Year and a Day Journal #30: March 27th, 2016

I’m just sitting here typing in the dark because the circuitry in these old apartments is kind of messed up, and my roommate and I have had to replace just about every light bulb in our apartment.  When mine went out sometime last week, I just kind of decided to embrace the darkness for awhile.  Soon we’ll be getting into the summer pattern of light anyway, with the sun setting later and later, so it won’t be too much of an issue anyhow.

This journal is going to be inspired by the Pagan Perspective, which is a talented collaboration of Pagan/Neo-pagan individuals on YouTube.  One of their recent topics was “Who is your Witch crush?” which was supposed to be discussing those people, fictional or real, who have inspired us (or who we want to be like) in our journey.  So, without further ado–Who is your Witch crush?

I would say that since I haven’t been looking into this path for a very long time, my Witch crushes are going to be pretty simple, and many of them fictional, of course.  I shall construct a list to facilitate the organization of my choices.  They are, however, in no particular order.

  1. Hermione Granger – yes, they can be witches in the lowercase “w” sense.  Hermione is an obvious choice because she is a badass witch who really taught readers of Harry Potter that they could be brainy girls and save the day.  She’s no damsel in distress but she also really understands the laws of magic and how to use her magic for important reasons.  She’s an advocate for those with less power and she’s a strong character with a lot of ambition, and yet, she is a consistently empathetic character with a humble heart.  She is my idol, really.
  2. Alice (from Alice and Greta) – this is a pink, frilly witch who is the opposite to the acid green, spikey witch Greta.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with green, but pink was my favorite color as a kid anyway.  Alice and Greta taught me that “Whatever you chant, whatever you brew, sooner or later comes back to you,” which, as a kid, meant that you should do nice things instead of get into mischief.  Now that I read it with a new Witchy context, however, I realize that this book actually talks a lot about karma or even possibly the Rule of Three, which is kind of a cool thing to get in a children’s book.  I also loved the illustrations in this book, and the pink-loving Alice was like #fashiongoals.
  3. Merlin (from BBC’s Merlin) – of course, Merlin as a character and legend goes far beyond the series done by the BBC, but I really enjoy the portrayal done by Colin Morgan in the television series, and he really is a Witch crush, despite never being called a witch in the series (always a warlock or a sorcerer).  Merlin is a Witch crush for me not only because he is adorable (he’s like Benedict Cumberbatch but ten years younger), but because he really has strong loyalty, humility, and a sense of morality.  Gaius teaches him only to use magic for important, good reasons, and Merlin, while being a flawed character, is constantly standing up for good use of magic versus evil use of magic.  I also love how Merlin is connected with the “old religion/old ways,” which is a pathway tied intrinsically with the earth.  The fact that magic and the earth are so tied together is something that I think is not lost on this series, and that’s a refreshing thing.
  4. Cara Mia (cutewitch772) – getting into the real people now!  Cara is probably sick of me mentioning her on this blog, but she knows that she was the one who ultimately inspired me to look more into this path when I came across her YouTube channel, so I really do owe her a lot.  Since I started watching her videos, I’ve realized that we have very similar ideas, which is something valuable that shouldn’t be dismissed.  Moreover, she’s always willing to help people out and give her input or advice.  If you don’t watch her stuff on YouTube, head on over to her channel or watch the Pagan Perspective.
  5. My pagan friends/acquaintances – although I don’t have many, I do know a few people who have also chosen this path.  I have to say that even if I don’t agree with all of them or want to follow their exact paths, it is a brave and noble endeavor to openly follow what they do.  I hope that someday I can also be open with this path.

I’m sure that as I get more literature under my belt and get to know more people in the pagan community, I’ll be able to expand on this list.  For now it’s just the little thing that I thought I’d take some time to answer.  Thanks to the Pagan Perspective for publicizing this question.

Blessed be!

 

)O(

 

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Year and a Day Journal #29: March 22nd, 2016

Today is a landmark–I’m finishing the Goal of the Witch series!  If you’re looking for a novice’s take on the 13 Goals of the Witch, take a look back at my Year and a Day Journal post archives and see what you think.

Certainly even in the time that I’ve been working on this series, I’ve been growing as a person and experiencing such a huge variety of events and emotions.  Just last Thursday I broke down and cried after a particularly difficult class (featuring three problem teenagers), and the next day I almost cried from happiness when one of my students brought in his entire set of Harry Potter books to give to me.  Of course, I already have the series, but I’ve been contemplating for a long time buying the series in the language of the country I’m in, and on Friday, as if he knew, my student just brought in the books, all tied up with twine.  He said he’d already read them and thought I could use them to practice my language skills.  It was seriously just what I needed after a particularly stressful day just before.

