Disclaimer:

This blog does not represent the views, beliefs, traditions, etc. of all Pagans. This blog does not claim to be 100% correct, nor does it claim to have every answer. This blog represents the personal views, beliefs, and morals of one Pagan. This blog represents the belief system and spiritual journey of one Pagan. The blogger in charge of this blog is not looking for followers or others with the same outlook on life. The blogger believes that every individual is exactly that, an "individual;" with individual beliefs, individual paths, and individual outlooks on life. The blogger stresses how important it is for people to discover their own spiritual paths, their own system of beliefs, and their own morals.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

A Pagan's View On Abortion


Disclaimer: The following does not represent the views, beliefs, and opinions of all Pagans. This is my personal opinion on the subject of abortion, in light of the new anti-abortion laws/bills.

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I went back and forth on it. I debated about posting anything on the topic of abortion and birth control. In light of the new anti-abortion laws/bills, the subject has become extremely controversial, political, and religious. Personally, I've never viewed the subject as any of those; only as an individual, emotional, and private decision.

But as these new laws/bills have popped up in 5 (that I've heard of) states, I have found myself surrounded by the subject. Social media is a war zone because of it. I usually try to stay away from the political and religious controversies, but the subject has a great impact on me.

As a woman.
As a survivor.
As a mother.
As a pagan.

So I'm posting about it. And let me tell you, if you are in favor of these laws/bills, you're not going to like this post.

The past few days, I've been feeling ill. My stomach feels like it's upside down, my head throbs, my knees feel weak, and there's a knot in my throat that I can't seem to swallow. Why? Because anti-abortion laws/bills are popping up like weeds and people are actually supporting them.

I'm baffled. I'm hurt. I'm angry. I'm scared.

I wonder if people actually understand what is happening. So many are screaming "life at conception," that I question whether they know what is entirely being said.

Sure, I could argue about what is considered "life." We all could. Is it a heartbeat? Is it brain function? Is it ability to survive outside the womb? Is it a fertilized egg? To each their own I suppose. Personally, I think the definition of "life" is a complex combination of the previous mentioned. It's hard to explain, but I do believe that a part of it has to do with the difference between living and being alive.

What do I believe?

Do I believe a fertilized egg is considered "life?" 
No. I believe it has the potential of becoming life.

Do I believe "life" is defined by a heartbeat?
Technically, yes. But without brain function, I don't believe it is living, rather it is merely alive. Think of it this way: a person can be on life support, with no brain activity. They are still considered alive but they aren't living. They aren't experiencing life because their brain is not processing it. Their body is simply going through the motions of being alive. Many doctors and medical practitioners would say that without brain activity, a person is "medically dead." That's why it's ok to pull the plug on a vegetable-stated person with no brain activity, but is illegal to shoot your neighbor while he's mowing the lawn.

So when is it ok to end life? When is ok to take the life of another? Is it ok at six weeks when there's a heartbeat but no brain activity? These laws/bills would tell you no.

I disagree.

The big misconception.

There are two big myths I want to address here.

Myth: Women have abortions because it's convenient.
Humans, as a whole, take the life of living things every day, for sheer convenience. Not only does the food you eat, both meat and plant, come from living things, but so does the clothes on your back and the paper you write on. Does this make abortion ok? Is it really as simple as this? That's for you to decide. Let me tell you though, women do not have abortions because of convenience. It is never convenient to have an abortion.

A woman doesn't want an abortion like she wants ice cream.
A woman wants an abortion like an animal caught 
in a trap wants to gnaw it's own leg off. 
-Frederica Mathewes-Green

If a woman is considering/having an abortion, it is because she is in a desperate situation where she sees her only escape as an act of violence and self-loss. Abortion is self-loss. It is a sign of desperation because a woman is trapped. Abortion is not a convenient solution to a simple problem of "I don't want kids." No, it's evidence of an even bigger problem: lack of sufficient birth control and sexual education.

The moral cry of anti-abortionists does not offer a solution. It only further traps women. If you want a solution other than abortion, you need to address the problem.

Use birth control or Plan-B. These are both expensive, and many times require a doctor's prescription. A low-income woman cannot easily afford $50 for a single dose of Plan-B, or the copay/out of pocket expense of going to the doctor for a prescription.

Just keep your legs closed. First off, science has proven that sex (between consenting adults) is healthy. This argument is very one-sided, and this has never been said to males. Why is it we scrutinize women for being sexual but never men? Why is it when a man has sex, no one cares, and sometimes he's even praised for it, but when a woman has sex, suddenly she's a dirty whore and doesn't deserve happiness? Secondly, I dare you to say this in the face of a woman who has been raped, or a little girl who fell victim to incest.

