Friday, February 27, 2015

Wandering Witch… How I started

I sometimes wish I had an awesome story for how I wandered into Witchcraft. I’ve heard stories of people who could always hear the voices of their Gods or Goddesses, of being directed by their Witch Great Grandmother into the path, of being chosen by somebody of great importance in the path. Unfortunately for all of us my story is rather well… ordinary. It was a bit of a slow progression. Growing up both my parents followed some Christian traditions, like having a manager up at Christmas (right next to the ceramic Santa), having a Bible in the house etc. However we never went to church or actually read said Bible (other than at Christmas). Easter was more about the Bunny than Christ and we didn’t do any kind of prayer.
My Grandparents on my father’s side are devoutly Catholic and taught me about their faith but only when I asked. My Grandmother took me to Mass when she went if I asked her if I could come too. When I asked her about her Rosary she taught me how to use one and gave me one of hers (I can still actually do the Rosary by memory and still have the one she gave me tucked away). I went to Catholic school for most of elementary and middle school because they had the best French Immersion program. I didn’t know anybody of any other faith groups and so I spent much of my youth thinking that Christianity was just the religion (although I was vaguely aware of Judaism). In high school I dated a conservative Christian for a while and tried to follow his faith. It wasn’t that it was bad, I still like a lot of things I learned as a Christian, it’s just that it didn’t fit.

After he and I broke up and I stopped going to Church I never actively looked for a new religion, I was more focused on figuring out what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I researched colleges and programs, and immersed myself into reading. I remember the books I first read that opened my mind to the possibility of magic, the books I read that featured a Mother Goddess (wait… the divine can be female?!?). I had always been interested in mythology but for some reason it wasn’t until my last year of high school that it clicked with me that these myths were once part of a religious system (ok so I was a little thick).
While I worked to save money for college I began to meet people from different faiths. I asked some questions about their religions and read up what I could. I then became a leader in my youth group and realized how important it was that I learned everything I could about other faiths so that I could be a better leader. I however had not yet found a system that spoke to me. Then in college when I was introduced to Paganism and Witchcraft, thanks in part to a great set of boobs! No really, a great set of boobs got me into Witchcraft. How did that happen you ask? Want to know? Are you dripping with anticipation yet (probably not but I’m having fun). Ok, I’ll tell you!

When I started college I was a bit of a loaner. I had been badly hurt growing up and had a very small circle of friends, most of whom I had met through my youth group and a few at high school. I worked for a year after high school before going to college so I had drifted away from many of the friends I had and the ones I was still in touch with either went to a different college or were in totally different program from me. So for the first weeks I spent all my time sitting in a quiet corner of the college, trying to look all cool and grown up, and not looking as panicked as I felt. 

One day I was sitting in a little corner reading one of my textbooks when I heard a female voice using terminology I only had ever heard used in my youth group, and the organization it was modeled after. Surprised to hear the terms I look up to the speaker and see this fairy like creature, with the sharpest and edgiest spiked and multi colored pixie cut I have ever seen. She wore skin tight jeans and a black sheer shirt with a lacy black bra underneath. Boldly tattooed across her boobs was feathers, like a bird’s wings and just beneath the bra line I could see the tattoo of a Celtic knot. I couldn’t help it, I began to stare, mesmerized by the wings as she spoke. After a long time I realized that I was being rude, got up and walked over to her.

“Hi, I’m the creepy chick who has been staring at your boobs for the last.. I don't know how long, nice tattoo... and no I'm not hitting on you”

“Hi, nice to meet you creepy chick! Thanks, the tattoo is in devotion to my Goddess.”

“Cool… wait Goddess?”

“Yeah, I’m Pagan”

She waved me into the seat next to her and after exchanging names and introducing me to the friend who sat beside her we talked. And then we talked some more. The next day after class she and her friend were there again and we talked a whole hell of a lot more. Later that week we went out for coffee. Little by little they both introduced me to their respective paths and lent me books to read. Eventually I got bold and bought a few books for myself. While I had no idea where the hell I would end up I knew I had found the beginnings of the right spiritual path for myself.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Redneck Rants - YOLO

I fucking hate YOLO…. Really fucking hate YOLO. Now for those of you who may not know YOLO means “you only live once”. The idea behind that, so I am told, is to remind people that they only have one life to live so live it up. The sentiment itself I don’t really have an issue with, I hear the sentiment often and read many inspiring quotes about it: “Carpe Diem” (Latin for “Seize the Day”) is the first that springs to mind. “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” - Oscar Wilde. “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” - Mae West. “The most important thing is to enjoy your life - to be happy - it’s all that matters.” - Audrey Hepburn. “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” - Abraham Lincoln.

