Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hit the Books

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Today was a busy day with classes -- and my singing quartz point just broke. So beyond mourning that, I do have to get some homework done! I will write an informative blog post tomorrow night -- I may be attending an Imbolc ritual!

Listen Closely

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I need to work through something, and usually the best way that I can is to write until it makes sense. Lately, I've been really practicing with my clairaudience -- which is considered a psychic "gift." It has been almost a month and a half since I began intensive study (or attempting intensive study; more on that in a moment) with what it is to work with psychic "gifts" and how it helps with my craft in general.

One of the problems I encountered was that there aren't actually a ton of cohesive, tangible sources that teach you how to improve. They give you suggestions, but it is up to you to do the work and understand your own limitations in order to push past them.

There's a giant limitation that we all probably have faced, are facing -- will probably always stumble across. (Kind of like Ganon in the Legend of Zelda series -- fight him once, and he comes back to life in a different manifestation.) That battle is with your own self-doubt. The question you might ask yourself as you practice your ability or craft -- "am I making all of this up?"
Well, when it came to clairaudience, I felt like no matter what I was hearing, it was just my mind playing tricks on me -- even if it wasn't the sound of my own voice in my head, it surely was made up -- imagined -- pretend.

It has always been a tough struggle for me to get over self doubt. Constantly. Not only in relation to magic or psychic things, but also for speaking in public, for self esteem in the past, for my own writing -- it's unfortunately been just like this -- I needed someone to tell me I was right to think a certain way in all the cases. I stumbled blindly for so long that I got frustrated and needed a voice in the darkness to say, "Well hey -- it's okay. You learn like this. You've gotta make your own way." But what I didn't understand this whole time is that in order to get over self doubt, it had to be my own voice in the darkness.

I've read that it is fine to doubt whether or not a spell will work. That spells will do what they do in different ways depending on your uhh...for lack of better terminology, "level of belief." In beginning my new interpretation and understanding of this...maybe it's not so much the spell you need to believe in, but yourself. *Cue fluffy bunny music.*
I had no other way to phrase it. But we can banter on UPG all we want, if it is your world and your understanding, in order to move forward, you've gotta somehow tackle that self-doubt obstacle. I suppose it's just trusting that you yourself are capable.

So that's where I come full circle back to my talk about clairaudience. It took an age for me to stop doubting that I heard energy and spirits, first as buzzing, which definitely was separate and not electric, and then as voices if I focused on said buzzing. But then it was still exceedingly difficult. I'd encounter things, creatures, structures -- and just raw energy that didn't speak. Not in a way I could understand. And sometimes I would get images from the things that gave up repeating themselves --scenes which I could describe if you'd all like. It didn't dawn on me that all the "versions" of psychic "gifts" are somewhat interconnected, and that everyone does have the ability to develop them. Again, if they allow their worldview to differ from what they came to know as "normal."

As I began to work on clairaudience as a part of energy work, (keep in mind that I still consider myself a complete n00b) I noticed that it became slightly apparent that I could sense energy in other ways. For instance, that tingly feeling when picking up a gem -- or indeed as my shield blocks out another person's energy -- I noticed that I can feel it in my left hand if the shield buckles a little bit under that "pressure." I also noticed that my own doubt of my own gifts made it hard to strongly visualize much. I may not understand what the "proper" way to build a shield is, or how to make one in a bunch of different ways -- but what I did learn is that once I clearly saw what I wanted the shield to look like, it worked based on that image. So my net with gemstones and feathers is flexible and as stuff bounces off of it (maybe not back towards whomever, but alas,) I can feel the energy working. A friend built a shield for me once to block out the sounds of spirits after a bit of an experiment. (Because, you know, once the spirits in my house realized I was calling out to them, they all had their entire death story to tell.) So, this new shield, which "moved" differently, thus sounded differently. It made more of a sound like glass falling to the ground -- which was distinctive, considering energy usually just sounds like different layers buzzing to me.

I think I've rambled. So -- the point. Did I have a point? Yes, I was working out that I have indeed practiced my clairaudience and despite the fact that there is nobody telling me "Yep, you've done it right this time," I feel sort of a sense of improvement. It is taking a lot of time and a lot of effort, but eventually I want this to be second nature -- something that's not always default on -- but something I can invoke for different things and make good use of along with the other pieces of the puzzle.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What Weather?

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Crazy me. I decided that the pouring down rain seemed like fun weather to walk in. Only, it was just past 9pm and I had no idea where exactly I needed to go. The day itself was a little nerve wracking – I have not been able to get a single textbook for my Anthropology classes and all I could wrap my mind around was homework – and how much of it I would need to catch up on. That is, if I was lucky. So, instead of worrying about the weather, about money, about homework – I walked outside on dark and stormy night.

I think it's hilarious how I caught myself looking over my shoulder, or staring off into the distance at anything that moved. I never noticed how much more ominous the world seemed at night – especially with no clear destination in mind. I had walked back from class at 8pm before the rain started and did not face the same creeping feeling as I did afterward – that something was surely amiss. Of course there was no lack of sound – perhaps it was just the simple fell wind that caught me off guard. I couldn't hear much over the sound of it and the rain pouring down all around me. It was just over a half an hour later that I wound up sick of cars driving too close to the sidewalk, fearless (and probably oblivious) to what drenching a Witch with puddles of murky street water might bring to them in the future. Some would call it Karma. I'd call it taking no shit.

It was then that it dawned on me that weather and bad drivers was hardly a reason to be upset. I had chosen this walk on this day in this weather. Maybe they really were insensitive creatures, but under normal circumstances, would I even have been there? Incensed and uncomfortable, I made my way down past the Campus Center to get back to Riggs hall. It's so funny how people affect us this way. One moment, when nobody's actually out there in the dark, we're on edge. The next, when people show up and break our fiction and force us out of our own head space, we're pissed off. Maybe I don't have to be sarcastic the next time I start a story with 'crazy me.'

(This was a strange, but useful assignment for my creative writing class -- observation by doing something out of the ordinary. All of it is nonfiction! Sorry for another blurb -- I will try to write a really good informative post tomorrow. I forget how busy school is after such a long break!)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Time Runs Out

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Ah! Apologies for skipping a blogging day yesterday! I didn't even blurb about how busy I was -- It was the day that I moved back upstate to get settled into school. It kind of takes awhile. I tend to sit there and wish the stuff unpacked -- it's the worst habit.

But today was the first day of classes and work for the semester. I'm running out of time already! But as soon as the craziness of finding everything and getting my textbooks settles, I will be back to blogging properly. That will be tomorrow.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

And So School Begins Again

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Hello everyone!

