Apr. 19th, 2019 07:07 pm
qos: (Odin with Raven)
I need to prepare for tomorrow's ritual (meditation and writing), but it's a rainy Friday evening and all I want to do is put on comfy clothes and snuggle in fuzzy blankets.

Odin: Who says you can't be cozy while you do your preparation?

Me: *hems. . . haws. . . mutters something about feeling intimidated.

Odin: This is literally work that you came up with, that you are creating as you go. There is no way you can do it 'wrong.' What do you have to be intimidated about?

Me: Well, if you put it *that* way. . . .
qos: (Arwen Mourning)
I found out yesterday afternoon that an LJ friend, tamnonlinear, committed suicide three years ago. 

I didn't know her well. We never corresponded outside of comments on each other's blogs, but she was always a cheerful presence. She loved the ballad Tam Lin, and managed a site that was a treasure house of different versions of the tale, art, commentary, and etc.

I found out because I saw a Tam Lin post on Tumblr yesterday, which made me think of her. I googled "tamnonlinear" and saw a Tumblr account. I also saw an LJ memorial tribute entry. I was stunned. Her last Tumblr posts were queued before she took her own life. One was a goodbye note and one was a plea for someone to adopt her beloved cats. 

I pray that she has found peace and healing beyond the Veil.
qos: (Light candle)
Johnny Cunningham was one of the great modern folk fiddlers and founding member of Silly Wizard. I came to know and appreciate him only after his death, but was deeply moved by the stories I heard about him. I made my first (and so far only) tribute video using the song "King Neptune," written and performed by Casey Neill, a local folk singer and composer who had worked with Johnny. Yesterday, Casey found my video and left this comment: "Thank you for making this. It means the world. Should be noted that that's Phil Cunningham on piano and accordion. Miss him so." I was overwhelmed that he had seen and was grateful for what I had done with his music. And yes, I added the information about Phil (Johnny's brother) to the info about the video.


I wish this created a preview. . . .


Apr. 11th, 2019 09:27 am
qos: (Odin with Raven)
I feel like I've been circling Odin for the past few years. Twice I've experienced Him striding into my consciousness (years ago), but He's never pushed or claimed in the potent way many have described. I have a statue of Him in my shrine, and I know I've been in touch with Him multiple times, including getting some very clear messages in the past few months. But I still didn't feel really connected to Him.

Two days ago I started reading Wayland Skallagrimsson's "Odin's Way in the Modern World."

Yesterday I read a passage that made me strongly suspect The Old Man has been part of my life for much, much, much longer than I'd ever suspected.

Then I started getting mental impressions of a puzzle piece joining His image and mine together. 
Which is indeed a "connection."

I'm still processing all this.

I'm both delighted and off balance.
qos: (Magdalene QoS)
I wrote yesterday about my sudden realization that I've been succumbing to the challenge of the Watcher at the Threshold rather than recognizing and overcoming it. 

This article about the "not nice" things which can come up in yoga practice seems to be relevant for any spiritual path which values honesty and authentic growth. . . .

The Yoga of Darkness (excerpts below, full article at link)

Here is the thing. Yoga is not about bliss, but about honesty. Spirituality is not certainty, but the longing of the heart. Enlightenment is not ‘letting go’ of bad feelings, but understanding them, what they’re doing to us, and how they are expressed in the body. Non-harming and forgiveness are not about feeling generous or big enough (bigger than and condescending), but knowing the difficulty of right actions and assuming responsibility for the difficult. Forgiveness often comes directly out of acknowledging how bloody bitter we are. Love is not joy, all the time. Sometimes, love hurts. Love is raw. Emotions are doorways, ways in. The goal is not to exist without shadows, to become so spiritual we no longer feel fat, bored, envious, or impatient. The goal is to swallow hard as we take on willingness to go into the dark.

The shadows will show up. Go there. Apathy, acedia, what Christian mystics called desolation, existentials call despair, moves when we move toward it. It isn’t the passage of time that heals us, but the passing through experiences.

qos: Cover art from "The Changeling" (Pagan Monasticism)
One of the most recent evolutions of my spiritual path is exploring Pagan monasticism. 

I've always felt drawn to cloistered life: a life spent focused on spiritual practice and devotion. When I was younger I suspected the attraction arose from my very early exposure to the cool nuns of "The Sound of Music," but when I finally recognized that I have a spiritual vocation, I began to suspect that it was an early indication of my path.

I never seriously considered joining a Christian convent, even when I was Christian. I was Protestant, had no interest in subordinating myself to men, or giving up sex. But I've continued to feel drawn to that lifestyle.

