Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Low key Harvest Home



September has been a weird month for everyone, I think.

Retrograde has not been kind to pretty much anyone I have spoken to. It's been a rough one, trying to remind ourselves to thinking before speaking and not locking ourselves into any long-term commitments or signing any paperwork. It's never ending game of chasing people, pleading for connection. Holding your tongue and your opinions to yourself, even if you feel you shouldn't. It's wild.

I have been pretty open about my mental health in the past, on my previous blog. I have an anxiety disorder and depression, both diagnosed by multiple doctors and psychologists. My recent work schedule had me working all evenings, pretty much opposite of everyone else I know, and weekends - when everyone I know is off. After almost two months of it, I was a raw nerve. I am an introverted person, but I was spending 90% of my time alone, not speaking to my husbands for days. I was feeling isolated, lonely, and burned out. My stress and anxiety are good bedfellows and play well together, so I was getting sick and run down. I ended up calling someone, who hooked me up with a counsellor/therapist. After speaking with her, and my very understanding workplace, I have opted to take 6 weeks sick leave to work with the therapist on a weekly basis to get myself in better shape mentally.

Mental health can be a bit of dicey subject for some people, but I have always thought it would be better to be open about it. It's like any other illness. If someone has diabetes, it's not usually treated with shame or skepticism - anxiety shouldn't either.

So with my ample time off, I've been working on some psychological exercises. I've been working weekly with my therapist. I've been trying to connect with friends I don't see often. I have been doing a huge purge of my apartment - 2 car loads to the charity shop. I've been trying to spend time with my loved ones. I'm headed home to PEI for a few days next week to see some good friends we missed at the weddings.

I've been trying to relax, but that is not something that comes easy. The universe has some funny timing about that.

We (our coven) opted to skip our regular equinox celebration since everything was crazy, everyone was busy, and retrograde was bringing the bullshit. This past Sunday, we opted for a day trip to the Annapolis Valley to do some apple picking. It's always an activity we enjoy, because it connects us directly with the harvest. Plus, eating all the apples our bodies could hold.


I lived in the Annapolis Valley for 5 or 6 years about 20 years ago, and it's one of those places that always feels like home to me.










Afterwards, we drove around to a few little spots, but spent a lot of time enjoying the valley views.

This cow was hilarious. I would moo at him, and he would moo back, and then the field of them would all moo, and I would crack up.



We rolled back into the city, content and full of fruit, the trunk of the car jammed with fresh produce to make many, many tasty things from.

Sunday night was the lunar eclipse, so we wanted to go out and watch it.

Remember how I said the universe has some funny timing? As we were walking down the stairs to the car, I missed a step and fell down the stairs. Yep. Full on fell. I was carrying photo equipment at the time, so I ended up slamming my metal tripod into my shoulder, twisting my knee and slamming it against the stair, hitting my elbow against the wall, and landing on my camera and tripod on my hip and ribs.

Ow. Just ow.

Other than some severe stiffness and soreness, and some bruises starting to form, I am in one piece. Nothing broken, didn't hit my head, surprisingly no photo equipment damaged. I won't lie, I am extremely sore. I can't carry anything, I can't stretch or bend over. I pulled my neck when I fell, so sleeping is difficult. Sneezing is excruciating. My knee was swollen for a day or so. Now I just feel like the bruises are starting to settle in.

So of course, I rested.

Yeah, right. I went out and took some photos. I won't spam with a bunch of eclipse photos, but we were slightly out of town, the stars were beautiful.


So I clearly came home and rested yesterday and today, right?

Nope. I canned. Well, DPM helped with the pickles. Baking is a creative stress release for me. I love it, I find it relaxing, and I especially love doing it this time of the year. Like the proverbial squirrel, I'm wanting to make and freeze all the things. 

Apple sauce, apple butter. pickled carrots, garlic dill pickles, apple jam, raspberry jam.... not pictured is the basil tomato sauce I made for the freezer.

So I got a pretty good stern talking to tonight from my husbands. They want me to rest tomorrow.

Let's be real, here. I'll probably make pie. I am terrible at relaxing. That is precisely why I am on leave from work - to relax. Tomorrow I do want to bake, but I am forcing myself to bake really easy things that require little movement. Maybe I'll make some pan rolls in the bread machine (for the dough anyway), and make a pie or some turnovers or something. I still have half a bag of apples to use up.

Or maybe I'll listen to everyone yelling at me, and spend the day on the couch. 















Sunday, 13 September 2015

Death


Tarot is an odd thing.

Sometimes, it's half truths and promises. Other times, it hits the nail so firmly on the head one would think it was destined.

I have had a rough week, which culminated in something I held dear crumbling apart like dry mortar. My voice was not being heard, so I bowed out. It has been a source of stress and heartache for me, which has led me into being here at home, sick with a cold and lacking a voice above a whisper.

The irony of this is not lost on me.

Often in these times of trouble, I look inwards, and looking inwards often involves tarot. I have always viewed it as a great introspective tool, one that can help you see beyond what your surface feelings might be showing you, into the crux of how you feel. It can show you situations, confirm or contest feelings you may have.

Over the last 3 days, I have drawn the Death card 3 times.

