Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Letters to a Young Poet (#8)

Borgeby gard, Fladie, Sweden
August 12, 1904

     I want to talk to you again for a little while, dear Mr. Kappus, although there is almost nothing I can say that will help you, and I can hardly find one useful word. You have had many sadnesses, large ones, which passed. And you say that even this passing was difficult and upsetting for you. But please, ask yourself whether these large sadnesses haven't rather gone right through you. Perhaps many things inside you have been transformed; perhaps somewhere, someplace deep inside your being, you have undergone important changes while you were sad. The only sadnesses that are dangerous and unhealthy are the ones that we carry around in public in order to drown them out with the noise; like diseases that are treated superficially and foolishly, they just withdraw and after a short interval break out again all the more terribly; and gather inside us and are life, are life that is unlived, rejected, lost, life that we can die of. If only it were possible for us to see farther than our knowledge reaches, and even a little beyond the outworks of our presentiment, perhaps we would bear our sadnesses with greater trust than we have in our joys. For they are the moments when something new has entered us, something unknown; our feelings grow mute in shy embarrassment, everything in us withdraws, a silence arises, and the new experience, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it all and says nothing.
     It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living. Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing. That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us, the presence that has been added, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer even there, is already in our bloodstream. And we don't know what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. We can't say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens. And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate; and later on, when it "happens" (that is, steps forth out of us to other people), we will feel related and close to it in our innermost being. And that is necessary. It is necessary - and toward this point our development will move, little by little - that nothing alien happen to us, but only what has long been our own. People have already had to rethink so many concepts of motion; and they will also gradually come to realize that what we call fate does not come into us from the outside, but emerges from us. It is only because so many people have not absorbed and transformed their fates while they were living in them that they have not realized what was emerging from them; it was so alien to them that, in their confusion and fear, they thought it must have entered them at the very moment they became aware of it, for they swore they had never before found anything like that inside them. just as people for a long time had a wrong idea about the sun's motion, they are even now wrong about the motion of what is to come. The future stands still, dear Mr. Kappus, but we move in infinite space.
     How could it not be difficult for us?
     And to speak of solitude again, it becomes clearer and clearer that fundamentally this is nothing that one can choose or refrain from. We are solitary. We can delude ourselves about this and act as if it were not true. That is all. But how much better it is to recognize that we are alone; yes, even to begin from this realization. It will, of course, make us dizzy; for all points that our eyes used to rest on are taken away from us, there is no longer anything near us, and everything far away is infinitely far. A man taken out of his room and, almost without preparation or transition, placed on the heights of a great mountain range, would feel something like that: an unequalled insecurity, an abandonment to the nameless, would almost annihilate him. He would feel he was falling or think he was being catapulted out into space or exploded into a thousand pieces: what a colossal lie his brain would have to invent in order to catch up with and explain the situation of his senses. That is how all distances, all measures, change for the person who becomes solitary; many of these changes occur suddenly and then, as with the man on the mountaintop, unusual fantasies and strange feelings arise, which seem to grow out beyond all that is bearable. But it is necessary for us to experience that too. We must accept our reality as vastly as we possibly can; everything, even the unprecedented, must be possible within it. This is in the end the only kind of courage that is required of us: the courage to face the strangest, most unusual, most inexplicable experiences that can meet us. The fact that people have in this sense been cowardly has done infinite harm to life; the experiences that are called it apparitions, the whole so-called "spirit world," death, all these Things that are so closely related to us, have through our daily defensiveness been so entirely pushed out of life that the senses with which we might have been able to grasp them have atrophied. To say nothing of God. But the fear of the inexplicable has not only impoverished the reality of the individual; it has also narrowed the relationship between one human being and another, which has as it were been lifted out