I'm here to blurb about the fact that I am in the middle of packing up to go back to college tomorrow! So the blogging ... well at least for today ... will not exist!

Friday, January 25, 2013

For The Birds

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I wanted to bring up an issue I was working through lately. You know how there are certain pet stores that have no qualms shoving a good 12+ budgies in a cage that would normally be too small for one bird? I won't name names -- but my one budgie, Quill, came from one such store. The other two, Gimli and Olórin, came from a store that created a habitat that had enough space for their ~16 birds.

The price of budgies is relatively low. My birds were $18, $25 and $25 respectively. People think that they are disposable creatures -- that they can be shoved in a cage and looked at. And when they find that the birds make just too much noise to be "pretty," they get rid of them. They re-home them and give up. The budgie is constantly stressed; changing homes and environments. The only time a person comes around is to force them into a small box to go somewhere else or to take their food dishes away or change the papers in the bottom of the cage. They are largely ignored otherwise. All because their owners just don't understand.

I've always admired those who had larger parrots -- who could care for these birds as well as they deserve. I have always wished to have birds of my own -- and now that I do and have been researching -- the carelessness I read about is heartbreaking.

Budgies are not disposable. They can live anywhere from an average of 8 ~ 15 years depending on their diet, stress level, environment, and also their activity levels. They need attention, even if you have other budgies housed with them. If you don't act like part of their flock and present yourself in their lives for a couple hours a day, they will be completely terrified of you. There will be no training, no talking, and no calm birds. If you feed them just seeds and don't attempt other things -- no matter how picky the birds may be, it's just the same as feeding your cat those "treats" that come in pouches -- and that's it. If you don't have patience, these are not the pets for you. Plain and simple.

There is no excuse to not research. The "this is my young child's first pet -- not mine" excuse doesn't work either -- because the child can't read up on the topic as well as you should be able to. In fact, parrots shouldn't be anyone's first pet without the proper supervision.

In short -- they're not "JUST PARAKEETS" -- and my roommate at school would agree with me, I'm sure. Having the three of them is a project. They're intelligent, interesting little creatures. If you do your research and have a heart, they are rewarding pets. Really. They all have different personalities and may show they love you back -- or they may not. They may be easy to train, or they may not. Patience and understanding is key.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Magic in Fiction?

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It is time to study again -- and I wrote that like there was ever a time to stop studying. Tumblr was alive and well today with new ideas and inspirations about magic, and I feel just slightly better today than I have in a while. Tumblr is a great resource, I'm telling you.

So what I want to talk about today is finding inspiration for magic in fiction, and more specifically -- fiction where the worlds are created from scratch by the author. (And this doesn't apply to books only, movies, television and video games count, too, I think.)

Maybe you sink into a meditation and end up in Arda. Or Narnia. Or wherever you happen to end up. There are certain rules of the world we understand when we read/experience the writing (whatever kind.) Can we use those rules while experiencing this "Other Side" for magic? Is what we may see a product of the imagination only or is it a tangible place, like the astral might be?

I'm going to roll out a theoretical example, however terribly. This hasn't happened to me; my brain is just working (or not, depending on how you look at this.) 

Let's say we met up with good old Tom Bombadil if we travel to Tolkien's Middle-Earth as we meditate. He is a confusing person to the fellowship of the ring, but if you meet him in such a meditation and he acts the same way as he does in the book and gives some advice... are you making it up? Or is he a sort egregore?

We know that, among others, the Istari and the Elves are capable of magic in Tolkien's Middle Earth. They follow certain constraints and rules as to how that magic works. If we learn them or attempt to understand them from UPG ... would it be possible to use it back on our own side? 

What kind of magic would this be called? How can it be built off of? If it isn't a religious experience (as people sometimes have with their Gods,) what would it be? Would our own concept of magic work in these worlds? What can this be classified as? (It's okay to answer insanity, I totally understand.) 

No, I don't think I've had enough coffee today, but it was worth a thought. ;3)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Scattered Dreams

"I've been having these weird dreams lately... 
like is any of this for real or not?"
Sora, Kingdom Hearts 

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 I have read on occasion that sometimes that moment just before we wake up or fall asleep is different than normal dreaming. I have had four weeks of very strange dreams, ranging from places I've never been to the homes of people I haven't seen in a while -- to even the Other Side, the meditation place -- what others call the Astral.

Those are the dreams we remember. The way a room looks, the sound of someone pouring coffee -- voices talking amongst themselves. Keyboards clicking. Notes being passed. A certain energy. Reoccurring dreams.

They say that about 15 minutes after we wake up, we lose 90% of the remembered dream. Some people keep journals which detail what they can remember asap. Sometimes we remember more than that. This morning, the dream I had is still stuck right behind my eyes -- I can close my eyes and remember all the sensory details -- textures, sounds, smells -- the last image I saw. Sometimes the dreams are so strange and so real that I wake up confused. Did I project? Or was it a dream? 

I don't know much about astral travel -- I will be honest. I heard from a good friend that part of my problem is that my brain still thinks in terms of distance even in meditation. Another problem is that sometimes, you need to be able to focus a lot more than just the normal meditation in order to move that much energy -- your astral self

I have this meditative place that I can sink into fairly easily after about four years of practice. There is a path between the trees -- but only one path. The rest is a meadow, blocked in by dense, thin trees. There's a small pond, and a load of wildflowers. I notice that it is incredibly difficult for me to get onto that path, but it's not hard for spirits to visit me. Sometimes I can see them far off in the distance, and I can prepare the space before they get too close. Sometimes they stop at the edge, just as I do, unable to take a step further. Those are usually the more uncomfortable things...My guides are there, too. The Macaw is like a security system -- and just paying attention to his reactions helps me determine what to do before my own space/head is invaded. 

In a workshop for O.S.P.A., a guest speaker came in and told us about the different realms in shamanic journeying -- upper, middle and lower realm. Those places where I am around people going through their daily routines, or where they are too asleep -- maybe that's middle realm? Maybe that's a part of astral travel/projection?

I go to that meditative place in some of my strange dreams, and I was wondering -- what does it mean? I think part of why it is so difficult for me to leave on that path is that I don't know much about astral travel -- I don't know what to prepare or bring with me. I can't keep an area safe just for me if I don't know how to -- and if it is more expansive an area than what I normally see and move around in. So the list of research topics goes on -- and I need to get started somehow. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Here's To Being a Poet

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Hello again!