A few months ago I discovered that there is a small but growing group of Pagans who identify as monastics. There are two formal orders, but most are solitary practitioners. Some dream of creating monastic houses for communal living, other prefer to be hermits. Obviously Pagan monastics don't enjoy the support of a large institution, as Christian and Buddhist monastics do, so there's a fair amount of conversation about how to balance the vocation with the realities of making a living. Personally, I like the model of the Beguines, independent women who formed communities, often with their own homes, who engaged in trade and the professions to support themselves but were still strongly oriented to spiritual life and service to the poor.

I was fortunate to connect with Danica of Blackstone Hermitage, who is not only relatively local to me but shares some personal connections. Her site has a lot of information, and spending time with her feels like I'm receiving spiritual direction. Her apartment is set up as a shrine. It's immaculately clean, and most of it is focused on devotion. I want my own apartment to be like that: a space dedicated primarily to devotion and other spiritual work. 

I belong to two Pagan monastic groups on Facebook, and there are ongoing discussions about how to connect with each other and how to engage more with the wider community so they know we are here. I've decided that I'm going to focus on deepening this practice over the next few months, continue to learn, and then propose teaching a class about the subject at the next Pantheacon. Hopefully there will be others there who I can network with -- as well as connect with other folks I've met over the years, often through LJ, who I haven't seen in a long time.

Here's a post by Danica about her monastic practices.

qos: (Self Care)
My decision to take the retreat which I posted about yesterday is part of a sudden burst of energy to start practicing a higher level of self-care. 

I realized within the last day or two that I am suffering even more than I had realized from lack of touch. The only touch I get is when my adult daughter comes over and we snuggle on the couch while we read or watch tv together. It's lovely, and I'm grateful my daughter still wants that, but it's not the same as adult companion touch, even non-sexual.

I've also realized that I really, really want to be pampered and soak up the attention along with the touch. I am so depleted I don't feel capable of equal sharing. It's probably one reason my erotic energy is so low: I don't feel like I have any resources from which to give.

And it's challenging and complicated to get non-sexual touch as an adult. Seattle has cuddle parties, but I don't feel like going to an event like that. I Googled "sensual massage" and everything that comes up is advertisements by sex workers for male clients. I wish our culture allowed sexual and sensual services to be open and regulated, and that more were available for women.

So. . .  I tried other google combinations and ended up finding a male massage therapist whose website indicates a very thoughtful approach and training in energy work. I have an appointment with him tomorrow. I have a female friend (originally made on LJ) who is a massage therapist, and I'm in the process of scheduling a housecall from her. AND I reached out on FetLife to a single guy I've known for several years, who is a couple of decades younger than I am, who I saw was a member of a couple of cuddle groups. I invited him to an evening of non-sexual cuddling and movies ("Netflix and chill" in the current parlance -- but actually chilling) -- and he's responded enthusiastically, and told me he was honored that I would reach out to him. 

[I just realized that I'm having someone come over this Sunday morning and take away my much-loved (and slightly famous) purple comfy couch. It's over 15 years old and has become very worn. The fabric has pulled away from the back of the seat. The arms are sagging (from when Wolfling kept standing on them, despite my ongoing orders not to). I have a new couch coming next week, and need to make room for it. So no couch cuddling at my place for at least another week or so.]

It feels good to name and act on my needs like this. I've always thought I did a good job at self care, but the quality of that self care has declined a lot over the years. I have needed to move from self-numbing to actual pleasure and authentic relaxation. It's taken a long time discern what that looks like at this stage of my life.

Of course I really miss L&L's presences. LB was particularly good at massages with energy components. I've never known anyone better. LM (Lohain) was good, but didn't have that same talent. LM was good for deeply grounded relaxing-into-his-arms and feeling sheltered from the world. 

I realize that I haven't felt sheltered or protected since his death.
No wonder I feel so depleted.
qos: (Lamp in the Desert)
April 4 is the anniversary of the formation of the first truly co-ed masonic order.
My order, Universal Co-Masonry, is a descendent of Le Droit Humain.


– First Grand Lodge for Men & Women –

On April 4, 1893, the world’s first Freemasonic Grand Lodge dedicated to the Initiation of both men and women as equals, was consecrated in Paris, France by Georges Martin, Maria Deraismes, and fourteen others. This Grand Lodge was formed under the original name, “Grande Loge Symbolique Écossaise Mixte de France Le Droit Humain” ([MixedGender] Scottish [Rite] Grand Lodge of France, Human Rights), which was later changed to the current name, “The International Order of Freemasonry for Men and Women Le Droit Humain”.

For 126 years, L.D.H. has been at the Freemasonic forefront of progressive universality and open-inclusiveness. Not only was it the first Masonic Order to institutionally and constitutionally Initiate women into authentic Freemasonry, but it has also always accepted as members, people of good character and conduct, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, or sexual preference/ orientation. Even more, L.D.H. honors the absolute freedom of conscience, philosophy, religion, belief, and opinions of its members, all of whom truly come from all walks of life.

