Friday, November 30, 2012

You Know that Phrase Ned Stark Says? Yeah, That.

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I don't think the sun was shining at all today. It's been dim and wintery -- as it should be. This is Oswego, after all. While I miss Autumn, as my last post suggests, I am fascinated by the winter months here.

First, the shift is so much more obvious and abrupt here by the great lakes. One of my favorite examples is how it just randomly Thunder Snows. Not kidding. There is no warning -- if the conditions are right, the storm occurs with snow, not rain, even if the fall isn't quite astrologically winter yet.

You know how stores started selling holiday stuff in October? Well, I don't buy into that right off the bat. But once it starts with the snowing and the grey and the cold, I kind of feel like acknowledging that the season is turning to Yule. After all, Tumblr explodes with images of holly leaves, hot cocoa, pictures of tea cups emblazoned with pentagrams sitting outside of the snow -- lore of the season is especially useful. Any snowscape is perfectly fine for me.

Back to the lore of the seasons --
There are a million different ways that people who practice paganism of any kind can celebrate. There are as many myths as paths, really. My favorite group of myths is the Germanic/Scandinavian types. I was laughing with my roommate last night about how sometimes in certain countries, someone will dress up as a Christmas Gnome and give gifts.

Also, another favorite Scandinavian-type lore piece -- Odin might have been the origin of Santa Claus and his eight reindeer. His eight legged horse, Slepnir might be where the eight reindeer came from. I read somewhere that people would leave carrots out for the horse. The generous ones who did got gifts in exchange from Odin.

Pretty cool, huh?

But yeah. It is the last day of November, and December starts in a few hours so, I'll leave you with Ned Stark....

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fare Thee Well, November

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I want to capture the last bit of fall before it really gets cold here in Oswego. Autumn is my favorite season, and I don't think that'll ever change. It gets really cold here really quickly, and I notice the leaves are only those brilliant fall colors for a short time. Now, that's not a short time to some, but to someone like me -- who admires the world around me as I walk from class to class -- it is never a long enough season.

I may have mentioned that it has started to snow recently here. The trees are withdrawing themselves -- their life is asleep deep in their trunks, waiting for the Earth to say her spell that will wake them up again in the spring. The sky above is getting ever more bleak. The clouds, as one person said today in one of my classes, are looking a bit angry. There's always a storm on the horizon.

In fact, we had a thunder snow yesterday in which my roommate may have heard the words of Thor, five feet from her face. She was not happy with the shift in weather and the strikes of lightning halfway between her class and our dorm room.

The thing about this first part of winter that makes me a little sad is that it really is the darkest. Yule will celebrate the return of the sun -- the waxing of the light, as they say. That marks the light half of the year. But winter, in its entirety, is still very dark, and very cold.

During the Autumn months, at the very least, there are some green places. It is still cool, but not yet dry, ill-looking trees and patches of snow over brown, dead grass. (Usually.) 

So, fare thee well, November. Take with you what bit of Fall is left and keep it safe until next season.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Subtle Subconcious Connection

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It has been a very long semester, but it is winding down now. Like the fall leaving us as it thunder snows here, the semester is about gone, too. A lot of work tends to pile up around this time, but I try not to let it get the best of me. I try not to dwell on how stressful it is, because I have the opportunity to be here that others might not have.

So first, before I talk about the school work, which will be spoken upon in due time -- I want to tell a bit about how Empathy worked today. I have this class called The Living Writer's Series, which is for my Creative Writing degree. Today, a visitor came in, but before class I was chatting with one of the awesome TAs. She told me a few personal things right in the middle of the front of this class, and then told me she wasn't sure exactly why she was saying all of it. And I just laughed and responded that I get that a lot. Because I really do get that a lot.

Part of what Empathy does for a person who has that gift is connect everyone via the energy of emotion. (See my entry, Woven Between.) An Empath has the ability to understand exactly how the others around them are feeling, right down to pain, if they aren't well shielded against the energies. Subconciously, we are all aware of these energies. We know when someone's invaded our personal bubble, or when people are not paying attention, or being ingenuine. The people who speak to an Empath or feel compelled to trust an Empath subconciously realize that whatever it is, the Empath will get it and won't judge. They can't ever put that into words -- the gods know most folk don't even know the term 'Empath' -- even I didn't at first.

The only thing I can say to that is -- for my whole life, people have trusted me, even just barely knowing me. They put me in a spot to be a leader. I am the one with the advice. I won't judge. I understand. They tell me I get it, even if I have never been in such a situation.

I am honored that people want to speak with me, and I of course love being trusted. But the emotion of my own that I know I am great at feeling is nervousness. To be a center of attention is nerve wracking -- and although I am getting better at not getting so worked up about things having to do with people, I half wonder how I was born under these specific conditions that would result in an Empath.

Today, someone I look up to trusted me with a bit of information --  their "life story," as she called it, humorously. She is the TA, and the next step past TA is speaking to a professor. It's pretty awesome. The best part was that for the first time ever, someone realized that they had no idea why they felt like telling me these things. It's just a crazy check for me. Am I crazy? Am I making this all up? Nope, not today. Check. I wonder if I can put into words how much I appreciate these moments.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Take a Closer Look

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Today was one of those days that I forgot the difference between Port Jervis's version of "Light Snow" and Oswego's version of "Light Snow." I walked to work with my club nintendo Starman tote bag, with all of my work inside it unprotected from the elements. Not to mention all the snow that oh-so-conveniently gathered where the zipper is on my otherwise water resistant laptop case. Between one hall and the campus center, it just... well... the "light" snow began. It was flurries before that.

I'm going to have to get used to this, because eventually I plan to move off campus. I'll have to walk to school almost daily in the snow, rain, wind -- crappiest of weathers, if I can't catch the bus (or in some cases, if it is not safe to catch the bus.)

But there is beauty in this situation. With a closer look, I notice how the snow isn't soft and light as it was when I set out. The air is cold enough so that what once were flakes are now in a state between snow and hail. The sound it makes on the sidewalk or even on the hood of my coat is strange; It is as if with the passing of each winter, I forget the sound and have to be reminded. This is the strangest part -- in listening to the tune these half-hail, half-snow bits make, the rest of the world is tuned out. It is cold, but I barely feel it. It is though I am completely immersed in whatever piece the natural world around me is performing. I forget that it is difficult to climb the hill to my job in such weather at my stature. I am not afraid as I slip and lose my balance a bit because I am wearing sneakers with hardly any traction. For a moment, despite all that is wrong with how I prepared for today, I am supposed to be out in the weather like this. I was supposed to hear this song.

Most would have been more annoyed or upset than I found myself being. Sure, I was stuck out in what Port Jervis would consider "Heavy Snow," and I was ill prepared to protect that which I had to bring with me to work and class -- but it was worth it. It was so worth it. I wonder how many other times I had been in the middle of a concert with the Earth as the conductor? I don't recall writing down how I felt in the past about these sorts of musical performances. Perhaps I'll make a note of this more often in the future.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thoughts on Memory

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I just finished a paper that had everything to do with the spoken or sung tale and how in it would be preserved important concepts such as the basics of religion or traditions. Much of what modern Heathen reconstruction focuses on is these traditions -- anything from the Norse Eddas and so on. At one point, before there was even the ability to have written a word down edgewise, there were only those spoken tales shared by elders or bards at community gatherings.