of the riverbed of infinite possibilities and set down in a fallow place on the bank, where nothing happens. For it is not only indolence that causes human relationships to be repeated from case to case with such unspeakable monotony and boredom; it is timidity before any new, inconceivable experience, which we don't think we can deal with. But only someone who is ready for everything, who doesn't exclude any experience, even the most incomprehensible, will live the relationship with another person as something alive and will himself sound the depths of his own being. For if we imagine this being of the individual as a larger or smaller room, it is obvious that most people come to know only one corner of their room, one spot near the window, one narrow strip on which they keep walking back and forth. In this way they have a certain security. And yet how much more human is the dangerous in security that drives those prisoners in Poe's stories to feel out the shapes of their horrible dungeons and not be strangers to the unspeakable terror of their cells. We, however, are not prisoners. No traps or snares have been set around us, and there is nothing that should frighten or upset us. We have been put into life as into the element we most accord with, and we have, moreover, through thousands of years of adaptation, come to resemble this life so greatly that when we hold still, through a fortunate mimicry we can hardly be differentiated from everything around us. We have no reason to harbor any mistrust against our world, for it is not against us. If it has terrors, they are our terrors; if it has abysses, these abysses belong to us; if there are dangers, we must try to love them. And if only we arrange our life in accordance with the principle which tells us that we must always trust in the difficult, then what now appears to us as the most alien will become our most intimate and trusted experience. How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
     So you mustn't be frightened, dear Mr. Kappus, if a sadness rises in front of you, larger than any you have ever seen; if an anxiety, like light and cloud-shadows, moves over your hands and over everything you do. You must realize that something is happening to you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand and will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don't know what work these conditions are doing inside you? Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where all this is coming from and where it is going? Since you know, after all, that you are in the midst of transitions and you wished for nothing so much as to change. If there is anything unhealthy in your reactions, just bear in mind that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from what is alien; so one must simply help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and to break out with it, since that is the way it gets better. In you, dear Mr. Kappus, so much is happening now; you must be patient like someone who is sick, and confident like some one who is recovering; for perhaps you are both. And more: you are also the doctor, who has to watch over himself. But in every sickness there are many days when the doctor can do nothing but wait. And that is what you, insofar as you are your own doctor, must now do, more than anything else.
     Don't observe yourself too closely. Don't be too quick to draw conclusions from what happens to you; simply let it happen. Otherwise it will be too easy for you to look with blame (that is: morally) at your past, which naturally has a share in everything that now meets you. But whatever errors, wishes, and yearnings of your boyhood are operating in you now are not what you remember and condemn. The extraordinary circumstances of a solitary and helpless childhood are so difficult, so complicated, surrendered to so many influences and at the same time so cut off from all real connection with life that, where a vice enters it, one may not simply call it a vice. One must be so careful with names anyway; it is so often the name of an offense that a life shatters upon, not the nameless and personal action itself, which was perhaps a quite definite necessity of that life and could have been absorbed by it without any trouble. And the expenditure of energy seems to you so great only because you overvalue victory; it is not the "great thing" that you think you have achieved, although you are right about your feeling; the great thing is that there was already something there which you could replace that deception with, something true and real. Without this even your victory would have been just a moral reaction of no great significance; but in fact it has be come a part of your life. Your life, dear Mr. Kappus, which I think of with so many good wishes. Do you remember how that life yearned out of childhood toward the "great thing"? I see that it is now yearning forth beyond the great thing toward the greater one. That is why it does not cease to be difficult, but that is also why it will not cease to grow.
     And if there is one more thing that I must say to you, it is this: Don't think that the person who is trying to comfort you now lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes give you pleasure. His life has much trouble and sadness, and remains far behind yours. If it were otherwise, he would never have been able to find those words.

