27 December 2010

Holidays, Twilight, and Forest Treks

"winter forest . deer" by Zi De Chen
This time of year is filled with a lot of familial obligations for me, as I imagine is the case for many others. In fact, I spent more time sitting through a Catholic mass to please the family than I was able to devote to my personal celebration of Yule. Even though my family is aware of my faith, and the fact that I'd been secretly practicing in high school and only decided to go "public" with it about a year ago, they expect me to go to church with them when I'm home. I got out of it last Sunday, but there was no way I could miss the Christmas Eve mass. So I went. And it wasn't that bad; I know the service inside and out (in my earlier days, I was an altar server, and I've done a lot of time singing in Catholic choirs). Of course, my heart isn't in it, nor has it been for years. Nevertheless, I enjoyed people watching and spending time with my brothers and father while mama sang in the choir. They have the same priest I grew up listening to, and although his homily wasn't quite as inspiring as it might have been if my faith still leaned that way, he's always a classy orator. I spent most of the mass trying to stay awake through the heat and the closeness and the presence of my youngest brother clinging ever to my side. Still. I made it through. I even made it through having drunk considerably less wine at dinner before mass than I had intended.

Even though Christmas Eve mass took up more of my time than I would have liked, I did have a nice little ritual on the night of the solstice, beneath a full moon lunar eclipse no less. One of my friends who also enjoys stargazing (not, incidentally, Stargazer) alerted me to the phenomenon, and so I worked it into my ritual and my altar layout. I set out my silk snowflake scarf, and, straying from my usual habit of bright scented votives, I lit a simple, spherical, white floating candle. To me, the display of the white wax suspended in a pear-shaped cup was quite evocative of the moon. I also have two crystal balls which I occasionally—not nearly often enough, as just holding either one in my hand, I can feel the power waiting to be unleashed—use to scry; one is of labradorite, which I use during the New Moons, and one is of clear quartz, which I use during the Full. For this, I set out both. I didn't do any scrying per se, but I did display the lovely spheres on my altar, corresponding with my two matron deities representations, as well as tokens for my totems, Raven and Wolf. The theme I focused on was the full moon eclipse, and so everything was a balance of dark and light. I've always considered myself to fall somewhere in the gray areas between, treading ever on the edge of light and shadow, in the twilight of dusk and dawn. As a warrior and as a huntress, the shadows are my place; as a priestess and a scholar, I require light for my work. Thus, I am the gray between.

Although I believe firmly that magic and mystery and power and love and all the forces I work with and produce come from within, I love the aesthetics of an altar, of my little Pagan tools and toys, of the wooden dagger hand-carved by a beloved old friend that I use as my athame. Even though I don't consider the material aspects of my practice integral to it, I like having them. I like making them. I make dream catchers and statues and jewelry and even the robes I wear. For the solstice ritual, I rocked a silver-set cabochon of rainbow moonstone dangling from snowy ribbon on my throat, and two matching moonstones suspended from my earlobes, with silver Celtic knots in my second ear piercings. To balance the light of the moonstones, I wore a jet cabochon ring and a bracelet of blackstone nuggets. Everything in balance. Light + Dark = Gray. Twilight. Dusk. Dawn. The in-between spaces of Spirits, and warrior-mystics who don't really know where, exactly, they should tread. I walk ever with one foot in and one foot out, and perhaps that is my destiny: to be always on the brink.

I won't go into details about the ritual itself. This Yule was a deeply personal one for me. I made my offerings, and I meditated, and I communed with my deities. A few days later, I went to the woods and finally communed with my trees. I didn't see my satyr friend from the dream when in the woods, but that was expected. I did see plenty of other wildlife, or at least evidence thereof. I sang pretty much the whole time, so apart from some lazy squirrels and birds smart enough to realize I wasn't carrying a gun, nothing went near me. There's still nothing like a day-old snow to prove that the forest is not remotely dead in winter. I followed deer tracks and fox trails, but I'll admit I paused when I saw the coyote footprints, and when I got to the prints of the black bear, I turned around and hightailed it to the trail that would take me back home. The crows, brothers to my Raven, warned me away from that one. However, ever curious soul that I am, I pressed further after their warnings…until I saw those bear prints and figured I should listen to my brother Crows after all. At first, having spent enough time in the woods to know that humans tend to be the most intrusive things there, I assumed they were just cawing at me. Maybe they were, maybe they weren't. It doesn't matter either way.

Happy hunting, dwellers of shadow and light.

20 December 2010

Briging in the (Fake) Green

"Spirit of Yule" by Ironshod
Every year growing up, getting our Christmas tree was a huge deal. We'd wait for a weekend that neither my brother nor I had a track meet, soccer game, or some other activity, and then we'd all pile into my dad's big red truck and go to the tree farm on top of the mountain. We'd walk up and down the aisles looking for the perfect one. It used to be a white pine, but as I got older we switched to Frasier firs because they didn't bother my mom's allergies as much, and they didn't make quite as much of a mess all over the carpet. It was only later in high school that we switched to hardwood floors. We never put tinsel on the trees, because we used to have a cat who just loved to climb up inside the trees and eat tinsel. It wasn't pretty cleaning up after her. She died when I was about twelve or thirteen. Of course, after our cat died, the habit of tinsel-less trees just stuck. Strangely the fact that we've always owned big dogs with constantly-wagging, and therefore hazardous, tails has never influenced the breakability of the ornaments we use to decorate it.

I remember one year when it had snowed before we went, and so as we got closer to the top of the mountain where the tree farm was, the snow got deeper. I was maybe a freshman in high school then, or maybe in eighth grade. It's hard for me to keep straight anymore since that part of my life is pretty distant. Everyone was all bundled up since it was unseasonably cold for early December around here. I remember wearing a fluffy white coat. We walked up and down the rows of trees, looking for one that was tall enough to be impressive, but wouldn't poke through our ceiling, and fat enough to accommodate our ever-expanding collection of ornaments, but wouldn't take up the whole room. We finally found one—I think this may have been our first year with the Frasier firs—and so my dad took the saw the tree farm gave us, and slowly cut the trunk until it fell. My little brother and I helped him carry it back to where they'd wrap it in a net and help us throw it in the truck bed. My mom would have helped, but her allergies cause her skin to break out really bad wherever she touches any sort of pine. I'm glad, considering how much I love trees and especially evergreens, that I did not inherit any allergies. Once our tree was all wrapped up and ready to go, there was hot cocoa and cider in the little trailer where we paid. I opted for the cider :) I'll take apples over chocolate any day.

However, once my brother and I were both off at college, our parents switched to fake trees. As soon as I found out, I called home, enraged that they could betray our family tradition such just because two of us were out of the house. My youngest brother was still home! We just HAD to have a real tree. It wasn't Christmastime if we didn't have a real tree. In a moment of overexaggeration, I even threatened to not come home for the holidays if they insist on putting up a fake tree every year. Obviously, as I'm at my parent's house now, I decided to concede to the fake tree.

And here's why.

