Sunday, May 9, 2021

Mom-eries


sometime after I turned 12, while rummaging around in my mom's little makeshift library in our large, well-lit basement, I came across a story she had written in the late 60's as a pregnant newlywed living on a kibbutz in Israel, while my dad was off fighting in the Six-Day War.  I think of her, painting the light-bulbs black and leaving only a small spot for the light to filter through, to conceal themselves as best they could, as some of the fighting was quite near the kibbutz.  how she must have looked, the anxiety she must have been feeling, and the hope she must have been trying to hold on to through those words.  I wish I had a copy of the story called "Sarah" where she began by recalled the story of the Biblical Sarah, watching her Abraham take her only beloved son Isaac to be sacrificed on the altar of this 'new god' he was communing with, and questioning what kind of god he was to demand such a travesty as tribute.  then there was a page break after which she wrote, "I am Sarah..." (it was her Hebrew name) and wrote about how so many of the women felt, watching their men go off to battle, wondering if they'd come back, and if they did, if they would come back 'whole'.  the story switched back to the Biblical Sarah's perspective - an anxious mother watching for her husband to return from the mountain alone, her heart deeply wounded, only to see two silhouettes on the horizon, and running to them filled with the highest joy and gratitude.  to conclude, she wrote about reading over the lists of names of the deceased, and her relief at not finding her husband there (though many other women did, and I don't wish to diminish the memory of those that we mourned), along with her elation when my father returned to her, safe and sound.

 


today is that dreaded stupid holiday I know I've written about on here before, though I couldn't find any of those posts in a quick search.  as a single mom, Mother's Day is just another day for me to do all the mom things, and get little to no appreciation for my efforts.  when my Teen was little, I'd get some cute paper projects that his teacher made all the kids do in school, and there was that one year when he drew me breakfast in bed - so cute!  there might have even been some cheap gifts that the wealthy school district donated for the poor kids to bring home, but that might have just been for Hannukah, I don't remember.  either way, my point is, today is a day for me to stay off of social media because seeing all the 'proper' families doing all the culturally acceptable things for the moms in their lives makes me feel inadequate on a good day, which is to say nothing of how it makes me feel on a day like today, when I'm missing my own mom, who passed away 6 weeks ago.  my day so far has consisted of the horrid odor of the septic tank being pumped, followed by the horrible smell of the bleach I used to clean the backed-up excrement out of my bathtub - though I am grateful that there's no longer human waste bubbling up from the drain, and that my toilet is once again flushing properly.  then I sat down to honor my mom by writing about her, and began to cry.  just now, my Teen woke up and emerged from his bedroom, mumbled 'good morning', made himself a bowl of cereal, and went back into his room to commence the day's video gaming.  yup.  that's it.  stuff that in your Mother's Day pipe and smoke it, because I have laundry to do, dishes to wash, paperwork to sort and file, etc, etc...no brunch and mani/pedi's here.  no champagne or flowers, massages, chocolates, what-have-you.

 


but the point here was to talk about my mom.  she was the ideal mother up until I hit puberty, and things went downhill for us from there.  even though we had a rocky relationship, she was my mom, and I always loved her, even when I hated her.  she drove 4 1/2 hours to the hospital in February - even though she hated Winter, and I lived in Vermont - when I went into labor, because she desperately wanted to see her youngest grandchild being born (she wasn't allowed in the room for my sister-in-law's three births, which I understand from my sister-in-law's point of view, though I can also understand my mom's disappointment).  she adored my son from the get-go (as she did all her grandchildren), even though she couldn't restrain herself from making some pointed comments about...ahem, the other half of his dna...when he was very little, which I immediately nipped in the bud.  we spent years on the outs, with a few good times here and there, but all in all, now that she's gone, those bad times hardly matter at all, and I just wish we had had more time to be friends, and keep making the good memories.  she spent two weeks with me before she passed, and I'm SO grateful we had that time together, for myriad reasons.  her death was unexpected, to say the least...and the hurdles that needed to be cleared in order to lay her to rest on our kibbutz in Israel, next to her beloved husband, during a global pandemic, were many - but it did happen.  