Yours,
Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

How to Care for an Empath

(nearly every empath I've ever met)
(this was originally posted as an article for an online paranormal magazine I wrote for.  The magazine is no longer updated, my content is no longer available, so I'm posting it here because I think folks will find the content useful at this time!)

I am not an empath.  I’m pretty dense.  I’m like a rock when it comes to energy.  I’m not made of lead, but I might be pumice.  Some stuff can get through, but not a lot.  I’m a little rough around the edges, but I have lots of friends and family who are like sponges – they suck everything up around them, positive or negative, neutral or chaotic.  They feel it all, and they often feel it with ferocity.

It’s usually when the empaths around me start feeling stuff that I start feeling stuff, too.  In my experience, empaths can sometimes act like amplifiers to the mood and general energetic feel of a moment.  So that means if an empath isn’t having a good time, no one in a mile radius is going to have a good time.  Or similarly, if an empath is bouncing off the wall, it might be no time at all before the whole room is going spastic.

I first realized the power of emotional energy when a former friend of mine was having a hard time.  She’d come to my house and cry and cry and cry and after a few months of this we all were exasperated with her.  Sure, we felt bad about her situation, but it had reached such an extreme low that we all were going down with her.  One time, a 100% mundane, ordinary friend walked into the house right after this girl had finally gone home for the evening.  We were all busy on the computer or doing homework, minding our own business when he walked in, stood at the door, and exclaimed “wow, the energy in here is just terrible! What the hell is going on?”

Even as a "non-believer" he knew something was up.  I often find myself in this position, and sometimes it can be exhausting, or even annoying.  So what can a non-empath do when dealing with empaths?  Here are some things that have helped me when dealing with highly-sensitive friends and family.  Maybe some of this will help you, and maybe you have some stuff to share as well!

  • Eat some food, not just sugar.  Sugar will help replenish energy, but you need something more substantial.  Eat something with some fat and especially some protein.  The protein will help ground you.
  • Drink water.  Don’t drink soda.  Don’t drink tea.  Drink water.  Drink a lot of it.  If you are doing something that is energetically stimulating or draining, drink a glass of water before starting and drink a lot more after.
  • Wash your face.  This will refresh you and clear your energy.  It feels good.  It’s a re-set button.  When I am feeling energetically unclean, I splash cold water on my face three times, rubbing around my eyes and nose and especially on my forehead.  Washing your face and hands in cool water works wonders.
  • Carry hematite or some other grounding stone.  Keep in mind that hematite is said to bounce energy back to the sender, so while it’s grounding it might not be the best to neutralize energy. Some recommend onyx or obsidian.  Try a few different stones and see what works best for you in different situations.
  • Touch the ground with your bare feet.  
  • Take three deep breaths.
  • Knock on wood or on the bare earth. Touch your finger-tips to wood or to the soil.
  • Don’t let your empath-friends get carried away.  This happens all too easily.  Lovingly remind them to stay grounded in reality.  As fun as magic and energy can be, oftentimes empaths escalate energetic situations into an atomic explosion, and this isn’t always appropriate.  Empaths often can seem to over-exaggerate or even be drama queens, so be sympathetic to their experiences but keep them grounded in reality.  Sometimes empaths can get carried away about ghosts and demons and angels and portals and visions and all sorts of fun/scary things.  These experiences can be valid, but can also be exaggerated and blown way out of proportion.  This can be confusing and annoying for non-empaths, so be patient but also be grounded in reality.  If an empath-friend is getting carried away, encourage them to calm down and center themselves.  Encourage them to think with logic rather than emotion, their minds rather than their hearts.  Even though intuition is priceless and vital, it sometimes needs to be balanced out with rationality.  Emotions can be vitally important and useful, especially to magic-users and occultists, but they can also dilute the reality of the situation and can quickly become amplified to the point when they are no longer useful or serving their purpose.
  • Help your empath-friend to know themselves, to know their strengths and limitations, their successes and their triggers.  Help them to avoid potentially negative situations.  Sometimes empaths seem to get themselves into messes, both in the magical sense and in the mundane sense.  Helping your empath-friend to explore their potential while maintaining clear limits and boundaries will help them control their own emotions and abilities, which in turn will help you and others when interacting with them.  Help them to explore techniques that help them ground and center themselves, and help them to realize when something might be a bit too much.
  • And importantly... Have fun!  Joy and positive emotions can often act as a shield and a protective barrier.  There's strength and power in laughter, and it can be incredibly cleansing and healing.  Also, an empath can be a great contribution to a party.  (Just be safe and sane!)

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Mid-Winter Update

One of my goals for this year is to write more, and I haven’t been very good about keeping up with that.  (Though I'm rocking my other goals - high five!)  I really love writing – “writer” was one of the first archetypes/identities that attached itself to me.  However, the older I get, the busier I am, and the more my life takes me in other directions.  (other awesome directions, to be fair!)

raw DATA!
There are folks in my past who know me as things like WRITER and BISEXUAL and FEMINIST, but since coming to North Carolina nearly ten years ago, other labels have been attached to me – THERAPIST is one that’s been clinging strong these days, but I also enjoy PRIESTESS and COMMUNITY ORGANIZER and FRIEND.