Use a condom. Sure. That's a thing. But what people don't realize is that condoms are a form of male birth control. It is put on a penis, it's male birth control. This in mind, using condoms is also a very one-sided argument. Condoms (male birth control) are many times, given away freely at health clinics. Where's my free Loestrin? Where's my free Nuva Rings? And ladies, raise your hand if a guy has given you some excuse, or pressured you into not using condoms!

Get your tubes tied. Get a vasectomy! Seriously though, do you know what it takes to get such a procedure done? A woman obviously has to talk to her doctor, she must be at least 21 years old, she must be evaluated to ensure she isn't "mentally incompetent," she must already be married and have children, and she must have her husband's consent. The procedure must be done within 30 days of approved consent, or the approval process starts over again. It can also cost upwards of $6,000 and many insurances do not cover it. Do you know what it takes for a man to get a vasectomy? He has to tell his doctor he wants a vasectomy.


Myth: At six weeks, it is a living human being, with feelings.
Science and modern medicine say that at six weeks, a fertilized human egg is nothing more than a cluster of cells called a "zygote." It's not a human being yet. Does it have the potential to be one? Sure, but at this stage, it's a cluster of cells. These new bills are criminalizing abortion at six weeks or later.

Many women, me included, don't even know they are pregnant until they are eight weeks along. You might think a missed period would be clue, but you know what else causes missed periods? Stress. Excessive weight loss/gain. Exercise. Eating disorders. Illness. Travel. Medications or drug use. Hormone imbalances. You try figuring out if you're just eating too much ice cream or if you're pregnant.

In my own personal experience with pregnancy, I never had a regular period, so for me to skip one wasn't abnormal at all. When I was eight weeks along, I went to the nurse for nausea and what I thought was a stomach bug. Nope. Pregnant.

Pregnancy tests have a higher rate of giving false results if they are taken sooner than 2 weeks after intercourse. The best time to take them is 12-14 days after ovulation, which can easily be 3 weeks after intercourse. If a woman doesn't have any reason to believe she's pregnant until after her missed period, that is pushing the 6 week mark.

At six weeks, pain receptors haven't even begun to form. There isn't even a functioning brain at this point. No, it can't feel pain.

What else is in the bill?

These bills aren't just about abortions, though. They are about women's health, and access to healthcare. 

Unfortunately, I reside in an area where these bills are popping up and passing. Recently an anti-abortion bill was passed here, drastically reducing the window for abortion. Now a new and even stricter bill is being proposed, and many of the bills popping up are similar. 

This new bill would eliminate a woman's access to contraceptives via her insurance. This would mean insurance companies would not cover birth controls like oral contraceptive pills or implants like IUDs. A woman would have to pay out of pocket for these birth controls. 

For example, when I was on birth control (an offbrand of the oral contraceptive Loestrin), I would pay about $25 a month after my insurance. Without my insurance, I would have to pay around $180 out of pocket. That's more than 7x what I would be paying. 

But the bill doesn't stop there. It continues to classify female birth control, such as oral contraceptive pills and implants like IUDs, as "nontherapeutic abortion." Why? because it is a drug/device "used to prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum."

Section 9.04
"Nontherapeutic abortion" means an abortion that is performed or induced when the life of the mother would not be endangered if the fetus were carried to term [...]. "Nontherapeutic abortion" includes drugs or devices used to prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum. "Nontherapeutic abortion" does not include either of the following: a procedure for an ectopic pregnancy, that is intended to reimplant the fertilized ovum into the pregnant woman's uterus; a procedure, in an emergency situation, that is medically necessary to save the pregnant woman's life.

Let me explain ectopic pregnancy real quick. An ectopic pregnancy is when the fertilized egg attaches inside a woman's fallopian tube, instead of in her uterus. As the fertilized egg grows, it forces her fallopian tube to expand. This is deadly if the egg is not removed. Once it is removed however, it cannot be reattached. 

So basically, if you're not dying, you can't have an abortion or take birth control.

I also want to point out that where the [...] is, used to make an exception for situations of rape and incest, but it was redacted. 

As it stands right now, these bills would prohibit insurance from assisting women in the costs of birth control and abortions. I mentioned earlier how expensive birth control can be without insurance, and abortions are just as expensive.

Some of these bills criminalize abortions and birth control, giving women and the doctors who perform the procedure jail time (up to 99 years for some doctors). In some places, women could even face the death penalty. 

How am I affected?

So how does this affect me so much?

It affects me as a woman. As a woman, my rights are being challenged. My access to healthcare is being limited so drastically, it is almost impossible. When abortions were illegal, prior to 1973, it didn't mean abortions never happened. During that time, women would find some back alley doctor, or even a stranger with no medical license, and an abortion would be performed by shoving a wire coat hanger into the woman. I'll spare you further details on the procedure. Back alley abortions were common, and many women died from them.

