Hope for Standing Rock

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Last night I found out that the white men who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were found not guilty.

Then I found out about all of the horrible atrocities the peaceful protesters of Standing Rock were receiving about the same time.  Horses being shot, protesters being pepper sprayed and given broken bones from the militarized clearing of the 1851 camp made me feel like there was no hope left.

Pipe ceremonies have been done, prayers have been said over and over again.  Support has been given, and the stakes for this standoff are so high they are going to affect the world.  And the past several days events have just been so horrible, I didn’t see a way they could win.

Feeling so much despair, I reached out to the spirit in the pipe that I hold.  I asked the spirit, “How could things keep getting so bad?  Was the standoff always expected to go the way of the big oil companies because of some big grand scheme that we were all a part of, yet could not know all of the details?”

And then I see this on my Facebook feed:

Thousands of Wild Buffalo Appear Out of Nowhere At Standing Rock

I damn near cried at my desk at work.

Grandfather might not want to immediately intercede, but he’s letting us know his presence is there through the spirit of the bison.

As long as the bison run free, there will always be hope.

A video is at the link above, and I found another link on You Tube:

 

To help or for more information, see the links below:

Sacred Stone Camp -site with news and information

Red Warrior Camp – Go Fund Me page

 

 

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A Longing

Happy Autumnal Equinox everyone!

As the leaves start to finally turn color around my Midwest stomping grounds, I realize that the brief time for rest is up for me.  It’s time for me to jump into a new project.  Specifically, it’s time for me to build a framework around my beliefs.  this framework is going to include prayers, spells, holiday celebrations – the whole ball of wax so to speak.  The energy for this endeavor is already around and within me.  I feel an ache like I have never before in my heart and gut.  Finally, the culmination of all the work on myself is coming together.  I recognize now that I’m creating things for myself, blending my own beliefs, my ancestral bloodlines and traditions that I feel are right for me into a repeatable, workable methodology.

It will be fantastic to finally feel at home in a tradition I make of my own; a tradition I can share with others if they want to know what it is I do, but mostly one for me, where I know I’m going to make a difference by doing the practices I create for myself.

So with all of the energy spinning around me right now, where the heck is this creative block coming from?

I know that I’m not going to be able to pull everything together in a matter of months.  Heck, it might take me a full year just to figure out what works for what holiday.  And that is fine.  But the surprise is that I’m having a heck of a time writing a prayer right now, much less any ceremonies or spell work.

Writing down this type of thing isn’t new to me.  I’ve been in many covens and written a significant number of rituals for full moons, training rituals, rituals for high holidays, spells, you name it.  And I am longing to do this work.  I ache to do it.  The joy that I have felt over the past year finally figuring out how I ‘fit’ has been fantastic.  I am eager to play my part and move forward.

Yet, as much as I want to, I cannot put into words what it is I am feeling right now; I cannot figure out how to truly convey the simple prayers of adoration that I wanted to start with.  I am literally aching to put pen to paper, yet it feels like the language is totally foreign to me.

Perhaps I stay with this feeling for awhile and just wait for the words to come.  Perhaps I have to start with another prayer, or give up on the thought of using eloquent and descriptive wording for not.  I’m not certain what direction this is going to go.  So right now I’m just going to express my longing for this next project (and a bit of my frustration), and see what the coming days bring to me.

 

If You Want Change, you must Move

cocoon_by_vuzelMany times I see people in the Pagan community who get ‘stuck’.  Through no fault of their own, they get into a position that they don’t seem to get out of.  I myself has fallen into this predicament many times in my life.  It doesn’t matter if it is a physical, spiritual or mental issue.  You become unable to move.  And you may feel so lost that you aren’t sure what way is up.  The situation can feel hopeless.  Many times it may take someone else’s help to start you moving to get out of the situation.

Sometimes people who are stuck like this come to me for an intuitive reading.  I have been honored to be the catalyst for some of these people to realize that there are issues in their life that they need to tend to, and that is what is making them stuck.  And I have been excited to watch as they start to lift themselves out of this situation, strengthen their spirit and find new ways to live and grow.  To see this transformation is a blessing in itself.  Someone who is willing to transform their energy also helps to lift others around them.  I think on these clients that have taken my suggestions and transformed with happiness and joy.  I am amazed at how powerful and strong they become.

