Monday, 15 April 2019

A DNA story

It's been a number of months since my last blog. I know I have been... absent as of late. This has been a really strange, terrifying, exciting, and life changing few months. And I mean that with no hyperbole.

Firstly, everyone is great. My mom is progressing wonderfully. My entire household is working now, which is awesome and gives us a bit more breathing room, in terms of being more comfortable. My animals are good.

The twist was not something I could have predicted. It certainly was not what I expected when I started. I don't think anyone could have predicted the minute my life became a lifetime movie...

It all started in November, when I purchased some Ancestry DNA kits during their Black Friday event. It was meant to be an early holiday gift for the 3 of us and my mom. We spit in the tubes. popped them in the mail, and thought nothing of it until early January when I got an email, letting me know my results are in.

This was super surprising to me. I was certain that I was going to be way more French, since both my my mother's parents are Acadian, and going back generations. But 9% is crazy to me. I expected Scotland as my great grandmother was Scottish, and I expected the Native American as I come from Acadian stock. I did expect some English, but not as much as that. Northwestern Europe includes BeNeLux, France, Germany, Denmark, and the UK, though.

I figured it would be interesting to compare to my mother's. I logged in and saw this:

Wait, what?

I may have mentioned it before, but I never knew my father. My mother thought that he was dead, and I found him in 2011, but the initial meeting did not go well on FB.

The close family listed? His siblings. My aunts and uncle.

Shocked was not a strong enough word to convey my surprise.

After I worked through my initial shock, I reached out. We started talking. Slowly at first, but trying to get to know one another. I found out I have a little sister, just turned 19. I have aunts and uncles and cousins all across the country. My father's wife, my stepmother, reached out to me via email, and we have had a wonderful correspondence back and forth. My little sister reached out to me, and we've been talking back and forth, very slowly. 

So in a few days, I am travelling to the city I JUST moved away from, where my sister is going to school, and I am going to meet some of my family. My father and stepmother. My sister. Possibly 2 of my aunts, their husbands, some cousins.

I am excited, I am terrified, I am a mix of complex emotions. This is a Huge Deal (tm), and I'm still processing and likely will be processing for awhile. It has also been kind of all consuming, which has led to some silence all across the board.

In terms of DNA, interestingly my father is 1/3 Scandinavian. I mean, technically I have Swedish ancestors on that side, which I knew, but I didn't think it would be such a high percentage. I'm really floored by the Iberian Peninsula result- but I guess Spanish and Portuguese folks were just as seafaring as the English, so I suppose that makes sense.

Also, today is my 37th birthday.

I don't really have too many reservations about getting older. It's going to happen. I can bitch and whine about it, or I can just accept it as a thing that happens and have fun with it. I don't feel 37. I don't look 37. But I am, so it is what it is.

This upcoming week is going to be transformative and I can't wait to see how it plays out. 37 is starting with transformation and I am happy for the change.

To another year 'round the sun.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

New Year Magic

With the new year coming up, I often think about endings and beginnings. With the new year on the horizon, now is a very good time to get your house in order, to do rituals of release, and work with luck and abundance rituals for the coming year.

If you're unsure of some of the rituals and actions you can do to end the year, here are a few ideas:

  • Clean your home: I mean give it a really thorough, deep clean. Dust everything, move furniture, clean the neglected altars and shrines. I always make sure that all of my laundry is done, my garbage is taken out, my dishes are done, and my fridge cleaned. I always see it as washing and cleaning the dirt and grime of the last year so I'm not bringing any baggage into the new year. It's a fresh start.
  • Clean yourself: Have a nice, cleansing bath or shower. I like to make a tea of cleansing herbs like sage, rosemary, or mint, strain it,  and pour it into the water (or cool it slightly and pour it over your head in the shower, if you prefer). I always make sure it's something luxurious. I want to feel squeaky clean and light. Make it a special event - light some candles, some incense, play some soothing music.
  • Reset your altars: If you have shrines or working altars, the new year is a really good time to set them up for you focus for the new year. If you're looking for love, perhaps you'll buy some fresh roses or place a chunk or rose quartz with some red or pink candles. If you're looking for abundance, maybe you'll anoint some candles with money oil and place some coins. You get the idea. It's a good time to reset your own focus and enter the new year with one foot forward.
  • Make a donation to charity: I like this one, because it ends the year on a positive note, and gives pleasant energy to take into the next year. It doesn't have to be money - perhaps you volunteer some time at a soup kitchen, or you make a large donation of clothing to a shelter. As long as you are giving, you are creating positive goodwill.
  • Burn your calendar: This is something I have done for the past few years. It's a really transformational way to say good riddance if you've had a rough year, or just a good way to start anew. I will usually burn in my cauldron or a fire pit.
  • Reset your wards: The beginning of a new year is a great time to recharge and reset any wards you have on your home - new protection spells, new warding charms, etc. Even just burning some purifying herbs in your space can help to clear out any negative, lingering, stagnant energies.
I also try and set my new year up on the best foot I can, so here are a few things I have done over the years:

  • Set up a Positivity Jar: I have an old honey jar I have painted for just this purpose. I spend the year writing down nice things that have happened, or good feelings I have had, or things I have been proud of - at the end of the year, you open it and read everything inside. It can help to bring some perspective.
  • New Years Resolutions: I hate these things, but I use them more like personal oaths. I try to only make one per year. For example, my own goal for the next year is to reign in my spending on books and limit myself to one a month. I have a huge backlog to be read, and I just got 7 books for Yule. I am hoping it will allow me to be more consistent with reading.
  • Start journaling/a BOS/a Grimoire: Nothing pushes you into the new year like a project. Writing itself is a magical act, and I have found it to be an extremely reflective, helpful process. Being able to go back and read about experiences I have had has made me a better witch. I know what works and doesn't, because I have a record of it.
  • Pull a Tarot card/do a year spread: I love doing this. I actually do a whole spread for the next 12 months - a card a month - and a card for the whole year. I try and take a picture of the whole spread, and write down all the cards, their meanings, and what months they correspond too. That way I can look back at the end of the year, or periodically, and see how things have played out.
All of these things are relatively simple. I try to keep my practice fairly practical, because that is what works for me. Magic is all about the energy to give to it, so if want elaborate or adjust these idea to suit your needs, feel free. I find the most important part is just doing something.

While 2018 has been a challenging year, it's also been very transformational. While I have lost many things, I have also gained an immeasurable amount of surety in my own practice, my choices, and I have healed greatly from the abusive trauma of 2016 and 2017. I finally feel free, and that is so liberating.

I wish you all a wonderful end to 2018, and a prosperous, transformative, and deliciously wicked 2019.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Walking into the darkness

Yes, I am alive. None of the wastrels from the previous post have reached out to me, so that's been blissful. I figured it's about time for an update.

The previous post was cathartic. It allowed me to cull down my social media extensively. I had a few people remove me just prior to and after I posted what I did, but those people are weak and cowardly. My life has suffered no ill effects from losing those people, so net gain for me, I suppose.

In much of the culling in social media, it has allowed me to step back from a lot of things. I did mean what I said about being done with the neopagan community. There are many lovely people within it, but there are also a lot of nasty, damaged people. No one needs that shit, not when there is so much else to live for and busy oneself with. Too many people who seek drama, too many people who have
an agenda, too many people who follow others to the exclusion of all logic. Fuck that.

Family has become a very important part of my life. The past autumn has brought death - my husband's aunt, and my great uncle who was like a grandfather to me. However,  it has also brought healing, it has brought closeness. Forging new bonds and connections. It has been an emotionally exhausting time, and I am hoping that all of that will even out in the new year.

My mother's surgery for her benign meningioma went very well. She is now waking up with no headaches after many years. She spent a little over a month in the hospital after her surgery doing physiotherapy and occupational therapy, but she was officially released on October 31. She's still not allowed to work, and she still has some healing to do. I am exceedingly grateful that she is healing as well as she is, but it's not fast enough for her. Healing from brain surgery is much like healing from a stroke, so she still has a bit of healing to do before she's better. I'm very proud of her progress, though, and we were able to spend the winter holidays together for the first time in many years.

I have been rather preoccupied with family matters for the last number of months, but my own practice has been bolstered by daily devotions and marking the seasons. We've had a very snowy and cold autumn, the weather here is very mutable in the snowbelt. It feels rather cozy, as opposed to stark and cold, but I suppose we haven't even delved into the depths of winter yet. I am prepared to walk into the darkness, especially since midwinter has passed and the days are slowly getting longer.

Life right now is just good music, good friends, good family, and good books. All good things. I've been trying to focus on the positive.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Leave the fields to fallow, so no more hate and fear can grow.

There has been a lot of talk of abuse in the Pagan community as of late. Late last month, Sarah Lawless wrote a large blog post detailing the many abuses she and others have suffered from a number of prominent members of the PNW Pagan community. The post had a variety of effects - for some, it caused them to become very angry at her, accusing her of lying or making it up, or using it to try and garner sympathy for her kickstarter campaign. For some, they jumped in to defend her, voicing support or echoing her experiences. One of the abusers named actually commented on the post and outed himself, and many women have come forward to talk about abuse they has experienced with him. She has posted numerous times on her Facebook page, finally naming the abusers:

Sarah had many people on her side, and many defenders - myself included. A lot of the discussion was about why women don't come forward, why they are fearful. Fire Lyte from Inciting a Riot wrote an article supporting her, and he made the very good point: Silence = Death.

Sadly, she had this to say about the responses she received:

Honestly? I could not agree more. Abusers are coddled and protected in pagan communities. They are viewed as elders, as productive members of the community, as local heroes. While I have been fortunate to encounter very little sexual harassment in the pagan community, I have suffered other abuses and harassment that has shown me that, just like the priests and cardinals in the Vatican, pagans protect and believe only those in their clique. And there are cliques in the community, have no doubt about that.

I have always supported #metoo. I was emotionally and verbally abused for 2 years by an ex boyfriend. I was sexually harassed and assaulted, and I was almost raped when I was 13. I got involved in paganism after my own dissatisfaction with the Catholic church and their abuse of children and women, and their treatment of the LGBTQ community. I came to it thinking it was a safer, more inclusive, and more supportive community. As time has worn on and after spending 2 decades in the pagan community, I look back at what a naive, idealistic fool I was.

