Sunday, December 16, 2012

Past Work: Book Piece

While cleaning out my Google Drive (a fantastic office suite that is in the Cloud), I found a piece of a book I was working on four years ago. Here is the excerpt! Be aware that the first half isn't finished. Should I work on this more?

Warning, it is a bit graphic. The main character is Huli, a fox shapeshifer who is the middle of five siblings. The family is the royalty of the shapeshifting world that is set up in a matriarchal way. These fox shifters live to be several centuries old, the oldest being a millennium old. Huli was being groomed to become next High Priestess when something goes wrong.

Huligua Gogyou Kouzoku, born to the High Priestess Faia and High Priest Yochi, was raised in the rich shapeshifter city of Byzunia with her two older brothers, Kazan and Gufuu, and two younger sisters, Arashi and Jishin. They all had nicknames they went by, refraining from their “high court” names as much as possible. Huli, Kai, Gu, Ame, and Ji would play in the forests outside Byzunia for hours and hours as children, flirting with the surrounding dangers their parents would chide them about all the time.

"Byzunia Palace Garden"
“The humans in those houses would capture and kill you or worse if they saw you”, Faia would say.
“But ma, we could just level their towns with our magicks.” Huli would retort.
“You know better than to do such a thing! Magick is not used to harm, but to heal! Must we keep you in school longer, child of mine?” Faia would sternly say. She was the High Priestess and spiritual leader of the shapeshifting community. To her would come all those matters religious and political. Huli never understood her mother’s shyness towards the humans, or her undying neutrality. Whispers from the clans cluttered her ears and mind. “Soon, the humans would overrun the world and in our neutrality, we would surely be wiped out and our hiding places would be destroyed. Already there were Hunters who sought out our kin and fellow shifters! Are we to stay here and die slowly?” shifters would say, keeping their voices hushed in case Faia caught their gossip.

Centuries past as Huli grew from child to teen, watching the progress of the human world and the equal demise of the shifter world. Clans rose and fell, some becoming old and extinct. Some clans left the “human” plane for other ones to start fresh, tired of hiding. Some of the surviving shifter evolved with the humans, forming new lives with the humans as beasts of burden or companions in their animal forms. Entire families would stay in their animal forms, forgetting their human forms and never teaching their children their history. Some would stay in their human form, forgetting their animal forms and abandoning their magick to live as a normal human, though they always had strong ties to their old form’s animal.

Huli looked on with only mild interest in these minor politics, more absorbed into her study for priestess-hood than the actions of some clans. As the next in line to be the High Priestess, Huli would take control of all the clans and lead them as her mother did, and her mother’s mother before her. She knew it was a serious job, and she tried to be serious like her mother, but sometimes her siblings made it hard to focus.

“Come on Huli! Lets go play in the woods.” Ji begged Huli, jumping around her like a bunny.



Huli ran with desperate haste back to her house. She had fell asleep in her secret place, the Ball Dealg, and it had gotten darker than she had thought, but as she got closer to her house, the worse she began to feel. Something wasn't right; something was off but she couldn't put her finger on it. She was almost home, but suddenly she froze. A terrible shot of fear ran up her back. Huli smelled blood, and lots of it. She bolted to her house, afraid of what she might find, afraid of what she wouldn't.

Vacation house in daytime. Huli comes in at Dusk.
Huli burst through the door, then immediately froze. She saw the bludgeoned bodies of her two brothers and her father laying on the floor, massive blood pools surrounding their bodies. She couldn't sense their heart beats anymore, they were already gone. Her father had obviously been ambushed; his sword was still sheathed on his hip. Her brothers had fought hard, but being apprentices, they didn't stand a chance. Tears welled up in Huli's eyes as she bent over her brothers' mangled bodies.

A sickening scream wrenched Huli's attention from her sudden loss. She ran towards the scream, racing down the hall to her parents' room. She exploded into the room just in time to see Ame's throat being sliced open. The shock of the sight left her cold and motionless. Her mind froze, along with her body. She saw a woman lying on the floor, and as recognition slowly trickled into her mind, her mother rose her head up to see her daughter frozen in the doorway. "Huli run! Get away from here! Go! Run!" Huli looked at the only figure standing in the room. It was a young blonde male she had never seen before. The only thing Huli could make out was his dark leather duster coat and his onyx dagger. He glanced at her, then made for the woman on the floor, who continued to make desperate noises Huli didn't recognize, and tried to struggle to get up, but her body was clearly broken into many pieces, unable to support her weight. The man stopped when he reached the woman, and as Huli's eyes grew as she realized who the woman was, the man took the blade in his hand, made a swift movement at her neck, then walked to Huli.

"Mother!!" she screamed. Huli collapsed onto her hands and knees. Tears blurred her vision and streamed across her face, her body trembled like an earthquake, refusing to move from where it was. The man's feet entered her sight, declaring that the man himself was right above her helpless body. He crouched down, picking up Huli's head to his eye level, making her look him in the eyes. She stared into the deep scarlet eyes, noticing his mouth curling into a sickening grin, a trap of knife sharp teeth. Huli's eyes dilated in fear as he said one, sweet word to her, cutting into her mind like his blade into her mother's neck. One word, the only one she could think of as she obeyed the man unquestioned.


The next thing she saw was the woods that surrounded the vacation house rushing past her as she ran for her life. She couldn't think straight. Huli could sense the man was behind her, enjoying the chase to no end. She found her mind, which had become dead cold with the anger she felt. I will buy time, she thought, I will play a trick on him. She turned her direction, heading for the Ball Dealg. She busted through the thorn wall, stumbling on some roots, then continuing to her destination. She reached a massive oak, put her back to it, then sank into the tree, seamlessly blending in as the tree enveloped her body. She then made an illusion of herself and sent it running off in another direction. The man made it to the oak right then, just in time to see the copy running off. He chased after it.

