Monday, March 26, 2018

'Divining', Synchronicity, Mama-Drama, and More

The Doors - Ghost Song

during the 15 years I lived in Vermont, I grew to truly enjoy reading Rob Brezsny's Free Will Astrology column that ran in the independent newspaper, Seven Days.  so much so, I had to look it up online when I moved out of state, not so much because I'm a full-on believer in horoscopes, but because I missed Mr. Brezsny's irreverent, hopeful, mystic, weird, and wonderful pseudo-mythic poem/predictions as a way to 'divine' my week - and by 'divine', I mean it the same way Jim Morrison and The Doors taught me to mean it back when I was a young teen, falling in love with Jim's poetry.  I'm going to share Mr. Brezsny's blurb for my sign this week because he speaks of this same concept in relationship to a former Beatle: 
"One day, Beatles' guitarist George Harrison decided to compose his next song's lyrics "based on the first thing I saw upon opening any book." He viewed this as a divinatory experiment, as a quest to incorporate the flow of coincidence into his creative process. The words he found in the first book were "gently weeps." They became the seed for his tune "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Rolling Stone magazine ultimately named it one of "The Greatest Songs of All Time" and the tenth best Beatle song. In accordance with the astrological omens, I recommend you try some divinatory experiments of your own in the coming weeks. Use life's fun little synchronicities to generate playful clues and unexpected guidance."
this is particularly relevant to me as "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" is one of the songs I have been assigned to play in my upcoming 'adult rock' show, and while I don't live my life according to horoscopes, I Do pay Very close attention to synchronicities.  do you know the difference between a coincidence and a synchronicity?  a coincidence can be described as "a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection", while a synchronicity can be defined as "the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection".  like, for instance, this past week I had the flu, and my mom, who lives too far away to casually drop by and bring me homemade chicken soup was feeling the way a Jewish mother might about that, and said something along the lines of 'why can't your chef-friend who lives up the road bring you some soup?'  I groaned back something about how my chef-friend was probably at work, and has his own large family to take care of, so I would never be so selfish as to request such a thing of him.  I don't remember if it was later that day, or sometime the next day, that my dear friend who is the lovely wife of my chef-friend showed up at my door to deliver a tub of soup her husband had made.  fantastic.

my mom sent a need out to the Universe on my behalf, and it responded.  that was some damn good soup, too!  I felt it working magic in my body as I hungrily slurped down the garlic, potatoes, chicken, carrots, broth, and whatever else was floating around in there.  not only did it feed and nourish me, it did the same for my son, who hadn't been getting fed properly because I was down for the count for several days.  double magic.  so following Mr. Brezsny's advice, I'm using this experience 'to generate playful clues and unexpected guidance'.  I have another friend who happened to recently be eating at the establishment where the chef-friend works, right up the road from my house.  that friend sent a message suggesting they (her and the kids) might stop by after their meal for a visit.  I let her know I was fine with the kids all hanging out, but that I was flu-ish, and not great company.  she bowed out.  now, while her response is completely fair, the part that I'm sticking on is she never once asked if I needed anything, like, say...some soup.  now, to be fair, this is also a friend that has been rubbing me wrong for quite some time, and I'm more than done with some of the differences of opinion we've been having - case in point, I recently asked her why we're even friends.  she had a list of reasons (all good), so I let my frustration go at the time, only to have it rear it's ugly head again in a few days time.

this is a clue.  a Big one.  in our online world, where so many interactions take place on social media where you can say whatever you want almost without consequence, and be whoever you want by presenting a certain image of yourself, I am confronted with the dilemma of knowing a person, and who they are, as opposed to who they like to present themselves as being.  now, while it's not my intention to run this person down in my blog, I am using their behavior as an example to segue into a statement about my young adulthood as opposed to that of my sons - the fact that my parents were Not friends with the parents of Any of my friends' parents.  I find this bit of information fascinating, and wonder at its significance.  I don't remember how the planning conversations went, it was a rather long time ago, after all, but I do recall getting dropped off and picked up at friends' houses, without my mom sitting politely in the kitchen sipping tea or coffee with any of the other moms while we kids played.  I do remember one weird night when we were invited to dinner by one friend's parents, but it turned out that they were a missionary family, and my parents never wanted to repeat what must have been a very unpleasant experience for them to maintain their decorum through. 

from elementary school, through junior high, and high school, my parents never had anything but a passing acquaintance with any of the parents of my - or my brother's for that matter - friends.  so why have I felt compelled to be?  I will admit that since my son has been a part of my life, I have made it a habit of spending time with the moms of the kids whose company he has enjoyed - from the playgroup we attended from the time he was 4 months old, to some of the moms of the public school kids he befriended, to the moms (and dads) of the homeschool kids he grew close to.  at this point, my son has had the same two 'best friends' for several years running, and any free time he has for socializing is (hopefully) spent in the company of one or both of them.  now, I'm a hard person to get along with, and I have my share of ups and downs with every person I attempt to befriend, but I have to say that one of the 'besties' moms is so incredibly easy-going, it's awfully hard Not to get along with her, and I'm happy to sit and sip tea with her whenever we get the chance.  the other one...mostly makes me want to punch her.

