December 24, 2012

And it Starts.




I knew Christmas would probably be rough this year, what with my getting my footing around this whole conversion thing.

What I did NOT expect was the discussion about the "War on Christmas", and how the rest of my family feels like their right to religious belief is being squandered by everyone saying "Happy Holidays". Protip: 99.999% of the nation is Christian. How about we NOT forget about how the 0.001% feels? There's no "War on Christmas" any more than there is a war on Tim Hortons. THEY'RE EVERYWHERE. There's no fighting it. What we need to fight for (or at least acknowledge) is the little mom and pop donut shops trying to make it in a "double double" kind of world.

The heartbreaking thing is something that is, well, sort of counterintuitive, and something that is making my heart break the more I think about it.

Awhile ago, I asked my dad outright to ask my grandma if I could have her bible. It's this giant thing that was probably printed in 1400 BCE and has all our family history in it and I love the goddamned thing. Yeah, it's a bible, but a) I still think the bible is as relevant in my life as it ever was (minus the misinterpretation commonly accepted by most people as the Christian faith... blunt and harsh, but true. Sorry Christians), and b) it has all our family tree in it, and it's this beautiful illuminated old leatherbound thing. It's the bible I remember using when I really fell in love with scripture, when I was bored at my grandparents' house due to lack of siblings or many friends in the area. I just loved it. It has all my uncle's old letters from the war in it, and myriad other dumb little family mementos in it. So grandma says to me, when you take me home, I have a bible for you! I'm like HOTDAMN dad really pulled it off this time! And am all excited. I want this thing desperately because I know it means a lot to my dad, and if I ask for it, she'll definitely give it to me. Instead, I am given this one that was a gift to her from a funeral home when my great aunt died. Sweet she'd think of me or some shit like that, but... creepy.

This isn't making a whole lot of sense yet.

The problem is... last year I came pretty close to getting in a physical altercation with the aunt that is in current possession of the thing. Any of you who know me (I hope) know that that is reallllyyyy not my style. I'm usually very easy to get along with, and am not a fan of confrontation, though I don't shy away from it when necessary either. Anywho. She's treating my dad like shit, and her husband sent around this shitty email reply that pretty much called my dad an uneducated neanderthal (slight sensationalism on my part, but hey, my dad's my hero), and I went over there and called her everything there is to call someone you have 30 years of pent up emotions with. She came after me, but it didn't go there. And now she has the family bible. And I know for a FACT she doesn't give a shit about all the family history behind it. My dad is very into genealogy. I know she just wanted it because my dad did.

I know it's just a "thing", and "things" shouldn't produce this kind of upset (ideally). But... I want to absolutely beat the ever loving shit out of this woman!! Resentment is like a poison you drink and expect the other person to die, I know. I know all that zen Buddhist hippie beatnik shit, and I am usually that person that annoys the shit out of other people with that kind of philosophical crap that is intended to make you feel a little better. But right now, I could literally break into her house, destroy the place, and steal the thing back. It's not even like my cousin is going to appreciate it when they're gone... the kid is the most fucking weird kid ever. Seriously. He's one step below "35 and living in my parents' basement and peeing in water bottles because I'm too lazy to go to the washroom". They get everything they ever ask for... my dad gets shit for being a week late on doing my grandma's tree pruning. Selfish insensitive assholes.

Anywho. This is the ramble-y angry post I usually try to stay away from, but it's also pretty good therapy for me. I just can't get over this feeling... like every time I try to step out in the world with a smile on my face, God/s/ess/whatever fucking bitchslaps me into reality. HAHA!!! You almost enjoyed that second, didn't you?!?!? DUMBFUCK! To the few people who support me, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. But it seems as though the rest of the people in my life are just huge fucking morons. I have no idea how I'm supposed to get better with this kind of bullshit being so pervasive. I feel like I'm circling the drain.

And I have one giant family gathering to go to yet, this time with 20 times the assholes.

EDIT: I apologize if this seemed cranky towards Christians. Not my intention. I try to see people for their own merits. It just appears that every Christian person I'm related to are complete assholes. I have Christian friends, and they're cool. Anyways.

December 18, 2012

Gratefulness.

It's not 100% yet, so I'm just saying that up front because I don't want to jinx it...

But on Sunday night, my MacBook Pro DIED :(

The computer guy couldn't figure out what was wrong with it, or at least he couldn't replicate it. He came to the conclusion that it's either just a freak thing or it needs a new motherboard. To the tune of $1350. :O Apparently Apple knows of this issue, and is replacing the motherboards in the 15" models, but not the 17". (That's what I get for buying up).

Anywho... for the moment, it's okay. It hasn't crashed, and has only done the stupid thing once, but not even that badly.

Reason I'm writing this: I'm not usually attached to "stuff"... by which I mean, I enjoy things for their purpose, but they rarely have sentimental meaning. You know. Unless someone gave it to me or something, but I'm just talking every day stuff here.

I completely freaked out when I posted about it on the Mac nerd forums and they said it was a hardware failure. Like, FREAKED. I didn't realize how attached to the thing I was. And while the replacement cost is part of it (I paid way too much for this thing), I realized it does have sentimental value to it for me. It's been my only real source of quality entertainment for the past two years (Google anhedonia. Reader's Digest version: it is literally the lack of being able to have fun). Video games have always been a guilty pleasure, so I played a lot of them, and they were (are) the only thing I really get any enjoyment out of. It's also been my only real gateway to the outside world (Google agoraphobia while you're at it...) and I've actually made quite a few friends just chatting on Twitter and on Facebook. Friends that actually are willing to meet me where I'm at, and friends that are just nerdy and fun to chat with. That's been the absolute best medicine for me, especially because it's in a forum where I am completely safe to back out whenever I want. (Not that I'm planning on it guys, it's just knowing that's a possibility that keeps me sane).

So, today, now that I have it back in one piece (sort of), I feel much better. I was honestly going through withdrawal... and it's not like I even use the goddamned thing that much. It was just... I felt completely cut off. Yeah, I have John's computer, and my iPhone and all that crap... but have you ever tried typing anything long on an iPhone? Or a Windows machine that uses IE?!?! OH DEAR GOD I'd rather type something out on the phone than IE. Fucking hate Windows.

ANYWAYS. The reason I'm writing this is that it was a not-so-subtle reminder to be grateful for things when they're functional, regardless of whether you think they're very important or not. Don't do the whole "don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" thing. Try to be as conscious of this as you can without going nuts. Because you never know when your best friend in the whole world might just up and have a motherboard issue.

Err... I mean... it's not my best friend.

Uhh...

too late.

December 15, 2012

I'm Really NOT a Stick in the Mud.

I'm writing this for two reasons. One, I feel like I'm hiding something and I need to get it out. Two, if anyone else is feeling this way, I hope they can feel less alone. The one thing this "thing" does well is isolate people, and that is not what we need. We need understanding, love, and support. If my story can help anyone out, so much the better.

For the past 15 years, off and on, I have been dealing with debilitating depression and anxiety. Debilitating would be putting it lightly. Arguably the anxiety part my whole life, but for 15 years at the "debilitating" level. So, basically, half my life.

