Monday, November 26, 2018

Bread Crumbs & Brandy

so...seasonal affective disorder, and the January blues.  it usually hits me right between Halloween and Truthsgiving, which is the most current, Native-American-centered term I am familiar with for the day many citizens of Amerikkka celebrate during the month of November to commemorate the colonizing of the land that government holds.  the combination of the decreasing light, and this horrific practice happening all around me (not to mention the implications of the toxic-turkey-trade), in combination with my feelings of isolation in being estranged from family and not generally having anyone to gather with in community regardless of the reason, has been bringing me down hard and fast for nigh on 20 years, now.  some people get their winter blues later in the season, in January, when the winter holidays are over, and the relative hardships of the winter wear them down.  I'm generally feeling better by then, as the light increases after the solstice, and the sun begins to move into my astrological sign, but whenever the winter blues hit, or SAD is making you sad, there are ways to nurture yourself through it.

  • taking 1000 IU's of vitamin D2 (plant-based) or D3 (animal-based) daily
  • staying warm with layered clothing, hot baths, saunas, warm foods & drinks
  • light therapy - taking walks outside around noon, getting a light box, or a light therapy lamp 
  • getting up early in the day to 'set your inner clock' 
  • eating well of proteins and veggies, increasing probiotics (yogurt) and omega-3's (oily fish, walnuts, flax/hemp/chia seeds), cooking hearty soups & stews while avoiding processed foods, dairy, and carbohydrates
  • exercising is one of the healthiest ways to boost your mood - doing it outside in the sunlight is an added bonus this time of year
  • staying active and involved - being social is really hard when all we want to do is hibernate under a blanket and go to sleep until spring
  • keeping a positive mindset through meditation, and practicing gratitude
  • sleeping well - just like it's healthy to be in sunlight during the day, it's important for your body to be in the dark at night, so try to keep the bedroom free of electronics, and also slightly cool 
  • use bergamot, lavender, and rose essential oils in a diffuser, add them to your bathwater, combine them with coconut or olive oil and wear them, or simply sniff them for a lift!

I began my process at the autumnal equinox this year, having heard a call from Erishkigal - Sumerian Queen of the Underworld - back in the summer.  she seems to be with me on my journey this season, and I'm ready to learn what she has to teach me.  I first met her back when I was just a baby-occultist, discovering the wonders of more ancient wisdom than I previously knew existed, written in language and symbols that were somehow familiar to a young Jewish seeker.  she is connected to, or associated with, Lilith, who - as the daughter of a feminist Jew -  I have known since my childhood, and was my first representation of a deity outside of the Jewish 'god'.  of course I had some glancing familiarity with Greek and Roman mythology, as one will pick up in public school, but as a teen on the edge of puberty, who had either just - or was about to - become immersed in tarot, my gateway to the occult, I was thirsty for what looked an awful lot like forbidden knowledge.  so I went as far back as I could find texts to our earliest written memories - to Mesopotamia, Sumer, and Babylon, where I met my Queen of the Underworld.

Erishkigal by Thalia Took

in the years following, I spent more time meeting with and learning from aspects of my various selves as they appeared over the course of history, as well as the triple-goddess-nature of the pagan/wiccan/celtic traditions, maiden/mother/crone.  young journeyers that we were, my coven and I, we added a fourth aspect to our goddess-devotions to suit our needs - the warrior aspect - as many of us felt we were no longer innocent naive young girls, yet nowhere near ready to take on roles as mothers, or start bearing children.  my incantations during those years of my adulthood invoked the feminine in a variety of her guises and forms:  Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna.  later I met Ariadne, in her labyrinth, whose story bears some resemblances to her divine ancestor, in her role as a Dark Goddess, a Mistress of the Underworld.  bulls, the number 7, a little sister, a consort, sacrifice, isolation, an eventual romantic partnership, and a certain sensuality.  she called out to me then, asked me to help tell her story, which I did, and still do.