Today, Le Droit Humain has Lodges, Jurisdictions, and Federations in more than 50 countries and continues to work toward Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity!!!

qos: (Path With Hat)
I have just fulfilled an increasingly gnawing ache to go on a retreat. Even though I live alone, I've been feeling an intensifying need to really get away, away from ordinary life, from technology, the neighborhood, and spend some concentrated time in reflection and writing. I just found this cabin near Mt. Baker which is nestled in the woods, has huge windows, and an outdoor hot tub. I'm going for three nights in early May. 

qos: (Magdalene QoS)
I've been reading "New Monasticism: An Interspiritual Manifesto for Contemplative Living," by Rory McEntee and Adam Bucko. It's been frustrating in many ways because even though it aspires to "interspirituality" it is squarely centered in monotheistic theology and worldview -- which means that as a polytheist there is a lot which does not align with my own theology, worldview and practices. They also spend a lot of time explaining and justifying interspirituality and their form of monasticism, and I don't need to be convinced. I almost abandoned it, but instead I've been skimming for useful nuggets because mature writing about monasticism which is not centered in a specific tradition is rare -- and even though I'm not their target audience I have a great deal of respect for their work.

This morning I stumbled on the following passage and it hit me squarely between the eyes:

Every movement of human growth precipitates a crisis appropriate to the level of physical, emotional, or spiritual development at which we find ourselves. Each major crisis of growth requires letting go of the physical or spiritual food which has been nourishing us up to then and moving into more mature relationships.

In such a crisis we tend to seek the feeling of security. It is characteristic of reptilian and typhonic consciousness to react to frustration by choosing the line of least resistance, or whatever seems to be the easiest security blanket in which to wrap themselves. The capacity to go forward into personal responsibility is constantly challenged by the temptation to revert to lower levels of consciousness and behavior. 

(- Father Thomas Keating in "An Invitation to Love")

I feel like this is what I have been wrestling with in the months since my shamanic healing. I know I am in a better place mentally and emotionally, but it's been very hard to give up the coping habits of depression. I've been ascribing it to "habit" -- but this passage has made me look deeper. Some part of me is scared to death of moving forward and taking on the responsibilities and challenges I have set myself.

Or, to use the language of occultism: the Watcher at the Threshold has been turning me aside again and again and I haven't had the presence of mind to recognize what was going on. 

And if I am fully honest with myself, I see that this is a challenge of not just the past few months but my entire adult life. I get up to edges of growth, of taking on more responsibility, and I skitter backward instead of stepping forward. This does not happen 100% of the time, but it happens often enough to be noticeable. My only comfort is that the passage above indicates that this is a common pattern in humanity as a whole, not a weakness specific to me. 

My first reaction is that this is something I need to "think about" -- which is always my first reflex. But I think the actual answer is to stride forward and act, recognizing the Watcher is not the overt fear but the sneaky avoidance tactics I retreat to.
qos: (Homemade Queen)
Click the link for a maximum dose of charm. . . .  


Preview. . . . 

qos: (Dread Pirate)
Things close to my heart which involve skulls. . . .


And that list led to the delightfully off-beat combination "Ereshkigal's Pirate."

Herself is very much into law and appropriate boundaries. . . but there must be some kind of fantastical story which could be developed from that image.

qos: (Wise Woman)

"A Galaxy Within" by Rob Rey. 


The original oil was sold for $350. I would have bought it if I'd found it first.

I've emailed the author about getting a print.

A Galaxy Within by Rob Rey
qos: (Alcohol and Gun)
I'm actually having a good day. (I think writing my earlier post helped a lot. I even got the beginning of a transformative poem out of it.)
But I just stumbled across this and it perfectly captures what *some* nights are like.
Also -- I am 5'4" (and Carrie Fisher was a few inches shorter than that)

Ball of sexual frustration and vodka
qos: (Magdalene QoS)
I was reminded yesterday (not for the first time in recent months) that one of the challenges I have now is that there is literally nothing external in my daily life which affirms those aspects of myself which are most important to me. There is no affirmation of my creativity, my spirituality, my passion, my most cherished achievements. I go to my day job, where I am liked and affirmed, but only in my context as an office worker. Sometimes I get to share other parts of myself, and they are generally well received, but the things which are most important to me are not part of my office job.

This is one reason why I am so hungry for community, even as I tend to flinch from the thought of the obligations. I crave being recognized and appreciated for those parts of myself which I want to enjoy and continue to develop. Currently that only happens one day a month, when I attend Lodge. 

