Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What is a spoonie?

I don't think I've ever written about what a spoonie is.  While the name of my blog is Pagan Spoonie, I don't think that everyone knows what I am referring to when I say "spoonie."  Well, its your lucky day, because today I'm going to explain what a spoonie is.

To explain it very briefly, a spoonie is someone who has an invisible illness.  We each have so much energy, or spoons, at the beginning of each day.  The spoons we have are a lot less than the regular amount of energy a "normal" person has.  For instance, I may wake up with only five spoons for the day.  Showering takes two spoons today and cooking takes three.  That means that I probably don't get a shower that day, and I can't cook that day.  Sometimes I can replenish by two spoons if I take a nap.  Sometimes it seems like a nap takes a spoon.  Anyway, if you are totally confused right now, try reading the Spoon Theory in Christine Miserandino.  Here it is:
The Spoon Theory       by Christine Miserandino            www.butyoudontlooksick.com
My best friend and I were in the diner, talking. As usual, it was very late and we were eating French fries with gravy. Like normal girls our age, we spent a lot of time in the diner while in college, and most of the time we spent talking about boys, music or trivial things, that seemed very important at the time. We never got serious about anything in particular and spent most of our time laughing.Cartoon image of Christine Miserandino holding a spoonAs I went to take some of my medicine with a snack as I usually did, she watched me with an awkward kind of stare, instead of continuing the conversation. She then asked me out of the blue what it felt like to have Lupus and be sick. I was shocked not only because she asked the random question, but also because I assumed she knew all there was to know about Lupus. She came to doctors with me, she saw me walk with a cane, and throw up in the bathroom. She had seen me cry in pain, what else was there to know?
I started to ramble on about pills, and aches and pains, but she kept pursuing, and didn’t seem satisfied with my answers. I was a little surprised as being my roommate in college and friend for years; I thought she already knew the medical definition of Lupus. Then she looked at me with a face every sick person knows well, the face of pure curiosity about something no one healthy can truly understand. She asked what it felt like, not physically, but what it felt like to be me, to be sick.
As I tried to gain my composure, I glanced around the table for help or guidance, or at least stall for time to think. I was trying to find the right words. How do I answer a question I never was able to answer for myself? How do I explain every detail of every day being effected, and give the emotions a sick person goes through with clarity. I could have given up, cracked a joke like I usually do, and changed the subject, but I remember thinking if I don’t try to explain this, how could I ever expect her to understand. If I can’t explain this to my best friend, how could I explain my world to anyone else? I had to at least try.
At that moment, the spoon theory was born. I quickly grabbed every spoon on the table; hell I grabbed spoons off of the other tables. I looked at her in the eyes and said “Here you go, you have Lupus”. She looked at me slightly confused, as anyone would when they are being handed a bouquet of spoons. The cold metal spoons clanked in my hands, as I grouped them together and shoved them into her hands.
I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.
Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.
She grabbed the spoons with excitement. She didn’t understand what I was doing, but she is always up for a good time, so I guess she thought I was cracking a joke of some kind like I usually do when talking about touchy topics. Little did she know how serious I would become?
I asked her to count her spoons. She asked why, and I explained that when you are healthy you expect to have a never-ending supply of “spoons”. But when you have to now plan your day, you need to know exactly how many “spoons” you are starting with. It doesn’t guarantee that you might not lose some along the way, but at least it helps to know where you are starting. She counted out 12 spoons. She laughed and said she wanted more. I said no, and I knew right away that this little game would work, when she looked disappointed, and we hadn’t even started yet. I’ve wanted more “spoons” for years and haven’t found a way yet to get more, why should she? I also told her to always be conscious of how many she had, and not to drop them because she can never forget she has Lupus.
I asked her to list off the tasks of her day, including the most simple. As, she rattled off daily chores, or just fun things to do; I explained how each one would cost her a spoon. When she jumped right into getting ready for work as her first task of the morning, I cut her off and took away a spoon. I practically jumped down her throat. I said ” No! You don’t just get up. You have to crack open your eyes, and then realize you are late. You didn’t sleep well the night before. You have to crawl out of bed, and then you have to make your self something to eat before you can do anything else, because if you don’t, you can’t take your medicine, and if you don’t take your medicine you might as well give up all your spoons for today and tomorrow too.” I quickly took away a spoon and she realized she hasn’t even gotten dressed yet. Showering cost her spoon, just for washing her hair and shaving her legs. Reaching high and low that early in the morning could actually cost more than one spoon, but I figured I would give her a break; I didn’t want to scare her right away. Getting dressed was worth another spoon. I stopped her and broke down every task to show her how every little detail needs to be thought about. You cannot simply just throw clothes on when you are sick. I explained that I have to see what clothes I can physically put on, if my hands hurt that day buttons are out of the question. If I have bruises that day, I need to wear long sleeves, and if I have a fever I need a sweater to stay warm and so on. If my hair is falling out I need to spend more time to look presentable, and then you need to factor in another 5 minutes for feeling badly that it took you 2 hours to do all this.
I think she was starting to understand when she theoretically didn’t even get to work, and she was left with 6 spoons. I then explained to her that she needed to choose the rest of her day wisely, since when your “spoons” are gone, they are gone. Sometimes you can borrow against tomorrow’s “spoons”, but just think how hard tomorrow will be with less “spoons”. I also needed to explain that a person who is sick always lives with the looming thought that tomorrow may be the day that a cold comes, or an infection, or any number of things that could be very dangerous. So you do not want to run low on “spoons”, because you never know when you truly will need them. I didn’t want to depress her, but I needed to be realistic, and unfortunately being prepared for the worst is part of a real day for me.
We went through the rest of the day, and she slowly learned that skipping lunch would cost her a spoon, as well as standing on a train, or even typing at her computer too long. She was forced to make choices and think about things differently. Hypothetically, she had to choose not to run errands, so that she could eat dinner that night.
When we got to the end of her pretend day, she said she was hungry. I summarized that she had to eat dinner but she only had one spoon left. If she cooked, she wouldn’t have enough energy to clean the pots. If she went out for dinner, she might be too tired to drive home safely. Then I also explained, that I didn’t even bother to add into this game, that she was so nauseous, that cooking was probably out of the question anyway. So she decided to make soup, it was easy. I then said it is only 7pm, you have the rest of the night but maybe end up with one spoon, so you can do something fun, or clean your apartment, or do chores, but you can’t do it all.
I rarely see her emotional, so when I saw her upset I knew maybe I was getting through to her. I didn’t want my friend to be upset, but at the same time I was happy to think finally maybe someone understood me a little bit. She had tears in her eyes and asked quietly “Christine, How do you do it? Do you really do this everyday?” I explained that some days were worse then others; some days I have more spoons then most. But I can never make it go away and I can’t forget about it, I always have to think about it. I handed her a spoon I had been holding in reserve. I said simply, “I have learned to live life with an extra spoon in my pocket, in reserve. You need to always be prepared.”
Its hard, the hardest thing I ever had to learn is to slow down, and not do everything. I fight this to this day. I hate feeling left out, having to choose to stay home, or to not get things done that I want to. I wanted her to feel that frustration. I wanted her to understand, that everything everyone else does comes so easy, but for me it is one hundred little jobs in one. I need to think about the weather, my temperature that day, and the whole day’s plans before I can attack any one given thing. When other people can simply do things, I have to attack it and make a plan like I am strategizing a war. It is in that lifestyle, the difference between being sick and healthy. It is the beautiful ability to not think and just do. I miss that freedom. I miss never having to count “spoons”.
After we were emotional and talked about this for a little while longer, I sensed she was sad. Maybe she finally understood. Maybe she realized that she never could truly and honestly say she understands. But at least now she might not complain so much when I can’t go out for dinner some nights, or when I never seem to make it to her house and she always has to drive to mine. I gave her a hug when we walked out of the diner. I had the one spoon in my hand and I said “Don’t worry. I see this as a blessing. I have been forced to think about everything I do. Do you know how many spoons people waste everyday? I don’t have room for wasted time, or wasted “spoons” and I chose to spend this time with you.”
Ever since this night, I have used the spoon theory to explain my life to many people. In fact, my family and friends refer to spoons all the time. It has been a code word for what I can and cannot do. Once people understand the spoon theory they seem to understand me better, but I also think they live their life a little differently too. I think it isn’t just good for understanding Lupus, but anyone dealing with any disability or illness. Hopefully, they don’t take so much for granted or their life in general. I give a piece of myself, in every sense of the word when I do anything. It has become an inside joke. I have become famous for saying to people jokingly that they should feel special when I spend time with them, because they have one of my “spoons”.
© Christine Miserandino
*We have English, Spanish, French and Hebrew translations of “The Spoon Theory” available.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