Of course now my students are all chatting while they’re taking a test (cheating is not frowned upon in this country, and despite my best efforts to give dagger stares over my laptop, they will never break the habit of looking at each other’s papers and cracking jokes), but then again I’m typing on my Witchcraft blog and getting paid teaching time for it.  So I really can’t judge.

Anyway, on to the main event!  Discuss Goal of the Witch #13: Honor the Goddess and God. 

I’m going to refer you all to a recent week’s series from the Pagan Perspective channel on YouTube, during which they discussed the term “soft polytheism.”  Cutewitch772’s video in this series struck a particularly strong chord for me, because we have pretty similar views.  Basically, soft polytheism is not really the hard belief in any gods per se (hence the “soft” rather than “hard”), but a belief that all of the many different gods (or gods from any certain pantheon) are sort of figurative aspects of the Universe, or they are symbolic of different forces of nature or facets of human nature.  I don’t really believe in a physical God or Goddess, or a real Thor or real Brigid or real Athena or who have you.  Believing in the Christian God was one of the biggest obstacles for me in staying Catholic, and so it wouldn’t make any sense to start believing in a whole slew of gods if I couldn’t even believe in one.  However, I do like studying them and I believe that they are all representations of different aspects of the Universe, and they can certainly teach us about those aspects of the Universe (or aspects of the Divine) and give us perspective on them.

For example (and I’ve used this example before), perhaps I want to make the most of a Tuesday and meditate on the god Ares (or Mars).  Perhaps I know that I need additional strength (and who doesn’t need strength in the middle of the work week?) and so I’ll call on the energy of Ares to help me or I’ll meditate on what it means to be a strong person like Ares.  I can envision Ares however I would like to–as an old-fashioned warrior from ancient Greece, or maybe as a contemporary soldier in desert camouflage–and use that as inspiration.  As for me, I definitely envision Ares as a contemporary soldier, because my boyfriend is a soldier.  I just picture maybe a fictional battle buddy for my boyfriend, and because I know what my boyfriend has been through, I can look upon those aspects of a warrior to help guide me.  Or maybe I’d really send this idea of a warrior to my boyfriend if I know he needed additional strength.  That being said, because many of the gods or goddesses from ancient times are also flawed, we can see the consequences of the extremity of these traits.  Too much strength and warrior-ness can lead to aggression or violence.  I think that working with the gods and goddesses can teach us balance.

Of course, I’m in an infant stage here.  I don’t work with any gods or goddesses right now, but I do picture the female and male aspects of the Universe when I go out into nature.  I also can see that there is the Divine within me and those around me.  When I return to my boyfriend in the summer, I’m sure that I’ll see the masculine aspects of the Divine within him (and I’m sure some feminine also, just as I’m sure I have some masculine aspects within me).

While I don’t think I’ll ever have a hard dual-theist outlook on life the way that the Goal of the Witch seems to lay it out, I’m excited to keep finding out more about the gods and goddesses and potentially the God (as the masculine energy of the Universe) and the Goddess (as the feminine).  Even if I don’t literally think there is a Horned God wandering around in the forest or wherever, I can see that there is a kind of Divinity in the Universe.

My favorite saying used to be the Latin phrase: Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.  It means “Where charity and love are, God is there.”  I even had this quote under my photo in my senior yearbook.

I think that, just because I no longer strongly identify with this idea of God, I can still find something in this phrase if I think of God as the Divine.  Where charity and love are, there is the Divine.  Perhaps, the Divine is everywhere.

 

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

 

 

Ever Learning Am I, ft. St. Patrick’s Day

Yesterday I posted my excitement for St. Patrick’s Day today, because I thought, Sweet, a holiday where we enjoy little green fairies who hide pots of gold.  Today I’m sitting in my room waiting for a face mask to solidify and I decided to just Google “pagan st. patrick’s day” and see what are the general thoughts on this holiday that seems to come really close to Ostara (which will be next Tuesday, woo-hoo!).

I came across pagancentric.org, which I’m not familiar with and therefore can’t certify is a great source (and again, it’s only one source, so I can only trust it with a grain of salt), and basically the author despises St. Patrick’s Day, citing that the “snakes” that St. Patrick drove out of Ireland are actually the pagan Celts (yay for biased symbolism).  So in fact, this day when everyone goes out and engages in drunken revelry and promotes plants as symbols of luck (albeit also symbols of the Trinity) and little green fairies are supposed to give you gold if you find them at the bottom of a rainbow (leprechauns)…is really celebrating the spread of Christianity and the oppression of the pagans?

Damn.  Just when you thought a holiday could get a little pagan fun in.