My mom pointed out that, as a lover of nature and a self-proclaimed tree-hugger, it should bother me that the tree necessarily has to die to bring it in for the house. Sure, real trees have a tradition with them that harkens back to the Norse bringing in of the green, but the use of a real, live, breathing tree goes above and beyond bringing in a few branches to decorate the hearth. (Yes, trees do have a respiratory system.) Of course, Western culture has long gone above and beyond to make things bigger, better, louder, faster, more expensive. Taking an old, fabulously Pagan tradition and turning it into a Christianized commercial venture is completely within character. Thus, as much as I love the feel, smell, and aura of a real tree, I do hate that the tree has to die, and for no better reason then a stupid, over-commercialized Christian-version of a Pagan tradition. Thank you, mother, for changing my perspective and reminding me of my ideals. I've made my peace with the institution of the fake tree. I think the best compromise might be Pam's idea from The Office of hiding a pine-scented air freshener between the branches so that it smells real.

When I have my own apartment (this time next year), I don't plan on having either a fake or a real tree. In fact, I plan on going back to an older way of bringing in the green and simply gathering up branches of evergreens that the wind discarded, and decorating my hearth with those. After all, I doubt I'll ever live far from a forest. Except when I'm deployed, that is. I won't have much control over that.

I Will Find My Orion

Book available on Amazon: here
I'm home for the holidays now, back in the lovely, fabulous, historical state of Virginia. Since I can't be here and not revel in the glorious message that is the motto written on our flag, "Sic Semper Tyrannis" (for those of you who have not read my older entries, this is Latin for "Thus, always, for tyrants"), I'll be gazing at the dogwoods and cardinals and tyrant-crushing Athena-esque warrior women in exhilaration over the next two weeks. I'll also be catching up with old friends from high school, drinking wine with my mama and smoking cigars and drinking scotch with my dad, wrestling with my ginormous, slobbery, adorable dog Achilles (she's a Greater Swiss Mountain dog and currently weighs 105 lbs), hiking through the snow-laden woods behind my house in search of a dream I'll likely never see, and reading way too many books. Given my bibliophilia, which I thoroughly discussed in a previous entry, this last bit especially should come as no surprise. In fact, I think I'll devote the rest of this entry to one book in particular.

I just finished reading a book that changed my life, and it wasn't the kind of book I expected to have that deep of an effect on me. After hearing my latest drama story, my cousin—recently married and therefore an expert in relationships—recommended I read the book that inspired the movie of the same title, He's Just Not That Into You, written by two of the writers of Sex in the City. I went out to B&N with my mom this afternoon, wandered through the aisles until we finally found it in the dating/self-help section (never stepped foot in there before; it was a weird feeling), and then I proceeded to devour the entire thing in a few hours this evening.

The book completely changed my perspective. I have always considered myself a very rational, practical person, and generally pretty good at being able to tell when a guy genuinely likes me and when he's just feeding me a line, but recently I haven't been so sure. I got told twice in one week that I was a fantastic, special young woman, and that I deserved to be happy and to have everything I want, but that he was just not able to give that to me and so I should find someone who could make me as happy as possible. Not told twice as in twice by the same guy, mind you. Two separate men fed me this completely bullshit line. We'll call them Atlas and Stargazer, just to keep things straight. My response to Atlas should have been my response to both, yet regretfully, I couldn't bring myself to say it to Stargazer, who actually first who gave me that crap. I told Atlas, "If you truly thought I'm so special and worth so much effort, then you would have been willing to step up to the plate yourself instead of trying to make it someone else's job." He responded by saying, "No, you are special, blah blah blah…" just more bullshit. I had not read the book at this point (obviously, as I just read it today), but I was proud of myself for not falling for it with him. It's a shame, however, that what could not fool me with one, totally fooled me with the other.
For the record, I was dating neither one of these gentlemen. Atlas had made a lot of promises this past summer, that come autumn, he just couldn't keep…and so, wise, practical, rational girl that I am, I cut my losses and moved on. Stargazer, on the other hand, was a very different story. He never made any promises. He seemed to genuinely care. He seemed like a nice guy. Having read HJNTIY, however, I now realize that I was making all of the excuses for him that I should not, covering up the fact that he was truly just not that into me with things that would hurt less. After all, no one wants to hear that at the end of the day, she's just not good enough to date. Examples of things I learned that, although I did not want to hear, were necessary for helping me to quickly cut the cord and get the hell over him already:
  1. An excuse is a polite rejection. Men are not afraid of "ruining the friendship."
  2. Guys tell you how they feel even if you refuse to listen or believe them. "I don't want to be in a serious relationship" truly means "I don't want to be in a serious relationship with you" or "I'm not sure that you're the one."
  3. It doesn't count unless he says it when he's sober. An "I love you" (or any semblance thereof) while under the influence of anything stronger than grape juice won't hold up in court or in life.
  4. You can't talk your way out of a breakup. It is not up for discussion. A breakup is a definitive action, not a democratic one.
  5. No answer is your answer.
All of these were taken directly from the book, so I can't take credit for their wittiness. They're just quotes from the "What you should have learned" section that followed each chapter, and that particularly spoke o me in light of my recent relationships and non-relationships. Number (4) was followed by a particular moment of epiphany, as I'm definitely guilty of trying to talk my way out of a breakup…and it worked. Twice. However, the third time, he put his foot down. We were going to split, and that was it, and you know what? Should've happened the first time. We were not right for each other for many HUGELY important reasons, but I didn't see that until there was some distance. The longer I spent apart from him (I'm not a fan of the "let's still be friends" bs, and so I didn't let him talk me into it, luckily), the more I realized this, and the happier I became that I was rid of a bad apple…or, in keeping with my previous theme of people as fruit, a rotten orange.

While I do regret to pour so much of my personal life into a blog that I would rather devote to my spiritual, the aftermath of Atlas and Stargazer will, despite my best efforts, permeate through to my spiritual life. I don't want that to happen. Regardless of how hard we try to not let people effect us, to not let negative experiences infiltrate our inner lives and—however slightly—weaken our core strength, it still happens. While reading this book has armed me with knowledge and the ability to see through the excuses Atlas and especially Stargazer both threw at me right and left, I know that I still hurt. It's a lesser pain now, a dull ache, but it's still there. "I don't want to be in a relationship," as I long had suspected and as this book now confirmed, really does mean it's not me that he wants. And that's fine. As much as I would prefer to just be told that, straight up, with no games and no lies, I know that won't ever happen. Now, hopefully, I'll just be able to read the signs and interpret every excuse as what it really is, a slightly nicer way of saying, "I'm just not that into you."

I'm going to finally let this rotten orange rest. I threw it out with the other bad fruit, and, pretty as it was on the outside, and as much as I'm going to miss it, I'll get over. I'll heal. I'll move on. That's just what I do, and that's what I'll keep doing, until I find the guy who will not just tell me I deserve to be happy, but actively try to make it so. We'll call him Orion. I always did love that constellation.

Goddess bless. I need all the help I can get.

