Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Nothing much to say today...

I really want to try to keep up with posting every day, but I'm sure that I'll have the occasional evening like tonight where I'm just worn out and brain-fried. In my book, I've not really done much today but I'm wiped.

The Imp has been fantastic. She had an appointment at her nursery for a photographer, and she actually let me do her hair without a fight. Shame her hair laughed at the curling iron. I had a lovely image in my head of what I wanted her hair to look like...with some big, loose curls. Instead, it looked like I had used straighteners. She was thrilled, either way, with her 'princess hair'. She's been in a fantastic mood all day. She sat still and had a huge, gorgeous smile for the photographer, had an hour of playing with the other girls, then sat and had a huge smile for the group photo. I give the nursery serious props for managing to wrangle almost 40 under 5 year olds in under 15 minutes for a photograph together, and most of them were actually looking forward.  After a lunch of chips at home, she decided that she wanted a nap. She's three...how many three year olds do you know decide that they're ready for a rest? She must have been picking up on me flagging, because I was ready for a kip, too. Nothing like an hour snuggled on the sofa to bring around a second wind. She even sorted out the pillows (her hint that I wasn't moving fast enough for us to lay down was her bringing her pillows off her bed and putting them on the sofa herself).

It gave us the energy to go out to the back garden to work some more on the weeds. My intention was to just plant the sweetcorn plants that I bought for 10p a piece at the market. We ended up working with our 89 year old neighbour to get rid of the thistle in the path between, bagging up the steadily grown mound of dead weeds from our garden, weeding the bit of veg patch that I do have planted, thinning out the lettuce and tomato plants that have gotten insane. I truly didn't expect to be out there for that long, but I think that after a weekend of rain, I needed the energy from the sun. And I find putting plants into the soil to be rather cathartic. Shame the same can't be said about the weeding, which there is a lot more to do before I get the remainder of the seeds out that I wanted out a month ago.

Well, with it being the school half-term, I'll have the Imp's assistance all week, that we can spend some of it gardening. She's rather good at weed pulling (at least in the main part of the garden...she presented me with a beetroot seedling today :S ), and we could both use more time outside. It'll also be excellent time to clearly think through for a better post tomorrow.

It does make me feel all tingly that on many of my low-energy days, the Imp can be so thoughtful, even at such a tender age. Today, she's occasionally asked me 'Are you happy, mummy?', which was a first. You don't expect it from your toddler. It's even better when she follows it with a beaming smile when you tell her yes and a huge hug. It does make for a fantastic day, to be honest. It makes me so proud of her, and glad that I chose a gentle path to raise her on, and that we've had 3 1/2 years of close attachment, that will continue so she can keep learning by the examples of her elders. It makes me just as glad that the elders that she has the most contact with set such a strong and understanding example for her.


Monday, 30 May 2011

Ritual Tools, Altars, and Ritual Space

Every time I walk past my Welsh dresser, I contemplate what is supposed to be one of my altar spaces. I really have no option but the sigh and shake my head in disappointment of my pathetic attempt. Well, in all actuality, it's not a pathetic attempt. I have honestly tried. I put a lot of thought and energy into what is on my altars and what intent that I've got for that particular layout.

It's a shame that my cats don't seem to feel the same. Since the arrival of Florence, and her and Loki deciding that they weren't enemies but playmates, I don't think my altar has lasted longer than ten minutes, if I'm lucky. Florence is actually the biggest culprit...she finds it to be a prime location to sleep, where Loki won't bother her. She's at least courteous enough, most of the time, to shove all of my ritual bits to the safety of the back of the dresser top so I'm not digging them out from underneath my favourite behemoth piece of furniture.  At least the Imp, at 3 1/2, has stopped throwing the stones all over the house and places them back with the rest of them...where Florence has shoved them.

Today, in my frustration, I've had a better think about it. Do I really need a specific alter? In my 17 years as a practising Pagan, I had never been able to have a permanent altar space until I moved into this house two years ago. What few bits of ritual kit that I used, I kept in a fishing tackle box (it was especially bought for that purpose, so no worms ever had a look in :P ) and a couple of Ziplock bags, because I used to keep it in the trunk of my car in Indiana. Even if I don't have any of my tools, I don't have an issue with creating an impromptu space and raising and using the energies that I need. Of course I'm an absolute magpie when it comes to pretty ritual tools, including a huge wand that was custom made just for me, and I love looking at other peoples' altars...I've seen some amazing ones over the years. But, you know what? I don't think that I'm intended to have a permanent altar space.  The only place that would even have a chance of being kitty-safe would be a shelf in my bedroom that is about level of the top of my head. That's saying a lot...I'm 5'8.

