St Susan’s Day

The 11th of August is St. Susan’s Day. As a Gnostic Narnian, I honor St. Susan the Grieving today, the One Who Was Left Behind.

Due to public events, I find that I am surrounded by others expressing honest, heartfelt, and overwhelming grief today. Some mourn with anger that racism continues to cut lives short, and others mourn with the bewildered hearts of those left after a suicide. I am posting this late in the day, and much has been said about both of the highly-publicized deaths already. I’m not going to try and do better.

Grief is such a strange emotion. It is what you feel when you are the one left standing, but there is no victory in it. The ones we grieve for are not in a place to appreciate our grief; they stand before Aslan, or they drink to forget, or another fate befalls them. Grief is selfish, but only in the way all internal work is selfish. We do it for ourselves, so that we are able to keep walking. We mourn publicly in the hope someone who needs it will see that suicide counselling number (800-273-8255) or that the system will be changed or justice will be served.

May we all be right about that.

May our grief wash over us, burn us to the nerves and make us stronger, sent us forward with renewed purpose.

St Susan, I bid you sit with me tonight
as I sort through overfull containers,
grief and ideation in equal measure.
In your patience keep me company, and I
will cry my tears for you and yours
just as you share my pain with me.
When the night is dark as glass and quiet
as the distant humming fan, never silent,
join me in my vigil whether I sit
for others or for myself.

UU and I

Apparently when we were not looking, we became the kind of couple who end up at the church three days in a row with the baby in tow.

Friday night, the young adults group had a potluck and we made jam. I made jam! This was a first for me! It’s freezer jam, fairly straightforward stuff. I feel more confident for having done it. And then Saturday was the first, exploratory meeting of a possible church D&D group. (Considering I got asked not to return to Sunday School over a presentation on the evils of D&D once, I’m quite pleased to be going to a church that has a D&D group forming.)

Today we went to the Sunday service. This was actually the first time we saw the minister of the church – the first time we were attending, he was on a year-long sabbatical, and when we started back again this summer he was on a study break/vacation. Instead of a sermon, the reverend had an open question format – basically it was an AMA. My question was something I’d been wondering based on the experience of the UU church I’ve had so far – whether there’s a place for ecstatic religion in the UU experience.

When he read the question, there was awkward, nervous laughter from the congregation. I was not particularly surprised by that. I was impressed by his answer, which had a large component of explaining ecstatic religion to the congregation as a whole. I don’t expect the average Sunday service to be… you know, transformative. I have my spirituality at home and that’s fine.

What I’m looking for is the community, the structure, the religion instead of the spirituality. I just don’t know how I’ll feel long-term about a church where my religious experience is looked at askance. I did like his answer, though, and I’m willing to see where and how this goes.

I can almost see the continuity between this and the household work I’m doing for Mara. This is a kind of hearthwork too – building friendships, relationships, support structures. Making sure we have the function in place now in case we need it later. Building is important no matter how we do it.

The Little Things

I’m chewing on a lot of post ideas but not quite producing anything, especially Pop Culture topics. Does anybody reading along have questions about pop culture paganism you’d like to see me take a stab at? I like stabbing things.

Murky and Lurky are still about, but I can’t sit with Wisp forever. I’m trying to focus on the kinds of mundane, practical things that Mara wants me focused on. I’ve made dinner four nights in a row this week, including using the slowcooker for the first time. I started reorganizing the kitchen today, because cleaning and reorganizing is the very best thing for me when I get like this. It’s a thing I can do that requires attention but not thought. It lets me exert some control over my surroundings. And when I’m done I have a… well, a marginally more clear apartment, anyway.

Any local pagans in need of altar equipment, by the way? I’ve got some stuff that I’d love to rehome…

Perhaps ironically, the next thing on my declutter list in the kitchen is my bookshelf in there. I have a bunch of books on decluttering and organizing, homemaking and homesteading, canning and preserving. Really, though, one only needs so many pickle recipes, and I’m sure some of these books are superfluous. I just need to sit down and go through them to figure out which are which.

One book at a time, one project at a time, one day at a time, right?

Rainbowland: You Always Forget…

Murky and Lurky

Murky and Lurky

I hate confronting my fears.

I mean, that’s probably not any kind of revelation. Who does? But I’m hanging out here with Wisp, confronting Murky and Lurky. It’s a CBT kind of night. I’m sitting with my exposure.

I’ll be honest, this is probably the worst I’ve had in months. Since Coriander was born and I didn’t immediately drop her on the floor. It’s hot and I’m stressed and my skin’s broken out.

I’m only barely into month two of being a primary caregiver. I cooked a meal in the slowcooker for the first time last night. I don’t keep as much house as I’d like, and finding time to freelance is still hard.

I am sitting here with Wisp and my fear of failure, and my fear of letting my spouse and my child down. The Firebird instinct is there to burn it to the ground, to pick it to pieces and see how it works, to destroy it by self-destructing.