Now, just like little kids playing a game of telephone, the message/story probably changed from tribe to tribe, from generation to generation. Memory and understanding become completely vital in the preservation of these important concepts.

But memory fails. And I wonder if that fact was exploited when these tales were able to be written down. Can we really reconstruct the relgions of old based on the memory of the last person to tell the tale before it was written down in physical form? What if, during the turbulent times when Christianity rose as a world-wide viewpoint and basis of religion, a drunken heathen told the story to a group where a clever Christian monk sat? As the heathens around the drunken bard corrected him, maybe the monk refused to record those remarks?

My paper was on Beowulf, and a bunch of papers have been written on how that story really would remain the same but for a few details, if the Christianized bits were taken out. (Note the demonization of giants and elves somewhere in the middle of the entirely relevent to the plot progression in the epic, but indeed a hint at how memory and opinion go hand in hand.) I think it is one of the easiest ways to see how such legends could've been ways that religion was preserved. The plot is linear, and understandable. They teach it in some High School classes, if I remember correctly. But it is the fact that this was once a story told, not written, that intrigues me the most.

I wonder what it would be like if all the original details had been remembered just as they were?

Keep Calm and No, I Won't Say Another Word About Mead

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I'm back in Oswego! This is fantastic. Just trust me on this one. Not only was it snowing, which was pretty awesome (albeit the temperature), but everyone was already back by the time I got in! I missed everyone, and for once I didn't mind a crowded room at all.

The trip back is always tiring. I don't mind it that much, but the effects of sitting in a car for five hours without counting the infrequent rest stops do hit you right after you finally get a chance to settle down. Yes, I was up before the sun this morning (and that meant before my Mom's derpy parrots started their calls to their Sun God reminding us every day is incredibly amazing no matter what so wake up right now,) and yes we hit the road before 9am. It wasn't so busy, which was great for us. Traffic makes my Mom a bit annoyed -- and I don't blame her.

Now that I'm back I realize just how much I procrastinated. I have one creative nonfiction essay due Thursday which is supposed to be about "Firsts" and one page plus an outline of another essay due Thursday as well. That's disregarding writing up another couple of assignments plus a possible outline for a possible circle for Thursday's O.S.P.A. meeting. You would think things could space themselves out a bit more on that day, but hardly... such is the life of a college student.

When things get really busy -- because I'm not really that stressed anymore, just understanding there is only so much time and I am only human -- there are really only two options.

No! Go home, blog post! You're drunk!
One would be to actually have the initiative to get everything done as calmly as possible. Take things one step at a time. Include Mead if you must. (lol.) Breathe deeply and just power through it with the best effort you can put forward given will power. The other option is the one I try not to fall into that often -- wait until the last possible moment and then stay up all night to finish everything on time.

I don't see the use in that. I'm not so much a fan of stress, to be honest -- but again, some things I am even less of a fan of. And I get bored or lazy about things sometimes. Don't we all?

But here's a small list of non-Mead related stress relief techniques for the last few weeks of the semester.

One -- Meditate. Or, try to meditate. And when it fails, write why somewhere. If it doesn't fail, record what you experienced before, during and after.
Two -- Sleep enough. Sometimes it's impossible. All college kids know that. But getting things done early and sleeping enough helps keep things slightly sane.
Three -- Go somewhere different from normal. If you always do homework and then get distracted in your dorm/room, go find another place to help prevent aformentioned distraction.
Four -- Turn off your phone and internet until you get a good chunk of one assignment done. Take breaks, but make sure it's more homework than break.
 Five --  Read something just because it is what you like. It has kept me from losing it completely in almost every class.
Six -- Be among friends. Study together or go to dinner together. Spend an hour or so in good company. Be stressed together. Talk it out. Then get back to work.
Seven -- Get some fresh air. It's cold now, so do as you must but -- open a window, or take a short break just by standing outside of your dorm/building.
Eight -- Think of at least one positive/interesting topic for classes you hate/dread. It's difficult. I still have trouble with it. If you can find something and have the liberty to write what you want, go for it. Boring = stressful when it comes to essays.
Nine -- Sing. Just for the hell of it. At least it's a break from writing.
Ten -- Keep calm and drink Mead Coffee or Tea, but remember number two on caffeine and alcohol intake. (Peppermint might help a ton of sickness from headache to stomach ache to nasal congestion, but camomile and lavender might be great about helping deal with stress.)

I hope it helps. We forget sometimes in the rush of the semester between Thanksgiving and Yule break what it is to be calm. We forget we're only human. We forget that there would be more time for things if stress didn't make us vegetables, exhausted and unmotivated. So keep calm. And finish the semester strongly.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Free Tea and Northern Winds

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So today, in the stack of mail that my sister had so kindly shoved into the mess that is the desk in the bird room, I found that I had recieved a free sample from the Republic of tea just a day or two before I got home.  Okay, so I thought Teavana was excellent... and it really is. But this tea was great. I think it was mostly because it was free, though.

Another thing. It got really cold today in spite of the free tea. For a while we forget that each day inches toward winter when New York insists on having very off-the-wall weather -- for instance, I left Oswego and it was warm enough to wear flats and a sweater as opposed to a coat and boots...bearing in mind that it is later in November. How strange...

I'm somewhat glad that Winter is just around the corner though. What with the wind and the slight bit of snow upstate, it reminds me that my semester is almost over, and that, my dears, is really all that matters. I've had a rough last few weeks and have been in an awful class that I can only praise in that it made me realize what I didn't wish to study.

But all is well. Again, time is moving.

Spirits vs State of Mind

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Today was a pretty busy day. Not so much in terms of shopping, (I mean, WHO actually has money for that these days?) but in terms of catching up with an old friend of mine.

I stopped by the local pagan store in my hometown called "The Pointed Hat," and in catching up with my friend, missed that we had spent hours chatting and missed the fact that the store had closed five minutes ago. I usually blog well before this, too.

We got speaking about spirits, because -- naturally, that's what happens when talking with me, I guess. She brought up a really interesting question which I'll brush over briefly --

She wondered if what she saw and labeled spirits were actually spirits or simply products of her depression and/or OCD?

I thought it was a valid point. I don't have the experience of those states of mind, but she does. She said she saw them more often without her medication than with it -- and that is what intrigues me the most.

For what society deems "crazy" -- is it actually crazy? The only way I know that she experienced one of my house spirits is because I heard it passing through as she saw it as a face outside of the window.

But you begin to wonder if people are incorrecty labeled as mentally unstable or have a psychological disease -- or if they label themselves as such... just because they can't comprehend or understand what they see, hear, or feel (ect.) in terms of The Other Side/ Realm and spirits.

