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

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Second Verse Same as the First

Okay here it comes. Again.
Back in my blogs baby days I posted (The Separation of Fiction and Faith) about the greater pagan community having it's knickers in a wad over the movie "Hansel & Gretel:Witch Hunters".
*Ding! Ding! Round 2: Fight!"*
Oh it's on now. Marvel is about to, or possibly has just, release its new Thor title. And guess what the wielder of Mjolnir has the dreaded XX chromosome.
The comic world was a buzz a bit ago over it because ewww girls have cooties.
But today the pagan contingency of fundamentalism has begun their yapping.
"It's sacrilegious!"
"Is Sif a lesbian now?!"
"No! No! No! Not MY GODS!"(emphasis mine, shrill bleating theirs) seriously Loki tied his ball sac to a goat for a laugh, folks. And that's in our lore!
So here we are back with the nonsensical hand wringing over obvious fiction. Not fictionalized religious mythology, see Noah the movie,  but actual fiction based on a made up comic universe that's been with us for 50 years.
Let's steal a trope from the comic world and tell our tale in flashbacks....
Our tale begins long ago...
Thor's first appearance in Marvel dates back to August 1962 in the #83 issue of "Journey into Mystery"
Our mighty Asgardian began his rein in March 1966 with Thor #126 on the cover he's battling Hercules.  Art by Jack Kirby and Vincent Colletta.
Why #126 you ask? Well because the addition of the Norse God changed the course of the "Journey to Mystery" title.
It ceased being JtM and became Thor.
A bit about why writer/editor Stan Lee chose to add Thor to #83...
"[H]ow do you make someone stronger than the strongest person? It finally came to me: Don't make him human — make him a god. I decided readers were already pretty familiar with the Greek and Roman gods. It might be fun to delve into the old Norse legends... Besides, I pictured Norse gods looking like Vikings of old, with the flowing beards, horned helmets, and battle clubs.  ...Journey into Mystery needed a shot in the arm, so I picked Thor ... to headline the book. After writing an outline depicting the story and the characters I had in mind, I asked my brother, Larry, to write the script because I didn't have time. ...and it was only natural for me to assign the penciling to Jack Kirby..."
That tidbit comes directly from Stan Lee's deposition about the Origins of The Marvel Universe in the Kirby Family vs. Marvel lawsuit. Go look it up.
Do I hear the siren call of the fauxrage?
How dare they use our Gods for such paltry entertainment?!
May I remind you of a few other artistic endevours?
Did Odin smite Neil Gaiman for defamation of character in "American Gods"?
Did Jehovah punish Spielberg for letting Nazis open the Arc?
What of the Stargate franchise?  You mean Ra and company haven't rended the stones of the Great pyramids to ash in their horror over the bastardization of the mythos?
Obviously the answer to all the above queries is a resounding: No.
Because fiction is not religion.
Yes my friends,   art pulls from lots of places. Archetype and mythology are reused and rehashed and re-imaged constantly. Art does this to give perspective on current culture.  It uses the past to create the future.
So unless the art in question specifically mentions that it is religious in nature, and is also touted as "true to the cosmology" of the religious mythos, stop being so incredibly stupid.
Fundamentalism has a tendency to scream foul at anything even remotely seems sacrilegious.
Can we, as humanity,  shed this foul ideology please?
In Marvel's Universe whomever holds Mjolnir wields the power of Thor.
End of story.
A woman has the hammer, and only those worthy of that great power can even lift the darn thing.
Where was the Nordic religious fervor when Thor was turned into a frog?
That's right a frog, in armour, carrying about a wee magic hammer. Is that crickets I hear?
We have a lot of folks under the banner of Paganism. From Atheist Pagans to Hard Polytheists. From all traditions and stripes.
As an Animist and Hard Polytheist who actively worships Norse Gods, I say in the most loving way: shut it. Please.
All our lore was written by people. The Eddas  were penned by a Christian attempting to preserve old stories. We have no infallibility to our mythology.  We have scraps and wisps from olden times that have been bleached and reconstituted like Tang through the cultural cheese cloth of Christianity.  And that's Okay! We make a living religion by living in a religious fashion.
We have no war with fiction.  We don't worship fiction (well unless you're an archetypal pagan or ask hard core atheist pagan.)  Oh there are some folks who have decided to use certain literary worlds as a basis for their practices.
I am looking at you Temple of the Jedi folks. And that's okay too.
Not my cuppa joe. And to me silly. But hey you want to give offerings to Spiderman or wear a colander on your head. I am going to support your tenacity. But though your practices may be 100% truly lived you're not actually worshiping fiction.  You are using an archetypal pattern to humorously or seriously practice faith.
So next time the rumbling of OUTRAGE over some slight or misconception over faith raises its hydra-like head, cut that mother off at the root. Then set that stump on fire. It prevents regeneration and the dreaded double head regrowth.
Defend the right of artists to do the job of holding up culture to the light. Culture gets gangrene without this systematic cleanse.
If you hear stupidity being said about your faith correct that shit by speaking to folks. Know the history of your tradition. Defend other faiths being maligned.
There's an honest discussion to be had over comic publishing use of misogyny, greed, and the bastardization of storytelling to increase revenue at the cost of good art. There's discussion to be had over glass ceilings and lack of cultural voice in comics and all art forms. Let's have that discussion.  Let's talk then about how to make strides towards creating space and marketing money available for projects from artists of all stripes.
Let's see if we, as consumers,  can help back things like the video game "Never Alone" which is a way to keep tribal mythology alive and vibrant for a new generation.
And stop running around waiting for a house to fall on your sister.
Or for a female character in a make believe world, that's printed on pulp, to hit you in the head with a god like clue by four.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Community at the Park

I've begun a journey to reconnect with the wights and denizens of my local park.

I have been spending about an hour each weekday morning sitting in meditation.

There's a swirling dizziness that takes me as I do this work. It's as if once I stop moving and pay attention everything begins to coalesce.

Daily I clean a little bit more of the rubbish. And restack fallen wall cobblestones. These things are small acts of my communion with the Spirits of the place.

But in the moment of surrender to the meditation the feeling of being washed into another space has begun to grow stronger. I am adrift in a warm presence and tossed about in the eddies of the life force.

I photography each morning sky and light and land trying to capture for others the beauty of our home.

This week I've begun to record 2 minutes of video that I call: 2 minute meditations and post them to my private page. This too is a small act of connection to place.

But today instead of my usual ground and center I did an eyes open meditation.

The silent observation of the community around me is a joy.

The Jay family seems to have accepted my presence.  As today all 7 danced from oak to oak chatting and hustling the squirrels for acorns.

Robins, cardinals and chickadees got bolder with me not ceasing their song as I wandered beneath them on the way to my meditation spot.

Got the first time this season I spotted one of the shy Warren-folk as she slipped out from undercover of the mock orange patch; a silver ghost daintily nibbling clover. Her ears soft not rigidly alert, the tiny rabbit loped unconcerned by my presence,  though truthfully I am a good 80 feet from her, from patch of sunlight to shadow.

Delightfully upon the two sacred oaks, both dually struck by lighting and tornado by the same storm front, a pair of squirrels went about their day. One tawny the bigger and bolder of the two and one soft grey, they foraged and battled around the trunks. Tawny flitted around the grass to find the best fallen treasures only to zip up another oak and daredevil at its uppermost branches shaking up a few unhappy mourning doves.

Smoke the smaller, and seemingly gentler of the two squirrels cautiously explored the sycamore ring then disappeared from view when the jays sick of Tawny's acrobatics mimicked the cries of a red tail hawk.

The vocabulary of the blue jay is extensive.  And this morning my crew are having a good old fashioned jawing.

As the last of my offering smoke drifts upward like spider silk I am reluctant to leave my roost.

So much hustle and bustle on an overcast morning as Tawny exacts a small measure of revenge as he chases a juvenile Jay up the smallest of the oaks. His squawking seems gleeful.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mending the Bond

I find myself with a luxury of time in my mornings these days.

Kidlet safely tucked onto the bus headed for educational adventures each dawning gives me time to go walk about in our local park.

One of the best things about our home, to me at the time we bought it, was the gorgeous tiny oasis of land only 3 doors up.

Our parcel of homestead is a smaller than a bread box and that was not a happy thing for a land worshiping, herb growing, ex-farm girl.

But the park! Once the front lawns of a coal baron's estate. It now is a simple city park. Yet it retains a sense of it's Victorian primness while flaunting is overgrown wildness.

