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(

 

 

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #38: July 19th, 2016

This entry is based on Day 3 of Wicca: A Year and a Day by Timothy Roderick.

I think, as Witches (or whatever you call yourself), we have a nice, looming obstacle in the way of peaceful practice.  When I considered myself to be a Catholic Christian, my faith was out in the open (not everybody agreed with Catholicism, but still, it wasn’t a secret that I was Catholic).  When I got baptized, it was a big event.  When I had my first communion–another big event.  When I got confirmed, my whole family came and watched and I got a big pink cake with a cross on it and like a half-dozen family heirloom rosaries.

If you strip away the common factor that makes these things acceptable to our society–Jesus–then suddenly you have a bunch of rituals, and, to be quite honest, rituals that could easily be mistaken for Pagan rituals.  Baptism is water symbolizing birth and being washed clean, and a candle is lit to symbolize spirituality.  Communion is partaking in the fruit of the vine and the work of our hands to worship (although, Catholics believe in transubstantiation, wherein the wine is really the blood of Christ and the bread is really the body of Christ, so that’s a little bit more involved).  And at confirmation, I was anointed with oil and even given a different, spiritual name.

And yet.  Those rituals are acceptable to society, and Pagan stuff is apparently terrifying.

Of course, it’d be nice to think that we have just the one obstacle–society–and nothing else stands in our way.  That’s rarely true.  In fact, I think that one of the biggest obstacles that blocks my way is, unfortunately, myself.  Half the time, I don’t feel comfortable with what my path is, and with using terminology.  Reclaiming and all that aside, it’s not an easy task to call yourself a Witch in front of friends and family, or to say that you do magick or spells.  I know as well as they know what exactly comes to mind when you tell someone you’re a Witch.  They start thinking you’re delusional, is what starts happening.

I mean, truly, it’s not all that different than believing in a Christian God who will answer your prayers (and yet somehow it’s a hundred times more appealing than relying on God).  Either way, there’s some unseen force that exists in the Universe and you must appeal to it, whether that’s by sticking your own hand in and guiding it (magick) or praying (a whole host of religions, including Pagan ones), or calling on the saints for intercessions.  But Witchcraft just sounds dirty to the untrained ear.  And my ear is sometimes very untrained.

I liked Day 3 of the Wicca book I’m reading because it asked me, the practitioner, to Consider some essential words: Wicca, Witchcraft, Power, Ritual, Magic, Occult, Pagan, Spell, and Earth-Religion.  Answer the questions for each: a) What is my comfort level using each word? b) How do I understand each word? c) How do I imagine each word impacts other people who are not involved with Wicca?

I don’t want to go into immense detail about what I decided for each word, because it’s pretty personal, I suppose.  But I wrote a lot about skepticism, misunderstanding, and fear from both sides (myself and others).  In the end, I narrowed it down to one word–confusion.  I think that summarizes the negative emotions that both I and others feel about many of the key words that the book asked me to consider.

The book then asked me to write this one summarizing word on the side of a taper candle, to be burned away and the remaining wax buried far from my home.  But in the meantime, it wanted me to think of where this emotion comes from.  A scary cartoon about witches? the book suggested, or….

Well, I think I can understand where much of my confusion comes from.  I was raised Catholic, after all, and while Witchcraft-removal isn’t the main thing on the docket these days for the Catholic Church, certainly drilling into my head that there is One True God and only those that believe in and worship Him can have eternal life isn’t exactly Witchcraft-friendly.  Likewise, learning the history of Witches as only those Puritans who were tried and hanged in 1692-1693 and not as any real practitioners doesn’t do anything to help suggest Witches could be real people.  And the way that some parents react to children’s books with magic themes (Harry Potter topping the challenged book list, anyone?) definitely paints a picture of a society where hostility towards Witchcraft is alive and well.

And yet, as I was lying on my back thinking of where all the negative stuff came from, I also thought about how I was drawn to Witchcraft–how it felt like the right thing, how my fascination with magic had been something real and strong my whole life, how even when I wrote fantasy stories, magic wasn’t something that you could just snap your fingers and get, but something real, something simultaneously tangible and intangible and physical and something that required your effort.  I thought about how I fell in love with Renaissance festivals and the world of magic and whimsy there, and how every Halloween I was a witch or a sorceress.  How Harry Potter didn’t make me want to be a Witch, but how wanting to be a Witch made me devour Harry Potter. 

I know that this is all far from easy.  I watched my mom absolutely mock my brother this weekend for considering himself an atheist, and I could only sit there and think how much she would be appalled if she knew of my Tarot cards and essential oils.  I can hope that someday it’s not all so terrifying and confusing.  I’m trying to melt away some of that confusion now.

