29 September 2010

Pictures From My Hiking Excursion!

As promised, here are some of my favorite pictures I took while my friend was racing! Hope you enjoy.









28 September 2010

Sunshinin' Charioteer with a tendency towards the EXTREME

Beautiful weekend. I have a lot to talk about it from it, so I’ll do so in bits and pieces throughout the week.


From the Universal Waite Tarot
 First and foremost, I visited--in person--my first Pagan store! I went to New Paltz with a friend, who was running a trail race near there on Sunday morning, for the weekend. It was my second trip to New Paltz (we also stayed there for Labor Day a few weekends back), and I got to experience more of the city itself this time. We stayed at a little hostel within walking distance of downtown. It’s not particularly big, but it’s eclectic and delightfully hippie-ish and, for once, it was lovely to be surrounded by my own kind! Lots of skirts and peasant blouses flowing off the shoulders of both young and old, so for once in my life I felt like a part of a majority. Anyway, back to the store: I hit up the Awareness Shop, which is right off the main street and was only a block or so from our hostel. I’d found them online through Witchvox, and had always wanted to visit since it’s one of the few places within a reasonable driving distance from my university. Like any good online stalker, I creeped their website and the bios of the workers before I went there in person. I just like to cover all my bases. However, when I walked in, I was instantly struck by the tranquility and good vibes I got from the place. They had a nice selection of candles, incense, statues, crystals, mini-cauldrons, and all sorts of other eclectic items, and I enjoyed being able to get my hands on things before I bought them. They were also having a psychic fair that day, which amounted to 10 minutes for $10 with one of the various shop affiliates and patrons.

My friend and I decided to buy 20 minutes worth, partly because we were curious but also partly because everyone seemed so nice and friendly (and totally made fun of me for being a little overwhelmed at being surrounded by things that made me feel like a proper Pagan). I had my cards read by Anton, one of the shop owners, and he made some very surprising insights, all of which I felt afterwards were things I had needed to hear. Since much of it was personal, I won’t discuss it here; however, I will share the parts that shocked me the most and that struck me as the most true.

According to his interpretation of my cards as well as his reading of me, I am capable of extremes. I kinda always knew this, and have long considered myself a walking contradiction. I feel like it goes without saying that you don’t find all that many Military-hippie-feminist-frisbee players who front bands, paint, and run marathons in their free time, and yet still find time to shave their legs and be *girls*. Really, just the Military Hippie should be enough of an oxymoron. However, that’s who I am. Thus, when he said that he could see in me the capacity to be both “terribly ferocious” and “exceedingly gentle,” and sometimes both simultaneously, I thoroughly understood. Watch me when I’m in uniform, then contrast that with me interacting with my youngest brother, who has autism. It’s night and day. I suppose that makes me a person of the twilight, of the margins, of thresholds. Maybe that’s why so many of the deities I’m drawn to are liminal in nature: Diana, the Morrighan, Hekate. He also added, “I doubt anyone has ever told you that you’re mediocre.” Another truth.

He also told me that I have the profound ability to heal. This is the part that surprised me. Now, I’ve never even remotely thought of myself as a healer. For starters, I feel like healers are more of the water element, whereas I am all earth with a streak of fire. Just look at the correspondences usually associated with healing: blue candles, blue crystals, blue blue blue. East. Water. Duh. In contrast, I’m all earth tones and autumn and the dichotomy between North and South. Secondly, I’ve always assumed healing is supposed to come from a more creative/repairing power, and to be quite honest I feel like the creative forces in me are overwhelmed by an innate ability to destroy. I look at something, and I can see instantly how to undo it. I’m an expert at breaking up with a significant other and making people crack. I can talk to a person for five minutes and see, like a sixth sense, what he is most insecure about. I’ve also never encountered a knot I couldn’t untangle. I generally prefer not to employ this talent at seeing others’ weaknesses and insecurities--I’ve found it’s not a very good way to make or keep friends--but it’s still always within me, just bubbling beneath the surface. It’s true that as an artist, I am creative, but I can also be very destructive when necessary. I suppose that part of building up is, after all, breaking down. Regardless, when he first said, “You’re a healer,” I’m pretty sure my eyes about bulged out of my head.