The night before last I was meditating while DH slept beside me.  I reached a level of meditation that I hadn't previously done.  I could feel and see the area around me blurring out until it was just me.  The blurring out looked like the heat waves you see coming up off the pavement in the summer.  This is definitely progress.

I was worried that I wouldn't be able to block out the pain good enough to meditate but I've found that meditating while in less pain and in a lot of pain helps to increase my meditation skills and decrease my pain levels.  A few weeks ago I was in a really bad flare (a great increase in pain) and I was able to calm myself down by deep breathing and meditation during a bout of intense pain.  That is definitely both an accomplishment, and a useful skill to have.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chapter 2 Exercise from book Paganism, page 57

This blog entry will be answering questions from the book I'm working through right now.

Paganism: An Introduction to Earth Centered Religions

by Joyce & River Higginbotham

ISBN 978-0-7387-0222-3

Paganism by Joyce & River Higginbotham

Take several sheets of paper and mark them as the following.  Go to a quiet place.  What did you believe as a child?  Areas to include are beliefs about yourself, your body, your parents, God, religion, school, responsibility, guilt, sex, what makes you a good or bad person, and what is expected of you.  Do the same for the "teenager," "young adult," and "me now" categories.  

Childhood Beliefs
yourself: I am very special.
your body: It helped me to play hard.
your parents: I had the best Mommy & Daddy in the world.
God: the Father of Jesus
religion: Catholicism. I knew the "Hail Mary" at 4 and it was my favorite prayer.
school: I loved school until I starting getting bullied all the time. Then I hated school
responsibility: I have to make straight A's
guilt: I thought I was "bad" a lot of the time
sex: I thought that sex was gross.
what makes you a good or bad person: Lying, being gay, cheating, being mean to others, hurting a child or animal, and murder make you a bad person.
what is expected of me: to make straight A's.

Teenager Beliefs

yourself: I don't deserve to live. I came out to my mom once and she told me I was wrong. I gave up arguing with her.
your body: is worthless (post-rape trauma).
your parents: I hate them.
God: I'm not sure there is one. I don't believe in Holy Communion or Reconciliation (Confession). I hate going to Mass.
religion: Catholic, but only by force.
school: I hated school. I tried killing myself at school once.
responsibility: I'm not sure.
guilt: Religious guilt, rape-survivor's guilt. Guilt over being a self-injurer-something I kept praying to be able to stop but couldn't.
sex: I thought it was supposed to be better than what I'd experienced
what makes you a good or bad person: committing suicide, stealing, hurting a child or animal, murder, cheating makes you a bad person
what is expected of me: to get scholarships to college

Rosary and Blessed Virgin Mary
Young Adult Beliefs

yourself: No one would love me if they really knew me.  I came out to my mom and she refused to believe I am not straight.
your body: I gained a lot of body self-esteem back when I lost a lot of weight.
your parents: were massively involved in every aspect of my life. I didn't realize the abuse that was going on then, I thought it was all normal.
God: the Father, Jesus the Son, Mary the Mother of God, and Joseph, the step-father of Jesus.
religion: hardcore Catholic. I depended on God to answer my prayers and to do all good things.
school: I knew I belonged in school but jumped around from college to college.
responsibility: I was responsible for being the best Catholic I could be and making good grades in college
guilt: if I didn't pray enough or trust it all in God.
sex: is supposed to be for marriage, but if I do everything but sex I'm not sinning.
what makes you a good or bad person: someone who pretends to be a good Catholic and isn't is a bad person because they are a hypocrite.  Murder, cheating, hurting a child or animal, and stealing are also signs of a bad person.
what is expected of me: to finish college with good grades and to be a good Catholic.