16 December 2010

Dreaming of the Forest

Yes, this is also in the sidebar, but I like the
larger, sepia-version too, so deal with it.
I had another one of those dreams a few weeks back that stuck with me. It wasn’t a nightmare, and it wasn’t particularly complicated or adventure-filled as far as my dreams tend to go, but I find myself thinking about it more often than I normally would. Thus, I’ve let my thoughts dwell as they will on that dream, and see where they end up taking me. I haven’t reached any particularly profound conclusions yet, but I am not even sure those are necessary. The dream when something like this:

I was walking in the woods with a few friends, all female, and it was another time. We were all young and wearing long gowns, which felt like they were homemade of some coarse fabric. We had flowers and ribbons braided into our hair, and we were excited, on our way to some celebration or festival. We came to a clearing in the woods, full of lanterns and a bonfire and people dancing to festive flute music. The weather was mild, and everyone was so happy—and then I saw him.


He was maybe a year or two older than me, with curly, golden-brown hair and, lest my eyes deceived me, two small horns pointed forward like a satyr’s. While I knew this was the first time we had met, I recognized him. He smiled at me, and I smiled back, and then I went back to dancing with my friends.


A little later, I went off into the woods to cool off, or to be alone, or whatever my inspiration was at the time (I don’t always recall all my motivations in my dreams, at least upon waking, and I recorded this one right away in my journal). I sat down on the side of a hill, overlooking a valley. Suddenly, the horned young man appeared and sat down next to me. He held my hand. He whispered that he loved me, and that it had been too long since he’d seen me last. I put my head on his shoulder. I heard my friends calling for me back at the festival, so I looked at him, he nodded, and disappeared into the woods. I went back to the celebration alone.


Then, I was suddenly back in my own time, wearing jeans and a sweater, and hiking in the woods behind the house where I grew up. He was sitting on a log, and he looked tired, and a little older than when I’d last seen him. I sat next to him and asked if he wanted to come home. He said, “Yes,” and told me that he didn’t have the strength to move anymore, that he’d lost too much power and it was all he could manage to take physical form, so I bent down and picked him up. I wrapped him up in my arms and walked back towards my house, only he couldn’t even make it that far. “I’m sorry,” he told me, “I can’t stay here anymore. It takes too much out of me,” and so I kissed him goodbye. He faded, right before my eyes. I went home alone.

The rest of the dream was completely unrelated (I was Batman. Not Batgirl, Batman), and didn’t have the same effect on me. That part of the dream, though…I just can’t get it out of my head. I woke up feeling stronger, as if there’d been a message hidden for me that I had to decipher. I woke up with the thought half-formed on my lips that I deserve better than what I’ve been settling for. I deserve to be treated right, and to be adored and appreciated the same way that everyone deserves to be adored and appreciated. That dream partly inspired me to cut out the last remaining item of drama (note: the rotten orange, recently flushed from my life, that I mentioned in my previous post). That dream also inspired me to make a drawing, that when I’m home I’m going to turn into a painting.

In the weeks since, I’ve had a lot on my mind, and not a whole lot of time to mull things over. I haven’t meditated in over a month. I can’t remember the last time I was able to properly celebrate the full or new moon, and Samhain’s ritual was ill-defined, completely improvised, and lasted all of ten minutes while my roommates showered. The entire time I was home for Thanksgiving, I wanted to sneak off into the woods—to see if my dream-satyr-man was waiting for me, just beyond that curve of trees—but I never got a chance with all the cooking and baking and cleaning and organizing and entertaining we did. With Yule fast approaching, I’m already planning the ritual I’ll do, and this time, no matter what, I’ll make it to the woods. I’ve been away from the forest of my youth for a long time, and it’s calling me, ever more insistently, back. It’s time I take a walk beneath the poplars and cedars and oaks and maples and pines I used to know so well.

15 December 2010

Some Thoughts On Rotten Oranges

My first finished Pomander Ball! Smelled fantastic
My pomander balls have finished drying, and so last night I took them out of the closet, tied some pretty ribbon around each in a bow with a little loop for hanging, and then wrapped them up for my friends. Of the 21 I originally made, only 15 survived. The other 6 had somehow rotted and soft, despite the fact that I prepared them all the exact same way, so I’m happy I had made so many of them. This means I didn’t have enough for my friends back home, but instead I was able to give away three more up here in New York. I’ll just buy tiny bottles of wine or something for my boys in Virginia, I suppose.

While inspecting the dried oranges for soft spots, it occurred to me that the process of creating the pomander balls exemplified a pattern I had always heard, but never really experienced, with magic: no matter how well you do your spell, sometimes it just doesn’t work. My pomander balls turned out the same way. I did the exact same thing to every single orange. I handpicked the oranges, checking each one for soft spots or any blemishes before I poked them full of cloves. I put roughly the same number of cloves into each fresh orange. I rolled them in the same spice mixture. I hung them all up in the same closet for the same amount of time. I focused the same friendly, healing love into each one while making them, and inspected them daily throughout the drying process. Somehow, over the course of the last weekend, a handful had gone bad. I can’t explain it; it just happened. However, 15 did survive in beautiful, scented, potpourri-worthy condition, and now they bear ribbons and hang on display in my friends’ rooms, filling them with spicy-citrus goodness. I got lots of hugs and smiles in return, making their creation totally worth the effort. It just still bothers me that only 15 out of 21 made it. Nothing was different, so why did those attempts fail?

It makes me wonder if there was something unseen within those oranges that was already turning them bad before I even started, that all my positive energy and wishful thinking and focused effort could do nothing to change. People, I think, can be the same way. As they say, looks can be deceiving: what’s perfect and pretty and whole on the outside can conceal a rotten core. We’ve all seen it happen, seen the truth slowly unravel before us, when even the most convincing and sweet-sounding lie eventually crumbles. I know I’ve been fooled plenty of times by people who seem to have my best intentions at heart, who seem to genuinely care about me and my feelings and my welfare, and then only prove otherwise through their actions. Because I try to believe the best in people—sometimes to my own detriment, when presented with contrary evidence—I’m not always quick on the uptake; there have definitely been times when I should have smelled the rot within the orange. I finally plucked another rotten orange from the bunch in my own life, and, through deleting numbers and conversations and defriendings, managed to cleans the rotted orange from my life. I’m better off without him. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

Luckily, most of my oranges—and most of my friends—are good. They possess no rotten core, concealed by a seemingly flawless surface. They’re exactly as they appear: whole. Unblemished. Those are the friends I’ll take with me as I tread ever forward along this twisted path towards truth. Maybe one day I’ll figure out how to tell the good ones from the bad immediately, but until then, I’ll just have to keep waiting for the bad ones to reveal themselves one at a time. At least with oranges, you can break them open and see directly inside; unfortunately, to form something lasting out of them, that’s not an option. Same with friendships. I could poke holes and pry into all the people I know to find their weak spots, but then I wouldn’t have many friends left. Once the rind is broken, it can’t survive. The broken orange can’t turn into a pomander ball.

