Missing Images

I just noticed that my images are all missing. Apparently I was unaware of changes to Photobucket’s terms of service and now and looking for another image site to use. I followed the link they posted in place of my images, and it costs 400 dollars(!!)
Wow. There has got to be a cheaper way to do this. Fuck you, Photobucket.

Well, hello…again

I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I posted. Like anything else, maintaining a blog takes a bit of work and dedication, and I’ve been light on both for the last year. Shortly after my last post, I found a job. I interviewed with a cleaning company and was hired as their ‘beck and call girl’. Fill-in hours as they became available because someone called in sick, went on vacation, etc. Got a lot more hours than anticipated, which made Momma all kinds of big happy. Started at the end of June and by September I was made a full-time employee when someone quit. I worked that position until February when I had to take some time off for a health issue. A week later I was denied documentation from a doctor so I could take leave and fully heal and it was back to work I went. In the week that I had been gone one of our supervisors quit without notice so my boss was actually pretty happy to hear from me. I got the night supervisor position and have been doing great with it except for some pretty serious pain that took me down last April.

Turns out the pain I’ve been having is due to arthritis in my hips and lower spine. The work I was doing aggravated it into hardcore back spasms that put me in the emergency room one day. Since then I’ve been continuing to work and medicating the pain when I can, which isn’t as often as I’d like due to the fact that the meds make me sleepy. Medical marijuana is legal in Maryland now and I was hoping to get in on that, but I haven’t been living with chronic pain long enough to qualify. Larry did, though, which makes me a little resentful, not of him, just of the situation. I have to work. In order to work I need to effectively manage my pain so I can do silly things like walk and move around. There are four buildings on our campus and two more were just added about two miles away which will eventually be part of my nightly rounds as well. Add to that the fact that I am now without a vehicle of my own because so many things went wrong with it in rapid succession we decided to cut our losses and scrap it, and well…all of this presents challenges. John is spending more time at his dad’s, so Larry’s behemoth truck is the only vehicle open to me, and since the kids are back in school and he will need it during the day if one of the schools calls, he wants to take me to and from work.

Well, that’s awesome. Except for the fact that in addition to walking each building I have to take supplies to my staff. We can’t afford another car. If I can’t do the job, I won’t get to keep it. So I’m freaking out a little over it.
Other than that one thing, I love my job. The staff is amazing, I have the nicest, most understanding boss and doing my nightly rounds gives me the opportunity to interact with everyone and do some problem-solving, which I love.
It wears me out though. So most nights I either end up tv or the computer, too exhausted to even put the thoughts together to communicate.

Of course, that means my altar is gathering dust also. This has to change. If I don’t communicate with Deity, I feel as if something is missing in my life, and the uncomfortable feeling of something missing has been growing ever stronger the last few months. I’m going to have to find the energy to do something more than flop into a chair when I get home at night. After playing with the cat, of course. It doesn’t take much initiative to swing a string on a stick. Lucky for moi.

This weekend looks like a good time to clean the altar off and decorate it for autumn. That feels like a marvelous start.


On retirement, health…and cats.

