About Me

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Arden Raine is an ex-theatrical making sense of life through many lenses.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

To Whom Does The Torch Pass?

This is a discussion I've had about a kagillion times with my agnostic husband in the last ten years: who will be the next wave of elders/leaders in the pagan world?

Let's face it the Neopagan world (in the United States) was carved out by the generation who came into their own during the nineteen sixties and seventies. The experience of civil rights, free love, gender and sexual equity battles deeply influenced the leaders of paganism today.

Can you imagine Selena Fox and The Lady Liberty League without the formation crucible of the fight for civil rights?

How about Issac Bonewits' degree in Magic could that happen now or even twenty years ago?

What would police action or anti-defamation be  like without Kerr Cuhulain?

Our leaders are aging and in some cases gone. Who shall step into the void?

Where in the generations since the baby boom: the Me generation: "Greed is good" or the alphabet soup of X Y and Z, and let's not forget the Millenials will our: Selena Foxes, Starhawks, Ian Corrigans, Scott Cunninghams, Issac Bonewits', Kerr Cuhulains, Z Budapests, Raymond Bucklands, Laurie Cabots (and the list can go on) come from?

Who from my generation on will stand for our freedoms and will solidify our traditions and protect and nurture our futures?

Who will be the hand to reaches out in interfaith trust? Not only with other world religions and to those of no faith but who will create trust and dialog and unity within our own multitude of Pagan ways to live?

I am not talking of lock stepping all Neopaganism into one modality but simply who will be there to provide a bridge for Heathen and Witches and Wiccans and Druids and Family trads and Initiate trads and Solitaries to speak in common?

Who will train those called to service? Who will be our priests/priestesses and our brothers and monks and nuns?

Who shall step up and brave being a public face of an infinite varietal religious belief system? Who is ready?

I see a great swelling lately. I can think of ten such folk being the pillars and the gateways thanks to blog portals and access to electronic media. But can't we be more in number? Can't we be together in purpose?

So think on your community. Who are your leaders? What programs and services do you have in place? Which needs can you identity? Who and how will these services be provided by and for?

What can you do? How do you serve? How can you support the efforts of those who provide for the pagans in your community?

How do we handle: substance abuse, bereavement, birth, death, hospice, incarceration, environmental issues, poverty, educational, milestone, ecumenical, elderly and childhood issues within the context of our belief systems and traditions?

Lets work together now. RIGHT NOW let's talk about this issues and tackle them.

Please let's work now while we still have the resource of the First Wave Elders wisdom to draw upon. Let's stop reinventing the wheel when we can create the automobile. Let's redefine the car so that we can fly!

Let's jump head first in so there's no voids to fill just a continuum to grow and mold and foster for ourselves and the next  seven generations.

We the first born of the pagan boomers need this, our traditions need this and our children need this.

Now whose with me?

Ruminations on Leaving the Fourth

Today is the last day of my fourth decade. Tomorrow I embrace a new set of ten. But before the clock turns and the ball drops here on the eve of my 40th anniversary of birth I want to take stock.

I'd ask your forgiveness for such a self centered rumination but this is my blog. And after all you my dear friends come here to glimpse pieces of me through the lenses I manufacture. So onward I must go!

My life seems to decade centric. My first mental breakdown was age ten. It was not unlike a midlife crisis. A time fraught with "is this all life can be?" If that seems silly and indulgent in a child allow me to assure you it was not the fancy of an overly sensitive.

My life has been classified by decade thusly:

1st decade: focus on survival
2nd decade: focuses on denial and disguise
3rd decade: focuses of illusions of normality and coping
4th decade: reclamation

My early years were about daily survival in duly an emotional land mine and in a real world of poverty and abuse where neither condition ever was allowed to show.

My second decade was another war zone. One where familial ties frayed and though the battle for freedom was won and living conditions were 100% improved the lies got bigger and the secrets were kept AT ALL COSTS. I learned to blend and shift and be whomever was required of me.

My third decade was at first about maintain and creating illusions. But the double toll of holding up my mirror while being trained to be an actor, a professional masque, broke my looking glass and I tumbled down a rabbit hole miles and miles deep.

My fourth decade brought completeness to my soul by breaking the boxes all my childhood traumas were locked in. That happened not as a gentle pass wall of knowledge but as a torrent that carried me into madness and horror to the event horizon of death itself. My mind and body were scoured clean to the bones and only after all the marrow was licked clean was I dumped into the cauldron and reformed.

But this new creature I became took a few years to gather her legs under herself.
I finally entered full adulthood. For the previous two decades though body and mind aged and ripened my emotions stayed frozen as those of a frightened and abused child. All interactions, friendships, partnerships, actions during those years were powered by the love and fears of a very, very small child.

But in this last ten I have gained all that was missing. I am wholly myself. Driven not by kid fears or childhood daydream any longer I have bloomed into full adulthood; swelled into motherhood and found my self through small acts of creation.

No longer trapped girl-child in grown body, but fully rounded in late adulthood plus motherhood I step into a near future of bodily croning.

Three of my closest kin all died in their early forties. Cancer took all three. And though it's a thought to ponder it doesn't loom or cause me fear.

My fifth decade which begins in the early morrow hours as I shuffle of 39 and dress in 40 I am choosing to be about balance and joy.

The balance of past lessons informing but not dictating the present. The living of the present being more important than the possible worries in the future. Balancing of motherhood, wifedom, daughterhood, friendship, piety and service are my goals.

That equilibrium makes room for emotions here to now I have stiffled for fear of exposure to harm: joy, expressive love, happiness, inquisitiveness, giddiness, passion, gratitude.

So Bon Anniversary to me! And raise a glass to another year of creation and change and love and service to man and Kindreds.

I shall raise a cup to all of you tomorrow so that you too shall share in this wonderful bounty.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hallowe'en Dreams

Sitting in the now dark. As the rain fails dismally downward.

The squeals of delighted and mischievous children are gone.

I sit still in vigil on the porch for the last straggler who braves the elements to claim chocolate boon.

The wind is tossing the treetops. Terrier like lashing back and forth denuding the crowns of their gold and crimson glories.

Heavy hearted I wait. Holding tight the losses of loves and life of family and friends who are family.

It is fitting this dampness and dreary dark. The moaning of branches that are bending but haven't broken.

The sad cauldron of goodies for small ghouls is still mostly full. Our revelers numbered more than last year yet only totaled eleven souls.

What to do with the riches? A full pot of spiced cider, heated and blessed to warm the numb fingers of the adults who braved our mountain.

They come each year for their treat as much for the spectacle that our home is every year.

I love this night.

As children we had to go far from home to haunt the suburbs. The farms on our road were too far apart to walk.

So through hostile and unknown plans we trudged pillow cases in hand. Hoping for treats and clever tricks.

Daring each other when we got home to scale the pastures in the dark to play blind man's bluff.

But always the wind played a melancholy air.

So trudge on and gather treats. Brave young lads & lasses Souling in the darkness.

Stop on over. I sit like a crone, rocking on the porch. A cauldron of full sized chocolates. A vat of spiced brew awaits.

We can sit and enjoy the symphony of death. The chorus of the wind and rain to soothe and numb any loss and heartache.