And on that note, I’m going to end my melodramatic metaphors, and call it a night. I have two more finals left to take, and then I’ll be home for a few weeks with my family and friends. Riotous Yule bash is on the way, and there will be lots and lots more present-wrapping in my future. Tomorrow is full of cleaning and organizing and packing and studying for my last two exams, both of which are Friday. Then…it’s the nine hour drive home. Thank goodness I have a little brother to share it with :) He’s a good orange for sure.

06 December 2010

Updates & Pomander Ball Recipe

This is what my closet currently looks
like. When they're finished drying,
I'll post more pictures.
I have one more week of classes, and then we’ll be watching Army beat Navy in Philadelphia, and then I have a week of exams, and then I finally get to go home for a few weeks for the holidays: a much-needed break. In this final week of classes, I have two papers to write and turn in by Friday, two tests to take, a design project as well as a problem set to complete and turn in for my Nuclear Engineering course, and on top of everything academic, we also have to attend a ton of mandatory “fun” events (to include watching our smartest students get demolished by our dumbest in a traditional student football game). Please forgive my utterance of a grossly over-used metaphor, but I’ve been burning the candle at both ends all semester. I’m definitely ready for a new year to shake things up and give me a chance to start anew.


To make everything all the more fitting, the drama I so carefully squeezed out of my life earlier this semester is back with a vengeance. Apparently, those I thought were successfully out of the picture have returned, desiring to suddenly hang out and catch up and see where things go now that it’s the worst possible time for me to be rekindling old relationships. It’s certainly not a good time for me to start any new ones (sorry, random dude I met at the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party). I tried to de-drama for a reason. I don’t want any more of it seeping back into my life to confuse the hell out of me or make me overly emotional. If you’re confused, revisit the apparently most popular post, I Am Not Aphrodite. Not sure why that one has so many hits, of all my posts. Maybe it was the photo choice. Yeah, that must be it.


I finally finished making all my Christmas presents for my friends! Family is another matter, although they’re about half done. I would call them Yule presents, except that I’m pretty much the only Yule-celebrant around here, at least among those with whom I’m close enough to actually exchange gifts. I made pomander balls for my guyfriends and jewelry for my girlfriends, and, because I’m a good Pagan, I put a little love and a little magic into each and every one. I used to make pomander balls with my mom when I was little. As a result of the creation, my room smells fabulous. Because they’re a neat little holiday tradition, here’s a quick and easy—and, naturally, fun—recipe for pomander balls! And, you know, because there aren’t enough of these already on the internet.


Ingredients
(yes, “lots” and “shitton” are proper units of measurement):
1. Oranges. One orange = one pomander ball.
2. Pretty Ribbon. Fabric ribbon is better than traditional gift-wrapping ribbon, but you can use either.
3. Shitton of whole cloves (enough to stick as many as you want into each orange)
4. Lots of yummy spices (I used cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, but ginger is a nice additive as well).
5. A bowl that is larger in diameter than your orange.
6. Some extra twine or string. Something you won’t mind pitching afterwards.


Directions:
1. Preparation! First and foremost, mix your spices in the bowl. Then, pick up an orange. Admire the orange. Breathe in the citrusy aroma of goodness. That, right there, is the scent of energizing and cleansing and yummy vitamin C.

2. Stick cloves in your orange. You can make a pattern out of the cloves; you can make their placement entirely random; whatever you feel like. You can use as many or as few cloves as you want. What I prefer to do, is to make two lines bisecting the orange, wide enough apart to fit a ribbon between when the orange is complete, and then I make another line bisecting the orange in another direction. If the orange is large enough, I will have two lines bisecting it one way, and two another way, to make little runways for two pieces of ribbon. See the illustration (courtesy my artistic skills and the Paint program) below for clarification.


3. Poke your orange full of tiny holes. Using a clove, or a large pin—I use a clove if I can, although if you’re on pomander ball number 21, by that point your fingers are pretty sore—and poke holes in the rind of the orange. A little juice will likely seep out; this is fine. The holes help the orange breathe later while it’s drying. It’s kinda pointless to poke holes in the area of the orange that will be covered by ribbon. See diagram below for further guidance. You can poke these in a pattern as well, but I tend to just do it randomly.

4. Roll the orange in your spice mixture! The spices should stick in the holes you poked in step 3, and then some, as shown in the lovely picture below.

5. Tie the string or twine around the orange and hang it in a dark, cool, dry space for 2-3 weeks. The orange will shrink and dry out during this time, and when it’s done, it’ll be a darker orange color as well. My pomander oranges are currently strung up in gift-wrapping ribbon, haphazardly pieced together, in my wardrobe closet.

6. Once the orange is dried and shrunken and smelling fabulous, take it out of the closet and tie a pretty fabric ribbon around it as shown in the diagram below. For hanging purposes, if you want to hang it in a window or a doorway or anywhere in a room to freshen things up, you can add more on top to create a loop. Mine are not completely dry yet, so I don’t have any final products to display, but when I make the complete set, I’ll be sure to snap a picture of them before I wrap them up and give them away. Happy Holidays!

30 November 2010

Leftovers

Picture of regal looking turkeys from here
Now that Thanksgiving has come and passed, it’s time for the Yule decorating to commence. I went out to Target last night to buy things for one of the common rooms for our company, and I just finished decorating it with two friends. While I was not particularly impressed with Target’s selection, at least everything was pretty cheap. There’s a giant fake snow blanket covered in bows. There’s tinsel garlands hanging from the rafters in the ceiling all along the walls, framing the doors in red and gold and silver foil strands, and draped from the edges of the bar. We covered every corner in bows and ribbons. The doors, tables, and the top of the bar are entirely wrapped in penguin and snowflake and peppermint paper. There are giant, sparkly plastic ornaments hanging from the ceiling, to include rainbow candy canes, red bulbs, silver spiral cones, and glitter-coated lollypops. We even decorated a tiny black-sparkly tree with miniature ornaments and topped it with a red, sparkling star. I’m pretty proud of myself for this one.

I’ve been inhaling peppermint candies by the handful since Sunday. Among my many edible and drinkable addictions—right up there with chocolate, hot tea, and cheese—is anything peppermint. I love candy canes, I love peppermint flavored gum, I love mint tea and oh my goodness how I love those soft little peppermint spheres of deliciousness.

Regretfully, as busy as I’ve been with the holiday season approaching far too quickly, I have nothing better to write about today. Ideas have popped in my head and passed away before I could formulate anything substantial, so until an idea resonates more with me than what’s been coming to me thus far, I can’t promise anything spectacular. I’m about halfway through reading A Brief History of Time—in fact, I just finished a section on black holes—so hopefully that will provide some more blog fodder soon. In the mean time, Happy Turkey Leftovers & Gift Hunting.