 Another day has come and practically gone again -- and I have been writing poetry, and am virtually out of ideas to blog about. I want to post poetry, but at the same time, I know it is not all ready to share in any seriousness. I need to be reading more pagan things, and once I do there will be material I can muse over. For now, here's to being a poet  --

Here's to never
how muses
and inspiration
actually work.
I raise my glass to that --
perhaps the mead will
help me figure
words out.

I need nothing more
than to
move them on paper.
Shift them
like the sands
in a north wind;
like the rocks
on the ledge
that leads down to
the lake
until they work.

And so, just as
my mind has
been shifting gears
all day --
my blog post
has become
some sort of
fake poem.

So those brave
to wish for humor --
have at it.
Here's to
a poet.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Change of a Word

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I have mentioned a number of times that I've been working on a new project -- a new story. That is all well and good -- it's going along fine and I'm in the midst of writing out chapter five. On occasion, though, I get inspired to write poetry, and last night I wrote three. I have a small notebook filled to almost 1/3 with poetry -- some of it is not so great, and some have decent potential.

I learned along the way that we are our own worst critic. When you think about it -- here's the reasons: Mostly we hate our own work and try to perfect it. But there is never any such thing as perfection -- of course. And on the other hand, sometimes you don't see how to possibly improve something at first -- as you are so enamored of your own work. It's ridiculous.

It is incredibly difficult to look objectively at your own work, like you've never read it before. It's difficult to distance yourself from what bits of your soul you've poured out on paper. I think the worst thing is to convince yourself that there is no need to revise after you first write something, but revision is so much easier said and mused about than actually done.

Sometimes just a change of a word within a poem is all you can manage -- and sometimes that is a fantastic thing. But there are times, especially with me and my long, drawn out pieces, that whole sections of the poem can be cut or rebuilt to give the piece more depth.

I hardly have the problem where I love a piece so much that I can't revise it. For me it is usually the opposite, and I taunt myself to think what is written is anywhere close to what skill I am capable of. The words are all wrong, the sound isn't just right, blah blah blah.

Last night though, I wrote two poems that I absolutely adored. In my own head, they made sense and sounded fantastic. Except, that's too short sighted. I woke up, read them again, and still loved them to bits. But they need revision, as do all rough drafts. They need to be put onto a larger piece of paper and be delved into again -- maybe to improve the imagery and add in more concrete detail. Maybe change the phrasings until the image is so clear, we might as well have been standing right in the scene, should it have ever existed. Maybe make any metaphors and parallels as clear as possible without giving away the punchline. Maybe write more -- because these pages are kind of small...

I suppose it'll be fine as long as I keep working at it and enjoying what I do. I have this weird need to write, like an itch sometimes. Try as I may to ignore it or be "too lazy" -- I have to write. My brain won't leave me alone otherwise. I think it's the reason my blogs and first drafts are a bit chaotic, but that is okay. I just have to keep writing, and I'll survive.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

She Sat and Thought!

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The cursor has been blinking for about an hour now, and I still have no idea what I want to write about. My head is actually stuck on poetry and my story right now -- which works for me! But that just means the blog will suffer the consequences of it today.

I don't want to get into the habit of not blogging -- because once school starts next week and I don't make time for it, I'll forget the blog again just like I always have before.

So that's why, on these sorts of days, I post something with a cool image that is really just me rambling -- things I would normally type just on my Tumblr and leave it be.

Just reserving a space that says, "Hey! That author was here! She sat and thought!" and that is enough for now. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

And So I Have Willed It

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Okay, so I'm gonna think about what can be kind of a touchy subject. Take it all with a grain of salt, because I know that magic will work differently depending on each person.

First, I want to bring up the whole "An it harm none, do what ye will" thing. I think, honestly, that it is a good credence to live by. I live by this in general with in how I act, how I speak, how I relate to other people and also in how I practice witchcraft and paganism -- But even though I do end up being pretty optimistic about things and people do endearingly call me the queen of positivity back at school -- it's not always love and light. Life is a system of checks and balances -- honest. Opposites are important, and it is vital to understand both sides of the same coin, no matter what. The kind of person you are and your own moral code will guide you to what choices you will make with magic. Your concept of right and wrong alone is the only thing that defines good and bad. That's it. Nobody else can do that part for you. If something makes you feel guilty, or if you begin to regret -- pay attention. If you feel safe and secure and positive, pay attention. You do have some sort of conscience -- everyone does. But it in itself is neither good nor bad, it just is a part of your personality that will help you determine that for yourself.

 I read once that "an it harm some, do what ye must" is the way it works in real life with real issues of defense and protection. And sometimes, I find, in issues of equality -- such as a mirror shield that would reflect a spell back towards the caster. Even if someone thought the spell would help, if it is unwanted by the target, it's still harmful -- and so it would be reflected back to the caster by the magic of the target and it would still be harmful.

That doesn't make people who use "dark" spells evil or bad, and I want to clarify that now. Life is not all a walk in the garden. While you do have the ability to make your own happiness -- and not let the way people act or think control how peaceful you are -- we are human. We will face adversity. We will be unbalanced and have to figure out how to defend our peace as best as we can.

I know there are parts to magic that define how well it will work, and the first part of that is belief. But to me, it's not about believing the spell will work. It is about having conviction and knowing that the spell will work, without having a single doubt cross your mind. When I cast any spell, it is a matter of clearing out my mind of our human tendencies to doubt and hope -- and then either speaking or thinking the intention with such conviction that anyone would doubt themselves if they didn't believe me. It needs to be rock solid every single time. And trust me, it takes practice to be able to clear your mind of its system of doubt and belief and just know when casting a spell. It has to be a fact, not a theory.

The next part is intent, which probably should have been the first thing I mentioned. Before you cast a spell, you need to know exactly what the spell is for. Why are you casting it? How are you casting it? What are the possible costs? Is it worth it? Can you handle your own Karma? Do you have enough energy to cast such a spell? The spell needs to be understood better than you understand the back of your hand as you stare at it. There can be no fresh cat scratches or splinters that you  didn't notice yesterday -- you have to know it like you know yourself -- even better. How else can you believe/know it will work if you have no idea what the spell is, and what it is going to do? In asking yourself questions like "can you handle your own Karma?" and "Do you have enough energy to cast?" means being able to accept all costs of casting -- you will probably get tired, as all magic drains your own personal energies. You will need to provide energy for your body afterwards, especially if it is a big ritual working. If you cannot provide that basic thing, then you shouldn't intend to cast such a spell. And more importantly, if you cannot accept whatever consequences of casting, either good or bad, or refuse such consequences, then you should not intend to cast the spell. It's that simple. Because in my own experience, if you pretend you can refuse any consequence, it only makes matters worse for you and the spell itself could collapse around your ears. It was a pretend spell to begin with. Intent and total understanding goes hand-in-hand with knowing the spell is going to work.