Ariadne - the Snake Goddess

from there, my devotions turned towards the Shekinah of the Hebrew Kabbalah, the divine feminine aspect of the Absolute, and to the Prime or Creative Source...whatever you call the Oneness we all come from.  I often send devotions towards the moon in my personal rituals during her monthly transitions, as an aspect of the divine feminine, as well, though most other directions in which I send energy I think of as non-gendered, and more at cardinal points, spaces in time, or like a 'cosmic pool of collective love', if you will.  I've made a glancing acquaintance with Sara Kali, who is a Romani saint, and a Black Madonna, but I don't know much about her, and she isn't really part of my personal tradition, but I like to give her a nod for her possible place in my ancestors' past.  this time of year, this year in particular I suppose, that oldest of Goddesses is asking me to see her again, to maybe find something of the wonder of that young girl who first found that forbidden fruit in the dusty back corner of the library.  it goes along with doing a bit of the reclaimation of a lost or long hidden Self that I've either written about before, or meant to write about, or have a draft of somewhere.  sometimes it's frustrating to not have a community to practice with, but that goes right to the heart of the matter of the season, and going back to a more pure and simple kind of solitary practice.  to light the candles on my altar with intention, and breath new life into my inner practice.

Ereshkigal. (JasonEngle/ Deviant Art)

she called to me
come down
she called
come down to me
my sister
visit with me
down here
in my kingdom
through my
seven gates
at each
your clothing
your jewels
come to me
before me
in my kingdom
where I will take
your skin
hang your empty
on a hook
in my domain

and I must
journey back
I say
before I go
and puzzle out
what I'm willing
to sacrifice
to take my place
in her kingdom
while I'm gone
something I'm
willing to
go without
during my
in the world

The Queen of the Night (the 'Burney Relief') - Inanna (Ishtar)/Ereshkigal/Lilith

most recently, I've been learning more about Maa Kali, and Maa Durga...and I think there are some parallels to be drawn from them, as well, but I need to research further to know for sure.  I'll be spending some time with these powerful energies as we move closer and closer to the darkest days of our year, and seeing what wisdom they allow me to drag back out into the light, and what I have to give up for it along the way.

just for fun, here's my horoscope for the week, because it's on point, and mentions one of my favorite poets:
"In one of his poems, Arthur Rimbaud extolled the exquisite evenings when the mist soaked his face as he strolled, and he sipped that heavenly dew till he was drunk.  Was he speaking literally or metaphorically?  Probably both, if i know Rimbaud.  Anyway, Aquarius, I'd love for you to engage in similar exploits.  What are some natural adventures that might intoxicate you?  What simple pleasures may alter your consciousness, nudging you free of its habits?  Meditate with sweet abandon on how to free yourself through the power of play and the imagination." - Rob Breszny, Free Will Astrology


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Donna Nobis Pacem...November 4, 2018

I saved this template for more than a year.  I had been doing the Blog4Peace for a few years in a row from 2010-13, but then took just as many years off.  I suppose I meant to do it last year, which is why I saved the template, but I forgot about it, and by the time I remembered, it was obviously so far past November I thought I may as well wait until it came around again!  so I was all ready to do it this year, but...a separate issue came to my attention, and had to be dealt with in a timely manner, so it got set on the back-burner, and here I am past the deadline again.  I'm sure no one will care if I'm a few days late, peace is peace after all, right?

so I downloaded the template with every intention of playing around with it creatively before posting it with some attempts at demographically-expected attached text, and feeling like I'd done my moral duty as it pertains to blogs and blog blasts and blog blasts for peace for the year.  as it turns out, I don't happen to have access to my own computer at the moment - mine had a terrible mishap and hasn't been working properly, so I've been getting by with my son's older outdated refurbished MacBook he was gifted at his Bar Mitzvah that has since been replace by a much more up-to-date system.  what that means is that I don't have access to all the features and programs I would normally, so I wasn't able to play around with the peace globe template.  so there it is.  that's what I got.

to be honest, I haven't been feeling very peaceful with all the hate that's going around lately.  I mean, I tend to try and maintain a certain personal calm when dealing with the intrusion of unwanted energies and elements into my daily life, but we all live in this world together, and we all experience small moments that trigger our anger or frustration, and truly stressful events that can bring out our fear and rage, so I find it's been more necessary of late to stand up and identify myself as someone who's available to act as a shield to others who maybe aren't feeling so safe these days.  and I say that as a member of several targeted populations - more than some, less than others - which is to speak to my seriousness when I say Never Again, and We Will Outlive Them, to my experience in handling these types of attacks, and to offering the care necessary to heal from them.

