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30 March 2012

g is also for goals

Yes, goals. I needs em.

I've been wanting to figure out an exercise routine for weeks now. I got as far as doing a few sit-ups a couple days ago. Not terribly productive. So today while I was perusing the blogosphere, I came across this and finally had some legitimate interest in exercising. Woot!

It's the "Spring into Fitness" challenge, hosted by Serenity Raven on one of her blogs, Check her out! I think she writes well.

Anyway, because of the way the challenge is designed, I can use it to improve my well being in a holistic way, rather than just trying to pinpoint exercising. Which is awesome! And just what I need. Whenever I start projects that are very narrow, they become just another chore squeezed into the list with all the rest. At some point, they get overlooked, or dropped off completely. A holistic approach, though, changes the shape of the list completely, and can't be overlooked or ignored.

My personal challenges, which will shape my goals, are these:

1. I struggle with chronic depression. It has a variety of causes, most of which I've written about in previous posts. I'd like to get a better handle on it than I have now - which is probably as good as it's ever been, but I think I can do better. I want a happier life.

2. I struggle to find the motivation (see #1) to put forth the effort I should into getting my degree. I'm a full-time student, by the way. I'm working on a BA in psychology and anthropology, minoring in history. I go through highs and lows with this; lately it's been more low than high, in part because the classes I'm taking this semester vary in how engaging they are. But they're all required. So. I need to put in more effort, and actually make myself care about the ever-important GPA.

3. I'm out of shape! Ugh!

4. I'm a consummate virgo, in many ways. No that's not the problem. Well... maybe. But it's not the point! As a virgo, my home is my hermitage. It's my safe space, my happy place - particularly when I'm feeling down (see #1 again - these things do spiral). But, when I'm feeling down, I have great difficulty working up the gumption to actually take care of my house. It doesn't help that I'm not particularly domestically inclined. Not at all, really. I need my house to be clean and comfortable for me to be happy, but I hate doing the work to get it there. This is complicated by two things: I just moved out of a house that was a complete poop-hole (see me trying to be PG-13?), where I lived for a year. It felt like two years. That move took place in January. My new house is AWESOME. The energy here is so healing... I love it. Just love it. And it's cute. So, I'm doing ok with getting it situated in a way that I like, but the going's a bit slow because I don't have the money to decorate the way I want to, all at once. So it's a little frustrating for me.

You can see my goals shaping up, yes? Now, to tie them into an element, one each.

~ Improving how I manage my depression - I link this to Water, the energy of emotions and depth.
      - There's an added aspect to this one; I'm in my first year as an Initiate with my coven, and one of my assignments for the year is to study and build a relationship with the element Water. Two birds, one stone! Or would that be, two Waters, one well?

~ Putting full effort into my studies - I link this to Air, the energy of thought and intellect.

~ Getting in shape - I link this to Fire, the energy of... energy! I'm not going for strength training, I'm going for cardiovascular fitness. I love dancing, and being able to hike all day. The hiking season is upon us here, and I want in! I am going to fit in at least one zumba class each week, and one walk or hike. First I have to buy myself some sneakers (pre-zumba, not pre-hiking - I have boots but no sneakers), though, so I'll start with the hiking this week.

~ Finishing the nesting of my house, and take time to clean a little bit each day - this I link to Earth, the energy of stability, of home.

Ah, but what about spirit?

All that stuff above is all about my spirit, and nurturing my Self. All of it ties back into leading a happier life. But, just to round things out a bit, my Spirit goal will be this: to pursue more faithfully the knowledge I seek in my pagan path; to define my philosophies more articulately. (Three Waters, one well! Yay!)

And there we have it. The writing is on the wall... er, the banner is on my blog's wall. It's a good thing.

The challenge starts Sunday. I started just now. I even ate a healthy breakfast as I wrote this.

This post is brought to you by the Pagan Blog Project and the letter G.

29 March 2012

g is for...


Gratutitous gorillas.

No, really. We could all use a little more gorilla in our lives. They have so much to teach us!