Now I will grant you a few things… First of all “YOLO” is quick and easy to say and remember. And with the attention spans in our society at an all time low having something quick and easy to say and recognize saves time. Secondly “YOLO” is “hip and trendy”(something I am not) hip and trendy means it will be easily recognized and allow you an automatic in with a random group of strangers you need to impress. And finally I will grant you that “YOLO” is much shorter, and for people looking for a tattoo to remind them to live life to the fullest, while on a tight budget and a low tolerance for pain, it is a perfect fit.

Having said that, and sharing with you some quotes that express the sentiment that I actually enjoy and find inspirational, I still fucking hate “YOLO”. I hate “YOLO” because it is the embodiment of a self indulgent, narcissistic and callous culture that we seem to have been cultivating in some sections of our population. I have seen selfies of people in various exceptionally dangerous situations with the hashtag “YOLO” (for the record I hate selfies too but that is another rant). I have seen pictures taken by people doing exceptionally dangerous things and positing it to social media, again with the hashtag “YOLO”. And with some of these photographs we find out that a person was seriously injured or even killed shortly after posting that picture (usually from the exceptionally stupid thing they share, like drinking and driving!).

I have seen less drastic “YOLO” pictures, pictures where I know the person lived to see tomorrow… this time. I have seen pictures of binge drinking, pictures of playing stupid chicken games on highway’s and railroad tracks. I have seen picture of people smoking tobacco products and other products, I have seen lots of pictures of food and fashion, pictures of ladies with boobs hanging out, of men working out and showing off muscles, way too many duck faces and I have seen “Funeral Selfies” with the “YOLO” hashtage (and when the FUCK did that become a thing?!?!)

In my experience with the word “YOLO” embraces a very crass attitude of “screw the consequences, screw the people around me, I will do what I want”. This arrogance and narcissism pisses me off. There are people out there who love you, who want you to be safe, not binge drinking yourself into a coma because “YOLO”. In addition to that your actions will not only affect those whom love you most, but the first responders at the scene of your messy demise, who will have to carry the image of the results of your “YOLO” for the rest of their lives (PTSD rates amongst first responders vary but sit higher than the average population due to the nature of their jobs).

Like I said, the sentiment itself does not bother me. I encourage everyone to live full, happy and healthy lives. Save up and go on an awesome vacation, buy that special someone a gift just because, meet new and exciting people, try new things, take up hobbies, volunteer with a cause you find worthy, watch as many sunsets as you can and stargaze every time you step outside. The words of this are correct, you do only live once.

Even as a Pagan who believes that my soul will be born again on this world I know that right here, right now is amazing and precious. There will never be another person like me, with all my experiences, with all the people and animals I have filled my life with. Even if I have a billion lifetimes there will never be another like the one I have right here, right now. I know my life (and everyone else’s life) is a precious and rare thing in our universe, I am living a very full and very rich life. I am 31 years old and if I’m lucky I will live to be in my 80’s or 90’s. That means I have at most 50-60 years left, so precious little time to live a life that will never again happen. I am not throwing it away because of the “YOLO” attitude.

I will watch every sunrise and sunset I can, I will tell those around me I love them every chance I get, I will hold a friend’s hand when that person is hurt, and celebrate their successes as if they were the greatest thing ever accomplished. I will help people and animals, as many as I can. I will use the good towels (although maybe not the fine china since I tend to drop things when I trip over my own two feet). I will travel and see everything I can, I will learn new skills and new hobbies, I will do the things that scare me to better myself. I will remember the precious gift I have and will make sure that I do not squander it doing something immensely stupid. I will remember that every action I take has a consequence and will do my best to choose the actions that will bring the most joy and the least sorrow. I will live a great life for myself, and for those I love because they matter too.

Life is Awesome... and the Flu

Life is pretty awesome, the world is pretty awesome, and the universe is pretty awesome… don’t believe me? Ok. Count your fingers and your toes, now feel the bones, the ligaments in them, think about the little nerve endings that connect to your spinal cord into you brain… that’s awesome. Google “How Lungs Work” (do it, seriously it’s cool). Think about the fact that this little marble that we are sitting on is in just the right place between space and our sun to be able to support life without frying or freezing it non stop… that’s pretty awesome. Tonight when you go outside look up at the sky (fingers crossed that it’s a clear night and you will be able to get a glimpse at the stars). Now think about the stars, that the light from many of those stars are older than our solar system… and that many of those lights are from stars that are gone, and probably have been gone longer than our planet existed. That is pretty damn awesome isn’t it! Life is awesome… till you get the flu.

When you get the flu everything sucks! The world is too hot, too cold, too noisy and too quiet all at once. You get really messed up dreams and begin to seriously consider buying stock in ginger ale.. You don’t eat for days on end and wake up three days later wondering why the heck you could eat a whole cow all of a sudden. Then there is the coughing, the blowing the nose, the aches and pains racking the body and the water bill that will inevitably sky rockets from the thee baths a day you are taking. Then your husband gets sick too….

