Year and a Day Journal #43: August 26th, 2016

As the people who consistently read this blog know, I just finished living in a foreign country for almost eleven months.  Coming back was actually easier than I thought it was going to be, probably because, while the city I was temporarily living in did come to feel like my home, I have lived in my US city for my entire life, and you can’t replace it.  So coming home felt like coming to another familiar place.  Then, shortly after I came home, I got engaged, and got a part-time job, and things have been just flying around at the speed of light.  And maybe I never really got a chance to feel loss.

Now, though, I’ve been away from my foreign country and my foreign friends for a month and a half, and it’s starting to feel difficult.  I’ve been trying to keep in contact with them, but I’ll never carve out as much time here as I spent with them there.  I saw some of my friends maybe three or four times a week when I was there, and here I’m lucky if I get to call or text them once a week.

So, therein lies the question I’d like to pose today: How does loss impact your path?  How can you make it something constructive? 

I wish that loss was one of those things that made people really motivated to do stuff, but as I recall BBC’s Sherlock saying in A Study in Pink, sadness is a paralytic (therefore ruling out that the cabbie would kill people because he was also dying, but that’s neither here nor there).  So certainly for me, I’ve noticed that while I’ve been home, I haven’t done much with my path.  I’ve been trying to write on this blog, certainly, but my practice has dropped off sharply.  That probably has many reasons (one of them being that I’m now living in the same house with my mother, brother, and two long-term house guests) but who’s to say one of them isn’t that I’m kind of sad about leaving my friends behind?  I mean, they even made a video for me that had interviews with all of them, and pictures and videos, and it made me cry in the airport.  Now I’m trying to make a video compilation of my experience there, and it’s not helping me cope either.

So on to the more important question of the two: how can you make it something constructive?  Short of making an inevitably creepy shrine for my friends and burning incense for them or something, I have just one idea.  Rather than think about how the loss of friends affects my practice, I should think about how having those friends affected my practice.  And it should be a motivator for me to stay in contact with them (because I am the worst at keeping in touch with people).

I know it’s not very much for today, and perhaps not very much insight for any of you, but I’ve definitely got a lot on my plate (as you can probably tell).  Thank you to everyone who does read this blog.  (You rock.)

 

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Year and a Day Journal #42: August 11th, 2016

*Because I couldn’t figure out how to gracefully work in this question later on in the post, I’ll start off with the spoiler: What is your concept of the afterlife?  How does it work on your path? 

When I got off work today in the evening, a big storm was just rolling in.  I looked out the windows of my job and realized it looked much, much too dark for 7:15, but I decided to dilly-dally anyway.  By the time I finally headed out to my car, a massive, ominous, tidal-wave-looking cloud had shrouded the whole sky, leaving only a thin strip of whitish sky that was quickly being overpowered by the front moving in.  Thankfully I managed to make it home just as the drops were starting, and within two minutes of getting inside, it started to rain in earnest.  There was lightning, thunder…a real dark and stormy night.

I currently have four adult housemates (all right, one is my mom and one is my brother, and the other two are a couple from my foreign country), and the foreign woman suggested that we watch a horror movie, since the weather was very fitting.  We ended up scrolling through Netflix for ages (it has a surprisingly good selection) and finally settled on The Awakening, a 2011 British film about a woman who is an avid non-believer in ghosts, until she is hired to investigate one at a boys’ boarding school.

The movie was pretty good, very touching, and although somewhat predictable in hindsight, I was certainly captivated by it in the moment.  The main character was a woman named Florence, a university-educated woman in 1921 England.  She didn’t believe in ghosts, she didn’t believe in the afterlife, and she didn’t believe in God.

Quite honestly, although I knew that Florence would eventually meet a ghost that couldn’t be scientifically explained, I was rooting for her in the beginning.  We all know I’m not a huge fan of the Christian God, and I don’t like to believe in Heaven or Hell.  (It seems awfully boring in Heaven, to be honest–I don’t particularly want to worship at God’s feet outside a gleaming Jerusalem for all eternity.)  The ideas of a perfect Heaven or a absolutely abhorrent Hell are difficult to imagine, certainly, especially in a logical sense.  After all, what is happiness without sadness, and what is torment without relief?

Because of my desire to refuse the Christian afterlife, I similarly have trouble recognizing or wanting to believe in any other kind of afterlife.  I know that a lot of Wiccans believe in reincarnation, something that I understand from Scott Cunningham’s books.  But obviously not every Pagan or Neo-Pagan or Witch believes the same thing.  For example, reincarnation seems a horrible thing to me right now, where I am in life.  Let me explain.

In college, when I was really in the throes of philosophical quandaries about my religion, and about God, and about the afterlife, I was also a terribly tired individual.  I wouldn’t sleep until projects were done; I did a lot of extracurricular activities and I worked a campus job on the side.  Sometimes I wanted to fall into bed and sleep for the rest of my life.  Severe exhaustion does weird things to a person’s mind, and it may have been around that time that I decided that “living” forever, no matter how perfect eternal life might be, would suck.  I was so tired that honestly, the idea of just dying and sleeping in the ground forever sounded pretty damn good.