For the last 7 years, my goodness time flies, I've rambled its trails and explored its grounds.

I've wild forged sheepshead mushrooms and melissa. I've plucked choke cherries and blackberry (black raspberries to those not from the region. ) We've shared space as my kidlet learned to walk, and climb, and run.  She's still learning to ride her bike on its few paved walkways.

I've sat under stars,and moons full to new wrapped in velvet shadow here. We have taken night walks with deer and bat.

And the birds! This morning alone I have seen: robin, blue jay,  tufted woodpecker,  downy woodpecker,  mourning dove, cardinal, yellow finch, house sparrow, and golden finch.

There was a special place along its pathways where for years a fallen tree was sentinel. It's exposed root system was the spitting image of a dragon.  And for years we and other park visitors left him offerings: bits of colored glass, candy, coins, incense, acorn caps, rose petals, a tiny purple unicorn to keep him company.  We all loved our park guardian.

Then last year for some unknown reason the park services torn him up. Ripped him from beside our path and left instead of his glorious personage an empty space that filled with leaf litter and poison  ivy.

My heart broke. If I am honest from the moment we discovered our loss I have been avoiding this place.  It felt like a violation too great to be endured.

So when and if we came to the park those lovely half wild trails were shunned.  We stayed to the asphalt pathways and playground equipment.  Then the tagging showed up. Childish scrawl in garish paint screamed 'unsafe' and set my nerves burning.  The sadness washed over me and instead of fighting back with scrub brush and presence, I fled.

Flash forward to yesterday.

It was our 3rd morning of catching the school bus. And afterwards as I walked my way home through the dappled light and dewy grass, I heard my beloved crows. How joyous the family sounded.  So I walked to the swings and watched them in their corvid glory.  Now seven members strong, they bicker with the equally large blue jay family unit.

I was entranced so I moved up the hill towards the crows roosted in a dead tree that frames the blue morning sky. They were raucous.  Yelling and scolding and furious. I took a picture and decided to wind round the hill to the top garden glen where I could get lovely close ups of the crows. It's a mere 10 feet from plateaued hilltop to the top of the tree they were scolding from.

And then...

I rounded the final spiral past sassafras trees and oak to enter the lemony lit patch. The crows went mad. Screaming and flying round the hilltop. Agitated and furious they cawed and swooped. The squirrel gang, not to be out sassed, began chattering and thrashing in the trees that surround the small glade. Jays clicked and whooped. But I stupidly drank it all in with delight. Until the first acorn smacked me in the noggin.

Did I mention I tend to need clue by fours to grasp life sometimes?

Holy Hannah!  All this fuss is because of me! It's my presence that's making everything angry. I keeper of the flame, animist, lover of the land and its people in all forms have become the 'interloper'!

Oh my goodness.  How strange and hurtful that revelation was to me. But of course my once friends were pissed at me.

Here's the friend that came every day; who spent time cleaning the house up; and who took time to watch and listen for years then abandoned them. I left them alone for a whole year. I shirked my duty. I ignored their home but for brief and superficial visits to take what I wanted. An hour on the play equipment a quick run through to see if the mushrooms came up. But no real investment into our relationship.

I was a bad guest in all ways.  I walked away without a by your leave then waltzed back in and put my muddy boots on the couch.

Now I saw what I had to do.

I needed to mend the bond. I broke the trust. I must now work to earn it back.

I went home yesterday sad and embarrassed. There's work to do but where to start?

This morning I packed a small satchel.  I filled it with offerings: water from home, incense, sunflower seeds harvested from the wild thing that grew this year by our door(a gift of dropped seed from our winter feeder), some veg for the deer,and most importantly empty bags.

This morning as we trekked to the bus stop we heard song birds.  No crows or jays chatter.  As the kidlet left I started my way into the park and cleaned trash as I went. After I filled the first bag  and disposed of it properly I went to see the Appletree Man. I offered him the water. Then I took myself to the old concrete steps of the caretakers house.

The house is long gone. The old foundation walls are the frame for the basketball court. But where you once would've walked in for a cuppa tea, I sat.

There's a grey stump from an old hedge next to the five stone rise. There I left the seeds. I lit the white sage and said some quiet prayers. I captured some video of the ribbons of twisting smoke. I took still pictures. And drank in the place.

For a while the change was striking.  Lots of birds and song. No crows today though. More importantly I felt that I was being invited to stay a bit and catch up.

I think the offerings were accepted.  A first step at reclaiming our friendship.

Then the morning shifted as the park services arrived with the grass cutting equipment.  And my morning idle was done.

I am writing this from the same spot. A good hour plus gone. My second helping of smolder, this time copal, is almost totally ash. I planted a few of the sunflower seeds in the patch of dirt behind the chain link fence at my back.

Remember your connections.  Friendships are oaths to take time and care of one another. Take stock and truly notice if you're taking more than you give. And fix the tears that need mending.

The light is changing and my stomach reminds me it needs tea and grain. So as the hawk calls from the next hillside over I leave you all for now, a little wiser and terribly grateful for the chance to make up for my crappy manners.

Up in smoke

Upward wisps of prayer
Perfumed remembrance
Enribboned praises

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dear Kidlet, (part 2)

Dear Kidlet,

Tomorrow begins the first big adventure of your life! I know you are super ready and excited and maybe a bit nervous.

You my wee one will be a full fledged big kid. Kindergarten!  Yippee!

I know you love your How to Train Your Dragon backpack and Spiderman lunchbox (bag? They are not boxes anymore. ) and are eager to use them tomorrow.

You've asked for a cheese and mayo sandwich. And an apple and carrots. And rose water to drink. (we mix a little rose syrup into water- think floral koolaid. Hey don't judge it's good!)

You've met your teacher and Ms. Bongiorni rocks. I love her already. You met twin brothers and I think the three of you might be friends. You like the same things after all.

I loved that your Ninny & Buppy got to come visit the school and meet your teachers on Monday. It's important that they know how well you will be taken care of and how awesome your class is.

I've been asked if I am sad you will not be home with me all day anymore.  And honestly I am as ready as you are for this new stage.

Kiddo,  I have tried to be the best stay at home mom I could be. We've had awesome times and awful times.  We worked through lots of milestones and heartbreaks. I am proud of you kidlet. And I am proud of myself and your Dad.

You are kind and thoughtful.  Well, unless you're tired. Then all bets are off!

You are smart and curious and focused. Sorry my child you can get like momma tunnel visioned at times and hate to be interrupted.  I hate that too. But you'll learn how to take the frustration in stride- with time.

You are funny. Really, really funny. I hope you use that good sense of humor to help others feel at ease and happy too.

You are quick to snuff our injustice.  I hope that you always stand up for what's right and those being harmed. I also hope that discernment and patience can help guide the righteous anger.

You are delightfully social. Please stay cheerful and unshy but remember not every child is gregarious.  And always be respectful of the space bubble.

You are courageous and bold. I love both of those things about you. I hope you are always bold and courageous.  I hope that you can see your way through to adulthood without losing that confidence.

May you grow into the woman who makes you feel fierce, loving, capable and joyous.

But for now for tomorrow at least, let Mom and Dad walk you into the school on your first day ever.  You see it's our first day of letting go. Not completely,  kiddo don't worry. We are here for cuddles and snuggles and stories and listening and cookies and waffles for a long time yet. There will be boo boos to kiss and broken hearts to hold tightly for years to come. But tomorrow we say goodbye to the baby you. The completely and utterly dependant on us you.  And it may seem hard or sad for us. But it's not really. We are happy to watch you soar.

We are proud of you and relieved we did as good a job as we have. We know there's so much to learn and do and love and hate ahead of you.  And it's just as exciting for us! And we will have lots to learn with you!

Kidlet enjoy tomorrow.  We are going to treat it as the big deal it is. Daddy took off the whole day so we can drop you off and pick you up. But Friday?  Who hoo! Friday is your first solo trip anywhere without us or family ever. That bus ride is freedom baby! That ride is your magic carpet to big girl land. Love it. Be kind. Make some friends. Learn lots and lots of cool stuff.

You are going to rock this! We'll play "First Day of School" by the Imagination Movers on the way. They are your favorite band. And it's a favorite song!

I'm not sad. I'm thinking of you how happy you are going to be. I know you are nervous.  And that's okay. Daddy and I will be there after school every day for snacks and chat and play.

I also know this transition has been hard on you. You're nervous and anxious and get angry eaiser. That's okay too. We will work it out. Remember Daniel Tiger's songs:
"Try something new it might taste good."
"Grown ups come back."
"When you feel so mad that you want to roar- take a deep breath and count to 4."