This has been the longest phase of isolation I have ever experienced. . . I had not realized when I was younger how much I benefitted from being in community groups which bolstered my creativity, gave me opportunities to strike passionate sparks, and even just talk about spirituality, even if no one around me shared my specific practices. From that stimulation I could happily withdraw into solitude and nurture, enjoy, and express in other ways those important parts of myself. 

It is very difficult for me to come home from work and then turn to my deeper work. I feel depleted, tired. . . and empty. There is no well from which to draw energy for my Work. But even worse. . . that emptiness in some way extends to my sense of identity. Previously I had a very strong sense of identity which was based far more on inner experiences and private, subjective stories and connections than what I did in the outer world. But I hadn't realized the extent to which that sense of identity truly was bolstered by my closest friends and companions. RIght now, my sense of inner identity is still one of emptiness, of lack, of non-existence. Which is even more deeply disturbing now that I'm stopping to really dig into it.

And I'm not sure what to do about it. This goes beyond meditation and journaling. I need to act, to create. . .  This is a time of "To be is to do." I need to re-build my inner self. Or excavate. Or stir the ashes. Or something. . .   And the problem is that the elements of myself that I want to invigorate are the ones I need to actually do those things. Which is why I want community. I need support to help jump-start my energies. To express sparks I can catch and fan into my own flames.

But so far my attempts at finding community haven't worked very well. . . .  I need to keep trying. 

And. . . I think as I write this. . . perhaps I need to be a bit less ambitious about what I try to accomplish right now. Go back to the equivalent of A-B-C's and build back up. Like physical therapy, but with my passions. 

Which -- I suddenly recall -- is what Odin told me a few weeks ago. . . .

qos: (9 of Pentacles)
I'm feeling significantly better today, although perhaps not 100%

One of the things I need to write more about is my emotional response to the Netflix series The Umbrella Academy, and to the character of Five -- a 50+ year-old man in a 13 year-old body. (Time travel can be a real pain.)  I haven't been emotionally engaged in many tv shows or movies over the past several years. I watch Agents of SHIELD, am a huge fan of the limited series Black Sails (a prequel of sorts to Treasure Island, but with a complicated, sophisticated plot involving economics, justice, sexuality, family relationships, diplomacy, and etc.), but even they didn't inspire deeply personal reactions. I feel strongly about the characters and stories, but they are still at a distance.

The Umbrella Academy, and especially its first season ending, has me wanting to write fan fiction.
And I haven't felt like that in at least 25 years.
And, to borrow a fandom term, I feel emotionally compromised by Five. He's making me feel things I haven't felt in a very long time.
To be very clear: it's not sexual.
But there is something incredibly potent about the character and his situation.

Part of it is, I think, that his dilemma of being a fully mature (and very capable and dangerous) person in a pre-teen's body is one of my favorite tropes. It's one of the things which fascinates me about the Narnia stories (and bugs me that CS Lewis never gave sufficient weight to), as well as the epic self-insertion fantasies I wrote from age 12 to 30-something. Other characters like this -- which use the trope and do explore its multifaceted implications -- may exist in sci-fi and fantasy, but this is the first one I've run across, and it's powerful enough to be distracting.

Which I'm taking as a good thing, because one of the things I've missed in the depression years is the lack of ability to feel passion about stories and characters. That part of me has been as good as dead. I'm very happy -- albeit a bit off balance -- to experience these emotions again.

Five - Super OldLooking at this poster I realize that one of the primary appeals is his intensity -- which has always been a primary element of attraction for me. Of course Black Sails was full of intense characters (especially Flint and Vane), but none of them touched me like Five does.

ETA: Also -- Five is by far the smartest of the bunch. 
qos: (Alcohol and Gun)
Things have been going wrong all damn day, starting with not being able to find the one bra I own which actually fits me. Traffic, which is usually fine for my commute, was a nightmare. I've been dropping things, misplacing things. . . Having a hard time focusing, and have been on the edge of tears of frustration most of the morning. It's been quite a while since my brain chemicals got this out of whack, and I don't like it at all. 

The only good thing is that my co-worker is a saint who told me to feel free to go into our back office and spend the day there, where I don't have to do much of anything but be available if the phones get heavy. Well, that and my Facebook friends have been sending me adorable photos and virtual hugs all morning.

I want to write some substantive stuff about things I've been pondering and processing, but my brain is too fuzzy.
qos: (Dark Hair and Snake)
 I just found this image on Tumblr, went to the artist's website, and bought a print. . . .  

To Take Up The Tools of the Work  -  by Valin Mattheis

"Meeting the old ones on the threshold, receiving the sword that cuts through the veil. Now is the hour when we take up our work."



qos: (Default)qos

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