Dance with me this Hallows Eve.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fearing the Reaping

Like a ghoul I sit
Perched upon a pile of other's pain
Picking at bits of grief
Attempting to swallow
Small chunks of their loss
Trying to help them heal

All the while I stare blinded
At my own all too soon reaping
Yet I push my losses away
Unfit refuse to forage

Like a ghoul I sit
Bent necked trailing my own sorrow
Like sputum behind me
A slime trail to lead me back to my own Rotting heart
Lost in the woods
Buried in a box
Tied with yew and rue and tears

How like a monster
Does it seem
That I care a thousand times
More about a stranger and his son
My friend
As they dance goodbye in solitudes
Or to grieve more deeply
Over an unknown to me life cast off
And those left behind
Reeling in aftershock

Than the I care
About the impending death of
My own mother

How can I remain calm
Why cannot I summon
Any more than basest

To be fair she's been
Dying in slow motion
My whole life
Soul and heart
Then mind and body
Long terrible fate

How will I face the guilt
My relief will cause
When her journey ends
I see it more as a passing
No tossing off chains of
Her suffering
And freedom for her 
At last to heal
Finally whole but incorporeal

But none for me
Not reconciliation
No soft words
No room for missteps

Because you see
My archenemy
A fat evil slug is
Waiting for the moment
We face each other

My monster under the bed
My soul breaker
My reason to know the
Bitter taste of hate
And fear
And loathing so deep
Death was a kinder
Than he

That is what I fear and
I am ashamed
Not the reaping of
The womb that spat me out
But the moment I must face her
First born spawn

Like a ghoul I sit
Crouched low
Not sure if I should spring
Or flee

I hold so much rage
I feel so much blood lust
I am numb with the
Anticipation of my
Actions in that moment
When my monster and
I meet again

I don't fear the reaping
I fear that the monster inside
Will want revenge
So I lock it up too
In the box In the woods
Tied with yew and rue and tears

And try to ignore the breadcrumbs

Instead like a ghoul I sit

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Cool Down

I have had an extraordinary summer. It's been filled with art, creation, National Parks, day trips, family & joy.
This summer has also been filled with anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, emotional ping-ponging & guilt. Bucket loads of guilt.
So I find myself reflecting on all the abundance of goodness and how along with the enriching experiences the shadows of doubt and guilt clung to my happiness like Wendy had sewn them together.
The Fall has always been my favorite time of the year. The cooler days are balm to my soul. The horrendous heat plus humidity that is late July through August depletes my energy. I hate being hot. Hate it like wasp stings and eating avocado ( two things that can kill me.) And pumpkin soup can drag me back from the event horizon like nothing else.
I have spent a ton of energy this year encouraging life. Creating art and nurturing plants filled endless hours.
Tending to my family's needs while trying to work through my exhaustion and depression has left me depleted.
So how do we march refreshed into the darker parts of the year when everything around us is curling up to die or going into stasis?
I have always attended a conference in October. This two day event filled with lectures and guest speakers used to fill my needs. But as it has grown more about vendors and less about reason I find I go more to mock and buy rocks than to top off my tank. And though I will go again this year I anticipate that it will become less fulfilling as the years pass.
My Grove work has me thinking towards the darkness. How will the liturgical structure sustain me in the short days ahead when my internal shadows become manifest? I don't have answers. Though the solitary nature of the program leaves me flat.
This is my last full year of intense motherhood and I find it bittersweet. As this time next year the kidlet will begin formal education. In what form that education takes my husband and I still are not certain. But my baby isn't a baby anymore. And each step forward towards independence for the kidlet comes with new struggle and surprise.
So as I try to dump the guilt and wrestle my shadow into submission I am looking forward to the creative boost the fall usually brings. Crafting for the holidays, costumes and tricks for Halloween, new foods for the miriad of feast days and the shutting down of the garden will fill me with joy and equal parts stress.
So this autumn I am going to try turning under my fear and pain. I am going to weed through my beds of guilt and anxiety and prune those noxious growths back with a vengeance. Will it be enough to heal my emptiness?
I am oath taking and experimenting with relationship. I am saying yes where before in the harvests of the past seasons I had always, unthinkingly, said no. This is the lesson my summer bounty has taught me.
I asked earlier this year "How does your garden grow?" But now I ask: "Have you any wool?"
What harvests will nurture your dark days ahead?
How will you preserve your abundance so that you do not face starvation in the coming frigid days?
Will my preparations be enough to hold back the seasonal and situational depressions? I sincerely hope so. And I have more than three bags full.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Terrible Harvests

The cross quarter is almost upon us. Whilst most modern pagans celebrate the first of the harvests on August the first, I have always been moved to offer my first fruits on the actual cross quarter. Which this year is August 6th.

To be frank Lammas, Loafmas, PR Lughnassa has always been a nearly imperceptible blip on the calendar of life to me.

I always leave offerings but not much more than that. The core of the holiday has always been lost to me.

But in the last year my new practices and life's terribleness has brought the concepts at the heart of this day to crystal clarity.

I am currently living in an almost giddy place of reaping.

My oath of creation given in front of Kindred and Grove in Yule is in it's fullness.

Since December of last year I have created puppets and props for theatre, jewelry and dolls, this blog, a portfolio fat with photography, a lush garden grown for the first time from seed to fruits by my own hand, poetry, endless hours of imaginary play with the kidlet and I had the honor of working with a good friend in an art installation that paired the ideas of our children and the artistic skills of both kidlet and parent into summer joy.

That's a lot of creating.

By the way if you are in Pittsburgh and want to see the collaborative art piece my child and I added to it's called: What if airplanes were lawnmowers? And it opens tonight at 5031 Penn Avenue.
And the windows are going to be up until the end of August.

So thus far I have kept my oath and kept it well.

I didn't make the child we wanted though. We couldn't bring that bit of magic forth. Not because our bodies were fallow but because life couldn't be arranged to let my womb expand without shrinking our current state of prosperity into poverty once more. That sacrifice hurts beyond measure at times.

But that is part of the darker side of the cross quarter. The part we try to bury in the high energy of bringing in the first bumper crops of the year. Be those crops grain or tomato or umbrella fairies in mason jars.

There's a cost. The ferry man must be paid. This High Day requires sacrifice.

And this essay is about what I had to give away to gain this prosperity. And my thoughts on what I should offer up to Sovereignty this year to hold the place for next year's bounty.

Last August my Gram died. She was almost 85. She died as she wanted at home in her sleep.

My Gram was for most of my life my Mother. She was the once who watched me as a child. She shopped with me for prom. She helped me dress for my wedding.

But my relationship with her, the woman I loved best in this world, was strained. She was passive aggressive and manipulative. She gave me almost as many phobias as my mother.

She was harmful and hurtful and soul crushing in her guilt.

But I was denied all access to her in her last days by her children. Her selfish and cruel children. Who denied everyone's pain or claim to her as mother but their own.

Two days before she died my child asked to call her Grammy and sing to her. So we called and my three year old sweetly sang her ABC's to make her Grammy happy. As with all my calls it was unanswered and the song was sung to the voicemail. Which plays as it is recorded.

In a normal family such a thing is a treasure. A gift of sweet joy given in love for another's happiness. In my family I get a viciously aggressive call about how dare I upset my grandmother with such selfishness.

My gram and I had stopped having a relationship actually my whole family was cut off by me for a while at the behest of my therapist.

A perfect storm example of why: in 2006 I began the darkest part of my healing from childhood abuse. I almost lost my life to the PTSD and the reclaimed memories. As I desperately reached out to get support from those who failed me as a child I was met with "get over it " "why can't you move on" and "how dare you bother me with this? " so my therapist said cut your loses.

What I did do was face the honesty about who my family were. I had to strip the candy coating off of my memories and relationships. I had to face my anger and resentment over their participation in my incest and other abuses by myself with no reconciliation. And still I tried to be a good daughter/granddaughter.

But that ended the day my favorite Aunt died. But that's the issue. No one told me. For ten days! Not a single soul thought the death of my forty something aunt was important enough to share. But when I somehow by osmosis didn't know she had died and hadn't properly shown my respects to them in their grief I was the worst monster ever born. I flipping lost it. I closed that door forever.

But forever lasted about eight months as I had conceived our child. My DH and I decided it was cruel and wrong to deny our child a relationship with my family. So I sucked up my valid resentment and packed away my heartbreak and opened up the door for my child. All while standing vigilant to make sure my daughter isn't harmed by the narcissism and casual cruelty that is my family.

Fast forward to last August. My grandmother is dying from breast cancer. My brother is in jail. My family is making me keep quiet about him to Gram because the shock would hurt her. I am lumped into actions my brother did in regards to my Gram that I had no knowledge of and thusly I am denied the right to say goodbye. Or I love you. Or sing my ABC's. I knew this was going to be the case but forewarning didn't soften the blow one bit.