23 November 2010

My Letter to the World, Part 1

Picture from here. Go Green.
I want to heal you. I want to fix what’s broken. I want to swallow all of your pain and make it my own, so that by taking it into myself, the strength of my heart can beat it away, beat it into submission. All of your suffering, your ignorance, your fear and your hate, I want to make them disappear. I want to stop up the holes in your soul and purge the wretched disease. I want to change you, one heartbeat at a time. I can do this; you just have to let me. That’s the crux. It’s up to you.

I know the meaning of life the way that every poet knows. We put pen to paper and spill our secrets in ink. We search and we bleed and we cry. We rail against the heavens, shouting at our gods to listen to our petty problems. Bring us money. Bring us fame. Bring us love. We huddle together by newspaper fires, and we sweat in the unforgiving sun. We work for everything we have, and yet still we ask for what is, and what is not, our due. Who is the final arbiter? It does not matter. What counts is the present; this life, this time, this season, this day, this heart.

I know the meaning of life the way an infant knows to breathe. There really isn’t much to it, just a rhythm. In. Out. It requires no thought to execute the pattern. It’s all in the brainstem, in the subconscious, the secret of living and dying so simply locked in nuanced synapse-firings. The cells spark, and the magic of life is a chemical reaction telling you to breathe. In. Out. Live a little, die a little.

I know the meaning of life the way every mother knows. I have a million children, and though not one of them is of my blood nor sprung forth from my flesh, all share my soul. We learn to nurture, to nourish, to watch things and places and people grow up and look like us and speak with our words, and yet every sentence is different. Their thoughts are new, new ideas giving birth to new actions. Their hearts beat pure and strong, filling the world with the song of truth. Sometimes it hurts to let go. The Goddess calls all back to her hearth in time; each of her children eventually returns home.

I want to heal you. I see all of your problems. I see your hunger, your thirst, your illness, your ignorance. I see your burned out wastelands and struggling ecosystems. I see your violence, your infected wounds, your abandoned children. I see your unwritten stories, too full of pain to publish, too burning bright to remain contained for long.

I know the meaning of life the way an artist knows to see. It’s all beautiful, it’s all worth something in the end. Come, take my hand. Let me heal you. After all, it’s all about Love. Trust me.

Blessed be,
Anden.

22 November 2010

Samhain Throwback

Because I never got around to posting this earlier, and because I've received requests for how my Halloween costume turned out, here are a few pics of me rocking my Xena-esque Warrior Goddess creation. No one took any good photos of me by myself, and I'm not going to post pictures of my friends on my blog without their permission--and most of the ones in the photos don't even know I keep one--so, just me. My cropping them all out accounts for the oddly-shaped pictures. Enjoy!



Ever Expanding

Picture of the Andromeda Island Galaxy,
Photo copyright by Robert Gendler
My faith in the system has been restored

Well, at least some of it, anyway.

Perhaps a more accurate statement would be to say that my faith in certain members of said system has been restored. My leadership cares. They really care. But again, only certain ones.

In other news, I’ve been trying to read at least a few pages a day from one of my new books, specifically, A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. It’s really interesting so far, as I’m sure it will continue to be. His writing is very straightforward and clear, and definitely readable for a non-physics major. I’ll admit I do have some familiarity with physics and quantum concepts, but I’m certainly no expert, and furthermore I’m terrible at math. Thus, if my dabbling in physics and my few basic nuclear engineering courses have provided me enough of a basis to grasp the concepts in the book, I figure most people with a general education should be able to understand it. That said, I have a lot of faith in the intelligence of humanity…sometimes.

I’ve made it through the introduction and the first chapter so far…so not very impressive. As always, I’m busy. By this point, all he’s really covered are the historical theories of space and time, to include the Copernican model of the solar system (the Earth at the center, with the Sun, moon, stars, and the known planets at the time of Copernicus revolving around it), as well as the work of Newton, Galileo, other such famous names. Hawking even touched on Einstein’s theory of relativity. The part I just finished was an explanation for why quantum mechanics and relativity cannot coexist, and therefore we need a new theory to describe the universe that applies both at the nuclear level and at the macro-level. I’m definitely hooked. I love sci-fi (we’ve been over my nerdom before), so this is appeals to both my sense of “OMG space travel! Star Gate! Wormholes! Light-speed!” and my love of learning in general. Can’t go wrong if you’re expanding your horizons.

In continuing with the theme of expanding horizons (the universe is, after all, expanding), I recently expanded my Tarot collection with another book. I know. Huge surprise. More books. More buying things. So out of character for me. However, this time I also added a new deck (it came with the book) to my set. I now own two Tarot decks! Having already flipped my way through the whole deck, I definitely prefer the one I already am comfortable using, the Celtic Tarot. My current deck is also a much higher quality, in terms of the artwork used, the actual weight of the cards, and the thematic depictions for each of the major and minor arcane. Nevertheless, the new deck, which came as a set with the Tarot Secrets book by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber, contains quick catch phrases to help the reader remember the traditional meanings of each card when it is drawn, so hopefully I won’t have to look them up as much. The reason I purchased this book in particular is because, according to the description online, it’s supposed to help the memorization process of the basic meanings of the cards, particularly for ease of reading for others. As many of my friends like to drop by for a reading, and since time is generally of the essence for all of us, I’m hoping after I practice with this set some more I’ll be able to minimize my consult-the-references time when reading for others. Thus, I think I’ll make this new deck my official reading-for-someone-else deck, but continue using the Celtic Tarot for my personal readings.

On a slightly more depressing note, I used up the last of my Sugar & Spice flavored Coffee Mate yesterday afternoon, which thoroughly ruined my day. I have to make a grocery store trip after Thanksgiving to pick up some more goodies for my fridge. On the bright side, at least I get a few days off soon. I’m leaving Wednesday afternoon to drive down to visit my parents. My little brother and my running buddy (she totally outruns me, these days) will come with for the road trip, and then one of my cousins and her new husband will be joining us at my parents’ house as well, so it’ll be a party. We’ll kick off Thursday morning with our annual family Turkey Bowl—not that any of us are particularly good at football, mind you—and then feast ourselves silly. I don’t actually eat turkey, but I’ll be gorging myself nonetheless on sweet potatoes and green beans and stuffing and, of course, pies. Pies are kind of a big thing in my family. And by big, I mean huge.

We. Love. Pie.

I'll be running off all that food Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning. I fully anticipate my running-buddy dragging my rear out of bed and then up a mountain or two. It'll be good for me.

17 November 2010

My Bibliographic Obssession

Pierre Auguste Cot,  "Young
Maiden Reading a Book."
I love books. New books, old books, slightly used books. I love the smell of freshly printed ink. I love the way old pages turn yellow and musty. I love reading a novel for the first time; I love revisiting old favorites. There are some books I've read hundred times. I love tiny, local book shops with their obscure titles and large used-sections and all the other random, unique trinkets you can find there. I love huge bookstores that overwhelm me with their quantity of glossy volumes and sterile shelves. I love reading outside in the summer, I love reading by the fire in the winter, and I love reading during any season at a coffee shop. I love love LOVE LOVE books.