This being my first St. Patrick’s Day where I am actively on this path, I’ve got to say that most Americans are completely ignorant of this.  We mostly treat it as a secular holiday, anyway, so it’s not like everyone is out and about with crosses (although they do often wear shamrocks, so there’s the Trinity, like I said…), but still, I can see how honoring someone who probably killed, if not facilitated the deaths of, many pre-Christian residents of Ireland is not at the top of any Pagan’s list.  Nor should it really be at the top of any Christian’s, but lots of Americans think he literally drove snakes out of Ireland (if even that), and those Christians who do know who St. Patrick was got the sugar-coated version of it (“and the goodly St. Patrick took some priest friends to Ireland to teach the pagans about the wonders of Jesus Christ….”).

There are many flaws with St. Patrick’s Day, not the least being that St. Patrick might not have even been the one who did all these things (and they were just attributed to him later), but the least I can do as a Witch is get my head out of the common cloud and realize what these holidays actually mean.

Of course, like I said, that’s only one source, though it seems with a bit more rooting around on the internet, that it’s a pretty comment thought these days that the snakes were the Druids, who apparently had snakes tattooed on their arms.  However, I also looked on patheos.com and got a different sentiment, which expressed that the idea that the snakes were Druids only came about several hundred years after St. Patrick was alive, as did the idea that St. Patrick was the most influential in converting Ireland.  It’s all very confusing.  Did Paddy engage in genocide?  It looks like the jury’s still out.

The most important thing I’m taking away from all of this is, though, that most of our celebrations are not without bias or historical washing to make things look favorable to us.  It would be a pretty sick miracle if St. Patrick drove real snakes out of Ireland, despite the fact that it would probably mess up the food chain or the ecosystem pretty good.  To most Americans, this could be the story, and it doesn’t matter if it’s real or not.  But it’s my responsibility to educate myself so I can see beyond these glossed-over holidays.

I’m still going to wear green and stuff.  But the leprechauns are definitely going to get more glory from me than this questionable Christian dude.

 

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #28: March 16th, 2016

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, and while I’m not Irish and I don’t pretend to know much about St. Patrick, I can certainly appreciate a holiday where we talk about little green fairies who hide gold at the ends of rainbows and vanish if you look away.  I was just looking into studying faery lore a bit, because I do realize that some Witches work with the fae.  I don’t yet, and I would guess it’s because, even as a kid, I didn’t really believe in fairies much (somewhere, a fairy just dropped dead).  They just weren’t a big part of my life.  That being said, I’m definitely interested in getting a bit more information about the fae.  The country that I live in now does believe in domestic magickal creatures (even the common person believes that there is a little spirit that guards the house and sometimes gets into a little harmless trouble).  Despite being a pretty religious Christian country, its pagan roots often shine through (and I secretly love it).  Anyway, I enjoyed getting the chance to have my kids do a leprechaun hunt today.  They hid parts of leprechauns all over the school and made instructions on how to find them, and then gave the instructions to another team.  My kids searched all around the school, counting out their steps, searching behind curtains and in plants, and finally each team assembled their whole leprechaun.  It was pretty fun, and even though they were teens, they loved it (and it can be really hard sometimes to get teens to enjoy anything).

But back to the topic for the day.  Today it is Discuss Goal of the Witch #12: Meditate. 

This one should be easy, and certainly self-explanatory.  But anyone who lives in this bustling world knows that sometimes, the hardest thing to do during the day is to sit down and take time to yourself.  And I don’t mean time to yourself where you’re aimlessly scrolling through Pinterest, because I can do that for an hour and not realize how much time has gone by.  I mean really sitting somewhere and just being present.  That task is not an easy one.

My relationship with meditation really only started a couple years ago.  I was on a trip to the Caribbean with a literature course from my college, and one of the girls on the trip was a pretty avid yogi.  I, at the time, was not a yogi, but I liked dancing and I was pretty flexible, so I asked her if she would like to do some yoga together (I thought it was mostly just exercise and stretching with some breathing thrown in).  As misguided as I was, I’m so glad that I asked her, because she ended up leading sunrise and sunset yoga for all of us for the first few days of the class.  In Barbados.  On the beach.  (You don’t have to like yoga to see that that was a pretty sweet deal.)  Someday I have to tell this girl how grateful I am for introducing me to yoga, because she started this whole journey for me of actually paying attention to spirituality and how I interact with the world around me.  If I hadn’t gotten into yoga, I wouldn’t have noticed how I felt about nature, about the spirit in everything, and about the fire in myself.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve never been great at meditating–not now, not then, and no time in-between.  But the fact is that I’m aware of it, and I like it when I do it, and I want to do it more.  I see that it really is essential in the life I want to lead, and when I started researching Witchcraft, I was so glad to see it was a crucial part of this path.  In fact, I’m happy about basically all of the Goals.  I think they’re more relatable and more elegant than the Ten Commandments, to be honest.  I mean, in the Ten Commandments, God really had to spell out not to kill other people, not to steal your neighbor’s wife…it took several Commandments to say what the Wiccan Rede says in one line: “An’ ye harm none, do what ye will.”  And the Commandments didn’t even get the second part of the line in there, because they certainly don’t advocate for you doing what you will.

But anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.  What I’m trying to say is that meditation is not easy, but I really believe it is a necessary foundation of a good practice for any faith, especially one that asks you to have awareness.  I just finished college and I know, I know, how hard it is to convince yourself to take time to just sit and be.  It feels like a waste, and some of my classmates would say that it is.  Why take time to sit when you could be doing this or this or this?  It seems like sleeping, only more pointless.

I would say, when we meditate we finally get to understand just a little bit of the world around us.  When we meditate, we start to actually wake up.

I just wish it was on a beach in Barbados.

 

Blessed be, everyone, and have a happy and safe St. Patrick’s Day.

 

)O(

 

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #27: March 15th, 2016

I’ve been living in a foreign country for about seven months now, and honestly, even though the first day I came was like navigating a minefield of people who didn’t speak the same language, now I often forget that I’m even abroad.  When I first arrived, I kept looking at people and seeing foreigners everywhere.  Now I just see people from my neighborhood.  It’s not like I recognize them or anything, but they don’t seem so strange to me.  It feels like this town is becoming, well, kind of my home.  My roommate and I go to the same grocery store all the time, or the same restaurants, and the cashiers and waiters often recognize us as the English-speakers, and sometimes I’ll even see one of my kid students walking down the street.  Just a couple weeks ago I was walking near the center of town and one of my little nine-year-olds ran past me on her way to music school, and she just said, “Hi, *Chloe*!” and kept running, her backpack bouncing around.  (Of course she said my real name, not Chloe, hence the asterisks.)  Really, this place is starting to feel like home, like I forget that I’m not in America.

Then sometimes my friends will take me somewhere or make plans that involve some sightseeing, and suddenly I remember where I am.  And that is also a great, valuable thing.

On Friday, I realized that I had NO PLANS for Saturday, which is something that is now becoming a red flag for me.  I know that I don’t have a ton of weekends left to do cool things in this country, and so if I have a day where I don’t have something planned, it feels a bit wasted.  So I texted my friend (who shall be called Oriole…you remember how I called my other friend Ibis?  Well, this friend is one of the most stunning people I’ve ever met, so I’m calling her Oriole, which is a beautiful kind of bird).  Oriole has been completely critical in getting me out and about in this country.  She’s organized most of major excursions that I’ve participated in; she’s set up weekend get-togethers and parties and basically everything.  I owe a lot to her.  So I texted her on Friday night and said, “I have a free day tomorrow; should we go to a museum or something?”  Instead of a museum, she suggested a walking tour of our town–just the two of us.  Now, of course I live in this town, but it’s quite a historic place.  So we decided on the walking tour.

Damn, did we walk.

We met up at around 11:00 in the morning and walked in pretty much a gigantic circle around the town.  We stopped a couple times to snack or rest, but we basically walked for about four and half hours.  She showed me everything–old buildings, beautiful woods, parks…things that I knew about or had seen from a distance but had never gotten the time to investigate.  She took me to gorgeous churches, to a little cafe, and even to her cat’s grave.  We really left no stone unturned.  And even though by the end of the day, I had what felt like a stress injury in my right foot (my winter boots are not really meant for that kind of walking, but I don’t have anything else), I was feeling that much more accomplished.  And that much closer to Oriole (I mean, you can’t visit a cat’s grave without really feeling something).  We can talk about basically anything, and for that–for finding a true friend in this place–I’m really grateful.

Now, this post is supposed to be Discuss Goal of the Witch #11: Exercise the body.  And, even though it didn’t seem like that was what I just talked about, it was entirely.  Oriole and I didn’t just get together and sit around her apartment and talk (we did that later); we got outside, got fresh air, walked for miles and miles, discovered new places, and came home at the end of the day feeling tired but accomplished.  Any Witch can tell you that exercise is important for physical health, but so will any doctor.  As Witches we see beyond the fact that exercise is for your body–it is also for your soul.

I think it’s easy to make a lot of excuses in life for why we don’t want to get out and exercise or why we don’t want to eat healthfully, and yeah, that’s fine sometimes.  And body positivity is a great thing too.  I don’t want to look in the mirror and beat myself up for how big my thighs are or for how round my face is.  But I also have to remind myself daily that self love is synonymous with self care.  No matter how much I want to be body positive, I can’t be entirely so unless I do put in some work, because without self care, my self love falls flat.  And vice versa.