Well the candle burns down.  And only time will tell.

 

Blessed be!

)O(

(And a happy full moon to you all!)

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #37: June 5th, 2016

Well, here I am again, kind of wondering what to write about.  Why is there no full and complete list of 366 journal prompts somewhere on the Internet?  Somebody needs to make that happen.  I mean, I guess I’m doing it, but…somebody else should be in charge of this.  I can barely make toast some days.  As I’m writing this, I’m realizing I’m out of soy milk, too.

Anyway, no one should be surprised, I suppose, that I’m again taking some inspiration from the Pagan Perspective!  Seriously, if you haven’t checked them out, you need to do that pronto.   They have some really great information for pagans, whatever level of experience you have.

This week’s prompt is also taken from my own life, really, because this is it: How does food play into your path? 

Now, if you have the chance, go back and read my previous post, which was Food-for the Soul?  I don’t know why exactly, but it got a lot of hits, and I have the suspicion that it’s because that topic speaks to a lot of us.  Or maybe because it had a proper title unlike most of my posts, but that’s neither here nor there.  Anyway, probably 90% of the population has a weird relationship with food at best.  But, as I said in the end of that post, we have to try to mend this relationship in order to be at our spiritual best (or something to that effect).  Perhaps there’s no better way to mend this relationship than to make food into something spiritual in itself.

I’m leaving this prompt wide open, so if you ever use my prompts as inspiration, you can take it however you’d like.  Maybe you want to think about some recipes you make for the different sabbats.  Maybe you want to talk about how eating everyday is some kind of spiritual experience for you.  Maybe you want to talk about how your food choices are tied to your beliefs.  Now that I’ve suggested these things, I’m going to do all three.

Firstly–recipes for the sabbats.  I don’t freely celebrate the sabbats due to still being firmly located in the broom closet, but a lot of these recipes are just seasonable dishes that you can make without raising too much suspicion.  For example, for Yule I made wassail, which is a drink utilizing apple juice and spices.  There’s nothing inherently magickal about this particular recipe or anything, but the spices in your nose and wafting through the kitchen can help to warm your spirits.  I even used it as an offering for my Yule ritual.  I think the most important thing about sabbat recipes is to bring the essence of the sabbat into your cooking.  Why not make recipes with flowers for Beltane, or lots of wheat bread for Lammas?  Make stuff with pumpkins for Samhain, and stuff with eggs for Ostara (if you eat eggs).  For inspiration, I really enjoy the book The Kitchen Witch, by Soraya.  I have the Kindle version.  The author compiled lots of recipes for each sabbat and even has some extra tips.  The only frustrating thing about it is that the majority of the recipes including meat and dairy, which I tend not to eat.  But the book is really interesting and helpful, nevertheless.

Secondly–making food spiritual in itself.  It might be helpful here to insert the beautiful phrase, “Self love is synonymous with self care.”  I heard that once on YouTube (I’m so enlightened).  Regardless of the source, though, I think that the message is really important: if you want to love yourself, you have to take care of yourself.  If you want to take care of yourself, you have to love yourself.  So when you’re cooking, you’re (hopefully) caring for yourself.  You need food to live, to survive, to thrive.  The act of making your sustenance is the act of caring for yourself.  It is, perhaps, a very personal thing.  A ritual in itself.  Some people choose to treat it as any other ritual, with the lighting of a candle and the use of special utensils.  Sometimes I’m not that focused.  But once in awhile, if I’m making something that feels especially witchy (like homemade soup), I’ll actually set an intention for the food and I’ll put energy into the spices and herbs.  I’ll stir the thing deosil or widdershins.  Usually I make this soup for the purpose of healing and health, so it’s packed with tons of vegetables and good intentions.  I’ve eaten it myself when I had a cold to help me recover, and I’ve given it to friends who were sick.  I even told my friends that it was “special healing soup” and that it would make them better, because mentality is sometimes half the battle.

Lastly–food choices in relation to our beliefs.  As you can probably figure, I’m referring to certain lifestyles like vegetarianism and veganism.  For me, personally, my ideal lifestyle is vegan.  I was vegan for a few years, and while I’ve been abroad I’ve been vegetarian/pescatarian (the food culture here makes it very difficult to cut out dairy, eggs, and fish).  When I buy food to make for myself, it’s almost always vegan, but eating with friends or in restaurants is usually another story.  When I return to the United States, I hope to go back to being about 95% vegan.  Of course, people in the vegan community might tell you that there’s no such thing as being 95% vegan, and if you are truly vegan, you’re 100%.  But I’m kind of a believer that each time you make a positive choice is what matters, and doing something positive is better than nothing.  For me, veganism started out as a diet choice based on my weight and my obsession with food, but at least in the midst of my obsession I did get to learn a lot about the meat and dairy industries, and how veganism can impact these industries.  I don’t like to hurt animals.  I don’t really like to eat animals or animal products, at least not when I think about it.  I don’t want to harm anyone or anything.  Does that sound like a familiar lesson we Witches learn?