I also get clients who aren’t for some reason willing to listen to my suggestions.  One pops out in particular, and I will use them for an example.  The reading brought out that this person’s spouse was cheating on them with the client’s best friend.  In fact, the client confirmed this, and went further to say that the best friend suggested to the client that they stay with their spouse because the spouse loved them so much. But the guidance from the reading was very much in disagreement.  The message I got for the client was that they needed to get out of the situation; that it was toxic for the client’s growth as well as their self-esteem.  Yet later, I ran into the client again at a local pagan event, still very much connected to the cheating spouse and best friend, who were at the event with the client.

Change isn’t easy.  It sounds easy, but it’s not.  In order to change, even a little, we have to be willing to change our habits and thinking.  We have to be willing to try something new and stick with those modifications in order to make a change stick.  It doesn’t matter if this change is physical, mental or spiritual; you have to put in the work to get what it is what you want.

In other words, you have to move toward that change.

The people who cannot move toward the change they wish may not be doing it purposefully.  Counselors are taught that when someone is in a situation they refuse to move from, it is because they are still getting something of value out of that change.  It may be negative feedback they are receiving, but they are still receiving something.  In the case of my client, perhaps they feel that they have an identity as a pushover, or a victim.  The client is getting feedback from the spouse and the best friend to stay in the relationship; in other words stay in the victim and/or the pushover role.   And until the client no longer wants that role, they will not make a move to change.

I know the theory sounds simple, and to those from the outside looking at someone stuck in a situation that is harmful to them, we may be flabbergasted that the person cannot change.  But this is far from simple to the person who needs to do the change.  It takes a great deal of courage to step out of that which is comfortable and try something new.  That is where those of us watching someone who is trying to make a change in their life need to tread carefully.  To us, the change a person is trying to make looks easy; but the person making the change feels like every move toward that change is a significant struggle.

Overall, the entire situation is frustrating for both sides, especially when the person who tries to make a change backslides.  It gets even worse when the person is so tied into the negative situation that they recognize it’s bad and constantly talk about the change they want yet never makes a move toward making things better. This happens a lot.  In cases where the person refuses to change, perhaps they are getting something from the people suggesting the changes.  Perhaps they are getting attention because of the situation they are in, and that is their reward for being in the negative situation. Another possibility is that there could be a reason why the change cannot occur yet.  Perhaps they need to understand what it is that is going on around them before they change, so when they are in a similar situation later, they know what they need to do, or could be of service to someone else facing the same change.

So why am I posting about this now?  It’s because I have seen it yet again this past weekend.  It’s the same scenario – someone wanting change, they were invited to come to a ceremony that would be a catalyst for that change, but suddenly they were not able to attend, even though they expressed an interest in trying to better their situation.  And after the event, those same people again started to lament that forces beyond their control forced them to not make it (which wasn’t entirely the case), and lament their woes because they yet again are stuck in a situation they cannot get out of.

It also doesn’t hurt to enlist help when making changes in your life.  In the scenario I presented above, the client might do well with a certified counselor.  Others may do well by looking into speaking with a trusted friend, a spiritual advisor, finding a support group, getting a divinatory reading or looking for help in an area that they have not yet tried.

Perhaps discussing in this post is the very basic theory of why people do and don’t change will help someone understand why they are stuck.  Perhaps someone will look at this and see the theory that is discussed, and have the a-ha moment to get out of this situation. Maybe not.  But writing about it is something that at least helps me.  I was not the only one who recognized that people who needed and wanted to be there to help get them out of the situation were not present.  I was not the only one this past weekend who gets frustrated with people who frequently complain about their situation but never do anything about it.  And perhaps I needed to re-remember the fact that it is THEIR lives, and perhaps they are stuck, but it isn’t my place to help them get ‘unstuck’ without their being a part of it.  I can’t force them to go do something that would force a change in their life.   They have to do it for themselves.  The only thing I can do is to ensure that should they get to the point where they refuse to help themselves, that I am aware that they are at that point and take care not to get involved in a situation with the person where I get pulled into their drama.