I was given her ashes. A gift of compassion I have no words to express my gratitude for. I try not to allow the reality that death scares my family silly and that the gesture is as I hope it to be a gracious gift and a vote of confidence that I will care for my grandparents cremains in tenderness instead of a matter of convenience.

My Gram's death has been a sacrifice of terrible proportion.  I've had to give up my pain to soothe the hurt of those who ripped my heart from my chest. I've had to swallow my rage at being denied the right to say goodbye. I've had to offer up my pain and I rage to no one but my Kindred for sympathy and concern so that my pain did not create more in her legitimate children. I've had to break my brother's heart by being the only one to tell him his beloved Grandmother was gone as he sat behind bars alone and too far for me to comfort him.

I've been blessed to be able to harvest that loss and pain into life and art and new relationships.

But I'd give anything to hug my Gram and say I love her and I forgive her.

So as I gather the fruits of this year's labor and acknowledge the anniversary of my mother's passing I cannot help but wonder what sacrifices will be paid in the coming year.

As I make offerings to the Kindred, this up coming Tuesday, in thanksgiving and supplication for the bounty of this year and the hopes for the future I pray that the cost of passage isn't as dear.

I have the greatest respect for the wheel we are all tied to. I know that it is in death we all are given the gifts of life.

But as we all begin to prepare for the fallows of the up coming winter please don't smother the decay under bushels of sunflowers and loaves of wheat shaped bread. See the offered up lives as sacred but acknowledge that they are deaths.

The reincarnation of gathered seed in August does not grow the identical shaft next May. But life still continues the same but undeniably different than before.

Life continues through death. But that's the joy. The promise of life because ofthe sacrifice of death.

I have a deeper relationship with my father because of my Gram's passing. I have been more prolific in artistic endeavors because my grief needed an outlet.

I see a thousand little things that let me glimpse what I've gained and lost everyday in my child. She has my Gram's crooked smile just as I do.

My fellow Neo Pagans take stock, honor the sacrifices that have brought you abundance, give your best in hopes that you may have greater to give away in the future.

And most importantly rejoice in your abundance. It was hard earned by terrible sacrifices each and every day.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Matter of Virtue

So this evening as we worked in our tomato patch in our 4x8 patch of front lawn we found a gigantic caterpillar.

It was so big my husband which had moved the 10 gallon bucket with our "Boxcar Willie" heirloom tomatoes didn't see him. He thought the five inch critter was a leaf!
At first I was excited/creeped out. But curiosity prevailed. What kind of butterfly is this creature?

So I rushed onto the porch grabbed ye old smartphone and voilĂ !
Our little friend wasn't a Luna moth, nor Monarch, but the larvae form of the Hawk Moth or Tobacco Hookworm caterpillar.
My creepy feeling turned onto full blown willies after seeing the carnage these guys do to tomatoes.

We've, ahem, I've grown these babies (tomatoes) from seeds.
I've lovingly, obsessively, nurtured these plants. And today as I went out earlier to harvest I found no bless than 12 rotting on the vine.

That rotten SOM(son of a moth) was crushing my tomato heaven.
Aw hells no!

After reading up on this guy I found squish/cut in half or drown as the most reliable was of removing his heirloom snacking ass from 'my planet larva boy'!
But then I saw the green slime that consists of its innards and couldn't do it. Willies migrated to actual heebee jeebees at the thought.
So we, again I but with quorum approval, cut the stalk he was on and chucked it out into the street.

What?! I figured fate could decide.

Death by bird, death by car or 1% freedom as long as he moved on down da road.
So we corralled tomatoes upward. We searched for more green v striped behemoths in the foliage. We moved our bounty around to increase air flow and reduce risk of crowding diseases.

That took an hour.

The whole time Fritz, because frankly anything that big deserves a name, finished noshing his tomato stalk perch and proceeded to wander in a three foot spiral.
No birds came to claim him as offering. No vehicle came even close to smooshing him.
At this point my family and I sat on the curb in conference as we watched his methodical spiraling.

This guy will grow into a beneficial night pollinator.  He only eats tomato, nightshade, tobacco and bell pepper in a pinch and has survived to final caterpillar size.
He kinda deserved his 1% freedom.
But what to do?

Can we keep him in a jar? Watch his metamorphosis? A learning experience for us all?

Nope! Neither my hubster nor I wanted Fritz indoors. Nor did we want to feed it, touch it or clean up after it. Its frees (poop) is the size of pill bugs.(See heebee jeebees)

Yet I felt wrong from the moment of my exiling him to his doom. I felt deeply that the murder, let's call a card a card here, of this wondrous life was completely wrong. But ewwww.

He's doing his job and I want to kill him, without dirtying my hands, shoes or conscious, because he's eating the food I left out in the open for him to find.

So. I paused. I took a deep breath and asked myself can I condemn a potentially useful member of my ecosphere to death to save my salad?

Nope. It felt wrong from start to finish and both the husband and I felt it. But our crop must survive too.

Then it hit me.

We have backyard crops. Or as I think of them, groundhog bribes. We'll sacrifice the backyard tomato patch and allow Fritz a full pardon.
So he was carried on some yummy fresh tomato leaves down our alley and snugged into the back yard nightshades.

Sometimes you just have to stop and consider how all life fits together.
Fritz doesn't get to ruin anymore of our food crop but can live to become the gigantic night pollinator he's destined to be.

Well as long as the bats don't get him.

"The cirrrrrcle, the cirrrcle of liiiiife."

(In hindsight perhaps we should've named him Hamlet!)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sunbathers Beware

One must always be aware of their surroundings.

You never know when a Dragon will be drawn to Siren Sisters' song.

Happy day dreams my friends.

Now shew. Go outside and play!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Almost- a response to an invitation to share

My good friend Jenni Chiu wrote a great piece on her blog about almosts.


And here's my response to her query on my own missed mark.

My Almost

Way back when I decided to instead of going to school for molecular biology that I was going to be a theatre major in college.

I applied at all the big schools and chose to attend Point Park College.

My entrance audition (which I had no prior knowledge of) consisted of the Dean handing me a worn copy of Hamlet and giving me ten minutes to pick something.

I did Hamlet's 'To Be' speech. I memorized it five minutes and went in early to the dismay of the Dean.
I sang a song from Chicago a capella and hit the attending faculty with my doomed Danish Prince. They applauded and welcomed me into the program.

Hind sight lets me know that the ease of my audition and subsequent experience I had should have lead me into an adult career in the theatre.

My course work came stupidly easy. My grades were perfection. I was on Dean's list all the time I attended. In four semesters I performed three shows. So why after only two years did I run away from the school others were fighting tooth and nail to attend?

Hind sight is a grand thing.

I know now that the first seepage of my PTSD began during this time.

The first hair line fracture came in my very first class. A 101 acting class. The professor was a hard line 'method' actor and their modality to teach was to put us through exercises where the prof played psychological games to induce real memories of very deep emotional states.

This wasn't done with explanation. I a child of a master psychological manipulator rebelled. I fought because I instinctually knew that the onion layers of protection that this teacher was sandblasting through were vital to my, and other's, well being. Our minds protect us for a reason. And no one has a right to play with someone's head uninvited.

That prof left soon after. Hey as a 401 master class in method acting the course work was 100% appropriate. Messing with a bunch of trusting 18-19 year olds emotional balance isn't cool.

Fast forward to the end of my stay. I was haunted by doubt and fear even though I was very, very good. My grades reflected my skill. My class mates' acceptance reflected it. My professors' casting reflected it.

My last final at PPC was in John Amplas' acting class. I and an amazing actor Jason Beavers were assigned a piece from "Danny and the Deep Blue Sea" by John Patrick Shanley.

In the scene the two characters have just finished making love after a bar hook up. This breaks down into a physical confrontation.