 


so yeah - I'm a big emotional mess today.  how to honor her memory?  she didn't like cut flowers, "because they were dead".  I do, so maybe I'll buy myself some.  she enjoyed being taken out for brunch by her grandkids, but I'm still estranged from the rest of my family, so that's not going to happen...perhaps I can cook up one of her recipes?  that's a possibility.  I can't visit her grave, as it's in another country...I'm not financially solvent enough to donate to a good cause like Miry's List, which helps welcome refugee families into new communities, or the National Bail Out fund, specifically for Black moms, but I can share the link, and maybe someone else who is, can.  I can visit the waterfall in Parksville where she spent childhood summers, and liked to go to honor her ancestors, watch a movie that she loved, or listen to music she enjoyed.  maybe I can even work on one of the several knitting projects I'm sure I have tucked away among my craft hoard.  I'm planning to do a tarot card pull and see if she wants to offer me any advice through that medium.  and - and this is big - I can mother myself.  that's right, I still need mothering, too (don't we all?  no matter how old we get?), and even though I've been working on that for years, I still need the reminder that I'm worthy of my own best mothering techniques, which include wrapping myself up in comfort, and making sure I feel nourished, whatever that might look like for me in the moment.  today, I guess that looks like doing dishes/laundry/paperwork and avoidance, but I may also take some time to lay up on the couch, and demand that the Teen cook me dinner - he's fully capable, and it's the least I deserve out of respect for all I do for him.  we'll see...(he made cheeseburgers and frozen French fries, yum!)

and not only that, let's take more than a moment to remember the Great Mother who gives life to us all, this amazing planet we live on!  here's a link to help find some ways to do that, if you don't (or even if you do) make caring for our Earth a part of your daily life.  

 


 

in honor of the mothers I've known, and the ancestors I didn't, today I remember Sue (Sarah), Ayala, Sapta, Sapta Liza, Grandma Mirjam, Little Grandma, Regina, and Estar.  thank you for everything ~ 💖


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Deck Review: The Living Altar





The Living Altar, an oracle and spell deck for the radical witch by Kiki Robinson & Ylvadroma Marzanna Radziszewski, centers everything the entire world should be focusing on in this time and place, using the language necessary to accomplish transformation.  from the first "disrupt the status quo", to the last "ours is a zeitgeist of renaissance & reinvention", this deck is a learning experience for me that came through a moment of connection between myself, my heritage, and a tarot-fluent acquaintance.  for most of my almost 40 years of reading tarot I've used the same deck - the first one I got at the beginning of my journey - and recently, after being gifted several new-to-me decks, it only took a minute to notice how cis/heteronormative/eurocentric most decks are, and as those are ideas and a kind of ideal I'm doing my best to move away from in as many ways as possible, I decided I needed a different kind of 'new'.  so I went looking for decks that connect me to my traditional cultural heritage (which is rife with issues) and ended up being gifted The Living Altar deck by someone who thought it belonged more to me than to them.  I really appreciate the opportunity to work with Romani artists, businesses, and witches, and this deck is a true call to action. 


 

it's frankly a bit shocking how many decks and readers are out there, now...the whole discipline feels a bit saturated, but I must be getting old, because I find myself saying that about lots of things I used to be only one of a few people doing that's become more acceptably 'mainstream'!  it's good, though - we need it.  we need SO many more people to get in better tune with their cultural dynamic, and bring their magic into alignment with their own everyday rituals.  this deck, with its 52 oracle cards, 14 ritual activation cards, comprehensive guidebook, and an endless variety of entry points with which to approach the work, I honestly felt a bit out of my depth at first sight.  the nuances reminded me of the Enochian system, which I haven't worked with in a long time, and it definitely felt like approaching an intricate new tool as a beginner.  laying the cards out in the wheel pattern helped to see the deck as a whole, and to connect with it in full bloom, as it were - so pretty!

 


 

the cards are big, heavy, and there's so much going on with them visually.  I like how they feel, though my hands are small, so it's hard to hold the whole deck at once.  to begin, I did the Living Altar spread because it used the least amount of cards, is about struggle and the need for support, and was suggested as a ritual of self-devotion with which to draw courage and get hyped.  the cards I drew were all from the 3rd narrative arc, those spells having to do with elemental everyday practical magic moments on the cusp between the death/rebirth cycle.  here's a stripped-down version of my result ~ 


top card - creativity, card 2 - inspiration, card 3 - resource, card 4 - relationship




  


the top card - card 1 - is The Altar, a goal/skill/spell to nourish/honor/tend to/celebrate.  honoring inspiration by putting it into action.  creativity means transforming, trusting, letting go, stepping into the new.  it asks us (as all the cards do) "what wisdom is alchemizing within you?"

 card 2 - The Heart - how our hearts come to The Altar, & how best to nourish and access it.  inspiration says allow it to be undone, and moved through.  let it change us in the ways it's meant to. accept this invitation to begin that process.

card 3 - The Body - same question about how best to access and nurture, how is The Body showing up?  the way resource tells it, with age and wisdom...like the person I hope to become, the vessel I'll leave behind with as many gifts to offer those who come after as I can.

card 4 - The Ally - an invitation from the Wheel to access necessary resources to tend The Altar.  relationship tells us to get ourselves some spiritual community for that collective well-being, & true intersectionality.