If you are someone who wants to make a change, don’t give up.  Even incremental movement is something.   Just being open to moving out of your comfort zone puts you way ahead of the game.  And for me, if people ask me for help, I’ll be there to do what I can, but it will be up to the person who wants to change to move.

Photo from Deviant Art

Winds of Change (Again)

The only thing that is constant in this life is change.

11 years ago, I attended my first Pennsic as a member of an armored combat unit.  Pennsic is an event of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a medieval reenactment group.  This particular event has been running for 45 years now.

The difference between this event and others is that Pennsic runs for a full two weeks, and is a war between two kingdoms.  So for one of these weeks, roughly 2,000 fighters go out in full armor almost every day and ‘fight’ this war –  by beating the hell out of each other with rattan sticks.

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The Kingdom of the East moving in for the Field Battle – Photo from the East Kingdom Gazette

Oh there are rules to this form of combat – specific armor requirements, specific places on the body you can and cannot hit, specific rules on how large the rattan weapons can be, and plenty of marshals out on the field watching to ensure that no one gets hurt.  But it is combat nonetheless.  And there is a lot of energy being expended in combat, especially when it is on the same field 45 years in a row with 2,000 or more people fighting almost every year.

So being in that first fight was a HUGE catalyst of change for me.

First, there was physical change.  I faced my fear by being out there.  I recognized I had more control over my body than I ever realized.  I didn’t throw up, even though I wanted to.  I didn’t allow my fear to show on my face, and I actually was able to function in the battle, even though I was scared as hell.  There too were also physical changes.  I met my husband on that battlefield, and fought alongside him in that first battle.  Once we started dating, I moved to another state, took another job and ended up purchasing a home in order to be close to him.

Mentally, I found that I had wells of strength within me that I never knew I had.  And those wells of strength have never gone dry, even in the years since that first battle.  I’ve relied on that strength to push me through lots of life changes as well as to learn to heal from issues in my past.  And what surprised me even more was after I got off that battlefield, I recognized that doors opened in my mind that allowed me to recognize what it was I needed to heal from.

Finally, there was a spiritual aspect to those battles.  By claiming my strength and pushing myself I found I had learned new skills I to protect and take care of myself.  Those skills have also served me well.  They have given me confidence that I can handle things that have been thrown at me.  I think the Gods saw this that day.  And their response was basically, “So, you have faced your fears, good for you.  Here are some gifts and more work for you to do.”

Pennsic will be starting again this weekend, and again, I will be attending along with over 10,000 people.  I won’t be on the armored combat unit this year; I had to give that up due to the fibromyalgia.  This year however, I’m trying my hand at fencing.  The battles will not be as rigorous, but they will still be just as intense.

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Defending the Castle is very difficult when you are outnumbered – Rapier battle photo from the Pennsic Independent

And as I make my final preparations to go out there, I’m recognizing that I’m having the same feelings as I did 11 years ago, when the winds of change first started to push me into a new direction for my life.  The feeling of being unsettled started this morning, along with my thoughts moving towards reflection of my life and how it could change.  I decided to set up a meeting with a friend to do some divination on the subject, and by doing so all of the feelings that I had started to intensify.  Change is again on the wind.

Perhaps the changes will be battlefield related, like they were 11 years ago.  Perhaps they will be more related to the classes that I intend to take, as Pennsic is a place to explore many interests – not just those related to combat.

It sounds weird that something that started as a game could have such power to be a significant catalyst for change, but I say from experience is absolutely does.  You just have to do your best to be ready.

Roles within Activism

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This is a post I knew I needed to write, but yet it has taken me quite a long time to figure out what I wanted to say.

You see, I’ve had a very hard time with this subject.  As the media spews more hatred and death and people become more polarized, I’ve known that I need to start figuring out an action plan for me to help heal the world around me sooner rather than later.  I’ve realized that as human beings we can no longer be idle about who we are, what we believe and what we choose to do day in and day out.  We need to stop listening to others and act on what it is we believe deep down in our soul.

I’ve done the work of figuring out what I believe and what I will stand for. And while that work will never be fully done, I feel l can comfortably say what I am and what I am not.   Since I have come to that conclusion, I’ve had this deep nagging in my gut that tells me I need to figure out what to do with this knowledge.