The next part is will, which also ties in with all of the above. I think of magic like bending your will around the energies required in order to achieve the intended results. Energy itself, as I've been learning, doesn't have a will or a way -- it just is. It makes up everything. The will comes from outside forces and beings. Storms, for example, use and release energy to produce effects such as lightning, which then produces thunder. In the same way, a witch will use energy to cast out a spell. So now that you know every part of the spell you're going to cast -- backwards, forwards, inside out -- now you have to actually cast it. The casting itself is will. You are willing the spell to affect the world in some way. If you have the conviction you need behind your spell, you have the will to cast it already. A spell is all these parts at once. Here's a stupid analogy I heard once upon a time when I was just learning all of this-- it's like a handshake. There's a difference between a sincere greeting and an insincere one, right? You know. You've experienced both. Without will, a spell is just a slack-wrist greeting where eyes don't meet, and the first impression isn't great. In another sense, it's like a house of cards. If one of the cards isn't added completely and properly, it all falls apart and is, in essence, useless.

The last part is the concept of power. There are as many opinions on power as there are people, but for me, honestly, power comes from practice and from understanding. Not from amassing great amounts of energy or casting the most complex ritual magic there is. Because honestly, if you don't know how to deal with the energy, it's about as effective as stabbing someone with a feather and expecting them to be wounded. Not to be snarky. That's just how it works for me. I know magic, but I am no master. There is a lot I haven't tried, haven't read about, haven't learned. I might be able to clear my mind in a short time compared to some, and I may be able to will people to get out of my aura or room, or to prevent them from entering my space in general, but it means nothing. I still do not believe I have that much power -- I need practice. Always. It's a constant thing. I might be less of a novice than others, and that is fine. Power is equivalent to practice in my experience. Once you practice a certain spell enough...for example, just my barrier so the uninvited people can't enter my room... it becomes second nature. You don't have to focus as much to get the results you require. That is power. But know also you may be pit against someone with more practice behind them. If that happens, you learn. Always learn from whatever happens. Do your best if they intend harm -- because usually if you have the total conviction I spoke of earlier, your best may be enough. Never be shaken to doubt that. That ability in itself is also power. It's easier said than done, of course. And we are all only human -- we will all have moments where doubt weaves in, but you still do your best. That's all you can do.

That's my take on magic, and that's how I've come to understand it. As I learn new ways that magic works or different way energies can manifest, I gain new insight and new understanding. With each new insight, I am all at once back to square one -- back to being a novice at that particular skill. Just like with anything else, metaphysical or not. Again, practice and study helps. Weaving witchcraft into your life instead of keeping it separate helps the skill. I know that's not always possible. I am not an expert and my way is not the only way. But here is what I know, and I hope it helps those who are trying to wrap their heads around these concepts.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Another Day, Another Inspiration

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Today is another of those days where I will need more coffee than I thought to get from 11:00am all the way through to whenever I decide to finish working/writing and go sleep. But I don't mind that one bit.

I feel a bit more inspired today, which is great -- I haven't in a couple of days. Though it's not as sunny as I would like it to be for jewelry photography, it is a bit brighter. AND I HAD AN IDEA!
I'm working on Chapter IV of my story, "A Harrowing Path." I am not well versed in much of the Celtic mythology. I have been studying the Norse pantheon for a very long time -- almost half of the entire time I've identified as a Pagan. But I think if I take the time to familiarize myself with some of those stories and archetypes -- it would prove to be very refreshing. I write a lot of fantasy inspired poetry, and often tie in little Norse details here and again. If I study a bit more in depth into the mythology and really get to know the pantheon's names like I do for the Norse, then it would be like a fresh breeze over my writing.

We get to a point sometimes where new is fantastic, but seems like a terribly large task to tackle. Even something so little as to pick up a new set of myths can be great. To a normal person, it may be just a different story. To a Pagan, especially an eclectic, it means a great deal more. It's like an addition to the self. I know I lean more towards Heathenry. And I know a few basic stories (like the one of Lugh and Balor, for instance. I tell that every year on Lughnasadh.) in the Celtic tradition -- but delving deeper and looking at it in more of a scholarly way will be nothing but beneficial.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Too Grey

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I know in New York the weather can be pretty strange. Yesterday, my Dad got snowed in, for instance. But today, when we went out to get groceries, all the snow had pretty much melted. My roommate said once (which I believe was a quote from a meme) "Welcome to Oswego, where the weather is made up and the seasons don't matter!" -- and that, my friends, is the truth.

So today, even if it is warmer, it's not the best of days. The sky is grey, and it has been really hard to be motivated enough to do much of anything -- including blog. I have a few projects in front of me, and I'd much rather stare out the window and watch the icicles melt. Seriously. It's that bad today.

I should be used to the lack of sunlight. It's the middle of winter, and hey -- I live in Oswego for most of the year. But it's affecting me today. In spite of this crappy blog post, which I won't be sharing all over the internet, despite the fact that I have indeed written something today, I will be making some jewelry. Might as well.

So wish me luck to write better tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Subtle Heroics

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It is a good thing I hadn't found time to sit down and write a blog today, because I found something I had to write about almost instantly when I saw this image on tumblr this afternoon:

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This was today -- I had been at the grocery store with my parents, thinking up a storm of ideas for my shorter work, some poems, some jewelry and even a bit of a character description for my novel. I was pretty much spaced out for the entire trip -- having only gone out for lack of conditioner. I was writing, without actually writing.

Did you know there was a time when I was all set to go to art school and become an art teacher? That I spent all but one year of my high school career trying to build a decent portfolio? Even then, senior year final project in painting class was a giant mural tile -- a map of Middle Earth.

This isn't by any means my life story. It just is part of the path I'm on, and paved the way to where I will eventually be.

When I was seven years old, my uncle gave me two books that he had. One was an old, battered copy of "The Hobbit" and the other was a copy of "The Silmarillion" with a cover that was ripping at the binding. He told me one day, they would be important to me. Turns out he was right. Eventually I did give him his copy of "The Silmarillion" back -- I was too young to really understand it. But I read "The Hobbit" so much, that by the end of that next year, my parents felt bad, or something. They replaced it with a boxed set of "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit."