Willow tree at Ball Dealg.
When Huli thought he was a safe distance away, she started to come out of the tree. Suddenly, a searing pain erupted from her shoulder as a dragon tooth knife bit into her. She screamed, realizing that the man hadn’t been alone. This older, scarred man smiled at his catch until a fist connected with his face. A little bit of blood ran out of his nose as Huli ran to the pond. She fled to the only other place she could think of, and fell at the base of the willow tree. She stayed on her hands and knees as the new man continued to hunt her down. She curled up and cried as she understood that this was the place she would die at.

"What is a beautiful creature such as yourself doing crying like it is the end of the world?"

Huli looked up into stunningly dark golden eyes of the most beauteous soul she had ever set eyes upon. A near flawless face gazed curiously back at her, handsome and chiseled. He smelled old and of wine mixed with blood, but he looked no older than thirty years old. She stared into the golden eyes flecked with jet black. "Please, if you're going to kill me, do it quickly. I.. I have nothing left." she sobbed. He looked a little confused for a moment. "Why would I want to hurt you?" he asked. Then he looked up, understanding spreading through his refined features, and disappeared, leaving Huli all alone. 

The unknown men walked through the underbrush to finish Huli off, blades visible and eyes burning red. One of them, the young one, pulled her hair back, exposing her throat. He was just about to pull the blade across her neck when he suddenly flew back, blood projecting in such a manner to suggest that his face had hit something rock hard, or more accurately, something rock hard hitting his face. The man smashed face first on the ground a hundred feet away from Huli.

Huli cast her gaze above her, where the golden eyed man had been before he disappeared. This time his features held anger, but he wasn't looking at her; he was looking at the other men, murder spelled in his eyes. The vampire strolled to the older man, moving with the grace of an angel. Huli hear the sickening crunch of bones snapping like twigs as the vampire gripped the face of her attacker. "Destroyer, now you will die." the threat of the words were made more frightening by the sweet tone in which this bronze angel had delivered them, lacing them with honey, malice, and hatred.

The attacker growled deeply, a dark sound emanating from the back of his throat. "Dirty blood-sucker. Scum like you shouldn't walk this earth. I will put your body back in the grave, where it belongs to rot, disgusting leech." he managed to say, then grabbed the hand which was firmly placed on his face. He dug his fingers into the skin of his assailant, then mumbled in a language Huli didn't recognize. Electric blue sparks danced across the angel's skin. The Destroyer grinned wickedly, but faded immediately when he saw the sparks didn't have any effect on his opponent. "Weak human. Small magicks like that won't work on me." the vampire sneered, clutching harder on the Destroyer's head. The human screamed as his head was slowly caving in. The Destroyer then grabbed the arm with both of his, and saying a complex phrase in the same unearthly language, produced blood-red sparks that made the vampire quickly let go. On the back of the vampire's hand appeared a symbol, a snake curled around a down-faced dagger. The human laughed hysterically, Huli's angel snarling savagely at him. Stillness spread across the meadow as the angel put his foot through the man's head. "Silence, Destroyer.",90/snake-and-dagger-vector-851190.jpg
The vampire looked over to the younger assailant, who was obviously scared. The attacker bolted off into the forest, this time running for his life. The vampire followed him, and a few minutes later, Huli could hear his screams. She waited for the vampire to come back, but as minutes turned to hours, she began to realize she was all alone. She curled into herself and wept. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gym: Not For Skinnies!

People working out at Downsize Fitness
Here in Dallas, TX there is a gym that exclusively caters to the fatties who's goal is to lose more than 50lbs. It is called Downsized Fitness (which also has locations in Las Vegas and Chicago) and they do not allow any skinny people (except for trainers).

The gym has frosted windows and no mirrors so that patrons do not feel embarrassed by their bodies and so no one from the outside can see them work out.
Downsize Fitness Founder Francis Wisniewski, 38, says "As an overweight person, it's in my head that I'm being judged, whether it's true or not," he said. "So a slogan on the wall isn't going to matter if I'm working next to a 90-pound woman or a bodybuilder."
 Well no shit, Sherlock. Everyone knows about the pervasive fat hatred that fatties experience on a daily basis, and by everyone, I mean all us fatties. Getting sideway glances from someone you perceive as thinner or more athletic than you will make some of the more confident fatties doubt themselves, even if the person was only looking at the clock behind you.

Trainers are the only fit people at DsF.
My own experience at the gym I frequent has been pleasant, actually. I have not gotten any kind of negative perceptions, and in fact have had people help me whenever they can. From tips on how to do a particular exercise (ex: don't bend your knees when you do Stand Calf Raises. Yes, it is easier, but you do not want that) to encouragement during a particularly grueling workout session. However, I have the luxury of a small, locally owned gym and I realize that my experience is probably not the norm. I say, if you are around a gym that caters only to the fat, go see how you like it. If you want to try your luck at a nearby gym that caters to everyone, do so! But you should know that those people are probably not judging you, and if they are it will most likely be positively (in their mind, anyway. You know, "Oh, I am glad to see an obese person taking action about their health. Good for them.")

My attitude? I don't give a flying fuck what someone else thinks about me at the gym. I am not there for them, I am there for myself. Ain't nobodies damn business on what I do or anything. I will treat you however it is that you treat me: if you are positive to me, I will totally be positive to you. If you ignore me, I will do likewise. If you treat me negatively, I will get you kicked out of the damn gym, you asshat.

But imagine overweight and obese people doing activities that they actually love doing, and being taught how to enjoy their food instead of being scared of it, and not being shamed and shit. Almost sounds like they are being treating like a human or something.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

When It Rains

Have you ever heard of the expression, "When it rains, it pours"? It is a curse that haunts my family, and it surely hit us hard recently.