yes, I pray for peace.  I hope for it with every ounce of my being, with the belief that willing for a thing in the right frame of spirit can bring it into being.  but what do I do on the daily?  remind people that racism is unacceptable?  tell them that anti-semitism Must become a chapter in our less than illustrious past history as it pertains to human dignity and tolerance?  act as a reminder that people who stand next to me on the street every day have the same rights I do?  that people who are struggling to get here deserve the same?  that people in foreign countries deserve to not be thrown into the depths of a humanitarian crisis by Our country so we can continue to pretend America is any kind of measure of freedom and justice in the world?  to get us to pledge our support to the Ferguson activists who are being systematically murdered for their parts in attempting to heal and uplift their communities?  what about two unrelated people simply shopping in a grocery store?

what peace have I brought today?

who's peace have I bought?

certainly not my own...

it's still a choice, though, and given the option, I will usually choose peace.  but if diplomacy fails?  and something or someone plans on coming for me and/or my friends?  I won't be going down without a fight.

Appropriation Soup

if broccoli & cheddar soup is made from broccoli & cheddar, potato-leek soup made from potatoes and leeks, and tomato soup is made from tomatoes, then is G*psy soup made from G*psies?  I mean, it does seem to follow, doesn't it?  and you see that asterisk (*) I put in place of the 'y'?  I picked that up from other Roma who do it to indicate to non-Roma that for them, the 'G-word' is synonymous to the 'n-word' for Black people.  I also use a capital 'G' to show that I'm designating an ethic group.  while there are plenty of Romani people who use the term with pride, there are also many who would prefer to see its use dropped from the lexicon of world language entirely.  I can't and don't blame them, as the exonym comes from the mistaken belief that Roma people come from Egypt, and the term 'tsigane' (tzigane, cigany, zigano, cingaro, gitano, zigeuner, tigan), which is used for Romani all over the world, is synonymous with 'slave', and literally translates as 'untouchable'.  so can we maybe call the soup something else?  unless the cook is Romani, in which case, it's up to them.

now, let's take into account the fact that Roma are not just people, but A People, with roots in Northwest India before spreading in a diaspora throughout Europe, and the rest of the world, escaping oppression, enslavement, torture, and murder.  Roma have no homeland, and though they live in many different countries, have a mostly common language with many dialects, a flag, and a cultural pride - which is why it would be better for non-Roma people to find other ways to show their admiration for the Roma than by naming their businesses, their children, their food, and their pets 'G*psy'.  as the common term for an oppressed and maligned minority, the word 'G*psy' became a curse in the mouths of non-Roma, hurled at generations of children as a supposed measure of their collective worthlessness, their inferred inferiority.  every manner of sin is attached to their public image; they are often the prime suspects to many an inquest.  is that the spirit with which non-Roma don t-shirts emblazoned with slick graphics denoting their 'G*ypsy Souls'?

oh, look a this - with the ridiculously inaccurate, and therefore doubly insulting - to two cultures, so FOUR times as insulting - excuse for a Native American headdress. 

maybe living in refuge camps and substandard housing without clean, running water or access to other municipal services is what non-Roma people mean when they talk about 'loving their G*psy life!', or makes them proclaim 'G*psy life forever!'?  or maybe they're thinking of the stereotypically hyper-sexualized Romani woman as exotic 'other' trope to be found in literature, film, and theater, like Hugo's Esmerelda or Bizet's Carmen?  maybe they simply mean they want to be like my friends and I who are all just trying to make a living, make ends meet, get the bills paid and have enough left over to get something nice for the kids, have meaningful experiences and warm family moments, living life like the majority of other people on the planet, in our roles in our communities as teachers, police officers, singers, writers, dancers, full-time parents, doctors, government officials, musicians, fashion designers, bakers, athletes, constructions workers, machinists, etc... 

visit Chad Evans Wyatt's work over on his website RomaRising

while it seems romantic to live in a horse-drawn vardo traveling the countryside playing music around the campfire, much of that lifestyle was the necessary result of having to either fend for oneself out in the wilderness, or submit to the aforementioned horrors of oppression and slavery.  and while the Roma were eventually free of legal slavery, if not the stigma of being considered 'untouchables', there are always other expressions of racism lobbed in their direction, always more news of some atrocity or other, as if losing 80% of the total population of an entire ethnic group to the Nazis in World War II wasn't enough.  and the majority of Roma have been 'settled' for several generations, now, it's time to stop perpetuating the myth that we're a traveling people.  we're simply done running.  I know, I'm belaboring the point, but I wanted to make sure to include plenty of backstory for the rest of what I came to the page to say.

for many years, there haven't been people in any kind of position to stand up and talk about this stuff.  I mean, for sure there have been many Roma over the years who have raised their voices repeatedly for long periods of time, and their having done that obviously laid the ground-work for all the great progress made so far, but there are an unprecedented amount of young Roma coming up in the world who have managed to fully utilize all the benefits they could get access to as a means to forward their education and careers, who are doing all manner of amazing work across a variety of fields, and as a result, as A People, the Roma are beginning to be recognized as an ethnic minority it is no longer acceptable to discriminate against (not that it ever was), and that our cultural contribution to the global community is worthy of respect.