I haven't always felt that way - in fact, some of the best memories shared on this blog through our family tradition of keeping a yearly Memory Jar involve things we've done, or experiences we've shared, with that mom and her family.  so what gives?  frankly, there's something in me that wants to blame facebook, but I know it goes deeper than that.  facebook is merely the vehicle that delivers the hatred to me via my perception of her as a person 'in real life' as opposed to who she pretends to be online.  awhile back, when my son transitioned from homeschooling back to public school, I was going to write a post comparing and contrasting our experiences between the two, but it got passed over for something else more relevant to my life at the time, and there was a bit of the old 'I don't want to hurt certain people' thought process that went into the decision to scrap it.  in retrospect, the people who may have been hurt by anything I have to say don't read my blog, and wouldn't think twice about posting something that might hurt me, so why should I care?  one of the main points of that post would have been the way homeschooling people seem to belittle and mock public schoolers, and how incredibly rude and unnecessary that seems to be, let alone what a terribly poor model for behavior it is to show one's children.

so guess what 'clue' I recently received from the Universe through some seemingly random facebook comments?  yeah...the 'unexpected guidance' that one of my friends in particular isn't really all that good of a friend.  and couple that with the recalled information that my own mom barely knew the first names of my friends' moms, and I think it's time to see just how strong my kid's bond with her kid is, because I'm pretty done with overlooking all this online posturing, and dealing with what's real, because I don't think that mom and I need to see eye to eye in order for our teens to have a long-term, fulfilling relationship with each other.  the trick is, how hard will it be to pull back without unnecessarily hurting her feelings - again, not that she's ever seemed to give much of a damn about hurting mine?  maybe it won't be hard at all, because maybe we're not as close as I seem to think.  that's a possibility.  I maintain an amount of friendships that can be counted on one hand - I mean, sure, I know more people than that, but the number of folks I consider myself close to are Very few in number, so it's completely possible that I'm overestimating my importance to this person.  maybe she'll actually be relieved to no longer have to be forced into chatting with me when she'd rather not, or have her opinions be called out by someone whose opinion she doesn't care for, herself!

I know I'm not alone in this feeling, as a quick internet search for "I hate my kid's friend's parents" returned 61 million results in under a second, even though only the first 5 results, give or take a few, seem relevant.  just like anything else, if I've thought it, 5,000 other people have, too.  in fact, the kids all had plans to hang out today, and while they're all here, now, the one's mom popped in to say 'hey', and let me know what her plans were, and the other...dropped off and ran without even so much as a how-do-you-do.  which is fine with me, really - I know she's mad because I unfriended her on facebook, but like I said earlier, our interactions there had yielded nothing but bad blood between us, and let her know weeks ago that if she kept pissing me off online, I was going to hit that 'unfriend' button.  so - between pretending to be who I know she isn't, to differences in political opinion, to mocking my schooling choices, to telling me 'one dissenting voice needs to silence itself and go along with the status quo', to missteps with my ethnic identity, to claiming ethnic identity she doesn't have, etc., etc., and so forth, I had finally had enough.  and yet her teen is at my house, dropped off without incident.  let's see how pick-up goes, and I'll have a real sense of how this going to work out. 

my teen is supposed to go chill at her place in a few days, too, thing at a time.  sometimes I wish friendships weren't so hard for me, but at other times, I'm sure I could have 100 shallow friendships if I wanted them.  but I generally don't.  I want deep understanding and love, and trust, or it's not worth it to me.  I'm too old for posturing, and I never had any patience for childish games in the context of relationships.  life is too short, too magical, too precious, and too full of amazing daily miracles to get bogged down in the 'mama-drama' some people seem to thrive on.  I'm not innocent of having gotten caught up in it myself, from time to time, but I invite you to take a wild guess at who was involved, and then nod your head in understanding when my reasons for stepping back click into place.  I'm going to take one last stab at synchronistic divination to end this post by opening the book next to me to a random page:

...and it spoke to me of Iambe/Baubo, of obscenity and belly laughs, seeing through the nipples, and speaking from the vulva.  a certain kind of sacred sexuality that reminds me that I forgot to tell you how my Dream Lover helped me get over the flu.  next time, my loves, next time... 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Weekly Wordle 344


silky birth saturate soul sharp dish truth shadows broken rain veils music

                                        the rain


          shadowed truths

that saturate

                       my soul

like sharp


of the 



                  as it



like birth

                        across the floor


                                my image

of deep



Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Did you know Ritual Work is Central to the Human Capacity for Empathy?

ritual:  a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order; relating to or done as a religious or solemn rite.

like many people in growing numbers, I don't consider myself much of a religious person, but I do consider myself a spiritual one.  if you type 'spiritual not religious' into a search bar, you'll probably get the same 179 million results that I did in the same .52 seconds, including its own wikipedia entry.  I didn't read any of the articles (ok, I scanned the wiki, because I love it as a jumping-off point for oh-so-many things), I was just curious to see what would come up, as I was when I did an image search for 'ritual'.  interesting results there, as well - some expected, some...rather less so, but not all that surprising, nonetheless.  I went there because I'm following a theme of late, and this is where last week's the Monday blog from two weeks ago led me.  aside:  last week's blog was off-topic, I just needed to get that one off my chest, and I threw down a few sentences yesterday for The Sunday Whirl just for fun.  in any case (there's a phrase I use too often), I'm back on track with my theme of pulling myself back from the depths of single-parenthood, and returning to my former place as a creative writer/artist/thinker.

what the..?  oh, Church of Satan, you got me with that pig's head, because that image from the Amityville Horror still haunts my nightmares!  but you've been pretty cool, lately, so I'll let it go...(O_o)

ok, that pig's head is freaking me out...where was I?  oh yeah, ritual.  in researching ways to relocate my Muse, and get my life back on some sort of track, I cross-referenced several sites about 'habits of successful people' and made myself a list to follow in an attempt to get more of the important stuff that would further my goals getting done inside all the daily business of being the 'head of household'.  one of those 'habits' involves creating rituals around the activities that support those goals, so I revamped my schedule to include that kind of ritual in my daily practice.  I did manage to get the grocery shopping done this week, and do all the writing/editing work-for-hire that I had to complete (yay, me!), as well as practice for my show, but the dishes are still in the sink, and my hair is so dirty, I don't even want to talk about it.  baby steps!  since it's Monday, my goals today involve writing this blog post, practicing my songs for my upcoming show, washing my hair, getting the teen to his show rehearsal, and yes, that sink full of dishes.  there's more, such as dealing with my long overdue correspondences, actually reading the book I borrowed from the library, and planning my Equinox ritual.  ah - Ritual!  there we are again...