 



radical indeed...I dig these cards, with their bold red edges, collage art, and textural allure.  I can feel how So Much went into creating them, and working with them, drawing energy through them, and capturing that moment in digital amber.  I look forward to spending more time with this deck, and getting to know all the myriad ways it can inform and enhance my practice, for and with the collective.  

 




Saturday, February 27, 2021

man crush

never having aged

          except in my bones

I want to do it

                           dirty

like teenagers

in an alley

          after the show

behind a dumpster

my stockings rip

as your hands clutch

desperately

at my thigh

god how I want him - want to get him alone, so I can seduce him into long kisses, groping at each other up against the car in the parking lot.  moaning hard into each other's mouths, sucking each other's air in with our tongues...hot breath on necks in the dark, the desperation of our advancing age forcing us to hurry, get it all in while we can - like teens holding off their parents call that it's time to come in.  can't sleep for thoughts of him - infatuation runs deep.

I want to run with you
                            fast as we can
            to nowhere
holding hands
laughing       screaming
with joy
at the thrill of being alive
with nothing else to do
but feel each other rising
in a world of possibility 

your electric skin
crackling
beneath my fingers
discovering worlds in our eyes
sinking
in the ocean
pressing against
my flesh
from inside
your lips
our hair
wild
in the wind

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

New Moon in Capricorn

here's something I've been meaning to talk about for awhile - tarot, and my connection to reading cards.  I got my first deck 37 years ago at the (long since defunct) cool local head shop the OM where they sold silver jewelry, leather goods, paraphernalia, posters, groovy clothing, black lights, incense, tarot cards, and various 'adult' items I didn't yet know the use for.  of all the things I bought there over my teen years, I only still have this amazing deer suede shirt by Erda, and my Tarot of the Witches deck of tarot cards (scroll down at the link for a deck review).

 


 




 

where did I first learn about tarot?  in my mother's shelves of books which included Eden Gray's Tarot Revealed: A Modern Guide to Reading the Tarot Cards?  in the library stacks, where I discovered so much more?  in the music I listened to, the people I bonded with?  or was it in the head shop itself, the first time I saw that High Priestess image in her jewel tones, on the outside of the box, her cold stare beckoning to me from some weird, nightmarish, yet oddly comforting circus-world.  I learned many years later from some acquaintances who owned a bookstore that this unique deck by Fergus Hall was featured in the 1973 James Bond film Live and Let Die.  so weird!

 

Roger Moore as 007 & Jane Seymour as Solitaire

in a way, it's cliche to be (part) Roma and read tarot cards, and I did 'work' the exoticism many of my cousins complain about feeling targeted and harassed for before I understood the implications of that sexualized perspective to those without my privilege.  now, I feel like plenty of people capitalize on tenuous and non-existent links to marginalized cultures, so why should I feel bad about owning my own cultural heritage, especially when it has nothing to do with my interest in tarot?  how my father hated to see me dabbling in the occult; how averse he was to anything that might be interpreted as 'witchcraft' from growing up with a stigma about being Roma, as well as Jewish - a culture which abhors the witch.  I used to be the only card-reader I, or anyone in my peer group knew, ever since I started doing readings in the school library, though the folks I met later at Renaissance fairs, Rainbow gatherings, and pagan camp-outs had more of a connection to esoteric knowledge, and through them my understanding of tarot deepened and grew.  even though I've been drawn to other styles and types of tarot decks and spreads, I've mostly only ever used my own deck, other than a few reads with a friend's Celtic Tree Oracle (though there isn't a Celtic bone in my body), and had never read any minor arcana cards because in my deck, those cards are 'pips' - just a picture of the suit with that number of cups/batons/coins/swords on it - rather than the well-known picture cards imbued with symbolic meanings.

 

10 of cups on the bottom right is a 'pip' card.

 

during my last round of college I met a well-educated, forthright, outspoken, proud young Kale woman from a well-known Flamenco family who taught me what it meant to be an advocate for the Roma people, and through her, I became acquainted with many other Romani scholars, activists, and artists.  and wonderful as it was to finally get access to real and empowering information about Roma people and culture, it was just as hard to feel shut down by some of them because tarot card reading/belly dancing/poetry writing/white girl Roma who say G*psy and claim to have Romani grandmothers yet no tradition/language/community get told by more traditional Roma who know who they are and grew up in communities with shared languages to sit down, and stay in our lane.  sometimes they'll even call us 'gadje' (non-Roma), because they know how much it hurts.  now, I have a great deal of respect for those scholars, activists, and artists, but I also see that I can be proud of my Roma heritage, and still read cards, while being an active voice in the conversation to uplift our communities.  I feel that I have a responsibility to speak about Roma issues from where I stand, without what is considered to be a 'traditional' upbringing, and I have every right to do my work for financial gain, as well.  why waste my energy envying folks for doing the same work I've felt called to do for so many years, out of some sense of moral conscience, just because someone who doesn't know me said I can't/shouldn't?  now that I've had a few years of feeling badly for possibly misrepresenting my own culture in the past when I knew less about it, in a world where so many appropriators are out there doing it every day, and since I now know better and do my best to elevate the narrative, I honestly no longer see any problem with my engaging in a practice I've studied for decades, no matter what ethnicity, religion, or traditional folkways I come from