In my thinking, I thought about where I've had my most amazing personal rituals, and they've been similar. On a trip to visit a friend in Nashville, Tennessee, it was after hours in a wooded park, in a clearing surrounded by woods, laying on a hill that slanted down to a lake, on a full moon. I had originally picked the spot to just chill out and found myself falling into a trance state, and strolling up a spiral path of iridescent sand, in which the first of my patron Goddesses joined me for a chat and stroll upwards. Absolutely amazing, and I was buzzing for a few days afterwards.  I experienced it again near my current home, again laying down in a clearing surrounded by woods on a full moon.

Reminding myself of those experiences, I guess I shouldn't be too overly upset over not being able to have a permanent altar. I think I actually work better without. I don't actually need the tools, though I do love my wand. That's mainly because it's pretty, and was a very thoughtful gift. And I'm sure that through the years I will collect more beautiful pieces of ritual tools and decoration.  Even if I were locked in a dark closet, I could centre down and mentally find the paths that will take me for a chat with my gods and goddesses.


UK Bank Holiday Monday, and US Memorial Day

Living in England, and it being just a bit past midnight, it is our Spring Bank Holiday. That means that in five hours, it will be Memorial Day in the US, where I grew up.

'Spring Bank Holiday' holds absolutely no meaning to me, or to anybody else in this country, except for the banks and post office that close, and all of the shops that take advantage of people likely to have the day off of work to shop in their sales. Originally, it was a Christian holiday, Whitsun, which was the Monday after Pentacost. This lasted as a public holiday until the Banking and Financial Dealings Act of 1971.

Memorial Day, on the other hand, is something that has true meaning to me. Similar to Remembrance Sunday here in the UK in November, this is a day set aside to honour our heroes...the men and women who died protecting our freedom.  It originated after the US civil war as Decoration Day, as a day set aside to honour the fallen of that bloody time and decorate their graves.

The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit. ~ General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic (www.history.com/topics/memorial-day-history)

For me, personally, it's not just the freedom of the US or UK. It's also the freedom all people who live in countries that allow you to speak as you will, believe as you want, and experience true free will. OK, there are limits...overall national law...but there are places in this world that give me the creeps over the fact that I would probably be on the path to execution by stoning because I am a Pagan, and the fact that I am a woman with an opinion and sense of self worth.  Even if we don't agree with the reasons behind the current wars and conflicts, we still need to stand behind the brave souls and their families who go off on the orders of their superiors on a road of unknown end.

I think to the Vikings and other Norse and Germanic paths, and their view of honour and glory.

Dedication, The Halls of Valhalla

"And, Lo, do I see my father
And, Lo, do I see my mother
And my sisters and my brothers
And the line of my people

Back to the beginning...
And, Lo, do they call me,
In the halls of Valhalla
Where the brave may live forever!"

Many brave warriors
chanted such a prayer
before battles that raged
In times untold.
Their stories are gone
lost in histories depths,
to never be heard again
except as tales from the old.
But try as you may
to find such valor now,
it just doesn't exist
in the world today.
Heroes are myth,
brought from out of a book.
When someone fights against evil
they get nary a second look.
So just remember a time,
lost in the mist.
And remember to treat
All brave men today,
as the heroes they are.

Their ideal death was to die in glorious battle. A true warrior didn't want to die in his bed as an old man. He wanted stories to be told around the fires, for his legacy to be remembered. That is the least we can do for our present day heroes, whether they are still serving us now, have moved on to retirement as veterans, or have found their way to Valhalla.  We can remember and honour the stories of them all, as it's the least that we can do.

This post is in honour of all military men and women, past and present, especially those in my life:

  • My brother, John, US Army, Iraq Veteran
  • My cousin's husband, Jody, US Navy Reserves, Iraq Veteran
  • My cousin's husband, Ben, US Army Reserves
  • My cousin, Jeff, US Navy, retired
  • My daughter's grandfather, Bill, RAF, retired, Falklands veteran
  • My friend, Les, British Army and RAF, Afghanistan Veteran
  • My stepdad, Mike, USAF
  • My high school yearmate, Trent Schmidt, US Army, Afghanistan, deceased on leave, 11/02/11
  • And all of our ancestors before them...