It was an easy scene to do. The physical violence the hysteria the longing and fear poured out of us. My character fought like a demon and sobbed in anquish.

When John called scene I was surprised as my friends rushed to my side to see if I was okay.

I was like um yeah. I'm acting here. Because I am an actor. Duh.

Except everyone got to see a part of me I had hidden away from myself that day. It would take me 17 years before the memories of my own sexual abuse arose and came through the protective barriers my mind created as a child. That was what caused their concern.

What my class saw was my protective mask begin to slip off. It (the mask) cracked during that scene work as I physically recreated being pressed into a piss stained bare mattress on the floor. A stronger man crushing me with his weight. Forcing the air from my lungs with his too tight embrace. Rocking me back and forth to silence my cries. All the while telling me he loved me.  Things I really endured as a child. The scene brought forth memories blocked from my consciousness  and they were peeking out through my body's movements.

I always thought my excellence in creating a role and living through the words of a playwright was because of my gifts of empathy and imagination.

Acting was instead a way to unknowingly work through the darkness I had trapped inside and as my skill in my craft grew and my body control increased. I was coming closer and closer to myself and my buried memories.

I almost was a great actor. I could've been a contender. But the burden of forcing myself to live fully in my body instead of the dissociation of living only in my head that theatre craft was teaching me was unbearable.

My mind was crumbling. I was paranoid and managed to isolate myself to the point of contact only with my mate.

I only wish some adult around me could have seen the very obvious signs of my trauma. Perhaps I might have stayed and finished my degree.

I sometimes miss theatre. But I did perform from age two through twenty-two. And at the time I needed to let that part of me go. Acting was too dangerous to my over protective mind.

I wish you could have seen me perform I was amazing.

(I am not at all sorry for the path my life has taken. I rejoice at each stage of my life and healing and making mistakes. If I hadn't run I honestly think the stress of remembering my abuses too early would have broken me completely. )

So that's my Almost. I have zero regrets.

Cinqfoil Splendor

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Deeply drink in violet, mix with electric lemons, toss in a handful of ivory tears and voilà! Perfection.

Color glorious

Been awhile

Sorry I haven't posted in a bit!

Lots going on. I and the kidlet are participating in an art installment creation by Kim Rullo.

I am working on religious essays to fulfill my Dedicant materials for the ADF.  WWW.ADF.org

We are prepping an entry into a local 4H kids/horses costume parade.

Family members and friends are having children.

Milestone birthdays have been celebrated and prepared for.

And the garden and life have been requiring my attention.

I have about four essays for the blog on the back burner.

Meaty stuff and thoughtful stuff and incredibly goofy stuff.

And my new camera is burning a hole in my pocket.

So let me say thank you!

Your support and encouragement is helping me drive all those above endeavors.

So much love.

- Arden

Monday, June 24, 2013

Look away if You must, but just not for My benefit

Friday is an anniversary for me. It's bigger and even more important than the milestone my husband and I passed last Friday. (And our 20 years of being a couple and 16 years of marriage are a tremendous and precious part of me.)

Two years ago I watched my dear friend Jenni Chiu do the most courageous act of healing, she publicly spoke of her own sexual abuse.

Her honest heart wrenching , trigger laden, confessional burst wide open my own locked doors.

The monitored, speak out site: Violence Unsilenced (VU) gave her the safety to speak.

I am eternally grateful to both of them. One for the protection that survivors need to ' tell' (for some survivors perhaps for the first time ever) and for the trust of a good friend.

Since Jenni bravely stepped forward on her blog and said- here's what happened to me. And I am not afraid for the world to see, how could I not try to speak my own truths? I had been telling them in small ways for years.

Her courage empowered me to write down and have published my truth.

It's there on Violence Unsilenced. My words, my experience, my anger and resolution all are printed.

I am not asking anyone to visit my memories. If you think I am kind of brutally honest and raw here, all while writing under my pen name then the force of my words there tied only to my first name may be like showering with a sandblaster.

The point of this entry isn't sympathy for me. I have been standing strong in my healing for a very long time. I have a tremendous system of support. And I am very, very grateful to them.

What I hope to share with you first and foremost the amazing effort the VU team has put forth to give voice to the voiceless. To spread hope to the hopeless. To empower those whose power has been stripped in as cruel a fashion as anything a person can experience.

I ask that you read the brave words the men and women who have survived hell have had the courage to share. Not all of them. Not even mine. But at least today's survivor story.

The world of abuse can only survive when shrouded in secrets. It's fueled by fear. When victims find their voices, when they reject the notion that they must be their own jailers by keeping the secret of their torture on behalf of their abusers safety.

The results are freedom, power and hope.

Celebrate with me the liberation of their souls!

I ask that we support efforts of organizations like Violence Unsilenced and Rainn and any local abuse crisis centers.

And secondly, far far behind my primary reason for this post,I write this post in celebration.  Two years ago I found myself compelled my own sense of healing to tell of the abuse I suffered as a child. Abuse that had (has) colored so much of my adulthood.

I shared two years ago because I was through the darkness and hoped to inspire, even if only one soul, courage.

You see everyone's life has dark moments where we think we'll never survive. That the pain and shame and loss is so great we just can't ever be fully healed and happy.

The real secret is that it's no secret. Happiness and love are the birthright of every creature. We all get to feel those things.

I am not fully healed. But I know joy exists for me. Pain in life will come. But it passes.

The writing of my story cracked open courage reserves I didn't know I had. And indirectly the power of those reserves has lead me here. Sharing my thoughts and views of my life. (Which something else Jenni gave me the courage to do.)

So Friday I am going to spend life affirmingly.- that's not a word but should be!

I am also going to support the courage of healing hearts. But I try to make that a goal every day.

So happy anniversary to truth, to empowerment, to the outpouring of love and support from friends and strangers. I cannot ever repay those kindnesses. So instead I pay them forward.

Know that you are so much stronger, so much kinder, so much more beloved than you ever know.

And be happy.

Friday, June 21, 2013

"...Let the Sun shine in!"

"Come we now as a people, to gather at the sacred well

Come we now as a people, to gather in the warmth and light of the Flame."

                                            -ADF traditional hymn used by permission.

This is the hymn my Grove uses as our precessional for almost all of our rites.

It frequently gets into my head and sticks. Dreams in the last year have added this simple round as score only for me to awaken with the tune upon my lips.

It's become a deep part of my religious life.

At home I change the plurals to "I" but  use it daily. Like a mantra I sing this several times a day. More if it has earwormed me on any particular day.

Why Arden, what does this simple song have to do with the Sun?

Well friends, today I had the honor yet again to haul my butt up our local Tor (sacred hill) and witness the birthing of the Solstice day.

The journey up the Tor is a rite unto itself. At least for me, the kid with exercise induced asthma in which any incline causes me to wheeze more than a three pack a day smoker in their 90's, the climb is a trial unto itself.

It's a challenge. I've climbed that hill five times in the last year. It's never easy.
But each time I slogged up that incline, thrice with dew slogged shoes and twice on half frozen slush I tried to go faster and farther without stopping.

Carrying a small load of offerings and what nots I ascend. Drinking in the world around me as my body's labor clears my mind and focuses my intentions. The climb becomes a walking, albeit a breathless, meditation and grounding.

At the top is my place of worship. There in a small clearing cut for joggers and dog owners in once lush farm stand the land brushes the sky.

The view encompasses the hills and valleys of my childhood. And directly in front of me, in the summer, the sun rises in epic grandeur.

So in the glooming of pre-dawn, this day I climbed. I only had to stop once to pour dew from my shoes, a point of which I am slightly proud.

As I crested the Tor the mists of the night clung like lovers to the land. And the sky shifted from periwinkle and grey to that distinctly dawn shade of violet. The promise of morning's warm glow only minutes away.

There joined by friends we "forged another link in our tradition." We honored our Kindred and praised the Sun in it's yearly moment of  greatest strength.