Death as a card never scares me, aside from the sudden change it can bring. It's always an ending, sometimes a needed one. I know there is an ending or transformation coming, and I am best preparing myself.

Death almost always necessitates rituals for me. Tonight, head full of cotton, I head down to a sacred place to severe my ties to the past, as the rain mists down. In silence. I have procured a new tool to do just that.

Autumn is change. It is the new moon. New beginnings. Change.

I have a choice. Wallow in heartache, or pull myself up with fire in my fists and burn anew.

There is no choice here.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Give me a break.




I have written about this subject a number of times, and I feel like yet again I need to pull this post out and repost it - originally written in 2011!

I am growing really tired of all of the bickering and elitism that seems to be rampant in the online pagan community. It's been particularly bad in the last 5 or 6 years.

I started really noticing it on tumblr. 'Oh, you aren't a real Wiccan because you weren't initiated by Gardner himself'; 'My practice is so much more authentic than yours because I get my information from seances where I contact the dead philosophers themselves and fact check'; 'If you are not of Scandinavian stock, you cannot practice Asatru or Heathenry! Lol Hitler lol'. 

Then I was noticing it on Facebook. 'Oh, I can't use a dish, I NEED a thurible. Why does no one have this expensive piece of equipment?'; 'Oh, you can't read THAT. If you aren't reading everything in it's original Greek, you're a poser'; 'If you aren't initiated, I don't want to hear your opinion.' Or this delightful piece.



Seriously, people. Fuck off.

I am all for checking your practice. What I mean by that is validating your practice using various criteria. Is it culturally appropriating in a destructive or offensive way? Do you have at least 2 accredited sources to fact check your mythology and methodology? If you are a reconstructionist, you generally do this anyway, but I think it's a valuable habit to have. I'm also not saying that there is no wrong way to do things - there definitely is a wrong way to do things. A lot of these paths are very self driven, and it's a lot of work. It is up to you to educate yourself on the proper ways to do things.

My issue comes from people claiming you need to be initiated into some mystery tradition (like Gardnerian Wicca) to have a valid opinion. Not being Wiccan, I'm obviously not initiated into anything like that. I'm a member of a tradition I created - I have done dedication rites to my gods and spirits within the structure of that. However, if someone is a solitary practitioner and studying Wicca, dedicating themselves to that path is within their right to do. They couldn't dedicate themselves to the Gardnerian mysteries, but they could certainly take the rough framework and be a solitary eclectic Wiccan. I do believe that to be the part of a specific lineage (Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Seax) you need to be initiated into that lineage by someone of that lineage. It's not something a solitary can do. It would be like trying to be a Catholic without receiving any of the sacraments.

However, in no way can anyone presume to tell you how you talk to your deities. It's exceedingly arrogant and privileged to tell someone that they cannot be a Wiccan because they weren't initiated into a coven. If you follow the Wiccan belief structure, and live by Wiccan ethics, you're a Wiccan - in the same scenario, if you believe in God and follow the Bible, you are a Christian. Denying someone the right it believe whatever they want is a way to exert control over someone else - and it's being a dick.

My favorite example to give is this - say, for a minute, you're living in a tiny town. The nearest city with any significant population in 6 hours away. You live below the poverty line with 2 small children. No one will teach you online, you must come and learn in person. In order to get any training in Wicca, you would have to make a 12 hour trip (there and back) weekly for 3 years. What are you expected to do? Choose between feeding your children and learning Wicca? Or, perhaps,  you could make 1 trip into the city and buy 2 or 3 books. Over the next few years, you could learn from those books, and chat with others online. You could develop your own practice, following the guidelines of Wicca.

When you start making Wicca (or any occult traditions) elite, you start making them only available to the rich, and it becomes incredibly difficult to take anyone seriously. If Gardner could see how weirdly fanatical orthodox fundamentalist his followers have gotten, the rolling in his grave could power Glastonbury. Gardner disliked the church because of it's elitist practices.

It's not just Wiccans - there is a certain snobbery that goes along with traditional witchcraft as well. Most traditional witches are solitary by nature, and it seems the more 'dark' and 'into dead stuff' you are, the more witch cred you have. It's a lot of bullshit that turns into screaming matches about who is more witchy than thou. Commence eye rolling.

Now, I'm not saying that mystery traditions shouldn't be selective about their members, especially those running covens or groves. I'm simply saying that focusing all your energy on what other people are doing, and none on your own practice kind of negates the reason to have a practice or tradition in the first place. Listen, I don't give a shit how you practice. The only thing I care about is how I practice, and how I honour my own experiences and my own deities. Life if short, as I have just learned. Stop spending all your time worrying about how I practice, and worry about your own gods.

To each their own, right?

Raymond Buckland started teaching Wicca to the uninitiated because he was tired of the hierarchical bullshit inherent in Wicca and realized that in order to grow and change, it needed to be presented in other ways to different kinds of people. Does it ‘dilute’ Wicca? Sure, I guess, if one can ‘dilute’ such an abstract concept as knowledge. Keeping things ‘as they have been’ is the issue that the Catholic church has been running into for years - you can’t run something like it’s still in the dark ages. ‘The old ways’ are not necessarily the best ways. Society has to grow and evolve somehow.