In high school, I suffered the loss of my grandfather, who I was really, really close to. I got summarily taught that in MY family, we grieve in silence. We don't seek help. We are solitary pillars of strength. In my "I am STRONG" mode, I went from having the highest GPA in grade 9 and 10, to pulling Cs and Ds after his death. I started having insulin resistance problems around this time. No one said a word. If they cared, I have yet to find out about it. I lost my aunt and was also in a wedding the same week. Carry on, keep your head high, and time will heal all wounds. Spoiler alert: time heals NOTHING.

Flash forward to my first year of college... I barely made it through first year. My uncle killed himself on an ATV. I failed out of second. My ability to concentrate and retain information, or even not have a panic attack during an exam where I wasn't right next to a door, was basically nothing. I'd gone from having a genius IQ to barely being able to read a book. I transferred schools to just get out of town, and managed to graduate with a 3.4/4. They were much more accommodating. I lost a ton of weight. I get a good job, which leads me in to a better job at a government institution, which is where my life falls apart for the third time.

My mom got sick and my family left me out in the cold. I desperately asked for their help in dealing with it, but everyone refused to return my phone calls. It's hard not to be bitter, but the people who were supposedly so close to me left me to die when I needed them most. Today, I can barely stand to even think of them, and yet, I'm expected to be all smiles when Christmas comes around. I haven't seen any of them in two years... we'll see how that goes. (Prediction: probably not well).

I had to quit my job. I gained all my lost weight back. I ended up being hospitalized for the absolute worst week of my life, and now I'm on insulin. Apparently their original Type 2 assumption wasn't entirely correct. Type 2's don't usually end up at death's door with ketoacidosis. I was in ICU for a week, denied my prescriptions that keep me from not having day-long panic attacks, and that allow me to get some modicum of sleep. As if not having the drugs wasn't bad enough, the withdrawal from not having them made me want to SCREAM. I was attached to my bed with a catheter, three IVs, an arterial line, and a heart monitor. It was a great feeling, you know, being highly claustrophobic and all. I got left in a bedpan for two hours, which is actually the LEAST abusive thing that happened to me in the hospital. No one bothered to ask me how I was managing from a psychological standpoint. Then, I was unceremoniously thrown out to the wolves with a prescription for insulin and a "get over your paralyzing fear of needles on your own overnight" kind of handshake. Not even that... I got very "fuck you all and die" with one of the nurses over my lack of care, and they quickly produced my discharge papers.

I've gone through doctor after doctor. They've ranged from very helpful but overworked, to verbally abusive and accusatory. I've been hospitalized for one very, very long freaking day, where a nurse got angry with me for having a panic attack. I signed myself out. I remember screaming and sobbing and packing all my crap at midnight in the dark. That was my one clean shot at getting help. I'm supposedly in the "best" program in the area... and she was not the only one to be horrible with me on that day. The nurse in question received a permanent letter on her file and "sensitivity training". That seems proportionate. (Hint: sarcastic comment). It's created in me such fear of the medical profession that for my last GP appointment, I had at least a panic attack a day for the entire month prior.

So that leaves me to here. I'm going on 3 years now without a whole lot of help. I've been on every drug and tried every therapy. Any relief I've found has been something I've come up with myself. I'm having to rewrite "me" from the ground up, and all by myself. I've lost all but one of my friends, my family (save my parents), and any sense of who I am. I am rarely able to leave the house, as my social anxiety/panic has turned into full on agoraphobia. I swell up like a balloon every time I try to travel any distance, which is painful at best. Even when I'm not feeling like a marshmallow, I'm in constant pain of some sort from a previous injury, or the whole "if you're not depressed enough, your lack of serotonin/whatever is going to make your whole body THROB! Have fun with that!" thing. Me getting out of bed and dressed on any given day feels like a victory, but it's impossible to feel good about it. I once had a job that I'm told 600 people applied for. I literally ruled my own world. I was really crazy successful at my career (I'm not gonna say more lest I completely out myself). Now if I feed myself once in a day, it's like, HOLY SHIT, stop the presses! It's the worst feeling ever. I feel absolutely hopeless and like there's no end in sight. I even feel stupid sometimes about the fact I haven't ended my life yet. I'm a failure even at failing. Where's the bottom? I keep feeling like I've hit it, but then, I keep falling.

Anywho... I wanted to be honest about this. Because under the fact that my brain is trying to kill me, and under the fact that I've been tossed aside by almost everyone I thought loved me, there is a really fucking cool person that isn't any of these things. Like the writer Jenny Lawson (my hero) says, "Depression lies". It totally does. This isn't who I want to be forever (or at all). Unfortunately though, for me at least, I have to keep digging until I find the bottom of this thing. I'm going to have to be "depressed" until I'm not. I've never dealt with what has caused all of this in the first place, and I'm gonna have to feel it out until I do. Which probably means a lot more bullshit, a lot more panic attacks and a lot more failed relationships. A lot more of trying to figure out who the fuck I am. I hope people are patient with me in this. I'm taking a big chance here. I'm not trying to make excuses either. I'm just very aware of the fact that I am going to make a lot of mistakes in this state, and I own it. It doesn't help that I'm very good at faking "okay", which throws people off. I am rarely "okay". I can't think of a minute in the past 3 years when I have been okay. Even sleep (when I manage to get it) plagues me with night terrors. Ever woken up in the middle of the night mid panic attack? Worst. Feeling. Ever.

I feel so much like shit, I wish I had cancer instead. At least if I had cancer, people would "pray for me" and bring me casseroles and act like I wasn't some kind of schizo-leper that's going to freak out on them or get cooties on them or something. Brains are organs too. And they can get sick.

They can also get better.

Here's hopin'.



Please, if you've read this far... do what you can to educate yourself about mental illness. The number of people suffering is STAGGERING. I would have counted myself as one of those who thought it was all just malingering bullshit. Please know better. Please reach out to someone.









December 6, 2012

Food for Thought

This was hung in the yoga studio I studied at for the longest time... I'd forgotten about it, until I was flipping through my manual again. Just thought I'd share!

You will receive a body.

You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around.

You will learn lessons.

You are enrolled in a full-time, informal school called "life". Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like them or think them irrelevant and stupid.

There are no mistakes, only lessons.

Growth is a process of trial and error - of experimentation. The failed experiments are as much a part of the process.

A lesson is repeated until learned.

A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have done so, you can move onto the next lesson.

Learning lessons does not end.

There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.

Others are simply mirrors of you.

You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.

What you make of your life is up to you.

The choice is yours!

Your answers are already within you. The answers to life's questions are to be found within. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust your inner voice.

You will forget all of this.

You will forget these rules and other important insights, and need to be reminded from time to time. But don't worry, the Universe has all the time you need.

- Anonymous

December 5, 2012

December 6th

(I posted this on Facebook as well... please excuse the duplication).


Just if you happen to have a spare second and a spare prayer tomorrow…

In Canada, December 6th is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. It is so named in remembrance of the 14 women that were murdered and 10 that were injured solely for being women in an engineering school. They were separated from the male students, and gunned down… just for being female. Their murderer claimed he was "fighting feminism".

I know it's a Canadian thing, and we're not all women here, but it's something I try to spread word about every year as much as I can. I went to school for engineering, and I very much feel their loss on this day.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/École_Polytechnique_Massacre


I really appreciate you taking the time to have a read. We've come a long way since 1989, but I think the prevention of violence of any kind, anywhere, is something we can all still get behind. ♥

December 2, 2012

Prayer.