Instead I am sitting with it. It will pass. Right now I have a family. I will get up in the morning because the lil spice cries for her bottle. I still burn, but I am learning to burn as a hearthfire burns, steadily, warmly, comfortingly.

It’s slow learning, that kind of moderation. Anxiety makes me burn hot. Depression takes me down to ash and embers. Everything I do is a kind of Firebird work; everything connects back to something else.

I’ve been reaching out to a Firebird I’ve not worked with before. He’s not the comforting hearthfire, not by a long shot, but it’s the first intentional Firebird work I’ve done in months, and while the timing was triggered by something unrelated to Rainbowland, I wonder if it’s not accidental after all.

I suppose I’ll talk about that more when I have something to say.

In the meantime, I’ve sat with Wisp all night, and I think I’m ready to sleep now. After all, I’ve got to get up in a couple of hours to get someone her bottle.

Llamas for Lammas

Llama obstacle course

Harvest season has begun. Festival season has begun. Over the weekend I did as I always do for the first harvest: I went to the county fair.

The first thing we came across was the llama obstacle course, which is where the title of the post comes from. It was a 4H event, like many of the agricultural events, and I was impressed by the interaction between humans and llamas.

I had my fortune read by Zoltar, which is a form of divination I use specifically to seek guidance from Professor Dark. I passed the midway but didn’t ride anything this year; the baby complicated it a bit.  We visited the livestock, the bees, and the old-fashioned farm equipment and machinery. We ate fair food. We talked to the 4H and the Girl Scouts.

The apex of Fair-as-First-Harvest, in my opinion, is the growing competition. Flowers, fruits and vegetables are harvested, gathered, tagged and judged. Some of them win ribbons. Someone is best in show.

All of them are dead before the first judge sets eye on them.

I prefer to visit the fair on the first weekend if I can, because by the second weekend, inevitably time and Hel have taken their toll. Of course, this can assist you in a meditation on the death in the harvest, especially if you honor the sacrifice of the Lord of Plenty at this time of year. Hundreds of farmers – hundreds of thousands across the country – offer up their first and their finest to the judges and to Death. The rest of us look on and honor the sacrifice and appreciate the ritual.

Eventually, of course, it’s all harvested. But there’s a difference between rounding up all of your apples for the market and choosing the finest apple to enter into the county fair. It is the very best that is offered, and just as may happen at our own deaths, we are judged and found exemplary or wanting.

The Metaphysical Bug-Out Bag

Back in March of 2012 I posted:

Now, this is entirely different from my working bag. I’ve seen other people online talk about their “magic kit” (ie. crane bag, vanabag, medicine bag, pathwalking kit, spiritwork kit) but I haven’t had much occasion to talk about mine yet. Probably a large part of that has to do with the fact that I largely dismantled mine before the move last summer and never got around to reconstituting it. Now that I think about it, that’s probably something I should get around to doing soon. Hold me to that, okay, guys?

All of you have done a terrible job of holding me to it.

No, I’m kidding. Most of you didn’t know me then. However, just this weekend I was going through my bags and my wife pointed out that I have one bag that would be perfect for that purpose, as it’s one I’ve owned for a long time, loved and charmed and carried and invested energy in. Now I just need to figure out what goes in this iteration.

Oh, there will be the usual- divination tools and travel altars and crystals and salt. All the bits and bobs one might need at a time, a bag I can throw in the car on the way to a ritual or the like. Those things are

But the other thing I used it for was urban pathwalking: walking through town, usually on foot, following instinct and spirits, intentionally walking more in that place than this. I am not sure that’s even the sort of thing I should do while babywearing. Can I leave the baby “here” while I’m in both places? Or should I start her young?

Somehow these are the things  that never get discussed in the books…

Rainbowland Redux: Welcoming Wisp

Welcome to Rainbowland!

Welcome to Rainbowland!

Several years ago I read The Temple of the Twelve because a number of my friends were working through the system outlined in the book and found it helpful. I had my issues with the book, but the main thing stopping me was that I associated the colors too strongly with the cast of Rainbow Brite, a cartoon I loved to pieces as a young child in the 80s.

So I rewrote it as a process of meeting each of the color kids, and I called it Rainbowland.

It was a really useful process and I learned a lot from doing it, but I was going through a lot at the time, including selling almost everything we owned for a cross-country move and a very stressful period looking for work. While I followed through on the work, I didn’t write much of it up and I don’t even feel like I was able to do much reflection on the project as a whole. However, while I was thinking about Stormy last month, it occurred to me that I could repeat the process.

The first month in Rainbowland is spent with Wisp. In the cartoon The Beginning of Rainbowland, Wisp finds herself in a dark and unfriendly country. She is asked if she is sure she wants to do this, and she answers in the affirmative, and so the process begins by stating that one enters into this journey with intent. I am ready to place myself on this path again. It was a complicated journey last time, but I was happier at the end than I was when I started.