All of these things are great, and I’m very proud of them.  But in the end, I’m just Amanda, and Amanda is a writer, first and foremost.  My bachelor’s degree is in journalism, and I’ve been writing fiction since I was in elementary school.  I’ve participated in National Novel Writer’s Month half a dozen times or more over the years, and I have a file cabinet full of old stories and notes for stories, and a computer and external hard drive filled with even more.

Writing makes other aspects of my life way easier – it was a savior in graduate school since I could pop out papers relatively easily.  I can write rituals semi-quickly, as well as blog posts and other copy for both Gaia’s Circle and TAPA.  Progress notes and assessments are pretty easy to me, so it's important for me to remember that in one way or another, I write all the time.  But, it’s not the same.  I’d like to be writing fiction, to be honest, or if not fiction, I’d like to be writing thought-provoking blog posts and articles.  But, sigh, life gets in the way I suppose.

I listen to a lot of podcasts, and one of the most recent social work podcasts I had on was about research.  The interview was with a guy who actually wrote one of the books I used in graduate school, and it was a good interview.  I realized that I’ll probably never go back to school or go on to get my PhD because I hate research.  Not a fan at all!  So instead my plan is to get as many bad-ass certifications and licenses as I can so I can have an alphabet soup behind my name.  (So far I have MSW and LCSW-A, with a lovely little Rev. right in front!). 

Anyway, while listening to this podcast I was thinking about my own qualifications.  If I were to go back to school, if I were to write research articles, if I were to do research, what would I focus on?  My mind cycled through stuff a bit, then settled onto the other thing in my life I have attained at least some mastery and knowledge over – Paganism and the occult.  For a long time I was down on myself for wasting my 20s, but I realized recently that that time was not a waste at all.  I spent ages 21 – 28 or so focusing, intently, on Paganism, new age stuff, witchcraft, the occult.  I have a huge generalist knowledge, and also mastery over many of the basics.  I’m a group leader, a community organizer, a minister, a priestess, a sibyl, a Space Witch, and so many other things.  And anyway, the whole reason why I went to graduate school was so I could better serve my community as a Pagan clergy-person. 

So I started thinking about ways I have done that – groups, rituals, networking, workshops, and more.  And then I began to recall places where my social work expertise has intersected with Paganism (which happens more and more as I dive deeper into pro-bono work and pastoral counseling.)  And then I remembered when I was invited to speak at Duke, how excited I was, and how proud.  Back in 2015 I was invited by the chaplain at Duke University Hospital to present on Paganism and Pagan’s experience with healthcare.  It was a hard presentation to put together because I had so much to talk about.  At the time I was working on my Cosmic Love blog for Pagan Square, and had posted a survey to get some feedback from the actual community about Paganism and healthcare.  Much to my amazement, I received over 700 responses, which is great for any research study (let alone a 45-minute presentation at a hospital.)  I always told myself that I’d do something with all of that data (beautiful, beautiful data.)  But it’s been two years, and it’s just been sitting there.  But now it is time.

I want to take the next step in my Paganism, especially in regards to my community leadership and ministerial duties.  I also want to move forward in my career as a professional social worker, and this talk at Duke was a place where those roles beautifully intersected.  Combined with my “interest” in research, and my desire to write more… plus, I need to admit that I am more than qualified to write on this subject, that’s the whole reason why I went back to school!

So, all of that said (thanks for sitting through my little pre-amble) I’m working on a book!  I’m taking my data from the survey I did for the talk at Duke, and I’m turning that into a book.  My goal is to have the data analyzed by this summer (six month mark), present on the data at the Mystic South Conference in Atlanta (if they accept my proposal!  I'll know in March, fingers crossed), and then spend the rest of the year writing the actual book.  (Don’t worry, I have plenty of notes and outlines already!)

During the Druid’s Saturnalia ritual, before Gods and Family, I vowed to write this book this year.  Now, anyone who knows me well knows that I don’t take vows lightly at all, as in, I pretty much refuse to make them.  But it spoke to me in that moment, and I did it.  I vowed to write this book this year, so it would be ready by winter 2018 to be submitted for publication.  I have a rough timeline, and that will become more solid as I dive deeper into this project, learn more about the data, and the final project becomes more clear.