That tiger knows lots of good stuff.

Okay kiddo only one last bit of advice:
Enjoy each day. Every day starts new.  And every day is a new adventure.

I love you kidlet.
I love you 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2, I love you.

Knock 'em dead!



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Puck's Gone Away

I know that today your feeds are awash in thoughts about the death of Robin Williams.

I know that even now, barely 24 hours since he took his own life, you might be feeling overwhelmed by the presence of depression.  What it is and what it's not are filling thousands of virtual diaries.

Memes about sadness and hot line numbers are everywhere today.

There's an equal sense of sadness and anger. I understand that you might not want to read another tribute.  Or read another me too post about internal demons.

If so by all means stop reading now. No hard feelings.

But that's what I am going to write about today: the Hard feelings.

I am a major depressive. That means that a toxic combination of genetics, nurture, & chemistry have conjoined inside my body to make me prone to uncontrolled depression, too loneliness ocean deep and pain that never fully heals.

I am going to speak frankly about suicide and my opinion on it. And I honestly don't give a fuck if you agree with me or not. I have a unique view of what it is to dance with Death. I am going to be brave enough to share those things.  I understand if that is too unsettling for some of you. No hard feelings,  as long as you keep chiding thoughts to yourselves.

I am devastated by the suicide of Mr. Williams. I've been crying since last evening when the news broke. I didn't sleep last night. I cuddled up around my phone and watched Netflix to try to soothe the raw ache.

I have also been trying to understand why I am so upset. But I think I see clearer today.

I never met Mr. Willams. And ever since my early childhood I felt deeply saddened by his blue eyes. There was such hurt in those bright eyes. I've always equated a set of twinkling eyes with deep and bottomless pain. I always see his eyes when I think of how funny people are the most wounded.

Robin Williams saved my life more times than any other person on this planet.  That is why I am sore from crying today. And it's a lovely day all bright and full of promise. A thumb jab to the heart's eyes that it's a beautiful blue sky day. When by rights the world should be covered in storms. And yet...
The sky is blue like those lovely eyes. 

So how the heck did a man I never met save my life?

Mork & Mindy. This show created a small pocket of peace in my childhood.  A brief moment of silence when my family would stop en mass and not be fighting.  This show stopped a beating once. Because no one wanted to miss the show.  That's the first time Robin saved my life.

I've had at least one suicidal bout a year since I was 8 years old. On at least three separate cases the work of Mr. Williams found a way to blast through the cacophony of pain and make me able to go on when I truly didn't want to live.

"Live at the Met" found me on one of my first almost successful attempts at taking my own life. I had taken a full bottle of pills. I was sitting on the couch and waiting for the warmth of the narcotics to carry my life away when on the special came. In that frenetic explosion of comedy. I found a new way to see how my own mind worked. I saw that I could channel the mania and pain into something else. I forced myself to vomit and watched the full special and cried myself to sleep grateful for the sad clown who gave me a reason to go on.

In High School he saved me again with "Dead Poet's Society". I had been planning for three weeks how to kill myself. I had internalized the lesson from Met. Never let them see how much you hurt. Make them laugh. Seem normal.

Odd I know that of all people Robin taught me to be normal acting. But I still have the journals from my life before high school and living with my Dad. Mr. Williams was there.

So here I was a seemingly happy teen. Not popular but with friends. Finally feeling better after the horrors of my early childhood.  I was the lead in the school musical. I was student of the month. I was by outward appearances a happy kid.

Yet I was desperate to be rid of my life. The pain was becoming unbearable.  Too many secrets.  Too much shame. How couldn't people see in my own blue eyes the rot inside of me. And then on the day before I was going to hang myself, this was the first time hanging seemed the only way I could go, I sat on the couch with my Gram and watched Dead Poet's.
My life shifted. I went out of body during the suicide scene.  I saw how my pain being released in death, mercifully released, would harm others. I was trained since earliest memories to worry more about others pain than my own. That saved my life.

So I watched the film. Then went to my room and stood on my desk and silently screamed for two straight hours. Sobbing and spent I became feverish and wrote a deeply moving and personal piece for my English class.  Surely Mrs. Anderson would see this and set my heart free!!! I didn't have to die- I could write away the demons. And with inhaled breath handed over the piece.  It was dismissed as weird and awful. It was weird and awful. But it was my rawest self on a page. It would be the last time until recent memory, or blog post, that I wrote in that state of feverish honesty.  Truth told the rejection of my captain still stings. But Robin had already saved me so I didn't need her after all.

I've tried to kill myself since early childhood.  Wrists cut wrongly. Tossing myself in front of moving vehicles. Laying in the middle of the street waiting for a semi to squish me (I was 8). Pills taken. Guns dreamt of. But hanging-that was my way. The grotesque visage I'd leave behind had appeal. A final fuck you to those who would have that as a final memory. Sadly ironic that the news yesterday said asphyxiation as probable cause of Mr. Williams' death.

In my late teens the sounds of Mr. Williams filled hours of earworm for me. "The Batty Rap" from Ferngully was on constant rotation in 1992. I still sing it when I feel a bit crazy. Then his turn as Genie from the utterly awful Aladdin.  I have to hum a piece of classical music as I type this to keep the drone of "Prince Ali" out of my head. I spent 3 weeks with the hook stuck in my head.  His voice had that kind of power.

Then came the Thanksgiving where I was so far down the rabbit hole of my major depression that being young and newlywed and almost financially solvent were not enough to hold back the pain.
I had sent my husband to his family and then in cold calculated ritual I followed through with my plan to kill myself. I was so relieved when I took the belt and put it around my neck. I was free. Finally fucking free of the pain of my incest. Finally free of the loss of all family ties. Finally free of the drowning feeling I'd been carrying since I was 4. The moments from the time I placed the belt around my neck to hooking it on the door to the peace I felt when I kicked the chair out from under my bare toes feel even now beautiful and kind. Then I fell. I had stupidly gone on the wrong side of the door and it held me just long enough to dump me on the floor and bend the hinges just a bit. I was so deflated that I had failed I lay there hours until my husband came home. No sense of will to hide my act as I had in the past.
I had been so close to freedom. And failed so stupidly.  I had nothing left. Not even the strength to lift my naked body from the carefully garbage bagged carpet. One doesn't want to leave to much of a mess for others to clean up after all.

The day's after we're a fog of pain and disgust. I couldn't even die right. I was denied the release I needed. I didn't have the courage to do it again. I was constantly being monitored by my terrified husband.

I stayed that way inside our home for a long time.  Outwardly the next day I was at work. Chipper and funny. Engaging the ladies at the call center with dirty jokes and funny stories of college theatre life. I answered calls for gay porn and flirted with the perverts who wanted to know what color underwear I had on. Seriously why call for gay porn then hit on a woman who answers the phone. I wore turtle necks for a month to hide the bruises on my neck.

Then "What Dreams May Come" entered my life. Greg and I went to see it in the theater.  I hadn't realized it was about a man going to hell to save the soul of his wife who committed suicide because she couldn't live without him.

I had only seen the beauty of the scene in which he arrives in the painting in a TV trailer.  And the gorgeous color called to my wounded heart. So we went.

I passed out during the movie my husband didn't realize that I had fainted.  The true horror of the darker parts of my heart were there staring at me 10 feet tall. The emptiness was too much. I didn't lose consciousness as much as I had to flee the truths of my pain.

It was a while later. That I bought the movie and was able to see the whole thing. I wept for a week. But something inside shifted. I found a place to hold still the pain and instead of shove it to the side or yank at it like a brute. That movie, those clear blue eyes helped me hold my pain like the frightened baby bird it was.

That year I spent Christmas eve in a mental hospital.  The toxic combination of broken thyroid and (now understood and diagnosed) polycystic ovaries had created a hormonal soup that forced me to seek help. Do Not self check yourself into observation at Christmas at a Catholic hospital when you are pagan. Some day I'll write about that experience.  But not today.

But there through all my years of trying to identify and control my major depression he was there.  Through the PTSD I watched "The World According to Garp" and "The Bird Cage". I obsessively quoted "Good Morning Vietnam" and sought out his manic presence to sooth my own spirit. All life stops when we see him on Letterman or being interviewed.  I watch for the smiles. I watch to secretly monitor his eyes. Is he okay? Does he have what he needs?