I don’t need to tell anybody how lucky I am that I get to spend all this time in a foreign country–everybody already knows that that’s a blessing.  But I’m also incredibly lucky to be able to enjoy it in this way.  I love being able to put on my coat and shoes and go outside and see new things.  That is how I choose to exercise my body–I take it far and wide.

 

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

 

 

Practical Magick?

For those of you who read my blog at least occasionally, you probably know that my real name isn’t Chloe.  I keep Chloe as a pseudonym, as my Witchy name, because I have a real life outside of the Internet that isn’t quite ready to be out of the bloom closet yet.  This blog is my real personality here, and I write my real thoughts, but there is also a real girl out there in the world who is me, who is working and living and trying to avoid major bumps in the road.

The reason I’m reminding you all of this is because the real me suffers from migraine headaches, and I just had one yesterday.  They are entirely unpredictable.  I have no idea what triggers them, and they have no pattern.  I didn’t even have the first recognizable-as-a-migraine episode until I was seventeen.  During my freshman year of college, I had to run out of class and throw up, then go and sleep it off.  I had auras about 15-20 minutes before the pain started, just long enough to gather my books up from the library and head home or email my professors that I wouldn’t be in class.  If I could take two Excedrins before the brunt of the pain settled in, I could sleep through the nausea and wake up about four hours later feeling like I had slept through being brutally hammered in the skull repeatedly.  I had them as often as three times a month, until they abruptly stopped in February.

I had one more that I remember on move-in day of my junior year of college, and possibly another at some other time, but this is the first one I can recall having in quite a long while.  Of course, it’s disconcerting, because if I have no clear pattern, I can’t tell what the triggers are.  It’s also difficult to cancel out of things at such short notice.  I was able to call in sick from work yesterday, but I had an individual student I couldn’t cancel.  I threw up (from the pain–a side effect of the migraine) about four minutes before she arrived, and throughout the hour-long lesson I excused myself two more times to go discreetly vomit.  I should win an Oscar because she had no idea that I was ill.

Anyway, the reason I’m talking about this on my Witchy blog is because it’s things like this that make me curious about the practical effects of magick.  It actually set me to looking for magickal remedies for migraines, a few of which I found, but of course there is the underlying question, What does magick actually do? 

I know, as well as any other person studying Witchcraft, that magick does not fix all problems.  It cannot make something do an action that is outside of its nature.  I can’t turn a tea kettle into a flower pot or anything like that (unless I get really crafty with Pinterest).  And likewise, magick is no replacement for medical advice or treatment.  If you break your leg, you can’t magick it back.  You can use magick to help you cope or to possibly heal faster, but that’s about it.

What about with unseen problems, like migraines?  Things that don’t seem to have any rhyme or reason, but they just happen?  What about depression, or the resulting apathy?  What about cancer?  We can say that we have preventative magick, but what does it do in times of real health crisis?  I mean, just the night before I had my migraine, I did a spell to improve my health (by helping motivate me to eat right and exercise).  I burned candles with dill and rosemary, I burned petitions, and I made sure to repeatedly qualify that the spell shouldn’t harm anyone.  Yet, the next morning, I get my first migraine in years.  What gives?  It even sent me to the Internet to see if there was such a thing as a magickal hangover.  Maybe I didn’t ground enough and used too much of my own energy?

And yet, part of me was thinking, This is silly.  When you were a “Christian,” you never assumed it was God that was giving you migraines, or that He would take them away.  When you were an atheist, you didn’t look into outside causes.  And that is entirely true.  Now that I want to tap into the magickal energy of the Universe, it seems that I should be able to defeat this in some way.  Now that I’ve put my first real hope into something in a long time, shouldn’t it–you know–not let me down?  Isn’t there some herbal blend I can take, or some meditation exercise I can try to do (while lying under the covers wishing I were unconscious)?

Or is magick, is Witchcraft, just one more call out into the void in our hopeless search for some power and control in this messed-up place?  Could there ever be such a thing as practical magick?

I know these are all very dramatic thoughts for a novice Witch to ask, but I always have questions for my own life philosophies, and Witchcraft doesn’t get let off the hook in any way.  That being said, I’m very happy to take any bits of wisdom, because these are real questions I would like to have answered (or at least have soothed in some way).  Comments are welcome below, and I’ll approve them as soon as I can.

Thank you for reading.

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #26: March 8th, 2016

Happy International Women’s Day!

As I sit here having several chocolate wrappers next to me, I have to laugh at how today’s post is Discuss Goal of the Witch #10: Breathe and eat correctly.   I can’t say that this post is going to lauding how far I’ve come or anything.