Me Now Beliefs

yourself: I feel so special because DH tells me all the time that I am
your body: is breaking down from my many disabilities but I love it, because my body is trying her hardest to put up the biggest fight she can
your parents: I had the Order of Protection against them (it's a restraining order on steroids) but it expired. Now I just hope that they don't find me.
God: I know believe in the Goddess and the God, and I'm still learning more about them both
religion: Paganism, not even a year yet
school: getting my Masters degree in Professional Writing
responsibility: I get to take responsibility for my own actions, instead of waiting on the Christian God to fix everything.
guilt: I feel "bad" a lot from the years of abuse.
sex: In a monogamous relationship I finally feel safe and happy about sex
what makes you a good or bad person: cheating, stealing, hurting a child or animal, squatting in someone's house and refusing to leave are the signs of a bad person.
what is expected of me: to graduate with my Masters degree

Blessed Be!

After you have finished your sheets take a look at them.  Are there any patterns?  What beliefs haven't changed since childhood?  Pick one or two of the most important of these and write them down separately.  Where did these beliefs come from, and why do you believe they are true, and what influences brought you and now keep you with these beliefs?  Do you think these beliefs are positive or negative for you?  How do they free you and how do they limit you?

One thing that didn't change since childhood is that bad people hurt animals and children, they cheat, and they steal.  Another thing I noticed is that at any time in my life I'm in school and striving for better grades.  I don't think I'm a perfectionist, I think I'm just an academic nerd.  I think these beliefs came from the environment I was raised in.  I've also had a disdain about any kind of cheating my entire life; though I have cheated on homework a couple of times, I wasn't proud.  I believe that these beliefs are positive for me.  They do not feel limiting; I find them to be moral and ethical beliefs.

Now take a look at the beliefs that have changed dramatically from your childhood to now.  Write them down separately.  What happened to bring about these changes?  What were the people, influences, and events that were relevant to these changes?  How did you arrive at your current beliefs?  Do you think they are positive or negative for you?  How do they free you and how do they limit you?

The most dramatic belief change is going from Catholicism to Paganism.  The other one is the relationship with my parents.  I had been losing faith in Catholicism for quite some time.  Then, when my mother had a priest pray over me because of my "evil" ways I went to another priest and asked him if I was still welcome in the Catholic Church.  It came up that I'm pro-gay rights and that pissed the priest off.  It turns out I'm not welcome in the Catholic Church.  This felt very negative at first.  After quite a journey I ended up being a Pagan.  I find this to be a positive experience, I just wish I left Catholicism on better terms.  I feel much freer  happier, and less guilty, being a Pagan.  The reason I had to get an Order of Protection against my parents was for "adult abuse and stalking."  It was a painful experience, but I'm all the better for having them out of my life.  It limits me on going to my parents town, but I don't want to go there anyway, so it doesn't matter.

Three witches celebrating the full moon

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Energy and being handicap accessible

I haven't done any spells yet.  Not one.  I am having a hard time sensing energy--I can sometimes, but other times not at all.  I'm still working on that, which is more or less the groundwork for all spells.  I got a book called Energy Essentials for Witches and Spellcasters by Mya Om.  I've only read the first chapter so far, but need to reread it again before I do the exercises at the end of the chapter.

Over the last year and a half we've had people staying with us that were unwanted.  We've been forced to support them on our tiny checks.  It's a long story on why each person was there, but the outcome was a winter without food every day (sometimes not for days), stress that caused both my disabilities and DH's disabilities to get much worse, fear of our "houseguests," etc. It was a very unhappy time.  It was a really, really bad past year.  So, DH wants to do a spell to keep negative stuff out.  I completely agree, but I'm kinda nervous.

I think a large part of the reason that I have a hard time feeling energy is the pain that is always wracking my body.  For instance, right now my pain is between a 7 and 8 on a scale of 1 to 10.  I'm really curious on how I can concentrate better and feel things outside of myself while in pain.  I think doing some yoga will help with pain levels and concentration, but even gentle yoga for aches and pains is very strenuous for me and I need at least three days to recover from it, assuming I don't go into a pain flare.  It makes me so angry that I can't go to stores anymore that aren't handicap accessible and it makes me even angrier that a lot of places aren't handicap accessible.  I use a walker now, and I'm only 30.  I can't walk around, even with my walker, in Wal-Mart because it's so big.  Any big stores I have to ride a motorized scooter or be pushed in a wheelchair.  I can't push myself because I painfully sublux (partially dislocate) my wrists when I do, even wearing my wrist braces.  DH has been wonderful, and always pushes me around.

I'm also angry that I will not get to go out in nature--places I used to take for granted.  When I can feel my personal power, it feels all jumbled up, twisting, pulling, and pushing.  It feels like knotted barbed wire, if that makes any sense.  Well, it's past midnight and I'm going to try to get some sleep.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Witch in Every Woman

I finished The Witch in Every Woman: Reawakening the Magical Nature of the Feminine to Heal, Protect, Create, and Empower by Laurie Cabot with Jean Mills and I wanted to give my opinions on the last half of the book.  I liked the second half a lot better than I did the first half.  I don't know if it is because the second half is better or if it is because I'm becoming used to a book on feminine witchcraft.  I've never read a book like this before, so it's possible I didn't like the first half as much because I had no idea what to expect.  It's a whole new genre to me, and I'm excited about it.

