Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Death week 8 pagan blog project

My incredibly late entry for week 8 is Death

illustration by Bret Syfert

One of my goals this year is to write more. Lots more. Like finish at least my current novel and this blog project more. As I mentioned before it is incredibly hard to make myself stick to this. I am uninspired to write on demand, which is something that needs to change, because I fully intend to make at least a partial living from writing. As with all things, I am sure that continued practice will make things easier.

My PBP topic this week is Death. I claim no certainties, only my own thoughts and musings on the subject. 

I believe death to be a transition. A doorway leading to somewhere else—somewhere unknowable to those currently living. I do not think that it is the end of anything but this current flesh-bound incarnation.
I recently had a discussion with a friend about death and we found that we feel the same way—that it is not death itself we fear, but the manner in which it is achieved. I worry only about the manner of dying rather than being dead. I am unconcerned about what comes after. 

I do not know if Asimov actually said this following quote.  I saw it attributed to several people. The quote itself is what matters though, rather than who said it.

taken from LifeLoveQuotes.net

I do not believe in the Christian concept of Heaven or Hell.  I do not believe that this life is all that there is and then an eternity is spent paying for sins or being rewarded for graces. (Have you ever noticed that there are many texts, thoughts, and ideas on what happens to a soul in Hell, but very little on what may happen in Heaven? I think that is interesting.) The same goes for Valhalla, the Elysian Fields, Hades, Tartarus, the Summerlands, and any others. I'd like to believe in some of them, but I just don't. I do believe in reincarnation, but I haven't gotten it all worked out in my head how it works. Although, I don't need to have it figured out to believe in it.

But really, that last deals more with the afterlife and I want to focus more on death the event the transition. Actually, I don't want to focus on anything about it, but that’s my uninspired self throwing a mini tantrum. I'm ignoring it.

The part of death that hurts the most is losing others. So much family gone before I was old enough and smart enough to really get to know them. Others gone before we wanted them to be. That is what hurts about death.

It's part of why ancestor worship interests me. I have read that people regularly commune with their honored dead and have conversations with them. I have no way of knowing whether they really do, but it would be neat if that were possible. I would dearly love to be able to talk to my Great Grama Johnson. She was an incredible woman. Sadly, she died when I was just a child.  There is so much I could learn from her, skills that have been lost to time and ennui.

I have begun to ramble (begun? Hell this whole post is a ramble) time to go.

To sum up.  I do not think death is a full stop end. I think it is a transition to whatever unknowable stage comes next for our soul.

Since I believe in reincarnation, I think we must have all experienced death already many times and taken our rest and slid back into the flesh again for another lesson.

It's already Tuesday as I write this, I should pick an E word and start immediately on that post. Perhaps I could even have it posted on Friday when it is actually due.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Reading For Content

(Hey look, a blog post that isn't a PBP entry!)

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Chapter one—Economy (I think)

My friend often suggests things we should do. “Let’s teach ourselves basic chemistry!” was a memorable one (I was glad when that one fell by the wayside), “Let’s learn Spanish!” (I’m still hoping we pursue that one), “Let’s teach ourselves to play guitar!” (Still working on that one!), and several others I can’t remember now. Sometimes I just smile, nod, and wait for the spell to pass and other times I jump on board. The enthusiasm varies by suggestion.

Most recently, my friend suggested out of nowhere that we should start reading the classics. I said ‘sure’ without hesitation. Walden was on her list and since it was available free, we agreed to start with that.

Now, my friend and I share the same problem, lack of follow-through coupled with a pair of bad motivators (pardon the Star Wars reference). But in our defense, life gets in the way often.

I need to get her to spell out the list for me so I have an idea of what fresh hell (*coughs*) I mean great adventure is in store for me. When I get the list I’ll add it here so I can mark off the ones we make it through.