As one of our nearest relatives, they have much to say about our history from an evolutionary standpoint (98.6% of our genomes and 99.6% of our DNA). It wasn't all that long ago, though, that the western world thought gorillas were mythical creatues. We didn't start studying them, really, until Leakey established Diane Fossey in a research facility in central Africa in the 1960s. We've learned so much; we've learned about being human, by studying gorillas. Like us, they are family-oriented and intelligent. The questions which remain in the broadest senses are those of nuanced natures: do gorillas have genders (as opposed to sex)? Probably, but why? Do they have religion? Probably not, but why not? Can we call their behavioral patterns a culture? They have rudimentary language; they have laughter; they practice altruism as much as humans do; they have love, and hate; they are each individuals, with separate personalities like no other.

That's all very general and whatnot.

What about my path? What can they teach me, beyond academia?

Over the past ten months (zomg, almost a year!), I've been working on a research project studying gorillas. I and the people I work with are cateloging hundreds of hours of raw video footage of wild gorillas, taken in Rwanda over the past couple decades. I set up a database for us, and we're currently going through and 'tagging' video (i.e., "from here to here, an infant gorilla is doing this") so we can quickly reference and analyze the whole lot in the future. It's a blast. Really! I LOVE my work. And right now, I wish I had some of those videos on my home computer so I could share one with you.

There's not much cuter than an 500-pound silverback getting overrun by a pack of playful infant gorillas. For real.

But anyway... I did have a point. And here it is:

Watching gorillas reminds me that we aren't so far from nature, after all. All our technology, all our advances and civilization, all those things which seem to push us farther from the natural, spiritual world, are ultimately ineffectual. We are still children of the same earth as our brethren. We are still animals, too. When we move too far from that truth, we lose our humanity. Perhaps that's ironic, but I don't think so. To be human is to be of the earth; to leave the earth in our minds, is to leave our humanity.

That's what the gorillas have taught me, beyond academia.


Oddly, they don't feature much in our mythology very much. I did an internet search for mythology about gorillas, and found exactly one story:

"NZAME (Fan people of the Congo) A vague and shadowy god whose likeness can't be captured in wood, stone or metal. Nzame lived on earth with his three sons, Whiteman, Blackman and Gorilla. Blackman, Gorilla and all their kinfolk sinned against Nzame, and so Nzame took all his wealth and went to live with his son Whiteman in the west. Gorilla and his kin went to live in the jungle. Without the wealth, power and knowledge of Nzame, Blackman and his kin live a hard life of poverty and ignorance, ever dreaming of the western land where dwells Nzame and his favored son, Whiteman."

Whoa. (I know, right?) So... that's a whole 'nother topic for 'nother day...

28 March 2012

pagan enough, queer enough

From the Project Pagan Enough creator:

"It has become quite obvious over the past few years that the pagan community likes to talk the big game of being tolerant and inclusive of all peoples, but seems to lack that tolerance when the person in question dresses well or is attractive or is otherwise garbed in a cloak of 'mainstream.' This intolerance seems to be derived from a standpoint that we, as the pagan community, believe we are ridiculed or ostracized by the mainstream, thus people that look mainstream must be our enemy.

Project Pagan Enough seeks to say that - no matter your beliefs, practices, looks, or loves - you are pagan enough. We can argue theology back and forth all day long and disagree with one another's fluff-factor until the cows come home, but it is high time that we stop denigrating one another's level of being pagan. Paganism does not have a set definition, and there is definitely not a dress code or music-loving requirement."
Yes. What he said.
Only, I'd like to apply this to other communities, too. "Us-vs-Them" is a human thing, not just a pagan thing. Every group does it. Even - or especially - those groups which are most denigrated by hetero-normative, mainstream culture.
It's bad enough that these attitudes keep us separate from each other, when we know that unity would be empowering. It's made worse when those attitudes keep people from learning. Nobody wants to be the newbie who doesn't wear the right thing, or listen to the right music, in any scene.
I was the girl who didn't know how to be a girl, definitely didn't know how to act around anyone I was attracted to, especially women, didn't even know how to express my non-girliness or my girliness. I didn't know how to "act" queer. And guess what? I look like your average hetero-normative straight girl. Only, I'm not.
So here's what I say: Gender doesn't have a dress code. Sexuality doesn't have a playlist. Faith doesn't have a flag. Whatever you are, you are enough, because you're human.

f is for...