I am wary of talking about my own abuse. My abusers are still out there, living their lives with no consequence. However, I spent a lot of time talking to people - people in the community, people who have left the community, people on the fringes who have always kept their distance. I have gathered set of different cases of abuse in the pagan community that people have talked openly about, or had warned me about, or I experienced. There are more. Many more I am sure, of abuse that I was not privy to or was not a constant flow in the wheel of the rumour mill.

- A well-known creep in my former community was known to be handsy and inappropriate with women in circle, at pagan events, and in close communities. People talked openly of him massaging women around the fire or stroking their backs, invading their personal space. He once tried to pull me into a hug when I first met him, after kissing my hand and saying something about what I was wearing. I saw him once at a public event, staring at women half his age, licking his lips.

- A pagan 'elder' known in my area was accused (unsure if it was proven) of allegedly having child pornography. Almost no one I spoke to was surprised, and many stated that even if it was false, he still had a history of sleeping with his young female students. There were many issues with him, going back decades, about claiming new young priestesses had to perform the great rite with him in order to receive full initiation into his tradition.

- During the first event I ever attended as a pagan (almost 2 decades ago), I was there with a friend and his girlfriend. It was a Samhain costume event, and everyone was dressed up. My friend's girlfriend was dressed as a french maid. One of the local well-known Heathens (who is also known as the moniker 'asshole-(name)') stuck his hands up her skirt and grabbed her ass, then had the audacity to claim that 'she was dressed that way, she should have expected it' when she got upset.

- A well-known psychic and intuitive healer used to come into the store I worked at to pick up unsuspecting women. He would follow them around, comment on their purchases, talk about his own abilities and ask them if he could 'intuitively find them a stone'. He would then ask them for their Facebook information and probe for more personal information. No one on staff had any time for his bullshit and would constantly swoop in to speak with these women who looked uncomfortable to save them. Some women would feel harassed and stated they felt super uncomfortable, but never wanted to make a fuss in case they were 'over-reacting'.

- A known leader was accused of racism and verbal abuse by other members of the community with credible evidence. This leader had a pattern of setting up multiple Facebook accounts and when one was found she would set up a new one with a new name. She talked at length about her feelings on immigration, POC in the Heathen community, and interfaith. She advocated violence and celebrated terrorist acts. When community leaders were approached and were told there was proof, said teacher was defended as a 'valuable member of the community'.

- A former pagan person in my own life spent years gaslighting me, verbally assaulting me, and convincing my loved ones I was crazy. That same person also had used racial slurs on social media to describe city workers, and referred to marginalized POC as 'ghetto'.  They also threatened violence against children. This person had explosive anger issues, and would constantly react as such - the last night we spoke in person resulted in that person screaming obscenities at me and refusing to allow me to leave their home, getting up in my personal space in a very threatening way, and issuing emotionally abusive ultimatums.

- An annual pagan event I attended got a bit out of hand one year when the host got drunk and began handing out door prizes for sexual favours and people flashing their tits and getting their dicks out. It caused an uproar and the local pagan store refused to sponsor it going forward. Many members of the community jumped into to defend the host as 'having a bit a fun' and 'being a little drunk, they didn't understand what they were doing' and started a smear campaign against the owner of the store for not 'supporting the community'. 

I have tried to keep this as intentionally vague as possible. I have left out all names: some because some of these issues have been resolved; some because I do not feel safe naming them, because I know how petty and vindictive some people can get; and honestly some because the full details are not my story to share. Many of these things I have heard are second hand from very credible and trustworthy sources. I have no reason to doubt them or their experience.

Sarah pointed out that the ideal community is a fantasy - I agree. Stories I have heard from others about their own experiences in the 'safe and welcoming' pagan community would break your heart. One person I spoke with recently said 'it's scary to even fathom trying to approach anyone, because it's hard to know who to trust, who might lure you in and take advantange of you'. That is a sad statement, and one I know too well.  I have a tendency to keep abuse like this close to the chest because I have been burned by people in the past - people who are unsupportive, people who seem trustworthy but end up being not, people who lie and try and orchestrate DARVO attacks to make people choose sides. There is no support for people who get abused - no chaplains, no pastoral care, no therapists. After my own experiences, I sunk deeply into the worst depression of my life, which lasted for over 2 years. I suffered with feelings of worthlessness and suicidal ideation. I have massive anxiety about the abuse I was subjected to, to the point of becoming anxious when I read other stories of emotional and verbal abuse. It has taken a lot of therapy and some massive changes to feel like things are becoming normal again.