Roe vs. Wade wasn't the start of abortions.
It was the end of women dying from abortions.

The government is forcing women back into the alley. 

As for birth control, I never took it to prevent me from getting pregnant. In fact, I didn't start taking it until after I had my kid. I took it to regulate my cycle, so I would actually have a normal cycle, instead of bleeding for 3 weeks each month. 

62% of women use some form of birth control outside of condoms. 31% of women using birth control use it to manage menstrual pain, and 28% to regulate their cycle, like me. 14% of women using birth control use it to treat their acne. 4% use birth control to treat endometriosis, a deadly disorder that causes tissue growth outside of the uterus. More than 750,000 women who use birth control, have never had sex. 

By extensively limiting access to birth control, you're not preventing abortions, you're ruining the lives of women who use it.

It affects me as a survivor. I am a rape survivor. I chose not to have an abortion after it. I recognize that it was my personal choice and that I have no grounds to make that choice for anyone else.

1 in every 6 women has been raped. That's more than 1 billion women worldwide. Out of all these, only 75% have been reported to police. That means, about 250 million women have been raped and chose against reporting the crime to police.

90% of pregnancies of girls ages 15 and younger, are due to rape/incest.

Anti-abortionists will cry that only 1% of all abortions are due to rape/incest, but what they fail to mention is that the 1% is only of rape crimes that have been reported to police. Even so, that adds up to over 7 million women who have had an abortion after reporting being raped.

Anti-abortionists will cry that it's "in God's will." If that is your view, you need a new god. I invite you to look every one of those 1 billion women, in the face and tell them that your god intended for them to be violated. Look them in the eyes and tell them your god wanted them to have their life shatter into pieces. Tell them your god planned for them to be violently forced into sexual acts. You tell them your god enjoyed watching them fill with pain and fear and desperation as men took what they wanted. Console them with "its ok, this is what [my] god wanted."

No.

Just no.

I don't care what your religious or spiritual beliefs are, no god of any origin wishes such upon humans. Your god may flood the world and send plagues and pit brothers against each other, but no god has ever said rape is a part of the plan.

I fall in this category. I am a part of these statistics. Being a rape survivor, I can attest to how hard it is; how out of control you feel. I made a decision for myself. I will never let you take that decision away from my fellow sisters.

It affects me as a mother. Body autonomy is something I teach as a mother.  It is something I want for my children.

I love the "campfire rule;" the idea that you leave a place in better condition than you found it. That's my job as a parent. To leave this earth in a better condition than it was left for me. To help instill a brighter future for my children, and the generations after me. My generation and the generations before me are responsible for the horrid state our world is in. We all played our part on the downward spiral. It is our job, our duty, to fix it.

I want my children to be in control of their bodies. I want them to have the right to make their own decisions, because ultimately, they know themselves better than anyone else knows them. I want my children not to feel obligated, pressured, or forced to make private and personal decisions because someone else thinks their decisions are better. I want my children to have access to adequate and affordable healthcare, so they may take care of themselves. I don't want my children growing up in fear; fear of others, fear of not being in control, fear of having no say on their own lives.

It affects me as a pagan. These anti-abortion bills violate the separation of the Christian church and state. Christianity is being forced on the entirety of the pluralistic society that the United States was founded as. Denying women reproductive free-will is patriarchal, theocratic, and fascist. Anti-abortion is anti-American, anti-woman and anti-pagan.

Allowing the degradation of separation of church and state will only open the door to more infringements. The theocratic government that we are slowly evolving into will infringe upon "freedom of religion." Do you honestly think a Christian theocratical government will be ok with you practicing your craft? The United States was once a beacon of secular democracy. That is the whole reason it was founded. We have strayed so very far from what our forefathers intended.

Anti-abortion is a war on women. But it is also the first wave of infringement of personal freedoms for all people, men and women.










 










 


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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Spiritual Names

10.

That's how many names I've collected over my years.

It started with my birth name, obviously, and my mother immediately giving me a nickname that was a shortened version of my legal birth name. Throughout my childhood, that was me. My nickname, and when I was in trouble, my birth name. Typical of anyone really.

When I was in elementary school, my family insisted I be confirmed in their faith, through their church. I knew better than to argue, so I agreed. As part of confirmation, I was allowed to choose another name; one that would come between my legal middle and last names. I chose a name that, looking back, almost foreshadowed the struggles and trauma of my adulthood.

In my angsty pre-teen and teenage years, I took on four different nicknames. All vastly different than any name I had before, they were based on the social media screen names of that awkward chapter of life. Two of which were quite dark, and no one calls me by now, virtual or otherwise. The other two, only a handful of people still call me by, even though one is displayed on my own Facebook profile as a nickname. Every once in a while, I fall back to this name when I wish to keep my legal identity confidential.