So today I mourn him. I weep for his pain. I carry my own so tightly. And mourn for those left behind.  By all rights he had everything a person needs.  Money, family, love, adoration,  fulfilling career and a generous heart. But all those things sometimes aren't enough to combat depression.  Sometimes only letting go can heal the heart.

But yet, I am happiest for him. His pain is over. I truly believe that. I 100% disagree with What Dreams May Come. There's no hell but life.

As a people we feel compassionate when we put sick animals to sleep. We give our hospice folk morphine so they can control their passing and we feel okay, mostly, about letting those folks control their transition to death. We don't label them cowardly for numbing themselves to pain nor to embracing their demise.

I lost a college acquaintance a few months back. He too took control of his uncontrollable pain. He too decided that he had the need and the right to stop that pain.

I fully believe that we have the right to end our own lives.  Always. My own experiences with suicidal thoughts, when not medicine induced, we're the clearest I have ever been outside of giving birth. As a side note not all suicidal thoughts are self created. Numerous times my medications made me feel like killing myself but it was brain chemistry gone awry. Then again cancer is cell growth gone awry. I feel that folks dismiss suicide as an act of a coward or an act of the deranged unthinking mind. I am sure there are such acts. But there's not been a year since age 8 when I haven't had a suicidal episode.  99% of those I have been able to see as a temporary feeling being driven by other things or thoughts nit of my own making. Something like a warning system. A volunteer fire department siren that screams: hey!!!! Get some help okay.

But that 1% was serious and crystal clear that I had had enough and needed out.

Honestly if I didn't have a child who needed me I might be here now.
My love for friends and family isn't enough to balance the pain in those moments. My understanding of the disease isnt enough. My arsenal of tools to help myself heal are not enough.But the training to take care of some one else kicks in and I persevere.

My life is good. I am okay right now. But I have a relationship with Death.  I know it is a place of peace and renewal. I've been at the gate many times. It isn't my time to leave my life of heaviness. So no worries dear friends.

Robin needed to go. He fought long and hard. He did what he could and he tried his best. And he saved me more times that I can count.  So I am happy he found peace. I am sad he did so by his own hand. But I truly understand and hope that he found the clarity and calm I have felt.

I mourn with those he left behind. I understand their anger. I just can't feel it.

If we shadows have offended, 
Think but this, and all is mended, 
That you have but slumber'd here 
While these visions did appear. 
And this weak and idle theme, 
No more yielding but a dream, 
Gentles, do not reprehend: 
if you pardon, we will mend: 
And, as I am an honest Puck, 
If we have unearned luck 
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue, 
We will make amends ere long; 
Else the Puck a liar call; 
So, good night unto you all. 
Give me your hands, if we be friends, 
And Robin shall restore amends.

Farewell sad clown.  Farewell trickster. Goodbye sweet man.

All my thanks. All my love.

Fly swift Robin Goodfellow.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Musings on being a champion: Siul a linn, a Lugh

This weekend our Grove celebrated it's  23rd consecutive Lughnassadh. That's an amazing milestone!

Our tradition has a twofold action plan.

Lughnassadh Games in which feats of strength,  crafting, performance and culinary prowess are tested and the efforts of the participants are offered up in honor of Lugh the Lord of all Skills.
Followed by ADF style liturgical arc.

This is my 2nd Lughnassa with my Grove.
Last year family time trumped rock tossing and poetry.

So I felt a need to try. And I entered all the competitions but the foot race. I live by my motto "run when chased!"

So I brewed ( cold brewed herbal tea) and baked and prepared as best I could picnic feasting fare.

I memorized song and attempted to add a beautiful poem. (I read the poem anyway as I just wanted to read it for Him.)

I arm wrestled and spear chucked.
I sculpted the well at the center of the world.

I laughed. I worried.  I had tremendous stage fright with my song that I worked so hard to perfect.  But blossomed in the reading of my hearts true offering.

I helped facilitate our liturgy.

I gathered and ran with the rest of the folk as Thunderbird determined we were done praying under the open sky.

And inexplicably I have been honored as Grove Champion this year.

But what does that mean to the liturgical processes?

How do I lay the laurels for a diety that I visit one day a year?

If our efforts are the offerings how do we as a community shore up when called to task when those offerings are deemed lacking.

Am I as the honored hero the one to carry forth the extra effort? How do I do so?

What is expected of the champion.  Surely I needn't fear the fate of 'the fatted' from who's blood ensures next year's harvests.

How do we honor the responsibility of excellence?

It was fun. But it's serious on a level I truly didn't contemplate as I made banana bread.

No longer a man of wheaten effigy but now a Kindred with high expectations.

And what of Lady Sovereignty?  The spirits of our sacred land of waters made manifest? How do I as Champion honor the Genis Loci?

So much more than fun and games. As always these days I ask myself in what way must I be of service.

Siul a linn, a Lugh.
Walk with me Lugh.
For sure!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


When the Universe wants my attention it usually sends clue by fours in patterns of three.

A week or so ago I felt a nudge to chat with all of you regarding self and how we can build our selfhood on a foundation of love or we can build our selfhood on a slope, overlooking a cliff, standing by a breakwater filled with sharks, rusty nails and glass shards.

I have been balanced over that very cliff for a few months.

The loss if the pregnancy and subsequent car accident has turned my admittedly weak selfhood foundation to jello on a plate of quick sand.

I've known that for a month or so and had been dragging my feet not doing something about shoring up the old gal and digging a french drain.

#1. I was on the Facebook page of Curvy Girl Lingerie:  https://m.facebook.com/CurvyGirlInc and I saw a book called "Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls On Life, Love & Fashion" (by Virgie Tovar). What followed was a few hour long trip down the rabbit hole of Kindle reading and a new found desire to integrate more of a self love into my daily existence.

I ordered a few titles via my local libraries and had a brief discussion about my choices with a friend.
Titles I currently have out:
1. "beautiful you" by Rosie Molinary
2. "The Unapologetic Fat Girl's Guide To Exercise" by Hanne Blank
3. "Angry Fat Girls" by Frances Kuffel

#2 The very next day this article at Huffington Post via the blog Bridgette Tales by Bridgette White: http://bridgettetales.com/2014/07/14/exposed-by-my-children-for-what-i-really-look-like/

I cried for about two hours after seeing the photo and reading the piece.

I am a fat mom who's ashamed of my body and hides all but my face. I saw the photo and thought my god that's me.

But I am fat but relatively healthy. I've been having blood sugar scare lately. My fasting rates were very low 66 and under. For a few days my after food testing never went higher than 75. But since I am tracking I see I am low a lot but reach acceptable highs in the normative range.

So I am reading body positive literature and making a plan to make sure I stay healthy. I've read for years, blogs by amazing body positive folks like:

Jenni Chui at Mommy Nani Boo


Kim Rullo at Mother Blue


Jes Baker at The Militant Baker

And I have been attempting to build a scaffold to start my own reconstruction project when today (#3) the Universe dropped this last hint that it was time to get going into my news feed:


Amoret's words hit me like a nail gun.

Here I am beginning to turn the stone wheel of my own creation and the reminder to be kind to myself as I am now hits me in the face.

No one has mocked my body or mind but myself. All the self love work in the world will fail if my inner dialogue is based on shaming and disgust.

I am so very awash in synchroncity today. I get it Universe!!!!

This fat woman is okay with the curves of her hips and the full roundness of her stretch marked breasts. I am going to wear sleeveless tees and stop hating my arms. I am doing the necessary hard work of silencing my inner busy body.

I am hoping to be able to smash the fun house mirrors I wrote about here:

And live happy inside this skin. I am raising my fist in solidarity!  My "Tiny No" is to my own inner voice.

Thank you ladies for the shots in the arm.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Letters to the Kidlet part I

Dear Kidlet,

Today is Wednesday,  July 16, 2014. And thought I've hand written you letters since before you were born I've not addressed a virtual letter to you specifically here on my blog.

And since this is forever I promise to not be overly sentimental or maudlin. One must consider your teenage sensibilities after all.

I've privately written to you of my desire to give birth to you. I've written of my hopes for you. I've written love letters and volumes of private messages on my doubts and fears and failures as your Mom.

Here and else where you will find the words I've penned about my struggles to live a good life.  And when you are much older you and I can talk about 99% of my childhood and your Dad's and my life together.  The last 1% is mine alone. That's a lesson I hope you'll understand when we have those talks. Because some things are too precious or painful to share.

So what am I going to write about to you today? Summer.  Glorious childhood summers.

You will start school in a few weeks.  Friends and freedom and responsibilities and pulls on your time all await your eager and open mind.