Seeing people in the community going through all of this and having to deal with a onslaught of abuse and bullshit for speaking up? Nuh uh. Not okay. These are people who are putting everything on the line to be heard, and the vitriol and hatred and lies I have seen makes my blood boil. This is precisely why people do not come forward. They could put everything on the line - in Sarah's case, the safety of her partner and children - and people will still find a way to claim the survivors are lying. Why? What do the survivors get out of lying about their abuse? What person would come forward, knowing they will be attacked, confronted, slandered, and encounter more abuse, if they weren't telling the truth? Why would any survivor put themselves through that unless there is truth? The most stalwart defenders claim 'they couldn't have done it, I've never seen them do anything to me!' Humans are complicated and complex beings, with many facets and many faces. The face you see may not be the same face others see. The John Doe you know and the John Doe I know may be the same person, but very different relationships.

This has been an anxious few weeks, reading through people's encounters and just feeling this sick ache in my stomach.

It comes down to this:

You can't 'believe survivors' if you're supporting abusers.
You can't support survivors if you're sheltering abusers.
You can't help survivors if you're siding with abusers.
You can't call it a safe community if you don't protect it's members.

What can we do? What is my solution?


I think we should just burn it down. 

Burn the whole of the modern pagan community down. Burn down the groups that perpetuate abuse, that enable abusers, and grow something better and safe from the ashes. Dismantle the sexist, enabling, oversexed community with it's abusive elders, cleanse it with fire, and create a place where people can come together without having to fear predators. We need willing leaders to push forward to make the community better. We need dedicated, smart, and savvy people to navigate a new and better future for paganism, because it's got a death rattle going on and it needs the kiss of a new life. All I have learned from watching this experience is that we shouldn't call out wrongdoing in the community, because I have gotten abuse hurled at me for it and I have seen others who have done the same get more and worse abuse. People get mad, they accuse those who come forward of 'causing drama' or 'rocking the boat'.  Bitches, this boat is rocking. Grab on, or drown.

So after careful thought and consideration, I am done with the pagan community as a whole. I am done trying to engage, I am done trying to make what is broken try to work. It is inevitable that change will befall the community, and those denizens had better wise up quickly. There are a lot of young, vulnerable people looking for guidance and safety, and the community better fucking step up and prove they are willing to protect their members, or they have become no better than the Christian groups who continue to enable their abuse.

I want to give kudos to the groups and traditions that are working to create safe community. There are numerous (Black Rose Witchcraft, Temple of Witchcraft et al) that are being the savvy people and pushing for change. With no tolerance for BS or abuse. Keep that up. We need more traditions and groups to pave the way to the future.

I have fought for a long time for the community, and it has taken me feeling rudderless and adrift to really examine my next steps. For right now? I'm going to keep doing my thing. It's working well, and in the end, a witch is a sovereign being unto themselves. I have put in my time. I have paid my passage. I'm content how I am, which is a weird and very liberating thing to say. I will be here, trying to plant the seeds for safety and justice, with an open heart and mind. I'll still be blogging and practicing and cursing and loving and protecting. My focus has just shifted.

I am not a perfect person - I'm flawed, like everyone else. I have made mistakes, like anyone has. But in the end, I can only do my best, until I know better. Then I try and do better.

And right now, I'm better alone.

One last thing: some of the people above may recognise themselves, or recognise events. I won't be revealing names - if abusers want to out themselves, that's their prerogative and their folly. My only hope is that they can take it as a chance to amend their behaviour and learn and grow into better people. But I don't want to hear from them. I don't particularly care what their point of view is. Nor do I want to hear from anyone else who has decided to be on the wrong side of these abuses. If you found yourself upset or ignored, perhaps you need to take a look at yourself and your behaviour that put you in such a position.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Sandwitch once again

I have landed!

I am finally moved in and settled in my new space. Moving is always a special kind of hell, and this was definitely that. It took a good 12 hours to load all of our stuff into the truck - we had a lot of logistical issues (truck was too small, had to go rent a trailer, etc). Thankfully we cleaned most everything the week prior, so there wasn't much left to do when we left. But that teaches me to move during Mercury retrograde! I had no choice, but things may have gone a bit smoother had we not moved that exact weekend.

It was a very strange and surreal feeling to stand in what was once home, now just an empty shell, stripped of all that made it home. It seemed so small. We lived in that space longer than I have lived anywhere in my life, so there were a lot of feelings tied up in that space. Lots of love and loss. Lots of wonderful and terrible times. However, being used to moving around a lot as a kid prepared me for another move, and I had a very strong feeling that this would end up just fine.

Our new place is very quiet - I barely hear our neighbours. I mean, we live next to a gas station and it's still super quiet. We're in a little bedroom community headed out of the city, so you walk 3 minutes and you're surrounded in nature. Our new place is also smaller than our last place. With that has come some pretty heavy adjusting, but we've got maybe 2 or 3 boxes left to unpack and then we are completely set.

My prior office/spiritual space was approximately 7ft x 7ft. I was able to have all of my goods in there and then have people in and move around. However, our new place did not have a den area. I was able to commandeer the 5ft x 5ft electrical/storage room as an office and spiritual space, and I am super happy at how functional the space is, and how much room I have!

I really love the feel of it - sometimes tiny spaces can really surpass your expectations. I have enough space to do work, but also do workings, meditate, and hold my spiritual library (all the other books live in the living room). I've actually fallen in love with the space. I still have to organize the library (that is tomorrow's task) but it's 99% complete.