I began writing in those early years, and I think my parents and Grandpa still have some of the stories I wrote. I won a young author's award twice while in elementary school. Both for poems -- and how else would I have been introduced to poetry at such an age? Think about it. I once got my entire class involved in a story -- they were all characters. I'm sure some of the more mean girls weren't actually as thrilled as my close friends, but nevertheless, they couldn't be left out. I never stopped writing. My first art works were in relation to stories I had written -- they were my characters, only painted or drawn out.

As I moved through the tough year between being utterly unable to attend art school and getting into SUNY Oswego, I stopped with art. I stopped meditating. I barely glanced at my own altar, which had gotten shoved off into a corner to make room for the art supplies. I was depressed to the point where I barely enjoyed coffee. I would go through the robotic motion of getting up, going to work, coming home, eating, showering and sleeping, only to rinse and repeat. I didn't read. The worst of it was that I didn't write. Not a word for months. I was a shell of myself, looking down at her and screaming. Only my body wouldn't listen. She was listless, walking and talking -- maybe laughing her then-insincere laugh or smiling with that deadness in her eyes. She felt nothing. She was numb to the concerns of other people. Her feet hurt, and that was about it -- she was a cashier. A lowly cashier at the local grocery store, and that was all she would ever be ... even though I screamed down at her that she was more than that, she wouldn't listen. She felt stuck and couldn't see past that darkness -- not at first.

With some great effort I decided doing nothing was not enough for me. I remembered that I was bored -- that there was more in life I was missing. That I was probably destined for greater things at one point. That maybe my old ways weren't delusions of grandeur. I began reading "Lord of the Rings," (mostly because I knew the story well and could so easily lose myself in it,) and decided I should be remembering to meditate again. My after-work time ceased to be spent watching stupid television shows or scrolling aimlessly around the internet. The friends came back from college -- their words reminded me just how important I actually was -- how much the world needed me to be me. I came out my daze bit by bit and returned to my body, and applied to school -- and with my applications, I sent in the first poem I had written in so long. I applied not for Art, but for English. I wrote with shaking hands, but the words never left me. I hid them, but they didn't leave. So I wrote, and I read, and I kept my head above the water just a bit.

I got rejected from two colleges, (even though they responded to me before February,) and was starting to slip again back into hopelessness. My friends' winter breaks were over, and I was alone again. I was a number punched into a time clock -- and the only attention that was ever paid was if I went over fifteen minutes on my paid breaks or not. This was still during the time where I would look into the mirror and wish that it was all just a terrible nightmare. That I would wake up and be someone else who wasn't that fat or that ugly or that useless or that unimportant.

But in early March just after I had turned 19, Mom handed me a letter marked SUNY Oswego. I remember the day like it was yesterday -- not because of any one thing, but because I KNEW by day's end, that I had reached some sort of turning point. Something finally gave. So, I had just finished reading "The Two Towers" and was walking in to pull the next book off of my shelf. I sighed, because small letters usually meant a resounding "no" in terms of college. The acceptances always send along big packets. I felt my stomach twist up, and tears burn. At least there were tears there. Last time, I had only torn up the rejection and stormed away. But I opened Oswego's letter. And there it read "Welcome to [SUNY] Oswego! Congratulations Kathleen!" among other things on that heavy, off-white, important-looking paper, with the dark green ink -- and I remember my hand flying to my mouth as tears blurred my vision. I hugged my Mom, who wondered aloud if it was another rejection. When I told her it wasn't, she cried too. I was accepted, and finally, I was enough.

So things changed -- and I changed. I was reattached to my body and steered her in the right direction. It has taken years to recover from that rock bottom. It is one thing to say "I am a positive, optimistic person who believes in radical self-love" and quite another to exemplify it. I feel as though I have gotten so far in the nearly four years since that day. I got to college, and started working on my major -- and the words were still there. I wrote. But I never was serious about my artwork the same way I had been ever again -- and still, though I paint and draw on occasion, I shy away from that sort of expression in favor of writing. In my second semester of college, I added a Creative Writing major. A year later, I took an English class that centered around Tolkien's work. I still haven't given up, or backed away from this obstacle -- this "college thing." And I never will, not with how hard it was to get here to begin with.

I grew up with the imagination and reading skill of someone much older than me, I think. It started with "The Hobbit," of course. I can thank Tolkien for his work a million times, but he will never know the true extent and power of his words. In subtle ways, he can be thanked as the reason I grew up as well as I did. He can be thanked twice for inspiring my work that got me into college. He can be thanked time and again for inspiring work that I've written for those college classes. He can be thanked for using Norse Mythology in his works in such a noticeable fashion that even I was intrigued to research it, and thus change my perspective and pagan path just so. But most of all, I can thank him for writing no matter what was going on around him. He went through times where people were not on his side. Where his genre and work were all but scoffed. Where times were so tough that in order to continue his craft, he had to write in the trenches during WWI. Despite whatever darkness, he still managed to continue being creative. And I can't think of a reason why that isn't inspiring, even just a bit. Did he himself pull me out my of depression? No. I did that part. But reading and writing helped so much. And when I was a child, I read and wrote because of his work. I am on this path now because of his subtle heroics. Though I can type "thank you," or cry at images like the one above -- I can never thank him enough. Where would I be now if not for all of this?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Spirits of Things

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I have spoken often on how you have to make your own symbolism in order for anything on an altar to be of importance to your own craft. If you think about it -- your altar probably has no meaning to anyone else. Mine sits in the living room while I'm home. It's on a table that is pretty old and pretty awesome -- but I'm sure sometimes it just looks like a bunch of random junk. Especially to those who wish to clean or organize it, but I refuse to allow them to touch anything.

Sometimes we gather things straight out of nature, or somehow come across something that was. I have antlers, feathers, dried lotus pods and a pine cone. Some people use them as curios -- which can be bones of animals long passed when they were found, among other things. I'm of a mind that certain things that like carry the spirits of the creatures they came from. It isn't always that way, I don't think -- but certainly there are times when I've heard strange things around others' altars.

I think sometimes if you are meant to find a curio from a specific creature with a guiding spirit still attached, then you must find a way to keep it with you. Maybe take the time to listen or understand why the spirit is contacting you. It may be linked to something personal for you -- it could be a physical representation of a past omen, or a power animal, spirit guide or animal totem. You never know.

But one thing I have been aware of for a while is that if you are meant to hear the spirits of things, then it is absolutely something to pay attention to. Not that we all know the answers as to why -- but nothing is coincidental. So keep an eye out and an ear open -- you never know what you'll find.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Creating Your Own Symbolism

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If you've read my tumblr at all in the past week, it's been a mass of both witchcraft posts and parrot pictures. I might be slightly obsessed -- but hey -- few things bring me such joy as pet birds and paganism.