why is it always white people?  "The Youth of Bacchus" by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1884

as part of my desire to renew some of my former spiritual practices, I invited some of my friends to join me in celebrating the 'wheel of the year' by gathering together for the purpose of performing ritual during the Solstices, Equinoxes, full and new moons.  these gatherings have been more and less successful, given the times of year, work schedules, and other people's personal dramas, but I continue to work on my own practice, and keep the door open for anyone who wants to show up.  there are those who say this sort of Work is important to them, and there are those who actually engage in it.  I want to share this small thing I wrote to one I believe to be the former, who claimed to be bored at the beach because there was 'nothing to do', and they had no tolerance for sitting still:

our bodies are made of seawater, our babies grow in our saltwater wombs, the ocean covers 3/4 of our Earth, it is the Primordial Mother, respect Her. there is Deep Ritual to be done near the ocean, deep truths to learn, absorb, and soak in. the ocean can kill you in a second, and never once is powerful, and overwhelming, and yet...people ride it. there is an entire Universe beneath the waves, aliens of every shape and form, depths we cannot plumb - our fragile, terrestrial bodies, seemingly so strong and agile on land, have no power there, are crushed under her pressure, devoured by her children. it is both life-giver, and life-taker. entering Her is a risk, and pure joy, connection with the Absolute. we die under each wave, are reborn each time we emerge into light and air. the rhythm of the waves is the rhythm of our heartbeat...feel it ebb and flow. sitting/being still is a blessing of one's own connection to inner peace, while attachment to monkey-mind fills one with doubts and boredom, as constant activity can indicate an avoidance of the inner voice, whispering 'step back...breathe...calm down'. quiet the mind, connect with the heart, just Be. the Ocean as God-being is enamored of the Moon, rising to meet Her, flowing with Her, deepest Love.

be bored, or choose to See. Divine yourself, learn something new. face what is breaking your heart, fall apart, and let Her put you back together. be thankful for the opportunity to Connect with your deepest longing, or choose to turn away from the Mother for fear of seeing who you really are. this Depth is not for everyone, only the strong - true inner strength - can face themselves inside it. can you choose to see? or will the knowledge smash the mirror of the image you've created out of fear of really being seen? I see you...I see You. learn to see yourself inside all the layers you're wrapped up in. when you're ready... we're only given so much time, but the Ocean is Eternal. Honor Her, and learn to accept Her blessing.

sometimes, as a financially disadvantaged single mom, I look in at other people's lives from the outside, and feel a small tinge of jealousy for what they appear to have.  I'm learning to break myself of this habit, because I have had at least two close friends in my life that appear to 'have it all', yet suffer from this inability to 'be still', and it breaks my heart, because I feel it comes from deep inner pain, and I have a longing to help them move through it.  but it's not my's not my place.  if they want my help, it's on offer, but I won't hand it to them unless they ask.  one of them did, once, but they wanted to do the wrong Work for the wrong reasons, and when the tools I gave them didn't move them towards those goals, they suffered even worse in the end.  I don't envy people that kind of pain, and I am grateful to be able to truly 'sit' with myself, and build on the solid base I was so blessed to have been born into, and raised with.

Buddhist prayers in Thailand

what was I born into and raised with?  well, I was born Jewish, and I still identify as Jewish, though my family was not what I call 'temple Jews'.  when I was in grade school, I used to say that we 'weren't so much religious as we were cultural', as my father had emigrated to Israel in the early 1940's, when he was around 4 years old, and grew to adulthood there, only moving to the US in the late 1960's.  my mom's people had been in the States since the early 1900's or so, with my great-grandparents having come here from Poland and Russia (Ukraine), respectively.  while my mother's parents were certainly what I considered to be 'temple Jews', my dad's people weren't the least bit religious.  growing up, I remember going to my mother's parents synagogue to celebrate Purim, and a massive Passover seder at their house that included the whole extended family, as well as friends and neighbors.  we celebrated Hannukah either at the grandparents or our home, and Sukkot was pretty much at our house, though my earliest ones may have been at the grand-folks.  Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur were temple holidays, and there was a dairy meal for Shavuot, but that's about it.

there are A LOT of Jewish holidays, and we didn't come anywhere near celebrating them all.  there were holidays that were celebrated on my dad's kibbutz (communal farm) in Israel that I remember getting a mention - Tisha B'Av, Lag B'Omer, Tu BiShvat - that we didn't really celebrate, and a host of other remembrances that weren't that big a deal in the US, so they slipped quietly by.  we did, at some point, begin to celebrate Shabbat every Friday evening, but at this point, I don't remember if that's something we did at the grandparents' house, and later moved to ours, but I do know that as a teenager, I couldn't go anywhere on Friday nights until after 'Friday night dinner', which typically didn't 'end' until late.  again, we weren't temple goers for Shabbat, but that was the day my mom put the chicken soup up to simmer while she cleaned the house, and we were all expected to be home, and dressed more than casually though not necessarily fancy, for our ritual meal that generally included my grandparents, and took place in the dining room rather than our eat-in kitchen, on the 'good plates', with great-grandma's 'silver'.  the prayer book came out, though our ritual was short and sweet, and we all stood up until it was over, wished each other "Shabbat Shalom" (sabbath peace), then sat down to enjoy the big meal and each others company as the collective sigh that ended our week, and brought the relative peace of the weekend into our lives.  while I still observe some of the Jewish holidays, I don't bring the same depth of them to my child as my ancestors did for me.