Laurie Cabot
I like that Cabot points out that the Witch (she capitalizes it) believes in science.  She means more than just what we call science, but includes the holistic view of science she proposes that our ancestors used.  One of the problems I had with Christianity was the clash with science.  She also founded her own tradition, the Cabot Tradition of the Science of Witchcraft.  She does a lot of work against stereotypes and to defend the rights of witches; she also founded the Witches' League for Public Awareness (WLPA).

There is a enchantment for a awareness that I like, so you will not be deceived or bear the burden of other's deception.  I haven't done any spells yet; I'm trying to learn about/feel energy better first.  Without that my spells would be useless.  It calls for a potion.  I'm really interested in doing this enchantment once I get a handle on learning about/feeling energy.

Cabot stresses neutralizing harm, rather than retaliation.  I like that.  There is no reason to lower yourself down to your attacker's level.  Instead, you can neutralize the harm.  I can think of a lot of instances in my life that if I could just neutralize the harm things wouldn't have escalated to the point were they did--which usually ends badly for me.

Cabot includes a chapter about women's creativity.  She advises Witches to get out of their box, try something new, and inspire themselves.  She lists the "Moons and Correspondences," which is basically a list of the month with the moon name and what corresponds to it.  i.e. "January: Wolf Moon; protection; confidence; strength."  I looked at this month, August, and it says "August: Barley Moon; Grain Goddess and Sun Gods; bounty; fertility; marriage; health."  She says that the Witches' menstrual flow corresponds to a woman's creative flow.  I wonder what happens to women who don't have periods because of injury, birth control, hysterectomy, illness, birth defect, or menopause?  Is their creativity lower than a woman who menstruates?  I've wondered that for awhile now.

She suggests, and even has an exercise in the book, to suck your thumb, pressing the pad of your thumb into the roof of your mouth.  She said that may people used to do this to to into an alpha state of consciousness and small children still do.  Perhaps she is right, but it doesn't matter, because I'm not sucking my thumb.

Cabot devotes a very interesting chapter to women and healing.  It used to be that women did the healing.  They were: witches, midwives, herbalists, abortionists, anatomists, pharmacologists, surgeons, and unlicensed doctors.  The medical community now is quite different than it used to be and I think that's a good thing.  While I do believe in alternative medicine there are some things I prefer to see a doctor for because they graduated from med school and have the experience of seeing other patients in a medical/hospital setting.  I think women healing in alternative medicine is a good thing, though.  Cabot writes on page 176:

Midwives were looked upon as enemies of the Church.  Women were burned alive for using herbs and crystals to ease pain in childbirth.  They were falsely accused of infanticide and for "eating babies" in an effort by the Church to torture women, undermine female strengths, and destroy the practice of midwifery.
She talks about using a psychic diagnosis to heal, when you only know the persons name, age, sex, and location.  I think that may be stretching things a bit far, but I may be wrong.  I know in Reiki you can heal from across the world with only a name, what's wrong with them, and picture.

The last chapter is about accepting and celebrating the power within the Witch.  I'm really glad I read this book, and I think that the the previous sentence sums up the whole book.  This is my first book on feminine witchcraft, and I liked it a lot.  I'm never going to read a book by Z Budapest, though.  She started Dianic Wicca, which is only open to women, and are mostly lesbians.  However she doesn't recognize trans women as being women and doesn't allow them into Dianic covens.  I am a strong supporter of trans rights and consider a trans woman just as much woman as I am, or any other woman.  I will not support her transphobic views by even reading a used book she wrote.  When I heard about her and her "problem" with trans women I was so disgusted I removed every book of hers on my wishlist on paperbackswap and amazon.com.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sekhmet: Egyptian warrior goddess of fire and heat

Sekhmet is a Northern Egyptian warrior goddess of fire and heat.  Sekhmet means strong, mighty, powerful, and violent.  Alternate spellings of her name include: Sachmet, Sakmet, Sakhet, Sekmet, Sakhmet, Sekhet, and Sachmis. She was invoked by the Egyptians before battle, as well as for healing.  Sekhmet has a dynamic energy that overcomes disease and cleanses the world of evil and pollution.  She also cares for the human body in the underworld.  The many names attributed to her included: Mistress of the Gods, Lion Goddess, Goddess of War, Goddess of Vengeance, Mother of all the Gods, Lady of the Place at the Beginning of Time, One Who Was Before the Gods Were, the Mighty One of Enchantments.

Sekmet is one of the earliest of the known Egyptian deities. She  is depicted by a Lioness, the fiercest animal the Egyptians knew.  She wears a solar disc, sometimes circled by the spitting cobra.  She is also represented as a lioness whose mane was smoked with fire.  Her back is the color of blood, her eyes shine like fire, and her countenance glows like the sun.  Some myths said that Sekmet is the daughter of the great Sun God, Ra, while other myths put Sekhmet as much older than Ra.

According to myth, Sekhmet's breath created the desert and she led the warrior men into battle.  She is the Crone aspect of the Maiden-Mother-Crone trinity, Hathor-Bast-Sekhmet.  Sekmet is a solar goddess.  She is directly related to the creative and destructive powers of the sun.  Seated statues show her holding the ankh of life, while standing statues show her holding a staff made of papyrus.  Sekhmet's consort is Ptah (the creator) and their son is Nefertum (the healer).  She could not only cure diseases, but could avert the plague, and was the Patron of physicians and healers; her priests became skilled doctors.  She is sometimes called "the lady of terror" and "the lady of life."