...but I digress:

I haven't talked much about my spiritual path, in general or here. I've kept it private, internal. Walked that road by feel, without feeling the need to articulate it, unless asked. When asked, I vaguely resented the questioning, and often kept my answers brief - the kind that didn't invite more questions. I didn't even realize I was doing that until now, looking back.

I think I've kept so much of myself in the dark for so long, it was simply habitual to keep that to myself, too.

I did seek out other pagans, looking for community of others who would understand at least that part of me, and from whom I could learn. And I shared that aspect of myself with those I found, but I shared only that aspect, and no other. My self was illustrated in spotlights, pinpointing the bits I wanted to share, darkening everything else.

I'm currently attempting to integrate myself, which in turn means integrating my social relationships. Not all of them will survive. That's ok. The result will be fewer relationships, but with less famine in those relationships as a whole than I had previously. Less famine in my self.

The whole is more than the sum of its parts.


I am fallible. So are my gods.

[There's an excellent post on the fallibility of pagan gods, which got me thinking about the concept. I highly recommend checking out her blog, regardless of your ideas on gods. The post is brief, but thought-provoking, and the comments are worth reading, too. Credit where due: that's the blog that made me think of this today, and inspired its inclusion in this post.]

I ascribe to the concept of 'gods' being how we name or categorize the energies we perceive in this world, which are natural - as opposed to supernatural - and divine. I'm something of a pantheist, I suppose. I don't mind saying the gods are real and incarnate, because I believe they are just as real as our souls, or the spirits that personifies the wind.

I think that our gods represent another variation in the fractal pattern that is life on Earth. Omniscience and omnipotence are concepts which have no real application. Omnipresence is only true in the sense that we are all made of the same omnipresent stuff, that which we call 'energy' for lack of a better word. But, not all types of energy - not all souls, not all gods, not all flavors of the divine - are present at any one time, in a single physical place.

Our gods' nature reflects our souls' nature; that is, they are fallible, prone to emotions, and individual.

Or, we could look at it this way:

Sociologically speaking, the purpose of myths, and by extension the beings which populate those myths (gods and such), is to teach.

What does one learn from an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent deity? As a standard of behavior, it's a bit high for humans. Always, we fall short. Always, we would be shown inferior. I don't accept that premise.

From fallible gods, we learn to be human. We learn to be better. I consider those myths worthwhile. Gods that are frail, teach us to be strong. Gods that surmount frailty to grow into their own strength are worthy of faith, just as people who do the same are equally worthy of faith.


I moved into a new house in January. The day before Imbolc, a deep blueish-purple iris bloomed in my new yard. The following week, that whole flower bed was transplanted - erroneously by a landscaper - from its safe little niche in front of the porch, to the inside of the fence, exactly where my dogs go to bark at passing dogs. Hence, the beautiful flowers that I absolutely loved, have been trampled. It's heartbreaking.

I plan to replant, but either with some sort of protective barrier between the flowers and my dogs, or back in the flowers' original position, which was out of harm's way. I'm rather excited about replanting. I hope I can do it this next month.


This post and the letter f have been inspired (brought to you?)
by the Pagan Blog Project :)

27 March 2012

next blog

Here's what I want to know:

Why is it that whenever I get curious and click "next blog" (see that button? it's on the top of this page, kinda left of center), I am directed to one of two types of blogs: uber-Christian women with 3-6 children who write about their housewife-iness and use their last name in the title of their blog, or Indians who write half their posts in Urdu and have a long-winded, unwieldy title.

And 90% of them haven't posted in over a year.

Why does blogger think those are anything like mine?

Try it. Do you get the same types?

26 March 2012


If I have a "type" of person I fall for, it's probably people who break stereotypes.

It's been a problem.
My mother used to say that her problem in finding suitable romantic partners was that she saw the potential in people, rather than seeing them as they were.