Unfortunately, I rarely have time to actually read anymore. That said, I still possess an ever-expanding library of texts, novels, references, anthologies. This past weekend, one of my friends was heading out to run some errands, and asked if I wanted to come along. I replied it depended on what her errands entailed...as soon as she mentioned, "There's a book I've been meaning to buy," I was sold. We went to the closest bookstore, and I bought six new books: Stephen Hawking's special 10th year anniversary edition of A Brief History of Time, Leonard Susskind’s The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics, Joseph J. Ellis’s Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, Nujood Ali and Delphine Minoui’s I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, Troy Taylor’s The Haunting of America: Ghosts and Legends of America’s Haunted Past, and a recently released novel from my favorite author (Juliet Marillier): Heart’s Blood. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into the knowledge, adventure, and righteous anger contained within these books. I imagine reading Nujood Ali’s assisted autobiography will thoroughly piss me off. Not surprisingly, I happen to have a huge hatred for the whole institution of child-marriage in certain areas of the world.

I also recently joined a book club, mainly because they made an offer I could not refuse: if I joined, I could purchase five books at 99¢ each, and then one book at $4.99, plus free shipping. Half of the shipment came in yesterday, to include another book on Tarot, a book on dream interpretations, and a novel of Victorian-era aristocracy semi-historical fiction. I’m pretty excited, as you can tell. While I would love to ramble on and on about my new books and gush over how fabulously smooth the new pages feel as I flip through them, I have class in about fifteen minutes and need to grab my textbooks for that. If I get a chance, I may write a review of one of my new books. We’ll see. No promises.

10 November 2010

One Foot in the Now, One in the Future

I’ve been feeling a little radical lately.

I’m usually at least borderline as it is, but lately, I’ve been looking around me and seeing so much that’s wrong with this institution, with the country, with the world. So few people are doing anything to make a difference. I know I’m certainly not contributing all that much yet. The whole reason I joined the Military was to try to put myself in a position where I could change things, where I could put wrongs right and have a positive influence on people’s lives. I’m not doing that. I need to be doing that.

I’ve been slacking on the job, I think. I’ve passed up leadership positions because I didn’t want to have to deal with the headaches involved, and especially not all of the paperwork. I even let the application process itself get in my way. No longer. I’m not backing down anymore, and I’m not backing away from the challenges ahead. It’s time I stand up, step up, and face the future.

I have an interview this afternoon for a higher level position, which while it would not technically be a command post, if I get it, I’d be the person behind the scenes controlling (in theory) the schedules and training and everything for our Battalion. I’m torn between hoping I get this one so that at least I’ll be working with those technically in command and in a position to institute changes so that perhaps I can have an influence higher up, and hoping that I don’t get it and instead can enter the running for Company Command. Regardless, the whole situation is mostly out of my control. I will control how well I perform in the interview process later today, but I cannot control the decision the boards make on whether or not to pick me. I suppose we’ll just have to see what happens. Whatever happens, I hope it’s for the best.

When I woke up this morning, I was mid prayer. I’m not sure how it happened, or if I started praying when I was still asleep, but I remember whispering words of devotion to the Lord and Lady, of light and darkness, and asking for guidance, wisdom, strength. I remember clearly when one of my roommates said my name, drawing me out of my reverie. As I opened my eyes, I realized I’d been praying in my sleep. I closed them again, finished what I’d been saying, just letting the words flow out of me of their own volition without any explicit direction via logic, just words straight from the heart, from the soul. My soul, apparently without the knowledge or consent of my brain (not that my brain, now aware of the activity, is objecting much), decided I’d need a spiritual boost today. Based on the way this morning is going, I think it may have been right.

08 November 2010

Updates and Random Musings on Tarot

Can't wait until the last movie comes out! Picture from here.
In customary fashion, time and my million daily demands got the better of me this weekend, and I did not get to writing and accomplish everything I wanted. However, I have several items of very wonderful news! First and foremost on my mind right now, is the results of our branch night! I managed by a miracle to get my first choice, so now after graduation I’ll be commissioned as an officer into the Military Police Corps. I am incredibly excited. I actually cried during the ceremony when we finally got to find out our branches. Most of my friends were happy with their fates as well, so all in all, a very emotional weekend, but a very good one.

In other news, I did a New Moon tarot reading for some insight into the month ahead, and I’m pleased with the results. I just did a three-card spread, with no particular position designations beforehand, to better see the relationships between the cards themselves. The first card I pulled, which I placed in the center, was the Hierophant. The second, which I placed to the left of that, was the Nine of Chalices. The final card, placed on the right, was the Eight of Chalices. None of the cards were reversed. The spiritual undertones of all three cards said pretty clearly to me that my inner well-being will be the focus for the coming moon. I got a very positive feeling from the cards, and since deeper spiritually is precisely where I want to go, we’ll see how this pans out. I’m looking forward to the journey inward (although the presence of the Hierophant, to me at least, seems to suggest some sort of traditional perspective or religious authority, which could perhaps complicated the otherwise tranquil, blessed state implied by the other two cards).

Tarot is something I’m starting to put a little more stock in than when I first started. I’d fiddled around with online Tarot sources, but it always bothered me that so much of it was random algorithms, and I figured I would get more out of the experience if I were able to physically throw my own energy in there…so I bought a book (Tarot for a New Generation by Janina Renee) and a deck (The Celtic Tarot) and just threw myself into it. At first, when I did random readings for myself, I always felt like the Tarot was telling me more what I wanted to hear, than what necessarily was true or what I needed to hear. However, as I practiced a little more, and as I gained more experience reading for other people and being able to look objectively—but still intuitively—at the cards and filtering their traditional meanings through a case by case lens, I think I’ve developed a way to distance myself from, well, myself when reading. Thus, I think my personal readings are getting a little more on track and catching up to the accuracy of my readings for others.

I’m not sure which theory of Tarot’s origins I buy into. There’s so many floating around, all of them interesting, most of them entirely implausible. The one that seems most likely to me is that the cards originated as simply a card game, depicting different symbols and societal structures at the time of their origin (perhaps Egypt, as I’ve sometimes read, or perhaps Italy, as what seems to be said most often). Then, over the years, roundabouts the time of the Neopagan resurgence in Western culture probably, someone saw something, liked it, found a system that worked, and now we have the Tarot as a means of divination. Regardless of its origins, I think it’s a pretty fabulous process that opens the world of divination to almost everyone willing to try. I know it’s helped me in my other areas of divination as well. Since I’ve started reading the Tarot, I’ve been actually seeing things now in then when attempting to scry in crystals or glass or water. I’m not REMOTELY what I’d call adept, but I feel like I’m making progress, and that if I could only devote more time to my practice, I’d maybe one day move closer towards something like what my ancestors must have been able to do. I truly believe that humanity has a well of power within us, if only we knew how to properly access it. That said, I doubt I’ll ever tap into my full potential. I don’t think anyone can, except for perhaps Olympic athletes. I certainly don’t rank among them. I certainly don’t rank among the great mystics of the ages, either, nor will I ever. That is not my calling. My calling is somewhere between Warrior and Huntress and Scholar and Bard and Artist and one of these days, I’ll know what everything means. In the meantime, I’m just Anden, trying to figure it all out.