I’ve always thought about breathing, at least to some extent.  When I was in elementary school and we were being taught how to run, they taught us to breathe in through our noses and out through our mouths.  When I was learning yoga, they taught breathe in through the nose and out through the nose.  I learned about the way the breath works with our health, our levels of stress, and with our energy.  There have been times in my life when breathing was not so easy.  When I was a freshman or sophomore in college, being out in the cold weather too much and exercising too often compromised my lung function.  My lungs tightened up when I ran or when I was outside.  For a few weeks I had to wrap my face in several layers when I went out into the winter air.  I went to the nurse on campus and she suggested that I was breathing incorrectly when I ran, because I often used my mouth to breathe in and out.  Since then I have always tried to breathe in through my nose exclusively when exercising.  However, fast-forward to my January in the Caribbean and trying to keep up on the morning run with a bunch of my athletic classmates…and that wasn’t working so well either.  I was trying to take such deep breaths with my nose that my nostrils were closing up and I literally had to hold my nose open when I ran.  Then my classmates suggested I breathe in through my mouth, but with the memories of wrapping up my face still fresh, I was reluctant to do that.  I couldn’t figure out why I was having much more trouble than everyone else.  Later that year I found out I was highly iron-deficient, and whether or not that had anything to do with my breathing problems, it certainly meant that I had to breathe a lot harder to get the same amount of oxygen to my muscles.

I don’t have a great relationship with exercise.

Eating has been another minefield.  I’m a person who has always had some self-esteem issues, and when I was in college that came to a head.  During my freshman year, I was seeing a counselor over family issues, but by my sophomore year, I added “possible eating disorder” to my list of concerns.  Some days I was determined not to eat anything, although it made me question why I would ever want to make myself sick.  In November, I found a book that my cousin suggested, which was “Eat to Live” by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  It advocates for a nutritarian diet, which is kind of like veganism on steroids.  After Thanksgiving, I went cold-turkey on anything bad for you and started following an Eat to Live lifestyle.  I dropped about eight pounds in one month, which wasn’t bad on my frame, but the problem wasn’t with the lifestyle–it was with my mentality.  My friends (and relatives) noticed my obsessive eating and some of my friends even went to eating disorder information sessions on our campus to figure out if I was in trouble.  I was never at an unhealthy weight, but combined with my stress, exercise levels, lack of sleep, classes, and juggling my own mentality about food, I was driving myself crazy.  There is a picture of me on Facebook from my sophomore year of college where I have these dark circles under my eyes, and even though I like how thin I looked, next to my beautiful friend, I looked tired and unhappy.

Unfortunately now, I’ve gained quite a bit of weight, and though I’m tall and distribute it well, I’m not happy this way either.  I will always have an obsessive mentality when it comes to eating, whether it’s eating only obsessively healthfully or obsessively badly.  I think the trick is figuring out how to handle the other aspects of my life at the same time so that it doesn’t culminate into something destructive.  I would love to get back to eating vegan, and perhaps even nutritarian, but do it the right way, with a good support system, and some cheat days.  I shouldn’t obsess over what other people will think (especially what other vegans will think, because sometimes hell hath no fury like a vegan who thinks you are abusing the term “vegan”).  I should bring vegan options to family gatherings but not be afraid to try something very small if it has cheese or whatever, because my family also works very hard on their dishes, and I know that it’s kind of rude to refuse them.  That’s why I don’t eat vegan in this country–because food is a gift, and it’s rude to refuse it.

I know that I’ve kind of been talking about this Goal in the sense that it’s just about me, but my journey has been a very important one in these two ways.  In these ways, this Goal truly is just that–a goal, something for me to actually buckle down and work on.  I need to work on breathing more often.  I need to eat more healthfully and take care of myself this way.  I know that self-love is synonymous with self-care, but I have a hard time with that sometimes.

It’s important to know that we all come from different places.  Some Goals are going to be easier to work on than others.  It’s always a process, and I’m okay with that.  But it doesn’t give me an out to say, “Okay, so I’ll just do it tomorrow.”  It has to be a working process, or it’s no process at all.

Every Witch has something to improve upon.

 

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #25: March 3rd, 2016

Today I had only one student show up for one of my classes, so we spent about half of the time playing a knock-off version of the game Battleship.  Every time I got a “hit” on her board, I got to ask her a question, and every time she got a “hit” on my board, she got to ask me a question.  It’s a great tactic for teachers to get their students to talk while still having a pretty risk-free environment (unless, of course, you’re playing Risk).  On a combination of sheer luck and good strategy I pretty quickly got to the point where she had just discovered my third boat and I had almost sunk her fourth.  After sinking her fourth, I said, “Don’t worry, all you’ve got left is the little one, so I won’t be able to find it right away.”  I guessed two more spots and got a hit on the second time.