So I've decided that to start to move into doing some daily stuff, I'm just gonna throw a bunch of prayers to the wall, and see what sticks. I have Ceisiwr Smith's A Book of Pagan Prayer, and I think I'm just gonna start at the start. See if any of them stick out. Maybe even a God or Goddess will be all, hey! I dig this! You should talk to me more!

Can't hurt, right?

November 25, 2012

Karma Yoga: How to Care Without Caring



"Though the unwise cling to their actions, watching for results, the wise are free of attachments, and act for the well-being of the whole world." Bhagavad Gita, Stanza 3.25, Stephen Mitchell Translation

Be unattached to the fruits of your actions.


...


What in the hell does that even mean?


This is a concept I've been struggling with lately, and I think everyone struggles with. It is the source of a lot of suffering, or dukkha, in all of our lives. It's hard to do something and not want it to turn out the way you bloody well want it to. I feel like it is definitely a Western societal issue: anxiety is so rampant, people talk about panic attacks like it's an okay thing to have; like everyone has them as a part of their normal functioning. I recently found an ad for Ativan in an old National Geographic magazine. Uh... what??


The Buddhist tradition describes viparinama-dukkha, or dukkha produced as a result of change, as "the anxiety or stress of trying to hold onto things that are constantly changing" (Wikipedia, "Dukkha"). What if we could be free of this anxiety... if change was something we could welcome? What if we could learn to truly embrace the unexpected, regardless of our actions? What if we could abandon the illusion of control completely?


According to the Bhagavad Gita, action is preferable to inaction.

"Do any actions you must do, since action is better than inaction; even the existence of your body depends on necessary actions". - Stanza 3.8
If you choose not to act, you have still made a choice. So why not do something? Okay. So, all things being equal, you might as well get off your duff and do something great. But what do I do? And what happens then?
"Self posessed, resolute, act without any thought of results, open to success or failure. This equanimity is yoga". - Stanza 2.48
Karma Yoga is all about this action/inaction thing, and attachment to the products of these. I think of it as being the concept of doing your best, and letting the cards fall where they may. It's a hard thing to not worry about whether you passed that test, whether your friend really forgives you, or whether you should have broken up with so and so. This next passage speaks directly to it:
"You have a right to your actions, but never to your actions' fruits. Act for the action's sake, and do not be attached to inaction." - Stanza 2.47
You have a right to do what you will, but the results of what you do will probably have nothing to do with you. There are bigger things at play, and probably a lot more people involved as well that are just doing what it is that they need to do. Maybe some great failure will end up teaching you some great life lesson. Who knows? As well, if we could all drop the worry piece from our lives, can you imagine the relief? Imagine what would happen if we could just do whatever we knew best to do in the moment, and weren't hoping for a certain outcome. Our past worries wouldn't bother us, because we could know we did our best right from the seat of our soul. We could live in the "now"... and also be free of our future worries.
"So do not be concerned with the fruit of your action - just give attention to the action itself. The fruit will come of its own accord. This is a powerful spiritual practice. In the Bhagavad Gita, one of the oldest and most beautiful spiritual teachings in existence, non-attachment to the fruit of your action is called Karma Yoga. It is described as the path of "consecrated action."
         When the compulsive striving away from the Now ceases, the joy of Being flows into everything you do. The moment your attention turns to the Now, you feel a presence, a stillness, a peace. You no longer depend on the future for fulfillment and satisfaction - you don't look to it for salvation. Therefore, you are not attached to the results. Neither failure nor success has the power to change your inner state of Being. You have found the life underneath your life situation." - Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
It's not that I don't care about what happens. I do care. It's my life. I care very much how things turn out. It's that I trust that things will work out. Krishna's got my back, yo.
"Listen, Arjuna: I will tell you how you can know me beyond doubt by practising nonattachment and surrending yourself to me." - Stanza 7.1
The Big Goal, the end of dukkha, is, after all, the attainment of enlightenment. Down with dukkha, up with enlightenment! I feel like, at least for me, not being in control is a great source of worry, despite the fact that control is completely illusory. All we have in this life is what happens to us and how we choose to react. I act in accordance with what I want to produce in my life, and I totally freak out about whether it will actually pan out that way. But when has the Universe ever let me down? 
"Abandoning all desires, acting without craving, free from all thoughts of "I" and "mine", that [person] finds utter peace." - Stanza 2.17
Let's hope.



November 21, 2012

Druid Homework, Week 1.

My thoughts on posting this are as follows:

- I'm hoping someone, some day, will find my writing and be like OH SHIT! She went through the same stuff! I don't feel like such a dork now!

- Gives me a place to look back on to see how far I've come

- Gives other people an opportunity to read my thoughts and share their own with me (hopefully) :D



Why have you chosen to take the first steps on the Dedicant Path?

I always seem to feel a need to be somehow in a recognized path where people WILL judge me. Sounds counterintuitive, but I seem to want that kind of structure. That and the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing such a thing. It probably comes from having grown up in a church, but I don't really want to write my own rules when it comes to this Druidry thing. I'd like to be shown what to do a little. At least at this point. I'm sure there'll come a time where I do my own thing, but not yet.

Is this a step on your path, or will this become the path itself?

For now, along with OBOD's Bardic Path stuff, this is the path. I'm sure it will evolve eventually if it needs to, but for now, this is it.

What do you expect to learn?

Lots of things :D I expect to learn lots of neat stuff and become much more confident as a result.

What would you like to get out of this journey?

Fulfilment. I haven't felt connected to spiritual things for a very, very, very long time. It's felt like a piece of me that was missing. I'm hoping to rectify this.

Do you know where this path will take you?

Nope. Isn't that kind of the point?

If you have just joined ADF, why have you chosen to work on this immediately?

No time like the present! And I'm also not new to the concept of Druidry, having been a member of OBOD for a few years.

Does it look hard or easy?

Not hard (at least since I found this document by Rev. Dangler), but probably a lot of good work. I've never found the scholastic part very difficult... it'll be the experiential stuff that's more of a hurdle for me, I think.

Which requirements appear to be difficult to you now, and which appear to be easy?

I have some health issues that are really impairing my ability to be my usual brainy self, so reading and writing and being able to concentrate (or even remembering what I was talking about in the first place) can be a struggle. Some days it's harder than hell, some days it's easy. I think sticking to the meditation journal will be the toughest for me.

Do you have doubts, questions, or concerns that you need to ask about?

Nope. Short answer. LOL




November 20, 2012

I take it back.

Apparently there's a 134 page document outlining where to start and what to do for your Dedicant Path that I somehow missed.

Problem SOLVED.

November 19, 2012

OH Crap.

I had a bit of a moment of clarity on Saturday.

Druid group meeting. I was watching people talk about their Gods, and I was like... holy shit. Is my adherence to the whole idea of "archetypes" going to preclude me from ever having a relationship with the "Powers That Be" like this?

I don't consider myself to be a close(d?) minded person... in fact, I'd consider myself to be one of the more open minded people I know. It just occurred to me that being into the archetype model might be completely shutting off any potential communications from the gods. If I think they're not real in the forms that they're presented in, and just another aspect of source...

Well, I don't want to shut that door. I've had personal relationships with other religious figures before. I don't know why I didn't feel called to explore that more with this new religious stuff. I just didn't. Made me feel kind of lonely though when I considered that I was making that a non-possibility for myself.
Like I don't feel lonely enough without that kind of help.