 

I believe in using the tarot as a tool to help clear your mind, to think deeply about the situations in your life, and help guide your decisions.  there are those who do less and claim more.



a friend of mine recently downsized their home, so they gifted me a number of different tarot decks, some of which I was able to pass on to other people who needed them.  soon after that, I felt a strong draw towards Katelan Foisy's P7:  Planetarium workshops she does with her friend Sherene, during which I really reconnected with that way of being 'witchy' - getting back to my cards, burning candles & herbs, charging and using crystals in ritual, working with the moon, engaging with astrology, sigils, goddess energy, chakras, dreams...it was refreshingly inspiring.  during that time, I'd been seeing a flyer for Shea's tarot group at the library, and didn't manage to get to it in person before it went online for the pandemic - which I'm glad it did, as it's been great to have what amounts to a women's group to connect with regularly this past year!  so through that online group, I've been renewing my relationship with the major arcana from a more diverse and mature perspective, bringing in all I've learned through both my academic and independent research in family systems theory, mythology, folklore, ethnography, storytelling, and collective and personal experience.  I'm also learning how to work with the minors which obviously opens up a whole new level of understanding for me after all these years, which has been deeply gratifying.

the deck I've been working with the most right now is Tarot of a Moon Garden as it's the only deck I have that's based on Pamela Coleman Smith's artwork, though it's a bit fairie-cartooney for me, and...not quite right.  I've been wanting to get a deck that speaks to my newer understanding of what a deck can be - like the the Thoth deck I've been wanting to work with for at least 30 years, now - and I had recently become aware of The Hoodoo Tarot through Katelan, who I didn't at first realize had done the artwork, or had done a previous Oracle deck with Tayannah Lee McQuillar (the Sibyls Oraculum).  I didn't want to buy it, though, because something I read made me feel like the deck was only really meant for a certain population, and that as a non-white white person, it isn't a population I belong to, so I promoted it out of my love for it, but did what I thought was staying in my lane by not buying it.  

 

"The Hoodoo Tarot is a Gorgeous deck, and I keep going back to look at it! I was recently lamenting the lack of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color on tarot decks in general, and while I have no knowledge of, nor cultural connection to, Hoodoo (or Rootwork), I am still Very drawn to this deck, and would love to work with it!" - Oct. 2019

 

during a recent wander through Barnes & Noble, I was pleased to see The Hoodoo Tarot on the shelf with a few other forward-thinking decks I recently became aware of, and it occurred to me...first of all, right on Tayannah & Katelan!  and if they're selling that deck in Barnes & Noble, hopefully to enough people to earn them a good living along with the other work they do, then as someone who deeply respects the traditions and cultures of others stemming from a history of having my own misunderstood and disrespected, I can certainly work with this deck, too.  I didn't have enough in the budget to buy it right then, but after receiving some monetary gifts for my recent birthday, I excitedly went back for it.

 

look!!!

I'm also learning to branch out from the classic 10-card Celtic cross and exploring different spreads.  the Celtic Tree Oracle uses a fairly elaborate 15-card set-up, and Froud's Faerie Oracle uses one and three card pulls for beginner basics, then encourages dabblers to use their intuition to draw cards about a situation or conflict, and formulate a series of deeper questions based on the number of cards drawn.  some of the folks I follow on instagram will posts links to different spreads from other readers, but I can't always tell what the source is, and as a librarian's kid who's spent time in academics, if I can't cite it, I won't reference it.  and though I'm not new to doing this work, I'm new to advertising online that I do it, and I realize that not only is there a learning curve, but there are SO many others out there with much more business acumen and advertising savvy doing the same thing, and it's rather daunting...and I certainly don't want to step on any toes! in that spirit, I'll share some of my favorite online resources:  Biddy Tarot is a cache of clear, concise card meanings, a variety of spreads, and on her instagram she posts daily/weekly/monthly card pulls (and more). the weekly readings from moonandcactus - also on instagram - are great, and I like 3am.tarot for spreads and card meanings.  Meg's (3am.tarot) seasonal tarotscopes on autostraddle are really meaningful for me, and her instagram crystal pairings make me really think about what I'm looking to clarify.  I've been doing full and new moon readings lately, and seasonal readings as I try to gain more understanding about astrology, which isn't a field I've worked with much past learning the basics of my own signs, stars, and planets.  