In response, she incredulously asked me, “You is witch?”

I mean, you can’t make that stuff up.  I laughed my head off and said, “No, no…” but on her next turn when she finished off my third boat, she got to ask me one more question.  Most of our questions had been along the lines of, “What’s your favorite band?” or “How long have you been playing guitar?” but hers was, “How old are you, witch?”

I said, “Five-hundred.  I look very, very good.”

There’s really no moral to that story or anything, I just thought it was pretty hilarious that my individual student accused me of witchcraft.  I mean, she’s not wrong.

Anyway, today’s journal is to Discuss Goal of the Witch #9: Attune with the cycles of the Earth. 

Before I started looking into this path, I noticed the cycles of the Earth, specifically the seasons, but I wasn’t really into them in the way that you might expect.  I loved summer, probably because I like warmth and my birthday, and I despised fall and winter, because fall meant school and obligations and an inevitable winter, which I hated too.  I would actually find myself getting depressed when I saw the first leaves changing color on the trees.  While this lessened a bit as I got older, and especially after I graduated high school and started going to college (and realized that the school year of college was WAY better than my crappy summer job doing fast food), I still don’t exactly LOVE winter.  However, I would say that my feelings towards all of the seasons have gotten far more complex, and, dare I say it, there are positives and negatives to all of them.

I think the best thing I could have done is to start attuning myself to the cycles of the Earth, which I began to focus on as I started studying this path.  By paying attention to the moon cycles, the sabbats, and even daily associations, I suddenly find myself appreciating every day as more beautiful.  I’ve started to see the way that the snow is just covering the green grass.  Living where I do currently, where there is a crazy small amount of sunshine in the winter, celebrating Yule as the winter solstice was actually refreshing and hope-inspiring, because in the darkness of winter I appreciated that the cycle was now moving again toward Midsummer, slowly but surely.  Because I had actually learned to pay attention to the way the seasons were changing, I stopped feeling lost and depressed during winter, but instead found the value of the coldness and the beauty of the frost.

This was a short little journal, but to me attuning to the cycles of the Earth is one of the more prominent things that has come forth from my study.  I know I have much more to learn, but I’m definitely enjoying seeing each season for what it is now, instead of just living for the summer because it meant I got time off from school.

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #24: March 2nd, 2016

Officially I work something like 33 hours a week, which is already over what I’m obligated to work.  However, that is just teaching time.  I usually go in early to prepare, and on days like today, when it’s possible my supervisor is going to drop in and evaluate my teaching, I show up three hours early to double-check all of my registers and frantically make sure all of my lesson plans look good and my tests are all graded.  Then I come home and watch ten episodes of my favorite comedy, because I don’t have the emotions to spend on any dramatic conflict that’s going to last longer than about 10 minutes (and I need the comic relief from even the ten minute conflicts).  It’s not exactly the way I pictured my life going after college–but I think we all go a little hog-wild on Pinterest planning our beautiful bohemian homes with the herb gardens for our Witchery, and then end up living in a small apartment, making Netflix-and-chill a solo affair.  I mean, it’s not ideal, but it’s reality right now.  I always think back to this wonderful woman who hosted me once while I was doing a class in the city.  She had an extremely eclectic home, made her own jewelry, grew her own urban garden, wore natural fabrics, had adopted Mexican children, was a fitness instructor despite being 62, used natural homemade cosmetics, had been a vegetarian her whole life, organized everything in glass jars, advocated for more blankets over more heating….  WHY WEREN’T MY PARENTS HIPPIES?  Looking back, I remember taking pictures of her whole house as future interior decorating inspiration.  (Don’t worry, Chloe, we’ll get there….)

Maybe one of the reasons why that kind of life appeals to me is because this woman was the first person I had met who had taken the idea of caring for all things (the environment, the people of the world, the animals) and actually put it into practical and dedicated use.  She was a beautiful woman (she’s still alive, but I’m saying “was” because it’s been a long time since I’ve seen her now), but she wasn’t afraid to advocate for the things around her.  She respectfully requested that we not waste food, that we take short showers, and that we respect her vegetarian lifestyle while we were living with her (it was a very short time and all very doable).  I think it was great that my friend and I got paired with her, though, because not only did we do those things, but we wanted to learn about her lifestyle in earnest.  We went shopping with her, we went dancing with her, we used her natural cosmetics, we made jewelry with her, and her husband even gave us some of his paintings for free.  We loved learning things from them.  It felt good to be a part of a family that was actually living for the world, not just themselves.