The Sun's cherry red glow inching upward behind purple hill again stabbed my heart in it's glory and wonder. And beneath the ever rising, color shifting light we shared a moment of harmony.

As a member of the ADF, part of our teaching is that offerings are reciprocal. (This is not a notion I am yet comfortable with but that's another post for another day.)

So in our rites there is a section where after we give to our Kindred they in turn bestow blessings upon us. It it appropriate to ask for boon at this time. I always quietly stand at this part of our rites and ask nothing.

But today the Kindred had other ideas. (Don't they always!)

I am an Animist working in a druidic tradition. Animism is what I believe and ADF tradition Druidry is what I do. And within my animistic practices it is not uncommon for me to be overcome by my Kindred and they then to speak to me. If I can explain it simply, it's like my conscious self gets shoved to the back if my mind while the Kindred inhabit and lightly control my body.

This occurred today during the blessing portion of the rite. I heard a chorus of voices in unison. I was asked to share this message and I accepted the oath to do so.

"Child of my heart, dance with me! Lay down your heaviness upon the ground.

Let us help you and all your brothers (sisters) sway in time with life.

Rejoice for your love is returned. It is given back in multitude!

Fly. Sing. Laugh. Dance. And share this bounty to all you meet!"

And so I am sharing this message of love and joy and reminder of the sacredness of play.

On this Solstice day be it your longest or shortest day rejoice. Live a little happier today. Play a little harder. Laugh and revel in being alive.

Come together as people and delight in each others humanity.

And let the sunshine in.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Beyond Words

My beloved I am devoted to you.
My love has no words that adequately can express how joyously bound to your soul my own has become over the last twenty years.
You have been for me all I ever needed in friend, companion and in darkest times father to my wounded inner child.
My love for you needed perfect voice. My words and actions seemed paltry and unworthy of you.
Then together our bodies and souls merged and we created perfection.
Here my love is the perfect expression of my trust, care and joy I share with you.
I gave you the best gift I could.
I made you Daddy.
I am sorry I made you wait so long.
I am amazed and humbled daily with your strength and gentleness with her.
You my precious man are so loved, so cherished and found to be so funny, so 'adordable' by your girls.
Happy Father's Day.
And happy anniversary early. I am better because of your love, patience and friendship.
And forgive me my public emoting.
Everyone needs to bask in your awesomeness.

Monday, June 3, 2013

When calmer heads prevail

I admit that when my news feeds began to be swarmed with the news of resistance from local church leaders in Pahokee Florida, Summer Solstice Pagan Festival has Pahokee residents outraged in connection to a first annual pagan festival I rolled my eyes and left a few smarmy remarks here and there.

I am not proud of the knee jerk reaction. I was wrong.

But I am immensely proud of The Lady Liberty League.

Lady Liberty League - Circle Sanctuary

They rallied in calm swiftness to create space for civil dialogue. This is an organization that tirelessly works to shred misconceptions and animosity between pagans and other faiths. They support all of us in an overwhelming array of ways: military services, green burials, anti-defamation, interfaith dialogue, civil rights and more.

I think all of us can learn a valuable lesson about compassion in face of fear from the actions here:

Lady Liberty League Update on Pahokee Florida Pagan Festival Support - Circle Sanctuary

Huzzah Lady Liberty League!

Huzzah Pahokee Florida!

Huzzah local Pastors who were open to respect and American freedom!

So I am humbled by my own narrow mindedness.

I am inspired by truth and mutual respect and the power those two ideas create when used in conjunction.

So I ask you what I am asking myself:

What change for good have you done today?

(Let me know below so we can keep this formula of greatness flowing!)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Terra Essential Scents

Why am I starting this entry with someone else's link?
Because I am thoroughly in love!
I came across Terra Essential Scents by accident about 9 months ago in our local high end grocery. (Whole Foods in Wexford)
I saw they were locally made and contained really great oils.
I am addicted. No really. I might need a 12 step program.
I started small with Vanilla votive candle bought in store. Hubster is crazy for vanilla but it MUST be the right scent of vanilla or out it goes.
The scent from the unburned candle was so lush. I liken it to being wrapped in fresh from the dryer flannel. Warm and luxurious. This vanilla isn't cookie sweet. This is the heady scent of the vanilla orchid pods. Just superb!
So beware, vanilla is a gateway scent!
Did I mention that the candles liquefy? No wasted wax. And their formulation is so perfect that you can use the liquid as massage oil! (But for heaven's sake blow out the flame first-my PSA for the year)
So no artificial stuff. Great essential oils blended to perfection. The line is diverse. And most come with intention coordinated gemstones for those of us that care of such things. And all candles are capped in a posh little wooden lid. Very cool.
I cannot be without 'Healing'. The smell is a memory trigger for me; a happy, wonderful memory of childhood which is for me a grand and rare thing!
So after buying vanilla and healing scented candles I bought one of the seasonal box sets of three. All 3 winners. I liked them enough to buy three more sets as Holiday gifts. And I am trying to wait calmly until the Fall scents come back to have 'bayberry' back in stock.
These candles are so well done I now use them as devotional offerings on my home shrine.
As we are a house full of allergy prone folks I only use top quality essential oil products as devotionals. Incense and candles and oils must be real to avoid breathing issues. The wicks do not 'smoke' like poor quality wicks do.
From there I ordered their Aroma Roll-on in 'vanilla, healing and meditation' scents. I ordered  corresponding candles and I now use them daily as meditation enrichment. And as a side note, all of the rollerball parts are so well crafted. I've have these roll-ons in my purse upside down and never had any leakage issues.
So today I grabbed their 'Citronella Fly Away' scented roll-on at the grocer.
I hate standard citronella smell. But this is a lovely blend of 10 essential oils that smells summer light of fresh citrus and definitely not that cloying, choke you smell we all associate with citronella.
I haven't used it yet as a repellant. But as my porch becomes a mosquito banquet hall from dusk till an hour past sundown I'll be giving this product a real work out. Normally I successfully use straight lavender oil. I don't get bugged/bit but I loathe the old lady smell.
Now if I could only get a recycling deal on the glass votives with Terra Essential Scents!
I've added a picture of my current roll on stash and the One Who Started it All!
Now go get you some!

4/23/14 Follow up:
I used the "Citronella Fly Away" on a week long camping trip. And no one received a single bite. And usually my family is to the mosquito like a buffet line in Vegas! Unlike other roll-ons & sprays we've used, Terra Essential Scents lasted and we were protected with few reapplications. 

This is the real deal. And I will be picking up a few more roll-ons for this summer.

Monday, May 27, 2013

So Amazed

Lyrics keep thrumming through my bones today.

"7 o'clock in the morning, here it comes
I heed the warning and I am so amazed
I'm here today seeing things so clear this way..."

That's how I feel right now, disconnected and awash in warnings.

A lot of death lately. A man from college died last night. He was no friend of mine but he was beloved by those I love so I morn their losses.

"The air inside just hangs with delusions..."

I am weighed down right now with shades. Shades of what ifs and one more moment pleases.
Spectres of self doubt and trust. Blown away from my heart and head by coldness of breath and finality of death.

"But given time I'll be fine..."

I know this shall pass. But for now I am choosing to live in this body; Feel these emotions; Hold every thought and feeling up to the light and dissect it and myself in the process.

But I cannot allow myself to solely live in my head. It's time to mourn and accept what is gone to feel and accept the healing emotion brings.

And listen to some CSN.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dream A Little Dream

I should have known.

Last Thursday I dreamed of a friend. He is a mentor and favourite human. We chatted about our kids. We laughed about how old we were these days. He told me he adored me and then he said something he told me daily when we worked together ten years ago: find what you love, hold tight and enjoy the ride.

I didn't think too much about the dream. I had been perusing his Facebook page before bed. So it made sense to dream of him.

Oh but I should've known better.

You see I have a gift. I dream of the dead. When ever someone I love passes on they visit my dreams. Sometimes it's people I really don't love or even like but yet they come.

I've been this way my whole life. It is a comfort and it's not.