 

so, this is my way of saying that I am once again going to be offering tarot card readings!  the decks I currently work with are:  Tarot of the Witches, The Celtic Tree Oracle, The Fairy Oracle, the Lover's Tarot, and Tarot of a Moon Garden (I won't be using The Hoodoo Tarot for readings just yet as it's new to me, and I want to take some time to get to know it first).  get in touch with me so we can work together - and since I'm all about helping people connect with their own cultural heritage, I'm happy to help you figure out what that is, and which deck or decks would be right for you for a reading.  also, the best way for me to do this work is by giving something back to the various organizations that also seek to reconnect folks to their heritage/culture, and preserve it, so we can figure out how that might look for you, as well.  following is a list of organizations I believe in, and am happy to support, and please let me know if there's another group/organization you'd like to see on this list.  I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

 

5% of your reading fee can go towards:

https://www.nativewomenswilderness.org/mmiw

https://www.nqttcn.com/

https://venmo.com/TheNapMinistry

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/

https://www.hicksfordistrictsix.com/ 

https://citizenactionny.org/

https://eriac.org/

https://www.natifs.org/indigenous-food-lab/ 

https://www.splcenter.org/

Friday, January 1, 2021

Memory Jar 2020

 

wow, 7 years of memory jars!  I guess I'm getting pretty good at this 'creating traditions' thing...I wonder if it's something my son will carry forward with him when he starts his own family?  here's what it is:  over the course of the year, my son and I write down good/fun/happy moments we experience, on recycled slips of paper, and put them in our 'memory jar' (an antique Queen mason jar).  on New Year's Eve, we open the jar, and read the slips of paper to each other as a way to relive the best parts of our year over again.  it's a nice New Year's Eve ritual, and in this year of pandemic, when we won't be joining in any celebrations, it feels especially important, as we made a real effort to find moments in time to be grateful for in our relative isolation.

 

 

my son chose to go in to work tonight, so I'm currently home alone (unless you count my incredibly loud and annoying upstairs neighbors), and I plan to spend my evening indulging in an epsom salt bath, followed by lighting candles and reading tarot cards.  I considered getting myself a bottle of champagne, but since I renewed my commitment to bettering my health, decided alcohol wasn't a necessary component of my personal celebration, though I may choose to have a cup of hot chocolate, instead.  I also stopped at the store to pick up chocolate chips and eggs to make this 2 ingredient chocolate cake - courtesy of The B.U.F.F. Dudes - as a treat for my son when he gets home from work, because it's still a holiday, and a hard-working teen deserves a healthy version of chocolate cake after busting his butt working on New Year's Eve.

 

 

here are our good memories of 2020:

him ~ 

100 in English, lol

getting job at S-----

working

getting bicycle

MSI gaming z rtx 2060

getting monitor

finishing PC

finishing gaming setup

getting gaming chair

new mouse

joining Mumutopia

Doom Eternal

Naruto

Hannukah

tricking mom into saying "underwear" by asking "what's under there?"

"Europe Who?" (knock knock, who's there, Europe, Europe who [sounds like 'you're a poo']) 

*high pitched* "eeh" "eeh" "mee-EEH"

burgers

 

so for him, this year was all about getting his first 'real' job (he worked last summer, but that was just doing lift & carry for a local yard sale guy), and enjoying the benefits of what earning decent money (for a teenager) can get him.  a new bike, a fancy computer set-up that I don't even know how to turn on, having good times gaming with his friends online - which is nice, since they haven't seen each other in person for forever - and watching shows that he enjoys while managing to keep up with his schoolwork.  the holidays were fun and he enjoyed the traditional foods we cooked together, as well as some of the everyday meals we made, and as always, he loves being a little joker and sharing our silly inside jokes, too ("eeh, eeh, mee- EEH" made my list, too).


me ~

D--- came to visit!

birthday buffet/chocolatefest 2020

game day party!

visit from S---- bearing lovely gifts

The Beautiful Bastards in Hunter

(Southern accent) "go to bed, y'all from Shreeveport?"

letting things go/leading with love

the 'rona lockdown, lol...not really.

Geezus Butlers at Oakley's

Teen doing so well at his job

a friend's newborn baby

High Holy Days/Sukkot

completing the Couch to 5k program

my first 5k, and every one since!

how proud I am of the Teen

latkes & suvganiot - it was a wonderful Hannukah

lowest blood sugar reading

art dates with L---

Teen doing well in school despite the terrible circumstances

squeaky peasant!

staying consistent with my goal of improving my health, and losing 40 pounds so far! 


for me, I enjoyed spending time with dear friends (when we still could), celebrating my birthday, seeing my friends' bands play live music (when we still could), watching movies with my son that we now have inside jokes about (the one about Shreeveport is from The Princess & The Frog, and the 'squeaky peasant' is from Ladyhawk, which made his list, too), being proud of my son, celebrating holidays and new life, and making the commitment to taking better care of myself by eating better and exercising.  so for a relatively crap year, we didn't do too badly...and the hard-working Teen enjoyed a piece of the cake I baked for him when he got home, even though it's a bit weird looking:


 

it just looked so plain by itself, and I decided it needed frosting, but I didn't have any powdered sugar because I don't tend to keep that stocked in my kitchen.  so I put some of the organic raw cane sugar I had in my mortar and crushed it with the pestle.  yes, I did.  I made just enough frosting for a thin layer over the top of the cake, then used a cupcake liner as a way to sprinkle silver 'shimmer sugar' into a random pattern of circles across the top...I don't know, I was experimenting.  who cares what it looks like - it's delicious, and the kid appreciated and enjoyed it!  I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday, whether you celebrate the New Year or not.  it seems a bit arbitrary to me at this point, but I do like and cling to my own traditions, so I try not to begrudge others sticking to theirs.  let's look forward to bright and beautiful new endeavors to embark on, and good times enjoyed with our dear ones coming back into our lives at some point, when it's safe again.  I wish all of you all the best in 2021!


check out our 'memory jar' posts from years past, below!

2014 - 2015 - 2016 - 2017 - 2018 - 2019

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Dona Nobis Pacem - "Peace in the Time of Quarantine"

 

click here to learn more about this project, and its founder, Mimi Lenox


"Peace in the Time of Quarantine" is the theme of this year's Blog Blast for Peace.  I've participated on and off for several years, and this year...well, this year I hardly know what to say about the subject.  As usual, I'm (fashionably?) late to the party, and as I sit in the gathering dark of my apartment on November 4th, waiting for the United States to oust our moronic, racist, rapist, tax-evading, mentally unbalanced, trustafarian crook of a side-show 'president' from our midst in what should be a landslide victory for another questionable and creepy politician with a running mate who gets the side-eye for her past involvement in destroying innocent people's lives with undeserved prison sentences, I find myself exhausted, disillusioned, and angry.  How did we get here?  How did we come to find ourselves with so many struggling, unemployed, hanging by a financial thread about to fall into ruin, with hundreds of thousands of us dead and dying from a virus that we had every tool necessary to avoid?  Families separated at the border, children in cages, women in ICE 'detention centers' being sterilized against their will, Black women and men murdered in cold blood, missing and murdered Indigenous women, Indigenous water protectors shot over pipelines crossing their sovereign lands, Flint Michigan still without clean water, trans people regularly beaten to death, sex workers forced out of their trade by vengeful politicians regularly caught with their pants down in the company of their rent-boys...the list goes on, and the rich continue to turn a massive profit at our expense.


So how did we get here?  Incompetence.  Corruption.  Patriarchal capitalistic values.  Individual/institutional/structural racism.  Cronyism & nepotism.  A lack of decent education giving us the tools to do the work of learning truth ourselves.  For way too long, the white establishment has lived in comfort and complacency within a system built for them and them alone, and I had hoped that their time of reckoning was at hand.  I'm all for tearing it down to the ground and rebuilding a better world under the guidance and supervision of traditionally marginalized communities.  While I had really hoped to be voting for Bernie Sanders in this election, I'm also well aware that a country that failed to elect a woman for president will never elect a Jewish man either, however innocuous his Jewishness actually is to the Christian majority.  So we've got Uncle Joe McFeely-Hands, and Cop-ella DeVille instead.  Great.  Wonderful.  I'm filled with an overwhelming sense of peace...not.  It's enough to make me want to follow through on my constant threats to exercise my privilege to live in another country (which comes with a host of it's own issues, of course).


As for the quarantine, I'm another one of those middle-aged Gen Xers who's more than happy to stay home avoiding people for the most part, though I do miss seeing live music performed in a space where I can dance with others who also love to get their groove on to good tunes.  Oh, and I'm completely broke for lack of work - that part sucks balls.  Other than that, quarantine has been, in a sense, good for me.  Knowing I would go off-the-wall bonkers if I didn't get outside for fresh air and exercise regularly when my state went into lockdown over the coronavirus, I started walking outside three times a week.  Nothing major, just up the hill of my street and back down, maybe a half mile all told.  It was more effort than I thought it would be at first, but as the weeks progressed, it got easier, and I added jumping jacks at the top of the hill, which I increased over time.  At some point, I started jogging to the bottom of the hill, which eventually led to my downloading the 'couch to 5k' app to my phone, and working my way up to jogging for 30 minutes straight, eventually to a distance of 5k (3.1 miles, which takes me about an hour...yeah, I'm slow, mostly because I was more than 100 pounds overweight when I started this journey).  