Time has flown.  It feels like yesterday we we toddling to the park together.  Exploring the grounds. Building faery houses.  We'll do more of that I promise!

And I also promise we'll do more family things like camp and random drive and Creek walk and map explore.  And honestly we'll do that way past the point where you'll want to participate.  Your Dad and I have those kinds of hearts. We do what we love and exploring together is what we love best.

I promised you some of my summer childhood so here goes:

I know you don't remember Great Grammie. But she was my world when I was five. Every morning I'd run down our back yards,  which was truly our side yard divided, through silvery grey predawn. 

The grasses were so dew drenched that my legs and socks would be soaked through. 

The cold squishy sounds of my sneakers slapping down on the hard packed path to their house are still loud to my ears. It was only a few hundred feet but I dreamed through several worlds each morning. 

The path ran past the yew sentinels that shielded the driveway from view.  The patch of heady scented double roses with their oddly sticky stems where I'd hide for hours drifting in rose scented oceans being pulled a sea by the buzzing of heavy laden bees.
The Rose Arch. I still think of it in capital letters. Twining red and white arms of razor thorns seven feet high. Scent less and perpetually scornful of hijinks.  Ever ready to rip shirt or skin alike if proper care and decorum were not taken when passing through their watchful space.
The wall. Only a small step stone down to the lower yard. But an ancient fieldstone thing with only the one pass through guarded by The Rose Arch. No hand holds.  I'd always jump. Landing in the amazingly soft taller grass of the lower yard. It was a lovely plot of grasses.  Twice the size and length of our own yard now. We never used it except to run back and forth to Gramma's or to cross with the trash cans that lurked at it's far end hidden under a blind of lilacs that were 10' tall. This grassy patch became a steep slide down past a row of pine trees to the right, tall and blue, and to the left a hedge of Rose of Sharon, grey and peeling.  At last to the front gate and Gram's! Grandpap would be sitting on his rocker on the porch waiting for me. And then we'd go inside.

Even in the hottest part of the summer there was a smoky smell to the living room. I imagined it was the dreams of the fall sleeping in the potbelly stove that I could smell.

Through the dinning room arch, I never took the hallway route, and I to the kitchen. Gram always had her house coat on. And there we'd sit and eat watching the sun rise drinking tea, chamomile with lemon for me and hot lemon water for her while eating toast and butter sometimes with tomato butter and sometimes with American cheese. What's tomato butter you ask?  The sweetened heart of the fruit made spreadable.

Here's another summer memory for you my dear kidlet:

Just like you and I haunt the park in late June to see if the berry patch is ready, black berry season was a huge event each year.

Understand that what we call black berries here in western Pennsylvania are actually black raspberries.  But it was a goal post each summer. A milestone to let you know Summer was half done tripping and tramping over the land.

Watchful for weeks we'd wait impatiently for the white berries to green then blush then bruise to deep dark purple.  Then with sleep crusted eyes we'd wake before the dawn chorus.  Dress in layers of long john's, dug out the night before from the back of the wardrobe, and jeans. Two pairs of socks and three shirts. All to ward as best we could our skin from the brambles. And then heavy in cloth and burdened with as many pails and bowls and bags as we could muster we'd run down to Gramma's.  They'd meet us and help us shed a shirt or two. Feed us a small meal of cold cereal and then we'd start picking.

We'd finish the hedge of brambles along side their lower yard by the time the sun was up. Then we'd travel down into the hollow they owned below their manicured lawns and gardens. It was the one time a year we were allowed down into that thicket. We'd run down to the spring startling deer and critters.  And then we'd cross over the big oak. The big oak was a huge fallen tree it spanned the spring's creek. Larger than 3 men's arm length around we'd bridge the gap from lush dark wood into a full acre of brambles growing unchecked in the sun at the edge of fallow field.

For the next two days we'd repeat this trip. Those days of cuts and stings and eating so many berries that it amazed us that there were any left to fill bucket after bucket are some of my most cherished.

How can you truly describe the sound of thousands of bee and wasp wings humming in concert?  How can I help you smell the scent of crisp dew, overripe berries and hot sunshine as it mixed into the permanent smell of July for me?

I can tell you of the time your Uncle Chris decided to climb under all the arching blue brambles to eat the berries underneath.  And he fell asleep and we searched for hours calling him but eventually found, after tearing strips of shirt and skin from our bodies, asleep in a curl with the sweetest smile on his face.

I can tell you of being dead center in the field when the neighbor's huge and vicious dog found me too far away from anyone else to rescue me. The smell of my sweat an acrid cloud as he came slinking through the vines towards me. I can still recall the relief that causes me to lose the strength in my legs and get so tangled in the vines that later my Grand pap had to cut me out when Smoky our 1/2 wolf charged out to discourage the huge beast from eating me.

And oh the bounty. Four refrigerators full and two freezers packed with purple globlets of sweet/sour heaven.

Then the days of pies and jams and jelly making. The week of drinking blue milk at the end of our cereal.  The stains. Oh Lord the stains.

The pretty red ish - purple turns blue then brown. On everything.  Hands and arms and faces and socks and underwear. The brambles loved snagging our undies.

The love and joy becoming repulsion as the week draws closed.

"More berries?!" "No thank you!" "What's for lunch/dinner/breakfast?" "Not those things again!" "Can't we have peaches yet?"

But as sick as we always were by mid month we secretly waited until New Year's Eve when the cordial was ready and the treats frozen were shared. And we knew that come next summer we'd be watching and waiting for the fruit to turn again.

So when we say let's go have an adventure.  What we are hoping is that we are making for you my dear the kinds of memory that I've shared with you above.

If I repeat myself in waxing on about those halcyon days. Be gentle.  Because I promise someday you will have glorious stories of your own to tell.



Friday, June 6, 2014

The Wagner in me

I just finished watching Stephen Fry's gorgeous documentary: "Wagner & Me".

And it's evoked in me so many memories.

My Great-Grandmother (on my Father's Maternal side) was Margaret Wagner.

We are cousins of Honus Wagner. And my Gram loved to tell tales about what a hard guy he was. His famous refusal of baseball cards because they were in cigarette boxes and he didn't approve.

The family lore surrounding the cards. Worth so much when we all were folk of modest means.

Family to be proud of.

The stories of Margaret's second husband William Runyon (My Gram's step dad) and his famous writing relation. I remember the stories being my Great-Grandpap's brother. But I don't know for sure. One day I'll track all the history down.

There was always music in my Gram Audrey's home. I lived with her for a goodly portion of my life. First as our only neighbor then in my Dad's small crowded house. I loved music. And especially opera as a small kid. Classical music was a 'safe' form allowed and encouraged by my Mom.

My two favorite pieces of orchestral music were "Night on Bald Mountain" by Mussorgsky. And "The Funeral of Sigfrid" by Wagner.

Independent of the opera I listened to a recording of the Ring Cycle Orchestration in my deepest times of distress as a child. Ad nauseam to help lull me into sleep as a hyper vigilant insomniac I played this music.

Until one night my Gram pulled me aside and asked me to stop.

I was in high school. I was obsessively researching the Second World War. I was driven to delve into the madness of the Holocaust. I read everything. I watched the news reels. I sat through lectures and hours of Nazi propaganda film. I took a special history course specifically on WWII.

All through this the sounds of Richard Wagner soothed the pain in my heart nightly. The horrors of the war were a way to struggle through the nightmare of my own early days. I talked to my Gram about being a teenage girl during the war.

She brought out the original family copy of "Mein Kaumpf"( which my Dad and Uncle had punched holes into Hitler's eyes) and told me about our family. And my obsession with the war and the man who wrote the music I loved.

My Gram said that at first the family had received the book written by Hitler from relatives still in Germany. They saw him early on as a force of healing for Germany. But my Gram was mostly raised by her Grandmother Rose. Rose didn't like that "nasty filth book" or it's author.

My Gram revealed that she had been raised Catholic by her Grandparents. This was a shock for me. We always identified as Protestant though my Gram never once went to church that I recall. And being Catholic was somehow unsavory to our family.

More astounding was the idea that were were related to Wagner. But something made our family intensely dislike him.

I knew no history of Richard Wagner. I knew only the notes played. The story in liner notes. The intense pitch of the Valkyrie "Hi ya ah". The Bugs Bunny in drag of Wagner.

Gram told me of his antisemitism. She told me that was why he wasn't allowed to be played in Great-Grams house.

And then the story went deeper.