Last week I walked about on edge all day. Like something is missing or the stove was left on. That feeling has followed me for a week.

I thought yesterday it was because I almost forgot to vote. I thought Monday it was because I forgot to buy toilet paper at the store. This weekend I thought it was about open ended plans needing finalized. Friday I thought it was my OCD getting tweaked by my mad neighbor.

Sadly the feeling of unease and restlessness ended abruptly this morning.

I saw on another friends Facebook page that our mutual friend was gone.

And unlike so many who loved him I was given a moment to say goodbye. I was able to tell him I loved him. And unlike so many I know there is a place we travel after death.

How could I not when I have years worth of journals filled with my dreaming. Silent witnesses to final farewells.

So God Speed kind man. Thank you for the dream.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Flame in Me

Little pot, found at random.

Tucked beneath the flotsam of retail's faded lilies.

You've become so much more than mere candelabra.

You are now my Anchor to the gateway of the Gods.

Simple clay vessel born of fire and fitted in steel you hold the center of my hearth.

Shine bright little secondhand store treasure.

And keep the embers of my passions safe.

Personal Persephone

Deeply hidden in velvety folds,
Light and water create illusion.

Down the rabbit hole to the place of Ancestors.

Sacred tunnel let me drift to your bottom.

There lies the River Man and Grey Gates, And home of Fear primordial.

Let me but hear your water's voice so I'll quake not.

Let me see the truths buried.

Let me rise from your fathoms with a hard won kernel of completeness.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Time for Growth

This year we went big. We decided to do serious gardening.

For the first time in my life (Well other than that pregnancy thing...) I grew something from seed to plant and now my babies are beginning to flower.

In some cases, the leaf products, we will be harvesting this weekend our first labors.

I am feeling this incredible pull to be out in the dirt. To care take these little lives. To nurture and protect and enjoy that process.

I am frustrated with obstacles that keep me from these labors.

Lack of weed whacker line, thunderstorms, lack of sleep, lack of dirt all seem like demons slashing at my soul.

Diabolical imps tormenting me, laughing as I sit by the window and watch the rain fall. Or worry as mid-May freeze threatens leaf and stem and flower.

But this eagerness is such a new feeling. Usually my gusto for gardening wanes from June to September as the dread fear of wasp bite and subsequent lack of breathing drains my happiness and draws me deeper into the cave like safety of the living room.

I play outside with the kidlet daily. We play in the park and on the porch. But the joy of communion with my land has been so muted these last six years it seems like a memory of a dream.

So forgive my new parent enthusiasm for spinach and tomato blossoms.

Ignore my gushing over containment methods.

Laugh behind your hands as I sing to the Fae folk my happiness and desire for their blessings.

Be gentle with my robustness in speech when waxing poetic over canning methods.

I am growing into this new role as earth mother. I am just being to sprout in my ability to understand the wants and needs of my Genus Loci.

Though new to the growing of plants from storage cell to full leaf, my twenty plus years of herbal lore and actual planting of others seedlings gives me courage.

And the most wonderful things of all is to share this learning with my own body creation.

Nurturing the love of the natural world in the kidlet is humbling and beyond rewarding.

So Mary, Mary Quite Contrary, what are you growing today?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Pirate piggy's battle

The Magic has been inside you all along

Reflecting upon life today.

I seem today to have regained a small portion of my joy.

Joy of the curious, joy of the magical, joy of the mundane seen without filters, I was given a sample of this today.

Just playing with the kidlet.

I allowed myself to get out of my head and be in the moment.

And look what captured my fancy! Light, water and whimsy. My favorite combination of elements. All brought to being by the wee one's desire to play in the tub.

Thank you kidlet. For letting me play too. And for being patient as I captured light and emotion in pixels and prose.

Excuse me but I have a piggy pirate island to infiltrate and mermaids to rescue.

So good bye for now.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Obligatory Mother's Day Post

So here's the thing, I have always hated mother's day.

As I have previously written my relationship with my mother is non existent. 

I always feel down on Mother's Day. Though the person who gave birth to me and I have no bond anymore there is a longing for mothering.

I have the single best Mother in Law on the planet. I love her like my mom. Really this lady is awesome. Both of my In Laws are great. But she's my mate's mom not my own.

But inside I still yearn for my mom. I yearn for her to be like other mom's a little broken but loving. I wish that the trauma of her life had made her strong enough to protect herself.

But sadly those are dreams.

I lost my mom's. My real mom as a child as inner demons devoured our chances of normal life.

My dear, sweet, big, black, queen from Kentucky Momma Té was taken due to illness leaving a void in my soul. He taught me to not be afraid of being touched. Damage my real mother allowed to be created.

And this is the first year my paternal Grandmother isn't here to call as the sadness builds upon my mind as the Hallmark holiday looms closer.

And I get maudlin folks. I can't count the number of years where deep depression and PTSD weren't present.

The year I was pregnant and the the following year were my happiest. The pain of being motherless was dull and background noise.

The year I became pagan I was filled with a sense of love. The Mother Goddess eased the ache inside. But I had my Gram there to listen to my ramblings. (Much like you are now!)

And this year I expected more of the same. Pronounced pain over my dearly missed Gram. She was a constant for me. She raised and protected me but in all honesty in some ways she broke me as much as my real mom.

But I was saved by chance.

My cousin sent me a gift. And I saw for the first time the face of mother's mom this week.

My Grandmother died before I was born and the cruel loss of her beloved mother is what made it impossible for my mom to ever fully heal.

But here not only was my Grandmother but my maternal line. My mom all the way through to the woman who gifted me tribal blood.

And for the first time in my life I am not a motherless lump. Before this week I had no real information of where I came from. 

But now I can actually see the faces of those who came before me. I have names and I can see the strength and power they had. I also know why my boobs are saggy and my arms are the size of tree trunks.

I can see the origins of my chin cleft and the mother who created 'the look' that has chastised and frightened wayward children for over a hundred years.

These women have called to me for so long in my dreams, in my faith, in my darkest times they soothed and calmed me from beyond reach. They called and I followed and now finally I can see them. I have names and faces to see in my mind as I call out praises and give offerings not to my Grandmothers but to Vera and Nora and Mary Alice and Rebecca and Susan.

I can anchor myself into a world where I no longer am adrift. A motherless soul trying to mother an absolutely glorious soul I am no longer.

I shared the pictures with my kidlet. And spoke of where we came from. I got to tie us down. Chains of love. They weigh nothing but yet fill the hole on my heart.

And though I am not looking towards Sunday with joy I think I can approach the day with calm.

I have a line of beautiful strong women behind me. And even if the bond that ties me to my own mother frayed loose a long time ago. I can weather the storm I have a good anchor now to keep me safe harboured.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Close your eyes...

Count to ten and then,
Gently blowing send a cloud
Of wishes skyward.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

A big Thank you to The Militant Baker

I was given a gift yesterday. A good friend shared a post on Facebook leading me to an amazing woman.

I was lead to the blog of The Militant Baker. This lovely lady blew my mind.

Her post from March rocked me to my core.

Read it here: http://www.themilitantbaker.com/2013/03/things-no-one-will-tell-fat-girls-so-i.html?m=1

Now dearies I am a big woman. I have struggled with lots of variables that have created this form. Starvation, under active thyroid, poly cystic ovaries, depression, poor eating and exercise habits, under eating, dieting and I could go on.

My body image is so skewed that when I was 125 of solid muscle and a tiny size 4, I thought I was a monster.
I regularly see myself as hideous. I have always avoided mirrors and photographs. Who wants to be reminded they are ugly right?

But it's not true. I see old photos shared by college friends on Facebook and frequently I am so shocked to see a lovely woman that it takes a second look to realize it's me.

I read Jes' blog and saw a gorgeous woman. I agreed with her 10 things. Yet I immediately thought wow I would never look that good again. I am too big/old/scarred.

Then the comments hit me. You see we are the same size. I see her as beautiful but myself as repulsive.