It's like the sun is blaring right where you're looking, but you're told for so long that the sun doesn't shine in the middle of the night -- you don't believe what you see, even if you know it is the truth.
People treat ghosts/spirits the same way -- as mental apparations and not actually there. But the truth... if you can call it truth, I suppose it would depend on your worldview, is what you make of it.
If you see (or otherwise experience) spirits, you're not necessarily crazy unless you believe it when you are told that you are.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Leaving the Hearth

"I am going away for a while,
But I'll be back;
don't try and follow me,
'cause I'll return as soon as possible.
See, I'm trying to find my place 
but it might not be here where I feel safe..."
 -- Hayley Williams (via Paramore) "Misguided Ghosts" 

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This may well be my very last Thanksgiving at home. I've been wanting to fly like a cooped turkey for a couple of years now, and lacked the means. It's kind of bittersweet, you know? From the moment I get the chance, I will be out on my own. I won't have to figure out how in the world I am getting home for short breaks or vacations. I can just stay in Oswego under my own rules and coin.

It sounds kind of tough. But, then again -- isn't life partially a test to see who is able to handle the stress of it?

I think the hardest part for me is the conflict of hating being home instead of up in Oswego and hating to leave my family behind despite it all. I know I should've been out a long time ago and this dependence can't really continue, but it's tough. It really is.

Actually, it kind of brings me to think about the concept of family in Heathen practices. Everyone has to leave sometimes. But there's something to be said about how the mythologies and current revival of these old ways treats the concept of family and hospitality.

Family comes first. It doesn't matter what sort of trouble they cause or find themselves in. It doesn't matter if they, in a moment of anger or despair, said all the wrong things. We forgive -- albeit not totally forget -- and move forward. We accept them for who and what they are -- dreadfully perfect. We don't pick them. Back then, they REALLY didn't pick them, as marriages were arranged for economic or political reasons quite often.

There's been a lot of misunderstanding within my family. Huge arguments between siblings, parents, ect. Moves across the country for other extended members. Growing up, especially for me, has caused a lot of problems. We don't live under a single roof much anymore. I've shifted perspectives to a different area entirely. I understand who and what I am and where I must try to go, and that doesn't include staying home. I hate the restrictions and the smallness of this town that I know like the back of my hand. I can't stay here while my family does for much longer. I have to go. So, here's to my last Thanksgiving at home. Here's to being the adult. Here's to trying my best.

Everyone has to leave home some time, after all.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Trouble With Lovebirds

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Well... at least the trouble with my Mom's lovebird, Link...

Today was the first day that I got to spend with the birds that took over my room in October, since I usually am away at college. I've tamed down my own parakeets pretty well -- Quill still has an over-protective personality, but despite all that, they are generally well behaved.

My parents are kind of out of their element. The two birds that fell into their lives  were from a household that completely did not have the resources to care for them, and so they spent the last year in cages that were hardly ever clean.

The lovebird has been named Link mostly because of his color. He's...kind of a brat. Today, I fixed his cage a bit so that the door was more of a platform. I put some sunflower seeds on there and coaxed him out -- he's been in his cage his whole life, but for a few frantic moments. Well, needless to say he really wanted to be out. Which is perfect. Except, two hours later he still wanted to be out. No amount of treats and coaxing could get him back until he was finally tired of flying and made the choice to go back himself.

I think there's something to be learned from such a bird. It's alright that home is a comfortable place. It's where everything is safe and familiar. It's great to look forward to going back after a long time away -- that part is relaxing. But then... It's not good to rely on home being there forever.

In my life, I've been ready to move out of my parent's house for a long time, but I lack the means. Sometimes I still feel like I lack the means. But like the lovebird -- I can't stay in my cage forever.
That's the trouble with Link -- he taught us a lesson in his own chaos. And he's just a bird.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Graveyard Fog

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I only slept about four hours last night. When I woke up in order to get ready for work, there were a couple of different types of fog making life not so pleasant. The first, of course, was the early morning fog that rolled across the lawns outside of my window. That was all I could see through the three inch space between the sill and the shade... fog everywhere. The other, more unfortunate fog, was the kind clouding my brain. I felt like a sort of zombie as I stumbled around the room trying to get ready for the day -- trying to remember what I'd forgotten in my packing to go home this afternoon.

When I finally had my cup of (black) coffee in hand, I was a little better off. I'm in the office now as I type this -- work-study -- with a lack of work to do, and so my mind wanders. Today, my Grandfather will finally witness Oswego. It has taken me two full years to convince him that he has to see this campus. I have to laugh for a second at this post -- I know it's kind of terrible to write a post called "Graveyard Fog" and mention Grandpa -- but you'll see why in a second.

My Grandpa -- Roy Allen Brown,
Spirit Magnet and Ghost Story Extraordinaire.

I speak about Grandpa often at O.S.P.A. and in terms of witchcraft because he is a spirit magnet and it is because of him, I think, that I have my ability to hear their buzzing. I think that entire side of the family is where most of my ... gifts ... come from, anyway. He is coming to my campus not only to see the lake and have pictures taken (he makes sure all his pictures are terrible, except the one above for which I had to ask upwards of four times to retake, and prides himself in'll see) but also to meet the people to whom he is "O.S.P.A. famous" -- which may or may not include a trip down to the Fey Dragon to meet the owner.

He is best known for the fact that due to his ... gifts ... he has a repertoire of true stories that would sound fantastic to the mundane person. He really is a ghost story extraordinaire. The way he tells his memories of paranormal stuff that has happened really invokes a sense of being there as this happens. He writes them, sure, but he writes like he speaks. I was put in charge of editing the stories.

The Story I edited for O.S.P.A's
Ghost Story Night 2012.
 It is really quite difficult to get him to travel anywhere, so I wanted to take a minute and be thankful, also, that he is coming to Oswego and to my campus. If he wanted to travel more often, I'd totally have him guest speak for O.S.P.A. for Ghost Story Night 2013 and so on. I think there's something to be said of a family who accepts witchcraft and paganism the way mine has always. I'm incredibly fortunate in that I was never ousted or seen differently for what I believe, and a lot of that has to do with Grandpa and Grandma's version of life -- all that lurks in the graveyard fog is to be believed. Always. While we might not understand exactly what is going on in a supernatural sense, we accept what we experience as truth. Even today, Grandpa teaches all of us that. So to that which lurks in the graveyard fog, and to those ghosts which have inspired several stories -- Thank you. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving in Terms of Deity

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Are we not thankful all year round? It seems like a pretty pointless question, doesn't it? In America, we have this holiday specifically to be thankful for everything and we sit around the table over a dinner that is far too large with all of our family members. We share stories of good times, and reaquaint ourselves to each others' presences.

But I can't say that is the only day during the year that I take a moment to be thankful for things in my life. I've had moments where just in the nick of time, I was able to somehow pull together enough money for food I would normally otherwise not have had. I always make sure that I thank those powers that be just because it would be selfish not to. I'm not sure sometimes what makes all this happen, but I grow less and less able to accept things as coincidence.