My Gram told me that her beloved Rose was Jewish. She converted to Catholic to marry my Great-Great Grandfather. This was Never spoken of and would be denies as high treason by the older generation. No Jews in there good German line. (This was in the early Thirties as related to my young Gram)

Margaret died when I was a small child.
My Gram only spoke of these stories once to me. Then showed me photographs of my German Wagner relatives. Honus and the brothers and back to the family Wagner who came to Heidelberg Pennsylvania from the old country.

So here I was a kid immersing myself in the history of the Holocaust. Trying to understand the culture of a people who some how survived. And now I find out that I lost family too. I had lost Jewish cousins and there was strong ties for an against Nazism in my close family tree.

I found out the music I so loved was written by a man who hated Jews. Who hated the idea of my Grandma Rose.  Who's music was much beloved by Hitler who used the Ring story to feed his madness. Wagner's, I learned tonight,  son in law openly embraced that hatred. More history to trace.

So I watched Mr. Fry who too loved the music as I do struggle with the Nazi taint to Wagner's work. I saw a gay, Jewish man come to terms with the spaces where Hitler stood to bask in Wagner's work.

And I understand better now bits of my own history.

Now did my Gram tell me the truth? Or is the connection to Wagner in name only. I'll never know. She and all the family are gone.

But I choose music. I am choosing to love the music. In itself for itself. And I feel pretty much like Mr. Fry in the end.

Monday, May 19, 2014

They Like You, They Really Like You

Well... until they don't.

I am talking about virtual friendship and the pitfalls of acquaintance.

Today I received a terse and rather unhappy private message from a social media acquaintance.

My prolific sharing of "homo & devil worship" materials, memes, articles, associations and events over our year and a half connection had driven this soul to frothing rage.

I was summarily dumped from their 'friend' list and wished in distain that I "find Jesus before I drag my whole family to hell."

Obviously I am not sad to no longer be this person's acquaintance.

As my writing in this blog should attest I am fairly open about most aspects of life.

I speak freely and openly about sex, love, religion, politics, and nature.

And if I've accepted your request for friendship, virtual or otherwise, it is because I want to get to know and like YOU. 

It's not only the parts of you that we can agree about that I like but the whole, glorious, human that makes you.

I don't have to worship, love, look, speak, vote, live, shop, grow, parent or exist lock step with you to LOVE you.

I am perfectly clear that you and I can disagree on oodles of stuff listed above and we BOTH are great people. As long as we agree to respect each other's boundaries. As long as compassion rules our passions.

And when we step over each other's boundaries, screw up, get furious with one another we can always come back to the core of our mutual love and respect. We all fuck up or get genuinely angry with each other. It's how we repair the trust that matters.

I tried to ask this person to discuss their obvious discomfort and distaste with core portions of who I am. That too was shot down because apparently I have "an agenda!"

Yep. You betcha I do! And here it is:

Equal opportunity to express those two concepts in all facets of living.

The mind is like a book. It can only be opened if you want it to be.

As I posted to my page on said social media, I am sorry you didn't get the memo that I am a bisexual, neopagan. But when you sent me the friend request I saw that you were a conservative, fundamental Christian. I was fine with that. I respect your values and form of worship.

I tailored my feeds to you so that you had limited access to most of my posts. A courtesy I extend to anyone I don't know well or who may not want to see everything I share.

Grandma wants to see my kidlet grow. She doesn't want to know what I am eating, reading, or watching on the boob-tube. Or how my relationship with her child is strained because the garbage went out late. Or that I love using curse words.

But it is my page. I don't cross post or tag folks without full consideration. And I am going to share things that are relevant to me on my page.

And we all earn the right to enter each others deeper, closer circles of connection. It takes time. And value calls on who gets what access are vitally important.

I wasn't this person's cup of tea. And not all getting-to-know-you periods lead to friendship. And that's okay. Okeydoke! No harm. No foul. Until....

You take the time to yell and wish eternal torment at a fellow adult (me and my whole genetic line) because you don't believe like them (or I refuse to worship exactly like you).

So if my being an animist and hard polytheist who currently is part of an ADF style druidic congregation bothers you? So be it!

I will still be proud to share that my first public liturgy is a Blessing rite to LBGTQ and hetero normative love. I wrote the invocations and closely worked with my Grove liturgists and I think it is going to be great. And if you don't care don't come. Really don't come.

I am proud that my husband & I have been together since 1992! Our decades long, loving, monogamous partnership doesn't change the fact that I am a human being who is sexually attracted to both sexes. The soul I love is part of a male body. You don't like non-heterosexual couplings? Don't engage in non-hetero coupling. But don't tell me and those I love how we are doing it 'wrong'.

My delightful cousin, who I've adored since we were both toddlers, said it best:

"I wish people would spend more time trying to help others than worrying about what they are offended by.  It's silly."

I 100% agree!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mothering Day Part 2

Last year I tackled a very hard subject: my uncomfort with Mother's Day.

See my post: Obligatory Mother's Day Post http://drolleryandpathos.blogspot.com/2013/05/obligatory-mother-day-post.html to see how much can change in a year!

This year via the interwebs I learned this year is the 100th anniversary of Mother's Day in the United States.

Read about the cool origins here in the Huffington Post: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5280493 How incredibly amazing is that? It moved my distaste for the day from high to a thoughtful pondering. How could I reclaim the day?

So what I've been dreading as a saccharine card-store holiday and yearly reminder that my maternal cords snapped long ago has shifted for me here in the year 2014. Even more so than last year's acceptance and partial repair of familial bonds.

Today I would have been 5 1/2 months along in our pregnancy. And that tidbit caused me to suck air a bit. I won't lie.

But this year has so far taught me how much mothering is so needed.

The unconditional compassion for others is what I feel is at the heart of the word mothering.

Through the darkest hours of this year thus far I witnessed astonishing acts of mothering:

Between us women who found courage in each other to grieve our lost babies. In some cases to speak on those loses for the very first time!

Between my husband and I and in turn with each other to our one living child.

I save seen that my words of truth on my loss here have helped comfort others.

And what has occurred is a small community of men and women who need and want to share mothering.

I am glad that though my uterus failed I was able to birth a small safe space online where we can and do support each other unconditionally. We mother each other and give to one another courage and comfort and occasionally a swift kick as needed. It's glorious!

And I am grateful and astounded by the love, support and courage of all these folks!

But as happy and life affirming as my revelation and grief process has been I still must ask a small favor:

Be gentle in your well wishes to any and all females you know on this 100th anniversary.

You may not know how she braves the day. Can you know if she is dealing:

With the painful reminder of her own loses?

With the empty womb where love should have grown but sadly has not?

With the overwhelming love and resources to adopt or foster yet has been denied?

With the terrible loss of her own Mother or Grandmothers or beautiful gay man who taught her trust?

With the unwanted questioning as to when or why or why not she's a mother by now?

With feeling her own parenting is a miserable failure?

With exhaustion and feeling of being overwhelmed or postpartum with their new bundles of joy?

With an empty nest where the birds never return?

We don't know. So if someone wishes me a happy mother's day I'll smile and thank them. And if I truly know them I'll well wish or offer a hug, or let her grab a quick shower as needed.

But for me this year I'd rather be mothering and being mothered than toasted for my status as MOM.

Though the excited whisperings of the kidlet as the plotting of how to spend my day is more welcomed thus year than I ever imagined. And I'll gratefully appreciated each minute on Sunday.

I love you all. And if the day is getting you down, I am here for you. And you might just hear from me too!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Everyday Death and I
do a slow dance.
I look up longingly
trying to read Her face.
Today? Today perhaps?
But alas no. Not today.
Some days I twist
and turn my face from her
and whisper
Today? Must it be today?
But thankfully no. Not today.
Sometimes we move swiftly
across the floor.
Our feet gliding in and out
To and away.
Today? Is it today?
But no. Not today.
My whole life we've been
moving in this tango.
I know all life does.
But our bond is closer
We are more intimate.
There have been so
many days in which
I cry:
Today!! It is today!
But no. As you can see, not today.
Death dances thus with
others I love too.
Each day they glide and
dip and spin with Her.
And all too many have asked:
Today? Is it today?
And have heard:
Today we dance no more.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Balancing Acts

I have been busy fighting of bee hordes trying to bore into our home's pointing and bitchy wasps nesting in our patio furniture so spring must be truly here.

So how am I doing? Friends have been checking in on me and I feel loved. Very loved.

But I also feel like I am being kid-gloved too. As if I am fragile or precious.

To be fair in the past I have been brittle after emotional devastation. So my good friends wonder, rightly, which jack-in-the-box they might be having to deal with.