It’s been a busy year since I last posted. My garden failed last year. I had a diabetic ‘episode’, fell backwards from our back stoop and hit my head on the driveway. I knew my bg was low but mistakenly thought I had enough time to take out the recycling before it got to critical. Turns out fuzzy thinking is a clue that things are about to go lights out. I seized and the next thing I knew I was on the asphalt with a bump about the size of a baseball on the back of my head. All of Larry’s joking over the years about my ‘Titanium Cranium’ apparently held an amusing seed of truth. I ended up with a nasty concussion but didn’t even get a skull fracture. This event was preceded by a similar incident two weeks earlier which was triggered in the middle of the night. I woke up on the floor, surrounded by books and with Larry lying in front of me commando-style shoving sugar into my mouth. I had seized in my sleep and tossed myself floorward, hitting the bookcase closest to me on my way down. EMTs were called. Very embarrassing.
Anyway, it took me a couple of weeks to get my shit together and by then my plants had all died. Bummer. I was hoping to plant another one this summer, but weather and other things came up and we still haven’t done it. I figure it’s probably best to put it on hold until next summer, when hopefully we will have adjusted to all the changes in our lives and have established some sort of routine.
In addition to the two incidents I’ve already described, there were many others. Less severe but still alarming. I’ve had some success at losing weight and my body processes sugar differently and relies on (injected) insulin less. I thought I was helping things along by taking firmer control. Actually, I became obsessive about it. My three month test this time last year was the lowest it has ever been and I felt as though I was finally on the right track, hypoglycemic issues and all. I was trying to keep my daily readings and three-month A1C checks at non-diabetic levels. According to my doctor, diabetics kill themselves doing that. I came pretty close last August to taking myself out. Since then I’ve been working to keep things even rather than low and my test results, though higher than I am comfortable with, are in the normal range. No more spiking and no more seizures. My weight loss has hit a plateau, which is frustrating as hell, but I’m not gaining it back, so there’s really nothing to do but ride it out and wait. This happens to everyone. Things are going great and then *SCREECH!* it all comes to a halt for awhile. Eventually it picks back up again. Patience, body…patience.
Larry retired last December. No, that’s not completely accurate. His screaming psycho bitch supervisor set up her own little personal program of harassment and forced him into early retirement. By the time he left his antidepressant dosage was about three times what it is now and I could barely approach him without him getting aggressively snippy, hateful or lecturing me at length regarding my failures as a wife, mother and human. He’s been that way for a long time due to issues at his job, but this latest supervisor is a real piece of work. In this case ‘piece of work’ is code for ‘mean-spirited uber-cunt I’d like to beat the fuck out of’. She made it her mission to make his life as miserable as possible. He was so anxious and depressed all the time that living with him became next to impossible. If I didn’t love him as much as I do, there’s no way I could have stuck around. Things are difficult enough with the children, especially dealing with Zoe’s aggressive behaviors. She’s still digging chunks of skin out of my arms every morning. They’re looking pretty cut-up and bruised right now, which embarrassed the hell out of me yesterday when I went to the first job interview I’ve had in about 18 years. Obviously things are challenging enough without adding an angry, morbidly depressed, verbally nasty spouse into the mix. I don’t know how litigious this woman might be, so I won’t post her name here, but if anyone happens to pass through here that has applied for a position with the FDA, email me. We should talk before you accept any position with this bitch as your supervisor. Not even kidding. The problems she caused for my husband at work had a serious impact on our already turbulent family life. She is absolutely miserable to work with.
There is a silver lining, however. After his post-employment hangover lifted, his entire personality changed. Over the course of the first three months he went from being an antagonistic asshole to the lovable, amazing man I first fell in love with. A cliche, perhaps, but true just the same. The change in him has been so profound that his doctor has begun the process of tapering him down from the antidepressants. He’s so much easier to live with now, which has helped my own anxiety and depression tremendously. The only real issue we have now is financial. Retiring early means he isn’t getting the full benefits he would have gotten if he had stayed another three years, but given that he is more like himself I figure this is still a pretty damned good trade. Less money, more happy. Works for me.
However, part of the trade is that I go from being full-time mommy to finding a job of my own. I’m happy to do it – I’ve wanted to go back to work for years! Turns out looking for work is like having a job in itself. I’ve been at it for weeks but have only had one interview. It went well, though, so I’m thinking it may actually lead to something. It’s only part-time, but you never know what might open up. In the meantime I have a guaranteed spot on another job as soon as something opens up, which I have been assured won’t take long because someone is about to quit (to care for a sick relative, I think). That position is full-time, so I’ll actually be able to work both. The one I just interviewed for is security, Fridays & Saturdays 11pm-7am. I still have to pass the background check, get fingerprinted, etc. but it’s looking pretty good. The supervisor seemed to like me.
We’ll see how it goes.
Last summer we also added a new member to our family. This little guy:

His name is Angus McCool and we adore him. He wandered into our yard one afternoon last August. Hungry, sad and making the most mournful sound Larry said he’d ever heard. It took about two weeks of feeding and speaking softly to earn his trust and he’s been our baby ever since. According to the vet, he was five months old then. He’s a sweet, lovable little guy, and very playful. I have been deathly allergic to cats my entire life but Angus doesn’t trigger any reactions in me or the children. That in itself is amazing – they’re allergic to everything. I knew very little about caring for cats and my Facebook friends and groups have been an enormous help. Other Witches in particular. There’s one stereotype with a basis in truth: wanna know about cats – go to the Witches.