It started with my mother and Chichiue getting into a wreak on the motorcycles. They had a few bumps and broken wrists, but were otherwise alive. However, the bikes needed to be fixed and physical therapy needed to be done. Then my mother's only car broke and the part and labor will be $1900. Then Oyaji decided that he wasn't going to let my brother leave the state, which means I will be getting a big chunk of money out of Kachan and Chichiue's income. Then my car broke down yesterday and it will be anywhere from $1600 to $3000 to fix. Because my car broke down when it did, I will be stuck trying to get to the last days of class which are finals, not to mention not being able to go to work so I can feed myself.

Nothing will be able to be done. No one in the family has that kind of money. I have no idea what we are going to do. I don't have a good enough paying job to justify getting a used car, I don't "work enough" to get assistance from the state, and I have no back up plan. I am seriously considering an Indigogo campaign to see if anyone is willing to help my blight.

Now I know how Star Foster feels at the end of the month. :(
Karma bitchslapped my ass.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Well Played, Mom

In my family, there is a type of "curse." Every person in my family has become a parent when they turned 20 years old. I was determined to break this. I found out last week that I was terribly wrong.

Otouto means "younger brother" in Japanese
Am I pregnant? No, but I will be taking care of my brother until I don't know when. He is an 11 year old who has had a shitty year. I hope that I can make 2013 a better year for him. His name will be Otouto [o-TOE-oo-toe] for the purpose of this blog (it means "younger brother" in Japanese). Kachan [ka-chan] will be my birth mother's name, Chichiue [che-CHE-oo-ee] is my mother's boyfriend, and Oyaji [O-yah-gee] for my bastard father.

Anyway, I am getting Otouto because Oyaji wouldn't mediate with Kachan, even though she put up not having to pay child support, medical support, and having visitation whenever he wanted. He just flat out said absolutely not. Kachan has to go out of state and can't stay here in Texas, and the last time Otouto went to live with Oyaji, Otouto ended up with an untreated upper respiratory infection, his teachers were buying him clothes because Otouto stunk so bad he was getting picked on in class, the dogs were pissing and shitting in Otouto's room and wasn't being cleaned up, and the only "food" in the fridge was beer. Not to mention that Otouto ended up pulling a shot gun on some kids who were in the apartment and Oyaji wasn't giving him his ADHD pills. So, going with Oyaji isn't an option.

That leaves me. So, at the end of the year, I will be a mom without having to give birth. 

You know, I think this is a cosmic joke, honestly. Why? Because I always bitched about not wanting to be a mother and very much disliking children and the whole bit. However, I am not complaining -- in fact I am pretty happy about this. I do love my brother and I want him to be happy and I very much will do everything to let him be happy. Plus, I will be able to focus on school and still be home for Otouto.

I accept your challenge Mother. 

Monday, November 19, 2012


So here is this week's key words for searching my blog on Google.

reaper images

muddy person

muslim prayer women hands

phat ass glory hole sluts

praying hands muslim

sikh conversion

sikh women turban

skyclad priestess

the pagans look pissed they probably want their holidays back

why are pagans fat

What the hell @ #4?

Today's post is brought to you by some pervy guys looking for porn and the number 34.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Happy (Late) New Year!!!

It is that time of the season again, my fellow Witches. The start of a new Pagan year. But wait, what year? :O

I was thinking about this a few days ago. The calender we use in the US and most other English speaking countries is the Gregorian Calender, based off the death of Jesus of Nazareth. This year, 2012, it has been two thousand and twelve years since the supposed death of Jesus.

Well, as Pagans, we don't believe or worship Jesus (Christo-Wiccans can take their "buts" and  leave), so why do we still adhere to the Christian calendar? "Because it is easier and everyone here uses it," you might say. Well, Muslims, Baha'is, and Hindus all use different measurements of time, just to name a few. They can work in both their own religious measurements and the Christian measurement just fine (supposing they are in a place that uses the Gregorian calender).

So, here is what I suggest for a Pagan calender:

  • Eight months instead of twelve, having each of the solstices and equinoxes mark the beginning of four months and the other four being the halfway mark for each. This would mean that all the Sabbats would represent the start and end of each month, but that the calendar is connected with the movement of the Earth and not the celebrations we do to honor that.What I mean by the "start and end" of each month is that each holiday is actually two or more days of celebration. For instance, Samhain is Oct 31st and Nov 1st.
  •  It would still have the same 7 days a week, but each month would have roughly 6 weeks in it. Some compensation will be needed, like an extra week here or there, but 6 weeks a  month. 
  • We can keep the same day names, since they are based off our gods anyway, but month names need to be suggested. Perhaps...
    •  Proserpius - (Yule) Named for Persephone, the life-death-rebirth Goddess.
    • Januarius - (Imbloc) Named for Janus, God of Beginnings and Transitions.
    • Februarius - (Eostre) Named for Februus, God of Purification.
    • Aprilis - (Beltaine) Named for Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Sex.
    • Martius - (Midsummer) Named for Mars, the God of War.
    • Maius - (Lammas) Named for Maia, an Earth Goddess.
    • Junius - (Mabon) Named for Juno, Goddess of many things, including vitality and wealth
    • Ploutarius - (Samhain)  Named for Pluto, God of the Underworld and death.
 So, day 1 would be Proserpius 1st (which, to translate that into the Gregorian calendar, would be Nov 1st), and would go all the way until day 41, which would be the start of Yule. Januarius 1st would be the second day of Yule, and would also be 41 days until Imbloc.
Apparently, this is a t-shirt!
  • Proserpius - 50 days 
  • Januarius - 43 days
  • Februarius - 47 days
  • Aprilis - 41 days
  • Martius - 51 days
  • Maius - 41 days
  • Junius - 51 days
  • Ploutarius - 39 days
Of course, these will have to be flexible since the exact days of the equinoxes, solstices, and the midpoints of each vary every year. The above days are calculated only for the 2013 year in Gregorian calender years.

Which brings me to a problem. What year should I start the calendar on? The supposed beginning of Rome or the end? Perhaps the year that Britain repealed the Witchcraft Acts, which gave birth to our modern movement? I personally like the latter, making our birth the start. In that case, today would be Proserpius 8, 63 (63 because it is supposedly a new year).