I never have seen myself as beautiful not in high school, college, my wedding day, not pregnant. But thankfully I was given one brief moment of true sight.

After my kidlet was born, like 9 hours after birth, I caught my reflection in the bathroom mirror. It was that shock of un-recognition. There was this radiantly beautiful creature looking back at me and holy fuck it IS me!

But all too soon the wacky wiring in my head twisted my perceptions once again.

I once was told I look like Kim Kardshian. After I looked up who the hell she was I was all: 'dude nice to taunt the fat chick-you asshole' and dismissed him.

I ALWAYS dismiss compliments. I NEVER believe anyone (husband included) that I am attractive. I am not phishing for more compliments with my denials. I just can't accept the idea that anyone might really find me attractive.

I am NOT coy.

I did at one time laud my big chest because I 'just knew' that's all I had going for me.

How sad is that? I sure as hell do not want to pass along my fun house, seriously broken-brained, body image to my kidlet.

I work to be healthier. I lost 50lbs last year. Yep I was knocking on 300lbs. And I was super proud. I cut my Type 2 risk by 10%. But the loose skin and the not losing a clothes size as what fits looks like full body camel toe due to the landslide of flesh just devastated me. How freaking cruel. I lose an ass ton of weight but look awful. I am stuck in clothes now sizes too big. I now swim in textile where once I was encased in fat. I gave into the fun house and declared who cares you're old and fat and ugly and been with your man 20 years.

But IT'S A LIE. At now 264 I am just as strong as I was chucking over a ton of boxes, several times a day, 6 days a week. I am man strong. I can lift and move marble and mahogany sinks without assistance. I did that. I can embrace my strength, I can revel my quick mind, but accepting that my body is beautiful is harder than childbirth.

It has taken a young baker/blogger/model/mental health professional to open the door of the fun house and awaken in me a drive to shatter all my false images of myself.

Thank you. Thank you for clubbing into my noggin: truth.

Thank you  Jes for dragging me away from my narcissistic love affair with twistedness and illusion.

Now which of my glorious friends will take me shopping? I need an honest, brutal, loving hand. I want someone who will assist me to see in the mirror correctly and help me reclaim my Goddesshood! Any of my drag queen friends free? You know more about femininity and what not to wear and fierceness that all the Joan Rivers of this world combined.

I must retrain my brain. And I will learn to see what so many of my loved ones see: the actual me.

And I am so not a number on a scale!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Quickening

"There can be only one!" - Victor Kruger
Anyone else feel like they have been repeatedly struck by alien ball lightening lately?
Anybody trotting about their day with the combined wisdom of a thousand vanquished foes in their skulls?
No. Really. Think about this...
It seems to me that life , in general and mine specifically, is trying to get our attention.
70° weather all day and freezing temps at night. There is a pull. A tug towards action. A yank of the collective short hairs to unglue creation from stagnation of winter and partake in frenzied creation.
Can you feel it? Doesn't it thrum down your bones like bass in a crowded club? 
Create! Nurture! Express! Move! Live!
Stop letting the dross claw at your ankles. Stop letting wanna be boogie men tear your emotional flesh. Stop allowing broken, tired, un-useful, hurtful, rejected ways of being try to smother you in their world of imaginary darkness.
We live in complexity. Life is a dance of vines interwoven and constantly shifting patterns. But bitches we do own seam rippers for a reason!
Cut away, free yourself from silken shackles. Be the chrysalis and emerge.
Whack the head off that medieval bully and let the thunder peal. And rejoice in being alive!
We carry so many voices inside us. Let's cull the negative ones and feed the positive voices.
Because who doesn't need more sexy Scottish Spaniards in their inner monologue?

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Breath pulsing wheezes
Tightening choking panic
Muscles mind anguish

Steel cords clamping down
Thoughts race hamster wheels endless
Fight flee scream silence

Stomach knots again
Bracing for lack or stuffing
Fill the emptiness

- three haiku about panic attacks

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

If Only

If only you fit
As easily into my
Heart as in my hand

- For heart hurting children and Mother's everywhere.  


Monday, March 4, 2013

TMI, Hair drier tragedy and T-Rex

I warn you this post will talk graphically about menstruation. Specifically my own. You have been warned about TMI!

So I just finished "God, no!" by Penn Jillette this evening. My husband read it first and was patiently awaiting my completion of the book to discuss the one chapter in it that he claimed was: the funniest thing he'd ever read in his life! Please go read this book and then call me and we can discuss that chapter together! Hubster was in bed waiting for me to join him there so he could gage my reaction to the aforementioned chapter.

Now I shall not ruin said book for others. Nor do I want to infringe on copyright. And frankly the whole point of bringing up the book is: 1. to frame the argument that Comedy is Tragedy happening to someone else and 2. to explain how my day became a prime example of that principal today.

So the hubster asks me how did I find the chapter and I said it was really, really funny as I go to the closet to get my feminine products from said closet to prepare for bedtime.

I then told my husband that cardboard tampon applicators are a menace to society. And the following recounting of my own days humiliation ensues:

Me: "You'd think my organic cotton non-bleached tampons are a good thing."

Hubster: "Um yeah."

Me: "Well they are not and here's why..."

And they are great tampons just for those reasons. (Now seriously think about that- bleached paper up the vajay-jay can't be good for you.) I love my Pandora Pads™ and adore me a Diva Cup™ but not when you have to share the bathroom with a four-year-old.

And especially not when cramped in a good friend's powderoom/laundry room, with no exhaust fan, after someone had two people before you had a power dump.

Now I mense in two flows- no flow for months at a time or fire hose. Ew.

I have also found that since giving birth I like the comfort of using both types of feminine care to protect from leakage issues while out of the house. And disposable product is the only way to go.

Now please imagine (if you have no small kids bear with me, those of you with them can just nod.) that every time you want to use the toilet you have to look behind you to make sure your child isn't there. Because you've sat down before checking and sat on an arm, or barely missed you kid's head because they are so intrigued about what you might make in the potty they have to look real quick before you go no matter the harm they might yet again suffer.

So back to my Greek tragedy.

We are in my friend's powder room. She goes potty. Then I go. We've both waited a bit to long and my back up, anti-leakage system has kept me from public ridicule. But what to do? My pad is soaked so I know the tampon is too.

My kid is all about menstruation. She's asking me mile a minute questions as I sit down to pee.

She wants to see the unopened pad packaging. She wants to see the unwrapped tampon. I am happily answering her questions then everything goes bad.

She sees the soiled pad attached to my undies and backs away with a look on her face like zombies have descended upon her. I quickly change the subject to My Little Pony Friendship is Magic politics and distract her while I switch out the old pad for the new.

But here's the problem. How to take out the tampon with out scarring her for life? I know it's going to be bad. the amount of blood on the pad confirms the tampon has become a blood sponge.

I have to wrap up the soiled tampon, after i remove it,  with out her seeing and because my friend's house is over 100 years old and I can't flush the thing because it can clog the pipes. It needs to be tossed away in the kitchen neatly buried under my bachelor friends garbage!

So I attempt to remove the tampon quickly and nonchalantly whilst discussing whether or not Rarity likes apple tarts as much as Rainbow Dash.

I get the darned thing out and- of course it's beyond soaked, it's dripping wet. It's a lump of bloody mouse in my hand. And I am trying desperately to wrap it up in toilet paper before the kidlet sees it. When this simple potty routine becomes like scene in Carrie.

She notices the sodden tampon I am frantically trying to hide. She sees the blood bloom through the TP as it begins to drip down my wrist and begins to back pedal away from me and what I hold like the gym doors are locked and my hands are on fire. She has her arms tucked so high up in her armpits in her fear that she looks like a baby T-Rex.

So my baby T-Rex with her face in a frozen mask of horror is trying to back pedal in a 2'x2' space away from my offending feminine care. She's trying to climb up the front of the washer without turning around because if she does my tampon might get her if she looks away. Little T-Rex arms wildly twisting in front of her to fend of the vision before her. Her eyes huge pools of fear, like anime drawings. Her mouth wide open and slack at the same time. Slowly tilting from side to side with little squeaks of air passing through her voice box that sound like a water filled float duck being squeezed.