lol - I think this image is from some television documentary about the roots of Judaism, but it serves to illustrate what Shabbat looked like at our house, though we had dad at one end of the table, mom at the other, the grandparents on one side, and my bro and I on the other.  the dog, of course, took his place under the table, in case anyone dropped anything... 

when I was in high school, and soon after I graduated, I became aware of the first of my peers that began to have issues with drugs and/or alcohol, and, subsequently, 'the law'.  people I knew went to jail and/or rehab.  it was a bit scary, I guess, because some of them were guys I had crushes on, or guys I knew from work (no girls).  I don't know where I got the idea, but I remember thinking that maybe they didn't have the same strength of spirit I did due to my 'religious-ish' upbringing, and strong faith in...whatever I thought of at the time as 'god'.  it wasn't an old man on a throne in the sky, at that point, like the prayer-books in the temple suggested (though it had been), but was evolving into something...more.  maybe simply a belief in something greater than myself, though I didn't know what.  I was still too naive to take things like family history with addiction, poverty, or abuse into account, let alone mental or chronic illness, among other factors.  by then, I had long since discovered the occult books section in the local library, so I must have already been on my way to my own personal belief system, but I was still largely connected to my Jewish roots.

sometime after I turned 20, surrounded by a completely new group of friends and acquaintances who were, for the most part, not Jewish - upon reflection, most of my close high school friends had been - I had, in them, a new platform in which my understanding of the occult and esoteric practices could not only grow, but was encouraged to flourish.  I was introduced to new ideas, new books and authors, new practices and ways of thinking, new music and art.  I went to my first pagan gathering, out of which a new coven formed, of which I was an integral member.  we met regularly for ritual gatherings, some deeply meaningful for me, and, I think, for others.  but my soul is often restless, and I moved around the country for awhile, so I found other groups to work with when I lived far from my core group, but always circled with them when I was near.  eventually, I moved permanently 'away' and lost touch with my coven as our lives evolved apart from each other.  one of my two closest contacts within the group married someone I didn't much like, and the other...well, let's just say we had a weird conversation that made me uncomfortable, so I stopped calling, and I guess they didn't miss me enough to notice.  it's said that all good things come to an end, and given the nature of Life, and/or my experience with it, I tend not to disagree.  some good things just seem to last longer than others, I suppose.

image taken from the Damanhur website 'A laboratory for the future of humankid.  looks interesting, if a bit 'white-people-y'.
image taken from the Damanhur website - 'A laboratory for the future of humankind'.  looks interesting, if a bit 'white-people-y', but click the pic if you care to check it out.

in my new environment, being a Seeker after a certain kind of Knowledge, new learning quickly revealed itself to me, and I traveled further down the path I had been walking since...when?  since I was 15.  that was a pivotal year for me - I got my first period, my first glimpse of a 'Solomon's Seal', and lost my virginity.  I probably should have waited a bit on that last one, but...such is the folly of youth, and I was hungry for information about life, and how to live it.  I had become what is known as a 'solitary practitioner', doing ritual alone in my room, or out in the woods and fields, occasionally with a like-minded friend or two, but I was exploring my own inner-space, and the lessons were powerful, manifesting themselves through my art and writing.  during that time, I 'produced and directed' my first (extraordinary) public ritual/performance that I neglected to properly 'ground', so the energy went flying off in a series of unfortunately destructive events affecting several people (whether or not they knew it), and as a result, I stopped messing around with that level of Work for awhile, since I didn't have a larger group to work with collectively, and I thought it wise to reign myself in a bit.

so, life became much more mundane, and I found myself working a series of low-level boring jobs to pay the bills, engaged in a sometimes-incredibly-fulfilling-but-mostly-not relationship, and aside from the every-now-and-again playful appearance of my Muse, just living my life in the day-to-day work/eat/sleep grind that some choose to define as adulthood.  during that period of my life, my father passed away, and as heartbreaking as it was for me, I did experience some supremely powerful energy and connection surrounding his death that I may not have been open to, or able to experience, if I didn't have such a strong grounding in esoteric knowledge and occult/meditative practices.  oddly enough, it was just before his death that I was asked by a woman I knew if I could create a public sacred space (labyrinth) for her to perform a ritual within, which I agreed to do, and completed after I returned from my father's funeral.  I was so exhausted from the work, I didn't even take part in the event, and spent most of the night just trying to regain my balance, and connecting with people in attendance who hadn't heard the news of my father's passing, and were wondering where I'd been.

this is not the one I made - mine had a large center area with room for the ritual within, and had high walls that were white near the entrance, progressing to pink, red, and then black at the center to simulate entering/exiting a womb.  spooky...

then I got pregnant and had a baby, which was a sort of ritual of its own.  while my son's conception was not a planned event, both his father and I, having a grounding in magical Work, must have been connected to certain energies during the..umm...'moment', and I felt (and saw) my son's Being enter my womb like a lightening bolt traveling through the Tree of Life.  while my lifestyle during my pregnancy was difficult in the sense of my extremely diminished socio-economic status, I felt incredibly strong and healthy, and somehow sure that everything was going to turn out ok.  this is from my post two weeks ago:  "While I was pregnant/single/unemployed/homeless, I asked with my anger where all the Good Energy I put out into the Universe had gone.  I questioned all those times over the years that I danced naked in the woods around a bonfire, connecting with the Absolute, sweating in lodges, and cold-plunging into the lake - directing the Work towards where it was most needed, howling under the stars.  Where Did It Go?  WHY wasn't it helping me NOW?  the moment my son was placed on my chest the answer came, as I welcomed him with the words, "there it is!"  and lo, there he was."  actually, the first thing I sad to my son was, "hi!" but you get the idea...  at some point during my labor, I remember there being a quorum of...shamans (warlocks?  Beings? who were they?) in my head, chanting to me from inside a cave, around a fire.  they definitely helped, though I still don't know who they were.