I’ve been outlining a ton, doing some brainstorming, but this weekend I finally sat down and started working towards quantifying some of my data.  It’s fun, and exciting, and I’m getting all sorts of ideas (not just looking at averages, but also at correlations, too!  Yay, statistics!).  Re-learning the statistics will be a bit challenging for me, and I need to make a point to dive into some of the academic literature, but overall, I’m very excited.  I’m proud to have a long-term project, and I know that I’m in a very good position to make this happen.

Friends!  Keep me honest.  Ask about my book, ask about the research, ask about the writing.  I’m going to try to post more in this blog to help keep me honest, but also to generate some reports and discussion about the results I’m finding.  I really, really feel like I have a strong chance at publication with this piece, and I thinking having an active blog will help with that, too.

So… that’s my mid-winter report!  A vow made before Gods, and Friends, and Family, and now you, dear reader.  Thanks for reading, and thanks for the support.  I look forward to sharing this work with you in the weeks to come!

And while you're at it, be sure to read about my experience speaking at Duke!
http://witchesandpagans.com/pagan-culture-blogs/thank-you-friends.html

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Books I Read in 2016

  • I'm not going to edit this text, since it's so long.  It's basically a copy/paste from my journal, so please excuse my bad grammar, spelling errors, and run-on sentences.  Also not going to include links to books, authors, or references, so please message me if you need clarification, links, etc
  • Physical books plus audio books (I do a ton of driving for my job)
  • Read/listened to 55 books (which is a tiny bit above my average.  I owe this to my broken foot, which gave me plenty of time to read this year.)

The Drawing of the Three – Dark Tower II – Stephen King
A re-read, quite enjoyable

30 Days of Night – Steve Niles – Been Templesmith
Great art, good concept, not my fave graphic novel.  Another re-read

Jesus: the Unauthorized Version
Yawn.  Started this in 2015 I think.  A collection of selections of source materials.  Don’t waste your time with this one, just read the source materials (apocrypha or gnostic gospels)

The Book of Strange New Things – Michel Faber
OMG LOVE HIM.  Great author, one of the best fiction books I’ve read in recent years.  I will read anything this man writes.

Mother of Eden – Chris Beckett
Not quite as good as Dark Eden, but still very good.  Again, I will read anything this man writes

The Things They Carried – Tim O’Brien
Read selections of this freshman year of college.  Good, challenging, upsetting.  Worth reading.  Why anyone still thinks warfare is a viable option for anything is beyond me.

Big Girl: how I gave up dieting and got a life – Kelsey Miller
My girl-crush/hero of this year, memoir of a beautiful fat chick and her experience with dieting, body image, self-love.  Gave me some heavy considerations regarding intuitive eating.  Cool, smart gal.  #goals

Waiter Rant – “The Waiter”
Has been on my to-read list for a while, tons of fun, makes me so happy I’m not a barista any more (even though being a barista isn’t the same as waiting, food service is still food service)

Sister of the Dark Moon – Gail Wood
Worked through this book with Gaia’s Circle.  A good jumping off point, though it left a lot to be desired.  I heavily adapted her rituals, and it was a great hear of going both wider and deeper for Gaia’s Circle.  Just what we needed

American Gods – Neil Gaiman
How many times have I read this book?  Another re-re-re-re-read.  If you want a tiny glimpse into my spiritual life and my UPG of the Cosmos, this book is very close and makes many important points

How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk – Faber and Mazlish
Recommended to me by my supervisor when I was at the psychiatric hospital as an intern, a good, useful book.  I had many parents step forward and tell me how much they appreciate it.  This is one I’ll probably go back to in a few years.  Full of information, and I’d say that it has changed the way I communicate with both children and adults

The Gift of Therapy – Irvin Yalom
Yawn.  Wanted to love this, but… I actually really like Dr. Yalom, but maybe I should have read another of his books first.  Hard to keep my attention and I’m not sure how much it influenced my own practice (aside from maybe a reinforcement of compassion, patience, unconditional positive regard – all good things)

Promethea Book 1 – Alan Moore
OMG.  Like American Gods, this one explains my own personal UPG SO MUCH.  Will probably read again this year since I never got around to finishing the series (needed to take a break because of all of the mystical, cosmic feels)

Child Psychopathology: a social worker’s perspective – Francis Turner
Review book for the licensing exam.  Useful but I think it’s a bit old and some of the content was outdated.