05 November 2010

Temporary haitus is ending!


Who I'm currently listening to while I write this entry!

First and foremost, I'll be cleaning out some sections of my blog this weekend and updating things, including posting the below song lyrics to my poetry section. It's been a hellaciously busy few weeks, complete with more than one all-nighter thrown in there (not entirely my fault, but also not entirely out of my control, ans goodness knows I'm a proffessional procrastinator).

The song is titled "Uncompromising." I hear the melody in my head for it already, but I haven't written any music yet, per se. I'll be adding a guitar line this weekend, and maybe over our winter leave I'll actually record something again. In the meantime, enjoy reading the lyrics!

I try to fight it, that silly warming glow
That fills me every time I’m with you.
I’ve got a destiny, you know.
I don’t need you interfering. I can’t take the pain
Of letting go of what I never
Should have let myself gain.
But in the end, the separation
Becomes my friend.

I’ll stay distant, try as hard as I can,
And if you’re smart, you already know
That you should not follow.
Because I’m going down, and this path that I tread
Goes on and on into forever:
The cycle never ends.

I try to fight it, but the way you look at me
In such perfect silence, it makes me forget
That I’m my own worst enemy.
For everything I’ve done, everything I’ve yet to do
Is far more important than my happiness with you.
But in the night, the separation
Burns too bright.

[CHORUS]
The cycle never ends.

This is my final decision;
This is what I have to do.
I can’t compromise my position,
No, not even for you.
I don’t care how good it feels,
Or how bad goodbye hurts;
I can’t let you weaken my resolve,
For failure would be worse.

I’ll stay distant, try as hard as I can,
And if you’re smart, you already know
That you should not follow.
Because I’m going down, and this path that I tread
Goes on and on into forever:
The cycle never ends.

[Repeat CHORUS with BRIDGE overlay.]

I wrote the first verse of that in the shower last night, and then finished it up in my Political Philosophy class this morning. Don't worry, I managed to still take plenty of notes on today's lesson material. We were discussing John Locke's Second Treatise on Government, which I found pretty interesting. I think it was the revolutionary aspects, which should come as no surprise if you've read my *not remotely unbiased* piece on Virginia's gorgeous flag. Anyway, Rusalka, my Russian cadet, will be leaving Monday morning, so my life will be returning to some semblance of normal after that. Furthermore, I'm not doing anything extravagent this weekend, so I should have plenty of time to devote to my blogging :)


So with that, happy Friday! I'll be celebrating the New Moon tonight with some stargazing.

01 November 2010

Samhain Reflections

Pretty Raven on top of pumpkin from here
I am the end and the undoing
I am the voice of the hidden sky
The seed of destruction, the shadow within you
Dark and dangerous am I
I will break you and your system
I will bring your tyrants down
By the time the blood-sun rises
I will have stripped you of your crown

A poem I wrote, dedicated to Lady Virginia, so proudly standing over the slain tyrant. Sic Semper Tyrannis. The words just kinda came to me, as my poetry so often does, in the middle of a class in which I should have been doing anything but scribbling words in a spirit of rebellion in the margins of my notebook. Yet, alas, there they were written.

I don’t have much time to write, and I probably (and very regretfully, as this is my favorite time of year and one of my favorites Sabbats, if not my favorite Sabbat of all…it’s a tough call between Samhain and Mabon, for me) won’t have much time to reflect, divine, meditate, or otherwise get-my-Pagan-on tonight. Nonetheless, I will try. In the meantime, blessed Samhain to all. Enjoy your day to honor the beloved (and sometimes not so beloved) dead.

25 October 2010

Shout-Outs and Quiz Results

"Shape Shifter" by Diane Elizabeth Stanely
I found some time this morning during my off-hours to catch up on some of the blogs I follow, and I’d like to highlight a few entries that caught my eye. First and foremost, I almost completely agree with Fire Lyte’s take on the current controversy over The Lost Abbey’s beer label. Read, think, then respond, people. It’s an attack on Catholicism, not Paganism. As always, Hecate’s beautiful writing brought an insightful wisdom to a topic I would have otherwise not even considered. And finally, I took a little quiz.

According to this quiz, I have psychic leanings in, well, pretty much every area of psychic-ness. Never thought that was a potentiality. In fact, having always associated psychic abilities with ESP and talking to spirits of the dead, I never thought I had any “psychic” leanings at all. Nevertheless, this quiz categorized other talents as parts of being psychic, so by their definitions, it made a little more sense. It was a neat little quiz, although I’d say it was definitely *not* without biases and potential for error. There was no accounting for how often these talents manifested, and of course, it’s impossible to eliminate quiz-taker bias. Basically, you read all the questions, and then recorded the number of the questions for which you answered yes, then there were explanations of the numbers you scored. I answered yes to all but three of the questions, but sometimes my “yes” was a qualified one, as in “once or twice I may have felt this way,” especially in those questions pertaining to medium/empathy. My results were as follows:

Empath: 3/5
Channeler: 4/4
Medium: 5/6
Shaman: 5/5

My personal practice has almost always leaned in a Shamanic direction, blending techniques from my various cultural heritages (to include Celtic, Germanic, and a smidgeon of Native American) and finding what works best for me. I love the smell of cedar and sage and sweetgrass, individually and in blends, and burning incense (particularly amber, although I use a lot of forest based scents, too) is integral to my entering trance states during meditation. I haven’t had a sufficient block of undisturbed time in a while to get into any good trances, and furthermore the burning of incense is generally discouraged in my building, so my next big adventure into Shamanism will likely wait until Samhain. In a nutshell, scoring 5/5 on all the Shaman questions was not a surprise to me. Based on the quiz’s definition of Channeling, I suppose I lean that way as well, especially since the definition closely corresponded with those talents I associate with an ability to employ Shamanic techniques. However, what really surprised me was scoring even at all in the Empath and Medium categories.

First of all, I’m not a particularly sensitive person. It kinda goes along with being more or less entirely self-absorbed…I don’t exactly tune in to others’ feelings very often or very well. That said, there are some individuals who I am innately linked with, and I can read their emotions from a mile off and be able to sense them instantly when they’re around. Thus, combining the quiz score—as the directions suggested, I answered all the questions based on my gut instincts and without thinking about it too much—with my sensitivity to certain people (my brothers, cousins, and some friends) leads me to believe that perhaps I do have some latent empathic abilities, but that at an early age, I built up walls to keep people out. Perhaps I built up too many walls, because I really do feel out of touch with most people’s motivations and emotions, but certain ones I can read like a book, and even feel their pain and sorrow and happiness almost as if it were my own. I do distinctly remember being a child and being overcome by emotions all the time; perhaps I was more empathic then, until I learned how to subconsciously guard myself, and then those guards became so integral to who I am now, that I forgot about them. That is, after all, the nature of the subconscious. This would also account for my ability to let those guards down with the people I trust, allowing me to trace their energies and emotions. I don’t even know how these guards drop, only that, perhaps, that’s the explanation for it.