I've been working on spell bottles that I think will make really interesting necklaces. They began as feather curios bottles that were collected from what our pet birds molted off. I spent the next few weeks observing and researching. What magic was held in these feathers? What did they symbolize? Sure, I did look up as much as possible on classical symbolism and spells that use feathers -- but, none of them were tailored specifically to what I was looking for. Not a spell in the constructions that I make use of meant the same thing as when parrot feathers would be used. I did not rule out Australian Aboriginal mythology -- but their ways belong to them, and I believe I have no place meddling with forces and spirits that I have barely researched and have no true connection to.

|The curios bottles|

So I came to a point in my spellcrafting where I had to figure out my own symbolism. So I observed -- and I think I harp on the importance of really observing quite a bit on this blog -- until I came to some conclusions. We have three types of parrots, two of which would be classified as parakeets. We have a Lovebird, a Conure and three Budgies. Each species of bird, obviously, will act differently based on their natures.

 I find the Lovebird is about protecting itself, but still loving unconditionally. He wants to interact with everyone and everything, but when he is settled in his cage, you have to pay attention to him. His feathers are blue, black, green and pink -- along with some iridescence in some of the primary flight feathers. His feathers will be used in a charm for Self Esteem and Self Love, in combination with various herbs and gemstones. The Conure is about being loud and being understood. She makes sure she is the center of attention and her ways need to be understood -- or else. Her feathers that fit in the bottles are grey and red, with yellow and green now and again. Her feathers symbolize excellent communication. The Budgies, while all having their own personalities, are all about community and friendship. They are not related, as they were bought at different places at different times, but they still have made strong bonds with each other. Their feathers are yellow, blue, green and white (and even any combination of the aforementioned for one of them.) Their feathers symbolize friendship, community, connections and memories.

So for the spells, I have decided to research metaphysical properties of certain herbs and small gems that I have with me, and now the curios bottles will certainly become spell bottle necklaces. I have a bit of work to do to get them as I envision -- not to mention the actual spell work can't be done in huge batches -- but I think it seems more complete now. The more you make your own symbolism and write your own spells, the more personal they are. That means the energy you expend into casting them will reflect -- all that effort and time will make the magic that much more powerful.

So take a moment and rethink how you approach symbols and spells. Why not create some of your own if you can?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Myriad of Mythologies

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I'm reading another version of the Norse mythologies at the moment -- along side a book on Rune lore. That, and I'm attempting to enjoy a book by an author I've never read before. So far, I'm interested in it, but not sold as I was for "A Game of Thrones" by George R. R. Martin and "The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss. The former authors are, in my opinion, so awesome that it would be a good idea to give others a chance before finishing off more novels by either one of them.

But back to the Mythology. As much as I love the Eddas and continually browse through them in attempts to be granted great wisdom, (and it does happen. Don't look at me like that!) I think it is really fun to read interpretations written out in a novel-esque format. The author I am reading now really does keep it to sound like the oral tradition of storytelling as opposed to a written, poetic approach.

This way kind of isolates the story itself from the myriad of symbols the original prose and poetry contain. While the core symbols remain true, the stories themselves are removed from the grand concepts and instead those are rewritten as "morals of the story" -- in most cases.

Each version of the mythologies as interpreted by different authors gives a new sort of insight -- because we are human, and so we are biased to some degree. What is important to one author may not be to another author -- so the wording changes. The symbols are reduced or combined in different ways. The interpretation of research differs, and so names and events in their respective retelling may be shifted just so.

I've been glancing through an "academic" version of the Arthurian Legends and would love to rewrite those one day in modern-day novel form too -- and I know it would never be the same as the others, which I do also enjoy. The point is, Myth and Legend still continue to inspire so much of who we are and how we create -- be that writing, singing, painting...what have you. Each interpretation is nevertheless completely different. So what began as the central myth now is a myriad of mythologies due to the way each person views their world.

I don't know about you, but I think the concept is endlessly fascinating.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Witch's Familiar

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First, I want to apologize for taking a day off on blogging -- my parents decided to put away the Christmas decorations -- and that costs a lot of energy and will power. Sometimes it becomes a little irritating to work with people who become easily angry when things don't fit together just right or come apart exactly so... I was left feeling entirely uncreative, and being that it was late in the day, it was all I could do to pay attention to someone speaking. I'm back though, and I'm hoping I can pick up from here. Let me tell you -- it was a strange day, not writing a single thing. I don't recommend it.

So for this post, I want to discuss something that tends to be incredibly vague in books and in research -- and I think it is mostly because each account is a personal experience -- and that is acquiring a familiar.

|I thought of this first, too. Ahah.|

There are some assumptions we make -- first, that familiars are going to be cats. This is not the case. Second, if we want a familiar, we will get one. Not so -- it usually isn't up to the witch which spirits and familiars need to aid them at a specific time.

So let's basically define what a familiar is -- according to me, a familiar is an animal on the same physical plane as the witch with a strong spiritual attachment. A witch may be able to understand their familiar as if they speak the same language, and vice versa. A familiar can display extraordinary abilities or tendencies -- or appear alongside the witch on their astral travels. They can seem "smarter" than ordinary, or particularly attached to the witch in a household that may have many other people. They may also have no problem being in ritual space and probably won't cross out of the circle/sacred space, but would have no problem crossing in to join you. In short, this will be a witch's pet with a very strong spiritual connection to the witch, to the point where that connection is almost tangible.

Is there a difference between a familiar and the pet of a witch? Sometimes. Can a witch have more than one familiar? Sometimes. Can you cast a spell to call your familiar? Sometimes. Is your familiar always an animal? Mostly, but no -- not always. Can pets living with a witch change in weird ways? Absolutely. Do I know everything about the subject? NOT. AT. ALL. So feel free to correct me or add on to this.

Let's first dwell on how a witch might acquire a familiar. Some of my favorite tumblr stories are the ones where a pagan blog posts about finding theirs. And the term I use is finding, but it is really the opposite way. The familiar finds them. The ones I always stop to read have to be the ones where a sweet stray cat absolutely waltzes its way into the life of the witch -- at first, it just seems like any other stray, until the witch goes outside. Then, it doesn't act skittish or fearful -- it doesn't hide. It takes its place right next to the witch and walks with them. Then, of course, the witch slowly begins to make this crazy connection and soon -- even though the stray could go anywhere in the world, it would rather stay right there, and will for the rest of its mortal life.