Trump of Chaos – Jen McConnell
The thrilling conclusion to her Chaos series, rewarding to see the progress of these characters and this book (I was one of her beta readers for the first book!)

Beltane – Llewellyn
My favorite holiday!  Cute book.  What a complex holiday.  It’s not given enough credit by Pagans.  So much depth.

Persepolis: the story of a childhood – Marjane Satrap
Great book, my favorite of the two.  In middle school I wrote a paper about a friend’s father who was a child in Iran before the war, and it was nice to revisit

On Being a Therapist – Jeffrey A Kottler
Useful and challenging, I don’t think Kottler is a social worker, because I think his perspective on some things would be a bit different, but a really encouraging book when I was a point in my life/work when I was thinking “wow, I suck so much!”  No, I don’t suck.  The job is just that hard.

Promethea – book two – Alan Moore
OMGGGGG

Get Jiro – Anthony Bourdain
One of my guilty faves, a silly story, but still fun

Get Jiro: blood and sushi – Anthony Bourdain
Better than the first, a prequel.

You are Not So Smart – David McRaney
Really boring.  HOWEVER.  It is on my required reading list for students and mentoring.  Any Baby Pagans who want me to initiate them into my tradition are required to read this book.

Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain
One of the many books I read while with a broken foot, spent hours watching Netflix and reading.  Loved this (paired well with Waiter Rant)

The Casquette Girls – Alys Arden
OMMMGGGG  I met a friend when I went to UU Women’s Spirit, and she recommended this to me.  Vampires?  New Orleans?  YES!  A long YA book, and I tend to not enjoy YA, but I like vampires and I LOVE New Orleans.  Looking forward to more books in this series

Hope: New Orleans
Used graphic novel I found at a used book store.  It was published as a fundraiser after Katrina, and it’s basically a collection of a few dozen little short comics and panels, and the money went to hurricane aid.  Enjoyed this a lot (even with the gratuitous, dumb comic boobies)  Some were so touching and devastating I had to put it down and I cried a lot

Walking to Mercury – Starhawk
Another one that has been on my list FOREVER.  Don’t even remember when I bought this book, but Starhawk came out with the sequel to 5th Sacred Thing this year so I decided I’d read the series (though I haven’t read Walking to Mercury yet).  I liked this a lot, though it’s a very personal story and not a community story, so don’t expect a repeat of 5th Sacred Thing

Salt: a world history – Mark Kurlansky
Bought this 10000 years ago from Hastings when I worked there.  LOVED IT.  I love gastro-history, and this was just interesting.  Read with an internet browser up and pair it with Wikipedia

Season of the Witch – how the occult saved rock and roll – Peter Bebergal
OMG.  This one had been on my to-read list for a while, LOVED THIS.  OMG.  Again, pair this with Wikipedia and Youtube.  I learned so much about music.  Rock plus occult?  YES PLEASE.

Ritual – David Pinner
Another re-read, third time.  The novel that inspired the Wickerman.  Such a strange, wild, ride.  Some of the writing is just gorgeous, super descriptive and evocative.  But the writing is racist, sexist, homophobic, abelist, classist, insensitive, outdated, indelicate, and ridiculous.  Major trigger warning for this (I guess the 1960s were just terrible, or Pinner is just terrible.)

The 5th Sacred Thing – Starhawk
Ssiiiigh.  The book that started it all, back in 2005 when I was a Baby Pagan.  Can’t say enough about this book.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman
Maybe my favorite book by him.  Another heavily UPG book

Curse of Stone – Jen McConnell
A cute little book that was fun to read while I had a broken foot and was feeling sorry for myself

The Golden Eye – Jonathan Stroud
Read the first one years ago based off of a recommendation from a friend, this one was a bit better than the first, really loved the character development

Kink in the Rope - Oliver Tremble
Won this one from Goodreads, a collection of naughty one-line poems and vignettes, heavily kinky.  Was charming and only sometimes scandalous.