The first book, as I mentioned above, is Walden by Henry David Thoreau. I have to say that they were some overly wordy bastards back in the mid-1800s. We decided on one chapter a week and a chat about what we’ve read on Sunday. 

After a bit I realized that I absolutely hated slogging through this book, but I wanted to make it through so I looked on YouTube and found several videos of it being read. Turning it on while I’m doing dishes or cooking is working out for me (and the chores keep me awake (*grins*)

At first I kept thinking HDT was a major ass. His attitudes on the elderly and farming really ticked me off. He says at one point that in all his thirty years he has never encountered an older person that had one worthwhile thing to say to him or knowledge worth passing on.  What. An. Ass. Seriously. Ugh. But I stuck with it. Later he implies that a farmer is a slave to his fields and wastes his life behind the plow. Again...Grrrrr.
I decided rather early on that HDT must have been his time period’s version of a know-it-all Hipster and I tried to keep that in mind as he went on and on (and ON) about everything from food, man’s enslavement to fashion, and the various merits of housing between the civilized white man and the savage.

Occasionally though, I started hearing some real gems of wisdom.  There were sentences of real beauty and deep meaning that went beyond (what sounded to me like) self-important navel gazing.

The short passage about the hound, the bay horse, and the dove captured my imagination enough that I had to pause the audio and spend time thinking about the symbolism and what it could have meant to him and what it meant to me. It prompted me to get online and search out other people’s opinions about the meaning. It made me think.  Just that alone makes this endeavor a success. Anything that inspires learning is a good thing.

I still think he’s a whiny, self-important hipster type, but I’m going to keep slogging through and see what other gems I find among the million extra words he left laying about. Perhaps by the end of the book if not this incredibly long chapter I'll change my mind and form a new opinion about it.

Stay Tuned!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Delving Within--Week 7 Pagan Blog Project

Delving Within
painting by Primal Painter
I may never find a pre-made path to go down. I’m increasingly starting to wonder why I feel (felt) I need(ed) one. Just now, sitting here thinking that I don’t need to find something someone else made is making me smile and that little flickering flame inside me is glowing brightly and warmly. That, more than anything, tells me I am close to figuring something out. It’s a grand feeling.

I saw a phrase today while researching homemade deodorant of all things, that had resonance for me. Living with Intention. Wow. What a great concept. I wrote it down in my notebook immediately. Living with Intention. I think it may be part of the je ne sais quoi I’m trying to find both in my self and in my life.

Perhaps part of my problem is that I’m seeking a path, when I’m already walking a spiral, a labyrinth of self. Circling ever inwards to find what I’m looking for. It’s hard to let go of things, people, friendships, long-held beliefs or ways of thinking, but I often find that when I do I experience a blissful feeling of freedom.

There have been times when I was utterly alone and I don’t mean alone in the house for a few hours, but truly alone with no one to fall back on, to talk to, to help if needed. Just alone and after the initial fear and panic faded, I felt an uplifting sense of freedom. Those that were gone eventually returned and my aloneness ended. Life catches me and buries me in a million different things that keep me blinded from other things that the seeing of might benefit.

I have moments of bright clarity that I wish would last longer. It is very like finding a pretty stone sticking up from the dirt and trying to excavate it with bare fingers. I pry and dig and feel my way along, but before I get too far someone calls my name and I forget what I was doing. It’s always a long time before I remember to get back to it. It’s often longer still until I feel that indefinable sense of freedom and clarity that lets me see somewhat behind the scenes. I’m having one now and I’m trying to play it cool in hopes that it sticks around longer.

I once tried to describe what it looks like to a friend. I’ve since lost the friend (and am glad of it in retrospect) but kept the imagery.