I don't know about spells used to call familiars -- but I have heard of them. I feel like they are more along the lines of guides -- you will reach a specific point in your life where they are needed, and they will appear only then. I am not going to be quick to say that I have a familiar. I'm less likely to believe that I do, as opposed to connecting very well with certain animals -- and I'll explain:

Witch's pets, and I say this from experience, do end up being very strange and very smart. People think of cats mostly, but my parents' cats are not familiars. Not to me. In living with me, they've become nothing less than eccentric. But, they aren't technically my pets -- I do not take care of them when I am away at school. I have three parakeets though... those are always with me. Two of which have been with me for just about a year now. Think about pet store birds. I know you've seen them. Merrily cheeping and jumping about -- scared to death of humans putting their hands near the cage. You may have had one as a child -- and unfortunately, it refused to have anything to do with people and did derpy things once the cage was opened like flitting around the room and clinging to curtains high above the tallest person's reach...For me, it only took three weeks or so to tame down the first one -- before the second one arrived. The second one only needed about four minutes of my time to trust me. The newest one is leery still, but much younger than the others were when I got them. He's been sitting with me. It took about a day. 

The birds are strange now. They have attitudes that are just a bit more pronounced than other birds I've met.They don't seem to function on "eat food and don't get eaten" motives in certain cases -- for instance, at school they live with two witches. They constantly do all they can to troll my roommate. They love her to pieces and remember, even after the long summer and winter breaks, her voice and mannerisms. They remember when she was supposed to wake up last semester and let her know she shouldn't oversleep. With me, they've remembered a few words (Gimli has said Crazy Birdies to his reflection in the armoire twice in my presence) and sound effects (Quill makes a kiss sound, which takes a whole-body effort, and Gimli has remembered the beat to my laundry alarm -- Pirates of the Caribbean theme.) This is not to say that other birds can't do these things -- but they react to my own voice and energy differently, even though they love people in general. They love their own cage, to be sure, but they've made a point to jump on to my shoulders on my worst days. On their own accord. And my better days --?  They just sit with the cage door open daring me to bother them. They've found ways to distract me after hours of homework. They've composed songs they play at certain times of day with certain bells on certain toys -- but not on others. They play the cover of their food dishes like a drum for certain songs. They reacted to a couple of spirits and a deity that were present during some of my workings. And, last, but not least -- when I do not speak my words for magic, they are there to sing. When I speak my spells, they keep their beaks closed.

Are these birds familiars? I wouldn't say so. Will I eventually find one? I may. I may not. I don't see it as my choice -- but my fate. But they are strange. They live differently, and we can't do without one another -- and that is enough, I suppose.

What do you guys think of the idea of Familiars? Do you have any strange pets? How and why? Feel free to share.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Silmarillion Inspired Shenanigans

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I love birds. I think that becomes apparent sometimes on my Tumblr -- I'll go on sprees of reblogging all birds, any birds... especially parrots. I have been caring for two sweet budgies named Quill and Gimli for just over a year now, and I love them to bits and pieces.

Well, today -- I went to the local Petco in order to get more food for my parakeets and to say hello to the ones that unfortunately have to stay there in the store until they're picked by some good owners. There was this one beautiful baby, and not a single other bird looked anything like him. I wasn't there to get another bird. I have to say that at my Petco -- the birds are actually loved and looked after -- maybe not cared for as well as I would like, but still much better than other places. But anyway, I didn't intend on rescuing this baby, but my sister weaseled me into it. This baby bird is perfect, I swear:

See what I mean? He's singing to Paramore's "The Only Exception" here.
So, I caved. And I saved him from the pet store. He's been home for just about 3 hours now, and is already making friends with Quill and Gimli. He's been playing and singing, and everyone's sharing. He hasn't been knocked off of a perch or away from food or water. I had them out of the cage for a while, and he was preened by Gimli, and sat on my shoulder. He's still a little timid, but it'll take a few weeks to build up the level of trust I have with the other two.

All seems well.

Anyway, I've named him Ollie, which is short for Olórin. That would be Gandalf's original name as written in Tolkien's "The Silmarillion." I believe Ollie is a Recessive Pied Skyblue Yellowface (Type II) and maybe even a dilute -- we're waiting on the first adult molting. Because Quill is a recessive and Ollie's cere is the same color as Quill's -- we're almost sure it's a he. Even if not, the bird will be Ollie, short for Olórin either way. Just out of respect for Gandalf, of course.

That's the news for today, folks! Wish me luck with training him!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Matter of Perception

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There's a certain stillness to winter that we seem to perceive. I've been fighting a cold lately, but usually I would be out in the weather observing things, at least for a short while. The truth of the matter is there is no such stillness. Have you ever witnessed anything  beginning to freeze? Maybe the small puddle of water that formed from a melting icicle? In some sort of endless cycle, while one source of water melts, another freezes. And if you look close enough, the water moves as it freezes.

If you look at the scene as a whole, you may ignore the almost invisible movements going on all around. You see a scene you could paint -- and it freezes in your mind as such. Even in a macro photograph, the movement of what is captured is forgotten.

Many metaphysical things can be viewed in much the same way. I am guilty of looking at things from a perspective that made things much more difficult to fully understand. I take a lot of what I read academically and frustrate myself the instant it makes no sense or when there are no "examples" to follow for practical experience -- or even more so when there is no way to tell if what I put into practice is "right." That point of view is ignoring that things are moving and changing. However difficult it is, I would have to see the topic as something flexible, for no two minds are exactly alike. We may manifest our understanding all in different ways.

I speak of trying to focus on developing my clairaudience into a skill, rather than a gift/curse. I have a theory that the reason why visualization of energy work or actually seeing spirits is difficult for me is because I have always heard these things. If I can focus just enough, I may be able to pick out the differences between hearing A.) A Spirit (which I can already distinguish between human and non-human, but that's the extent of it) B.) Energy for magic moving through my space C.) Natural sources of raw energy (Like in crystals, but I feel that more than hear it... I may be able to focus enough to hear it, though.) D.) Living people's energy, present or distant, in my astral space. And E.) What I'm barely introduced to in "energy work" to be pieces of "constructs" -- shields happen to be a part of that.

I think once I can develop the skill enough to have sounds specific to each category instead of just different frequencies and volumes of electric-like buzzing, it may be easier to determine if I have done anything "right." Of course the whole "being right" thing is really just a matter of perception. No matter what questions I may ask or how insecure about a lesson I am, whoever is teaching me -- be it a text block on a website or an actual person -- can only give me the information as they have perceived it and made use of it. If it has to work differently for me, I first have to be the one to believe firmly enough in my skills, gifts and knowledge to trust that I could very well be "right" and be willing to work from that point.