When he explained his reasoning, however, it made a lot more sense to me. He said that I do not heal in the traditional sense, but that rather I bring others to a conflictual state within themselves and then, almost like a Greek tragedy, they experience a healing catharsis. He asked if I ever noticed having a calming effect on animals, which I actually had noticed before. I’ve never met a dog that didn’t like me, even the ones whose owners warned me to watch out, they bite. Never been bitten. Even my aunt’s gazillion animals, who tend to only like her and members of her nuclear unit, have always liked me. I’ve also always had a calming effect on my youngest brother. When I’m around, he doesn’t throw nearly as many tantrums or fixate on his various obsessions as he does when it’s just him and my parents. Anton also asked if I’d ever noticed damaged, broken, or otherwise emotionally unstable individuals being drawn to me, or me to them, which is something else that I had to agree was true. Perhaps his suggestion that I confuse the unconditional love of healing the broken (even though apparently my methods--subconscious as they are--are rather unorthodox, they still apparently come from a place of unconditional love) with romantic love is more true than I’d care to admit.

Nevertheless, the Sun, Ace of Pentacles, and the Chariot seem to bode well for ultimate future. I’m in the driver’s seat of establishing my identity and heading towards success! Next time I’ll post pictures from the hiking I did while my friend ran her race.

22 September 2010

Happy Mabon! With a poem and a prayer.

"Autumn Lord" by Selena H, found here
While I do not consider myself Wicce, there are aspects of the mythology behind Wicca that I admire and utilize in my own practice. Particularly the metaphor offered in modern Witchcraft for the passing of the seasons strikes me as beautiful and poignant. The story of the Earth, pregnant in winter, giving birth to a bright baby boy in spring, who grows up to be her lover in the summer, and then begins to die in the autumn. I think it's absolutely gorgeous. Thus, in honor of the autumn equinox and the start of my favorite season, I dedicate this poem I wrote in my International Law class today to the Dying God:

The Forest Lord is getting old.
His beard is starting to fade;
the whisps of gold, now pale wheat,
were once bright as flame.
He walks among the withered stalks
of a harvest full and past,
while amber leaves scatter behind
the prints his boots have cast.
He wraps a scarf around his neck
and shakes his antlers fair
when he sees his lover, maid and mother,
silently standing there.
She spreads her arms, and to him she cries,
"Come home to my warm hearth,
for you've traveled long and with you I'll share
the bounty of the Earth."
He nods with pride, and with glittering eyes,
he takes her hand in his.
Together they walk through the wood
with the chill of the wind's kiss.

I'd also like to share a prayer I wrote last Mabon, which I observed quietly in my room in Russia before heading out to a pub with some of my friends to celebrate in a more traditionally youthful fashion. In keeping true to my obssession with scented votives, I lit a candle, made an offering of a pastry from a street vendor (I didn't have access to a stove to cook anything), and meditated on the cycles of life. I'd like to do something similar this year, although I think I'll incorporate the poem I wrote today as well. As I've mentioned before, I consider my artwork and my poetry--depending on the subject, of course--a form of worship: both the execution and the dedication of a final product. In fact, I think I'll try to rent that key to the Chaplain's Conference Room to ensure I'm not disturbed *for once* and to spare my roommates having to leave our room. Thus, without further ado, here's my Mabon prayer:

As the leaves turn the golden red of the dying sun,
And the wheel of the year turns to autumn,
I turn my own thoughts toward change.
Wise Ones, Wild Ones, Gods and Goddesses of Old,
I ask that you walk with me as the air grows cooler,
And the nights grow longer,
And the green things prepare for their winter dreamings.
Tonight I celebrate the summer's harvest,
I drink to the season past and the season to come,
And I pray to learn the mysteries of the fall.

21 September 2010

Music as Magic - Part 2



Scattered wasteland surrounding me,
Tattered memories of what used to be,
Apocalyptic mind debris,
Until we meet again.

Traveling through both space and time,
Out of body, out of mind,
Out of control,
My wheels in constant motion.

~ From “Constant Motion” by Dream Theater

I was listening to my favorite DT album earlier today while studying, and the above lyrics from one of their songs particularly resonated with me. I’m obsessive about my music, and when I first discovered this band, I was so struck by the sheer musicality of it all that I listened to that first CD I had for three straight months on repeat in my car. Needless to say my brother, who had the joy of me as his chauffeur before I went off to college, grew pretty sick of it. I have since collected every album they’ve ever released, except for the very first. One of my friends tells me it wasn’t that good, or at least nothing like the rest of their music once they accepted their progressive calling. It’s not a big deal. If they come out with any more, however, I’ll be sure to snatch up the latest.

Now that we have established a little background on the extent to which I adore this band, it should come as no surprise that I listen to one of their many songs at least once a day. Today, I chose to listen to Systematic Chaos from beginning to end, but just got stuck on “Constant Motion,” and I think I may have finally figured out why. Bear with me. I’ll circle around to this point again later.