Food is such a complex thing sometimes, but I truly hope that someday I, and everyone else, can have a healthy relationship with food.  Regarding food as a spiritual tool may be one way to make that happen.  When I eat, I want to know that it is the best thing for me, and that it doesn’t conflict with my values.

If you’re interested in hearing more about other Pagans and their food choices, check out the Pagan Perspective channel on YouTube from a few weeks ago.  They touched on veganism and had some pretty interesting things to say.

I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend.

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #36: May 20th, 2016

If you read my blog frequently, you’ve probably seen me mention my best friend, Ibis, a few times.  Well, her birthday is in two days, and I’m in a foreign country, maybe 4,000 miles away from her.  I mean, I haven’t always been able to spend her birthday with her of course, but I usually try to do something.  Take for example two years ago, after our junior year of college.  She was studying abroad that semester, but the school year ended and we were back in our hometown about a week later.  I called up her mom and asked if I could come over as a surprise, so I rode my bike about seven miles to her house with two bottles of liquor in my backpack (it was her 21st birthday) and just strolled in her backdoor.  She was cooking in the kitchen and thought I was her mom at first, but when she saw me (for the first time in about four months) she freaked out and hugged me.  We both had been through a lot that semester, but at least we got the chance to spend some time together in the end.

I don’t think I’ll be able to do quite the same thing this year, since I’ll be coming home about a month and a half late.  In fact, she’ll probably want to do something for my birthday, which is in July.

Anyway, what I’m trying to get to is that Ibis is a truly irreplaceable friend.  We’ve had our ups and downs of course–this year probably being a down, since we haven’t seen each other in nine months–but in the end, we’ve been friends for a solid eight years.  I mean, all through the tumultuous times of high school and college.  That means something.

So today’s journal prompt has something to do with this idea of friendship, the kind of friendship that you can’t just find anywhere.  Today’s prompt is as follows: Do you have any friends with whom you have a sort of spiritual connection?  How can you describe this connection?  Does your friend inspire you on your path?  

I can say very honestly that Ibis is a friend with whom I have some kind of spiritual connection.  I remember back when we were in high school, we were sitting by the side of her backyard pool and we were talking about everything–life, school, even God–and I realized that somehow, we had so much in common that I truly felt we were like the same person.  I felt like our spirits were kindred, as though we were soul sisters (as cliched as those terms have come to be).

My connection with Ibis is so powerful that when she turned eighteen, I wrote a poem lamenting that she was going to become an adult without me.  The poem was about our innocence and how it seemed that I had lost too much innocence to be a child but I couldn’t yet follow her into adulthood.  The shining hope in the piece was that we had decided to go to college together, and I didn’t have to be so afraid of the future if I was stepping into it just behind her.

I would say that, although I was the one who worded the prompt question and of course I should be able to answer it, it’s very difficult to describe the connection that I have with Ibis.  I think that the best way to say it is that our souls strive for the same thing, even if we don’t realize it in the moment.  For example, when we were sitting by the side of the swimming pool back in high school and we were discussing God, we seemed to feel the same things in our hearts.  If I recall correctly, we both had experienced a period of intense devotion to Him, but in the end had found that it didn’t satisfy us, or it didn’t make sense in the way that we had hoped it would.  I think that we both want something a little more out of spirituality than what the Christian God can provide, or at least more than we understood He can provide.  As I’ve said before, I don’t think that Ibis is about to join me on this path anytime soon (even though it would be ridiculously awesome if she did), but we’ve had many moments over the years of connection in spiritual thought.  For example, once we were walking together on campus and saw a spring bird flitting from tree to tree.  And it seemed that in that moment we both expressed that the bird must have a soul, that it has a whole life and existence beyond what we understand (I would say that whether or not we take on this label, we both have some belief in animism).

Sometimes I don’t even realize that we have the same goal and beliefs in mind until later.  For example, my freshman year of college, Ibis and her boyfriend were part of a big campaign to ban bottled water on our college campus.  At the time, I was vehemently against this ban, on the sole grounds that it was a “ban.”  I thought that if I wanted to buy bottled water, I should be able to.  I actually became somewhat furious over the whole thing, because I felt like they were telling me I was a bad person for wanting to buy bottled water.  In reality, I’m pretty sure I felt guilty myself.  After a couple arguments with Ibis about the whole campaign, we completely reconciled, and about a year later I realized I had been extremely selfish about the whole thing.  Now I think about my impact on the environment constantly, and Ibis and I both truly care about the Earth.  It was like she, once again, was one step ahead of me and I just had to grow up a little to figure out that we were still the same person.