Meanwhile in the room outside the door my husband and friends are wondering what the heck is taking so long. Then they hear the pounding of my kids elbows and heels on the washer front as she frantically trys to escape me, boom, boom, boom. And are now loudly questioning if we are all okay in there?

Inside the Tomb of Horrors, I am quickly wrapping up the mess and trying to calm down everything. I am trying to assure the grown ups we are almost done and can return to our game of Uno. I need a distraction pronto!

"So do you think any other ponies will become Alicorns next season?" I ask my daughter.

She stops and turns her tiny T-Rex armed body to me, head tilted in an uncanny image of a real dinosaur or dog hearing a high pitched sound and says: "Maybe Rarity."

Whew! Disaster averted, I think. But no. The Universe is still having too much fun laughing at me.

I unwrap my Eco-friendly, non-bleached tampon with it's biodegradable insertion tube faster than lighting. And as I begin to insert it and finish this damn potty session, it gets stuck half inserted into my vagina. The feeling of dry sandpaper clinging to my delicate girl flesh is unbearable.Then the bottom of the tube pulls out. I am half crouched over the potty, trying to insert the now pint sized tube into my body without re-traumatizing my kid. I some how manage to rip the sandpaper out and force the micro tube up where it needs to be while taking about My Little Pony and without making any pain filled faces. And finally we are able to wash up and get out of that powder room.

Now I am explaining this to the hubster. Making the faces my child had made. Waving my little T-Rex arms in horror and disgust at him. And he's laughing so hard and loudly he wakes up our daughter. At 12:30am. Who quips from the other room: "Periods are gross. Goodnight. Don't wake me up again Daddy, Hurrumph!"

So beware the cardboard applicator. Watch out for stray arms and legs and heads before you sit down. Keep up on Ponyville politics and story lines.

Remember comedy is Tragedy happening to Someone else.

And perhaps you too can survive your next potty session with a four year old.

Stay Pony my Friends.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Thoughts of Giving Up on Fat Tuesday

Today is Fat Tuesday. A day of whooping it up before turning inwards and sacrificing for the Lenten season.

But Arden, you're a Pagan? What does any of this have to do with you?

Kismet. You see today is a dark day for me. An anniversary of a decades old trauma that I have truly attempted to bury yet catches me off guard and emotionally vulnerable every year for almost three decades.

I spent today in an unsettled funk. I tried, unsuccessfully ( to my eyes) to repair a friendship.

I do the type of stupid crap I unconsciously do every February the 12th: I try to fix broken stuff. And usually I have no real awareness of the date. And it never ends well. NEVER.

But today, after I recognized the date and gave a name to my fevered need for reparation, I had some things,unrelated yet deeply symbolically related, snap me awake.

Awake as in self aware. As in fully fucking present with my own heart.

Three decades ago I was tossed literally away by the one person who should always hold you precious.

From a vehicle that never came to a full stop, I and my meagerly allowed possessions in a hefty bag (Generic brand thank you!) were chucked out of said car by my mother.

Yep. Baggageville party of me.The date was February 12. And just forget about Valentines Day- I mean my own mother couldn't love me. I still see it it slo-mo like it is a bad B movie complete with flipped lit cigarette in my general direction and chirping of tire as the car fled from sight.

So there has been years of ignoring this anniversary. There have been decades of: "this don't bother me!"  There have been years of understanding the mental state of my very emotionally damaged mother. There have been countless hours of therapy, forgiveness counseling (not for myself mind you), anger management, sobbing, ranting, railing, suicide attempts, misguided attempts at fixing unbroken and unrelated things all centered around 2/12.

But I have not ONCE in almost thirty years allowed myself to mourn. I have empathized with my mother's pain. Yet I have never allowed myself to feel my own.

Why? Have I been keeping a family secret? No, the whole damn neighborhood saw what transpired. (Secrets are very big with my family- but that's another post for another time.) Am I proving how tough I am by not being hurt that the person who birthed me hated and reviled me so much she couldn't be bothered to stop the car before she washed her hands of me? No.

All these years and the unrelated/related dramas are because my defense mechanisms do not work. This whole: nope not me, that didn't hurt, nope, nope, nope, stupidity has kept me from me.

"One does not simply get chucked out of one's car by one's mumsey and think that one's self hood shall be kept whole and intact." or some meme from a TV show based on a book that I have never read might say.

What the Sam Ax does this have to do with Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, Friday Fish Frys and sacrifice you might wonder?

I through random acts of kindness from folks who had no idea that their love and friendship would help me today, the day I do not allow myself to have, I have had an epiphany!

I realize that I need to make February 12th a day of mourning. A day to allow a broken hearted child to miss, and ache and wail at the second worse betrayal her heart sustained by someone who should never had hurt her.

I need to let myself be angry and fully present about my day of being sacrificed. I need to allow this time yearly to grieve a lot of bad juju. And I think by finally embracing the pain I can finally let that mother go.(All imaginable puns intended.) And hopefully, one day, turn a yearly holiday of personal mourning into a day of memorial.

So I'm giving up my self flagellation over being dumped by my mom. I am going to stop ignoring the rage and loss and pain that is February the 12th. I am going to stop numbing my soul/heart/mind/breath and allow myself to be present. Maybe heal. At least stop blindly walking into the day thinking that it's just another ordinary fucking day.

It only took me three decades. What can I say? I'm a fast learner.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Separation of Fiction and Faith

As disclaimer I am of the Neopagan religious persuasion.

Over the last week I have been bombarded with outrage. Outrage from certain pockets of the Neopagan community over currently released entertainments.

Specifically over: "Hansel and Gretel, witch hunters" and "Beautiful Creatures".

And as this is my own forum I feel able to allow myself to completely, honestly express my thoughts on said outrages: GROW THE FUCK UP!!!

Now that I have rid myself of that excess emotional baggage, I want to delve deeper here about this growing tide of moral outrage with anything even remotely paganish sounding.

Let me be clear: Buffy, Charmed, The Craft, Practical Magic, The Avengers, Harry Potter, LOTR,Excalibur and ad nauseum are ENTERTAINMENTS! They have 0% to do with religion.  Nothing. They reflect nothing about our faiths and add nothing to those faiths.

These are not acts of defamation created to froth those not Neopagan into furies that lead to another Inquisition.

 And all this whining has made my inner Baba Yaga want to grind the bones of this outrage back into common sense!

Let's also shed light on the hypocrisy and double standards (double talk) we as the Neopagan community have with this issue.

We get all pantie twisted when people try to ban Harry Potter from libraries because they mistakenly think those books promote religions, ideas (imagination) they find religiously appalling. Where's our backlash to those in our own community acting similarly?

Some of us were all big eye rolls when Christans were calling for boycotts over "The Last Temptation of Christ". A movie based on those Christian's most holy principle- The Crucifixion and subsequent Resurrection of Christ. Yet we are in arms over Hansel & Gretel?!

Where was your outrage over the Hulk calling Loki a: "puny god"?

Oh that's right it is just a movie.

Can we agree that if non pagans approach us with questions because of these entertainments that we use that time as gentle teaching moments? Preferably done with grace and humor.

Shall we instead use/turn all this misplaced outrage into energy directed at real defamation?

Or at minimum can we stop publicly acting en masse like nitwits who cannot tell fictions from real life?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Farewell 2012, year of brokeness

Choking darkness lifts,
Stretching through heartbreak's waters,
Peace blooms again dearest.
                          -Arden Raine 2012©

Welcome to the randomness

Greetings to you, brave souls who visit my hut in the woods!

I am a poet, wordsmith, ex-theatrical, raving looney and standard human unit.

I hope to entertain, enlighten, educate and occasionally rant about life, specfically my own.

So come on in. The kettle's hot and hopefully the conversation is stimulating.