Earlier this month, I expressed the desire to explore an idea that had occurred to me about a link between music and magic. Today, I’d like to look at another way in which the two are related.

I get a lot of songs stuck in my head. Having not lived in a box, I’d say having a song in your head is a pretty normal phenomenon. What may not be normal, however, is the extent that it happens to me. I walk around with practically a personal soundtrack playing in my mental background. I could be in a room of dead silence, but I’ll be thinking music. When I’m running or hiking, my mind might as well be an iPod (when I have the choice, I do prefer to run with a real iPod playing; however, we can’t run on post or in uniform with music, so my running + iPod time is limited to when I’m elsewhere and get to make use of actually comfortable workout garb). Nevertheless, while I can control the songs I’m playing in my head when I really focus on it, sometimes a random tune will pop in there and I have no idea where it came from, let alone all the words, so it’s like the chorus is stuck on repeat until I can finally shake it. Maybe someone was humming it down the hallway and I just caught enough of the melody to replay the rest, but wasn’t consciously aware of the process. Maybe it was playing in the background of a phone conversation. The origins of the stuck-song are not important; what’s important is the song’s impact.

The song in my head can influence my entire day. It subtly alters the cadence of my steps, so that I’m walking in beat to the tempo. I imagine everyone else listening to my same soundtrack, walking in cadence with my song. Sometimes I even feel like my heart itself takes up the rhythm. The tone of the song colors my mood: an angry song pumps me up and makes me want to run, a sad song mellows me out, a love song makes me lonely. The lyrics enter my vocabulary, so that while my words are my own, their inspiration is rooted in the song’s theme. I hum the melody under my breath, and passersby likely pick up just enough to get it stuck in their heads, too. If at any time I enter a hallway and I’m alone, I’ve even been known to dance to the tune. Don’t laugh. You’ve done it. I become a radio; the wind, just static in my speakers.

“Constant Motion” spoke to me today in a way that yesterday, Placebo’s “Every Me Every You” spoke to me. The day before that, it was Kyo’s “Derni√®re Danse.” It was the song for today, because today, that song was reflective of--and reflected in--my life. It swayed my steps and influenced my thinking. It breathed through me, and every thought was set with that song in the backdrop, and it happened for a reason. All things happen for a reason. I needed the energy, the anger, the confusion of that song to be my strength amid my own anger and confusion. There is simply so much going on that I know I’m out of control. My life is in constant motion, and it won’t stop. Cue Newton’s First Law.

Magic isn’t just about casting spells or chanting; it’s the way you live. Music is magic, and life is a symphony. So SING it.

PS: GLEE returns today :) I’m more than just a little excited.

20 September 2010

I am not Aphrodite.

Broken Heart picture from here. Enjoy.
Despite having slept for only an hour and a half last night (it’s a long story), I strangely am full of energy today. I think it’s being all hyped up on caffeine and adrenaline. I had a paper due at 0730 this morning, and because I have far too much drama going on in my life right now, I was distracted yesterday evening when I was trying to work on it. Plus I left my car parked in a lot that we are allowed to use on the weekends, but that by 0630 Monday mornings must be moved back to another lot, which happens to be a 20 minute walk away. So. In an effort to motivate myself for a morning run, I left my car parked in the weekend-lot. Thus, around midnight when I’m finally looking at the essay prompt, I was none too thrilled. An hour and a half later, I had finished reading the article I was supposed to critique and had written an introductory sentence. A SENTENCE.
It gets better.

By 0200, I had some notes, two sentences, and a bunch of quotes I planned on using, and was beyond unproductive. So I set *three* separate alarms for 0400 and began to get ready for bed. My roommates, meanwhile, had long since retired. My plan was to get up, make some coffee, finish my paper, then go move my car and run back. My running buddy had also left her car in the weekend lot, so we had agreed to meet there by 0530 to drive up together and, if I wasn’t too tired, run for a good half an hour, which would leave us enough time to shower before breakfast. And--for once--my morning went entirely according to plan. I finished my essay right at 0520, tied my key to my left shoe, and took off for the weekend lot. We ended up taking a detour on the run back for some extra distance since we were strangely moving really quickly this morning. I think it was just the adrenaline from the run and leftover from the weekend, plus all the caffeine from the half liter of French vanilla soy-milk latte I had chugged an hour earlier, but we maintained about an 8-min pace. Normally my runs are about 9-9:30 min pace, depending on the terrain and distance. Albeit this morning’s run was relatively flat and on easy footing (roads), but 8-min is still a little fast for me, even if it’s just 30 minutes…and it becomes especially fast when we were yacking the entire time (naturally, gossiping about my drama) like the fantabulous future-spinsters we are.