there are a multitude of images that illustrate this theory of energy flowing into manifestation, but this was the simplest I could find, assuming the reader's complete unfamiliarity with these concepts.

 most of the magical Work I've done since becoming a mother has revolved around using a healing touch on my son when he has been ill, and moving energy around and through him that is nurturing, loving, joyful, and happy.  'ritual' became more about bedtime routines and daily schedules, and 'magic' was all about helping a new human discover the natural world - acorns, pinecones, flowers, animals, sunshine, music, movement, floating on the water, digging in the sand and dirt, rocks, the moon and stars...everything was magical, everything was a miracle, every little thing was an incredible blessing, and our days were filled with moments of the purest joy and wonder.  the Universe blessed us with a really big, rainbow colored Hoberman Sphere with glow-in-the-dark joints that my darling boy used to camp out inside, and that was a kind of magic, too - from a very young age, he had a kind of knowledge of how energy expands and contracts, and often chose to sit inside what I consider to be a very real expression of both a macro- and microcosm, and learned how the two related to each other, and to the forces outside ourselves, as well.

oy, my little monkey!  he was such a happy baby ~ 💖

but back to ritual - we/I have had some opportunities to circle up with friends over the past decade or so, and while it's been nice to celebrate in community, these circles have lacked any real power or energy, like the ones I experienced as a young adult.  I remember asking a friend when we were in our 30's if she wanted to do a solstice ritual with me, and she snarked back that she hadn't done that since she was in her 20's, which communicated clearly to me that to her, 'that kind of stuff' belonged to a certain time and place, and we were too old for that sort of youthful nonsense.  I beg to differ.  there is always time and place in my life to connect to that 'bigger-than-me' that people call by many different names.  today is the Vernal Equinox, and circling back to the beginning of this post, where I defined 'ritual', and discussed my desire for more of it in my life, in several forms - both to structure my days around, and to engage in spiritual Work - I plan to celebrate by smudging my home, opening windows and doors (even though the high temp. for today may reach 40F), and sweep out negativity. I will do yoga, and meditate. I will prepare offerings for my personal deities, and share them with the Earth. I will light a fire, and dance on a bank of the Esopus Creek. I will chant and raise my arms to the Heavens. I will connect with the Absolute.  maybe some friends will join me, maybe they won't.  either way, I won't be alone.

how do you celebrate/connect/create ritual today and everyday?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sunday Whirl - Wordle 343

haven't done this in awhile, thought it might be nice to throw down: 
heap wild cajole means wolf practice small kind cringe close called blight

my Teen Wolf, as I like to call him, is wild over the blight known to him as 'English homework', in the form of what's called an 'Article of the Week', for which he has to read an article, summarize it, and write what he thinks about the issue addressed.  this small practice, I've explained to him time and again, will be of immense help to him when he enters high school, and is required to write full-on research papers and personal essays.  writing is Not his forte (go figure), and he asked for help with this one, which means I have to cajole him with every kind fiber of my being (not many) to get through this cringe-worthy exercise in pulling sentence after sentence out of a reluctant student.  it takes heaps of calm not to rise to his arguments, or attempts to side-line the activity with various distractions.  we've been at it for over two hours, and I hope we're getting close to being done, as I'm about out of patience for the activity myself!

click on the link below for directions on how to participate, and once there, click on 'Home' for this week's wordle, which is also posted above ~

Monday, March 12, 2018

Warning: Possible Triggers for Abuse and/or Childhood Trauma

I'm not even sure how to start this week's blog.  I had a subject I wanted to write about, and even tagged the page a few days ago to leave myself a prompt for where I wanted to start today, following the theme I have been working with, but I had a conversation this past weekend that scrambled my mind a bit, and I guess I want/need to deal with that instead, even though it's rather disturbing and personal, and involves some hard, possible truths about people other than myself, as well.  or maybe it doesn't - I'll have to see how it plays out, and decide whether or not I need to 'protect the innocent' after it's all written.  so hang in there, or duck out may get ugly. 

While visiting my mom this weekend, at some point in our conversation she asked me if I remembered being 'molested' by one of my babysitters.  Now, I'm not entirely sure what we had been talking about that made her ask that, but I have an had to do with my brother and his friends, and their ways of behaving towards me, so that in and of itself was weird enough, but I had no idea what she was talking about with this alleged molestation, so I said as much, and asked who it was, and what happened.  She gave me a brief sketch in hushed tones, because my teen was across the room, napping peacefully in a comfy chair.  She asked if I remembered her friend So-and-So, who had the two sons, one of them nice, the other one not so much.  I remembered the friend So-and-So's name, but only because of her gorgeous dog - an Irish Setter; the first, and possibly only, I had ever known - whom I adored for her soft, pretty red hair, and lovely name that seemed to suit her so well.  I have no recollection of the friend herself, nor either of the sons.  Apparently, one of the sons babysat me one night, behaved inappropriately, and what I told my mom about what happened caused her to never speak to that friend again, end of story.

So here's what's fucking me up about this - or rather, I have some questions...who was this guy?  What was his name?  How old was he?  How old was I?  Where did this take place?  When?  Where were my folks that night?  Where was my brother?  Where in the house did this alleged abuse take place?  What did he do to me?  Why don't I have any memory of it...or do I?  Was I taken to a therapist?  What did my dad say or do?  Did my mom ask my brother about it?  What did he say?  Was he aware it had happened?  Was it ever addressed again, or was it forgotten about entirely?  Did I have any issues surrounding it?  What were they?  Should I ask my mom for more information, or should I leave it in the past?  Should I seek counseling?  Has it had any long-term effects on me?  What the fuck?!  I mean, there are obviously people in the world (way too many) that know exactly who did what to them, how often, and for how long (who have my deepest sympathy), and next to some of the horrific abominations that happen in this world, my tiny issue is an insignificant little nothing, and it is with bearing those atrocities in mind that I think it's worth my time to just brush this little 'factoid' off and move on, but it doesn't seem to want to leave my mind right now.  It may well in the future, with some time between having this nugget of truth dropped on me, and the rest of the important facts of life going at speed all the time, but for Right Now, I can't help but feel like all I want to do is love and nurture that poor little child that may have been violated, and hold her, while reassuring her that she's ok.