That is the essence of this journal entry, which is Discuss Goal of the Witch #8: Celebrate life.  This one is not hard for me, because this is one of the things that became the foundation for my exploration in other spiritual paths.  When I used to walk out on my college campus and see the birds darting around my head, I felt the energy from them.  I felt like they had spirits that were so beautiful and yet so mysterious.  I felt absolute joy at feeling the wet grass under my fingertips.

Sometime last year when I was starting to look into this path, I made a list roughly titled “What I Believe.”  It was an effort to objectively think about my values and beliefs so that I could see which spiritual paths/religions fit them, rather than me stretching my beliefs to fit a “desirable” religion.  The first thing I wrote was that everything has value–rocks, trees, plants, people, animals, rivers…everything has energy and even a kind of life.  Everything is created and grows and peaks and dies, and it’s all beautiful and absolutely unique.

I don’t know if there’s an afterlife, but even on the darkest days, Earth resembles paradise.

 

Blessed be.

)O(

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #23: March 1st, 2016

I know that I’ve been absent for about…er, a long time now.  There’s no excuse!  Except I have lots of excuses.  For example, my country had some holidays so everybody and their kids had about three days off in a row, and on one of the days, my friends and I went to this old town and basically just lived life to the fullest for a day.  We ate good food, rolled around in the snow, saw historic sites, ate more food, rolled around in the snow a little more, and generally had a great time.

Generally, I’ve just not been able to wrap my head around the next journal entry I need to do.  I’m still slowly making my way through the Goals of a Witch.  There are other things I want to write about, of course, but this one’s taking the primary importance for now.

So, here’s for today–Discuss Goal of the Witch #7: Keep your thoughts in good order. 

This one shares a lot more than just extremely similar wording with the last Goal of the Witch.  Like I discussed in my last Year and a Day entry, the idea of “keeping your words in good order” has a lot of purposes, some of them magickal.  I mentioned that lying, saying mean things, or cursing people are all ways in which our words can become less respectable, and quite possibly less effective.  I think the same goes with our thoughts, which (ideally!) are the precursor to our words.  Honestly, I would think that it would be extremely difficult to keep your words in order unless you first have your thoughts that way.  If you have bad feelings toward someone, the chances of setting your intention against them are pretty high, and you always have to be careful about what kind of energy you’re sending out to the world.  If you want to “harm none,” I would say it’s best to start with your attitude and work from there.

Time for an anecdote to bring in my other reasons to keep your thoughts in order.

I once painted my own version of a motivational poster that said, “I am in charge of how I feel, and today I am choosing happiness.”  I kept in on my bedside table in college.  One day my brother saw it, and he laughed at it.  “Really, you want to feel happy all the time?  What’s wrong with the other emotions?”  Of course I said it was the principle of the thing.  I’ve always tried to be as positive as possible in my life.  If something goes badly, I do my best to laugh it off or look at the bright side.  I mean, it’s not always easy, especially depending on my cycle and whatnot (hormonally-offset emotions are like, no joke, man).  Just today I got really pissed at my roommate because I felt sad about the prospect of leaving the friends I’ve made here and going home to America.  He kept saying that if I really cared, I’d stay in touch and whatnot….  I finally said, “Sometimes you have to just let us feel stuff and stop trying to counteract what we’re saying!” or something to that degree.  I just wanted to feel sad about the fact that I won’t see my friends, and I didn’t want him to keep saying, “Oh, you’ll see, it’ll be fine.”  (Side note: this is one of many reasons why I miss my boyfriend back home.  He is absurdly good at handling females, especially me.)

 

Of course, I’ve been very lucky all my life to have the kind of brain chemistry that allows me to be a fairly happy person.  I recognize that for some people, waking up in the morning and choosing to be happy is just not an option.  I know that depression or mental illness looks very different for many people, but I admit to sometimes being that person who secretly sees someone being a “Debbie downer” and thinks, Come on, you’re not even trying to have a good time.  I realize this is insensitive and comes from my privilege of never having been clinically depressed.  Have I had times of my life that absolutely sucked for one reason or another?  Sure.  But I was never not able to convince myself to have fun, and that’s something that isn’t attainable for some people at the moment.

That being said, I am still a sucker for motivational posters.  If you don’t struggle with depression (or even if you do), I think that there are some things you can do to keep as much positivity in your life as possible.  Setting goals can be very helpful.  Being mindful, doing meditation, and thinking things through can help to organize chaos in your mind.  Our minds do a lot of work–they never seem to power down–and your brain handles every action you do, not to mention the planning before the action and processing the outcome after the action.  Sometimes you have to take whatever strain off your mind that you can.

Anyway, I’m sorry that it took me so long to write this one.  It was very important to me to fix it up (I’ve had a draft sitting here for a few days, but I didn’t like it).  Besides, everybody needs a little mental break once in awhile.

It helps keep the thoughts in good order.

Blessed be!

)O(