But yeah. It was a good weekend, and a good morning, and I was thrilled to see something actually go according to plan. Normally what happens is I sleep through all three of my alarms, wake up panicked an hour too late, and then am scrambling around to make it to formation two minutes late, get yelled at by our company commander (his being one of my best friends this year makes no difference), and then just being exhausted all day. I managed to not only get my essay turned in on time, my car moved to the proper lot, stay awake in all my classes, finish another sketch of a mural in my company’s day room, play a good game of Frisbee, and *pretty sure* pass my exam, but also to come to a shocking conclusion about what to do with all my drama.

As I do not want my blog to turn into a diary, I will not be discussing my drama per se, but I do feel the need to rant a little and throw my two cents to the wind. I’ll begin by admitting that I’m having some problems with a handful of young men who, despite seeming entirely otherwise, are just like all the other young men who say one thing, do another, and then decide that no matter how awesome someone is, it’s just not worth a relationship. Everything is just fun, right? Nothing serious? In my mother’s words, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free elsewhere?” I’m beginning to wonder if the only genuinely good men left in the world are the ones I’m related to, and that thought scares me. For starters, incest is just gross, and secondly…we don’t live in West Virginia anyway (pardon my bad joke).

I know that true love exists. I grew up with it; just seeing my parents interact every day affirmed that people really do have soul mates, and that sometimes, it really does work out and fairy tale endings are possible. Maybe they did me a disservice by being so obviously in love, always, under all circumstances, because they made it look too easy. However, I refuse to settle for less than the best. I want to find my perfect match, just like my parents did. Just like my aunt and uncle did. Just like my cousin and her soon-to-be husband did. I want that, and no matter what anyone tells me, I refuse to settle for less, and I don’t think it’s unrealistic or selfish or even naive. How can it be? I saw it literally every day growing up, and it’s still blatantly evident every time I go home to visit my family. Love. Is. Real.

But love is not what I’m looking for right now.

When men say they don’t want anything serious, they mean that they just want to hook up, party, have fun, and then pretend nothing ever happened when the buzz wears off. However, when I think of something serious, I hear lots of big scary words like “marriage” and “children,” not necessarily just any relationship or commitment at all. And that’s where I think the disconnect lies. I don’t want to even consider marriage until I’m closer to 30 than 20, and kids aren’t going to register on my radar until I’m out of the Army…and since I currently intend to stay career, that may be a big fat never, or maybe when I’m retired at 38 I can adopt. Nevertheless, when I say that I’m not looking for anything serious, that doesn’t mean I just want to kiss and forget. It means that I’m not looking for a relationship, but I won’t pass one up if it comes my way. I’m not looking for the right guy, but if he comes along I won’t tell him to scram. I’m not expecting anything big, and I certainly don’t want a ring and bells and to be brought flowers every day, but I wouldn’t mind having someone to hold consistently. It’s nice to have someone around who knows who you are, what you’re all about, what you like. I don’t understand my generation of men’s aversion to all things that smell of an actual relationship, rather than just a one-night-stand. It doesn’t have to be anything big and scary, but it doesn’t have to be meaningless either. I don’t want to fall in love--that would be terribly inconvenient right now--but I’m not going to dig up the roots of the flower before it has a chance to bloom.

The Amazon is in my soul. It's my life, full of my career, my goals, my hobbies and MY destiny...but I'll admit it's kinda lonely, now and then, being a rock.

And that, dear readers, is my rant. Now I must return to the important things in my life right now, like the four remaining exams this week, the two research papers, the three murals I still have to finish, and at some point I need to visit my little brother. I’ve been a bad sister lately and haven’t seen him in a few weeks…and he lives literally just a 7 minute walk away.

16 September 2010

Randomness

"Time Flies" Charm from Bead Critter
Time has really been getting away from me lately. I say this for several reasons. First off, it’s almost Mabon, and I still don’t know how I’m going to celebrate. Secondly, I have a race in three weeks. I haven’t been running nearly enough, and on 3 October I’m signed up for a half-marathon. Furthermore, I have three exams and a research paper due next week. This evening, I’m attending a leadership panel. This Saturday, we have our second home football game. Where, oh where, is my September flying off to? Summer is about to officially end, and I feel like I never even really had one.

Oh, and Starbucks, somehow discovering that I am an addict, sent me a gift certificate redeemable for one free drink, any drink, of my choice in honor of my birthday last month. It expires at the end of this month…so I need to find a Starbucks pretty soon.