I have always held a strong point of view that Thanksgiving is just there to remind us to really appreciate what we have. We're only human, and some of us need a good reminder before it is far too late. Even some days, in the course of being mundane and going through the daily routine, I forget too. I have an altar set up in terms of reminding myself of my path, but I don't always sit down and thank those who deserve it most, in my opinion.

There's plenty that goes on during the course of the year that require just a moment of thanks. the Gods... Thanks for the patience to make it through the worst summer ever -- unable to get my job back. Thanks for the strength to make the choices and sacrifices needed to finally move out of my parents' house come Fall 2013. Thanks for the mental capacity to handle the courseload of each advancing semester and turn out with decent grades. Thanks for the tough love and helping me see who and what really matters. Thanks for whatever fate I have in store. Thanks for bringing me together with some really fabulous people. Thanks for letting that one moment not be of indecision. Thanks for that leaf I caught and the luck that it brought me. Thanks for the strange "happenstance" that resulted in the day I met a new and really awesome friend I otherwise wouldn't have ever crossed paths with. Thanks for the abilities I have grown with. Thanks for helping me see through the darkness between High School and College. Thanks for keeping my friends, family and self safe. Thanks for helping me hold it together and keep hanging on. Thanks for just being there and around, helping out in whatever ways you do. Just... Thank you. For everything.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Why I Couldn't Write This Particular Poem

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I have this need for absolute silence. Not silence, where the little things get tuned out. Not silence as in no human noises. Not silence but for the wind. Not silence except for the buzzing of spirits. Just silence.

Don't get me wrong, I love nature. And usually the "silence" of being out there is enough. But I've been struggling with getting over a poetic writer's block. I've been told by a couple of very fine folk that cliche is okay if it is honest. But knowing what I know from taking advanced Poetry class, it is best to not over-do the emotion. It reads like drama. So essentially, cliche reads like drama. Perfect...

I need to be in my own head a bit more and face the block. I'm not talking about my daily meditation. I mean really debating revision and figuring out how to just write this without being so conflicted over percieved "rules and regulations" about drama and emotion in poetry. One thing I do know and will stick to is that what I feel is the honest truth. So if it ends up being there just too much -- well. I'm not making it up. I just feel each time I read over my writing, all of it is made for the trash bin. It is like real life -- it sounds amazing in your head, and then you speak and it sounds like you've barely graduated kindergarten. (cue asdfmovie5 -- an extreme case of baby voice.)

The best I can do is keep trying, and never give up -- it doesn't matter how many pages get thrown in the recycle bin or scratched out by my own hand and given snarky commentary on what is wrong. That's just the writer's block speaking.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Woven Between

"And when the wind 
does blow against the grain,
 you must follow your heart." 
-- Dallas Green 
(via City and Colour), 
Against the Grain
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I stand at the edge of something that is difficult to put into words. It is kind of like growing up, but more in a figurative sense. More like an epiphany. This is occuring both on the spiritual and mundane levels. I may not be the eldest of the group, but I fill that role. Just like back at home, I'm the eldest sister, and I am the one that has to pick up the pieces and be responsible.

This has nothing to with a group, however. It is just a new understanding of things in terms of empathy. Like a fragile spider's web, this gift (or curse) of mine weaves between people and each little vibration is picked up. In a crowd, I don't even understand what I feel for myself. It is always everyone else, even with my very elementary shield up.

A while ago, a friend of mine lost one of her family members. Her grief was piercing, and she, of course, cried over dinner. Rightly so. I reached out as any good friend would. I felt her grief pretty much travel up my arms. I felt it gather in the pit of my stomach, and it was all I could do not to cry, too. She stopped crying, but I still held all of this sadness with no clear idea of how to be rid of it. The reason I never really liked to be touched before is because of this. This has always happened.

In another sense, I can always tell why people are not being honest with me. Or when they are withholding some important information -- they regret hurting my feelings. I've met a few who would lie just to be vindictive...I've lived with it. And now, I tell people -- If you don't tell me, I will find out -- because that's the truth of the matter. I think I just lost friends because they knew I would find out why they were dishonest, disrespectful and rude... but that is beside the point.

I have trouble sometimes when seated in a room filled with people, such as a lecture hall. I always need to sit on the end of a row, because in the center of the room, the waves of people's emotions become far too much to handle. I get impatient, headache-y, irritable -- and if the class is actually amusing, this overwhelming urge to burst out into hysterical laughter. I'm usually very reserved and professional -- and I usually enjoy most of my classes. This sort of absorption doesn't occur just in large lecture halls, though. One of the worst cases was a 3am fire alarm...everyone was angry as the alarm had been going off nonstop for two days at all hours. I had no time to shield (let alone the concentration to meditate with the alarm blaring.) I usually am not so concerned with these things -- sure I was tired, but wouldn't anyone be? So many of the kids around me were wall-punching angry, and it really does collect fast. It was difficult to handle, and difficult to fall back asleep after the drill was over.

There are days when I have fended off so much energy via emotions during the day that I feel nothing. I walk back to my room and have no capacity to feel anything except overwhelming tiredness. These are the moments when I need to be absolutely alone to reaquaint myself to what I feel for myself, instead of what the world around me decides they want to project. Some people would call me an introvert -- and they'd be right. I swear without Empathy I would be a little more extroverted. All I want to do is sing and dance sometimes...but all eyes on me doesn't work out, not at all. The problem is, and always was, that I understand people differently. They would open up and tell me all their problems without a second thought because, subconciously, they knew I would get it. My room becomes a sort of group therapy over coffee, even in those times when I can't feel anything and need to be left alone. I know they can't help it. I'm usually a top choice to listen to their venting and problems when they have bad days. They can't explain it -- but it's the Empathy.

So here is my new understanding. Remember the image of the spider web woven between all people? I'm beginning to see that somehow we are all connected via emotion. We all send out different energies depending on how we feel -- and without realizing it, we are calling to one another. Some of us -- people like me -- pick up on that. I wonder if when I absorb emotion as I did for my friend....does it really heal them? I wonder that if they speak constantly of their worries to me, that they feel better afterward? Not everyone can be happy all the time, I understand that. But maybe... since I'm like the spider in this metaphor... maybe since I can understand why they hurt (and sometimes where,) I should help as best as I can? Here's to learning new ways with magic, herbs and stones to help alleviate ailments in all senses...spiritual, mental and physical.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Take the Good with the Bad

"And where I was 
is beautiful
 because I was
 -- Sara Bareilles 
"Once Upon Another Time" 

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 Today is a good day. I got word that two of my poems and my nonfiction essay were published in my college's literary magazine, the Great Lake Review. Last spring, I was the managing editor for the book, and it was an amazing experience. Now that they accepted some of what I submitted, I understand things differently. I know the amount of work that goes into the project from inside experience -- and so I appreciate that they picked three of my works to add to the collection.