Aside from the actual work of unpacking, I have a job (the first of many offers, I am quite sure) that starts on the 20th. Different government organization, a little more money, similar hours. I'm looking forward to it, and to earning money again. I am a person who enjoys routine and having work. It will help me to settle into the new life we are building.

I am also excited to get involved in the Pagan community again. The community here is much smaller and has a lot less drama. My previous community was very toxic, and my experiences had left me pretty soured on the idea of working outside our family unit. I am attending a meet and greet tomorrow, which I'm excited about. I have very fond memories of past pagan gatherings, and I am hoping that it can be something we can look into for next year.

Now on to more short term goals - get to the beach, have a campfire, swim in the ocean.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

"Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it's a good place to start."

My life is a pile of boxes right now (well, my office, as a sample size):

It's hard to feel connected to much when everything is all packed and taped, but I do make do. The countdown is on, only 5 days left until we are driving the trucks to our new place. Or, I should say, our storage locker where everything will be stored until we can move in after August 1st. This next week is going to be super hectic, but I know the craziness is all just temporary until we get settled in our new place.

There's always a bit of excitement in a new place. There is the process of making it feel like home. This one is a bit of a challenge, since we have only seen the space via FaceTime with descriptions from my mother and stepfather. I am determined to make it ours, as we're hoping that this will be our last space before we move into a house.

In other news, I think I have finally come around to identifying and feel comfortable and confident enough to come out with.

I have done a lot of searching and thinking and have determined that I identify as pansexual.

Pansexuality, or omnisexuality, is the sexual, romantic or emotional attraction towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity. It falls under the bisexual umbrella.

So, Deadpool.

I have had feelings for girls when I was younger (teen), which I never really gave much thought to because it was never something I considered as an option. While I am twice married to two wonderful men, the fact that they are men is not the reason for my attraction. I love them for who they are, not how they identify. If they were women or intersex or transgender, it would not make a difference. I have thought back to my younger years, and I know that any attraction I have had for people has been based on them as a person, and not what biological sex they are.

It feels weird to come out at my age. I have dealt with a lot of internalised baggage (I can't be bisexual because it feels too restricting, I'm married to 2 dudes and thus am not queer enough, the feelings I have had for girls in the past were so long ago who knows if they were even real, etc), and I've beat myself up over the last decade with impostor syndrome BS. I've tried to cover my tracks the same way a lot of closeted individuals do - insist they are super straight.

But I'm not. I've known since I was probably 12 or 13 that I'm not, but I just never accepted that girls were an option, or that anyone regardless of their sex was an option. I was brought up Catholic, and even though I eschewed that world long ago, old habits die hard. I have always been attracted to people based on who they are. I mean, I am physically attracted to them, but I don't think of physical sexual characteristics, I guess. I don't consider myself gender-blind, it just doesn't factor into whether I would find someone dateable.

I can't tell you how much more free I feel, being able to actually be open about my relationships, my spirituality, and now my queerness too, I guess.

Monday, 25 June 2018

The Chariot. The Star. The World.

So I hinted a while back that I had some big things brewing. Now that I have some actual, definitive news, here it is - we're moving!

We're actually doing an inter-provincial move and going back to my homeland.

Why? Why the hell would you move there? There are so few people. It's so small!

Well, friendship, here is the truth of it. My mother was diagnosed a few years ago with a benign brain tumour. A neuroscientist friend of mine once said she won the brain tumour lottery - it's small, benign, slow growing, and in an easily operable location. She's been managing it with medication. All of that said, her daily pain has grown worse over the last year or so,  and she has had to up her pain medication. All of this has been taken into consideration, and she has chosen to arrange for surgery in the fall.

Aside from my mother's health, It's really come down to 3 points:

Point the first: We've had a really rough few years here. Friends that I thought would be ride-or-die for life were revealed to be duplicitous, cowardly, and toxic. It was a deep betrayal, the deepest, and while I do hold forgiveness in my heart, my mind will never forget. So I did a bit of surgery on my social life, and have kept my nearest near, and those I have near I fully and absolutely trust. I cut the cancer out, so to speak. There have been job changes, health scares, and mental health issues. All of that while trying to provide support to my family away and keep myself sane. The last 2 years have given and taken way, and it feels like a good time for transition. This is the least important of the points.

Point deux: We have been looking to buy a house. We have a downpayment squirrelled away, but the houses here in this city are so expensive. We've been pretty adamant we didn't want to settle for a semi-detached - we've shared walls with people for a long time, we really want to have the detached home. We could easily afford a semi, but we're holding out for a detached in a semi-rural setting. That is simply going to be easier to afford back home, where houses are 3/4 of the price. We'll be hopefully renting for a bit first, but we're hoping to find the perfect property in the next year.

Point Très: We want to spend more time with our families. D's family lives here, but he's never lived outside of this province, and he really wants to make the move. DPM's family is back home, and no one is getting any younger. My grandmother is still around, and I want to spend as much time as I can with her. I think we want to spend time with our parents while we have them, and really get to know them as adults. DPM and I left fairly young, so it would be nice to reconnect. We also have friends that are pretty much family and have been for over 20 years. We want to see their kiddos grow and spend more time with them too, since we rarely see them.