Regardless, it’s been a good week, and this week was infinitely less hectic than last week. I managed to actually have some fun (namely one of my best friends *finally* turned 21 yesterday, so we celebrated rather extensively that evening as he was the youngest of all of us. Most of us are 22 and 23 now). But with another week gone, I’m also another week with books unread, miles unrun, rituals unperformed, stories unwritten, friends untalkedto, and I’m one week closer to making a choice that determines the rest of my life: my branch. There really just isn’t enough time in the world to pursue everything I want to pursue. I wish that little time traveling device Hermione used in Harry Potter to attend all of her classes was real (or that the world of Harry Potter was real, for that matter). Again, nerd alert. I know, I still don’t care, and now moving on.

It’s nice and cool here this afternoon, so I think I’ll go for a quick 5-miler on the roads since I don’t have enough time to drive to some trails and be back before my Frisbee game early this evening. I don’t really have any homework tonight except for some reading, so maybe I’ll be able to do that after my run and before the game as well. It all depends on how fast I run…and I’m not going to get my hopes up that I’ll be that fast. Like my marathon last spring, my primary goal for this upcoming race is to finish. I’ll be inviting my Matrons do run along with me today. I like to think that they usually run with me anyway, but I feel like I’m at least doing something when I extend the invitation. Sometimes I can even hear an extra set of footsteps, and even if it’s only an echo of my own, who’s to say that the gods don’t travel in echoes? I think Deity is all around us, all the time, in everything. The echoing footsteps may as well be Diana’s, and so I will continue to envision them as such.

13 September 2010

Necessary Decay

"Forest Mushrooms Sprout up on the Grassy Forest Floor"
by Michael S. Lewis. Mushrooms seemed an obvious
choice to me for an entry about growth and decay.
“[B]ut everything that comes into being must decay. Not even a constitution such as this will last forever. It, too, must face dissolution. And this is how it will be dissolved. All plants that grow in the earth, and also all animals that grow upon it, have periods of fruitfulness and barrenness of both soul and body as often as the revolutions complete the circumferences of their circles.”
~ Plato’s Republic 546b.

This quote resonated with me today. I was in one of my Politics classes, discussing how Plato’s views on the just regime are revealed through the interplay of Socrates and Glaucon in The Republic, when I stumbled across this quote in the text. I’ll admit I didn’t have time this weekend to finish the reading, so I did not see this little gem of wisdom until we opened to those pages this morning. However, as soon as I read it, it lit the fire of thought within me. Which brings me to today’s topic: necessary decay.

As Plato (speaking through Socrates) so aptly describes, “everything that comes into being must decay.” From the smallest, most insignificant plant to the greatest constructs of human society, all things eventually become less than they were, and this process is both natural and necessary. We all go through cycles of growth, development, and increase. We all age, our bodies weaken, and eventually die. The moon waxes and wanes. Patterns of birth, death, rebirth (if you are so inclined to believe in reincarnation; I, incidentally, am so inclined). Cycles, as so many Pagans know, are the fiber of life. This acknowledgement of cyclical patterns seems common sense to me, yet I know many of my peers who live their lives without a thought to the turning of the seasons nor the periods of sluggishness that come and go, the plateaus of their own lives, nor the cycles of politics nor the perennial flowers in bloom nor any of the other thousands of examples of cycles in nature, society, everything. They barely notice the sun moving position across the sky because they’re so absorbed in themselves and their immediate tasks.

Now, I’m a huge proponent of living in the moment, of grasping opportunities as they come along and not having any regrets; however, there’s a downside to being so absorbed by the present that you can’t see the bigger picture, the cycles of life. It’s easy to forget sometimes that decay is a natural and necessary beast, especially when I’m suffering through the New York winters and all I want to do is sleep, but I know that all too soon I’ll be leading our nation’s sons and daughters into battle, so I need to get up. I need to get up and run. I need to stay up late and learn everything I can. The enemy isn’t sleeping, so neither should I. I hate winter. I hate being cold. All I want to do when it’s 20 degrees and below is hibernate, and that’s an entirely natural response. We’re programmed to slow down in the winter (which hits all to early up here, in my opinion. I’m sure by late October and early November I’ll be complaining about how much I miss Virginia), and that’s something that in the thick of the moment, I forget. I’m too busy fighting my own nature to recognize that that’s precisely what I’m doing: fighting my nature. And you know what? That’s just fine…because forgetting is a natural process of decay, too.