This is such a crazy idea. Seriously. I hope, however, that the community might just pick it up. That would be awesome. :D

Edit: I have decided that we should do the abbreviated date as day/month/year like Europe. I also wish the US would adopt the metric system, but whatever. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Skyclad, Body Issues, & Opinions

What do you see when you look at this picture?

Click here for a bigger picture.

If your first thought was "A Pagan ritual", you are probably a female and/or Pagan practitioner with a few years under her/[his] belt.

If your first thought was "Are those women naked? *shock*" or "Damn, those women look good!", you are probably a man and/or a novice Pagan or not a pagan at all.

(If, by chance, you noticed right away that there was a clothed woman inside the dolmen/Faery Gate, I don't know what to make of you. If, by chance, you noticed that this picture was shot in Scotland, or that this is a scene from The (original) Wicker Man, congratulations, you have too much free time on your hands. Also, I <3 you.)

Skyclad is the principal of being "clad with the sky" -- or in other words, naked. It is supposed to allow the practitioner to feel like s/he is completely natural, that s/he is presenting hirself* to the Gods without omission or reserve, and moves past the body shame that our culture has cultivated.

Within a group, it is supposed to foster Perfect Love & Perfect Trust, a feeling of total openness among coven members in which they can see all your flaws, all your faults, the whole of your self (spiritually, physically, mentally) and still accept and love you. Keep in mind, this is supposed to be without lust, longing, or sexual desire. Now, I have not heard of a coven that is skyclad and abuses it unless the entire group or the leaders are there only for sexual gratifications, and I definitely have not heard of coven orgies (cuz I would do that in a heartbeat! Kidding. Maybe.). However, predation in our community does happen, and let's not sugarcoat that or dismiss it.

I want to comment that Perfect Love & Perfect Trust are misnomers in the English language. Nothing in life or death is completely Perfect. Our Gods are not Perfect, we are not Perfect, even Nature and the Universe are not Perfect. From
A few usage guides still object to the use of comparison words such as more, most, nearly, almost, and rather with perfect on the grounds that perfect describes an absolute, yes-or-no condition that cannot logically be said to exist in varying degrees. The English language has never agreed to this limitation. Since its earliest use in the 13th century, perfect has, like almost all adjectives, been compared, first in the now obsolete forms perfecter and perfectest, and more recently with more, most, and similar comparison words: "the most perfect arrangement of color and line imaginable." Perfect is compared in most of its general senses in all varieties of speech and writing.

Note the fourth entry on Perfect. We can use a host of other, better suited (but poetically shattering) terms such as defectless, faultless, matchless, supreme, unblemished, unequal, untainted, or untarnished. Unblemished Love and Untarnished Trust. Hmm.... Point being, it is not about being perfect, but about a quality that cannot be matched elsewhere. Your coven is your family; they are sometimes thicker than blood and know you as well as or better than your birth family. That is your safe place, your refuge, your one space that allows you to be completely yourself without reserve. Being skyclad in front of your covenmates is the physical representation of this bond and relationship. It is supposed to be the highest form of worship.

They are pissed off about body shaming assholes
But this brings up whole new issues, specifically body issues. I know people who do not undress unless for showers and cannot even begin to take off their clothes in front of a mirror, let alone other people. How many of us can undress in the locker room without going and hiding in the stalls to get dressed? I am comfortable in my own skin and still have trouble with that. I used to torture myself over imagined comments about how my body looked when I was in middle and high school. How are we supposed to feel good in our bodies when we are told over and over and over again that we shouldn't be viewed, that we are less than, that we even don't deserve to live? And, do we bring this shame to our Gods?

Can you stand in front of your Deity completely natural and feel absolutely no shame or embarrassment when They look at you? I personally felt embarrassment the first time I presented myself. It is a conditioned response. It is the same feeling one gets at undressing in front of a lover; timidity, shyness, and apprehensiveness. Almost like waiting for another shoe to drop, for him to say something that you "always knew someone would cruelly say." Of course, it never happens, esp since the Gods don't care out how your body looks. It is a vehicle in which your spirit resides.

Skyclad rituals are completely and utterly your decision. Whatever you feel is best for you is what you should do. Try it once, see how you like it. Try it once more just to confirm your feelings. If you like it, Yay! If you don't, Yay also. All I can say is blessings upon you, my friend.

*(note: I like to use gender neutral terms like s/he and hir because I don't want to omit any gender and believe that inclusion is important. I don't like "it" because it is too impersonal.)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Divine Sex and Labels

Freyja and the Dwarves
Recently there came across my Facebook page via Coven Avalon (I recommend liking the page, by the way. Really good info there) a very interesting point that I had not seen in the Pagan community before that was discussed on another page I frequent (also a good place to hang around). Apparently, some pagans call some Gods "horny buggers," "bums," or "alcoholic" while they call Goddesses "sluts" and "hookers" that have "nice tits." It was noted that Christians don't do this with Jesus or Mary. Of course, some of these labels are true in their core, but is there a line?

First and foremost, Paganism (the broad range of nature religions) is a sex based religion. We openly state that fertility centers around the majority of our teachings, beliefs, rituals, and life. The stories of all the Gods and Goddesses various sexual adventures are well k
nown, from Aphrodite's promiscuity behind Hephaestus' back to Freyja's payment to four dwarves for a gold necklace to Zeus' many, many consorts to Loki's many children. 

However, that doesn't mean that we should disrespect those deities by calling them sluts or whore mongers. Even the gods themselves demanded respect. Remember: no matter what, even the least powerful deity can still whip your ass.

Don't get me wrong, however. I totally agree that we should be able to pal around with the Gods and give them a "good rubbing" every now and then. I didn't sign up for snobbish deities who can't take jokes, but there are some jokes that you just don't tell. Considering that a good bit of our faith emphasizes honor -- cultivating it and respecting it-- it seems disingenuous to insult our Gods and Goddesses like that.