As for my being a medium? Ok, once or twice I thought I saw a ghost, and deceased friends and relatives periodically reach out to me through dreams or when I’m meditating, and maybe once in a blue moon I’ll feel a presence near me apart from that of my familiars, guardians, and deities with whom I’m working. However, I’m far from The Sixth Sense, and I HIGHLY doubt that I could hold a successful séance or reach out to someone beyond the veil if they were not actively reaching out to me at the same time. Animals are generally drawn to me, not ghosts.

Regardless, it was definitely a neat quiz, and one I’d recommend taking mostly for fun rather than any serious method of discovering your talents. It did make me think a little more about what I can and cannot do, and areas I could explore more in depth; however, I feel that looking deep within yourself, your heart, your soul, is a much truer and more successful means of determining where your abilities and talents may lie. While you can use a quiz or questionnaire or similar method as a spring board for further thought, it certainly should not be the sole basis of your determination. Those are just my thoughts. Happy *almost* Samhain :)

19 October 2010

Potential Hiatus. Don't Be Alarmed.

Happy fall! We have one of these lovely, orange gourds
in our room for the season.  Picture from here.
Just a heads up: I’m not sure I’ll be able to post much in the upcoming weeks. I have several things coming to a head. First and foremost, my Russian skills are finally getting a refresher. One of my friends, whom I hung out with when I was in Russia for a semester last year, is staying with me for three weeks. For the sake of the blog, and in keeping with my newly founded tradition of mythologically renaming people I discuss here, we’ll call her Rusalka. She is, after all, from Russia, and she reminds me a lot of those water-nymph-maiden-huntress types. Rusalka’s English is almost nonexistent, but she’s still accompanying me to my classes and various other activities; thus, I’m constantly playing translator. While it’s a little overwhelming for the both of us, it feels good to have a dictionary sewn to my side constantly again. Since I already completed all of my Russian credits last year, I had nothing to justify my knowing the language this year until yesterday afternoon when we picked up our friends at the airport. However, it means my time is no longer my own. I have to keep her entertained, after all.

In addition to playing translator/tour guide/comedian for the next three weeks, my “band” also has a gig in two weeks. We know our song lineup, but we’ve still yet to practice all together with drums and bass. The other guitarist and I have gotten together a few times, but we hadn’t had our song list finalized until later. I’ve been memorizing song lyrics and printing out tabs like it’s my job lately, but of course all of that got brushed aside once I found out I was hosting one of the Russians. So yeah. Swamped on all accounts. And don’t even get me started on my never-lightening academic load. I think I have two papers due this week alone, neither of which is started yet, as well as a Nuclear Engineering problem set due Friday. It never ends.

Thus, the blog may or may not end up on hiatus until November, and some semblance of stability, peace, and normalcy has returned to my life. If I get a moment to write, I will. If I don’t, I apologize in advance. My Samhain celebration is likely going to be very sparse and very rushed this year.

Oh, and my cousin is getting married on Halloween. No big deal. I’m super pumped. On that note, have a good October, and hopefully you’ll hear from me again this month. Blessed be.

15 October 2010

Butterflies and Battleaxes

"Circe" by Wright Baker
I’ve been doing some research since I had the dream of the stone woman with the battleaxe, and as I suspected, there’s a lot of historical/mythological precedence for what I saw in my dream. The earliest references to women with battleaxes I could find traced back to Paleolithic cave drawings of a Mother Goddess figure holding a double-headed axe, also called a labrys, which was about 2000 years prior to a double-headed axe ever actually being constructed (that we are aware of, anyway). Then, in Sumeria, a similar Mother Goddess often depicted with a double-headed axe was worshiped, with the axe coming to represent—through its symmetry and similarity in shape to the butterfly—feminine powers of transformation, renewal, rebirth, et cetera. Next reference to an axe-bearing goddess was that worshiped by Minoans and later the Mycenaeans, and who was likely the antecedent of Circe, the island goddess who transformed Odysseus’ men into swine. I always did love that story. So. I guess I know what my ‘C’ was from. Circe.

I’ve got some more meditating to do this weekend, it would so appear.

After my research, I came to a few teensie conclusions regarding my dream and its potential meaning. First off, I am basically on the right path, but I pretty much knew that already. You can only draw so many Star, Sun, and Chariot cards before the message starts to sink in. I swear at least one of those three comes up in every reading I’ve ever drawn for myself, regardless of what I ask. Secondly, while I’m heading basically in the right direction, I need to focus a little more on the regenerative and healing properties of Water. All of the rain, I think, was a sign that I need more Water-influence in my life to balance out the Earth and Fire in me. As for the bike riding, it surprised me that in my dream I felt so comfortable with it, despite the bad weather. I’m terrified of riding a bike. Ever since I broke my arm riding one, or rather falling off it after my third-grade self wondered what would happen if she hit both brakes simultaneously while riding really fast down a steep hill (answer: fly over the handlebars, get knocked out for a few minutes, wake up 15 feet in front of the abandoned bike in the middle of the road with a broken arm and profusely bleeding chin), I’ve just never been able to bring myself to get back on one. I’m too scared I’ll fall again. In general, I became a lot more cautious after that incident. Don’t get me wrong, I love cliff diving and all sorts of adrenaline rushes, but I will not be the first to jump unless I’m absolutely certain the water is deep enough at the bottom. Calculated risks. That’s what I take. Bikes? No longer included in that category. Incidentally, neither are serious relationships. And that’s what I think my riding a bike in my dream, not once but twice, was a call to do: get over some of my fears. Jump in the water, not knowing about the depth. Grow up. Let go. Move on.

This also wasn’t the first dream narrated by a calm, male voice. I’m pretty sure it’s been the same voice in all the dreams, which I find interesting. There was one in which I was sneaking through a medieval-esque city, and the voice was telling me where to hide and which roads to take. Then there was another dream in which I was giving birth in what felt like a past life, and the voice was reminding me that I had to protect my child, because the village feared witchcraft and would try to take my baby. I remember seeing my husband then, and he smiled, and I knew everything would work out. Oh, dreamland. How I love you (says the girl who tends to only have ridiculous, adventure filled dreams).

Obviously much of the dream was merely a product of my unconscious brain digging up things that had been on my mind lately, one of them likely being my friend Apollo who appeared in the forest section. In my political philosophy class, we’ve been reading a lot of classical writing, some of which I once translated from Latin into English back in high school. Thus, I’ve been reminded a lot this whole semester about Latin classes and high school, and Apollo took four years of Latin with me. We were always in the same class for it, and were usually translating buddies. Thus, I’ve been reminded of him even more than usual as we do talk pretty regularly, so I’m pretty sure that accounts for the parts of the dream where I was in high school or talking to him.

Thus ends my dream analysis. Enjoy your weekend! I’m sure I’ll enjoy mine.