As an adult, I found that more and more people confused the nickname my mother originally gave me, with a wrong variation of the name. This seemed to be the issue with most phone conversations, as phones can be hard to hear through sometimes, and most of the time people just don't pay attention. In college, this was actually the name of a close friend, and we frequently confused professors and students, and ended up being identified by our last names, or together as "the twins." Our first names were just to similar. Outside of college, my name was still confused with similar sounding/spelled names, and my father ended up introducing me by an even shorter nickname of my original nick name. My name went from 9 letters, down to 6, and then down to 4. It was easier for people to correctly hear a one syllable nickname. So it stuck because of pure convenience.

This blog sparked another name. When creating it, I was at a point in my life where I was so far into the broom closet, that I needed a name that wouldn't even hint at a specific gender. I needed to be completely anonymous, but still real and plausible. I chose the name "Sam." It could be short for "Samantha," or "Samual." In reality, I chose it because I was going by "SamhainGirl" online, and it was a nod at the start of my pagan journey. Samhain is the anniversary of my self-discovery as a witch and when I decided to walk a pagan path.

It seemed right. I even went so far as to say it was my "spiritual name." After all, it was the name I was associating with my spiritual path. I even had a few people who I trusted and had assisted me in some way on my path, call me Sam. I told myself that this was it. This was my spiritual name, the end.

But what is a spiritual name?

Well, first off let me clarify. I'm talking about a spiritual name as in a magical name, or a "pagan name." Its a name that is usually adopted upon initiation into witchcraft. Personally, and I tend to call my witchcraft and pagan path a "spiritual journey" I use the phrasing "spiritual name."

Call it what you will.

Usually adopted at initiation, the name can either be given or selected, and is usually only revealed through a ritual setting. Most often, the name isn't used outside of covens or close pagan friendship circles. I've heard that some pagans use two names, one for public use, and the other used only within rituals/covens.

Is it mandatory to have a spiritual/pagan name? Certainly not! It's really up to the individual.

Can you change your spiritual/pagan name? I mean, yeah, but you definitely shouldn't change it on a whim, and therefore shouldn't choose it on a whim either. Do some research and soul searching first. What all is associated with the name you're interested in? What are positive traits of the name? Negative? Is it unique to you, or do you just like how it sounds? Ideally, you want to keep this name long term. Right?


Within the past 6 months, "Sam" wasn't cutting it anymore. I just wasn't feeling it. It still provided me with the anonymity I needed, so I let it linger. But another name was in the works. It was growing steadily in the back of my mind. I'm not entirely sure how it got there. I think it was sparked by an online name generator that gave a similar/variant version of the name. But I know that the letter "T" stuck. It sounded right, and soon after, the rest of the name followed that letter in a very fluid manner.

Treya.

I whispered it.

I whispered it late at night, and listened to how it flowed from my mouth; how it felt to say it. I wasn't feeling a sense of excitement about it, or even happiness. And that's what kept telling me that it was right. Sure, it's exciting to find your spiritual name. You should definitely be happy about it. But that shouldn't be the dominating feeling.

I felt calm. Peacefulness. Balance. It was the feeling I so frequently wished to feel. Your spiritual name should be natural, not over energized. It should balance you out.

Seven months later, I looked into the name more.

It means: "one who walks three paths." I wonder if this is related to my own path through paganism. The path of the maiden, the path of the mother, and the path of the crone, perhaps. It shows origination in Hindu culture. I also find it interesting how similar the name is with the name of the goddess Freya. After discovering the name, I had a draw to the Norse path, and am still exploring it. Perhaps the similar name brought me closer to Freya herself?

It seems the most famous person with the name is Terry "Treya" Killam Wilber, who is the subject of her husband's book "Grace and Grit." In the book, her husband illustrates the struggles of his wife's cancer that ultimately took her life.


Adding to the reading list, obviously.

I finally have let a couple people know the name. I've changed my name on here. Perhaps Terry Wilber is right. Perhaps this is the start of my inner shift. I most certainly am shifting into my spring season, and I have evolved greatly. As my inner being shifts, and my mind shifts to a new plane of thinking, my outer being will shift as well.

I am interested in this new being. This conscious stardust being. 

This is the beginning of an evolution. This is the beginning of my shift.

Hello. My name is Treya.


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Familiar vs Pet

About a month ago, my dog passed away. I always referred to her as my familiar because she was so dear to me, and so sensitive to the spiritual world. But I never included her in my craft practices. I don't entirely know why, I just never felt like I needed her there for them. Perhaps she wasn't my familiar. I know animals are more sensitive to the spiritual world than humans.