Today I want to talk about balance. You may have noted that for the past few days I've struggled with a ton of negative emotion and energy. Lots of things occured that really brought my spirit down and stressed me out. I had to keep reminding myself that all that is bad is balanced by all that is good -- even if there are some grey areas where things are not so cut-and-dry.

I went to the Fey Dragon yesterday before I had to gather my fellow O.S.P.A. members for a presentation on Shamanic Journeying. There, the owner spoke with me and burned incense labeled "spiritual cleansing," (which smelled fantastic, I might add.) She said that no matter what, I shouldn't give up. And I won't. Ever. There's a certain amount your heart that goes into something like starting a club, and just because a friendship fails does not mean that a group should fail, too.

How does this anecdote even relate to the one about being published in the campus lit journal? Well -- like I said, balance. Something good happened today that really lifted my spirits back to where they normally would be, and I'm incredibly glad for that. I feel better. Finally.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Definition or Divination?

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There's a constant question with me when I get to reading Tarot or studying the Runes. Does this define the path that you are on or does it divine a way things might go? Or does it reveal to the reader how things have been without having to ask you? Does it define you?

I went to a Divination class at The Fey Dragon a while back on a Saturday with my roommate. It wasn't on what the cards meant or what the Runes meant -- it was really just about actually reading. But I still ponder -- what exactly is it?

Divination is the use of intuition and other tools to see some of many future possibilities. It does take into account energy, the past, the present and any spirits/magic at work around a person. It does give a clear definition to the reader of who you are based on all these things. It feels sometimes like a little cheatbook written in bold marker was written right before my eyes when I read for some people.

I have a couple of Tarot decks and the one I will be working with is Crow's Magick for a little while. It doesn't have the traditional imagery as other decks do, but I want to work with it anyway. Because at that point I'll have to force myself to stop being so literal (definition of cards based on what the author(s) say(s)) and start being more intuitive in learning the cards (definition of cards based on what I know and what I understand from "The Other Side" as I'll call it.)

Before, I used a very pretty deck called Legends: Arthurian -- and it is pretty straightforward with me. It is mine and it likes me and my energy and hasn't lead me wrong. This new deck is cozy and comfortable, but it laughs. It wants me to challenge myself and learn something new.

"You're not an English Major anymore," I remind myself. Because it's true. We're not constrained to scholarly sources when finding the meaning of things with this Tarot -- and though I treated symbolism the way I used to for school before -- I have to find a new way to see this one.

I'm still learning the Runes, too.

And I think it works to define me, strangely. When it is my own intuitive response to the symbolic meaning of the cards, it shows who I am and what I value. So in essence, yes. Divination is also a definition of the self.

I'm going to stop using those words now... C:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Attune Yourself

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How do you explain magic to someone who cannot comprehend that it is part of a true story? They have minds that swim with fantasy novels where sorcerers belong -- not the real world. Not here on this earth. To them, there is nothing Magic outside of creative thinking.

I was in a meeting today with my professor and we spoke of creative nonfiction -- personal essays, and the like. I don't consider my life particularly strange outside of the fact that I am a witch and do practice cool metaphysical-y things. My life is woven with magic and religion; with creativity and imagination. So essentially, my life is witchcraft. It is magic. There is no clear separation. Even my "normal" daily activities are laced with my religion. A cup of coffee isn't just a cup of coffee -- I set the stand which holds my Keurig K-Cups up next to my altar. Whomever shares this beverage with me will get the calming effect I intended. Coffee hour with me is like group therapy -- we all talk, and we all listen. And we all have coffee, which is a plus.

Walking to class isn't just walking to class -- in the moments I am outside, no matter how miserable the weather is, it is first for the same reasons as an individual of another faith would go to church. To feel closer to that which you worship. Ah, well. For me, that would be the Earth and the Gods that exist because our early ancestors had no other answers. The mundane part of being outside in any weather is because, you know...class.

Not only do I just weave in the witchcraft and religion into my daily life -- but I am also an empath. Every single day I deal with the emotions of others. Sometimes pain if it's really bad or really sudden. If the day is long and I am surrounded with a lot of people with poor attitudes, when I am finally able to be alone, I hardly have the capacity to feel my own emotions at all. Certain types of emotion become incredibly overwhelming -- anything from extreme negativity or self-hate from others to unrelenting nervousness or anxiety  -- to that weirdo who is always exceedingly happy no matter what. (Oh if you read this, Germy, you know I'm speaking about you.)  I'm good at feeling nervous all by myself, that I know. Sometimes I rely on the happiness of others to lift my spirits on days as mentioned.

In living like this and dealing with everything that must be dealt with, I find a small fragment of my answer. How do I explain this to those who don't get it? Well, if you attune yourself to your surroundings and your faith, you'll find the answer. I think it's different for everyone, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

When One Door Closes

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So, yesterday's post was a bit more negative than I had intended. I have a hunk of obsidian in my right pocket and it has been fantastic. They say the stone will just absorb the negativity right out of you. So far, so true. Another thing -- a good dish of sea salt can cleanse a stone filled to cracking with negativity. It really does take a lot of the energy, so don't worry too much. I've never had cause for it to be so filled with negativity, but... it happens to the best of us, I suppose.

Thanksgiving break happens in exactly ONE week. I don't think I've needed a vacation more than now. I'll make a very obvious statement -- stress is quite strange. I can usually handle a lot of it -- not a problem. I might usually be all love and light, calm and thoughtful... you know. But that doesn't make me immune. It doesn't exclude me from anger or being overwhelmed.  And it certainly doesn't make me weak. 

I really struggled for the first time in a long time with a bunch of very unfortunate circumstances. Lots of negativity was generated by me, and by others around me. That's the sad part. Nobody was able to step back and actually understand the core of the issue -- which was and is probably stress.

Witches tend to have a thousand different ways to deal with stress in general. One of my favorites is a good chamomile tea. Peppermint also works. Sage incense is another good choice -- or really, many herbal candles, essential oils or incenses work well. Everyone has different ways of dealing with different types of stress.

One of the main things I have had to force myself to remember in dealing with this -- in trying to keep calm -- is that when one door closes, another will open. With negative, there will be positive. Take into consideration that all actions have consequence. If you believe in it, all actions have Karma. There are two sides to this coin. What energy you put out in the world will come back eventually.

That's just how it is.

Life gets a little strange sometimes. But hardly anything is entirely without rhyme or reason.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Life Like a Plant's -- Without Water

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I've had one hell of a day. And I don't even believe in hell, so to speak. I've never been so angry in my entire life. When I was young I was used to being walked over. People took my kindness and generosity for granted. As I have grown, I take less and less disrespect. But people still use each other. They still use me.

I have been driven to madness today. First it was just a bad day, hefting the weight of being the center of others' dramatics. Then it was sadness. Pure, unrelenting sadness that I had lost two friends I had once respected. If only tears could water the plant.

I don't like being angry. Nobody really does -- I mean... some people might have no choice but to live like this. But I'm sure it's not how they wish it to be.