During her journey, Wisp encounters many frightening things and overcome fear and despair, and a large part of this month is going to be about that for me. In fact, the month of August is bookended with anxiety – more specifically, a pair of MRIs to check on the status of serious health issues I’ve battled in the past, to make sure they remain there in the past. I spent the last few hours sitting with my fears – unintentionally, but once I realized I had been triggered, the timing was not lost on me.

Her ultimate enemy is called the King of Shadows in this episode, but most of the time she thwarts two buffoonish enemies, Murky and Lurky. For the moment, I’m calling my anxiety ‘Murky’ and my depression ‘Lurky’. Because fuck those guys, seriously.

My goal is to post every month, as I spend each month with one of the Color Kids. Maybe more than once a month, but I don’t want to be too ambitious. I guess we’ll see what happens.

Fictional Reconstructionism

I’ve been throwing around the term fictional reconstructionism for a little while now and the longer I sit with it, the more I like it as a term for what I do.

Fictional recon is a kind of pop culture paganism. It would include things like Serenitism and the Season Guardians but not writing, say, a Buffy-themed spell. Reconstruction is the process of looking at the record we have of a no-longer-extant religion and rebuilding it; fictional recon is applying that same combination of textual analysis and trial and error to a fictional source instead of a historical one.

Looking at, say, LotR or Dr Who and wondering what those religions looked like. How would it work? Who would you call on? The way you come to understand a religion like that is as a framework on which you hang your own understandings and preferences in a religion. Fictional recon is also an exercise in self-knowledge because you need to know what you want to get out of a religion.

In building a relationship between yourself and a “fictional” deity, you’re reaching out to the Powers and saying ‘this is what my life is missing; does it exist?’ and preparing to accept the answers.

Some people doing things that would be classed as fictional recon are no doubt doing it as soft polytheists, monsters, or even atheists. I personally approach it from the POV that I am reaching out to see if anything answers to these names and paradigms. Not every experiment is successful, and not every successful experiment results in a relationship I want to pursue. But if a being answers to the Doctor, and he quacks like the Doctor, and he offers jelly babies like the Doctor, well, when he offers me a ride in the TARDIS, I’m going to go with it.

Gallifreyan Recon: The Companion Path

Sarah Jane Smith walking away from the TARDIS

We each have to walk away from the TARDIS eventually.

The Doctor, and the Time Lords in general, are explicitly more than we can hope to aspire to. The language of the show itself describes the Doctor the way humanity generally speaks of gods, even though we get to see the Doctor at his weakest and most recognizable moments.

The Companions, on the other hand, are the people who walk beside the Doctor. Sometimes they are other Time Lords, but most often they are humans. Companion is the role we aspire to as viewers; we want to be swept up in something wonderful and beyond our control. We want the Doctor to show us the universe.

The companion path begins when the curtain is pulled back. It may well begin before the Doctor gets on the scene, but the Doctor is the doorway to understanding what you’re seeing. Formally accepting the path means passing through the threshold of the TARDIS.

You’re a time traveler now, Amy. Changes the way you see the universe… forever.

Being a companion isn’t easy. It means starting from scratch when it comes to your assumptions about how things work. It’s dangerous. But it changes your point of view on the universe and your place in it.

You learn to trust the Doctor, and then you learn that you can’t trust the Doctor. Because his priorities are not necessarily going to be yours, because he makes decisions for the wrong reasons, or just because it’s time for you to re-enter the flow of time… Whatever the reason, all companions eventually leave, but Doctor willing, they leave breathing and stronger than they were before.

That’s the secret, I suppose. The Doctor teaches you not to need the Doctor.

To All Who Come To This Happy Place

 

Sleeping Beauty's Castle with Walt and Mickey

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle with Walt and Mickey

To all who come to this happy place; welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past…and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America…with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.

On this day in 1955, Disneyland opened to the public in Anaheim, California. While I love carnivals and boardwalks and the liminal spaces they represent, Disneyland is something different – a permanent magical land, always changing but timeless.

This makes today an ideal day to honor Walt Disney as my creative ancestor and someone who helped shape my childhood, as well as the Nine Old Men and all of the Imagineers Who Came Before. So much of my aesthetic comes from Disney, and virtually everything that’s been done in animation since is either inspired by, in reaction to, or both.

I didn’t visit Disneyland til I was an adult, but as a child I visited Disney World with my family and I still remember it very distinctly. I was a little older than is typical but I was a huge animation nerd and so I was able to appreciate it unironically despite being a young teen. Now I’m looking forward to taking my own child to Disneyland once she’s old enough to appreciate it.

And of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t remember that Disneyland is also the home of Mara’s temple. Most temples and churches in the US could only hope to be so well-attended! Or graced by the presence of Indiana Jones, for that matter.

Hail to Mousehome and to the Master Builders!