Without knowing what happened, it's hard to make a judgement call on how 'bad' the actual incident was, and I'm not sure that matters at all.  Does it?  This is an area in which I have very little experience, and maybe that's why I'm so fucked up about it.  I know a great deal about a lot of things, but I'm also quick to admit when I'm out of my depth.  This feels like a big, empty, dark room without any reference points to me, and I'm not used to being lost, because I've always managed to find myself, wherever I am, and get back to where I need to be, but I may need a map for this one.  I can answer some of my own questions with basic deductive reasoning, such as...okay maybe I can't, but I'm here to work through it, so I'll go through them one at a time.

"Who was this guy/What was his name/How old was he?" - well, he was the older of the two sons of my mom's friend.  I don't think there's any more to be said about that, but I guess if I wanted to know more, I'd wonder where he went to school, who were his friends, did they know he liked to do the things he did - did he even like to do those things?  Were there other little kids he did them to, or just me?  Was it just a thing he did to see if he could get away with it?  Was it a real problem?  Did it continue throughout his life, was it once, what was it?  Does his name matter?  If I find out, will it change anything?  I would like to know how old he was at the time, because I feel like it will give me some clue as to what he was thinking...or...something, I don't know.  Well, that just brought up more questions, so let's move on.

"How old was I/Where did this take place?" - this I would definitely like to know.  I can assume it was in the house we lived in during the years I was 4 through 12, because I think that's when my mom was friends with that woman...but it could have been the house before that (which would mean I was less that 4 years old when it happened?).  I know for certain it wasn't after that, because we didn't have babysitters anymore by the time I was 12.

"Where were my folks that night/Where was my brother/When/Where in the house..." - the first part hardly matters, I'm just curious (were they out with the babysitter's parents?).  Maybe wondering how much my mom remembers, or how late a night it was.  The rest of the questions are really important - I assume we kids were both home (why would they have taken my brother with them?), so the 'when' question is more about whether the babysitter put us to bed in our respective rooms first?  Was my brother asleep in his own room when it happened in my room?  Or was he awake for the incident, and possibly watching or involved?  Did the babysitter send my brother to bed first, then keep me awake?  Did it happen somewhere else in the house?  Did it happen early in the evening, or in the wee hours of the morning?  Does it matter?  I think the timing has a lot to do with my questions surrounding my brother's presence/possible involvement, which leads into my statement above about how he and his friends later behaved towards see? 

"What did he do to me/Why don't I have any memory of it...or do I/Was I taken to a therapist?" - Mom said I told her 'his penis didn't taste good', so...I guess he had me put my mouth on his penis, but is that all he did?  And how much of 'that' did he do?  Just make me touch it with my lips and/or tongue, or make me (convince me to) put it in my mouth?  Did he climax?  So many questions around this...  I must have blocked it out, because that's obviously a normal and frequent response to this kind of thing, but I feel like that for so long I was not into touching a man's genitalia during sex, that on some level, I must have had some kind of aversion-response.  And there was this weird dream I remember having as a kid that involved some disturbing sexual imagery of masked people touching my body in ways that I felt were probably wrong, but if I was just quiet and let it happen, than I would be 'good', get rewarded, and be celebrated.  At the end of the dream, I remember having my hair washed and styled, tied up in a new ribbon, and being carried on the shoulders of the two men I loved most at that time (who seemed grim and wooden), like I was some kind of hero for having endured the 'treatment'.  I doubt I was brought to a therapist, because of the next question:

"What did my dad say or do?" - I'm going to say with 98% certainty that my dad was Not told, because he would have murdered that babysitter.  I mean literally.  It would have taken a great deal of convincing, and several large, strong men restraining him to get him to Not kill the babysitter.  I mean, given the way he trained the dog to kill anyone who attacked us violently, he would have been beside himself for failing to protect us from people who appeared to be friendly or kind.  How could the dog have known I was being molested?  If I didn't cry out, or if there wasn't violence, I don't think the dog would have known to react, which also suggests the babysitter wasn't inherently a 'bad' person, because that dog Knew bad people, and protected us from them more than once, when they weren't doing anything more than being friendly (their 'crimes' only became apparent later).  There's no way in hell my dad ever knew this happened.  There was an incident in our family involving another young girl who Wasn't me, and given the way he reacted to That, well...nope.  My mom kept this a secret.  If she had taken me/us to therapy, our dad would have wanted to know why.

"Did my mom ask my brother about it/What did he say/Was he aware it had happened?" - again, it seems like my mom just chose to sit with this herself, and either convinced me/us to forget it, or that it didn't happen.  I'm Really curious as to my brother's level of involvement, or knowledge of what went down that night.  Was it only that one night?  How many times did that loser sit for us?

"Was it ever addressed again, or was it forgotten about entirely/Did I have any issues surrounding it/What were they?" - I'm gonna say no, yes, probably, and varied.  Seeing as how I have no memory of the incident, it was probably swept quickly under the rug, and never discussed again.  My mom probably thought that was best for herself, and possibly for me (and my brother) as well.  I'm sure there were issues.  There had to be.  As I mentioned, I had a pretty strong aversion to oral sex when I became sexually active - at an age I think of now as too young (though not ridiculously so), and go figure, given this new info.  I've had lots of sexual encounters with men who treated me inappropriately, and I'm beginning to see why, maybe? 