Roma Education Fund Early Childhood Education Program

as a woman of Romani descent, even though I wasn't raised in a 'traditional' way, taking part in activism on behalf of the Romani people is something I do as a way to honor my Romani ancestors and heritage.  one of the main ways I am able to do that is by making sure everyone in my circle of family and friends is aware of the issues facing many Roma today, both overseas, and here in the United States.  I bring that awareness out into the wider community by talking to people about how they use 'the G-word' when it sneaks into everyday language, or comes up in conversation.  I approach it on Halloween in the streets, and in songs at the music school.  I write in to the newspaper to let them know their use of the term in specific contexts is prejudiced and misinformed.  I helped a store-owner recognize that she had the creative ability to come up with an even better name for her shop to put on a big sign out front than something that would have been insulting for to me to have to see every day in my local community.  I sign and share petitions concerning Romani issues, and I support Romani artists and endeavors when and wherever I can.  so here is where we get to the meat of my story today ~

this Halloween, while helping to chaperone my friends' and my small tribe of trick-or-treaters as they lay waste to the town's candy supply, one of my friends mentioned to me that they had heard, or read an article about, a new restaurant opening up in the next town by the name of 'The Twisted Gypsy'.  they mentioned it to me because they knew it would matter to me.  deeply.  and they were right.  I went immediately into defensive mode, deciding on the spot that the minute I got home that night I would begin doing everything I could, as fast as I could, to make sure that didn't happen.  I sent an email to the diner up the road from my house, because the guy who owns the diner, my beloved, hometown diner, where my kid and I get our locally-sourced 'eggs any style, rye toast, crispy bacon, and roasted potatoes' with generous tip included for $20, is the very guy who is the one opening up this latest insult on my culture, right here where I live, where I'll have to see it, and hear about it, and deal with pretending it isn't killing me inside a little every day.  and then I'd have to boycott my beloved hometown diner up the road from my house where my kid and I have gotten many soul-healing $20 breakfasts, which supports local agriculture, economy, community, and families.  and that wouldn't feel good.  besides, I'm just a poor, single mom, with little to no pull in this community - this guy owns at least one successful business if not more, and is about to open another one.  what chance do I have to be heard, to be taken seriously, of being respected?

here's the article from when he bought the property:

in my email to the diner, I told them I had heard about the new restaurant, and a rumor about a proposed name for which I suggested the restauranteur sit down with me so I could help him pick a more appropriate name for his new endeavor that did not include a racial slur for my people.  I offered to work together to find a way to move forward as friends and neighbors, in an environment of mutual respect and understanding for each other's cultures.  then I posted the information on facebook.  I told my friends that I had learned of the plans for the new restaurant, the proposed name, and insisted we could not allow it to happen.  I asked them to be ready and willing to support a coordinated action to help the owners understand why finding a new name would win them many new fans and loyal customers.  my friends said they had my back.  then...

article where the 'Twisted Gypsy' rumor began:

a friend of mine who knows the restauranteur stepped in and asked me to hold off on the letter-writing and boycotting, because knowing him to be a fair and decent guy, he wanted a chance to talk to him before I went full social justice warrior on a local business owner over a misunderstanding, and perhaps even facilitate the proposed sit-down I suggested.  knowing my buddy to be a fair and decent guy, I agreed, and he responded promptly with all assurances that the new restaurant would not carry that, or any name like it.  just like that.  I heard about it Wednesday night, by Friday morning I had a second-hand assurance, and on Friday night I had an email from the restauranteur thanking me for reaching out with my concerns.  he explained to me that when he purchased the building and property - having been, in its previous incarnation, a cantina by the name of Gypsy Wolf, which functioned on that spot for 25 years, and was still open when I first moved here, which I never patronized for the offending name, and has since shut down - they needed to form an LLC, and settled on the name 'Twisted Gypsy' by combining a nod to the old Gypsy Wolf, and the twisted willow trees indicated on the site plan.  they had no intention of offending anyone, and do not plan on using that name as part of the new restaurant.  done.