Clearly Ibis and I have a lot of things in common, which definitely is important for us being friends.  But more than that, it seems that we have some sort of kindred connection, even from afar.  For example, one day I was walking in a park not far from my house, and I saw an ibis.  Instantly I felt my friend flash into my mind.  It was as though her soul was present in the bird–perhaps all birds, since she’s said a few times that if she could be an animal, she would be a bird.  But more importantly, I could feel that there was something there, and I made plans with her as soon as I could because I felt that seeing the bird was almost a sign.  This is why I call my friend Ibis on this blog.

Now, like I said, Ibis isn’t on this path.  But she certainly has served as inspiration and support for me while I’ve been figuring out what I believe and what I know.  She was the first person I told about magick, and she didn’t even think I was that crazy.  She’s participated in a ritual with me, and she even sometimes reads this blog 🙂  I think the fact that we strive for the same things in life help her to understand where I’m coming from a little bit more than your average person, because (as I said with the animism and stuff), we have a lot of the same feelings and beliefs, even if hers haven’t been translated to a belief system the way I’ve been trying to translate mine.

So, thinking about her birthday coming up, I’m hoping to get her something really special.  I can’t say what it is yet, because I don’t want to give it away in case she reads this!  But she always knows that it’s something from the heart.

Of course, the biggest gift will be when I come home and we pick up exactly where we left off.  I don’t think she’ll ever be able to get rid of me, to be honest.  No matter how many months or years or decades we spend apart (but hopefully not decades, because that would suck).

If you read this, Ibis, I love you to pieces.  I wish I could be there for your birthday, but I know that when I come back, you’ll be 23, and I’ll step into it behind you.

 

Blessed be ❤

)O(

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #36: May 18th, 2016

I’m going to say straight away that I don’t really have a journal prompt for today.  I just feel like talking about a recent experience that I had, and maybe in the end I’ll get some kind of summary out of it that seems like it would make a good prompt, in case anybody uses this site in the future for journal prompt ideas.

This last weekend I went to my friend Oriole’s cabin in a far less populated part of this country.  Oriole (her code name, as I’ve established here before) had been a student, but she only took classes with me for about two months before it got too expensive for her.  Thankfully we became fast friends while she was my student, because I can say that, hands-down, no other person here has been so beneficial to me in so many ways.

Anyway, it wasn’t just Oriole and I at her cabin, but several of her friends, including two other girls that I’ve become pretty close with while being here.

Now, the cabins in this country aren’t like the luxurious cabins that litter the North Woods in the United States.  They’re not like the retirement cabins that various well-off couples, including my aunt and uncle, spend their golden years in.  These cabins are wood, often built by hand, insulated with natural materials and featuring wood burning stoves to keep everything warm.  There are usually different buildings for each necessity–one building for sleeping, one for a kitchen, one for a sauna, one for a toilet, one for a shed–and, as is customary in this country, you can’t wear your shoes inside (nor can you go barefoot), so you have to walk between places with your outdoor shoes on, then take off your shoes and put on slippers to go into each place, then take off your slippers and put on your shoes to leave and go to a different building….  It can get pretty tiring.  Eventually I just walked between places barefoot and wore my slippers inside.

Let me talk about why going to this cabin was such an amazing experience.  First of all, it’s located in a village surrounded by absolutely gorgeous country.  It’s springtime, and the dandelions, the tulips, the daffodils, and all the other early flowers are blooming.  (And yes, I consider dandelions to be beautiful, and useful at that.)  I think I found one of my favorite places in this whole side of the hemisphere, just sitting on the top of a sloping meadow, looking down over a river.

More than that, though, this cabin was a bit of an escape.  Just to take two days to live in a more simplistic way feels like everything I’m supposed to do.  Of course it can get old–and I’m addicted to the Internet, so it can be hard not to have my Netflix and stuff–but somehow, just two days of country style living like entirely more slow and peaceful than two days of doing anything else.  I took photos of the flowers, I actually read a book, and I got some quality bonding time in with people I really love and care about.  I mean, you don’t do naked sauna without sharing your soul a bit.