Perhaps that is what confused my view of her.

During her final years, she developed senility. At age 17 and a half, it's understandable. It became a struggle to tell whether she was sensing the spiritual, or if her brain was just warping her senses. If she was younger, I'd have no question that she was sensing the spiritual. But getting stuck in corners, staring into space, and going berserk over nothing is all signs of senility as well. She would sleep so soundly that she would often times forget to breathe. I found myself questioning if she was slipping into the spiritual realm herself, even if for just a brief moment until my touch startled her back earthbound.

Sometimes I humor myself and believe it was true.

Three days ago, I found myself  bringing home a sweet-hearted, eight-month old hound dog. Sawyer has definitely been a blessing in our house. My son has taken to him, so have my parents. He needs some training; he lacks leash manners, and is quickly learning that counters and tables are not for doggy noses. He has some separation anxiety; scared that we will leave him like his former family. But he's trainable, and smart, and learning quickly. We have been blessed to find such a perfect match for our family.

But he is not my familiar.

I don't know how I know this. I just do. I can tell just by looking at him that he is just a companion pet. He is here just to make my family's lives that much more enjoyable. We need his love and he needs ours. There's nothing wrong with that.

I don't have a familiar.

I'm not even sure if I need one. I've never needed help in my craft. I've always done it alone. It seems  like a lonely reality, but to me it makes sense. I'm so empathetic that I would never want another entity to assist me in my craft, and risk them being affected negatively. That's the risk a familiar takes, and I could never ask that of anyone, let alone an innocent animal who wants nothing more than to love and be loved in return.

That's the thing about familiars though.

They don't need you to allow them into your craft. If they want to be a part of it, they will. No matter how much I would avoid allowing someone into my craft, if a familiar entity was supposed to be there, they would be. Is it possible I've just not come to a point in my spiritual path where I need a familiar? Possibly. Honestly, I'm not surprised. I've always been a solitary practitioner. Why would it be any different with familiars?

It is a little annoying.

So many modern witches talk about having familiars, and confusing familiars and pets. Not every pet is a familiar, and I don't understand why a person would even want their beloved pet to be such. Familiars aren't pets. They're free entities, blending into our modern world. They're our partners in craft, willing to suffer the repercussions of our work. Do you want your pet to risk negative suffering because of your craft? I don't know, it just seems strange...

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Dismantled

Dismantle:
/dis’man(t)l/
verb: to take to pieces

I dismantled my alter. It seemed necessary. It had sat untouched for years.

I removed every individual piece, cleaned it, and tucked it away for storage. I’ve been a neglectful witch; forgetting the “craft” part of “witchcraft.” It happens. I hate to say it, but it does.

I’ve been wanting to repaint and redecorate my bedroom. I’ve evolved a lot over the years, and I no longer feel that hoarding things from 13 years ago is something I need to do. Sentiment has faded quite a bit in so many years. I felt like Marie Kondō, tossing anything that no longer brought back blissful memories. As weird as I find some of her meth, she might be onto something. Some things brought back no memories at all. Some things only sparked a longing for the potential of what they could mean. I was holding onto the idea of them, not the sentiment.

Toss.

My room is in a state of disheveled. It looks like I’m in the middle of moving, which I guess I kind of am. Moving out clutter, making room for new evolutions of my being.

It’s a physical act; an act that seems to require me to sweat and sneeze and grumble, and mindless dance and hum to whatever noise comes out of my speakers. But it’s also a mental act, requiring my mind to flash back to years past, and sometimes rack my brain for answers.

Dismantling the altar wasn’t too physically taxing, outside of running handfuls of things downstairs. Dismantling is however, always mentally taxing. It was the last thing I did before calling it quits for the day.

I spent most of my early years on my pagan path, longing for an altar of my own. It wasn’t until the end of my college career that I finally got the chance to create one. That was about the time I started this blog, come to think of it. Now it’s just the top of my dresser, where I’ve stacked a handful of books.

In a sense, I’m not just dismantling my altar, I’m dismantling myself.

I’m pulling myself apart and analyzing who I am. I’m tossing out the parts of me that don’t bring me joy; the parts too intertwined with my abuser. I’m analyzing what really makes me who I am. For so long I thought I was one way or another, but I’m recognizing how influenced those thoughts were.

Am I a pagan? Sure, and I always will be. But I’m not the pagan I thought I was. I’m not really the pagan I want to be either. I've realized though, that I've forgotten to put the work into my spirituality. I recently read an article about how mundane witchcraft is, and how easy it is to forget the "craft" in "witchcraft." I read this article, and I found myself sitting there going, "holy s*** it's me!"