So what does me getting my jog on have to do with peace and quarantine?  well, like many Americans who have long been concerned at the way our country's politics have been moving closer towards fascism, I stayed up late last night watching the results of our election come in, and when I finally called it a night out of exhaustion, I didn't sleep well.  Still, I was up near dawn, as is my habit, got into my running gear, and...sat down at my computer to check what had transpired with the vote-counting overnight.  The results were not as encouraging as I had hoped, and with a growing sense of doom I couldn't quite explain - given my firm belief that Uncle Joe was still going to win - I went to the trail to get my run on.  If it was due to the previously mentioned lack of quality sleep, the fact that my leggings are getting too big (I'm down 32 pounds) and kept falling down, my app not tracking my mileage properly, doing yesterday's workout too late in the day and not leaving myself enough time to recover, not nourishing myself well enough, 'monkey-mind', or not being able to get out of my head, I had a crap run today.  I only ran for about a half mile, then walked another mile to a bench where I sat in the sun and took some time to enjoy the peace and quiet.  When it felt like time to stroll back down the trail to my car, I stopped to watch the birds and squirrels, and thought about how I no longer take the time to go camping, or even just be in the woods with no agenda other than to commune with nature.  I also found myself composing social media updates in my head, and how thinking about what I was going to post when I got home ran counter to why I started this journey in the first place, and had me considering that I might be losing sight of my WHY.  



My WHY was originally to learn to celebrate myself in healthier ways than by overindulging in food & drink.  My WHY was to get fresh air and exercise on a regular basis.  My WHY slowly became a way to clear my head, have some 'me time', listen to music, and have fun while working to boost my metabolism, lower my blood sugar, and regain some of the strength and stamina I lost from spending too much time sitting on the couch.  Sadly, it seems I've become overly dependent on the positive reactions and supportive comments of my running community on social media.  And though they are inherently uplifting and helpful, the fact that I'm thinking about them on my run rather than focusing on where and how to place my feet, or paying attention to my breathing, my pace, or simply enjoying the fact that my body is strong and healthy enough to carry me down the trail for a certain amount of time and distance  - or the privilege of having the time and safe spaces to enjoy running - speaks loudly to the kind of chaotic disconnect I feel in our collective unconscious...as if we've been encouraged to lose our way.  On the other hand, there has also been a collective uprising against that disconnect, and while that movement gives me hope, it still hasn't brought the level of change I think we need in order to move forward with purpose again.  


The fact that 24 hours after many of the polls have closed we still don't have that landslide victory I had hoped for tells us that at least half of this country is still willing to throw the other half of this country under the bus to ensure their continued complacent comfort at the expense of others, and that's a huge problem.  Our work is nowhere near done.  And that's exhausting.  So incredibly bone-tiring, it affected my ability to jog happily up the pretty wooded trail in my quaint little community where I don't have to worry about being out alone for a run.  Can you imagine how it must feel to those on the front lines?  To the folks who do the work because their lives depend on it in a way I can only partially feel, and most others don't even deign to feel, or dare to push back against?  How tired do you think those folks are?  How much jogging on maintained wooded trails for health and wellness do you think they get to enjoy?  No matter how much it makes us want to lie down and give up, we simply can't fail in continuing to support those who really do need us to hold them up and offer our protection so they can rest, and continue to take the lead.  We need everyone to be all in for everyone else, no excuses.  It's the only way we build a world worth living in for future generations, and really...if we're not here for that, what the hell are we here for?


peace ~


m


previous Blog Blasts for Peace:

2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2018, 2019

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Terrapin Portal

about a month ago, I was driving down one of our main local routes into the nearest small city when I noticed something on the side of the road that looked like a turtle on its back. even though I was traveling at 45mph, and on my way to an appointment, I had an overwhelming desire to stop and turn around, to help the poor thing.  ever since I was little I've had this deep sense of sadness come over me whenever I pass a dead or dying critter on the road, and as I live in what's considered to be a rural area of NY, I see a lot of critters on or near the streets I drive on, and I take pains to avoid hitting them with my car. over the past few weeks alone I've seen/avoided porcupines, baby and adult foxes, baby and adult raccoons, frogs & toads, mice, chipmunks, squirrels, and the ubiquitous deer.  so seeing what appeared to be a turtle on it's back on the side of a four lane highway broke my heart, but I needed to get where I was going, vowing to myself (and the turtle) that if it was still there on my way back, I'd go and see what I could do to help, hoping some other kind soul might stop and rescue it before then.  