Things are constantly in movement in real life -- in nature. There is no stillness. If you want to work with nature, you probably need to shift out of "photograph" mode and into "observation" mode -- however beautiful and artistic a clear-cut picture is, the movement of life is lacking in that representation -- and that's really what is needed to really build your skills from. Just like a textbook can only do so much to teach you -- a narrow mind frame can only learn so much. If I shift perspectives and begin again with a broader process of learning, I may figure these things out yet.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Project -- A Harrowing Path

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The title is kind of tentative, I think. But I have started a new project, which will be a bit of shorter work, I believe...I can't really know how far I'll take this idea right now. But the original goal was that it would be a much shorter work than my novel.

A Harrowing Path is set in a post-apocalyptic society, but not so ravaged as some other portrayals of such a society could be. It begins in Pennsylvania (I would say...Birdsboro maybe, but I didn't specify, since their world is falling to bits and I personally haven't been there technically speaking...) -- in the woods outside of Lancaster. The more rural area suffered the poison later than the cities would -- and the reader would know from context that the poison is a result of nuclear fallout in the air and water -- and many people with compromised immune systems couldn't survive for extended periods of time exposed to dense concentrations of it.

We focus on the remnants of a witch's coven. As the society falls apart, and the Earth dies beneath their feet -- their leader returns, unable to travel again. As she dies, she implores that the remaining three take her son and go north -- for the farther north they went, the less the Earth has died.

The trick here is that they are witches, all of them -- including the leader's son. Along the way, they encounter brutal situations, horrible greed and evil, and face death, disease and injury in the most vile ways possible. But while this realm waits to die, the Other Side -- a realm where real magic is law -- grows more powerful. Having been taught that magic is of the earth and found in earth-based materials, the witches believed that any grandiose show of magic was just part of fairytales -- but they alone discover the truth -- that it is all part of the same force. They cross into the Other Side at different points in the journey, changing perspectives forever. Can their realm even be saved? Is it worth the struggle to stay there where they technically belong?

I won't give away the ending or anything about the characters -- but that is the new project and I am happily putting pen to paper (in a beautiful floral journal, ironically) to get these words out in a rough sketch. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Spirits of Water, Spirits of Ice

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I'm missing a number of things quite a lot right about now. A major thing is Lake Ontario, right behind the dorm I reside in when I attend school. There's two places where you can get closer to the water than just standing on the grass and looking down. One is the stairs that are located between our hall and the next. The other is a patch of grass that doesn't drop at a 90 degree angle directly behind our building. It slopes down gently, and while it doesn't exactly get very close -- as the stairs go right down to the shore -- it's generally much safer in the winter when the ice blocks crash and shatter on the shore.

Even though Oswego can be brutal with its temperatures, I would sit out there on that small slope and stare out at the water. There would be chunks of ice on the worst days floating and awaiting their fate. Depending on the weather I sometimes would not see much ice at all. Sometimes, the large chunks would gather up on the rocks of the shore and just sit there. They'd be miniature icebergs, constantly making sure that nobody with half a brain would even attempt to walk the shore.

Nature is a fantastic thing to behold, as we all should know. But there's something slightly more imperceptible to the average human. Out there on the lake, there are tiny water elemental spirits. They chatter amongst themselves and show me images of waves and sea birds pacing back and forth in the midst of seaweed and algae-- during the brightest, warmest summer days, no matter what time of year it is. During ritual out on the shore, they gather by the western mark -- a blue LED candle most of the time. I cannot see them, but I heard them from the first time I spent a moment out on the shores. Once they realized I could hear them, they did whatever they could to make themselves known to me. At first they weren't so brave. They would keep a distance. But there was one who had no problem with me or my aura or even my shield. They just refused to leave the general proximity of the shore.

When I was a Freshman, I admit to not spending a lot of time down at the lake in the Winter. It was enough to get used to how cold it was and how the climate of upstate New York forced me to change my entire perspective on what "bad weather" actually was. It was last winter, Sophomore year, that I noticed a different sort of water elemental spirit. I stood at the edge of my then-newly-discovered ledge of snow on rock and pine needles overlooking the water. I saw the larger chunks of ice floating on the water. The wind was calm, but the temperature was nearly unbearable. I pulled my scarf up over my nose, and I remember my eyes still watered from how cold it was right there by the water. I closed them, and focused on the spirits that were usually around me; around that area of the lake. That was when I heard them for the first time. Distinctly feminine voices beyond the buzzing, in a strange melody without words. They were eerie, but calm -- not as excitable as the normal water elementals that I came to the lake specifically to encounter. They demanded respect without overwhelming my sense and ability. Their energy moved so much more slowly, making the initial buzzing a lot lower in tone than the others. Not only that, but there was no hint to the voices beyond that of any masculine energy whatsoever. I focused just a bit more, and when they realized that I was attempting to reach out, they answered. Not the "Hey, my name is --" sort of answer -- as I don't speak their language. I hear their buzzing and they show me images. My mind interprets what they say as if it can understand and my ears can't. I was shown glaciers, and drifts of light, powdery snow. I felt a strong wind on my face and a cold that cut straight through all of my layers and settled right into my bones. I saw, almost in fast-forward, water caught between some shore rocks freezing over. I saw the layout of a snowflake as it fell and hit the water. These spirits were water elementals -- but they were spirits of ice. If they could be compared to the phases of life as portrayed by the idea of a triple goddess -- the ice spirits were the crones. They held in them an understanding of the cycle of life -- the importance of seasons. They would have to thaw eventually, and be reborn in another form -- but they accepted such fate. All that power they carried in them -- all the energy that had the potential to move and be used by them -- was frozen. It was as close to the process of "spirit death" as could possibly conceived. (Does that even exist? The elementals seemed so immortal to me.) It was as though these beings were phoenixes of sorts -- sure that once they thawed, they would live their lives again as they once were.

I know there are many ways that elemental spirits manifest themselves. These two examples, while both water, are completely and utterly different, while still being part of a whole. I've met fire spirits, tiny and hyperactive, and felt the spirit of a fire, like a heart or a core of energy. The air elementals can be the most loyal protectors, or the most destructive forces that shape weather. Earth spirits I have never met in the same manner as I have met the water elementals. I know the feeling of the heart of a tree -- and that is close.

I can't wait until I can get back to Lake Ontario -- which might be the entire reason I even found SUNY Oswego, to begin with. I love the school, and love my major -- but the real reason I need to go back as soon as possible is the earth -- that specific patch of earth -- beneath my feet. I belong there, just the same as those elemental spirits do.