For so long, I wanted to be that edgy chick who wasn't afraid of anything, who could scare anyone with just a look, who was rumored to be a "witch" like it was a bad thing. I wanted to have that beautiful altar that I kept neat and up to date. I wanted books and a thick book of shadows. I wanted there to be no question about who I was.

I tried my best, but I never became that person. And it's probably for the better. I recognize now that I just wanted to hide under a tough facade. It was never who I was or who I would be. It was really just a coping mechanism I wished I'd had at my disposal.

When it comes to witchcraft, the craft aspect vastly differs from person to person. It's not as cut and dry as it seems. I admire those who can practice their craft daily, who keep their altars and blogs and knowledge up to date. I may even envy them a bit. But that routine doesn't fit my lifestyle, and that's ok. I'm figuring it out.

The first step in dismantling myself, is to dismantle my way of thinking. It is to take all the things I thought I was, thought I wanted and needed, and throwing them out. If any of it was truly a part of the real me, the me I am discovering, it will come back. It it's meant to be, it'll be.

Dismantling the masquerade of my self image was simply expressed through the physical dismantling of my altar, and my whole bedroom to an extent. The bare bones of my room is there, the space for an altar still exists, but right now, an altar isn't part of my craft. Just as blue and silver flames and trinkets aren't a part of me. At least, not right now.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Seasons of Life

"The tiny seed know that in order to grow, it needed to be dropped in dirt, 
covered with darkness, and struggle to reach the light." - Sandra Kring

I have this vivid memory. It is early spring, and I am walking along the empty beach of Lake Michigan. I’ve rolled up my pants and in my hand are my shoes. The icy cold water rushes up to glide across my feet, and the sand beneath me sinks to embrace my toes, which by now are numb. The wind is blowing, and my hair is whipping across my face. It’s cold for spring time, and my hoodie barely keeps the cold air out. The fingers of winter can still be felt in the air and water, grasping for any form that it can lace itself around. The chill as warded off most everyone, and the surrounding beach is empty, save my parents and I. The sun, bright and high in the sky serves as nothing but a facade for this winter disguised as spring.

I often visit this memory. I come to it when I need peace and balance in life; when the hectic schedule of daily activity draws old and tiresome, and I need a quick escape. A meditative moment.

Through recent reflection, I’ve come to recognize my existence in life’s seasons, and how very necessary it is to slowly transition between one season and another.

Winter has been long a hard for me. This season has seemed to last forever, and quite frankly, it has. A seven year winter; one with a quick and abrupt transition. One moment it was fall, then BAM! I woke up to the dead of winter.

I seemed to have grown so used to the cold, so used to the quiet inside. I kept thoughts to myself, made “someday” plans, played “what if” games late at night. I fell into habitual routine that required no thought, no reflection, and little effort. After seven years of cold and silence and hibernation, I  can finally feel a cold spring.

It started with some sun; a ray of hope disguised as news I had never wished for, but somehow needed. It sparked some serious reflection and in turn, growth. That sliver of sun as fueling me to grow and develop into someone new and bright.

A new life season calls for new chances and opportunities. And it certainly deserves acknowledgement on a spiritual level.

My spring time will be time for me. Time to grow spiritually; to really develop my beliefs and practices. It will be a time to put into action the habits of my craft and spiritual work. To prepare for summer.

By summer, I want my actions to be habitual. I want meditation and craft-work to be a regular and reoccurring process. I want to have made positive and progressive steps in my life’s direction, so I can really solidify my spiritual self.

Fall will allow me to slow down the habitual processes, and give me room to try new craft-work. It will allow me find what works best for me, and perhaps find methods that are suited more for my life and goals.

Only then will I allow myself to drift back into winter. This time, not to sit in silence, but rather in reflection. I don’t want to fall into robotics and be “stuck” in winter again. I know winter is a very necessary part of life and growth, but it is not beneficial if one dwells in the cold too long. Just as I have to allow myself to drift into winter, I have to know how to drift out of it.



Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Complexity of Grief & Self Discovery

I'm a bad blogger. It's been about 3 years since I've posted to this blog, and I wanted to breathe life back into it, after getting some pretty encoraging comments.

When the excitement of bringing this thing back from it's ashes, wore down, I hit a brick wall.

The heck do I blog about?

This blog used to be about my beliefs and my journey as an Eclectic Pagan. I had so much heart and soul in this blog, and it really did help me on my path; which is why I wanted to bring it back.

But just as I've been a bad blogger, I've been a bad spiritual being.

Truth is, in the years this blog has sat inactive, I have reduced myself to the robotic routine of daily life.

Go to work.
Go home.
Go to bed.
Repeat.

Oops...