I'm also like really, really frustrated with myself. I am having a really, really super hard time digesting this stuff. I dunno if it's inertia or what, but having to figure out what a religious practice looks like in my life has been really SUPER FUCKING HARD. You read so many opinions on what it should look like, but I hate the word should. I feel like I need to do it my own way. But what do I do?! I'm good at spending a lot of time reading books and stuff, because I a) love reading, and b) find this stuff fascinating. But as far as giving any love to the Kindreds? I have no idea what I'm doing. Correction: I have a good idea of what to do in theory. But I have no idea what would feel good and right to me. I know I just need to keep trying, and fall into some sort of rhythm that feels right. But I have no idea where to start :S Why is this such a stumbling block for me!?!?! I've read LOTS on the subject. I've got all kinds of stuff on rituals. #*$(&*#(*@&#@(&^#(@*&#

The harder I force it, the harder it's going to come, I know that. I am just not accustomed to not being able to intellectualize my way through something. Not that I'm not used to being intuitive... I rely on my intuition a lot. It's usually when I don't go with my gut that I screw things up. This is just beyond my ability, and it's making me want to give up. I figure something that is this difficult must be one of two things... either really worth doing, or not right for me in the first place. But if this isn't right, what the hell is?!?!?!?

You have no idea the sense of peace I felt when I found somewhere to fit in spiritually. I've felt nothing but disowned for the longest time... I don't know what I would do if I had to feel that way again. This is so hard. I NEED THIS. SERIOUSLY.

November 15, 2012

My Ideas.

We were talking about what we believe in the Druid Group, so I thought I'd blog about my "ideas" a little... mostly because I don't think I've ever organized them anywhere but inside my head.


Panentheism/Pantheism: I think that the divine penetrates everything, but that there's a part of it that is the "hive mind" and officially organizes things. Everything has a role in it, but I think there's a central processor.

Archetypes: I think that gods and goddesses of all types from all pantheons are sort of like mantras. We pray to, say, Ganesh, because we want some obstacle or another moved. The universe is familiar with the idea and energy of Ganesh, and thus is more easily able to guess at what we're asking for. They're like an intermediary between us and the universal "central processor".

Reincarnation: I definitely think that reincarnation is real. I've often felt really in touch with something that I have never (in this life, anyways) had contact with. Yoga, for example. I took to that like a fish to water, and I'd never been exposed to it otherwise. It felt like a homecoming. I can't help but think that something that feels that familiar must have been in another time and space.

I also think that we make agreements with people before we reincarnate. Ever have a problem with someone that just keeps coming up again and again and again? I feel like we've made agreements before birth with these people to experience certain things, work out karma, etc. We've made agreements so that we can feel every aspect of what it means to be human... even the brutal ones.

It All Balances: I think there exists some balance between the idea of karma and the first law of thermodynamics. All things in the universe must balance out eventually. That being said, if all you put out is negative energy, you're probably going to get negative things back to you. Not as punishment as much as the idea that "like attracts like".

Differences of Opinion: Muhammad, Buddha, Jesus, Zoroaster... I think that these people all were real, and all were bodhisattvas. I don't think there's one true way to God, but that it's more important that you just have a path to begin with. I don't think that God really cares either. Something along these thoughts from Ramakrishna:

It's enough to have faith in one aspect of God. You have faith in God without form. That is very good. But never get into your head that your faith alone is true and every other is false. Know for certain that God without form is real and that God with form is also real. Then hold fast to whichever faith appeals to you. 
Many are the names of God, and infinite the forms that lead us to know Him. In whatsoever name or form you desire to call Him, in that very form and name you will see Him.

I also try to, whenever I think to, use the word "idea" instead of "belief". I think ideas are easier to change than beliefs, and are inherently more malleable. Semantic-y? A little, maybe. I'm like water to dogma's oil, though.

That's all I can think of right now. We'll see what else bubbles up later :P

November 14, 2012

How to be Happy Even When You Don't Feel Like Trying and are Quite Alright Being Miserable, Thank You Very Much.

Feeling like a heaping bag of shit? Exhausted to the point where you're too tired to sleep? Feel like moving to Baffin Island and creating a rewarding social community with the polar bears?

You're not alone.

In my new blog post, "How to be Happy Even When You Don't Feel Like Trying and are Quite Alright Being Miserable, Thank You Very Much", I'll outline ways in which you can make your seemingly shitty existence seem, well, at least... less shitty.


Rule Number One: Find pleasure in small things.

Small things are universal. Everyone has those small things that make their lives a little easier. Maybe it's keeping your pens in a perfectly neat row on your desk, maybe it's ensuring your neon purple socks are clean to wear for that appointment you're dreading. Maybe finding the nearest stone and kicking it as hard as you possibly can to find any modicum of stress relief. Whatever works! Enjoying small things leads to small happiness successes. And we all know you need to build on small successes before you can have bigger ones.


Rule Number Two: Say FUCK when you need to.

Fuck is a great word. It can be a noun, verb, adverb and adjective, sometimes all in the same sentence.

As in: "Fuck the fucking fuckers." "Who fucking gives a flying fuck?" "I know fuck's a bad word, but you're fucking making me say it."

All fucking kidding aside, the point I'm trying to make here is sometimes to be happy, you have to freak the fuck out. You need nothing but unadulterated, unedited, shameless, noisy, and un-cute catharsis in its most raw and uncensored form. People may think you're nuts, and you probably temporarily could be considered as such. Short term pain leads to long term gain here: if you don't become insane in the moment, you will assuredly be driven insane in the long term by keeping things bottled up. But lemme tell ya, one potty mouthed compatriot to another: it's fucking worth it.


Rule Number Three: GODDAMNIT, I SAID NO

There's a lot of people that have demands on your attention and time, am I wrong? What these people may or may not understand is that their right to your energy is actually a privilege. It's hard to shift paradigms when someone may have been used to calling on you when they needed... whatever it is they needed. But things can change. Maybe you need some time to take care of some of your own stuff? Whatever that "stuff" may be, you need to assert your right to take care of yourself absolutely. People may not like it, but there it is. If they don't get it, refer to Rule Number Two and tell 'em where to go.

The other thing that falls under this category is conforming to others' ideals. No. Just, no. If it feels wrong, it is wrong. To thine own self be true, etc. "You" might seem ugly at the moment, but gawshdarnit, you're the only you you've got. The only you the entire world has, actually. And that's pretty special.


Rule Number Four: There's always a silver lining.

Also known as: it could always be worse. I'm a firm believer in that God/Goddess Source/Universe/Flying Spaghetti Monster will only give you as much as you can handle. Even when you feel like going postal and sacrificing the blood of the innocent, remember this. It's important. Despite the fact that your dog ran away, your truck is broke, and your woman left you for the strong (and much handsomer) arms of another, at least you're alive to be shit upon in the first place, am I right? I know this thought pisses you off, but I'm right. Deal with it.


Rule Number Five: Don't Apologize

If you could have known better, you would have done better, right? Never in this life are we ever prepared for the challenges that will face us. We only live on average 70 or so years. How is that ever going to be enough time for you to prepare yourself to appropriately and effectively deal with every possible situation ever? Do the best you can. That's it. And never apologize for falling short of someone's expectations. Guilt and shame are very dirty words... even dirtier than "fuck".


Rule Number Six: Let it go.