Lost Souls? – Poppy Z. Brite
My friends lost their shit when they found out that I had never read Poppy Z. Brite (“omg, I thought you loved New Orleans and Vampires!”)  Given to me by a friend, loved everything about this larger-than-life book.  Can’t wait to read more

Castle Waiting – Linda Medley
Cute collection of comics in a charming, funny fantasy setting, just what I needed

We – Yevgeny Zematin
OMG yes good book read this.  I’ve always been a huge fan of Brave New World and 1984 and this is just basically 1984 like Orwell barely tried

Talking to Crazy – Mark Goulston
No, wish I hadn’t read this. it just made me angry.  Some good stuff in here, but I didn’t really find it to be useful.  Then again, Goulston has dozens of books and is probably filthy rich, so what do I know?

John Dies at the End – David Wong
I don’t like funny stuff or body humor, but I adored this and couldn’t put it down

Under the Skin – Michel Faber
OMG LOVED THIS. Love the movie, book was so good.  Both are amazing, very different.  Read this book

The Devil Rides Out – Dennis Wheatley
So, I picked up this book because it was mentioned in Season of the Witch, and also, because the movie stars Sir Christopher Lee.  I can’t find a copy of the movie, unfortunately.  I did not like this book.  A boring, bougie, British boy’s adventure story with some occult stuff thrown in.  Wheatley seems to know a thing or two about the Occult, but meh.  I’m glad I read it but it was a trial, for sure

Bedtime Stories for Children You Hate – Antoinette Bergin
Yes omg so good

Who Goes There? – John W. Campbell
I guess I had a “body imposter” them going on this summer?  The novella that The Thing was based off of.  Very good.  Enjoyed it a lot

The Invasion of the Body Snatchers – Jack Finney
Loved this!  the type of classic sci-fi thing I enjoyed.  A bit dated at times, but what isn’t, in the end?

The Explosive Child – Ross W Green
Accidentally found an abridged version of this but I’m on the fence about reading the complete work. Some useful stuff here, I think, but hard to implement without more context

Eden Green – Fiona Van Dahl
Nooo… someone on Goodreads asked me to read their book and review it.  Did not enjoy it.  I really hate reading stuff that’s just someone’s fantasy of them and their friends having an adventure.  Like, don’t get me wrong, I’ve written plenty of stuff like that. In high school.  But I guess in this age of self-publishing, just anyone can write their own adventure stories.  Not fun, not clever, repetitive. 

The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman
OMG LOVE TRUE LOVE another re-read

Calling Dr. Laura – Nicole Georges
What is it that makes hipsters so deplorable?  Did not enjoy this.  I get tired of reading about flawed and annoying people who make bad choices and don’t grow and basically are like “omg I’m just trash so anyway here’s my book that I wrote about my trash life.”  Basically, what was the point of this book?  A lesbian coming of age story?  So boring to me.  I mean, this is just regular life. I don’t need a charming graphic novel to remind me how annoying I am

Persepolis 1 & 2 – Marjane Satrapi
Again, a great book, but I did not like the second one.  Another tragically hip wayward outcast making poor life choices and not really seeming to learn any lessons.  Satrapi sounds cool, actually, and I’d love to hang out with her, but her second book just annoyed me more than it inspired me (unlike the first one, which was great)

The Hellbound Heart – Clive Barker
Yeah, really loved this one!  The novella that inspired Hellraiser.  There’s a lot about Hellraiser lore I like, and it was fun reading this

Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury
OMG TRUE LOVE  wasn’t my fave book the first time I read it, but as I get older, I can appreciate more.  It’s a bit old to read yet another Bradbury book that glorifies being a little boy (is there a “glorification of being a little girl” equivalent?)  but as I get older myself I find myself relating more and more to the father, and to… MR. DARK.  Clearly I’m an October Person

Curse of Gold – Jen McConnel
Another fun love story

The Gifts of Imperfection – Brene Brown
I need to make it a point to read at least one of her books at least once a year.  Inspiring, beautiful.  Whole-hearted, vulnerable, patient, and compassionate.  Not my favorite book of hers, but after reading it this fall, I’m still feeling the love and I find that to be very valuable

The Chimes – Charles Dickens
What a strange book!  Really, super duper dark.  Wow.

The Doors of Perception – Aldous Huxley

Short read, well worth it, however I felt like I was reading some guy’s drug blog.  The conclusion was very good and he makes many points about drugs, entheogens, transcendence, connection, and treatment of mental illness that I happen to agree on

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Review: Conjure Club!