I found myself stuck in a job that required so much of me both physically and mentally that I didn't have time to be spiritual. I consistently came home completely exhausted and stressed and depressed. I loved so many things about my job, that I let it consume every ounce of me. I was fine with that because I was good at it. I was exceptionally good at my job, and everyone knew it.

It turned out to be a dead end job. Being really good at your job doesn't gaurentee it will get you anywhere, and it doesn't gaurentee that you'll be rewarded for your hard work. That's what happens when you work for a company who is so sales driven that they turn a blind eye to those who actually keep the place from falling apart. Big name companies are nothing more than a machine. They spit out data, but ignore the ones who keep the machine running. They don't care how you made your sales, just as long as you make them.

It was soul sucking.

It was a sinking ship too. Lucky me, I found a lifeboat, and I bailed on that ship before I drowned.

That's when I started to play with the idea of resurrecting this blog, but it didn't really seem like a necessity until a week later, when life turned upside down.

Or right side up.

A huge life changing event happened: my son's father passed away.

Now to really help you understand why this is key to my decision to bring this thing back, I'm going to have to give you some backstory.

And it's a painful backstory...

Eight years ago I found myself in a horrible relationship with this man. In my opinion, at the time, it hadn't always been horrible.

Back then, I though I loved this guy. To be honest, I really think I did love him. I thought that he was the one I was going to be with forever, and that he loved me just as infinitely as I loved him.

But when you love someone, you don't hurt them, and you certainly don't abuse them to every aspect of the word.

That's what happened to me. I fell head over heels for him and was blind to every way he was abusing me. Until he violently violated me in the most unspeakable of ways. The most unforgivable of ways.

For the longest time, I just said I was "attacked." I couldn't bring myself to say that horrible R word. His abuse continued. Stalking started. I started getting strange phone calls with no one on the other end. An ominous car circles my neighborhood. Every possible social media platform is stalked and combed through for the slightest thing than can be used against me. I'm slandered and blackmailed. Threats are made and I fear for my life and my safety. I debated about moving across the country.

Fast forward a bit, I had my son. Concieved from the "attack." Fast forward a bit more, he has the gull to file for custody.

He is awarded supervised visitation for a maximum of 4 hours a week. He decides to only do 2 hours a week, but continues these weekly visits for the next 6 years.

Court hearings dwindle down to once a month and then to not at all. Visits continue. So does the terror and his abuses.

January 31st, eight years and 3 days after the "attack," I get a phone call. Unknown name. Unknown number.

For some reason, I answer. And then I have to will myself to not drop the phone. I have to force my voice to answer. My brain processes and then slows to a snail's pace.

He is dead. Eight years of terror are over.

I cry. I do more than that. I sob. I don't know why. Relief sure, sorrow maybe, shock obviously.

In the days after his death, I found myself constantly thinking about him as I realize how far his reach on me was.

No longer do I have to take the long way home for fear I'm being followed. No longer do I have to look for his license plate on every car. No longer do I have to fear every unrecognized phone number. No longer do I have to wonder if he's hiding in the bushes ready to grab me if I go get the mail. No longer do I have to hide my son from the public eye of social media. No longer do I have to worry about him showing up with a gun. No longer do I have to plan an escape route at my job.

Eight years I lived in this state of paranoia. Eight years I was afraid to get close to anyone because he was always right there. Eight years I struggled with PTSD. Eight years I fought him; trying to protect my son.

I had grown and developed habits and mannerisms based on his hold on me. My identity was not just "me." It was "me fighting him." My identity was entirely based on him.

And suddenly he's gone.

My identity is shattered. Who am I if I'm not fighting him?

I'm still figuring it out.

I can be whoever and whatever I want to be, without his influence, for the first time in my adult life.

My first task in this new identity: figuring out how I feel about all this.

It's weird to me. I find myself grieving him. That's a normal reaction when someone dies: to grieve. But to grieve your abuser?

At the same time, I find myself happy. Happy he's gone. Which is not a normal reaction when someone dies, and has fueled a sense of guilt.

Grief and happiness are two polar opposites, sitting on completely opposite sides of the emotion spectrum. And if that's not confusing enough, add guilt on top like a thick sludge.

I'm having trouble accepting the fact that I can feel both grief and happiness at the same time. I know I can, and it's perfectly normal to do so. But it just seems weird.

Grief is not cookie cutter, and my situation isn't either. There's really no telling how I'm going to grieve him, because this whole thing is so unique.

I'm still figuring it out.

Just as I'm still figuring out who the heck I am now.

A path of self discovery seems like a good reason to bring back this blog. Want to follow along with me?


Friday, September 9, 2016

Religion Is Language For The Soul... Or A Penis If You Will

It's been a while since I've updated this blog, and I could blame a lot of that on real life getting in the way and zapping my time and energy. But a part of me just became lazy as well, and here's an attempt to zap that laziness away.