Secondly, I think that a good bit of this kind of thinking stems from our society that views sex as a bad thing or something for reproduction that should only be preformed by two couples (typically one male and one female). When a counterculture like ours meets the mainstream culture, there will always be friction until either the counterculture disintegrates or the mainstream accepts the different thought process. Already we are seeing a different attitude about sex than there was in the 1960s, abet the attitude towards women is just a different type of objectification but more on that in a sec.

Meanwhile, many Pagans believe that sex isn't some sinful thing, that everyone deserves to have it and enjoy it, that it isn't only for procreation, and it isn't something to be afraid of. (Some even believe that everyone should have equal access to birth control and planned parenthood and equal marriage of consenting adults of any gender or number.......) Sex is something that even our Deities participate in with relish. In ancient Rome, sex and sexuality was viewed way differently than we see it today. While Ancient Rome is not an exact model we should use today, what with our matriarchal/egalitarian religion and their strict patriarchal system, it is worthy to note that there is no Latin word for the concepts of homosexuality and heterosexuality and that many ideas of sexuality are starting to crop up again in our society.

To specifically address the issue of slut shaming our Deities; if it is acceptable for one of our own community members to slut shame our own Goddess, what do you think that says about the way women in our community are thought of? Do you think that person gives two shits or even thinks about how his/her words affect the attitudes and views of women in general? Does he/she recognize the damage that is being continued by relegating a supposedly Divine being to being something like a second class citizen which therefore puts women "in their place?" What about the objectification of women that is so rampant in our society?

From the SlutWalks
Then again, if we want to see the flip side of this, by labeling a powerful Divine being a slut who has also been known to reject the negativity of that word and revels in Her own Sexuality freely regardless, we (women) in essence reclaim the word "slut" and our own sexuality. We take the word and construct a new meaning that doesn't involve shame, sadness or bitterness but evokes power, happiness with ourselves, and acceptance of others.

Which then do we as Pagans want? Do we want to empower the Feminine or do we want to tear her down and disgrace her? Do we want to degrade the Goddesses that Christianity has for so long done already?

Do we cave to the patriarchy and dissolve our egalitarian religion or do we push back with unyielding resolve?

What do we want for our daughters and sons?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Nice Change of Pace

First I wanna say SQUEEEEE over this picture! Serious love, man. Anyone have the artist for this?

Second, I swear I'm working on some posts, it is just taking forever. Something soon, I promise!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

College Pagan Tips

For those of you who are in college, it can be tough juggling your school work, your job, your family, and your spiritual life. Whether you are a recent high school graduate or just going back to college after years in the workforce, college is a stressful time and nothing to snuff at. Grades you make now will haunt you forever, and we aren't even talking about the possible flak you will get from family if you snub them in favor of better grades. There seems like there is never time for your own spiritual growth, or any of the things you previously were doing. Astral projection, meditation, rituals, Esbats. Maybe you still squeeeeeeze in time for the Sabbats, but soon that won't be enough.

How do you do it? Nothing is simple, and there will never be an easy answer. If you find one or are given one, immediate doubt should be cast upon it. So, here are a few suggestions that might help anyway.
(source, which happens to be a very interesting article.)

First, sit down at some point and make your weekly schedule. If you are stable enough to plan a whole month, or even three months, ahead, do it. Make an hourly breakdown of your activities. Include study time, homework hours, chores, physical exercise of your choice, class times, work times, sleeping (8 hours or more) and naps if you can, and anything else that may eat your time up. Don't include any spiritual time yet. Study time should be as long as, or twice as long as, your class runs. If you have a one hour class, expect to study for two hours. Time management is a MUST.

(Side track here -- don't think you are going to study for that whole two hours. You must take breaks or your retention of the information will decrease steadily.  Study for 30 mins at a time, and then take a complete 10 min break. Trust me, you will get way more out of your studying if you do so. Also, do NOT procrastinate and wait to get things done on the day something is due. You will burn yourself out very quickly. This is coming from a lifelong procrastinator, so I know what I am talking about.)

Once you have your "available" times, you can either plug them with much needed down time, or start filling the gaps with spiritual time (or both!). I would suggest carving out 30 mins each day to sit outside and just soak up what you can. You can sit in the morning or night and drink some warm tea, stay silent and listen to the sounds that you hear. Touch the bare ground, if you can, with your feet, hands, or whole body. If you want to spend some time with the Elements, make a day where you make efforts to connect with that Element alone. You can also have a day for the God and one for the Goddess, and one more for all of them. I suggest making the last one on a day where you can do a ritual. Here is a general outline you can do:

Sunday: Sun's day. Make an effort to greet the Sun as He rises in the morning. Before you grab your tea or coffee, try a quick Sun Salutation. While you are preforming the salutation, you are welcome to think about the role of the God, where He is in His stage of life or death, and how it applies to your own life. Afterwards, you can go get your drink and bask in the Sun until you are done or have to leave.

Monday: Moon's day. Go outside at night when you have some quiet time and commune with the Goddess. Drink some non-caffeinated tea (but not coffee, because it will keep you awake) and bask in the rays of the Moon. When you are done with your tea, you can preform Shavasana, which will help with sleep. While you do this meditation, you can either keep your mind clear or you can think about the Goddess, Her role and what stage of Her life She is at, and how it applies to your life.