There's lots of books on this. All the important spiritual writers speak of the importance of not allowing yourself to get caught up in the illusion of control. We control nothing. The best we can do is try to control our reactions to things that happen, and even that is really bloody difficult. Do the best you can do, and let go of the results of your actions. The cards will fall where they will. Holding on to the fruits of those actions will only cause you pain when they don't meet your expectations.

For example, I was in a really miserable mood before I started writing this blog post. I thought it might cheer me up to get some of these thoughts on (virtual) paper. Nope. I'm still miserable. So I can either make myself more miserable by focusing on my lack-of-happy or I can just be how I need to (apparently) be at this very moment. It'll pass, and a lot faster if I let go of my attachments.


So try to live a clean life, but not so clean you can't say "FUCK" when you need to. Don't apologize for needing to say "FUCK" in the first place. Find the simple pleasure of cursing your ass off enjoyable when you need to, because behind every angry moment of cathartic rage, lies the silver lining of shedding said rage in the first place. When people try to tell you their needs are more important than yours, feel free to politely tell them that your new priority is YOU. That's not selfish or narcissistic. It's self preservation. You can't give of you if there's no you to give in the first place. Maybe in 100 years we'll have ourselves all figured out, but I doubt it. So we do the best we can, no?



November 10, 2012

Abundance, Abundance Everywhere and Not a Dime to Blow on Retail Therapy.

It's hard, in our culture, to associate the concept of "abundance" with anything other than material wealth. That's what we're pretty much programmed to associate with the word. Everyone would like to be more "abundant" in their bank account, but is that what it really means?

I've had trouble with the concept myself. The last few years I've been unable to work (long story), and times have been lean, shall we say. There's been a few times where I wasn't sure how we were going to buy food. It was pretty scary, and most certainly did not help to lessen my stress level. I thought for sure my four critters, my husband and I were going to literally end up in a van down by the river. I was not a believer in life, the universe, or anything. The answer was most certainly not 42, unless you mean $42,000, and then, BY ALL MEANS! I really thought I was being left high and dry by my concept of God at the time, and was absolutely positive I was being punished for being something undesirable. Uncool.

You know what though? It seemed like every time I was just about to completely lose my shit and try to sell my crappy car (which is worth considerably less than my MacBook Pro), a check would come in the mail for some unknown tax rebate, or some pension thing I had no idea existed. Just when we were about to have to downgrade to no-name Kraft Dinner, we'd receive a couple hundred extra bucks. The timing was truly impeccable. The Universe, it turns out, has been completely supporting me all along. (Thanks, buddy!)

All kidding aside, this made a believer out of me. Any problems I had with God before that, pretty much vanished when I clued in to the pattern. It's also made me rethink my concept of abundance. I have a house over my head, I have my dogs and cats, I have (most) of my bills paid, and I have food in the fridge. Most importantly, I have love. There are far too many people in this world, and even in this country, that don't have even half of what we westerners would think of as the basic necessities of life (and I'm not even including ketchup). 

I may not be nearly as wealthy as I was when I was working, but what I have lost in material worth, I have gained in wisdom a hundredfold. All the "things" I thought I needed were just adding to my suffering, really. 

Abundance? Yes. It is absolutely something I can tap into.

GAH!

I'm really having a hard time lately. I'm trying to find a format for being a practicing druid every day, but it's hard to move from complete religious stagnation to daily devotionals. I try to at least spend a brief minute or two just being grateful, even if I don't meditate or something. There's no book to tell me what to do, and at this point in my life, I kind of need directions. My "figuring stuff out" brain is too tied up with other problems... I just need autopilot. But to get to autopilot, I have to do some stuff to make some new samskaras as well.

I've already been told that, if this is the case, I should "see what my Druidry can do for me, and not what [I] can do for my Druidry". True. But I feel like figuring this stuff out is a key piece to me figuring my own junk out. I've felt spiritually bereft for years, and am now very excited to find things I am genuinely interested in, especially that there are other people out there that think like me! And this isn't exactly "new"... I've been practising Druidry for a few years now. It's just reached a point where I really feel like I can grab on with both hands. It's literally like the blind leading the blind inside my head.

I gotta admit that I have some definite hurdles right now that I've been trying to ignore instead of improve (in true Tara fashion), so now I need to focus on improving some situations. Not sure how yet, but... we'll see. (Side note: you forget how hard you are on yourself. If I were talking to someone in a similar situation, I would probably say to them "Dude. Just do what you can, y'know? You're doing great just with what you've been doing!" But to myself, it always ends up being "Not enough. Never enough! Try harder!" SUCH BULLSHIT).

Anywho... that's where I am. I hope I'm not getting too personal for some people who are reading this. I've reached a point in my life where I need to be absolutely authentic, and probably too much so. But it's better than my former modus operandi of being who everyone else wants me to be, even if it destroys every ounce of who I am. Please be patient. I'll figure out where the line is eventually ;) But for now, I'm erring on the side of TMI honesty!

November 5, 2012

YES

Not very often I find the exact thing I'm looking for!!!

A visual representation of Patanjali's 8 Limbs of Yoga :D And a nice one too! From yogadork.com








November 1, 2012

Struggle.

Man, I am having a hard time starting with the OBOD stuff (again). I'm trying to rid it of its negative feel post-OBODocalypse, but it's really hanging on. And I'm really dragging my feet. I don't feel like dropping it would be the right thing to do, but it's hard to want to keep going with so much resistance. And if you're resisting something, isn't that a sign you might be doing the wrong thing?

How do you force yourself to not force yourself to do something when your whole life you've been forcing yourself to force yourself? By forcing yourself?

I need to force a baseball bat on something very dent-able.

Right vs. Left

Why is it that I, as a left-wing, liberal Pagan am the exact opposite of a right-wing conservative Christian?

Why is it that in Canada, being a Conservative means you're actually liberal?

Why do we have to define ourselves in terms that segregate ourselves from other people?

From now on, I am choosing more inclusive terms.

I am now...

uhh....

a CITIZEN OF EARTH.

Another Small Thought on Samhain

I very, very much desired the presence of a quartz crystal necklace yesterday that was given to me by a dear friend when I was a kid. I haven't worn the thing in years, but it felt very good to wear... like the crystal equivalent of a big poofy comforter.

At the time she told me that crystals who are given away as gifts with love will always have greater benefit to the recipient. It still feels like the most powerful one I own, even with all the different kinds of energy work I've done with my others.


How Good are You at Keeping a Secret?

Lately I've been thinking about the whole "secrecy" thing that can surround some Druidry. I belong to two different groups, which are of two very different minds on this. I can see both points of view. Please be advised that I do not mean to criticize either group here... just exploring the effects of their different viewpoints. :)

OBOD is more secretive (first rule of OBOD is you don't talk about OBOD), which I understand. They believe that their information in the wrong hands is like "casting pearls before swine", and the knowledge and teachings lose some of their magic if treated any less than venerably. They are also of the mindset (at least in my opinion) that those who are truly called to be part of their Order will be called regardless of the mystery surrounding them. Possibly, it could even be intriguing. I happened into OBOD by picking up a copy of the Druid Animal Oracle, and was shocked to find out that Druidry was "a thing". There will be people who read a little and absolutely hunger for more, and there will be those that get a foul smell from the secrecy and be turned off completely. Maybe they're not ready yet? Maybe OBOD should be a little more forthcoming? I'm not sure.

