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

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.