Tuesday: Fire's day. Fire is the warmth in our homes, the flame that cooks our food, and the spark that is our spirit. With Fire, anything can be transformed. Paper turns to ash, water turns to steam, and metal turns into a sword. Fire is connected to sex, light, and the soul. Fire lights the way to the Otherworld, is the spark in ourselves that attract spiritual beings, and burns away darkness. A great devotion for fire is flame meditations. Since I can't find the one I want, I will just write it here.
Light a candle and get comfortable. Sit where you can still see every bit of the flame, but your eyes will also naturally fall on the flame when you relax. Notice that the very outside of the flame is red, which represents your outer body or your skin. There isn't very much red, but when you go past that you see orange. This is your outer projection, what you put out into the world and what other people see. It is a facade to your overall being. Moving past this sliver, you find the bulk of your being, the white. This is your ego, your conscious mind that voice all your thoughts. As you wade through this part, you come to the yellow, which is the preconscious part of you which bridges your conscious and unconscious mind. Past this door is the blue of your unconscious mind, your soul, the inner most part of your being. This is the heart of who you are, and where your thoughts and dreams originate. Slowly expand the blue into the yellow, and then into the white, into the orange, and finally into the red. Your soul touches each part of your body and is not separated from it. Feel the power and energy that is you. Stay there for a moment before withdrawing the blue from the red, leaving just a little bit behind. Withdraw from the orange, the white, and the yellow, all the while leaving just a little bit of the blue behind. Finally, the blue is back and it is time to withdraw your conscious past the yellow, past the white, past the orange, and finally the red. Ground, and you will be done! 
Yoga pose: Warrior III and Humble Warrior.  

Wednesday: Air's day. Air surrounds us very second of the day. It keeps us alive by driving many energy cycles within our bodies and every other being on this planet -- animal and plant alike. Air is connected to thought, knowledge, and our breath. Singing, dancing, laughter, and being aware of your breathing are great devotions. Go outside and throw your soul into the wind. Feel the wind pass through your body and sweep up your spirit. Air is almost never serious, and will take you up and play around. It will make you want to laugh and feel light-hearted. REMEMBER, keep a spiritual tether between your body and your spirit, because Air is similar to the Fae in that it will lead you astray and can get you lost. Don't worry, though, keep your head on and you will be fine. Yoga pose: Cat and Cobra.

Thursday: Earth's day. Earth is around us, always. It is what we stand on, what our buildings are made of, and where we get our food and clothes. Earth is connected with the body, wealth and prosperity, and our roots. Earth is grounding, which is a good devotion. Go outside and sit on the bare Earth. Bend over and smell the dirt, touch the grass, feel the energy that comes from it. Sit up with your legs crossed and begin the Tree of Life meditation. Do the chakras if you feel like it. Another good devotion is connecting with a tree. Approach a tree that you wish to connect with and ask it if it minds helping out. If you get a yes or positive vibe, then continue by sitting with your back on the tree. Clear your mind and reach out towards the tree, feeling its entire body. Feel up the tree and into its leaves. Feel the life that lives on or in that tree, and the movement of nutrients. Follow it back down into the roots and notice how large and expansive the roots spread. As you get to know the tree, you can ask it to share any memories it may have. The older the tree, the more it knows. Do NOT lose yourself in the tree. Yoga position to try: Tree and Eagle.

Friday: Water's day. Water is connected with emotion, the astral realm, and blood. Water flows and keeps moving, going from the seen to the unseen. Scrying is a good water devotion. Another one is taking a cleansing herbal bath or taking a shower outside at night (if you have a privacy fence, a water hose with a water nozzle that sets to something soft, and some guaranteed alone time. Make sure you bring a towel with you outside!). If you take a bath, set out candles and make it like a ritual. Have music if you want, or make your own. Think about what water means to you and how it affects your life. Think about how water is the Universal Solvent, that with enough time everything dissolves into it, including your own negative emotions and bad vibes. Let water was it away, and thank it. Yoga position: Triangle and Half Moon.

Saturday: Ritual day. Do something special this day, anything you can think of. Place offerings, sit and commune, or go and volunteer somewhere. Do something nice and random: for instance, if you go shopping and you see someone struggling to pay their bill, you could help out. Or perhaps look out for another person. If you are going to do a ritual, I suggest you make your own. The more personal, the better.

Most of these ideas shouldn't take more than 30 minutes or so. If you have more to spend, great! Do it!! But if not, these will help you start. Remember that time management in college (and in high school too) is very important. Of course, no one is perfect and slip ups should be expected. Don't berate yourself. It happens.

If you have your own suggestions, feel free to put them in the comments! The more, the merrier. 

Blessed Be.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Be Fat for a Day

Today I feel horribly fat. Terribly, awfully huge. I felt like a big sack of nothing up fat with a little bit of bones stuck in for support. And you know what? I feel great.

I feel fucking fantastic. I am digging this fat feeling. Why? Because I can. It isn't because I don't care about myself, or because I am being lazy (I am totally being lazy this weekend though, after a rough week of finding work). It is because I don't care about what other people think anymore.

But even that isn't entirely true. I don't care about the preconceived notions of what fat means. I don't care about explaining myself away like I am some sort of subhuman. I don't care about remarks that are said or dirty looks that are given.

I do care about how I look, clothes wise, and I do care about whether I am clean. I care about my self and the impressions I give other people. But I do not care about how big or small I am. I don't care, so who the fuck else needs to? No one, that's who.

Honey Badger.
So I am going to sit here and be fat. And happy. I might even sing and dance around. Everyone needs a day to feel fat, and not give a shit. Start not giving a shit today!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

We are Real

Lately I have been seeing a flurry of body posts by some "high profile" companies and by ordinary people.

By "high profile," I mean my favorite clothing store Lane Bryant. (Would you know it, they happen to be having a sale! I see some awesome boots I want. Yay!) Apparently, Lane Bryant is hooking up with Skorch Magazine to present a "Real is Perfect" campaign.

From Lane Bryant's Facebook page.
Every single one of these women are beautiful, and I think that stepping forward with models like these women are great. However, as several people commented, I have yet to see these women or any other women like those above actually on the Lane Bryant site. Looking at Skorch Magazine, though, not only are BBW strewn across their pages, but a variety of bodies are represented, from thin models to obese models and everything in between.