Doesn't everyone get these angry, negative voices in your head telling you, "Hey, it's okay. Just curse them. You can handle the backlash." ... ?

When it gets this far, and it never has for me before, there's something wrong. Today.... today....

I can't even be coherent. I've had more tea than normal, and it is helping just slightly. I won't go against everything I have set out to represent just due to anger. I won't. I can't. That's not in me.

But the point is there are some out there who might need to know that each of us has our weaknesses. We are all human. We can all be angry. We can let it get to us. Or, we don't let it.

For all of those living the life of a flower out in the desert -- without enough water, but for the tears...

I'm here for you. I am. We can be angry and calm down together.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

If This is My Fate

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Some of the things we dream about seem pretty pointless. Other times, they are not. Sometimes they reoccur for a while, and then disappear. Some of those dreams we deem nightmares, and hold them with us as fear. Sometimes they just stick forever, and never go away.

Sometimes, you dream them when you are not asleep. They come as visions that completely tear you from reality into this vision of the future. All of a sudden, you just know what is going on, what scene it is and why your emotions are what they are. You are completely in the vision as if it is right this moment happening. The scene is short and your worst fears or best wishes play out like you're the actor in your own movie.

Then, the thunder crashes. You are told you are strong enough to move forward and meet this fate. Reality drops down again over your shoulders like snow off of a tree branch hanging above your head. Tears of joy or terror fall, and the prayers begin. You are either glad or scared to death that you have been shown what will be. Sometimes you can't tell which.

The question is, do you accept this? There are many paths, not just the one. No matter if the dream has occured every month for ten years, with this time being a waking vision, there is the option to change your path and get out of what has been shown.

If you don't accept, you can cry and pray until you see the sun between the thunderclouds rising above the lake. It is unclear if anything will change. It is unclear how to change that future right now. But as you run out of ways to run away, you'll begin to fall asleep. If this is really your fate, and you've been told you can handle it -- what next?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

If There's a Will

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Today I walked down to the Fey Dragon because there was a Saturday to celebrate. Always when we go there, it's like a time warp. We intended to stay maybe an hour. It turned into two, and then we had the fourty-or-so-minute walk back to campus.

We have amazing conversations there, as to be expected from the town's Pagan store. The atmosphere is so relaxing, and the people (spirits, too) are always so nice and willing to communicate. If I can get there, it is well worth the time spent. If I have money (which I hardly ever do) it is also well worth the money spent.

Today we spoke about the owner's paper being published and opening the eyes of a group that had offended her and, in general, many non-christian people at the conference. I didn't read her paper, but I did read the email the person sent back to her. It gave my heart a little hope for society in general.
That they would take responsibility for what went wrong and why, and accept a criticism on a whole conference was phenomenal.

But you know what they say, if there's a will, there's a way.

We spoke of Norse/Asatru type gatherings where when oaths are spoken, the group (especially the one who does not partake in drinking, the Keeper of Words) holds you to them. If you make an oath, you are required to keep it. If that is not will, I'm not sure what is. I also feel that to break an oath would be devastating; it would be like slapping each member who heard you speak your oath right in the face.

My goal is writing, too. I want to write and be published more than anything. I know I have to start small. If I swear that I'll get published, then I must get published. I don't feel as afraid of that anymore. I still have this hesitation because I don't like the idea of failing.

But I do agree. If there is a will, there is a way.

I can't make my oath in writing -- I feel as though I need to use my voice and speak it soon. It will have more significance since I don't speak out much (verbally, anyway.) It will transform into more than just an idle wish. It will be something more solid and unbreakable. If I can't put my ultimate goal into oath form myself, nobody else will. This will must be my own.

Friday, November 9, 2012

If You Catch a Leaf as it's Falling

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So today was a really good day. I wasn't feeling melancholic or anything. On waking, my roommate was hilariously addicted to her Tumblr and so the morning was filled with jokes back and forth and laughter to spare. Even though I could've used more coffee before class, speaking french so early in the day just happened to be enjoyable too.

Today was also the day I changed my majors around. I dropped English and switched the Creative Writing from second to first major, and then added Native American Studies and Anthropology both as minors. As I was walking from Mahar hall to Culkin hall on the path that runs right next to the stone circle, a leaf fell from a tree and was carried in the wind just in front of me.

I caught it by accident as I adjusted the strap of my bag and stretched a little to relieve my shoulder of some of the weight of my textbook. The leaf landed right on my hand as I finished stretching. It was yellow and rounded, as most of those strange trees out on the quad tend to bear. There were still little spots of green near the veins on the leaf and some of the edges had been chewed away by whatever bug decided that this was the way it should be. Of course, I locked my fingers around it and grinned from ear to ear. Why though?

Well, my grandpa has always told me that it is insanely good luck if you catch a falling leaf before it hits the ground. I figured that if it made itself be caught without my effort, than it really must be extraordinarily lucky. That I caught this before I changed my majors and minors around must have meant something, too.

I'll harp on observing your surroundings once again. I said in an earlier post that sometimes omens can be really good and point out positive occurences in the future. It is my belief that this leaf that fell into my hands is a sign that I have begun walking where I ought to be -- that things will turn out interesting and generally good. That it is the last few weeks before winter takes the rest of the leaves from us -- I think it was a good sign too. Just in time I caught luck when I needed it most.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

An Image of Floating Fire

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It was the funniest thing -- no, not in a hilarious way. I was standing there drying dishes, when I heard the spirit. It waltzed right through me like I wasn't even an obstacle. Of course, for that in-between kind of realm, I'm really not an obstacle. But whatever it was, I know it wasn't bad.

Bad is a relative term, so let me rephrase. It meant me no harm at all. It had something to tell me, and showed me a picture of fire for a moment. I felt almost refreshed as I saw the flames flicker in my mind's eye. It reminded me of a thousand tiny tea lights as opposed to something that had caught fire. But it was hard at first to discern what the lights were sitting on -- they flickered and moved, and I knew for some reason that it wasn't my subconcious.

Thousands of floating candles specked the darkness of a larger body of water. The waves pushed them up ever so slightly, and sunk back down again just as slowly. Suddenly, I felt the wind on my face, warm. I felt the rocks I stood on -- smooth and strange as if I stood barefoot. The moon was huge, yellow and nearly full over the horizon. I couldn't tell where the stars ended and the reflection on the water began. Was this Lake Ontario? I still am not sure. The buzzing filled my entire skull as I inhaled sharply and snapped out of the vision.

It was a strange moment, having to think about why I was holding a kitchen towel in one hand and a glass coffee mug in the other. All I could remember was the buzzing and the image flashing and making itself more clear. A few minutes later, the buzzing had stopped and I felt that the spirit had went its own ways. I didn't get a chance to ask what that all meant. I didn't get a chance to decide anything. It kept moving, keeping to whatever errand was pressing.