Sekhmet's myth involves Ra, as well.  Ra, the sun god, was angry at mankind for not preserving Ma'at, which is justice, or balance.  He sent Sekhmet down to Earth to punish mankind.  Sekhmet began her rampage; the fields ran red with blood.  Ra told Sekhmet to stop now, but she had developed a bloodthirst and continued to kill.  It was then that Ra decided to trick her so she would stop killing, before all of mankind was dead.  He poured 7,000 jugs of beer and pomegranate juice into a field Sekhmet was sure to see.  When she saw it, she fell for the trick, thinking it was blood that she was drinking.  She was so drunk that she slept for three days.  At the end of three days she woke up, with all of her former bloodlust gone.  Humanity was saved and Ma'at was reestablished.  Ra soothed and praised Sekhmet, calling her "the One Who Comes in Peace," and "beautiful, charming, graceful."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chapter 2 Exercise from book Paganism, page 53

This blog entry will be answering questions from the book I'm working through right now.

Paganism: An Introduction to Earth Centered Religions

by Joyce & River Higginbotham

ISBN 978-0-7387-0222-3

Exercise: Drawing Your Self-Image Filter page 53, Chapter 2

Draw a pair of eyeglasses that show the "filters" that you see the world through. How does it make you feel? Is this how you want to see the world? Make a drawing for each word you wished described your self-image. How do you wish your self-image filter looked? Pick up your new pair of eyeglasses. Do you feel any differently about yourself? In what way is your life different with the new filter?

I drew a balance of pink and gray on my glasses.  The pink represents looking at the world "through rose colored glasses," while the gray represents the darkness in life.  In the pink I drew in hearts to show that I am very much in love and that affects the way I see things.  The yellow stars represent being a dreamer.  They are also in the pink part.  Feminism is in the pink part.  I see feminism as a positive filter because it helps me interpret the world around me better and gives me a chance to fight injustice.  Depression is in the gray part.  I have struggled with depression since childhood and I know it sometimes colors how I look at things.  Fear also takes place in the gray part of my glasses.  Fear is a strong filter, and I am afraid of a lot of things.  Two ideas I added are in both the pink and gray areas.  Pain can filter my thinking in a positive or negative manner.  I try for it to be a positive manner, but sometimes it just doesn't work that way.  Lastly, I have growth as filter.  Growth also appears in both the pink and gray areas.  Growth can be a positive or negative experience.  

The main filter I wish I had that I don't is self-confidence.  I have some self-confidence, but not enough to, say, walk into a crowded room or talk to someone new without lots of anxiety.  When I drew the self-confidence filter, I drew a person with their shoulders squared, standing tall and proud.  I also drew a cat, because what animal could have more self-confidence than a cat?  None that I know of.  If I had the self confidence filter then I could walk into a crowded room or meet someone new without anxiety, and that would be really cool.  :-)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wordl and books

A lot of people convert to a new religion or spirituality and go way overboard for the first few years.  They go psycho with it.  I'm certainly not saying everyone does this, just that I've noticed this trend.  I think I have done a good job not doing this.  I am exploring my spirituality and Paganism slowly, and letting everything sink in before I move on to the next topic I am studying/contemplating.  This blog isn't one I write in on a regular basis, and at least for now it probably won't be.  I'm studying what I need to learn with though and contemplation, rolling each idea over in my brain, pulling it apart, putting it back together, and standing back and seeing the creation of though, idea, value, spirituality.

I've only had a few blog entries so far, but I decided to do a Wordl anyway for Pagan Spoonie.  A Wordl drawing puts the words you use most in big letters.  The bigger the word the more you use it in your blog (or webpage), and the smaller the word, the less you use it.  I thought it was interesting, anyway.

Recently I've been reading a book called The Witch in Every Woman: Reawakening the Magical Nature of the Feminine to Heal, Protect, Create, and Empower by Laurie Cabot with Jean Mills.  I am halfway done now.  I'd like to discuss my impressions of the book so far.

First of all, I don't like it that Cabot calls being a Witch (she capitalizes it) a religion.  Wicca is a religion, witchcraft is, well, a Craft.  You can be a witch and not be a Goddess worshiper or even a Pagan.  There are all sorts of witches.  To narrow down Witch to mean a Goddess worshiper who practices witchcraft is annoying.  In the beginning she interchanges the words "Wiccan" and "Witch," but then says Witch for the rest of the book.

I like the way Cabot goes into explanations of where words come from.  For instance, "witch" is derived from the Anglo-Saon root wicce (fem) or wicca (masc.).  These words meant "wise one," "seer," and someone who used magic to access information.  She goes on to say that the Saxon root wych meant "to bend, turn, or shape."  The Indo-European root wic and weik meant the same thing.  Germanic root words wit and witan means "to know," or "to see."

She also talks about how the definition of the word "virgin."  A virgin didn't use to mean a woman who has never had sex.  Instead, "virgin," a word derived from Latin, meant "young girl."  The Celtic root of the Latin work virgin, is werg, means "young girl," "wife," and "woman," and according to Cabot also referred to a woman's strength, force and skill.

I agree with Cabot that forcing women to remain sexually inactive to avoid being branded a "slut," while men are congratulated by the notches on their belt, is wrong.  Very wrong.  She points out that young girls often have sex for the wrong reason.  Women should be able to have consensual (and hopefully safer) sex with anyone they want, without fearing what people will think of her.  While I agree with her on that, I disagree with her on some of the things she says about sex.  She seems to be saying (and I could be taking this wrong) that a woman's sexual enjoyment is divine and far more important than her partner's.  I'm not disagreeing that a woman's sexual enjoyment is divine.  It's just that I personally think in a committed relationship the enjoyment of your partner is also very important.  It's different in a one night stand, but I don't think that's what she is talking about.  I'm not saying that a woman's sexual enjoyment isn't important-it is!  I am saying that her partner's enjoyment is also important.  Also, what if the woman is in a lesbian relationship?  Are both partners divine and supposed to find their sexual enjoyment more far more important than their partner's?