If nothing else, we should keep them in our thoughts, and when you're having an off day with the general grumps, remember those that have been, and are still, in the skies, air, sands and trenches fighting for you to have that free will. If you are able, be generous year-round to your favourite veterans' charity. My favourite is Help for Heroes, who help the wounded veterans of the current conflicts.


edited 03/06/11 to correct font problems

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Circle of Moms Top 25 Faith Blogs

This contest finishes on 8/06/11, and here's the intro from the website itself:

Top 25 Faith Blogs by Moms

Faith is all around us, and it comes in many different forms. This group of exceptional moms nurtures both their families and their faiths to create homes filled with love.
Help us find the Top 25 Faith Blogs by Moms by Jun 8, 2011 at 5pm PST by voting once every 24 hours for your favorite blog.
Please remember to vote daily, and don't forget about the other fantastic Pagan Bloggers!

I think that I've managed to post all of the Pagan links, but please let me know if I've missed somebody so they can be added.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Random thoughts for the day...

I've had all sorts of random ideas floating around today (and on a regular basis), that I'm sure I'll eventually expand on as individual topics. I figured that this would be a good spot to get them down so I remember.

  • What are the varying views of the meaning of 'tribe' in modern western society. Is a tribe just as important now as it was with our ancestors? And is it the same as community?
  • Views on modern parenting, attachment and discipline
  • Personal and Public Celebrations, Ritual, Worship, etc., and why are they necessary?
  • The necessity of ritual tools?
  • Spirit guides, Angels, and Ghosts
  • Health and diet...Modern vs Ancestral (inspired by this post on Fern's Fronds blog)
  • The importance of your ancestry on your beliefs and faith
  • Raising a child to be independent in a world that wants them to conform
  • Crossed pantheons...is it possible to have patron Gods and Goddesses from multiple pantheons, and do they work together?
  • The balance of men and women in society, and why it's currently askew
  • Why handicrafts are being lost, but how necessary they are
  • Women in Heathenry

These are just a few of the ideas that I have been toying with in my brainstorms, along with studying various Gods and Goddesses of different paths, and other religions. Gosh, it sounds like a lot, and I know that more will come up, along with my normal randomness.


Unfinished Projects and our Path Through Life

For those that don't know me yet, I'm actually quite a crafty person. I can crochet, knit (barely), cross stitch, and hand and machine sew. This week, the bug has bitten me again. I'm desperate to start a cross stitch project that's come into my head, and a new crochet project has caught my desire, as well. 

There's a bit of a problem with starting the cross stitch...I can't find my software to convert the picture that I want to do. I've not seen it in probably three years. OK, easily sorted...order new software from PC World online. Now it's biding out my patience for it to arrive in '3 to 5 days'. I then need to decide how much of what colour of aida, order it, then wait for it's delivery. Having to have patience sucks.

So, I stopped into town yesterday to buy some new wool, and started on my crochet project last night. I managed to get a few rows completed, then disaster struck. I realised that when I found the end in the centre to start with, it was twisted with the opposite end and tangled in clumps. Add on that Loki decided that when the clump came out, it made an ideal kitty pillow. I am quite grateful that he was feeling too lazy to do his normal thing of adding to the tangle. I did have to put my project aside so that I could attempt to detangle everything, ball up the end, and regain sensibility. I spent over an hour and a half, and it's still in a clump of mess on my bedside table. Sigh. Rainy Saturday afternoon, the Imp is playing with her cars and garage in the dining room, ideal time to chill with a bit of craftiness. I'm sure that I'll get the clump sorted today, but it's frustrating.

All of this has made me thing about all of the things that we want or need to do, and we either have to wait longer than expected, or we don't complete them at all. I have other cross stitch and crochet projects in a bag that I've put aside for other things and they then gather dust. I'm the world's biggest procrastinator when it comes to tidying up, and I'd much rather spend time with the Imp. We lack the funds, so all the festivals like the Mercian Gathering, and LARP events that I'd like to try go by the wayside. They would definitely enhance the both of our lives, including our social lives, but it's just not happening. I did have a physical New Age bookshop, but had to walk away from it due to us being kicked out of our home by my ex partner when he chose somebody else. I now have four bookcases full of books in my bedroom that I occasionally list a few on Amazon, when I'm not procrastinating about it.

What roadblocks come across your path that makes you divert and not complete the path you are on? Do you go back and try to finish that path? Do you find out that it may have been the wrong path, and you're new path is the better path?  I'm talking about life in general, as well as your faith. Does your faith keep you on a straight and narrow path, or does it have bends in the road, with the occasional boulder that is placed in the way that makes you a stronger person. 