This happened, and it took me a moment to reorient myself. If I close my eyes I can still see the floating candles, little pinpricks of fire. Was this a funeral? A memory this spirit carries strongly? Why me? Only because I could hear and understand? Or, was there no reason at all? I happened to have been in the right place at the right time, I suppose.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Details at the Cusp of Winter

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I know I should've had all of my homework done by now. It's just getting to the point where I really really need vacation. I don't want to think of how much reading is actually left for each of the classes I am in. I've already partially checked out metally. My brain is buried in a future snowbank somewhere in Maine, dreaming of wilderness and evergreens and coffee on the day before Yule.

It is days like these that invoke thoughts of things outside of myself and my little corner of the universe. Sometimes I think of fate, and the path on which I travel. Sometimes I wonder when I'll have time to sit outside under a tree without a time limit again. They have so much to impart and I feel like I deny them that.

The day was full of little enchanted things when I snapped back to reality. The leaves are finishing their slow drift from branch to ground. There is that certain chill to the wind that, like Eddard Stark, reminds us that Winter is coming. Out by the lake, there are hardly any distractions -- the cold off of the water is too much to bear for too long. The stones I sat on were freezing. Things seem to slow down just a little more. I made my peace with Winter when I was a freshman here at Oswego State. The version of  "a lot of snow" here versus at home are two completely different things.

I like to notice these tiny details. They remind me that things are alive, even when everything seems bleary and trying. I like feeling that even though the colors are fading around me, life goes on. Soon, the enchanted things will be frost on the last green blades of grass. It will be the extra fur the squirrels grow to protect themselves from the cold. It will be the red down feather a pretty cardinal bird leaves behind as it flits from this tree to the next.

So my mind's already buried in snow. All of this around campus in a percipitation-plagued town -- that's my escape while still being entirely present. There is so much to observe that I don't have to care about homework while watching and understanding this transition. The best part is that this time, the cusp of winter overlooks a storm aptly named Athena. I've gladly braced myself already.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Light in the Darkness

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There are a couple major things I have realized along the course of things as the path goes on. There are some pretty rough times and dark patches. This is an unavoidable truth. There are also lights along the way, it seems, for every dark patch we are forced to walk through.

I noted once, maybe, that one of the things I really believe in is radical self love. It, of course, was not always that way. The road to understanding the dire need to believe in myself was a dark and difficult one. Because when there is not self love, there is self hate. Those self-hating states of mind are the obstacles between which life is forgotten and dreams are wedged away for a day that will never come.

In the midsts of the constant sorrow and loathing of how I looked, nothing changed. I was alone, but for friends whose encouragements would fall on deaf ears. (And for that, I love them. Deaf ears they may have been, but the mind was slowly being convinced of their truth.) When they left for college and I did not -- could not -- I thought that was the end of me. I thought I would be stuck in my town being a cashier for the most popular grocery store. I would day in and day out dread going to work and dealing with customers who did not appreciate that I was there helping them.

When those friends were gone, and I was literally alone and scoffed at for my upsets, I had to figure out how to make it through my darkest hours myself. I dread to think where I would be now if I didn't pull it together. I was an artist first -- and due to financial circumstances, I couldn't go to Beverly, Massachusetts to study Art Education. When that long-time dream shattered to pieces, I wasn't sure how I could go forward and get out of the confines of the small, small town I graduated high school in.

When it all seemed too dim to comprehend, the only thing I had that kept me from being completely useless and depressed was my Pagan studies. I had stopped laughing so much. I had stopped believing in my talents and stopped drawing, painting...everything. But I never stopped reading or taking notes on Paganism. While I hated myself, there was that glimmer when I was immersed in a book, where I didn't have to remember that life was dreary. People told me that those who skip between high school and college never end up going, after all.

I read of the Norse in their mythologies and envied their strength and resilliance. I read how they survived so many cruel winters. I read how the world began in between fire and ice -- things moving and things frozen in place... I read of how the first creations were made from stone. I envied such defense. The Norse were warriors, and fought when things didn't turn out for the best for their people. Sure, the Vikings raided everything from Scandinavia to Canada in their time, but they did what they had to do for the good of their people. I wished deeply that I had had that conviction. It was the following November, almost Thanksgiving, before these lessons in me were manifested. If I couldn't be strong for myself, who could be? If I couldn't begin to love all that I was, and would be, who should? I kept reading and taking my notes and so stopped being the foolish (wo)man that we are so warned against becoming in "The Sayings of the High One."

The friends who had made their lives work away in college kept in touch, too. I had a few skype calls and pep talks, and I was told that I would never stop being creative, no matter what. I applied for several SUNY schools on a whim and half a shred of hope. I cried when I was rejected from two, and cried even harder when Oswego was the first one to say they wanted me in their midst. That was it. That was all I needed. Just that little bit of light in the darkness.

I wonder if I would've even applied if it weren't for how the events played out. Is it all coincidence? Is my inspiration from Norse Mythology a figment of my imagination? Has my life really altered course so much that it wouldn't have been the same otherwise?

There are some people who have said that religion has saved them -- pulled them straight from rock bottom and made them strong again. I believe them. Do you?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Omens and the Space We Walk In

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Have you ever had a feeling of Déjà vu so intense that you had to stop for a second to make sure you weren't dreaming? Me too. Most of the time, they are for events that seem very unimportant or irrelevant. Here's my latest: I was in WalMart the other day with a couple of friends, and as one of them sat down on a display of televisions and told me of how she couldn't get only the black printer ink, I had the feeling I had given her the same advice -- get the combo pack, at least you'll have them next time.

Only, I'd never been to WalMart with her before. Ever.

This sort of thing sparks my mind into thinking about divination and the way any person can experience such feelings as Déjà vu. Any person can walk around and be observant of their surroundings.

When we are, we can start to pick up bits of repeating information. Maybe it's a seagull feather floating in the wind for the last five days. Maybe it's that little white butterfly that always seems to land on your right shoulder. Maybe it's the sudden change of wind and the darkening of the sky in what seemed like an otherwise perfect day.

I've learned that these seemingly little signs are called omens. And yeah, the word has some serious negative connotation. Usually we hear of "bad omens" or "ill omens," and the like... but there are such things as good omens. Sometimes we don't see them or understand them at first. I found that keeping a journal of really strange or repetitive instances tends to help a bit in hindsight. When something occurs in the future, writing possible omens down gives this moment of "Oh, I should've known." Which is good, for the most part. It teaches us in negative situations to be more observant, or in positive situations that karma just might be real.

One of the things that is important about observing is that you will need to trust your intuition. Some people are purely logical and can't fathom a world where it's alright to just believe something or will something just based on "feelings." I get that. It was a tough thing. But I learned really quickly that if you feel something is going to happen or is right, it generally will be. Sometimes, no. But for the most part, yes.

This isn't an easy thing -- I assure you. Each omen will mean something different to each person, even if there are common threads between cultures. (Take the White butterfly for instance...that means good or pure occurences in the near future across several groups of interpreters.) Sometimes common color symbolization comes into play -- yes, the kind studied in English and Art classes worldwide. The point is observing them, at the very least. They can be a symbol specifically for you right from the universe.