Update: I just heard back about the security job. Didn’t get it. My interview went so well I seriously don’t understand why. I am qualified and able to work the hours they want. I also have reliable transportation and flexible child care so I can work weekends and holidays.
It makes no sense. I guess that interview sort of lulled me into a false sense of security. I was so sure I was going to be hired.
Oh well. The search continues.

Anti-Pagan propaganda

On the whole, the Pagan community is faced with bullshit every day from (sometimes) well-meaning but poorly informed people who have either read or been told things about who we are and what we believe that are untrue. Some of them take what their pastors feed them at face value, others have been taught in childhood that to explore other religions is bad because everything that isn’t Abrahamic is ‘of the devil’. Generally, I let it slide. I have grown past the need to try and educate everyone who comes up to me to comment on my jewelry or visits my Facebook or blog. It’s far too often a waste of time and energy because they already have their beliefs about us set in their minds. Since they have zero chance of changing my beliefs and I see no chance of them changing their minds about anything related to Pagan religions we are at an impasse before the discussion even begins. What’s the point? However, I have the occasional displeasure of happening upon someone so loaded to the brim with misinformation I feel the need to speak up, especially when the person attempts to present him/herself as an authority. Far too often, the content of their writing or spoken conversation shows they know absolutely nothing about us. That doesn’t stop them from spreading lies.

Dreams Of Dunamis is such a site (and that post is only one example). This person is fixated on demons and Witches. Those of us who have been practicing Witchcraft for a long time (and even novices become aware of this early on) know that demons and Witches have nothing to do with one another. Granted, the Pagan community is a diverse bunch. Traditional Witches, Wiccans, Druids, God centered, Goddess centered, Asatru, Eclectics – our beliefs and Traditions are many. However, in my almost twenty years on the Pagan path, I have yet to meet anyone who claims the title of Witch, Druid or Pagan that consorts with demons or the christian Satan. Satan is part of the christian pantheon. Most of us have come from christianity. We don’t want to align ourselves with the christian god, why would we have any interest in his counterpart? It makes zero sense and doesn’t reflect who we are or what any of us believe, except for perhaps the Christo-Pagans, but even they have no interest in Satan or demons.

One of the problems is the christian belief that anything outside of their religion is by default ‘of the devil’. Interesting belief, but that argument is easily defeated, even by novices. Pagan religions and the vast number of Deities honored by the various Traditions predate christianity. Some (Celtic and other European Traditions, for example), were around for thousands of years before christianity spread across Europe. Even in the bible other Gods are mentioned. If Satan wanted to lead the Witches, he came woefully late for the task. Christianity has only been around for about 2000 years, give or take. It certainly doesn’t predate Celtic Traditions or Druidry. We don’t have faith Satan even exists, much less a desire to honor him. This is true of NeoPagan beliefs as well, who have simply taken the ancient beliefs of our European ancestors and reworked them to fit our world as it is now.

The primary problem I have with Dreams of Dunamis and others who believe this ridiculous tripe about us is that they present it as fact, as if they are somehow blessed with knowledge that practicing Pagans don’t have. How they manage to gain this without doing any actual research is anyone’s guess.

The author of Dunamis claims that we all not only consort with/worship their devil, but that we practice human and animal sacrifice and kidnap christian children to use in ritual and for those sacrifices. That is nothing but lies. Actually that claim goes beyond misunderstanding, lying or being misinformed. It is old-fashioned blood libel. It is ridiculous in the extreme, even more so than Rebecca Brown’s claims that Witches have a big meeting every few years and we take werewolves along for protection. If that were the case, I am extremely disappointed, as I have been years without an invite and have not been issued my werewolf companion. Maybe UPS forgot to poke holes in the box and s/he suffocated en route?

The one thing both of those false claims have in common (besides having no basis in fact): other christians believe them. Others accept them as fact (ironically while also not doing any research) and the misinformation and fear continue. Isn’t lying supposed to be considered sinful?