While I’m not so depressingly bleak these days, I still think that, after living a good long life (which I hope I do), being faced with reincarnation would be the last thing I would want.  I’m still thinking that it would not be a bad thing to just die and be done with it.  My body would go into the earth.  Maybe a tree would grow where I was buried.  Maybe I’d have a legacy or maybe I’d be forgotten almost right away.  In any case, I lived while I lived, and I don’t need anything more than that.

Of course, I know that there is a huge possibility that things might not be that simple.  I’ve never personally seen a ghost, but I can imagine that they could exist.  It’s more plausible to me than Heaven is, at least.  And I know that as my path takes shape, I might change my mind about what I believe.  But for now, there isn’t necessarily a need for me to have an afterlife.  I think people, over thousands of years, created these religious afterlives to deal with facing death.  And while it always sucks when someone close to you dies (especially if you don’t believe in an afterlife), I’m not sure I’m afraid of dying if I live a long life and do the things I want to do (again, fingers crossed here).  I’m afraid of dying now, certainly–I haven’t done everything I want to do.  But an afterlife isn’t going to help me do those things either.  I’m not going to write a YA novel or get married or have children or travel the world while I’m sitting in Heaven or Hell.

I suppose that was the long answer to a very full question.  I’d be interested in hearing what some of your ideas are.  I’m always open to new ideas.

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #41: August 8th, 2016

After being home about a month (and procrastinating for much of that time), I finally marched out to my living room yesterday and did some yoga.  It wasn’t much–really, it wasn’t–but it felt like a huge step in the right direction.  Certainly, getting over the hump of starting something for the first time can be one of the hardest obstacles to overcome.  (Maintaining it is similarly extremely difficult, but I’m hopeful.)

Today’s journal prompt is of my own creation, inspired by my blind optimism toward keeping up a yoga routine.  How do everyday physical activities help you on your path? 

I’ll start by saying that physical activities here don’t necessarily mean “exercise.”  You don’t have to do Pilates to be doing good things for your body.  Sleeping, for example, is a great activity–one that I still have to get better at, despite doing it (almost) every day for the last twenty-three years–and getting enough sleep, for me, is a really important aspect of my path and the life that I want.  Not getting enough sleep is not healthy for me or my mind, and certainly not for my spirituality.

Yoga, of course, has to have a moment on this post.  Yoga was my first introduction into a different spirituality than the one I was raised in.  Before doing yoga, I had thought of it as just a dancer-like stretching activity.  After all, acro-style dance and yoga look pretty similar in photographs.  However, after one of my college friends introduced me to it and started taking me to a good studio in our college town, I realized that it was a lot more than what I had previously expected.  I started liking the idea of meditation, and I did yoga probably four times a week, at least.  Now I’m trying to get back into it, of course, because it fell off horribly while I was in my foreign country, but on the whole yoga still plays an important part in my life and my path.  The transcendental spiritual side of yoga was my inspiration.

Because I need to make this a short post, the last thing I’m going to talk about is walking/bicycling.  These are two things I try to do every day, especially in the summer.  Walking is great because you can do it with friends, chat easily, play Pokemon GO even….  It’s a very social activity, if you want it to be.  Or it can be entirely solitary, and you’re going slowly enough to enjoy every little thing that you see.  Bicycling, on the other hand, is also amazing, because though you can kind of make it a social activity, it tends toward the side of self-focus and even reflection.  You can’t really use a phone on a bike, and you’re going fast enough to cover a lot of ground, but you are small enough to go deep into nature.  And nature is one of my big facilitators.

Sorry that this was such a short post, but some days the thoughts just have to get put out quickly.  I also want to say that I was thrilled at my stats from last week–the Pagan Perspective video certainly gave me a big boost, and I’m grateful.

I hope that everyone has a spectacular day.

Blessed be!

)O(

 

Year and a Day Journal #40: August 4th, 2016

Forty and fine!  I have a feeling that this Year and a Day is going to last a lot longer than a year and a day….

First of all, I’d like to give another shout out to the Pagan Perspective channel on YouTube, and especially to cutewitch772, because they’re doing a topic inspired by my blog this week, and it’s brought a lot of traffic to my blog (relative to what I normally get–I mean, we’re talking like ten views compared to one or two), so thank you again.

Today’s topic comes from Wicca: A Year and a Day by Timothy Roderick.  On Day 6 he asks the reader to consider the following: Describe your own “calling” to the Witch’s path.  We all have characteristics of both the shaman and the madman.  In what ways are you a shaman?  In what ways are you a madman or madwoman?

