30 November 2010


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,

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.

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.