I also had the opportunity to think a bit more about what I take and what I give to the Universe, to the Earth.  One of my friends really liked me making dandelion garlands for her hair, and she insisted I pick a lot of dandelions for this purpose.  I realized that I was taking a lot without giving anything back, and so each time I picked a dandelion, I started thanking the Earth for it.  And when I inevitably had leftovers because my friend decided she didn’t want the thing I had made for her hair, I braided the leftovers and hung them on the gate.  Maybe next time I go I’ll leave something else as an offering.

I know that my boyfriend wants a nice, modern house.  He’s been inspired by a south-suburban luxury that his successful sister has obtained but neither one of us has ever had.  And yet, I hope that if we get married and move in together, he can compromise with me.  If we have an ultra-modern house, I would like a little shed in the back.  I’d like my own little paradise where I can garden, and do spellwork, and make herbal tea.  Perhaps I’m a little too idealistic about it all, but I can’t deny that my happiness is far more exhilarating when I’m surrounded by nature.

…Well, I don’t think I got a good prompt out of this, and maybe I didn’t even say everything I wanted to say.  But at least I got the thoughts out there.

I hope everyone is having a great week.

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #35: May 13th, 2016

 

First of all, I’d like to start this journal by giving another shout-out to cutewitch772 for doing a very difficult video in which she explained why her Patreon is so important and how her subscribers could support her entirely if only 13% of them donated a dollar a month.  Having talked to her personally and received individual advice from her (sometimes advice lasting several hours), I can say that she offers a LOT to the Pagan community and what she does is certainly worth $12 a year.  When I get home and start getting paid in United States dollars, I’m going to sign up to be one of her patrons, especially since it was one of her videos that introduced me to this path in the first place.  I mean, I would spend $12 on popcorn and pop at a movie theater, so I’m pretty sure that I could help support one of the very small handful of people who knows me personally and supports me on this path.

Anyway, I was inspired by one of her videos recently to do a journal entry on grounding.  This process is a way to connect to the Earth’s energy before doing a ritual or a spell, in the effort to not use so much of your own energy.  The Earth has so much usable and renewable energy, which we can take part in for our Craft.

Cutewitch772 shared a bit about how she visualizes for grounding, and I’ve heard a few different ways, but it’s interesting to see that many people seem to change the way they ground over the course of their practice.  In which case, I thought it would be interesting to document my current method now and look back at it in the future.

So, today’s prompt (again by me): Do you use grounding?  When do you ground?  Which method do you utilize/how do you do it? 

[The upside to making my own journal prompts is that I can, frankly, make them say whatever I want.  The downside is that I can make them say whatever I want, and where’s the challenge in that?  Somebody find me a book of prompts….]

I would say that, for me, grounding is a relatively new thing.  I’ve definitely tried to cast spells before without grounding first, and I’ve reaped the real consequences from it.  Just a few months ago, before I really knew much about grounding, I did a health spell for myself and I don’t think I grounded very effectively beforehand.  The next day I got up with a major migraine, possibly unrelated but seemingly too strange to be just a coincidence.  It seemed like a “magickal hangover,” something I had heard of from the Internet (but couldn’t find any remedies for when I was looking the next day).

As for my method of grounding now, I discovered it by literally going to YouTube and putting in something along the lines of “grounding meditation.”  Not surprisingly, there were several relatively short guided meditations that came up, and I found one that I liked and listened to it as I was lying in bed before going to sleep.  Not only was it an effective way to relax before bed, but it helped me finally get a good idea of how to visualize the process of grounding.  The smooth-voiced man in the guided meditation described feeling like you are a plant, reaching roots into the Earth, sprouting down farther and farther until you reach the core of the planet.  He described allowing yourself to feel rooted to the core of the Earth, and using this connection to help you get rid of the negative energy in your body.  When you feel firmly planted, you can allow the energy of the Earth to spill into you and begin to overflow from the top, allowing you to reach through space into the sky, pulling in the energy of the air around you.

Now, I really like this meditation, because I think there is something to be said for having your bottom firmly rooted and the top kind of free, like the air.  However, I also really liked what cutewitch772 mentioned, which was connecting the top all the way to the sun, so you have two hot anchors holding all the cold tendons between them.  I haven’t really put this one into practice yet, so I can’t vouch for its effectiveness for me, but I think the idea makes a lot of sense.  Probably the most difficult part for me is that where I live, the sun is never above me (always somewhat south…and/or on the other side of the planet) so I have a feeling I’ll have some difficulty visualizing a tall connection between me and the sun.  I feel like it would throw me off to feel like I’m reaching off to the side somewhere.  Maybe it’s a meditation I would best leave for midday.

In any case, I don’t have a lot of complicated things to say about grounding, but I just wanted to make note of what I do as part of this important process.

I hope everyone is having a fine spring.

Blessed be!

)O(