 

not 'my' turtle - an image from the internet

 

on my way back, I slowed down and searched the opposite side of the road for the turtle, and saw it - still on its back in the same spot.  I pulled into the parking lot of a shop and got out to inspect it, and it was most definitely dead.  I felt bad for not getting to it sooner.  so, for whatever reason or feeling compelled me to do it, I took a large wad of napkins out of my glove compartment, picked up the dead turtle, placed it gently in my trunk, and brought it home with me.  while I found an appropriate spot to bury it, I told it how sorry I was that it had been hit in the road, and died alone on its back in the hot sun.  I wondered where it was from, where it had been going, and assured it that I was digging it a nice, cool hole in the damp earth for it rest in, and be devoured.  I asked if it wouldn't mind having its shell preserved as a scared item while wishing it a peaceful journey, then covered it over with dirt, and marked the spot so I could find it again in about a month.  during that time, I chose to learn a bit about turtles, how and where they live, breed, and die, and how best to clean and preserve one's shell.

 

tiny turtle vertebrae

 

this morning, with prayers for its safe return to Void, I dug up the grave, and didn't find the shell I had hoped would be there.  I wondered what could have happened to it...fox?  coyote?  cat?  I sat in the shade of the pines for a minute contemplating, when I spotted a turtle shell - on its back - a few feet away, through some close-grown trees whose branches formed a barrier I couldn't penetrate.  how did it get there?  did some other critter really dig it up to eat?  in any case, the shell was empty, so I tried to get around the trees one way, and failed.  I knew I couldn't get around the other side of them, so I tried going through - no luck, too dense.  I got out my tree lopper and cut a hole through the dead branches just large enough to force myself through, pushed my way around the live branches to reach the shell, and brought it back with me.  the dead branches caught at my dress, scratched me on my arms and face, got tangled in my hair, and I had to yank myself free, knowing that leaving some skin and hair behind was a fair trade in this exchange.  for a reptile that is considered in several cultures to be representative of portals and doorways, this was as it should be.

 


as shore creatures, turtles are seen as a bridge between heaven and earth - land and water.  they are prevalent in the myths of many cultures around the world, and symbolic of good health, long life,  perseverance, protection, self reliance, tenacity, slow progress, luck, strength, hope, steadfast tranquility, and are considered a good omen in many world religions.  in several indigenous American traditions turtles represent Mother Earth as "Turtle Island", the turtle that carries the world on its back.  most turtles have 13 'scutes' (scales) on their 'carapace' (top shell), which has been likened to the 13 full moons in a year, and relates to menses and motherhood.  turtle shells have traditionally been used by some indigenous cultures to dispense medicines, and to make rattles.

 

can you see the 13 scutes on this carapace?
 

I found this piece of information which I just loved so much I had to share it in its entirety (the relevant website can be found at the end of this post):  "Dr. Tami Jollie-Trottier, PhD, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and a North Dakota-based clinical psychologist specializing in indigenous behavioral health and healing has developed “Turtle Medicine” (Mickinock Mishkiikii), an innovative approach to post-traumatic healing in which spiritual and cultural symbolism and Anishinaabe animal teachings are used to explore healing through art, writing and storytelling".  she believes that "westernized medical intervention alone cannot produce the level of wellness required, after a personal trauma, to return to the healthy state of mind needed to function in today’s world", and that "healing powers can be found within an individual’s own spiritual, cultural and creative energies".

 

Akupara
 

in Hinduism, the god Kurma (Sanskrit for tortoise) is one of the 10 avatars of Vishnu, and in that belief system, the world is said to stand on the backs of four elephants, who in turn stand on the back of the tortoise Akupara.  here, they represent truth because they carry the world on their back, and speak of both the journey and the destination.  turtles remind us to be aware of our perceptions about time and our relationship to it while awakening both our physical and spiritual senses.  there is a certain safety in knowing they can survive hard times, and the lessons they are said to teach are that we should stay faithful to our paths, and be at peace with our choices and decisions.  they encourage us to release the negative things that hold us back, and remind us to use our heads to right ourselves.  "pay attention," they say, "abundance is available to us in the right time - the Earth provides us with everything we need."

 

so beautiful...
 

to be practical, and knowing that many reptiles carry salmonella, I researched ways to clean the dear turtle's shell, which I did by soaking it in a solution of salt, baking powder and water for an hour, then rinsing it off and soaking it in a solution of vinegar and water for another hour.  then I scrubbed it with soap and water, inside and out with a toothbrush, and set it to dry in the sun.  I'll probably put a coat of varnish on it to protect it, so I can keep it on my altar as a sacred item, and a reminder of all the good lessons listed above.  in my searching, I also found some vague references to supposedly ancient tales coming to us from China and South America of "three legged flying iron turtles" and a sky-god-bringer-of-corn, killed in the underworld, whose resurrection is depicted by his emerging from a turtle shell.  what do you think? 

 

Hun Huhnapu, resurrected as a Mayan maize deity?


further reading and references:

 https://www.drtamiredwindwellness.com/bio

 http://www.native-languages.org/legends-turtle.htm

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_depictions_of_turtles

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Turtle