11 September 2010

Tuatha de Danann and Immortality

"The Faerie Grove" by Howard David Johnson
Part of this entry is a blurb about a book, and part of it draws from my inner (and not so inner) nerdy fascination with history, and in particular, Ancient Rome. You’ve been warned.

I’m currently reading Amber Wolfe’s book Druid Power: Celtic Faerie Craft & Elemental Magic. I’m not very far into it yet--as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve had a lot going on lately--but what I’ve read thus far has intrigued me, particularly a section concerning the Tuatha de Danann not as pure myth or archetype, but as a Celtic tribe in a historical, even human sense. Wolfe takes the stories of the Children of Danu and presents them in a realistic light, rather than a mythological realm distant and separate from historical humanity, which is how I’m accustomed to encountering them in reading (excluding the fabulous and fictional Sevenwaters Trilogy and other of Juliet Marillier’s Celtic-history-inspired works). Wolfe traces the Tuatha de Danann as human--although powerful, clever, and ahead of their time--ancestors of modern Celts, weaving their mystic lineage throughout the blood of their descendents by mingling with the Milesian Celts who took the physical realm of Ireland from them. However, while relegated to guardianship of the elemental powers of the Earth, they did not fade with time, and this may have been entirely intentional; Wolfe proposes that “pioneers of any sort invariably have that star quality that often leads them to become legends, even in their own time. This is particularly effective when it is planned, and [she believes] the de Danann planned their own legends” (49). Of course, this is all conjecture on Wolfe’s part, which she admits at the outset, although she appears to have done her research. I’ll see how I feel about it at the end of the book.

Thinking about this whole concept--humanity in history approaching divinity in myth and legend--reminds me of my studies of Latin from high school. I know, I’m a nerd. I’ve never been ashamed of that fact nor attempted to hide it. Regardless, I devoted a lot of years to the Latin language and Roman history and culture, and one of the things I learned that stuck with me most was the Roman concept of immortality: one would never truly die, provided that one was remembered. As long as someone alive, somewhere in the world, remembered your name and who you were, you were immortal. Thus, by the Roman definition, the Tuatha de Danann, among many others throughout history, have reached a state of immortality. The irony that the Children of Danu were said to be immortal in myths surrounding their exploits is not lost on me either. This concept has colored--maybe even tainted--my thinking in other areas, and I apply it to my work with my deities and my approach to other religions. Provided that their names and aspects are remembered, even if only as folklore, the gods never died. They still exist. They’re out there, waiting to be worshiped. However, this also leads me to the thought that a god is only as powerful as his followers. Deities can live through memory, but can only become potent through belief. It’s a thought I’ve been entertaining for a while now, and reading about the Children of Danu and other ancient Celts inspired me to blog about it.

The Roman definition of immortality seems to have permeated their culture; just look at the great lengths their generals would go to in order to win fame, the epic works recorded by poets like Virgil, Martial, Catullus (my personal favorite, although he wasn’t an epic-writer), the emphasis of recording everyone and everything. As long as your name and a poem was prescribed on a wall somewhere, and someone read it, your spirit was alive. You were immortal. Caesar, Pliny, Cato, Cicero, Pompey, Marcus Aurellius, Octavian: all names remembered, all now immortal. Just something to think about and mull over as Autumn continues to creep in, preparing the way for Winter, and the surface of the Earth begins to fade and die. However, while not all things in nature are immortal, the cycle’s promise remains that all things will be reborn on the other side.

10 September 2010

My favorite time of year! And then some.

"Late Summer Calm" by Dave Martsolf
This week has been absolutely insane. All those seniors who told me the last year was the easiest and I would be just hanging out and goofing around every day…yeah, they lied. Horrendously. Or maybe they just weren’t double majors and didn’t have a busy staff-job like I do (Spirit Officer is no joke). I never went to bed earlier than 0200 this week--usually much later--and it should go without saying that I never got to sleep in either, nor found time to make up some of the sleep deficit in naps during the day, or else I would’ve been up even later the next night. I had so much to do, I could barely breathe, and yet I still have a ton to do before the weekend. We have a huge room inspection tomorrow morning, and I haven’t even started cleaning for that yet, and this afternoon I need to finish painting another mural for my company. I have the sketch completely done, and some of the white and yellow paint thrown up there, but I still have a good few hours of work to do on it. As you can tell, I’m doing a fabulous job of procrastinating.