I think a lot of the folklore and mythology she put a lot of her own spin on, while I got the impression she might have made up one or two of them.  Does that make it wrong?  Well, not necessarily, if you can still learn from them.  However, since I am still a beginner I would appreciate it if she also told more about the myths that we know and then put her own spin on it.

I can't really say I've learned that much from this book so far.  While I am a feminist, I don't think woman are that much superior to men.  Well, I do think women are superior (sorry guys), but I don't think they are as superior as Cabot seems to claim.

I just received in the mail yesterday Witchcraft on a Shoestring: Practicing the Craft Without Breaking Your Budget by Deborah Blake and I am waiting on Energy Essentials for Witches and Spellcasters Mya Om to arrive in the mail. I'm yet to do any spell work, though I have done a ritual or two. Like I said, I'm getting my feet wet slowly. I've been practicing every day to feel energy and I really hope Energy Essentials helps with explaining energy better than the books and stuff online I've read so far. It got great reviews on Amazon.com, so I'm optimistic. I just can't wait until it gets here!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chapter 2 Journaling from book Paganism, page 52

This blog entry will be answering questions from the book I'm working through right now.

Paganism: An Introduction to Earth Centered Religions

by Joyce & River Higginbotham

ISBN 978-0-7387-0222-3

My Journal page 52, Chapter 2

Your Place in the Universe

  • Five Things I believe about myself and my place in the universe are...1) I believe human beings are not born evil or into sin.
    2) I believe women have a special part in religion and spirituality and are no less than men.
    3) I believe that all living things are interconnected.
    4) I believe that I am a healer and I must learn how to tap into that with herbs, energy, and crystals.
    5) I believe that there is no Heaven and Hell, instead we reincarnate.
  • Are these beliefs my own, or did I pick them up from someone else?  Did I hear them at home, at church, at school, on TV?  The origins of each of my five beliefs are...1) This idea stemmed from my exploration of Paganism and my own contemplation on sin.
    2) This idea stemmed from my feminist ideals.
    3) This idea stemmed from my exploration of Paganism and the feeling I have when I'm in nature.
    4) This belief stemmed from seeing my dad as a healer, though he's a Christian. I believe that I am also gifted in healing. I believe that herbs, energies, and crystals can help me tap into this.
    5) This belief stemmed from my doubt over the years in a God that would send someone to hell to be tortured for eternity if He was mad at them, yet he is supposed to be kind and loving.  This doesn't make sense to me.  Reincarnation explains a lot of things to me.
  • How are these beliefs positive for me, how do they satisfy me and help me grow personally and spiritually?  In other words, what do these beliefs do for me?  This shows me how my beliefs help me grow. 
    My beliefs are all positive.  They help me grow as a person and spiritually as a Pagan.  They make sense to me as a feminist, a gay rights activist, and a non-Christian.  I can still feel the healing in my Daddy's hands when he touches me when I'm sick or I see him treat a sick animal or sick plant.  I think I have the same traits as a healer, but since I'm much younger than Daddy (of course) I do not have healing skills as refined as his.  My belief in a God and Goddess and a religion that doesn't believe in Heaven and Hell, feels right to me, as does my belief in reincarnation.  I think it will be easier for me to handle death when I know that someone's spirit is reincarnated instead of possibly burning in hell for eternity.

For each of my five beliefs I will identify another belief I cannot have as long as I hold to my original belief.  This shows me how my beliefs are limiting:

  • If I believe in Belief #1, I cannot also believe...in Original Sin.

  • If I believe in Belief #2, I cannot also believe...that women have their own place in religion and spirituality, and it is below that of men's place.

  • If I believe in Belief #3, I cannot also believe...that nothing happens to other living things when something happens to one.  (i.e. the ripple in the pond)

  • If I believe in Belief #4, I cannot also believe...that I do not have the power to heal or the inclination.

  • If I believe in Belief #5, I cannot also believe...that I will go to Heaven or Hell.

Pagan Spoonie

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rainbow Stone Divination & Litha coming up

I'm currently reading Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem, & Metal Magic by Scott Cunningham.  At the end of the ninth chapter Cunningham describes "rainbow stone divination."  It really sounds like something that I'd be interested in trying.  It calls for seven stones, one for each color of the rainbow, hence the name "rainbow stone divination."  The stones should all be approximately the same size and shape and be put into a soft cloth bag when you aren't using them.  They are used pretty much like runes, in selecting a stone and deciphering it's meaning in your life.  The list he gives he says to work with if the meanings don't resonate with you.

Red: Ruby, red jasper, red agate, rhodonite, red tourmaline, garnet.
         Symbolizes anger or other destructive emotions, birth, change, sex, passion,
         endings, energy, confrontations

Pink: Pink tourmaline, rose quartz, pink calcite, rhodocrosite, kunzite.
         Symbolizes love, friendship, peace, joy, relationships, family, interchange.

Orange: Carnelian, amber, citrine, tiger's-eye.
               Symbolizes illumination, personal power, energy, growth.

Yellow: Yellow tourmaline, topaz, yellow fluorite.
              Symbolizes protection, communication, travel, movement, exchange.
              Symbolizes growth, money, grounding, health, fertility, business transactions.

Blue: Celestite, aquamarine, sodalite, blue quartz, blue tourmaline, turquoise, sapphire.
          Symbolizes peace, sleep, healing, purification, emotions, subconscious.

Purple: Sugilite, lepidolite, amethyst.
             Symbolizes spirituality, evolution, mysticism, expansion, reincarnation.

The way Cunningham described it, though, he made it sound like you just keep pulling a stone out until you get whatever feels right.  I know, or at least I hope, he didn't mean that.  I would like to someday learn how and really study runes.  I think this may be a good sort of stepping stone, no pun intended.  What do you think?