So DPM's gotten a job, which he starts end of next month. I am still in the midst of trying to transfer (the joy of government jobs and red tape) but I have a few irons in the fire as well. I also will have EI to fall back on if I don't quite land something immediately. D's going to come without a job, so he can get the lay of the land and allow our animals to get used to living elsewhere. Then he'll start looking for something. He's kind of a jack-of-all-trades, so I imagine he'll find something fairly quickly. We still have to find a place to live, which is it's own stress, and the rental market is rotten over there. I'm essentially living in the online classifieds. We couldn't start looking until one of us had a definitive offer, and DPM got his this morning.

So all this got me like:

There is so much too do! We have to put in our notice here, we have to book the U-haul, we have to pack. We've got 14 boxes packed so far, but it's all books. The hot and heavy packing will start in earnest next week.

I am so looking forward to going home again. I am looking forward with reconnecting with the land of my birth. I am looking forward to this rebirth - because it's been tumultuous and hard and it still will be for awhile.

But it will all be worth it. Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

the world is a dumpster fire

Are we really going to talk about this again?

Yes. Yes we are.

Why? Because I said so. But this is the last time, I promise*.

The Pagan and polytheist community has a racism problem.  It has a sexism problem, a rape problem,  a fundamentalist problem, a homo-and-transphobia problem.... basically, it has all the trappings of the big 5 without the dogma.

I feel at this point it's an old, played out record. We all know there are people in this community who don't deserve to be here. Who are trying to co-opt and steal our symbols, our rituals, and our gods for their own nefarious purposes. We know this. I HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT THIS IN MY OWN COMMUNITY. People are so content to just ignore it, maybe post a few angry memes on Facebook, and go about their merry way.

As someone who is anti-racist but also identifies as heathen-leaning, I have to stand that much taller and keep my nose that much cleaner so that the people who are working to steal everything we have worked so hard to legitimize won't lump my ass in with them. I stopped wearing a Thor's hammer because after Charlottesville, I didn't want to be mistaken as some kind of neo-nazi sympathizer or worse a neo-nazi myself and get my ass kicked. I don't discuss runes or the sagas or ancestry with anyone I don't know, lest I be lumped in with the fuckers from the AFA. I choose my words very carefully outside of my bubble, because it could easily backfire.

Yes, it's hard for me. It is SO MUCH HARDER for people of colour. So much harder for them to just feel safe and legitimized in a pagan space, especially in a Northern European pagan space.

The whole of the alt-right - their marching orders are to find weakness, inflame, and radicalize.

Here is a very scary quote from this article: (emphasis mine)

... I learnt a huge amount about how people and groups are connected, how the movement operates and what it was planning. I found out how the movement interacts internationally and how important the social aspect of activism is in radicalising and retaining members. These groups attempt to become all-encompassing organisations that go far beyond politics, into art, religion and social life making them incredibly difficult to leave. Tragically I’ve seen how social pressure inside these groups can make ordinary people support genocide.
The far right is often treated with complacency. Should we let them into the public debate? Their views might be different, but aren’t they just other opinions...

Sometimes it is hard to see where the line is drawn for Heathen/Asatru/Northern Polytheist, and racist. The line is blurry. It's more distinct in other sections of paganism, but again, it is getting harder to see. In our quest to be inclusive, we are turning into a breeding ground for predators and the alt-right.

In the Pagan community, we have people who are in active roles of leadership who are espousing hatred as though it is fact. We have the sneaky, ingrained racism, like asking someone of Asian or Black ancestry if they feel 'comfortable' worshipping a god like Brigid because 'wouldn't they feel more comfortable with Isis or Guan Yin'? Or people outright ripping pieces of practice or mythology from closed traditions because it's like, beautiful. Yet we refuse to accept that we have an issue. 'No way', you say, 'Pagans are all about love and light and we welcome everyone!'

The kicker for me is that we're such a small group of people that people think it doesn't matter. IT DOES. It matters because I matter and you matter and we all matter. Our safety and comfort and HUMAN FUCKING RIGHTS matter. It doesn't matter how small the group, there is always the potential for some nihilistic racist sexist shithead to wander in and grope someone at a ritual, or use racist epithets in common conversation, or talk about them 'queers' in a derogatory way. There are always the people who hug when you explicitly ask not to be touched, or ignore your requests to stop appropriating their culture, or are outright fucking hostile about who you are as a person. Our first and foremost reaction should be that it is unacceptable. It is unacceptable that we and members of our community feel unsafe, or feel like they aren't welcome.

Most of the issue is that people are afraid to rock the boat, don't want to make waves or take the risk of making someone mad. Trust me, as someone who is partially ostracized from my own community because of the 'drama' I caused during the racist fuckwit debacle, you have little to lose. This community as a whole needs some strong leaders who are willing to stand up and say that the toxic behaviour that we are complacent to is unacceptable, and demand change. Real change. There are some old-school leaders who have grown far too fucking comfortable. I don't fucking care how useful someone is in a group - if they are being racist or sexist, or harming people, get them the fuck out! We owe it to the community that we serve, and the people we are leaving the community to in the coming years.