Nonetheless, with Mabon quickly approaching (and my Raven and Wolf statuettes still unpainted), I feel the call of the Goddess burning a little stronger each day. I’ve been neglecting my practice some, and I missed the New Moon. I managed to burn a black candle around midnight while studying for a Nuke exam, but that was about it. Quite unfortunate. However, I’ve been talking with our Regimental Chaplain, and she offered the Chaplain’s conference room for my use some of the nights each week for meditation, et cetera. I may take her up on it, although I’d have to transport (preferably surreptitiously) some of my things from my room to the conference room just to make it feel more of a me-space. And, of course, it’d need a bit of cleansing. All the rooms here have ghosts and echoes. It’s an old, old place with a LOT of history. Luckily, Gregory the Gargoyle seems to be doing a good job keeping the negativity at bay. Despite many differences of opinion, my roommates and I are getting along just fine, and our floors is one of the most peaceful in the barracks, if I do say so myself…and as this barracks is rumored to be haunted, I’d say that’s impressive. Thank you, Werewolf 06, for your gift :) I’m glad I could give Greg the Gargoyle a good home!

Unfortunately, the Chaplain also clarified that there will be no interest meeting for Pagans, as there were only 1 or 2 others (besides me) who got back to her, and they didn’t want to pursue any group work, which I can completely understand on several levels. First off, all of us are used to being solitary; suddenly having a group would be something of a shock. Secondly, if there suddenly is a group of us, it’d be rather hard to keep it quiet in this gossip-mill we call our Alma Mater, and flying under the radar when possible does have its benefits. While I’m unopposed to making a splash, I’m certainly not about to blow anyone else’s cover even though mine was discarded last spring. Finally, none of us have ever met before. We don’t even know each other’s names (except for one, whom I met and talked about a few entries ago), and at least where I’m concerned, I won’t be here much longer anyway. A circle may be, as it’s starting to seem, more trouble than it’s worth. For now, I’m satisfied with just the knowledge that I’m not the only one here; there are others out there who share at least some of my beliefs and preferences, and that’s enough for me. For now. I’m still going to try to move to a more friendly location after graduation, but I won’t find out until much later this year where that will be. Perhaps either Colorado or Washington State. I’d be thrilled with either.

At least the weather is fabulous right now. It’s that perfect pre-Autumn chill, where the cold is just starting to add a crispness into the air and banish the oppressive humidity of Summer. This also means it’s PERFECT RUNNING WEATHER!!! Regretfully, I won’t be able to fit a run in until tomorrow or Sunday. If it has to wait until Sunday, than dammit I’m driving 20 minutes across the river and running 8 miles on a trail if it kills me. I need to feel the Earth under my feet, see the treetops overhead, and taste the wind again.

06 September 2010

Labor Day

This weekend was an absolute blast! We didn't go hiking, so I didn't get any good pictures, but I went for two gorgeous, 5-mile runs on some trails near New Paltz, which is near where we stayed. We took some good party pictures...but I probably won't be posting many of those.

I'll talk some more about my runs tomorrow afternoon, when I actually have time for a full-length post. This one, regretfully, is going to be cut short by the massive amounts of work that always await me at the end of a long weekend.

03 September 2010

Happy Labor Day (a little early)

We have no classes on Monday, so this weekend some friends and I are renting a ski lodge upstate. There are some great running trails where we'll be staying, and there's a cute new agey town with lots of quaint and unique and hippie stores about 20 minutes away from the lodge. I plan on hitting the trails in the morning with one of my girlfriends, then the two of us will be shopping in the town later that day. There's a store I found online that I've been meaning to visit, so it should be a good opportunity. Anyway, I won't be posting for a few days as a result of my weekend getaway, but I'll take lots of pictures of the scenery and post them upon my return. Until then, blessed be!

02 September 2010

I'M NOT ALONE ANYMORE!

Today my entire worldview changed.

Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration, but here’s the deal. I’m not the only Pagan in my community anymore! Or at least, not the only one who’s open about it and willing to share! I finally met another. He’s a recent arrival, which accounts for our having not met before; however, he’d heard of me (specifically, the tarot card readings I gave during one of my summer training exercises, which I discussed in my first Witchvox article). My other excellently awesome news, is that THERE (MAY) BE AN INTEREST MEETING FOR PAGAN/WICCAN/OTHER EARTH-BASED SPIRITUALITIES!!! I’ve been in contact with one of our Chaplains about it. I’ve got a good feeling about this one. I’ve been the sole voice of non-Judaeo-Christian ideology for so long where I live, and now finally, FINALLY, that might change.

It’s a shame these steps forward didn’t occur until my last freaking year here…but I’m going to keep looking on the bright side.