Which path is better? I guess that would depend on the person. Sometimes that straight and narrow path is what a person can cope with. Sometimes, that straight and narrow is your path, but you've put blinders on so you can't see the diversions that might be the better choices. Granted, those diversions might be the wrong choice, but you will never know until you experience it, and if it's not the correct path, there's always a way back to the right path. 

Maybe there are lots of boulders in your path, that you have to struggle to climb over, or squeeze between to get by. Some people will just give up, stop, and their life becomes a stagnating and vicious circle of depression and unhappiness. For other people, that struggle is their depression, unhappiness and problems of life, but they can see the light on the other side, don't give up, and eventually end up happily following that path again.

We also have to remember that our paths cross and interact with the paths of other people. Their paths are all equally valid. A faith-inspired blog contest has really triggered my thoughts on this. There was some ugliness when one of the other bloggers, who is travelling on a path that forces her to wear blinders, targeted another blogger from another faith, just because their paths are different. Whose path is right, and whose is wrong? It's not for us, as humans, to judge. The judgement will come from the higher powers that sit at the end of our path...the God, Gods, and/or Goddesses. You may not believe in a higher power. That's fine. As long as the path that you follow is the one that at the end you feel like you've truly accomplished something, and that you can look back and see that you've behaved with honour. We can't force others onto our paths. Your path is the one you should be following. There will be paths that run next to each other, but we all encounter different experiences.

I personally came across a fork in the road when I was 17. Did I follow the path that I had been following, that made me feel stagnated, inferior and overall unhappy, or did I follow the new path of discovery that I could see a light at the end? Seventeen years later, and I feel that I chose the correct path...the path of discovery. I have had my boulders through the years...some of them have been some real doozies...but I've always come out at the end with my faith intact, that my Gods and Goddesses are there in full support and comfort.  It wasn't the coldness and arrogance of one overall Supreme Being reminding me on a regular basis that what I did was wrong, and that I am always in the wrong. It was the support network of equals that are always there, with the encouragement that it's not just me and things will get better. My network might not be as mighty, but there is strength in numbers.

This was proven in that blog contest. We might not be a faith that is almighty, but we're there for each other in one big net.

In all of my rambling, I do eventually get to the point. Now, I think I'll stop procrastinating for the day, get a bit of tidying done in my living room (now that I've just received a huge kiss and cuddle from the Imp), and the Imp and I can get that wool untangled. Um, maybe I shouldn't ask the Imp to help me with that...at three, she's likely to enjoy making it worse than it is. But there will be future projects that she can help me with, that I can teach her.  This is just the beginning of her path and, for the moment, it sort of runs parallel to mine until she's big enough to make the decisions for herself.


Friday, 27 May 2011

I really should get this going...

Seriously. How long have I had this sitting open? I have so many ideas that flit around in my head that I truly need to get down into a place that maybe interested people might give me a bit of feedback.

So, here we go. Where to start? I guess it would be to introduce who I am. I'm Mel, mum to the Imp. I'm an eclectic pagan with some serious heathen leanings of the Celtic and Norse/Asatru pathways. I'm still trying to discover why, though I think it has a lot to do with my ancestry. I'm a Hoosier, but I've lived in England for over 10 years, so I've developed a lot of English habits. I still sound American, but my accent has a light overlay of English. It's rather funny sometimes, especially when I have to stop to translate things that I've forgotten in my head, or when I slip with an obvious Americanism which gets pointed out by friends (as they tumble over in laughter). I'm supposed to be on a gluten free diet, but the Imp has been on wheat trial and I've gotten into some bad habits that need to be corrected.

I've lately become more and more inspired by one of my favourite Facebook groups that has become more active, and by blogs by other Pagan mums that I've recently come across. I'm truly enjoying starting to interact more with other Pagans because I seem to have shut down for a while. I feel like I'm waking up again, and it's time to be more vocal, and to return to one of my loves, which is researching the past as a hobby, especially past societies.

The focus that I'll take in this blog will be around my random musings about everyday life...mine and that of the Imp and her compatriots, Loki and Florence (our cats, who have some truly special personalities and like to leave people with their chins on the floor in shock. Loki earned his name :P ), my thoughts on current events that stick out to me, and articles and writings on paths of various faiths, Gods and Goddesses, and whatever else happens to pass my way that inspires me.

Feel free to comment...feedback, good or bad, is good, but no hatefulness. I don't bite...unless nicely requested to. Please remember that what I post is my personal opinion.