Also? That whole 'it's not my problem, I'm not getting involved' only goes so far. That works when Felicia and Robert are having a personal fight, but not in this context. There is right behaviour, and there is wrong behaviour. Staying 'neutral' is a coward's game when racism and bigotry are involved. Eventually, everyone picks a side. Be on the right side.

Remember what I said earlier, about this being so much more difficult for a person of colour? Well, they don't always have the freedom or privilege to speak as frankly or as openly as we can. There is some legit oppression, and that can end up with people fearing for their lives or safety. So we need to make sure our voices are strong to have their voices heard. We need to rise to the occasion, and then step back so those folks can have their say and have their concerns heard. It's easy for me - I'm a white cis-woman loudmouth that no one really likes anyway. I have nothing to lose. For someone who feels unsafe or unwelcome, it's not as easy. However, we also need to know when to step back, because we should not be speaking for those communities - we should just be making it safe to speak for themselves. Being an ally is an important way we can use our privilege for good.

*promise valid only until something else comes along to piss me off.

Friday, 27 April 2018

The Devil's Advocate

So. I had this big long post saved that I've been picking away at, but I have had a stressful day and it would be just like today to see someone get offended and start coming at me for posting it. Not today.

Today I'm going to talk briefly about the term devil's advocate, and how most assholes online are doing it wrong.

Okay. So a devil's advocate (DA), in layman's terms, is someone who takes the position in a "debate" that they do not necessarily agree with, but they argue it's merits for the sake of debate and discussion. It used be the title of the dude that had to come up with all the shitty reasons why someone shouldn't be canonized into sainthood, poke holes in all their claims, and basically find an excuse not to celebrate someone for their miracles. Or whatever. Both of those definitions don't exist anymore.

In modern parlance, the person claiming devil's advocate status is the person who is simply looking to stir the pot. Most often they are not arguing a term they do not agree with - they see it as simply presenting another point that they see valid in a discussion to weigh all sides.

Sounds okay right?

Yeah, so you'd be wrong.

Most of the time, the DA claims to be arguing the point of the oppressed, or the point least represented. In fact, the vast majority of the time, you see it being used to reinforce flawed cultural norms and to create fear, confusion, and to disarm their opponent. For example, you're debating the benefits of gender neutral washrooms so that all gender identities feel comfortable. The DA sneers 'but have you considered/what if/what about if the trans people invade the bathrooms and rape the women?!'

That is a viewpoint shared by a number of very ignorant people. It's not right, but they are playing on that fear and confusion.

Devil's Advocacy is a tool used frequently by members of the far right to express their vile opinions under the guise of 'free speech' (which, motherfuckers, is not a thing in Canada and in the US only protects you from retaliation for criticizing the government) and actively try to either engage in some kind of bullshit posturing or outright attack.

Look, I understand the concept of reviewing other's viewpoints, especially those you don't agree with. I think it's important to do, both to try and understand the machinations of that side of humanity and to self audit our own beliefs. I don't, however, require someone to attempt to convert me or bait me. It won't work. I don't need to subscribe to or agree with those views to understand them, same as I don't need to put my hand in a bonfire to see if it's hot. I can see it just fine, thanks. Jumping into the fire won't show me anything different.

It is pointless to argue on these matters. Most of the time it won't make a lick of difference. Generally if someone breaks out the 'I'm just playing 'devil's advocate' statement I tune them out because if they actually and truly wanted to argue a point they don't agree with for the sake of discussion, they'd be arguing mine.

Basically, my post is simple: devil's advocacy does not exist. It's just arguing, plain and simple. Let's just call it as it is and be honest.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Love is a verb, Love is a doing word.

It's hard to believe this is my first post for 2018, but here we are.

I mentioned on my Facebook page that there was some big news coming up, and it was going to be life changing. As usual, the universe works in mysterious ways and nothing has been finalized. I am hesitant to say anything until we have confirmation, so I will save that for when I have actual news. As a definitive, I can say I am not having a baby, so let's not even approach that one.

This winter has been quiet and introspective, as I had hoped it would be. I have had a lot of quiet time to work with my craft. I have been reading a lot, working with my tarot decks more, and generally being more productive. Now that I am working towards a goal, it's easier to motivate myself.

On top of all of that, I have been very busy. Writing, working, and spending time with the important people in my life.

One thing I have been thinking about recently is the amount of chaotic energy there is right now - in the world, in our lives, and in our communities. I am finding that energy is feeding a trend I am sadly seeing more and more. The dreaded Witch Wars (tm).

I'm not talking about the people calling out abusers or charlatans in our community. I'm not talking about victims discussing their abuses or anything of the sort. I'm not talking about the people who are trying to rid the community of racists and neo-nazi scum. That? Justified AF.

I'm talking about the honest-to-goodness, shade throwing extravaganza that I have been witness to for the last few years.