I haven't worked with any crystals, metals, or stones yet.  I will soon, but haven't yet.  The summer solstice falls on June 21st this year.  This will be my first Litha.  I am excited, but with all the STRESS going on we didn't realize it until tonight.  (Did you notice I put "stress" in bold, capitals, underlined, and in italics?  Yeah.)

Today I've been in a lot of pain, so I haven't had one of my medicines for a couple of days.  I hope that tomorrow my doctor will call it in and I don't have to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday, but that is a possibility.  Tonight I'm going to learn more about Litha while it is quiet.  I can hear the crickets outside and it makes me long for the country, the river, and the woods.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chapter 1 Journaling from book Paganism, pg 42

This blog entry will be answering questions from the book I'm working through right now.

Paganism: An Introduction to Earth Centered Religions

by Joyce & River Higginbotham

ISBN 978-0-7387-0222-3

My Journal page 42, Chapter 1

  • I came to know about Paganism because...of my DH.  He was a Pagan for many years.  He was both Christian and Pagan when I met him. Now he is a Pagan again.  Before him I'd only heard of Wicca.
  • Three things about Paganism I don't understand or that concern me are...the power of colors; I have a hard time feeling energy from living things (but occasionally can); I fear I'll never feel anything at all when I touch a crystal
  • Three things about Paganism I would be interested to study further are...Goddess worship, healing, herbs.
If I am a Pagan or think I may be:
  • My religion before I was Pagan was...Catholicism.
  • Five things I appreciate about my previous religion are...veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary; the Rosary; the Saints; the rituals involved; Holy water.
  • Three things I wish I could have changed about my previous religion are...the belief that women are subservient to men; the belief gays are evil and the persecution of gays; the constant guilt the Catholic Church piles on.
  • I am attracted to Paganism because...Goddess worship; freedom to love and enjoy life and not mourn it; personal responsibility, the belief that human beings are not evil and the world isn't evil; birth, death, and all life stages in between are celebrated; reverence for the Earth; there is no all mighty being of ultimate evil, i.e. the Christian Devil
  • The Pagan tradition I am most interested in right now is...eclectic solitary Wicca.
  • The reaction of my friends and family to my interest in Paganism is...only my brother-in-law knows.  Some online friends know, my in-person friends don't know but I imagine I have to tell them before our handfasting.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A piece of nature on my desk

Litha, the Midsummer Sabbat, is the next Pagan holiday.  This will be my first Litha celebration.  It takes place on June 21st.  Right now in Australia and all over Southern Hemisphere, they are preparing for Yule.  I've found the page All About Litha to be helpful in learning about this Sabbat.

I've been feeling pretty good the past couple weeks, with only a few high pain days, so I've been able to go outside and sit on the porch most days.  It is nice to feel the strong sun rays on my face and arms.  My KP, which is always worse in the Spring and Fall, is even fading on my arms from getting sunlight.  (Sunlight is the cheapest and easiest way to control KP.)  I don't stay out for long, but I try to go out a couple times a day.  Being outside has really cut down my anxiety levels.  When I closed my eyes and felt the bark, turning it over in my hand, I think I finally felt it's energy.  I am having a really hard time feeling energy.  Do other newbie Pagans have a hard time with this or is it just me?  Every once in awhile I can feel it, but not often.  I've asked DH if he knows of anything that could help me, but he hasn't shown me how or gave me advice or whatever.  I've been reading on it, but when I try actually feeling energy I have a really hard time.  Does anyone have any advice?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Discussion Questions from book Paganism, pg 42

This blog entry will be answering questions from the book I'm working through right now.

Paganism: An Introduction to Earth Centered Religions

by Joyce & River Higginbotham

ISBN 978-0-7387-0222-3

Questions to Discuss on Impressions of Paganism page 42, Chapter 1

1.  In what ways is Paganism influencing movies, music, commercials, consumer products, businesses, and other religions?  What was the first Pagan reference or idea you encountered in the general culture?

The first Pagan reference I saw was the witches in the movie The Craft when I was fifteen.  I know that isn't what real witchcraft is like, but at the time I hoped it was.  A lot of the New Age music has became more popular over the last decade and a half.  I have seen the older movie The Wicker Man, which is about Paganism.  Pagans are making news stories, but not as often as other religions, like Christianity or Islam.  There are sections for the occult and such on eBay.  A lot of crafts and herbal remedies are becoming popular amongst the general public that have always been a part of NeoPaganism.  There are businesses that sell just items for Pagans, such as our friends who own High Vibes Distribution Crystal Visions Wands & Jewelry.  

2.  What was your impression of Paganism before you began studying it?

I was very curious before I started studying Paganism.  I studied it for approximately a year before I had my dedication ceremony.  I knew that Pagans are polytheists and that was very hard to wrap my mind around at first.  In fact, that was the single hardest thing to wrap my mind around.  Once I accepted that, things came easier to me.

3.  Why are you studying Paganism at this time, and what do you most want to gain from this book?

I want to gain knowledge of general Paganism and whatever new information this book can offer me to ponder.  I really like this book so far, though I'm still on Chapter 1.

4.  Who was the first Pagan you ever met?  How did you go about finding Pagans?  How did you hear about Pagan events?  How do you think Pagans can improve their accessibility to those who are looking for them?

The first Pagan I ever met was named Faith.  I met her while I was in the hospital when I was 23.  She was Wiccan and I was amazed at how "normal" she was.  The only other Pagans (besides DH) that I have met have been mainly on Twitter, and a few on Facebook.  I think updated pages, such as group pages on Facebook, are a great way to improve accessibility to other Pagans.

5.  Have you ever attended a Pagan festival or convention?  What was it like?  How was it different from what you expected, and in what ways did it meet your expectations?  What would you say to someone going to their first Pagan festival or convention?  Their first ritual?