I haven't responded with a thank you email yet, but I'm getting to it.  I keep a file of articles and stories like this on a facebook page I manage called Romani and Allies 'Gypsy' Activism, because as a community, it's important for us to recognize when people make the right choice; like Chef Mitch at Taco Moto in Milwaukee,  Students United Ithaca who refused to whitewash Esmerelda's character in their school musical, a retailer in Dallas who renamed her shop Favor the Kind from something less...kind, and the Actor's Equity Association for renaming their traditional Broadway ceremony, and its accompanying accoutrement.  I am happy to now add to that list the Phoenicia Diner, where they "serve your favorite diner standbys based on locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients from nearby Catskills and Hudson Valley farms."  so they do that, AND respect the culture of their neighbors.  feel free to let them know you appreciate their decision, and integrity.  if you're local, go visit (the food is Amazing, and it's a real friendly place!), if you're within traveling distance, make a weekend of it!  if you're far away, just send a thank you note.  I'm sure they'll enjoy knowing they won a few fans by choosing to be on the side of history that favors inclusion; and in recognizing the importance of the individual ingredients, will find a better name for their soup.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Utter Nonsense Unworthy of Being Read

in accordance with my own parameters, I like to post here once a week as my own personal 'use it or lose it' boot camp.  I only posted twice this past month, and while I'm quick to forgive myself (because it's not like anyone really cares about this blog other than me), I'm still annoyed about it for it's place in the web of other tasks I didn't manage to complete in a timely fashion recently.  I have four drafts that I've been working on for varying amounts of time, according to their relative emotional difficulty to get out on the page, and my own laziness/busyness.  so in the interest of 'getting something out there', I'm going to whip up a list of:

"Things I Think About While Awake at 3am"

  1. why am I awake at 3am?
  2. should I go to bed, or will I just lie there with my eyes open, staring at the ceiling, thinking about everything I could be doing instead?
  3. how long will the logs in the woodstove burn?
  4. what music should I listen to?
  5. what is there to eat?
  6. can I just keep snacking on candy all night/morning?
  7. there are dishes in the sink that need doing.
  8. there is laundry that needs doing.
  9. my bathroom needs to be cleaned.
  10. I need to sign up for the parent-teacher conferences tomorrow.
  11. I need to pay all the overdue bills...somehow.
  12. I shouldn't eat any more candy.
  13. where's the cat?
  14. why didn't I know about that gig that cool band I like played?
  15. I hope everyone got home from Trick-or-Treating safely.
  16. the kitchen floor needs sweeping.
  17. I just ate another piece of candy.
  18. why do I have so much stuff?
  19. why do I censor myself?
  20. will I ever love again?
  21. does it matter, as long as I get to have sex?
  22. this isn't music I'm listening to - it's annoying noise.
  23. when will I finish that 3k-word story?
  24. my desk is a mess - I really need to spend a few hours doing paperwork.
  25. I don't think I'm going to be under 200 lbs. for my 50th birthday.
  26. I could be under 200 lbs. for my 50th birthday if I work really hard at it.
  27. why can't I think of myself as attractive if I'm fat?
  28. there are lots of beautiful fat people.
  29. why are all the people who contact me on dating websites sub-par (for me)?
  30. does that mean I'm sub-par?
  31. how do I up my game?
  32. why do I want to 'up my game'?  I don't have any 'game'.
  33. what is going on in that woodstove?
  34. I ate more candy...
  35. look at all the stuff I have to Read!
  36. it's November - time to batten down the hatches.
  37. should I get the cat a kitten?
  38. can I stop the horribly named restaurant from naming itself so horribly?
  39. will people help support me in getting them to cease and desist?
  40. 'when you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way, from your first cigarette to your last dying day'!
  41. am I pretty?
  42. can someone please Tell me that I'm pretty?
  43. 42
  44. 27
  45. 18
  46. hut, hut, HIKE!
  47. the car is going to need new tires...
  48. I feel disconnected from my spiritual community.
  49. I often feel disconnected from my community.
  50. gotta pee!
I think that might be enough to knock me out for the next three hours before my alarm goes off, but we'll see...we'll see...