I told her that this waking up was like having been underwater and thinking that it was the whole world instead of a fish bowl. Then something happens and you pick your head up and see most everyone around you splashing about with their heads under the waves. But the kicker is that the water level is only inches deep. If you stood up it would only splash around your ankles. I told her I thought we were like fishes and could only stay above the water for a short time before we began to drown and had to dive back under again whether we wanted to or not. I told her also that I felt there were many levels of water, both above us and below us. I remember she looked at me strangely. I tried to describe that we could float up to different levels of water and still pull our heads free and look around. To me it simply was. There was no oddness about it. That there could be levels of water all in a greater water and you could lift your head out of each one and look around, but also could float up from one level to another as if your buoyancy increased. It makes perfect sense to me. She didn’t understand what I meant. I shrugged it off. I confused her a lot when I spoke up for myself instead of nodding along sycophantically.

This post is days late so I’m going to close here and get it posted. Maybe I’ll be able to address it again in the future when I have a better grasp on what it is I’m trying so hard to describe, learn, become.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Connections Pagan Blog Project--Week 6


I do not believe that this life is all there is. I do believe in reincarnation, but I haven’t nailed down all the particulars of what feels true to me.  I remember flashes of things from other periods of time, other times that I knew the people I know in this life.

There are souls that are connected. Lessons to be figured out. Possibly enlightenment to seek, I don’t know and no one else does either.

But, what I do know, and it is the point of this post, is how I view those connections. Literally view. The first few times I saw it, I didn’t assign it much significance, (which is strange in retrospect) but when it kept reappearing when relationships ended or friendships soured or family infuriated me, I started to realize it was a thing.

So what am I talking about? A flesh colored ball with an uncountable number of plugs and wired cords emanating from it. It’s not remotely pretty to look at, but it’s not repulsive either. It’s a part of me, I’m absolutely sure. It is the metaphysical representation of all the connections in my life.

For example, years ago, I had ended a relationship with a boy and by extension, his toxic little circle of friends. One of these friends felt that since I was no longer protected by the “girlfriend of a friend” clause there was no reason why I wouldn’t want to have sex with him.

Ugh. Excuse me while I shudder for a moment.

I finally convinced him that I wasn’t playing hard to get and it was NOT going to happen, and he stopped calling and showing up and leaving me mix cd’s and such. But I knew it was only a temporary reprieve and I was still crawling out of my skin with the heebie-jeebies. Not because of the proposition, but the blackness the guy had around him. It was cold, clammy, and awful. I still felt it lingering, watching.

I remember going to bed one night and lying in the dark thinking about connections and how to cut them permanently. I saw darkness behind my eyelids as well, but a faint light was growing. I opened my eyes to check if a light had come on and there was nothing. I closed my eyes again and the light returned. I just drifted, somewhere between sleeping and being awake, and then I saw the ball of connections for the first time.

Acting on instinct rather than thought, I pictured the guy and the ball spun slowly around and revealed a thin black cord with a plug. It was plugged in to the ball...plugged into me. That was suddenly intolerable. I wanted it out and so I visualized it being unplugged. It resisted but I kept pulling and it came free finally. Just like an electrical plug, it had prongs coming from it, although these looked more like fangs and an icky substance oozed from the plug like pus or poison.

Once free, it became a living thing and writhed around like an injured snake. The menace that was coming off it is hard to convey. It didn’t want to be unplugged. I kept up my will and forced it away. Once it was a small distance up from the ball, it shuddered suddenly and burst into flames that raced away out of sight.

I was strangely calm about the whole thing. Thinking back, I must have been in a self-induced trance of sorts. As far as I can remember, I rolled over and went to sleep. He never bothered me again. Once, a several years back, he contacted me via Facebook and I politely told him I wasn’t interested. That was the last I ever heard from him.

I’ve had other encounters with the ball of connections over the years, although most of them happened in a time span around that one. Not every connection will unplug at my will—I find that interesting.

Once, years ago, I tried to pull out a plug of someone I had loved deeply. The relationship was over as far as I knew and I didn’t see any reason to be connected to him anymore, so I tried to unplug the cord that was associated with him. I pulled and pulled and it started to come out, but it was tearing rather than unplugging. Afraid of what I was doing, I stopped and attempted to smooth out the damage. I even visualized Neosporin to put on the torn and bleeding flesh.