Many of you know my friend Magus, who is the owner over at Conjure Work (formerly Thaumaturgy 777). I’ve known Magus for a few years, and my group, the Triangle Area Pagan Alliance, has partnered with him on a few different projects here or there. I also worked for him for a few months in the middle of my unemployment after graduate school, and this ended up being an amazing experience for me. I learned so much from Magus, and I met so many great folks in the community, many who have become great friends. A metaphysical shop is a priceless asset to any community, and unfortunately there are folks out there who don’t get to enjoy learning from someone face-to-face, meeting other magical folks, or even having access to quality magical and occult supplies.

Magus’ newest project, Conjure Club, seeks to fill that gap for those who have a need that otherwise not being met. For $25 a month, members of the Conjure Club will receive full size Conjure Work products, some smaller sample sizes, information about the products you received, and the directions to perform a magical working (that corresponds to the items in your box, of course.)

I’m a big fan of subscription boxes, and I used Birchbox for many years (and plan to re-subscribe, eventually.) There aren’t too many magical or occult subscription boxes out there. I’ve seen a few that focused on candles, crystals, or even women’s “moon time”. Conjure Club, however, is the first subscription box that I’ve seen that applies to a larger audience. You don’t have to be a rootworker, witch, sorcerer, magician, or anything in particular to use this box. The supplies are relevant to anyone who uses magic, from all sorts of traditions. You don’t even need to have a specific experience level to use this box – Magus includes really nice printouts and instructions for each item, and the magic working/spell he includes is incredibly user friendly.

Included in my Conjure Club box was:
  • One ounce bottle of Fiery Wall of Protection incense
  • One half ounce bottle of Fiery Wall of Protection oil
  • an ample sample size baggie of Fiery Wall of Protection powder
  • a charcoal disk for the incense
  • a red chime candle
  • Fiery Wall of Protection spell sheet
  • A nice copy of Psalm 91
  • An herbal compendium sheet
This is more than enough for the magical working, and then I’ll even have a ton left over, too!

I’m busy preparing for the holidays (work and travel and parties, oh my!) But I plan on completing the Fiery Wall of Protection spell in the New Year. I’ll also try to include little blurbs about each of the products and my experience using them.

Thanks you so much, Magus, for your really great box. I’m sure you have great themes and supplies planned for the future! Friends, stay tuned. 2017 is going to be exciting, for sure!

http://conjurework.com/

http://www.conjurework.com/conjure-club


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

It's Spoopy Time!

 Well, folks, it's that time of the year!  The weather is cooling, the air feels different, the leaves are beginning to fall, and I think Starbucks is even selling pumpkin spice everything.  The autumnal season is here!  Sure, the equinox and the "official" first day of fall is about two weeks away, but seasons don't shift just because the calendar says it shifts.  We're in a transition time, the wheel is turning, and soon it will click into place.

In celebration of my all-time favorite season, I'm offering discounted tarot card readings over at my Etsy shop!  So now until November 7, my tarot card readings are 50% off when using my super spooky Halloween decks!

My sister gave me the Zombie Tarot years ago, and it immediately became one of my favorites.  I adore the pop-culture images, the conversational tone of the deck, and how real it all is.  This is a great deck for asking mundane, real world advice.  It's not messing around (despite the zombies.  I mean, who messes around with zombies, anyway?)

Get a reading with the Zombie Tarot!

The Halloween Oracle was another love-at-first-sight deck.  I typically don't use oracle decks very often, but I adored the images and really, what's not to love about Halloween?  This deck really pulls from Halloween culture, folklore, and mythology.  The images are gorgeous, and the messages are timeless (despite the October theme.)  This deck is especially poignant when asking deeper questions about inner mysteries and spiritual issues.

Get a reading with the Halloween Oracle!

Finally, I have some Samhain incense for sale at my Etsy shop, too.  I made this with my sister, and it's a spicy, heady blend and I've had good luck with using it during ancestor work.

Check out my Samhain incense!

Have a fun, spooky season, everyone! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Summertime Sadness

Hello, friends.  This is another re-post, something originally published over at Witches & Pagans / Pagan Square in 2015.  I meant to re-post this article earlier in August, but I guess the "Summertime Sadness" got to me.  But here it is, all the reasons why the summertime is my least favorite season and the hardest one for me to feel connected to.