That's the thing, body varieties.   We aren't going to get anywhere with body images when we go from one extreme to another. Please, by all means, celebrate (NSFW) the fat body! Rejoice in every curve and every roll and every blemish and stretch mark and every thing that is on you but do NOT degrade other body styles. Replacing fat shame with thin shame just creates the same problems we fat people have, but reversed. 

More truth.
Recently in my Deaf Culture class, we were talking about the segregation in the Deaf schools. They segregated the crap out of the deaf in the early 1900s. Boys were away from girls, blacks away from whites (usually not even in the same building and not in the best condition either), profoundly deaf away from the hard of hearing. The administration even kept clubs from joining.

Women are segregated like that even today. Generally, we voluntarily keep ourselves surrounded by people with the same body type, same color, same age and education, same religious views and political views, even same family structure. Our segregation keeps us isolated, unable to reach out or think about something different or do something different. In fact, the segregation is so ingrained that we enforce it ourselves. When was the last time you heard someone make a rude comment about another person's clothing? How about another person's beliefs or body shape? Education? It happens often enough that TV makes it a cliche, something that everyone does at some point.

So, Stop It.

When someone says something offensive, tell them to stop it. When someone does something offensive, stop it. When someone starts to enforce the segregation of ourselves, stop it. When you start to enforce it, stop yourself. Just stop it. It does more harm than good. Start a mini revolution. Get some friends that don't think like you or act like you or believe like you or dress like you or look like you and revel in their differences. Entertain a different thought process. You don't necessarily need to accept it, but at least try to understand. You will find some pretty cool things, trust me.

PS. I know the pictures go over. It's like that so you can see it more clearly. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Response: A Pagan Finds Religion

Today, Timothy Dalrymple posted an article "A Pagan Finds Religion" and addresses his recent meeting and subsequent flight with Star Foster. Dalrymple discusses Paganism in the context of comparing it to Christianity, and also talks about Foster's "spiritual but not religious" experiences. 

While some of his article makes good points and is pretty well written (particularly the first five paragraphs), it started to rub against me starting in the first sentence of the sixth paragraph. Dalrymple is right; Pagans tend not to like being told that our spirituality is a negative reaction towards the Christian community/Church with which the majority of us grew up in. Personally, I did not turn towards my Pagan path because of some "failures" of the Catholic Church (which I had been Christened in and had gone through Communion and Sunday school and the whole nine yards). I turned to/was guided to Paganism because it fit my soul and filled a hole in my heart that Christianity never could. Yes, I had issues with the Church. Yes, I don't agree with the things that the Church does. Yes, there are failures and excesses in the Church. No, I didn't leave them solely because of their pitfalls (although it did make it way easier). 

The kick in the teeth for me was this:
"I find the historical scholarship of the Pagan communities sorely wanting, and the philosophy and theology behind it all is not yet mature. Although it’s always harder to hear an outsider say it, I think most thoughtful pagans agree (and many say openly) that there is, quite naturally, a lot of growing left to do."
..... Uh? So tell me, how is it a religion that is based off the historical scholarships, philosophies and theologies of an even older religion, older than your religion, is not yet mature or is sorely lacking? And a related question, why is it that a great majority of what the Old Religion taught is preserved within Christianity if it had been lacking beforehand? As to the growing, for a great many traditions, the whole point of their religion is growth. Nature grows, why shouldn't our beliefs? Nothing remains the same, so embrace the change and revel in its delight. 

Paganism is both new and old. Many are of the opinion (me included) that Neo-Paganism is a continuation of the Old Ways, before Christianity forced its "death," but it is also new in that it picks up customs of other religions (excluding the Reconstructionists who strive for the original, unblended religion of their particular path) like meditation or Karma. Decisions of whether or not to pick one deity or honor (I don't like the word "worship"; it conjures a negative image and isn't something that I want in regards to my Gods) a deity is a personal one and has nothing to do with Paganism's "newness." Did you know, in ancient times, many people would pick which God or Goddess was their patron, or would inherit via family ties? Many people would dedicate themselves to a deity, but that didn't stop them from honoring other Gods in their pantheon. So no, it isn't "new."
Vestal Virgins, anyone? (source)
"Personally, of course, I don’t want Pagans to find religion, because I want pagans to recognize that the great God above all gods become incarnate and communicated his love and reconciliation to the world through Jesus Christ, the God-man."
It is condescending, bullshit attitudes like this that contribute to the rebuke against Christianity in the Pagan community. That's all I have to say about that. /end

Spirituality isn't something that solidifies into a religion. Spirituality deals directly with the spirit or soul (typically a personal thing), not needing doctrine or institutions to help it. Dictionary says spiritual means "of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things." It is contained completely inside, an internal development.

Religion, on the other hand, requires doctrine and institutions for it to function as a cohesive whole. Hindu, for instance, has in common the beliefs of "Avatar Vada, Ekeshwaravada (One Supreme Divine Reality), Veda Praman (Authority of the Vedas), Atman, Karma, Yoga, Ahimsa, Four Puruṣārthas, Varnashrama dharma and Punarjanma (Reincarnation)" (source) but differ internally by which face of the Supreme Divine they worship (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Kalika, etc.) and how and when and why. Dictionary says religion is "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs."

Therefore, someone can be spiritual but not religious, religious but not spiritual, spiritual AND religious, or none of the above. One has nothing to do with the other and are separate. Personally, I feel like I should be both spiritual and religious, as both have good qualities.

The larger framework is something I have been thinking about for a while. I cede that it is hard to express something so personal that you can't find the words to even describe it, mostly because your language doesn't have the words you need. It is hard to describe exactly what it is that your particular deity wants when S/He shows you what S/He want in complex emotions, compound pictures, and hidden symbols only you can even begin to comprehend. This is what we call a Mystery. Describing how the color dark blue tastes or how the growth of an entire forest sounds or how the falling footsteps of a tiger feels or how a particular musical note smells is easier to relay than a Mystery. 