No, I've never attended a Pagan festival or convention.  DH and I have talked about it, we want to go to one sometime soon.  DH has been Pagan for many years and has been to many festivals, but I am a newbie Pagan.

6.  What experience have you had with Paganism so far that has been the most fun, the most rewarding, or made the deepest impression on you?

The two books Yoni: The Sacred Symbol of Female Creative Power by Rufus C. Camphausen and Maiden, Mother Crone: The Myth and Reality of the Triple Goddess by D.J. Conway have given me information and encouraged me to ponder this information about the Goddess.  These books have had the most profound effect on me.  I also love discussing religion and spirituality with DH.  Planting flowers on Beltane was definitely fun, too.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Discussion Questions from book Paganism, pg 24

This blog entry will be answering questions from the book I'm working through right now.

Paganism: An Introduction to Earth Centered Religions
by Joyce & River Higginbotham
ISBN 978-0-7387-0222-3

Questions to Discuss on Pagan Holidays page 24, Chapter 1

1.  Which season of the year is your favorite?  What do you remember from your childhood about this season that has special meaning for you?  How do you celebrate this season now?

My favorite seasons have always been Spring and Summer.  In my childhood summertime meant time to play outside, go swimming, climb trees, swing on grape vines, go hiking, go fishing, chase lightning bugs, chase dragonflies, dig worms, and a lot of other fun stuff.  As I grew older I became more aware of the beauty and new life of Spring.  I remember when I was about eleven saying that a rosebud tree was the most beautiful tree on Earth and I wanted to get married under it's branches.  In recent years I've been inside during the Spring because of my allergies.  This year my allergies are only a minor problem, in fact, they aren't any worse than they usually are.  I've been able to sit outside some and enjoy the outdoors.  This Beltane, May 1st, will be my first Pagan holiday.  I am excited about that.  I have also been planting this spring, which I haven't done in a long time.

2.  Have you ever been to a Pagan holiday ritual?  If so, what did you think?  Describe what occurred in the ritual and what you liked about it.

No, I haven't been to one yet.

3.  What do you think about Paganism including celebrations of fertility into its sacred year?  Do you think that the Pagan celebration of fertility offers something positive to the culture?  If so, what, and if not, why not?

I think celebrating fertility is a great thing.  Fertility is on my mind a lot lately anyway, and celebrating the fertile Earth connects all life on a basic level.  Life wouldn't go on without fertility.  Beltane is a fertility festival.

4.  What do you think about Paganism including the processing of death into its sacred year?  Do you think that the Pagan celebration of aging and dying offers something positive to the culture?  If so, what, and if not, why not?

All life will at some time die.  Celebrating aging and dying gives someone a different way to look at growing older and I think it is a much more positive way.  Until I met my DH I was never afraid of death, but I know that most people are.  When you look at death as an action preceding burning for eternity, then death is pretty scary.  I think that not having that "OMG I'm going to hell!" hanging over your head all the time opens you up to be able to celebrate things that were not possible to celebrate before.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sedna, Arctic sea goddess of the Inuit people

For this blog, I am going to research Sedna, the Arctic sea goddess of the Inuit people.  She is half-woman, half-fish, and has the ability to change into either a complete woman or a fish.  She is associated with wild birds, heaven and hell, and beauty.  She can be associated with the sirens of ancient Greece.

Sedna refused many suitors until one day she married a man who was cloaked (or somehow disguised).  He promised her a nice home, but the "nice home" turned out to be a dirty nest.  She sees the man without his cloak on and realizes that he is a bird.  She had been fooled.  Her father comes to rescue her, but on the way home birds attacked them in their boat while a storm churned up wild waves in the sea.  Her father decides to sacrifice her to the sea to appease it, and throws her in.  Sedna grabs onto the boat, trying to climb back in.  Her father chops off her fingers at each joint and then chops off her hands.  He throws her fingers and hands into the sea and they become fish, seals, whales, walruses, and other sea creatures.   Sedna had to let go and sink to the bottom of the sea, where she still resides.  She grew fins where her hands were and her legs grew into a fish tail.  She rules the bottom of the sea, or in some myths Adlivum, the Inuit Land of the Dead.  She is the goddess of life and death because it is she who holds the power making the hunter or fisherman successful.  If she is displeased she will not let the Inuit people have the food they need to survive.  To keep Sedna happy or to make her happy again, a shaman must go to her.  The shaman's journey is difficult.  He must pass countless dead souls, an abyss where an icy wheel turns slowly and perpetually, then past a cauldron full of boiling seals, and finally past the horrible dog that guards the knife-thin passageway into her home.  Once there he must comb the seaweed out of her hair, since she can't do it herself with no hands.  According to some myths, he also has to braid her hair to make her happy.  Only then with Sedna be satisfied and the Inuit people can have successful hunting and fishing expeditions

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dedication Ceremony

Last night, while it was still a waxing moon, my DH was with me while I self-dedicated myself to the Goddess.  I asked the Maiden Goddess to help me on my path.  I did a list of things I can do and things I would like to gain (i.e. peace).  I burned the papers with them on it and it burned completely.  DH drew the circle.  I was so afraid I wouldn't be able to feel the energy of being inside the circle, but I certainly did.

The ceremony we did was very simple.  DH told me normally a self-dedication is done by yourself, but I wanted DH there with me because since we've been together we've been with each other for every "big moment" in our lives and I didn't want to change that.  We've been there for each other through really good stuff, really bad stuff, and everything in between.  So it just made sense to me for him to participate with me, instead of doing it by myself.

Afterwards I felt calm and happy.  I had been nervous and excited beforehand.  I was looking forward to it, I was just a bit nervous.  Now I am very excited!  I feel as if I am an "official Pagan" now.  lol  DH told me I could have called myself Pagan whenever I wanted, but after my first ceremony is when I wanted to.

I'm so happy about this!