01 September 2010

Music As Magic

Cover art for the CD I released back in 2007. No big deal.
That's me at the Palais des Papes in Avignon, France.
As I state in one of my songs, I am not a prophet by any stretch of the imagination. I suck at divination, I certainly don't have prophetic dreams--or if I do, they're lost to the recesses of my subconscious since I rarely remember my dreams in the first place--and I'd hardly consider my dabblings with tarot "prophetic." However, I have noticed something that tends to occur with me. My music helps to manifest my will. Whether that's magical or not, and whether there's any precedent for this historically, mythologically, or otherwise is a topic I would like to explore. I’m not anticipating many voter responses on my poll (I won’t delude myself with visions of an eager following, haha), so this may serve as my focus for the fall. My long-term goal is maybe to create another Witchvox article out of my findings as they relate to my experiences, whether in support of or against my theory (if such a half-formed notion as I currently have could bear the title of “theory” with any accuracy). Regardless, here’s what I’m thinking:

I play three instruments moderately well, and if I had the time and resources to invest in them, could potentially play them quite well. As it stands, twelve years with a guitar will make you good despite your best efforts to be otherwise, and even playing once or twice a month, which is sadly all I have time for, will keep your fingers relatively accustomed to the chords and scales and what-not. I found a group of musicians who would also like to increase their playing time, so hopefully by scheduling days to play together we’ll each reach our goals of improvement. As for the flute and the piano--the other two instruments I claim a level of proficiency in--my skills are mediocre at best, and I am regretfully (and grossly) out of practice. Regardless, just take me at my word that while I could be much better than I am, I’m still a pretty decent guitarist. Another musical talent I am blessed to possess is the ability to sing, and that is also a skill that I get to practice every time I take a shower, ride in a car, or perform delightfully drunken karaoke. Singing is also, incidentally, a skill that does not appear to fade with time. Thus, I feel comfortable claiming to be a fairly musical person. Heck, I have my own website where my music is posted, I released a CD my senior year in high school, and I’ve written at least a hundred songs (although not all of them made it beyond the lyrics + melody stage, and certainly not all of them have been performed before more than a mirror). I would link to the website where my music is posted…but it’s posted under my real name, and I just don’t feel comfortable leaving that open for all the creepers of the world to find. I have a hard enough time keeping my classmates from stalking me, thank you very much. I don’t need to deal with anonymous cyberstalkers as well.

Here’s where the opening about divination comes into play. My songs come true.

Sometimes in my writing, I take the poetic liberty of just…writing. I don’t always think about what I’m putting down; as long as it fits the flow and rhymes at least in the vowels of the words, I’m happy. In contrast, some of my lyrics are deeply personal and based entirely on my true experiences. Nevertheless, some of my songs just *come to me* like words that get stuck in my head, attached to a melody, and then written down in spite of my conscious self saying, “I don’t have time to sit and write right now. I should be reading for my Military History class, or going for a run, or doing anything else but serving my musical ego.” Sometimes I can’t tell if the words scribbled from pen to paper are ME actively thinking about them, fishing for the part that comes next, or else there is some force external (or perhaps so deeply internal that I can’t detect it?) that is making the ink flow. It’s my hand, but is it me? Does it matter? I can’t tell the difference half the time. And yet, sometimes even when I know I’m actively writing the song rather than merely letting it be written, the words I produce have not yet come to pass. I’ve wrote about breakups and heartache long before I even had a conscious trickle of insight into my ex’s intentions of dumping me before I left for Russia. I wrote about embracing a streak of independence (See: “Amazon” on my lyrics page) long before I even knew I wanted to embrace that side of myself and adopt a more Amazonian approach to life. Indirectly, that song is the reason I started this darn blog, and the song was written over a year ago. These are just a few examples of more recent and general musical predictions, if one could even call them that, but my *theory* is more based on having written songs when I was 10 and 12 that I completely did not understand at the time, and yet, sifting through the childish lines, I keep finding ways in which those old words apply to my life now.

I’ve also noticed that the songs I tend to play and perform more often are also the songs that tend to become truer, faster, and so I’m wondering if there’s a connection there as well. Again, this is still a half-formed, likely crazy notion that, upon closer examination and research into potential precedents, I will dismiss. However, I still think it’s something worth looking into for me, especially since it’s something that--if the pattern indeed exists--could alter the way I look at both music and magic. Perhaps my claim that I don’t really perform spells is not as true as I thought. We’ll see. I’m looking forward to delving into this deeper, and I hope you’ll join me on my journey!

In the off chance that anyone who knows anything about music or magic or just thinks I’m an idiot (if an overly-educated one who likes to talk too much), reads this post, then please please PLEASE tell me what you think!