However, that doesn't mean that you won't be understood anyway. Tell a Pagan that the color dark blue tastes like 9pm in the countryside skyclad at Lughnasadh, and we will believe you and relate to it. Being different isn't wrong, not trying is. If being separate and distinct makes you feel isolated, try expressing yourself to others. Someone will get it, and it will probably be more people than you think. Again, this goes back to the whole idea of a Community of Solitaries is also a Community of One. There is a cohesiveness in our community, and it revolves around being distinct and different. 

As a last point, I leave with this picture that grasped me a while back ago. I still love it. 

EDIT: Other responses! 

Joseph Bloch over at Witches and Pagans wrote a response, "Grieve Indeed the Growth of Neo-Paganism" and says what I wanted to in much more colorful words and a little more bluntly. (Originally posted on GOPagan)

EDIT #2 - Star Foster has now joined the conversation. Her response is worth reading, as she expresses the other side of the fence.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Paganism and Suicide

 So, you know I have been reading my sociology stuff lately for class, and I came across the research that was done on suicides and who was more likely to take their life than others. A French sociology named Emile Durkheim examined official records of suicides and found that

 "[M]en, Protestants, wealthy people, and the unmarried each had much higher suicide rates than women, Catholics and Jews, the poor, and married people. Durkheim explained these differences in terms of social integration: Categories of people with strong social ties had low suicide rates, and more individualistic people had high suicide rates."
It was said that those who had more freedom were the ones who committed suicide the most. In the late 1800s, early 1900s, men has a greater range of freedom than the house bound women did. However, freedom weakens social ties and thus the feelings of dependance, the "but they need me" feeling. Of course, this also ties well with unmarried, since the man doesn't feel tied to anything.
Of course, women were allowed out to have jobs, but only specific jobs, like sewing. (source)
A century later, Durkheim’s analysis still holds true. In 2009, there were 13.5 recorded suicides for every 100,000  white people,0 which is more than twice the rate for African Americans (5.1). For both races, suicide was more common among men than among women. White men (19.2) are almost four times as likely as white women (5) to take their own lives. Among African Americans, the rate for men (9.1) was more than five times that for women (1.6). (source) Soooo.......
"Applying Durkheim’s logic, the higher suicide rate among white people and men reflects their greater wealth and freedom, just as the lower rate among women and people of color reflects their limited social choices."
Factors that would decrease the likelihood of suicide was connection to a community (such as the close knit community of Catholics and Jews), strong family ties and dependency (like being married), and having a strong support system. Women tend to "process their experiences with friends. They discuss their feelings, seek feedback and take advice," Humans are social creatures and must have social interaction to stay sane, or alive in this case.

How does this apply to Paganism? A big part of Paganism, specifically Wicca, is about the freedom of being able to do what feels right. Solitaries dominate our community, and we have been compared to cats more than once. The Pagans I know tend to be very well off financially (or are in college to become financially well off) and typically aren't married. And I would bet dollars to donuts that the majority of Pagans are white (at least in the US). Individuality, white, "rich", unmarried. The up side is that most of the Pagans I have met tend to be women. .......

But, do Pagans commit suicide? The only suicide that I recall would be Tempest Smith, 11 years ago. Pagans don't have a stance on suicide because there is no central guideline. Pattie says it well:
"Because there is no Central Pagan Doctrine, or Big Book o’ Pagan Rules, it’s hard to say specifically what the “Pagan perspective” on suicide – or much of anything else – is. There’s not any sort of doctrinal perspective that is universal to all Pagans."
There is the Wiccan Harm None rule, which Pattie explains. But not everyone follows the Rede, nor are Wiccan. So why then do we not hear about suicides? Is it simply because A) we don't hear about the people who aren't relatively big in our community, B) there is a low suicide rate within our community, C) the families who do suffer from the tragedy do not want their child known as a pagan, D) something I can't think of, or E) all of the above?

Let's say that B is true. I believe that one of the best qualities of our community is the ability to strongly identify with others and to help them out as best we can. Even online, Pagans are still connected by forums, support groups, social media sites, email, etc. I remember when I was just starting out; the Pagan forums were my life line, my regular connection with like-minded individuals to share beliefs, opinions, troubles and basically my life. Sappy, yes. But without that support, I probably would have slipped back into depression. One of the topics that would always fire up the forum boards was suicide, but the turnout wasn't so much about the topic of suicide itself as it was about supporting the potentially suicidal poster.
It's like a cyber group hug!!! (Sorry, I can't help it.) ;P
Another probable reason why might lie in our beliefs of the family. Belief in a Divine family, a spiritual family, and our personal families is a good chunk of what is taught. The Goddess - our Mother, the God - our Father, and our general "sisters and brothers." The coven family, the High Priestess and High Priest (our "parents"), the higher initiated as our "older siblings" and the newcomers as our "younger siblings." Our relationship with the two spiritual and Divine families are just as complex as our blood families, and harbor just as much emotions (if not more). The kind of "responsibilities" are deep and truly personal. I would do anything for my coven mates, and they would (and have!) as well.

And even being a community of solitaries, we are still a community of one. We help our own, from housing to community projects to contributing to our spiritual relatives. Please, I beg everyone who reads this -- keep it up. Keep reaching out to people, keep offering them your help no matter what their creed or color or gender, keep being the kind of person you want to be every single day. Keep making a difference.

If you are thinking about suicide, please reach out to someone. Actually tell someone "I am considering suicide." Don't assume that people will understand vague allusions. People can be dense (Hi, I'm dense) and slow on the uptake, but there are people here to help you. If you want to talk to a suicide councilor, call the Nation Suicide Prevention hotline toll free at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you don't want to do that, you can always talk to me. You aren't alone. There is always someone there for you, no matter what. And there will always be someone who is afflicted by your death, so don't think you won't be missed. At the very least, I will miss you. <3