I can finish parts of it, into the history of religious and secular ritual, but nothing that I can't handle by sitting for a few hours in the local college library.

The rest of the book was going to be based on a type of ritual creation that I designed during my Wiccan years. That is no longer really the case, although the method itself is still quite applicable. However, the lessons I've learned in my year and a half at seminary have really changed the way in which I approach my sermons, rituals, and other religious services. I need to incorporate those new lessons into this book!

I also plan on having an instructive chapter which is written by people who read the draft of the book itself. I want them to create a ritual based on the things they learn through reading my book. Then I will have them explain the process, and include at least a part of the ritual they created, so people can see through example that the method works.

I'm actually feeling very excited about this, much more excited than I've felt about any writing project in a long, long time. I'm still chugging out the odd poem, and I love diddling around with short fiction, and of course I write for He Epistole several times a year, but this is different. This one is for ME. This one is for GOD/DESS(ES). This one is for the universe.

Wish me luck!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year, and Happy 50th!


The happy couple are in the middle, Gray's parents (he's the one in grey, if you hadn't guessed lol). They just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, quite an achievement in today's disposable society.

The secret to their success, you ask? They don't let it get to them. What's "it"? Everything is it, really. They do argue, sometimes vehemently. He's partially deaf, and she's suffering from spinal issues. They share a host of medical problems. Yet nothing seems to truly phase them. It's all ephemeral; their love is forever, though.

These are the first two people who knew about and FULLY accepted the relationship between me, Gray, and sis. Gray's mom pointed out that she's the one who introduced her son to all those Heinlein novels wherein he got the idea of polyamory from. She and his father approve, because our relationship is based on loving and truth. Wow.

We spent a week with them in Missouri. It was a blast, really, and worth the two full days of driving to get there (and then the two days back). It was fun to watch them exchange their vows, to look into one another's eyes and smile and see the love that is so timeless. They have found that there is, "time enough for love," as Lazarus says in the book of the same name.

These are people who have taught me what love is really about, through example. They are amazing, wonderful, occasionally peppery seniors who know how to throw a party and embrace life. I'm honored to have them as a part of my family.

The Scribing Ibis: An Anthology of Pagan Fiction in Honor of Thoth (Bibliotheca Alexandrina)

Call for Submissions! The Scribing Ibis: An Anthology of Pagan Fiction in Honor of Thoth (Bibliotheca Alexandrina) is now accepting submissions. We are interested in short stories which feature the Gods, Goddesses, heroes, holy days, traditions, and practitioners of every Pagan path. Any genre -- from science fiction to mystery to fantasy to romance -- is welcome. Stories ranging from an ancient murder mystery featuring Hermes, to a devotee of Eir working at a modern hospital, to Pagan colonists adapting to life on an alien world, to a retelling of a myth are all appropriate.

We are also interested in a *limited* number of nonfiction essays concerning Pagan literature. Please query the editor before submitting an essay to make sure that it will work for this anthology.

Length: 100 to 10,000 words.
Submissions Period: 1 January 2011 through 30 June 2011.
Projected release date of August 2011, in both print and digital formats.
Contributors will receive a coupon code which will allow them to purchase three copies at-cost.
A portion of the proceeds from the sales of The Scribing Ibis will go a worthy charity in the name of Thoth.

Please send all submissions, questions and comments to baeditor@gmail.com.

http://neosalexandria.org/bibliotheca-alexandrina/