OBOD does have a less rigid structure than does ADF. For example, a "Chosen Chief" instead of an "Archdruid". I've read that some people prefer this as it does not inspire a sense of autocracy or despotism. I've yet to see someone attempt to form the "Druids for Mussolini", and I think the very heart of Druidry would be very anti-"that", but I guess you never know.

OBOD also primarily focuses on Celtic culture. While others are definitely discussed, and no interest in other cultures is ever discouraged, they definitely do not offer them as paths within OBOD. If you want to do your own thing, that's okay, but they're only interested in all things Celtic. ADF is pretty much an all-you-can-eat buffet of Paganism. You can have a nice slice of Hellenism, a side of Asatru, and some Vedic culture for dessert. It's all good! OBOD's focus on Celtic culture works for me primarily because that's where (and why) I was first drawn to Druidry. Although I've now integrated Vedic culture (officially... it's always had influence on/with me), OBOD doesn't seek to support that. But I digress. This was supposed to be about secrecy, wasn't it?

ADF is more interested in transparency. I get the distinct impression that, although it may not be a main goal of their organization, they intend to remove some of the secrecy behind Druidry, which can end up being misconstrued as myriad other, more negative things. Sort of a "Come one, come all! We have nothing to hide!" kind of attitude. I can respect this as well, and I think it is important to be willing to share our spirituality to those who are interested (and at least respectful), to try to dispel myths. I really wish I felt more comfortable in admitting to people that, you know, in MY religion, Hallowe'en is a HOLY day, without being thought a devil-worshipper. ADF will probably be more effectual in making this a possibility in the future than OBOD will. ADF doesn't proselytize either, by any means, but they probably have a more open vision than does OBOD.

Both groups have their pros and cons concerning this issue, and many others. For me, at least, the meshing of the two groups has helped satisfy two needs: the need for a mentor or teacher in helping to find my path (the more OBOD way), and the need to be able to "make the rules up as I go" (very ADF). I continue to respect the secrecy that OBOD desires, although I do question it. But honestly it wouldn't matter anyways. I'm not about to go spouting off about any of this to just anyone. It's similar to Reiki, I guess. Reiki's unspoken demand is that it not be shared with anyone, specifically the sacred symbols and their mantras. Although I don't share them with people just for the hell of it, I will certainly not deny anyone who earnestly asks me a response. I guess the same should go for Druidry of any persuasion.

October 31, 2012

Blessed Samhuinn!

J and I did a small Samhuinn ritual tonight. We offered our thanks to the Ancestors, and talked a little about who we would like to be present (if they were amenable, of course!) We also did a small meditation involving the Cailleach, offering to her cauldron anything that no longer serves us. We closed with giving thanks to the Ancestors, to mother Earth, to the four elements, and to the four directions and their aspects.

I felt like it was pretty powerful, though I can't really put my finger on "why". I just felt very in touch with everything/spirit/source/what have you. I felt a great sense of peace, belonging, and that certain unnamed sources "had my back".

We did a 5 card spread divination each, and both J and I received some reassurance. I've had to make some important decisions lately... nothing that would affect my life in a HUGE way, but things that definitely would make my life easier with a positive outcome. I got some positive feedback. I felt that it was positive in reinforcing what I have already accomplished. Sort of like telling me what I was feeling was right, and that I did the right thing. I can always use that!

Can't wait for Saturday's ADF ritual! :D

Here's what my Samhuinn altar looks like! :D




October 24, 2012

My First Book Report.

Oh it feels like I'm in public school again :D Tee hee. Here's the report from my first book on the ADF booklist, Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moon.



Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon is a 30-year-old study of what it means, and what it is like, to be a Pagan in today’s North America. It has been updated several times in its 30-year history to incorporate new groups, methodologies, and general mindsets of Pagan people as they have evolved. It encompasses a large variety of different Pagan groups and viewpoints, and provides very fair and unbiased information about them. Witches, Druids, groups that venerate the Egyptian, Norse, and different Goddess Deities, and even some groups that sprung up as a result of Science Fiction are examined at length in this book. Margot Adler does a wonderful job of approaching the discussion of each group with tact, respect, and reverence.
I feel this book is significant due to the large and varied amount of information. I feel like it was a very good primer for anyone considering or practicing Paganism of any sort. Ms. Adler has spent literally 30 years since publishing, and who knows how many before that, treating the research of the heart of Paganism as her personal mission. The fact that she writes much of the book from her own personal experiences with each of these groups means that she must have been very respectful and innocently inquisitive for them to allow her into their “innermost sanctum”. The book has that “sense” to it, and, although it doesn’t leave a question unasked or a potentially questionable ritual unexamined, I feel like she did it from a place of detachment and honour. It seems obvious why this book was chosen for the ADF’s Dedicant Path booklist: ADF is nothing if not inclusive! It opened my eyes to many different viewpoints, and either added to my personal thoughts on them, or introduced me to them entirely. Although personally none of the groups mentioned appealed to me (other than the section on ADF of course), I can see how this book would be a great tool for someone who was starting to form opinions about Paganism in general. Possibly there is a group mentioned that would very much resonate with the reader to which they would not otherwise have been exposed.
There are many ideas expressed in this book that I had been thinking about myself, but didn’t really know there was a name for it. There are a few quotes in particular I would like to discuss.

“After this vision, I regained my true perspective of a Witch, how a Witch looks at life – as a challenge. It is not going to last forever, and it’s all right on the other side, so what are you going to do?” (Adler 2006, pg. 74)



This is a quote from Z Budapest, a Witch after my own heart, which has totally “gone it on her own”.
This quote is, to put it bluntly, my life’s work as of late. I feel as though I am caught between two generations that think completely differently. There’s the younger generation, which is more willing to search for their heart’s desire and not necessarily needing that much security, financial or otherwise. Then there is the older generation, which wants to “have”, which is not okay with anything less than a perfect 9 to 5 job, and denies their own dreams for the good of their family, or to please others. I’m trying hard to trust the Universe, and myself, and to know that I will be supported as long as I go in the direction of my heart. Although I do not identify as a Witch per se, it was nice to see, in print, that this was a struggle through which others have suffered.

I also found this passage rather striking:


“The priestess of Artemis, or Morragu, or Kali is not going to be a simpering idiot or a Kirche-Küche-Kinder sort of woman. She is more likely to be a strong, domineering, combative intellectual. If you find that frightening, go ahead, admit it. But don’t accuse her of being “unfeminine” or of trying to castrate every man she meets… “ (Adler 2006, pg. 214)


I’ve had great personal tragedy as a result of the ideas in this quote, which is so elegantly put. Turns out it was all for the better, but it was intensely painful to withstand. Still is. Long story short, I was someone who worked in the male dominated field of civil engineering, Construction administration to be exact. This means that I would be in charge of a construction site as the eyes and ears of the owner. I was labeled a “bitch” for my assertiveness, and was not taken seriously. I felt like I had to work twice as hard to be proven half as good. I feel like I must have been a perceived threat to them for all the fun reasons that our patriarchal society seems to encourage. All I really wanted to do was to be great at my profession. This quote from Isaac Bonewits is an excellent example of the person I was trying to be: assertive, knowledgeable and someone of great personal strength. It’s an important distinction to make. An assertive woman is not a “bitch” any more than an assertive man is, and it is a complete double standard that there continues to be separation. My desire for this to change is very aptly put in this quote from Sharon Devlin:

“What I want to see the end of is the frustration of the male father instinct, which is being diverted into violence, and the end of the frustration of the female lioness instinct, which is being diverted into bitchiness.” (Adler 2006, pg. 153)