That could be true in my case, but I think it would be too generous. Ex Husband 1 had the potential to be a very nice person, and maybe with the right nurturing could have been rather smartish. He would never have been the perceptive partner I needed, the intelligent partner I credited him as, or the substantial person I hoped he was. He did break a stereotype, though. He was a bisexual soldier. ...Mentally, I'm going through the litany of exes who somehow broke stereotypes - they all did, in one way or another. There's far too many to go through and simultaneously remain pertinent. Take my word for it.

On the bright side, recent relationships have followed the pattern of breaking stereotypes, only without the unhealthiness.

The Archer transcends stereotypes of his own (and in his own words), but so does our relationship. The Doc, who I don't believe I've mentioned before, seems to exist within some stereotypes, but only superficially. Her core is, I think, beyond typifying.

This is a good trend.

And now that I've satisfied my own curiousity about what my 'type' might be, I can't help but feel, stereotypically, a little bit happy to have the box checked.

Today I figured out what "made" me a careful driver: learning to drive a motorcycle.

You can't drive a motorcycle the way most people drive cars. Comparatively, you must be hyperviligant. Everything affects the ride: other drivers, the wind, the sun, the road surface, the bugs. Everything. You learn to notice the crack in the pavement 200 meters down the road, because pretty soon it will be under your tires, shifting you away from center. I still notice, even in my truck.

22 March 2012

wasted resources

I got pulled over for speeding this morning. I was coasting down a steep hill, the sub-functional speedometer read around 77 mph. The officer said I was going 68. The speed limit was 55.

Ok, fair enough.

He was nice enough to write it up as 65 in a 55.

And, he didn't give me a speeding ticket. Instead, he ticketed me for "wasting finite resources." Yes, that's what my ticket says.

I had to wonder, whose resources, mine or his?

Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate that he didn't give me a moving violation and I accept that he actually should have done so.

But... wasting resources? There's actually a traffic violation for that which doesn't involve spilling oil on the road? This strikes me as a divergence, a deflection of blame in response to the oft-bandied public sentiment accusing The Government of wasting public resources (specifically police time and money) on victimless traffic violations.

"Don't you have some actual crime to stop? You're wasting tax payers' money!"

Again, not that he shouldn't have ticketed me - it's the reasoning behind the "wasting resources" being an actual legal violation that has me a bit... disappointed in our system, in yet another tiny way that is symptomatic of a greater systemic pathology.

"We aren't the ones wasting resources, you are!"

"I'm rubber, you're glue; what you say bounces of me and sticks to you!"

Or, "Nu-uh!"

And so forth.

19 March 2012

my favorite prayer

A Prayer to Hela,
In All Extremity

In the name of Darkness I call you,
Queen of Helheim, Lady Death,
Whose eye sees far into Ginnungagap,
Mantled in impassable shadow.
For I stand shrouded in wailing dark
As far as my burning eyes can see,
And the Sun rises bitterly with no light for my soul.
In the name of Decay I call you,
Hela-Half-Rotted, Lady Death,
Whose flesh is jeweled with carrion beetles,
Scented with the attar of corpses.
For my life is a rotted thing, begging
To be given a decent burial, to return
To the kindly earth, and all I once valued
Is hollow as a drum, withered as winter grass.
In the name of Cold I call you,
Throne of Ice, Lady Death,
Whose touch is chill that numbs all feeling,
Frozen as the winter clay.
For the frigid winds whip fierce about me,
And I wail my pain into their howling song,
The wasteland that was my life stretches
About me from horizon to horizon.
In the name of Silence I call you,
Barrow’s Mistress, Lady Death,
Whose voice is the sound of the stone being rolled
Before the open mouth of the echoing tomb.
For the words that I spoke, fine and bright
As the fluttering birds, they have fallen around me
Like small feathered bodies curling stiff, and nothing
I can say will rescue me from my troubles.
In the name of Bones I call you,
Skeletal Hand, Lady Death,
Whose eye strips away all that is false,
Leaving only bare and naked truth.
For under these layers of sorrow lies
The clean bones of my soul, which must be
Stripped and dried before a new life
Can once again be wrapped about them.
In the name of Loss I call you,
Soul-Guardian, Lady Death,
Whose arms reach out to take in all who come,
No matter their flaws, their fears, their crimes.
For I am lost in the labyrinth of despair
And I have come to the end of this road,
And I have nothing left to lose. I stand
At your gates, at the final outpost of my will,
And offer these tatters up to you in trust.
In the name of Death I call you,
Implacable One, Lady of Doom,
Whose Word is final as all Endings,
Who never speaks a lie.
Lady, take from me what you will,
So long as you take also these burdens,
Leave me empty, a vessel to be filled
With whatever the Divine Will would have.
In the name of Regeneration I call you,
For there is nowhere else left to turn,
And only You, Lady, can give this bitter gift.
Hail to Hel, Wisest of Wights,
May you look with compassionate grace upon me now.