They say, I'm sure I've mentioned, that the chance of things falling right in your path are slim to none. If it does, it probably means something. My advice for today, along with this mini ramble of a post, is to simply pay attention. Sometimes it's worth it. You never know what's being said to you in ways other than the spoken or written word.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Path Less Traveled

"Two roads diverged in a wood and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference." - 
From The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

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I'm not always so sure which way I am actually supposed to be going. I stand at a crossroads sometimes between one choice and the next and wonder if I had made a wrong turn back a few miles. It's not so much a feeling of regret but a genuine curiosity of what may have happened had I chosen something else. Back when I was young, and just discovering that I was not your average human being, I stood there as I stand there now, on occasion. 

Back then, life really was just a choice between doing my homework or shoving it into my locker and ignoring it. I made it something more than that. On November 1st, 2003 when I was twelve years old, I made the choice that I was Pagan. (At the time, Wiccan, as I didn't know too much.) I had gone to church with Grandpa, who also didn't attend too often. I had discussed biblical things with my cousin and aunt out in Kansas for a few years before that. I didn't really understand it -- none of it made sense. The first book that I ever got was "A Wiccan Bible" by A.J. Drew.

Looking back at it on occasion, it's hardly the best metaphysical book out there. The part that interested me the most was the very last chapter -- a long index of names of Gods and Goddesses and how they filled similar roles with different names across innumerable cultures around the world. The book was the center of the crossroads. I could continue on a Wiccan path or go off in a different direction. 

For a long time, I stood there. I read more books about Wiccan practices, and performed a few of the prewritten rituals. It wasn't enough for me, though. It was a few months that I tried to work this out...I think I may have been fourteen or very close to it before I realized what the index of Gods and Goddesses would mean to me.

They call someone that studies and incorporates a lot of different "paths" into their one practice an "Eclectic Pagan." That is the path I have been walking this whole time since then, discovering along the way different things about myself. When I was young, I was afraid. I was afraid of people. I was afraid of myself. I was afraid of magic and how it worked. I was afraid of what would happen if nothing felt right after all of this research. Though I was always both an empath and a Witch, I convinced myself otherwise in order to block out the fear. Another couple of crossroads turned up and I had to come to terms with both of these things in due time. The realizations along the way have made me more of my whole self, but still not completely fearless.

But what really is a Path? It may be mundanely defined as a course along which something moves. To think in terms of Paganism, it is a course along which your spiritual beliefs are moved and shaped. It is the discovering of your very essence, and it is ever-changing. It is a road in the proverbial woods cut in so many places with forks and crossroads, wrought with moments where critical decisions must be made. Sometimes there are loops which will take you back to a place you have already been. Sometimes it will lead you right into your darkest hour, and you either emerge, slightly scathed, or you run away just to arrive back where you started, only to be lead there once again in the future. Sometimes, something or someone will cross your path, and you will make a decision on direction depending on where they turn. Sometimes you'll step right over them, forgetting that the odds of that person or thing being on your path are slim to none, and you move on blind to possibility. Sometimes you will meet the end of your path before your time. Sometimes your concepts will lead you to a yellow brick road which is clearly defined and without too many more turns. Sometimes it will remain a twisted, confusing mess for almost all of the time you walk it. 

What matters most is that it is yours. This path is traveled by nobody else all the way through. I found in the "what if" moments of my life that I am who I am because of the turns I've taken. What makes all the difference is that we all keep moving along our paths instead of trying to walk in someone else's shoes due to fear or insecurity. It will never be easy, that I know and can guarantee. But I have to keep believing that it will always be worth it in the end, whenever we happen to get there.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Attempting to Understand the Secret of Trees

|Credit: [x]|

Today is one of those days where I'm still sitting around in pajamas. I've blogged previously about how busy my Samhain has been, and I'm taking today to recharge and just be creative. One of the things that I keep thinking of was how high-energy the ritual was. I didn't get much sleep between ritual on Thursday and class on Friday. I took in a lot of that emotional energy and couldn't find a way to be rid of it before trying to sleep. That's when it occured to me --

It's really not about getting rid of the energy, per se. It's actually about grounding it. I figure it is kind of one of the secrets of the trees, isn't it? They're rooted in the ground. They never seem to have a problem about all the negative energy out in the world. They are as much the earth as the actual soil is. They represent that everything that once was, still is -- without the trees, would there be soil?

Energy seems to fly around in any given space. Of course there has to be other ways to describe it, but imagine it for a second. Who hasn't been in a space where someone upset or angry made the room seem darker, colder or unbearable? That is negative energy, in my book. In the same way, who hasn't been in a space where someone's laughter or smile lit the entire room and suddenly your whole crappy day was made better? Positive energy.

In the space of a circle, which is blocked off from the rest of the mundane world, the energy doesn't have as much room to bounce around and ground itself out. For example, sometimes during an Esbat, energy will be raised for a specific reason. People figure out really quick how to balance how much of their energy they raise and release or charge an item with. (Too much gives me headaches, which I'll note about in a moment, and too much makes them really tired. We need our own energy to live, too.) I've been in circles with new witches before, and watched some of them figure out their own balance. Some are capable of expending all of their energy, while some aren't capable of raising much at all. It's all fine. The excess that an item, for example, can't or won't absorb -- that is what gives headaches or keeps me awake for more hours than an energy drink could ever. Emotional energies are always the hardest to cope with for me. This is a daily thing. I don't know how to block them all out always. As I grew in my studies, I found a way to block some of them sometimes with shielding -- which I barely understand to date.

Back to grounding energies. I've heard so many ways that grounding can be achieved. A bowl of salt. A bowl of dirt. Direct those extra energies  to a specific crystal, and bury it. Lay on the ground. Eat some food. Water or wine should absorb the energy and then you pour it outside. The possibilites are endless. But all of the above has you rope in a lot of excess energy and direct it through you, which is the hardest part for me. So I want to understand exactly what the trees do. In a perfect world, they have a system of roots that bring them only nutrients that they need and the rest stays in the ground. If I close my eyes and begin to tune the world out, my spirit is rooted, too. Though I walk and move on both planes, below my feet in a moment of rest is an extensive system of spirit-roots that reach far into the earth. What if we had a way to keep hold of our own excess energies? What if we could imagine for a moment that when we release them, we can catch them again and recycle them through our own roots and back into the ground?

Is it ever so simple? It is what you make it, I suppose. I wonder sometimes if understanding energy like this is really a pagan thing, or just how life is. I don't believe it is religious, really. I know it can be, but at the same time...I feel as though some people naturally can do all of this without needing to think about it. Some people are like the trees. They are those around us who are good at letting things go and not being too stressed or too hyperactive. Without even realizing it (or, maybe some do!) they understand the secret of trees  -- the secret to being rooted in the ground at all times. While I envy them, it is only more of push for me to find a way to really understand where to go from here.