Now there is two of you laying in bed, alternating between too hot, too cold, too noisy and too quiet… and never at the same time. You begin to kick yourself for still not ordering stock in ginger ale. You begin to think that together you are single handedly causing the deforestation of the world from the amount of times you blow your nose. You have an argument over who is using too much of the precious cough syrup because neither of you want to drive the 20 minutes into town to hit up the pharmacy for more. The argument ends with both of you gasping together, clinging to the edge of the bed for dear life because sitting upright for that long is making you dizzy. You throw the covers off because it feel like you are sunbathing on Venus and he wildly scrambles to grab the covers because he is having a starbath on Pluto. The cats find you boring and cause one hell of a ruckus because you keep sleeping through their supper… until you look at he food dish and realize the little buggers have tricked you into feeding them three times that night.

The dogs keep trying to get you to play and then look at you all perplexed when you walk into a wall while trying to find the door (of the house you have lived in for three years). You forget to feed them but that’s ok because the half eaten package of crackers on your dresser is delicious and they found the trash bag you left in the sink (because you put it down and forgot it existed until a border collie brings some egg shells to bed to munch on). They are also ecstatic because you are at home, in bed, rubbing their bellies on a THURSDAY (it might as well be Christmas for them).

You alternate between getting up in the morning thinking “Ok, I can do this, I can get to work” to falling back into the bed thinking “dear Gods they are going to find me in this bed half dressed with my shirt on backwards and a floor I haven’t vacuumed all week!!!” You start writing your will and then decide to stop when you realize that you are leaving your complete works of William Shakespeare to the dog and are leaving the dog to Good Queen Bess. You cough so hard that you throw your neck out (OMGs am I really getting that old?!?). Then you sleep some more and wake up realizing that you actually can see straight and are able to walk in a straight line (“GODS BE PRAISED I’M GOING TO LIVE!!!!”)

After coming through to the other side and living through the 2 week flu I thought I would share my words of wisdom with the rest of the world (or the handful of lovely people who stop by for a read). First of all I strongly recommend before you even get sick have a supply on hand of cold tabs, ginger ale, chicken soup and crackers handy. Seriously, because having to go shopping when you are sick not only will spread your nastiness with the world, but also royally sucks. That and fantasizing about stuffing coupons up some random strangers nose while in the checkout line might be seen as somewhat dysfunctional. Also look up stocks in ginger ale just before cold and flu season…

Accept the way you and your spouse is while you are sick. My husband is not a people person when he is sick. He wants nothing more than to be left alone to sleep it off in peace. No matter how much I want to fuss over him and take care of him I can’t (it only makes him want to drown me in soup). I have to respect his needs for his own healing. I, on the other hand, am the biggest baby you will ever meet. I am very pathetic and want my soup, a hot bath, ginger ale, blanky and a back rub all at once. I also tend to ask a lot if I can die now and look/sound generally pathetic. When both of you are sick, be patient with each other as you each work your way to health.

Set alarms in your phone. No really, do it, especially f you have pets. I had to set alarms for feeding time for the cats otherwise I would wake up to them yowling like they were being eaten by a coyote, which does not improve one’s mood. In their defense they are both rescues and it took a lot of work for them not to be so panicky around when they would be fed. Also make sure to feed the dog when you feed the cat, garbage breath is not cool. And for goodness sake let them cuddle and love you. They are not stupid and know that you are not feeling well. They cannot make you better so they will do the only thing they can think of and smother you with their love.

Be careful what you watch and listen to. While I was sick I watched “The Hunt for Red October” on Netflix (good movie). I then watched “the Rock” based on the Netflix suggestion (not a bad movie). After that movie I was sleepy so I pressed play on my CD player, took some night time cold tabs and listened to the CD as I drifted to sleep… which turned out to be a mistake. The CD was a guided meditation CD for Chakra Cleansing (which I thought might help me kick the flu sooner). So for the next ten hours I dreamt of being on a submarine (and sometimes building a submarine), while looking for rockets that were loaded with Chakra orbs… by the end of the night I was really sick of god damned submarines!!! After that I stuck to kids movies (The Shrek series in particular. Oh and go watch the fourth Shrek movie, I loved it!)

And finally don’t overdo it. After four or five days I felt pretty good. I had some energy, could stop coughing for a few hours at a time and could breathe! The sun was shinning here in central Alberta and the snow on my deck was soft enough that I could actually shovel it all off. So taking advantage of the day I cleaned up the doggie deposits from the yard and shovelled the deck. While the deck looked great… I was exhausted and woke up feeling worse. I also tried to go back to work too soon; ever sorted through what you did at work while you were sick and wondered “Now why the hell did I do that”. Yeah, that was me reviewing my work during the first week of coming back from being sick. And sadly I have sick time banked, like over 300 hours of sick time. If you have the sick time, use it and stay sane! That week was the worst and probably delayed my recovery.

So take my advice, get your rest, take good care of yourself (consider seeing a doctor if symptoms persist) and in no time you will be back to looking up at the stars, while drinking your hot chocolate and feeling your lungs fill with air going “life is pretty awesome!”