Without reading anything by Pagan authors, getting to know any of us personally, or even contacting a Priest/ess and asking questions, people like this have decided that every awful thing that is said or posted about us must be true. Worse still is that they don’t even want to learn the truth. It will be more difficult to demonize us and they need a bogeyman. If I were to say things of that nature about christianity, I would be just as wrong. While admittedly I have no love for the religion due to the grief both it and christians themselves brought into my life, I have no desire to slander it that way. I was christian for twenty-seven years. I know what it’s about. Dunamis and people who think like him/her have no experience with Paganism, Witchcraft or any of our Traditions.

I left two comments for Dunamis, politely worded, attempting to explain that what s/he had written about us was wrong and with some research or by getting to know us s/he would understand better who we are and what we believe. Both comments went unanswered and were deleted a day or two later.

No desire to learn. Sad, really. To be so afraid of not having something to be afraid of, and willing to perpetuate ridiculous lies and slander in order to hold that position.Edit: Thank you to G. B. Marian for his comments regarding Satan’s role in some types of Witchcraft. While some Pagans have embraced the christian Satan for his chaotic nature and as an expression of personal freedom, the majority of us leave him to the christians. Satan as part of Witchcraft came along after christianity (Pagan religions were around long before christianity, so Satan was never part of Witchcraft in the beginning) was established and some people are just fine with him as he represents the complete opposite of christian beliefs, rules and thought. I should have added more historical context to my post, because Marian is absolutely correct. Witches who embrace Satan as part of their theology (or even as a figure or representation of an ideal as opposed to a Deity) are part of the Pagan community and it was wrong of me to exclude them entirely.

Randy the Redneck Robin

(Not Randy. Image of actual bird not shown to protect his identity. Not really. He just moves around so much I can’t get a good picture of him.)

I first noticed Randy about two months ago, attacking our grill. It has a shiny black surface and I’m guessing he thought his reflection was another male bird looking to set up housekeeping and was giving him a bit of the old ‘You came to the wroooooooooooooooooooooong neighborhood, bitch!’.
It took at least a couple of weeks for him to realize his reflection wasn’t another bird, so he put on a spectacularly funny show for a little while before taking the fight to my car. Both of my rear-view mirrors and the driver/passenger front windows were so covered with poop I had to wash them to see anything. Apparently the ‘ghost-bird’ that was bothering him in the backyard had followed him to the car, and Randy was none too pleased about it. He flapped, pecked and smeared his droppings all over the place. That too lasted a couple of weeks until he clued in and decided the bird in the car window wasn’t worth his time. That, or he figured he had shown the bird who was boss and further aggression on his part was an asshole move.
Naturally, I found this hilarious. Yes, I had to scrub poopy flapmarks off of my car, and yes, the area around the grill was fairly skanky, but his antics were so amusing I still found his presence delightful and named him. Randy is pretty easy to identify even though we live in an area with a tremendous population of Robins, primarily because he doesn’t do anything without some outward show of aggression. Once he staked his claim on the grill he alternated between fighting the ‘ghost-bird’ and sitting on the handle staring intently over our house at the trees. My guess is he had a nest with a mate and some eggs he was looking to protect. I never saw the Mrs. or the babies, but it just makes sense given his behavior. After a few weeks he stopped fecalating the grill and put his attention to the bowl of water I keep out back to give the birds and assorted adorable woodland critters a drink. Apparently, the bowl is his, and damned if he’s gonna share it. There has been much sparring over the bowl. It generally works like this:
Randy has a bath then sits in it for awhile, his feathers all puffed up and his beak open as if he’s ready to do battle if anyone stops by to trespass.
Another bird comes by and Randy flaps, chirps and chases him/her away.
The other bird flies off but comes back a minute later with reinforcements.
Randy hops out and at least two other birds stand by the bowl and all take turns glaring at him while they get a drink.
The second they leave Randy hops back over, his little drumsticks still puffed into oblivion and reclaims the bowl for himself.
Having gotten too close to a robin’s nest a few years ago I know those little guys will divebomb my head and make a heck of a scene if I get too close so I’ve pretty much left Randy alone. I clean and refill the bowl only when he isn’t nearby and thus far he hasn’t gone Defcon-1 on me, which I appreciate.
Not all Robins migrate in the winter but if he does, I will surely miss Randy. Summers are tough and that little guy had kept me laughing since he first appeared. Wherever he goes, I hope he’s up to his aggressively puffed-up drumsticks in fresh water and fermented berries.
And lady birds. Lots of lady birds. :o)