It was running me down a bit. I felt a tremendous need to show everyone I was right as Raine. And not because I am doing better, which today I thankfully am, but because I didn't want to see the hesitation in their responses. As if I need to prove I am not going to go all "crazy" again.

I wanted to show everyone that this isn't like 2006 and my big PTSD battle. That this is grieving not depression. That I am having a hard but manageable transition. And all of that is 100% true. But I selfishly worry that I am being watched for signs of mental breakdown. Judged as broken. When truthfully my friends and family aren't engaged in those judgements at all. They love me and want to know where I am.

Then today I was told that my processes written here were helping friends with their own pregnancy loss.

I am gob smacked! I am humbled beyond words. And my choices of words became very important to me. My need to cut away the niceties and the concerns about what someone might be thinking were gone.

I need to say to that family- I love you and I am so very sorry.

And you don't have to grieve alone. Unless you need the privacy. Respect what you are feeling and be honest about what you need. We who love you can handle it.

I tend to be a dolt sometimes. Its takes a clue by four or seven for me to get it. And I was keeping to myself lately and I was feeling like I needed to be 'better' by now. "We who love you can handle it!"- my clue by four of the day.

The one overwhelming thing I have learned this year is how many of us suffer quietly and alone. We soldier through thinking we have to shield others from our pains and losses and the rawness of our living.

Fuck that! We need less concern about seeming to be okay, when we obviously are not and more safe places to express pain and loss and confusion without gut checking to make sure we seem put together and reasonable to others. Lately I've been gut checking and it's not even needed.

I love you. All the parts that make up being you right this minute. Let's love together and laugh together and cry together and whist respecting each other's boundaries support each other. You don't ever need to hold back for me.

And P.S. I really don't hold truck with astrology (probably because there's math involved) but this Grand Cross, retrograde, hey you kids get off my damn lawn crap needs to end. So much loss and heartbreak in the first quarter of the year.

2014 was to be my year of balance. Then a much wiser man than I reminded me balance is active and moves through space. It's not a static point like holding one's breath but motion forward like a tight rope walker. Constant readjustment in the moment that allows us to move forward without falling off the dang rope.

Absolutely this is my year of balance! And today I learned that my big top routine can and is making a difference for others. That notion shook my rope more than I'd ever imagined. I am humbled and honored to share my life with you this way. I never dreamed I might be benefiting others.

When you're reaching up trying to pull your head above water that other hand you reach downward to help someone else is more important sometimes than your first breath of air. My friend Jenni taught me that and much more. I simply followed her example.

Who's hands are you holding on to today? What difference are you making? Do you know how powerful the day to day living of your life can be? You might be very surprised by the answers you find.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Me & Demeter Hanging With the Dream King

This winter of discontent seems like it will never end.

The bipolar weather patterns of my geographical local are normal, 32° one day then 60°the next or 18°to 53° in the same day, for late February and early March. And we don't usually get to last frost dates until mid May. Yeah zone 6!

But this year it's like winter just can't leave.

And I am feeling it. The roller coaster temperatures are a mirror to my own temperament. Freak snow storms, torrential downpour, freezing cold and overcast skies all seem reflections of my emotional distances, sobbing bouts, rages, and exhaustion.

So as me and the family took a Saturday leisure drive these things occupied my mind as the unspring-like countryside rolled past.

I pondered snow covered hillsides when it was 55° outside and I contemplated grazing land withered and brown where grasses should be greening.

I thought where is Demeter? Like Babe what's up? Hello, Spring... Is this thing on?!

Then a thought crawled into my noggin; probably somewhere between the 100th time my kidlet told the 'banana' knock-knock joke and the 4th Erasure song on the radio; it hits me that maybe like me She just isn't ready.

Since the loss of the baby I've been feeling a lot like nothing matters. Not all the time but enough that I watch myself.

Am I depressed or grieving? And my angry at situational events or life? Can I face this happy occasion and not be Suzy Storm Cloud?

And the answers I've found so far are:both, both, nope.

It's no surprise either is that I am not sleeping. My mind runs at Mach speeds until about 4am each day. As a SAHM this stinks. And since day light savings my kid gets up two hours earlier.
And frankly for awhile there (like last week even) I was pushing as hard as I could to do the barest minimums. My house reflects this inertia or lack of REM or as I think of it my 'Ennui'.

I hate it. I hate clutter and mess and dirt.
Our home has it baby in spades. But the sheer volume of work needed stymies my efforts. I start and stop and then give up.

So what if Demeter is feeling the same way? What if the searching and hardships she's endured this year have taken a similar toll on Demeter?

How would the world look if she's been a raging insomniac with a filthy house and a preschooler who's daily life mission is to stretch her boundaries (all of them) past breaking?

How would the world look if She just couldn't give a damn about taking another step?

How would the world look if Her emotions are held in check by the thinnest of membranes?

How would the world be if she just laid down and refused to get up until the pain stops?

I think the world would look a lot like it does outside my dirty windows.

So for now if you need us, Demeter and I will be hanging with the Dream King.

I mean heck- what else can we do in the middle of the night. Blog?!

[Funny thing, as I write this in the wee hours my own Persephone began to whimper and cry. Terror shattered her sweet slumbers. I jump up and run to her. I rock her and settle her back into Morpheus' realm. And I am glad, for once, to have been awake.]

Friday, March 28, 2014

Gordian Knot

There's been a lot of 'discussion' over the last few days in the pagan community over a prominent member arrested for possession and distribution of child pornography. He wasn't a criminal hiding behind cultism. This man is a real pagan and respected artist and author.

This issue is a tricky one for me. Heck this is the second draft of my thoughts.

As an incest and child sexual abuse survivor my feelings are very complicated over these issues.

First off I never heard of the man until a week ago when exposed to his blog. I have no ducks in this race of a personal nature. But others do.

I want to discuss the community reaction as I have seen it.

And then I want to discuss the problem from my unique perspective that of childhood victim and the relative of a man also arrested, then convicted of possession of child pornography. And the abuses hurled at those around the actor.

90% of what I see commented on in the pagan forums is divided almost entirely into two rants:

1. How will this man's actions reflect upon us ("true") Pagans to the outside world

2. How furious the pagan community is and what violent actions they espouse to want to visit upon this man

Here's the thing, this man's actions are his OWN. The are not a reflection of anything but his own sickness. Period.

And he is a "true" pagan. But that's not indicative of anything but his religious affiliation not predicate to his behavior.

Pedophiles and child pornographers and those that gravitate towards such materials are found in all strata of society. It's no reflection on the races, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds, educations, or the communities in which these people self-identify or reside.

The psychology of predation on the most part shows these people as able to blend. Prodigious chameleons and pathologically able to appear as needed to feed their predation.

A lot of the time they are so good at masking these parts of themselves that they are regarded as pillars of the communities they live. They are the coach, priest, teacher, neighbor, parent, sibling, friend.  They can just as easily fool those closest to them as the stranger or passing acquaintance. They can be seen as good spouses, parents, children and friends. They can be seen as best of a community. That's how good a predator can be at masking their true nature.

Not all of these folks are good at hiding. Those usually get caught. But there are predators who can abuse for years right under everyone's noses before being caught.And some never get caught. Some never see justice due to a long line of reasons. My attackers live full lives with one exception. He died unknown to those but his victims as a monster.

In this case the man was arrested and according to the news report admitted to the charges. But he has yet to be tried. Keep that in mind in case he is not guilty. 
I personally have no doubts but I respect our process of litigation.

What has me angry is all the concern about how others will view us. Point of fact that thus far his religious beliefs seem to only be a matter of discussion with the pagan community. For now the press hasn't responded with the 'Pagan Pedophile' lead. And though it's probable his religious views may be brought up as a form of scandal. Why not disallow the fervor?

If some were to question me about pedophilia and paganism in regards to this case I would state that yes the man is pagan. That religion has no baring on his case. His arrest has no connection to our faiths or its traditions. His actions speak only about himself and his sickness.

There's been a lot of yelling about how other faiths have abusers. "Those Catholics!!!!" Stop it! Right. Now.

His actions reflect on him. Period.

And unless there is a concerted effort to hide his predation within the multitude of pagan tradition and those we then do not allow him to be brought to justice to protect those traditions your analogies are false and idiotic.

On the second point above, I get it. The anger when children are harmed is electric. I feel the rage. As a past victim I know how a child's life is shattered by abuse. The man had pornography. He distributed it. It didn't say be created it. But children were harmed and instead of reporting the abuse he shared with others. His actions, if true, are foul.