"Should I ask my mom for more information, or should I leave it in the past/Should I seek counseling/Has it had any long-term effects on me?" - I want to ask for more info, but it's really uncomfortable, and knowing my mom, she'll be reluctant to discuss it, which will once again make me the bad guy for forcing a conversation she's not willing to have, even if it involves my own healing.  I will most likely seek some form of counseling, just to hash it out in a manner other than overeating, or punishing myself in other unhealthy ways.  I'm sure there are effects, as mentioned above. 

"What the fuck?!" - why would she tell me Now (maybe she's been repressing it, or is just able to deal with it herself)?  and so casually...did she think I'd just be like, 'oh, haha, never mind, it was all so long ago, la-de-da!'  Was it because of the discussion we were having?  So fucked up on so many levels, and makes me wonder even more about how much my brother knew, or was involved.  I can't help but wonder if this incident is the impetus for everything that's ever gone wrong in my life because I wasn't given the opportunity to deal with it, or decide for myself how I wanted to handle it (again, how old Was I?), or I'm overreacting to the news of it as a way to make it the 'all-encompassing excuse for everything'.  Not that I need any excuses, I'm fully willing to accept 100% of the responsibility for the poor choices I've made over the years (as well as the good ones, because I've made plenty of those, too), but could I be staring into the abyss of what helped shape my sexuality, and my perceived inability to form lasting romantic relationships?  I thought it was just that I'm such a bitch, and have impossibly high standards, could be more.  It could go deeper.  It could have something to do with the ways in which I allowed myself to be violated over and over again because I was taught/learned/surmised that my worth was tied up in how men valued me sexually, and that my role was, as I mentioned earlier, to keep quiet and let them do what they wanted, no matter how it made me feel, in order to earn some reward, like being valued, or celebrated as a Queen should be by her King.  Problem is, I've never had a 'King', or even a 'noble' boyfriend - just a series of Jokers, with one enlightened yet highly damaged pauper who may have actually come close to loving me, as much as he was able, for a brief period that didn't last as long as our short relationship.  It's a wonder I learned to enjoy sex, though I finally did - just in time to not ever have it again, as my age, weight, and refusal to settle for less has rendered me undesirable.  Selah ~

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Crowned With Laurel On Mount Helicon

well, here we are.  together.  me and my invisible audience (such as it ever was).  or rather, her I am, sitting right where I said would, last week.  good for me!  that's a step in the right direction, anyway...  now, to avoid the responsibility for making myself be here, I can:  make a phone call, answer emails, renew my student loan repayment plan, eat something, practice the songs I'm supposed to be playing on keyboard for an upcoming show, start the passport renewal process, reorganize the art supplies and/or my bookshelf, fill out craft show applications, or check my to-do list for other options.  nothing gets me motivated to do the dishes more than a task I want to complete even less than doing the dishes.  and why is writing suddenly so far down on my list of things to do?  two reasons.  one, I have nothing in particular I need or want to write about in this moment; two, setting it up as a 'task' drains all the creativity and spontaneity out of it for me.

but wasn't that the purpose of the exercise (to drain all creativity and spontaneity out of my writing?  I think not.)?  the purpose of the exercise was to get myself back into the habit of writing regularly.  I used to do my journaling at night, reliving the moments of the day to see what happened, what I did or didn't do in relation to what I thought I should or shouldn't have done.  to remind myself of things still needing doing.  sometimes a poem would come out, sometimes a rant, on occasion a pearl of wisdom...  it helped to organize my thoughts, to get stuff out of my head, to draw a map of where to go next, and how to get there - especially helpful when I was overseas, and again when I was pregnant and homeless.  those journals are still waiting for me to collect them together the way that I did for the ones I wrote in my younger years.  it takes me a long time to get things 'done'; I'm one of those obnoxious people that has 50 unfinished projects taking up space in my closet/trunk/head at all times.  why do I do that?  I'm sure it's some deeply rooted psychological nonsense that I won't make the time to research...unless I'm trying to avoid a task I've set myself.

and the avoidance continues, because I seriously did just take the time to read 5 different articles on the subject of 'failing to complete projects', and here's the breakdown:  it can come from a fear of evaluation, a fear of success, or worrying about failure (among other things).  ways to get past it include breaking the tasks down into smaller bits, knowing that beating myself up won't get me anywhere, and losing the guilt of not getting it done altogether (also among other things).  so, technically, telling myself I have to blog once a week is taking a step in the right direction.  forming (or re-forming, in this case) a habit, building momentum through ritual and practice.  during the course of writing this post, I did check both my email and social media several times, made the phone call, ate food, and read more than the previously mentioned 5 articles on procrastination.  to be fair, the emails pertained to rehearsals for the show I mentioned needing to practice for, as did the social media checks (I need to let people know the show is happening, so they can come out and support us), the phone call was to my mom about an upcoming trip we may be taking, and the food I ate was both last night's cold pizza out of the fridge and a few handfuls of Cheerios straight from the box.  yum.  I talked about my crappy food habits in the previous post - not wanting to cook for 'just one', not wanting to dirty any dishes - add to that my poverty-driven need to save any and all food for the growing teen to eat, and...well, it's a recipe for disaster, in terms of my own health.