‘Unequally Yoked’

I’ve been watching the Pagan Perspective channel on YouTube for a long time and have found it to be a fantastic resource because it not only provides a lot of information, but is pretty diverse. Members past and present have been Wiccans, Druids, Asatru, Celtic and lots of other Traditions, so there’s a little something for all of us. I can not recommend it highly enough.
This week’s topic was the issue of being ‘unequally yoked’. The question came from a young woman who is Pagan but dating a devout christian and it doesn’t sound as though they have reached an understanding, in particular about how to make their conflicting religious beliefs work within their relationship. The question, which was posted in the description box below both videos, is this:
Hey Pagan Perspective, I’ve been watching your videos for a little while now and I’ve noticed a lot of things covering marriage. Well my question is kind of based on that… I’ve been dating my christian boyfriend for while (I am a pagan, I don’t really have a label yet since I vibe with a lot of subgroups under Paganism) and one question came up that really had me somewhat worried… I was brought up christian and left that faith for paganism. But anyways, I remember the concept of being “unevenly yoked” within a marriage. This concept has my boyfriend a little bit worried, since I am a practicing pagan and he is a devout christian, he is worried that our children and our relationship once bound together through marriage will be somewhat compromised by this uneven yoke. He is worried (this made kind of baffled/hurt me emotionally) that I would raise our children in the pagan faith, and I’m worried he’ll want to box our children under Christianity the way I was boxed in. Anyways, what would be some advice you could give me to help explain to my boyfriend that this “uneven yoke” shouldn’t be a reason to question our relationship? And what are your thoughts on the “uneven yoke”?
There are two responses thus far, but I’m sure there will be more later in the week.

Embedding was disabled for the second video, but here’s the link.
I’m sure the opinions on this subject are as diverse as the Pagan community itself. That said, I do have some thoughts…

My first marriage was to a christian man. At the time it made sense because I was christian myself. Without going into detail, it was a miserable experience. So was church. Pretty much the whole deal was a big mass of pain, anguish and problems for me, so my own perspective of this issue is admittedly colored by those experiences. Once I left christianity, my marriage and all of the grief that went with both and allowed myself to look elsewhere for spiritual healing and expression, I was infinitely happier.
Truly, I can not see how a Pagan/Abrahamic interfaith relationship can work, regardless of the sect(s) or Tradition(s) of the people involved. All three branches of the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) teach that their belief is the only way to God and that everything else is influenced by Satan/Lucifer (most of them don’t know the difference between the two, so they use both names to identify the entity they know as the personification of ultimate evil). If a person truly believes that any religion outside of their own is evil and filled with darkness, how can s/he possibly allow themselves to enter into a relationship with a person who doesn’t share that belief? It would be condemnation by association. In law enforcement terms, it’s aiding and abetting. Not only do you condemn yourself by ‘yoking yourself unequally’ to a person who doesn’t share your religious perspective, you condemn the other person by ‘allowing’ him or her to continue in their sins. What does the ‘true believer’ do about this?
I’ve talked with so many Pagans over the years since I started on my own Path, and this is something that apparently happens all the time. Whether it’s clear what beliefs both people have when the relationship begins or one of them experiences a conversion during the relationship, it causes problems. Communication helps both understand what is important to them about their faith, but it can’t change the deeply held conviction that the non-christian person is doing something not only wrong, but utterly harmful. The belief is that the non-christian faith harms the person, the marriage and any children they may have.
In addition to the pressure christians feel within themselves to convert their ‘unsaved’ partner, they will have pressure from well-meaning family, friends and church groups to contend with, which makes a difficult situation even more painful.
Not that all interfaith relationships are doomed to failure. I married an Atheist (sounds like a 1950s B movie title) and we have very few issues. None of the problems or disagreements we have ever had involved religion. He is comfortable in his non-belief and I’m a dedicated Witch, so issues of faith have never really come up with us. My husband is actually very supportive of my faith. We argue about other things sometimes, but neither of us has ever tried to convert (or de-convert) the other.
That said, I know religious issues can often push a wedge between even truly devoted couples. Either it can be worked out or it can’t. Being aware of when it’s time to split vs. time to dig in and hang on is so important. Personally, I wouldn’t be comfortable with a partner who couldn’t allow himself to be comfortable with me unless I embraced his religion. If anything should happen to break up my marriage I’m not going to be looking for another partner anyway. I’m fine with being by myself if it comes to that. Some people aren’t and I get it, but for the life of me I can not understand why someone who lives and believes as a Pagan would get involved in a relationship with someone who will ultimately be on a mission to ‘save’ him/her.
Life is busy, complicated and sometimes exhausting work. Making a life with someone who later converts is one thing; not many of us are truly psychic and can foretell what lies ahead. Deal with that when and if it ever comes. But why get involved with a person with whom your beliefs are not compatible?