I’d like to discuss another quote from Sharon Devlin, discussing her thoughts

on Aleister Crowley’s beliefs:


“So you think you are helpless. You think all this is just happening to you. Well, that’s bullshit! Because you are not just a son or a daughter of God. To be a son or daughter of God means your are equal to God and you have a responsibility to the One to get it together and make your Godhood count for something, because, other than that, you are just another fuckin’ insect. Now that’s what it means. It also means that if we were all doing what we really wanted to do, we would do it in perfect harmony. Why do people kill and rape each other? This is an expression of the denial of love in that person’s life. Now, I have been attacked, but frankly, I believe in my heart of hearts that the one who kills is enduring greater suffering than the one who is killed and that all “evil” is an expression of ignorance, an expression of the frustration of the Law of the One. And the Law of the One, whoever She is, in all Her many forms, is that we give to each other constantly. I am not talking about giving to the negation of self. I’m talking about giving to the glory of the self. If you were what you could be the best and you did what you loved to do with all your might, you would create such light and such power that it would give pizazz to everybody in your immediate area, and even to those distant, perhaps.” (Adler 2006, pg. 144)


It’s a long one, but I felt it was pertinent. This quote reminds me of Marianne Williamson’s famous quote used by Nelson Mandela, however rough around the edges it seems.
            This has been my desire and hope as of late. If I am not meant for what I used to do, I want to find out “what I could be the best”, and how I could “create such light and such power that it would give pizazz to everybody in [my] immediate area…” This sentiment is something I feel our society is lacking, and the more instances I see of it in books or newspapers or wherever, the more I want to scream about its complete, total, and simple truth. If only more of us could live from this place of being so in touch with our Divine Mission that we radiated light wherever we went. I have a perfectly smooth stone with a lighthouse painted on it on my desk to remind me of this idea. Be like the lighthouse.
            I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, not just those who have just started out in Paganism. I feel that regardless of your level of knowledge, this book would probably have something to teach you about some little known sect, or reinforce your beliefs with the discussion of timeless wisdom. Although I felt it to be slightly “Witch” content heavy, they are probably the first group to really become established in North America, and are probably the biggest. All in all, I found this book to be a highly enlightening and informative read!

October 22, 2012

On Divination.

I've long used divination in one form or another. Everything from crystal pendulums, to oracle cards of all sorts, to using myself as a divining rod. I can even dowse for water, and so can my Dad. Family gift?

Where I'm stuck in the moment is how much stock to take in the results of said divination. I know people run the gamut from just doing it for the fun of it, to taking it as literal advice from the Kindreds/Gods/Universe. I've considered that it is possibly just a way for me to figure out what I think by giving myself an "outside opinion" in the form of the cards.

But what does it mean when the cards give you something that doesn't seem applicable? I guess that's kind of a silly question, because I have yet to have this happen. But what if it did? What then?

What does it mean if it gives you the answer you feel couldn't be more wrong? Is it saying that you are, in fact, doing the wrong thing? Or maybe you are just not interpreting the cards correctly?

What does it mean if it says you're doing the right thing? Am I reading that because that's what I want to hear?

Frustrated? A little. I need to come up with an idea on what to do with this and stick to it.

At least until I get a better idea.

October 21, 2012

What Would (the) Druid Do?

I'm considering litigation against my former slave drivers.

I'm also considering the implications.

I'm trying to think about what Gandhi would do. Gandhi would try to right the wrongs of the oppressed, etc. etc., but I'm not oppressed any more. I bowed out of that situation as gracefully as possible. I'm (probably very) traumatized by the fallout of said situation, which is why I'm considering litigation. 

"An-eye-for-an-eye-for-an-eye-for-an-eye ... ends in making everybody blind." - Mohandas K. Gandhi

If I decide to go ahead, you know, if they find I have a strong case (and I have no idea what that would even LOOK like), am I taking an eye? It wouldn't be from the offenders, it would be from people who had absolutely nothing to do with it whatsoever. Is it right for me, regardless of how deserving I am, to take from them? That doesn't sound like ahimsa to me...

But what about the pain I'm going through? Who's going to pay to help me with that?

What about karma? Is it better karma for me to forgive them their wrongdoing, and pray that they find a less destructive way of being in the world? Or is it better karma for me to hold them to the fire and make them pay for their wrongdoing? But they won't really be paying... will they? Will this even trickle down to them and get them in some sort of trouble? Anger management? I don't know. 

Should I be worried about ahimsa as concerns me, or concerning them? Which is more important?

Fuck ahimsa?

I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.

“Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” ― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird

Ahh. The Sweet Smell of Rejection.

Awhile ago, I put my absolute heart and soul into the exercise required to complete the Bardic Grade. I won't get into what it was about because of the First Rule of OBOD (Don't Talk About OBOD). But I can say I worked really, really, really freaking hard on it.

Annnnddd I got rejected. And so I revised, fixing the glaring mistakes I had made (helps if you read the instructions). Annnnddd I got rejected again.

This felt extraordinarily harsh. I kind of got the (mistaken) impression on the first draft that if I made the changes, you know, followed the right instructions in the first place, it wouldn't be a problem.

Nope.

I took this pretty personally. I realize this is my internal stuff talking, but... the way the news was given to me felt like it was bordering on uncaring. Regardless of the intention, that dog don't hunt.

I'm glad I now have an action plan, and now know what's expected of me. From my perspective, I think it's a little unrealistic of them to put out the course, give you no real idea of what's expected to complete it, tell you to do the work (or not!) with your own discretion and in your own way, and then not like the results. I totally understand why they've done it that way. Totally. And it's not criticism (at least not meant to be harsh criticism). I just don't feel like their expectations were made very clear. My engineering brain really had no idea what the hell to do with it. My Christian brain wasn't really ready to let go of some things either, even though they explicitly state that it isn't necessary. I guess for me, it was. "Ritual" is a very bad word where I come from.

I've admittedly had a rough few years, and my 100% best effort might have been someone else's 10%. But I did really work hard on it, and my "10%" was incredibly transformative.

I guess I need to find recognition from some other source. Maybe... *GASP* MYSELF?

Oh well. Long story short, I'm starting all over. Right from scratch. Now that I know what the rules are, and I know I'm going to be 100% comfortable with the subject matter in the first place, I'm cool with that. It's hard not to be bitter about having to start over, but I'm actually retaining a lot more this second go around. This time, I have clearer ideas of what to expect, and what is expected. I can go through it without all the clutter of my own personal stuff (or at least, without a lot of it), and know that Paganism IS for me. The ADF Dedicant Path helps enrich it as well, as I'm sure re-reading the Bardic course will enrich the Dedicant Path.

I am going to be like the most experienced Bard EVER.

October 19, 2012

A Thought for Samhain...

I posted this a bazillion years ago on my old blog. September 12, 2006. Just thought with Samhain coming up, it would be nice to re-post.

This is highly significant for me, looking back. As strange as it might sound, Jaz left a legacy of handling great adversity with grace and good humour that continues to impact my life. I am now "insulin dependent" (I HATE the "D" word), and I went through absolute and utter hell coming to terms with it. It's not a whole bunch easier now, but life goes on. One thing that keeps me going is knowing how great her life was despite all those painful needles, and how she never seemed to let it get the best of her. Even after she lost her vision, she was still happy-go-lucky Spazzy Jaz. Funny to think of an animal as a role model, but honestly, I can't think of a better one.