in any case, since I take Mondays 'off', I'm perfectly happy giving myself the whole day to get this done, even though I have 8 other tasks on the 'to-do' list today.  so let's discuss the concept of the 'muse' - generally defined in Greek mythology as "each of nine goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (or Ouranos and Gaia, or others, depending on your source material), who preside over the arts and sciences; a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist."  in some traditions there are only three Muses, some name four - and by different names - but nine is the commonly accepted number.  their names and attributes are as follows:  Calliope, epic poetry; Clio, history; Euterpe, flutes and lyric poetry; Thalia, comedy and pastoral poetry; Melpomene, tragedy; Terpsichore, dance; Erato, love poetry; Polyhymnia, sacred poetry; and Urania, astronomy.  they apparently have Hindu and Buddhist counterparts known as Apsaras, which I would like to explore as well, but one thing at a time, here.

in questing after this theme, I ran across this article from a few years ago (and followed several of the links) which spoke to my personal feelings about being a conduit for something much older and wiser than 'me' to express itself through.  I remember writing about how disappointing it was that my earlier heroes all died so young, mostly of overdoses, and how I wanted a role model that could skirt those edges of insanity without falling in - how I admired the ability to harness that mystical energy we conjured from our magical gatherings where we called our daemons and genius into being from Source, and gave over to them our bodies for their use in dance, song, rhythm, poetry, and more.  The 'duende', when everything is working in harmony, it all clicks, those moments when Divine Inspiration made me move this way, or write that - when after the ritual, others would gather around me and tell me of my power, or after a reading when they'd tell me I was such a good darlings, no...all I did was show up, and the Muse worked through me.  I am simply a tool for the Ineffable, and oh so humbled at having been granted the opportunity to be of use.

the author of this article, androcentrist as they may be, discussed the Muse as 'a surrender', which they describe as 'the ultimate feminine act', I can probably spend hours unpacking that particular sentiment, but I'm going to let it stand for a moment, because I like where it led, if I didn't like where it began.  they go on to state that "the closest place where 'feminine' surrenders and gives freely to a creation is probably the way many mothers surrender their lives to their children create a larger objective...that transcends the ego."  yes, I cut a bunch out of an entire paragraph to whittle it down to just what I needed to make my point, but it relates back to last week's post where I wondered where my creative flow had drained off to, after discussing how I'd been spending all my energy for the past 15 years being a certain kind of parent.  this is relevant, because I have often been heard to say that I put my life on hold to dedicate all my energy towards raising my Wolf Cub the best way I could, with the little I have.  While I was pregnant/single/unemployed/homeless, I asked with my anger where all the Good Energy I put out into the Universe had gone.  I questioned all those times over the years that I danced naked in the woods around a bonfire, connecting with the Absolute, sweating in lodges, and cold-plunging into the lake - directing the Work towards where it was most needed, howling under the stars.  Where Did It Go?  WHY wasn't it helping me NOW?  the moment my son was placed on my chest the answer came, as I welcomed him with the words, "there it is!"  and lo, there he was.

and he still is - my Greatest teacher.  luckily, I don't lean on him past asking him to wait at the bottom of the stairs if it's slippery, because my footing is less sure with every passing year, and as the 'head of household', I need to be protected from falls and the like, because if I go down, our household flounders until I recover.  what I mean to say in the context of this writing, though, is that I am not overly attached to my child as 'my ultimate creation', or that penultimate Work I can never top - while he was created in a certain kind of scared ritual, he is a person, and I'm not all wrapped up in ego over him.  like I've said, I've mostly done my job with him, and it's his time to see where he gets to, using the tools I've given him to make choices and survive, and time for me to reclaim some of that energy I've surrendered over the years to get back to My work...or rather 'my Work'.  time to look in the mirror, and recognize my internal desire in my own reflection - the Source of my own Being - again.  

to shake off the cloak of Fear society has laid about my shoulders, with all their doubts and misgivings about what a woman can do, who she can be, how she must look/smell/laugh/sit/dress/behave, where her 'place' is, when she can speak, and what about.  I've heard "you can't..." come at me from too many mouths, mouths that claimed authority over my sovereignty, enough that I grew fearful of the world I formerly traveled through alone, and sought refuge in the relative safety of societal norms, but...I am too large to be contained that way, and I chafed at my bindings, so I never really let them hold me all that tightly.  now, I'm ready to burn them down.  'they' can have their 'crabs in a bucket', as Lao-Tse reminds us: "you cannot pull me down, for I sit at a place from where you cannot go any lower.  therefore my throne is well protected."  he also tells us that "if you want to attain that wealth that no thief can take from you then become wealthless and consider it to be your greatest treasure."  this is the Sutra for perfect knowledge - only the last can be first.  and that Wise old Fool Nasruddin concurs: "the first chair is never safe in this world, it is the unsafest place in the world."

Plato's 'allegory of the cave' works well in this context, too, as the pull to live one's own 'uniqueness' often disrupts the vision 'the collective' has for all its members, and it can be extremely hard to live as one's full self in the wake of such numbers and the weight of its negative onslaught, but the call to freedom comes with the obligation to attempt to bring others along, because once you've experienced it, you remember the pain of having to live without it.  it's no wonder I need to call on All my Spirit guides to remind me how to live my truth, and I fall back into quoting the old masters when my own words aren't enough.  to restore the balance that is critical to my survival - but more than that, it is Our survival.  to restore balance to our communities, our justice systems, our world leaders, and the Earth itself.  this Work is crucial, this Work is personal, this Work is collective, and this Work is given to us as creatives to channel through the physical manifestations the Absolute has gifted us with to share with as many others as we can reach.  so I have sat with my invisible audience all these years, not so much for myself, but as an expression of one of all of our Selves, saying what the Universe is typing through my fingers.  I've been busy healing the wound birthing a human left me with, but I believe I'm finding my way back, and asking you if you'd like to come along.

      dream we ride 
                   to where his hoof brought forth 
the Hippocrene, 

where we bathe 
in the beauty 
of Helicon,  

to the sanctuary 
               of the Muses
       who crown us 
              with laurel and 
gift us
                 the Divine.