I left it alone after that and, strangely, forgot about it for a long time.

The really interesting thing (for me anyway) is that the plug healed, but there is scar tissue around it now if I visualize it. Years from then and about a year and a half ago, I married that man. He’s the love of my life. This life definitely, and I have a feeling that we’ve been important to each other for several others in one way or another.

Not being able to pull out that connection even though I thought I had no further use for it tells me that there is Something greater than ourselves out there. I like that. Mostly.

The moral of the story (as I understand it) is that we are all connected to others in ways we don’t fully comprehend and for reasons we cannot know, but we are deeply connect nonetheless. Sometimes we have a choice about it and sometimes we don’t.

I’m very glad I was unable to unplug my husband from my life. I’m also very glad I was able to remove the toxic plug and get that out of my life.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Choosing Pagan Blog Project week 5


I’m glad I signed up for this. It’ s proving very hard for me, and every week I continue to post is a decided victory for me and my goals. It is also making me think hard and dig deep into what I believe and why. I chafe against having to tailor every post to my path and my spiritual life, but then I remind myself I could post on anything else I felt like any other day of the week. 

I have a hard time answering when people ask me about my faith if they want deeper answer than “Pagan.” I’ve heard the term “Cafeteria Pagan” before but it’s always used in a slightly derogatory way. Same thing with “Piece-meal Pagan.” But I’ve never been able to choose a defined path. I’ve looked into Gardnerian Wicca, Feri, Asatru, a couple of the ancient religions that have been reconstructed for modern times and Buddism, but none of them are for me. They all, without fail, have something in them that I feel a resonance with or for, but I always, ALWAYS, get a firm sensation of “NO” every time I consider a structured path. 
I don’t know if that means my path is my own and I just have to continue to find the things that have resonance for me and do the best I can with what I have, or if there is a path out there for me and I just haven’t found it.

I’m not even sure some days if I really believe in the Gods.  Any of them, from any pantheon. I believe with all my heart and soul that there is Something out there beyond our understanding but I’ve never found a comfortable mask for it.

I want to believe in the Gods.  I truly do. But I think part of my problem is—as a fellow blogger says—either they all exist or none of them do. That leads to some major brain twisting conflicts for me.  How can the Christian End of Days and Ragnarok be compatible?  Wouldn’t it stand to reason that it can’t be both of them?  Is the world sandwiched between Heaven and Hell or is it perched on the back of a turtle? I have so many unanswerable questions. I wonder if I can’t chose a path because I can’t decide what I believe is real. I also think “real” is subjective. This post would have fit in well under belief as well, I’m noticing.

Years ago I joined an online pagan group and it was fascinating to me.  I was there to learn and I felt like such a rank novice standing among the truly knowledgeable. I know differently now, but I drank in every post and wondered why I couldn’t find a God to have a close personal relationship with of my own.
I’ve had interesting experiences over the years, but nothing has ever pointed me in any clear direction.  Some days, honestly, I’d rather just have my late great grandmother whisper advice to me. Once I even lay in bed saying thanks for a wonderful day and clear as a bell, I heard a female voice say “don’t thank me I didn’t do anything.” I’ve always wondered who that was. She never spoke to me again although she sounded kind of grumpy so that may be a good thing.

I want Odin and Ganesh to be real because I feel drawn to them. I want the Morrigan and Baron Samedi and Kwan Yin to all be real for the same reason. I want to be a follower of Hecate. She has always fascinated me. But I feel like I have to believe things that I just don’t to be able to devote myself to their worship.  I can’t chose because I can’t decide.

I hope that by the end of this blog project I will have unraveled this knot for myself and be able to choose a path.  Or accept that I’m on my own path and that is okay too.  December is a long way away from today though and I have to get ready for work.