When I think of my ancestors, I think of her.

In Remembrance of my Best Friend

As I sat at coffee today with my coworkers, we came onto the subject of "Pet Insurance", and what we would do if our pets got really sick. One was talking about his son's cat that has Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, another about what happened when her dog was diagnosed with severe allergies. Another mentioned a friend whose dog had become diabetic, and consequently, blind. They marvelled, and laughed rather loudly, that this "moron" could put any money or care into an animal that was going to be sick forever. I almost cried.

I couldn't help but think about how much she meant to me. Still does. Always will. And how much I would have missed out on had she not been there. Jazmyn was almost six years old when she was diagnosed. The vet said that we would be lucky to see another two good years from her, because diabetic dogs are extremely hard to care for properly. There just isn't proper treatment for it. I like to believe that the reason she lived well past her tenth birthday is that we loved her so much. I can't imagine not having had her around. The intense care and attention Jazy needed during her last five years could be difficult at times, and sometimes was nothing but a nuisance. But I cannot imagine deciding that half of her otherwise healthy life was less important than my five minutes, twice a day, to give her a needle. She was my best friend.

One of the times I've most felt wronged by God is the day she died. Which probably sounds ridiculous and petty to most people, to feel so strongly about an animal. I don't care. Two weeks before Christmas, and a few days before I was laid off, my parents both showed up in my driveway, and I thought they had finally taken my suggestion to "pop over sometime!" Not so... and as soon as they came in the door I knew what had happened. They had taken Jazy to the vet earlier in the day, as she had been having what we thought was a problem with hip dysplasia. It isn't uncommon for dogs of the "spitz" variety, so, it made sense. Strange to say, but we weren't that lucky. Jaz was full of cancerous tumours from one end to the other. They had her put to sleep at the vet's that hour.

My Mom said it wasn't that bad. She said that when she was asked if she would like to give her a treat, she replied that she would, and grabbed the whole jar from the vet's hand and fed each and every one to her. She was even sweet enough to have grabbed the jar of cat treats; something Jaz had picked up from my cat. Jazy must have thought she had won the lottery, as she was rarely allowed a treat. Any extra carbohydrates in her diet would screw up her insulin dosage.

I sat in the middle of my kitchen floor, hugging my knees and shaking hard as I sobbed, and completely succumbed to my own sorrow. Most people wouldn't consider me a religious person, but I am, in my own way. I had asked God, ever so nicely, if he could just let me have this one last Christmas to wrap her up some sort of chewy toy and put it under the tree. Instead, I sat in the basement of my parents' house on Christmas Day, waiting for my Dad to get home, and listened to the painful sound of silence. No pitter pat of little paws on the floor above me. I've never in a dogless house before. That was the single strangest experience of my entire life. The quiet was deafening.

While looking through my Dad's closet for some PJs to steal one day while they were in Florida, I found a perfectly cubic blue cardboard box, placed unceremoniously at the top of his closet. Curiosity got the best of me, as my birthday was soon approaching. I figured it must be for me. I opened the box and unwrapped it carefully, only to find an urn containing the cremated remains of my Jaz. I broke down.

You can't say that you've loved someone until you give your whole heart to them. I loved my sweet fuzzy Jazy with my entire being. As I have loved Mandy and Parzlee before her, and Bosco now. They are so precious to me. They rely on you completely, trusting you completely. And they love you to the ends of the earth for the simple things you do to take care of them. If only we could give of our hearts so freely.

I don't know too much, but I do know one thing. If wanting to preserve the happy life of one furry little being makes me a moron, I'll gladly take that title.







A New Beginning for an Old Idea.

So we meet again, internet.

I used to be really into blogging before Google acquired Blogger.

Don't remember a time when Google didn't own Blogger?

That's because I'M OLD!

Anywho, I decided to start this blog as a halfway point between journalling and typing out notes/thoughts/miscellanea into some formless Word document. I believe there's great value in actually handwriting a journal, but I also type about a billion times faster than I actually write (and at least that many times more legibly as well). So, here goes.

My purpose for this blog is to explore my newfound spirituality/religion/whatever called "Druidry". By newfound, I mean like, three years ago. But believe me when I tell you that it is no easy task to convert from a seemingly opposed viewpoint (AKA Christianity). I've had times over the past three years where the task was simply too great, and the very best I could do to improve myself in this way was to do nothing at all. I feel now that I am on the cusp of a big transformation, and, for the first time in a very long time, I feel I have the wherewithal to muddle through it. Hence, the blogging! Hopefully I will be able to share my ideas in a coherent manner (always good to be coherent, y'know), and this will serve for me as a place to see where I am, as well as where I've been.

So. A short introduction. For the purpose of all things Druidic, my name is Tara Loughborough. I get the Tara from the place I stood in Ireland and marvelled at the beauty and rich history of that land, and felt, though I am Canadian, that I had come home for the first time in my entire life. I get the Loughborough from the place I did a lot of growing up. My name is an amalgamation of the two "births" I've had in my life. One literally, and one spiritually. Also, it just sounds pretty.

As far as my Druidic path goes, I consider myself to be of the Celtic/Vedic persuasion. I am a member of both the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD), and Ar nDraioct Fein (ADF), and both for very different reasons. OBOD served as a launching pad for me as its material is very complete for the initiate. OBOD tends to like their secrecy though, and I respect and understand that desire, but I felt it was holding me back a little. So I stumbled upon ADF. Where OBOD states that "The first rule of OBOD is: you don't talk about OBOD", ADF is more of the mindset that, you know, "Come on in! Be a druid with us! Want some cider?" and is far more inclusive in its beliefs. OBOD is mainly Celtic, though it doesn't dissuade anyone from having other leanings, whereas ADF is more of a giant Indo-European buffet of belief systems. I was holding back on joining ADF, because, well, isn't one Druid group enough? Then I met a lovely person by the name of Grey Catsidhe that convinced me for certain. OBOD unfortunately doesn't have much of a presence in my area, and ADF definitely does. Sold. They both have their pros and cons, but so far, the combo has been particularly useful for me.

I've recently added Vedic culture studies into the mix as well as Celtic. (Hence the strange blog name... Namaste Om Shamrock? Get it? Maybe that's just my own brand of nerd humour... :P) Turns out, all these stories and teachings I love from the yoga world actually have a place in ADF. Who knew? I was pretty happy to learn that I could integrate them into my Druidry. Not that before I thought... I couldn't... really. It just never occured to me. Strange how sometimes you need permission from someone else to allow something that feels so natural to you...

Currently I am working on the Bardic Grade with OBOD, and the Dedicant Path with ADF. I pretty much lately have been completely focused on all things Druidic, and the more I learn, the more I love it. It feels like a homecoming. Nothing about Christianity to me ever felt familiar. I most certainly understand that it is a completely valid path for some... just... not for me. I'm trying to find answers as to how I am going to live this new life with a spirituality rooted in the earth, instead of one rooted in a church. It's been difficult to navigate, as my family is very much Christian, and... I don't really imagine them reacting well to my conversion. So I'm trying to decide whether this is something I share to be honest and open with them and myself (most importantly), whatever the consequences, or whether it is something sacred that is just for me. We'll see. Stay tuned.

If you've got this far, thanks for reading! :) I promise my next posts will be much shorter! :) LOL