18 March 2012

windows and occupations

My windows leak. Not the rain, thankfully, but air. Cold air. ...And I find myself not really caring. It reminds me that I need to figure out a way to insulate the hundred-and-six-year-old windows, but that's about it. I like my home.

If I didn't look like a Virgo before I moved in here, I will now. Nesting is what I do best, like Tiggers and bouncing.


I went to see the Lorax tonight, with my child and a friend of ours. I enjoyed the movie, but it does have a strongly-pointed political statement (as you might imagine, if you've read the book). The expected environmental moral was not-subtly entwined with a very pro-Occupationist moral. So my appreciation of the movie might be because I agreed with the politics of the writers.


Yup, I'm with those rascally Occupiers.


I'm not sure how I feel about this "American Spring" thing. The name feels like a rip off of the incredible energy and determination that pulled off the Arab Spring last year. It feels like cultural theft. We need our own impetus - which is sadly lacking.

11 March 2012

sleeping bones

When I was a child, I slept in the corner of my room, my bed pushed all the way against the walls, pillow and blankets lining the space between to eliminate the potential of a breach. Against what, I couldn't tell you. I slept that way until I was 17. It wasn't thought-out or planned in any sense; it was instinctive. I would have questioned the way I slept no sooner than the way I breathed.

I stopped only when I no longer had a bed, or walls. Still, over the following few years, I slept in the creases between the seats and the backs of couches, or of bench seats in cars. Gradually, as I began sharing beds with other people, and as I adapted to sleep in whatever way would keep the peace, I forgot what it was that would make sleep so comfortable. I adapted, in the same way people who live near pig farms stop being able to smell the shit: by imperceptible shifts of sensory consciousness.

I didn't even realize I wasn't completely comfortable, until one day, I was.

I was completely comfortable, tucked between a pillow-lined wall, and Archer. I don't recall ever having been so at ease.

I only have one pillow on my bed at home - the one I borrowed from Archer, for its connection to him and his home. Maybe it's time for more pillows on my bed.

08 March 2012


Hard to believe that there's anything, anything at all, which isn't intertwined with everything else. It seems that there's nothing which can be separated and labeled as completely independent.

I can't think of anything.

Nothing happens in a vacuum. Seriously.


So yesterday I was in a class about human sexuality, and I was struck by how sanitized our history is in the teaching environment, and how ironic that really is. The professor mentioned Stonewall, referencing it as a riot which kick-started the gay rights movement. Then we went on.

I would be willing to bet that with the exception of maybe three of us in that room, nobody understood the significance of what led to Stonewall. Why did the patrons of the Stonewall Inn riot? In the bland textbook-version of things, gays were just fed up with being discriminated against in the work place, or teased by bullies. So few Americans realize, it seems, that people who weren't heteronormative - and couldn't  pass as such - were being beaten and raped by police officers, during nationally reoccurring and unprovoked raids on so-called 'gay bars'. Yes, raped. By police. Pray you weren't also an ethnic minority. Who do you go to, when the police rape you? The hospital? There, you may or may not be treated for your wounds, but you could count on being treated as a leper - contagious and disgusting.

That is our history; our ignorance of our own history is the real contagion.

This is all entwined.


Fractals are enlightening.