Honestly, from the outside, it's exhausting. Someone is having beef with this other person and so they write a blog post or a scathing Facebook post or whatever to tear down this other person, who has minions who comment and defend the person attacked and attack the person who made the post, whose minions then attack the other minions and it devolves into this dick-measuring shouting contest with no actual relevance. And so the attacked person posts a Facebook post defending themselves and slamming the other person, so the minions attack one another again and so we have the circle of crapulence that is arguing on the internet.... well, kinda like this classic video:

I guess my first question is this: WHERE DO YOU GET THE TIME TO BE ASSHOLES TO ONE ANOTHER? It's exhausting watching, so I admire the energy you devote to essentially attacking some stranger on the internet. It's like an endless battery of hatred.

Enough. Getting the last word doesn't make you better or more correct.

How about this: how about we all focus on our own paths and less on the people around us. How about we stop picking fights with other members of our community for fun.  Instead of seeking to tear each other down for a seemingly meaningless argument, let's focus on the fact that our time here is not infinite, and it is far too short to focus on that bullshit.

Again, I'm not referring to calling people out for their racism or bad behaviour - simply the never ending streams of vague booking, shady Facebook posts, attack blogs, etc. I am far from perfect, and the list of people I dislike or would like to verbally tear a new one or tear down is regretfully long - but I ain't got time for that shit! I'm too busy living life - and honestly, you should be too.

Instead, I'm focusing on what I can actually change. Working toward acceptance, working through fear and doubt. Working to be a better ally for those who need it. Working on being a person who chooses love over hatred. The last point is hard for me, because I have had many hurts that have left deep scars, but I am getting there.

A very wise man said "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world."

So let us choose to be supportive rather than oppressive, hopeful rather than fearful, and let us choose love above hate. There is far too much hatred and oppression in the world. Witches are wielders of change - let's use that change for good. Let's be badasses together and lift each other up.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Go home, 2017, you're drunk.

Ugh. This year.

I don't feel like going into the gory details, but these past 2 years have been just awful in so many ways. The past 2 months have been some of the hardest months I have ever had to face. It is still ongoing. Christmas/Yule was a bust this year. My own practice has taken a backseat to all the chaos that is currently reigning supreme.

I am exhausted and worn out and just done. Done. I couldn't be more done. Mentally, physically, emotionally, esoterically. I feel like I have been fighting a war and I'm at a stand still. I feel like I've aged 5 years in the last one.

Despite all of these setbacks, all the exhaustion, and all the utter horseshit that this year has been, there have been some wonderful parts of it. The actual bits of my spiritual practice I have been working on have been really affirming and give me confidence. My family and friends are wonderful, beautiful human beings who have been immensely supportive and wonderful. I always find it interesting that you truly find out who is a true and steadfast friend when trouble rears it's head - the ones who stay are the ones to be treasured. The few goals I set for myself (my reading goals, my decluttering and downsizing, and improving my finances) have been very successful. I have a great many things to be grateful and humbled by.

Trust me, I count my blessings every single day.

Despite the 3 ring shit circus that is currently masquerading as my life, I hold a great deal of hope that things will improve. I know that it is hard and it will take work, but I also know that in the end  it will all be worth it!

So I know I haven't been around as much as I would have liked. I am hoping to change that in 2018. I hold a great deal of hope that life will settle and I will have other, new goals to look to.

Sunday, 8 October 2017


yeah, I watermarked them.
As is tradition, we went apple picking for Harvest Home. It's a nice tradition we've created for ourselves, and something that I look forward to every year. This year, we decided to take our dog. He's a great little companion and he had a lot of fun. He also looks a bit like an orc or goblin, much to our amusement. He had his first birthday on September 10, so he's officially a doggo now.

We usually go a little later in the season, so there wasn't much available. It has been a really hot early fall - temperatures have been in the mid-late 20's C, and it's been humid. We hadn't had that cold snap necessary to kickstart the apples sweetening. Still, we were able to grab a few varieties that led to some pie and crisp making. I made one of the best apple pies I have even made, so there's a notch in my belt.

We ended up in the flower field at one point, and there were hundreds of butterflies! Every step we made was like scattering fluttering confetti from flower to flower. There were a lot of beetles and bees out too. It was one of the most calming places I've been in a long time, and it was nice to commune with the land spirits and feel enriched afterward. I swear, my blood pressure immediately normalized and my breathing was so calm.

That evening D and I headed out the the beach to burn some corn dollies we had made in petition for a bountiful harvest and in thanks for the recent rains.

All in all, very low-key. Magic doesn't need to be big or elaborate. It's all about intention.

I've been laying a bit low. I've been focusing on my mental and spiritual health right now - there have been some stresses that I've been trying to take in stride. I've been picking through my reading - I'm trying to pick up the pace, as I have 9 more books to read before the end of the year to hit my personal goal. I've also been making preparations and plans for Samhain. Lots of little things to pull together - making cascarilla powder with extra protection properties, drying the remaining corn dollies, picking up some novena candles - as well as prepping for the regular feast and apple cider.

So - mainly an 'I'm still here, just focusing on other things' kind of update. I have a few other articles I've been slowly picking away at that I'm hoping will be ready before Samhain.

Tonight is fussing around in the nook, resetting the altars, offering to the gods and spirits, and hopefully some journaling and reading.