Dylann Roof

I have been thinking about this for the last week; specifically if I should even put down my thoughts about it and if it will make any difference if I do. In the end, I decided it matters to me.
Reading Dylann Roof’s manifesto this morning, I couldn’t help wondering why there is still debate among conservatives regarding Roof’s motivations. He was clear when he told the arresting officer, “I wanted to shoot black people”. His actions are definitely a hate crime, but not the anti-christian actions teabaggers and Fox News are making them out to be. True, he killed people in a church, but I suspect he chose the church because he was unlikely to find people who would be shooting back at him there. The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church has been serving their community for almost two centuries. Known affectionately as ‘Mother Emanuel’, the congregation was involved in the civil rights movement and hosted Dr. King and his wife in 1962 (Rosa Parks was also a member), and has been active in charity work and community outreach throughout it’s history. From the beginning, the church has been a bright spot in the American South – a region that is universally known as being rabidly racist and backward. South Carolina still flies the confederate flag, sending the clear message that the beliefs that guided it’s past are still alive and well in that part of the country.
This is where Dylann Roof attempted to start his race war; the place in which he was welcomed to the bible study/prayer meeting with no questions asked. The place he targeted because it has a large community of black people, none of whom were armed when he went in with a gun himself.
Murdering people in a house of worship is despicable regardless of the faith, unless there is undeniable proof that the building is being used to plan kidnappings, killings or terrorist activities. None of that was the case at Mother Emanuel. Roof was the only killer or terrorist there.
There are so many elements of this that make my heart ache; the cowardly nature of it, the waste of good people, the pointlessness of the shooting itself…nothing was accomplished except to cause a community needless suffering. The race war Roof had hoped to ignite isn’t happening and he wasn’t able to shoot himself because he was out of ammo, so now he rots in jail. Hardly the memorable exit he had planned to make.
Every image and video clip of him show a young man with almost no visible spirit, eyes empty, going through the motions of living but with little life actually in him. It’s difficult to describe and disturbing to see. In his manifesto he came across as hateful and angry, but also somewhat mechanical, a person who had accepted what he thought was his fate and was just counting the minutes until his ‘work’ was finished and he didn’t have to live with that fate any longer. In his mind killing nine people he didn’t even know made perfect sense, even though they had never harmed him. I’m really struggling with that. My empathy puts me in the places of the families and friends of the victims. If a soulless monster gunned down my parents or brother while they were at worship, how would I react? I know myself well enough to understand that I’d be devastated first – then angry. I’d want the shooter to suffer in prison. However, the victims of Mother Emanuel have taken a different approach: they’ve forgiven Dylann Roof and let him know they harbor no ill will or desire to inflict revenge. I find that beautiful, amazing and inspiring.
If anything good can be taken from this, it’s that humans have the deep capacity to live their convictions and let love prevail, even when faced with such boundless and seething hatred. Every human being can learn something from their example and make their own corner of the world a better place – provided they are open to it.
Roof is likely to be in the news a lot over the next few years as the investigation, trial and eventual sentencing commence. I doubt that deluded boy will ever see life outside of confinement. Every view he has for the remainder of his existence will be through metal bars or chain-link fences.
Meanwhile, Mother Emanuel will continue to be a beacon to it’s community for strength and healing. Their charity and ministerial work will go on long after Dylann Roof is but a memory and the tragedy he caused is part of their distant past.
I find that comforting. May they be surrounded by love, light and healing energy as they begin the process of recovery.
Blessings and love to them all.