The Day 6 section was about shamanism in Wicca, or rather how Wicca is a shamanistic religion.  Now, I don’t necessarily label myself as Wiccan, but I understand that it is the sort of more-widely-heard-of branch of magickal spirituality.  I also don’t know much about shamanism, like, at all.  It seems to me that considering myself to be shaman-like is a big stretch, because I’m, you know, just Chloe lying on my stomach on my bed right now, writing this thing, and maybe I’ll eat some spaghetti later.  “Shaman” is one of those titles that makes me sort of go, “Oh God, okay, this is getting serious.”

That being said, let me start with the first question.

My “calling” to this path is sort of a lifelong fascination with magic and the sort of magical time in history.  I love Renaissance festivals, for example, and literally every summer since I was a child, my parents have asked me, “Okay, this year–the State Fair, or the Renaissance Festival?” and I’ve been like, “Is that even a question…?”  Of course they’re not historically accurate or anything, but this sort of world where magic is real and wizards and fairies and mystical forests with bands of jugglers exist…it has always drawn me in.  By some extension of that, I love fantasy novels.

I suppose therein lies my “shaman” aspect.  I love reading and writing fantasy–the sort of ability to get lost in and control a non-physical world, something just inside my head where anything is probably possible.  When I write fantasy, I’m creating something no one else has ever experienced yet (unless I’m over-inspired and end up plagiarizing a bit and it just sits in my computer forever).  And of course my venture onto this path is an attempt to understand and interact with the non-physical world.

The “madwoman” aspect comes into play, according to Roderick, when you get completely lost in this otherworld and you can’t function in society.  While I obviously don’t want to consider myself a madwoman, I think that my desire to write fantasy for a living could indicate a desire to completely get lost in this fantasy world.  Or perhaps coming onto this path, instead of just cosplaying at festivals, is an attempt to consume my life with the fantastic.  But I think I balance it well (after spaghetti today I’m going to my part-time job tomorrow).

In any case, it was an intriguing question to think about this lovely August day.  Sometimes I don’t take the time to include my path in my every day life, but I’m trying to get better at it.  Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #39: August 3rd, 2016

I’m going to give a heads-up right now that this journal doesn’t have a question in it, per se, just some interesting news….

Things have been pretty intense since I got back from my foreign country.  If you regularly read my blog, you know about my dear boyfriend, who waited for a very long time for me while I was off in foreign places.  When I came back, he took me on a special trip and PROPOSED, which I did not see coming.  We have been together for a long time, so it’s not outlandish that we’d be engaged now, but it still seems weird (probably since we’ve been together for so long as boyfriend/girlfriend).  Also, somebody give this kid props because he picked out a gorgeous ring.  And he went for some pretty deep symbolism in it, and when he explained it, I realized again how much my significant other is the kind of ideal in many ways that a lot of women spend a long time searching for.  So I feel very lucky.

The interesting part about getting engaged was that, in the car on this trip, I was telling him about the full moon ritual I’d done (in a somewhat uncertain way, since honestly, I think he’s still getting used to this path I’m going on, and he doesn’t exactly know what to make of it), and yet, despite how strange it probably all sounded, he asked me to marry him later that day.

The high of the moment doesn’t last forever, though, and when we got home from our short trip, and we finished celebrating with my family, reality sort of crashed in.  Now I have to plan a wedding–a wedding that my mom, the Catholic who doesn’t know anything about my spirituality, will be overseeing and contributing to and helping finance.  I realized that now I have a finite amount of time either to tell her about my path or to just suck it up and keep it intensely secret.  My fiance thinks that there’s no reason to tell my mom if I don’t want to, but…I mean, guys, she wants me to have a Catholic wedding in a Catholic church with a Catholic priest.  And definitely–at the absolute least, like if I have an outdoor wedding–she wants a member of the clergy to officiate.  I think my family might combust if I don’t have the clergy involved.  (My aunt literally said to me, “But the clergy is going to be involved in some way, right?”)  And my fiance’s mom is even MORE staunchly Christian.

I’m not sure what I should do.  On one hand, I want to have a really classic wedding, with beautiful flower sprays and a gorgeous dress and everything.  It’s been my dream since I was a kid.  But now that it’s real, and I want to think about how my spirituality is involved in such a huge event, maybe I want some tradition that plays more into my path.  Maybe a handfasting, or something.

Or perhaps I should separate the two.  I’ve heard of people doing handfastings a year and a day before their scheduled wedding, as a sort of extra engagement.  Maybe I could have a very small, adorable little Pagan handfasting, and then my wedding will be for the people, Biblical rhetoric and all.  I mean, I still don’t think I could manage having it in a Catholic church (my fiance isn’t Catholic, either), but I understand compromising with my mom on this one.

If any of you guys have had a handfasting or been to a Pagan wedding, let me know what it was like or if you have any suggestions.

By the way, this week the Pagan Perspective channel on YouTube is doing a video inspired by my blog (THANKS GUYS!).  Head on over to their channel to check them out.

 

I hope you’re all having a beautiful summer (and Lammas/Lughnasadh if you celebrate it!).

Blessed be!

)O(