I'm apologizing in advance, as this is more of a rant than anything else...

---

Today, I was in the bookstore, over in the "Self Transformation" section. You probably know it as the "New Age" section, but apparently "Self Transformation" is less scary to the sky followers.

Sitting on the shelves, and sticking out of the books, were little business cards. Naturally, my curious self picked one up to see what it was. I instantly regretted my decision, because a fire started to burn in the pit of my stomach, my jaw clenched, my eyes narrowed, and I let out a frustrated sigh.

Two bible quotes were on the front:

  • God is not a man, so he does not lie (Numbers 23:19 in the NLT version)
  • Everyone who calls on the name of the lord will be saved (Romans 10:13 of the NLT version)

And in big, bright white script was the word "faith." On the back was a web address: https://goddoesnotlie.wordpress.com (the actual link was to a specific post on that page, but you get the point).

I quickly gathered up all the cards I could find. I searched every shelf to make sure there weren't any hiding somewhere, and all I could think was how disrespectful!

Seriously, no other religious group does this! I don't see any business cards in the cookbooks saying if I eat pork I'm going to be damned; or in the fashion books saying if I show my hair I'm going to burn in hell. I don't see little cards with Buddha on them telling me that if I don't meditate daily, I'm going to be miserable in my next life. Like who does this?!

I recognize there are good Christians out there who are accepting and loving, and don't try to cram their views and beliefs down someone's throat, but as a general whole, Christians upset me the most.

Shoving your beliefs in someone's face, unwarranted, is entirely disrespectful. There is no other way to put it. It's just down right rude. Your beliefs are YOUR beliefs. Period. The end. There are people who belief in the same or similar concepts, that's great. But it ends there. 

You can tell me you'll pray for me. You can tell me I'll burn in hell, and that I'm evil. But those are YOUR beliefs. YOUR concepts and ideas. 

When discussing this matter with a Wiccan friend, we both agreed that we see these people as children. Why? Because they act like children. When they don't get their way, they throw a fit. The need attention or they'll keep repeating "mommy, mommy, mommy," until you finally acknowledge them. They don't understand boundaries, and they don't like to share. 

They don't get that when they show blatant disrespect for other beliefs, they're going to be met with hostility, backlash, and they're going to be mocked. Go preach to those who want to hear what you spew. Go preach to your own sheep. If someone is interest in "the word of God," they'll let you know. 

That's part of what draws me to Paganism. Paganism really depends on a person taking responsibility of their own spirituality. It relies on a person choosing a pagan path; on searching for what is best for them. It isn't, in most cases, something that is forcefully thrust upon a person. You really have to want a pagan path in order to be a part of it.

These people who unwarrantably thrust their beliefs on you, have filters over their eyes. They've filtered the world through their own colored glass until the are blind to the concept that there are other systems of beliefs out there, and that those beliefs are ok. 

I'm not a lost child that you can steer the right way. I'm not a broken toy that you can mend with repeated bible verses. I'm not a disease that you can cure with prayer. I'm a Pagan. I have a system of beliefs that you believe are different than yours. Here's the catch, they're not that different.

  • I believe in a higher power; a source for all
  • I believe in spreading love, peace, balance, and harmony
  • I believe in good vs evil
  • I believe in apologies and forgiveness
  • I believe in prayer and wishes
  • I believe all things were created good
  • I believe in faith and hope
  • I believe in beauty, individuality, and uniqueness
  • I believe in morals, and that wrongful actions have consequences
  • I believe in repentance
  • I believe in acceptance

Is that really all that evil? Is that really something you think I deserve to burn for?

Organized religions, when broken down, are all the same. Each has a doctrine, a hierarchy, rules/regulations for how to live, a system of beliefs that are adopted by followers, prophets, an ending goal and layout for how to achieve this goal.

My Wiccan friend said it best. He explained that religion is like language. For example, in each language, there is a word for "book." In English we call it "book." In Spanish, "libro." In German, "buch." French, "livre." In Swahili, "kitabu."

But it all means the same thing. It all refers to printed and bound sheets of paper, meant for us to buy, read, and (hopefully) enjoy. 

"Religion is like language for the soul," says my fellow Wiccan friend. It is the language our soul speaks, and although it may differ from that of another soul, it still means the same thing.

There's a funny quote, that I believe applies here:

"Religion is like a penis. 
It's ok to have one. It's ok to be proud of it.
But it's not ok to whip it out in public and swing it around.
And please, don't shove it down my child(re)'s throat."

Yes, I just compared your system of beliefs to the flaccid, sweaty, meat sack that hangs between a guy's legs. 

You're welcome.