But the mob mentality, the call to violence, the comments of smug vitriol ask yourselves what good are they serving? Is it schadenfreude? Are you attempting to distance yourself from his actions by sheer force of fury? How much violence is appropriate? Who gets to decide? How do you think your words are affecting those who love him? Do care about them? Are you recognizing the pain of the family, colleagues, community in which he was a part? Are your comments doing any good for the victims? How does your voice in this problem reflect the values of your tradition?

And I swear if I hear about castration one more time! Sexual predation is about control not the penis. I was abused for 7 years. Age 2-9. There are an infinite amount of ways a predator can abuse and penetrate and never once use their sex organs. Trust me I have first hand experience. Removing testes or penises or sewing shut of vaginas doesn't do anything to stop predation. Period. So STFU and educate yourselves about the realities of rape and the minds of predators!

The second part of my reflection on this event is the utter lack of regard for the  victims. All of them.

I am not apologizing for this man. He's getting the opportunity to defend himself. But he hasn't yet been convicted. And if convicted he deserves the full measure of the law. I only care that justice is served.

My real concern is for those harmed. The children in the videos. Any possible children who he may have harmed directly. Those who were duped by him and loved and respected him.

They deserve our love and compassion and healing. Period.

As I said as a child I was vilified. Branded as a liar when physical evidence (my hymen was intact) was lacking. Some of them heard my screams saw the bloody stool watched as I deteriorated but refused to act. But they knew. I have no compassion for those people. I hold them just as responsible as my abuser.

Later in my 30's as I was struggling through PTSD, directly related to my childhood trauma, a close family member was rightfully convicted of possession of child pornography. This person never harmed me. They weren't the type one would ever expect to have such deviance. But the community blamed us for not turning them in. It didn't matter that we had no knowledge of the activities of that family member. We were held somehow accountable in the court of opinion.

Trust me I'd turn in my own child if I thought they were harming another person. No one should ever experience what I did.

See once the community rage can't be directed at the perp it goes to the spouse or parent or colleagues. I've seen it happen over and over. And unless those folks actually are accessories to the crimes (I say punish to fullest if they are) they are also victims. They've been cruelly shattered too just in a different way. But often they are ostracized not cared for.

So what am I saying?

Think about how your words will affect others.

Anger, shock, sadness, horror, rage, confusion, doubt are all normal reactions to finding out about a predator in your midst. But making healthy/unhealthy choices on how to express those emotions can heal or shatter communities.

This man's actions are his own. They are not a reflection of others no matter how they can be identified with him. (Race, religion, education, socioeconomic strata)

If you harbour a predator you are culpable in my eyes.

Words matter.

This isn't an simple issue it encircles and tightens as one investigates deeper. Respect that.

How do we minister to imprisoned sex offenders?

Do our traditions value redemption?

How do we handle people who have served their time and want to reintegrate into our fellowships?

Are these offenders able to be rehabilitated?

I have no answers to those last few questions. I am understandably conflicted. Buy we need to address them for our communities religious and otherwise.

And on a final note, if you suspect sexual abuse or crimes against children REPORT IT!

It's easier to be wrong and apologize and help repair reputations than it is to repair the souls of the victims.

I wish everyday that someone had put me first as a child.

I conclusion put away the offenders and help the victims heal.

Any questions?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Where's my Map Light?

I am grieving. I am in the process of processing the emotional and physiological aspects of my miscarriage and the subsequent car accident that followed.

I am doing well as I gage these things.
As an unmedicated major depressive with PTSD I have years worth of experience with my mind/body brokenness and learned tools to handle my emotional and physical pains.

I wish I was a medicated major depressive with PTSD in that it's less time consuming to start a grieving process when you don't have to constantly put every thought under an electron microscope to see is this old stuff or current pain.

But right now I have to do without medications. And I feel like a rock star in the fact that I have handled my loss so very well. Only one really bad day(thus far). That's a miracle in of itself.

I've found healthy outlets to speak about my pain. I have not become closed down emotionally. Nor have l been scattered and obsessive (accept for chocolate. I've been obsessed with it and I am allowing it for the moment.). And those are all major life wins!

I've been blessed with support and love. I've been labeled as brave for being honest about this process. I feel odd about that because I feel anything but brave. I feel like a fleshy, half inflated balloon filled with shattered glass. Not very heroic.

I see all this good work and healthy handling of my pain. But I still feel like shit.

I am concurrently today filled with euphoric sense of gratitude and and burgeoning overwhelming sense of rage.

In a desperate need to feel that I am in control I revisited the five states of grief.

But then I found this: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4414077 and found my head exploding!

Yes I am 100% guilty of wanting a neat and clear path to 'normal'.  And I really know better. This isn't my first rodeo. I know my mind and my limits and yet, and yet I realized that I wanted to just be done. How foolish. How disrespectful to myself!

I am really angry right now. My religious beliefs do not give comfort during this time because my practices are based not on orthodoxy but orthopraxy. And right now doing the basics needed to live and care for my child drain all of my resources.

So having a faith based on doing instead of being has been invariably hard. Most people find solace in faith during grieving. I, right in this moment, find it an unwanted, unreciprocated chore. My rites are hollow and I find instead of comfort,rage and restlessness.

But guess what? That's completely fucking normal!
It's okay to not be okay. It's okay to be a practicing neopagan who just doesn't give two flying screws that an agrarian feast day is this weekend. Especially when the high day celebrates a return to fertility when you are wrestling with the demise of your own fertile nature.

It's perfectly acceptable to not want to do ancestor work when you are smothering in your own grief from the loss of the life of what was supposed to be your child.

It's perfectly fine to feel distant from deity when in reality you feel distant from every aspect of your own life right now.

The Kindred, no matter your personal religious choices get it. They are still there helping as always. I see it in the outpouring of support and the car ride from a stranger when stranded. In the moment of waking and feeling blessed to have so much when others suffer so much more than I do.

But I am honestly too angry and lost and emotionally unstable to a. Handle group public rite b. Want to have to suppress and contain the place I am currently c. Act like I am okey donkey when I am clearly not.

I hate that I have yet to fulfill promises I made in January. (I have one mitten made. But I really don't want to create gifts in this state of mind. No, I cannot create beauty in this state of mind and you deserve my best efforts. And I thank you for allowing me to if not welsh delay fulfillment.) I hate that I am not 100% me right now.

I hate that I cannot define what "me" is right now.

I am doing 1000% better than my own expectations. But I am so very guilty of thinking that exceeding known past experience means a shortcut to wholeness.

So guess what? There's no yellow brick road through grief and loss. I am not special because I have been here before.

What I am grateful for is the tools to heal, the support of those who love me and the awareness to know I am lost, but it's only a temporary state of being.

I will endeavor to stop rushing through and daily remind myself this too shall pass. But that reminder isn't passive. I have the responsibility to be fully present in the now.

I am desperately trying.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spring Hurry Hurry?

I am fully in discontent with this winter's seasons of death and decay.

The usual laments of spring crazed romantics call to me like Sirens. Oh the desire to add to the rubbish pile of spring tide ode-ing!

When will the grey end? When will the soul numbing cold cease? When will hope and living and happy warmth return?

I breathe and count to ten.

I remind myself to try to be present and be appreciative of the now.

Cuz spring leads to August swelter which I hate. Hate it!!

No the last dregs of the time of storage and want are almost gone. I try to feel the gnaw in my belly, my soul, as a good thing. A leanness that strengthens resolve and a necessity of community for survival. The sharing of what's left to nurture and sustain until the green and growth come back around.

I am very, very grateful to my close knit community and the life sustained (mine) by their love, courage and most importantly their storytelling.

The time for doing, the deep digging, moving and ACTION is a hair length away.

The time huddled together sharing and nurturing and holding back each other's darkness will pass. And that is a loss as much as the bloom of Springtime is a gain.

Winter has always been my time. It's darkness protective. It's coldness profound and embraceable yet escapable when too frigid. The sweet loneliness of Spring and the sweaty lust of Summer were an affront to my nature. The broiling heat dreaded (and honestly still dreaded).

So it's odd, or maybe not so much, how different this year's turning has been for me. I feel rabid with the need for all this death and hunger and longing and want to end. But instead I am trying to fight this uncharacteristic, overwhelming response to see Winter's ass hitting the door on its way out!

Enjoy the now. Embrace the cycle as it is in this moment. And search inside for the beauty that each second brings.

And it's almost easy! Like quantum physics.

Just follow your breath.