I hear the frequent calls that other pagan blogs and by other people in the pagan community, “Become an activist!”  “Join a Protest!”  “Make your beliefs known to all and that you won’t stand for anything less anymore!” And those are good ideas, for some people.  There are people that can do that day in and day out, and I applaud them for that.  I know it is hard to be out there for your beliefs 100% of the time.  It’s even harder to keep that up and still do the things you need to in order to live.  But I already know I can’t do that.  It isn’t because I want to hide from what is going on around me.  It isn’t because I don’t want to fight for what it is I believe in.  It is because I recognize I am a highly sensitive individual, an empath and sufferer of fibromyalgia.  And I simply can’t do those same things.

I know there are a lot of people out there like me.  We recognize that when we are in a situation that is saturated in anger and hate – no matter where it is at or who it is directed to – we physically hurt from what we feel.  When we become passionate enough to speak up or defend something we see wrong, the raw emotion and power that we hold in our bodies and minds also threatens overwhelm us for hours or even days.  We feel anxiety over having to talk about our beliefs with someone that disagrees – not because we are afraid of speaking out, but because we know that the negative emotion that might leak from those we are talking to will hit our shields and stick like a nasty, dark film that is ever so hard to clean off.  And if we aren’t vigilant about keeping our energy clean, physical sickness is going to come very quickly.

People like me have to know their limits very well; We need to know when we are well enough to push through something, and when we have to immediately stop what we are doing because we are going to hit a mental and physical wall.  And if we try to decide to push against that wall, we know the consequences of that action will be felt for a significantly long time as our bodies, minds and spirits heal.

Now that would happen if someone like me was in the middle of a protest when they have reached their limit or are forced into feeling every emotion because what emotional shields they had are blown away?  What about someone like me who has limited energy and a fogged mind thanks to fibromyalgia being in a heated debate?  Or what about someone like me who is so overwhelmed with anger because they believe they are right that they start to lose their sense of logic? It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  But I know any one of these scenarios could happen to me.  And if I put myself out there like I see other activists do, I would be the one getting the brunt of it and not be able to recover.

Don’t get me wrong – I still do what is needed.  I’ve done it in the past, and I can do it again.  I’ve pushed through that wall by gathering every bit of strength I can and used force of will make it through whatever situation needs to be taken care of.  And I have also paid the price for doing it.  The last time it happened I was down for a full month.  And another two months passed before I was back to the same strength and energy levels that I was before the situation occurred.  So I know I cannot properly take care of myself and still be an asset while I am on the ‘front line’ on a regular basis.

So that pretty much cancels any thought of keeping up in any activist group.  So what is it I can do?

I think I’m halfway to being where I want to be.  I know what it is I believe, and I don’t let anyone else tell me differently.  And I think the fact that I push to understand myself and listen is more rare than it seems.

I recently watched a TV Show called “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”.  In it, there was a clip of a young man, sitting next to his mother, who wanted to start a “Children for Trump” Group.  The video featured this kid going on and on about the virtues of Trump, how President Obama is Muslim, and lots of other statements that came directly out of sound bites from media reports and other politicians.  I’m not going to get into those beliefs, but I do want to point out something else that I think is even more concerning:

This kid was a clone of everything his mother wanted him to be.

He said the right things in her eyes, did the right things in her eyes, and was never taught to think for himself.  I bet you he lives in a comfort zone completed for him by his mother, and is most likely kept from anything that could sway his thinking to something that is outside what his mother wants him to believe or see.   He probably has never asked “why” he believes what he does, he just believes what he spoon is fed to him about what is going on in the world.

That is a big problem.

We need to understand why we have the beliefs we do and not just allow them to be spoon fed into our minds like this poor kid.  We need to question things, and obtain our own sources of information that we feel are right for us.  We also need to expect to be challenged in those beliefs and sources, but not in a negative way.  We need to have open conversations about things, and have the courage to change the belief patterns.

So basically, in order to help heal the divisions, we need to do some of what I talked about in my last post.  I firmly believe in what Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”  If I want the world to be more understanding, I have to be more understanding.  If I want to understand why other people believe what they do, then I need to learn why they believe it.  We can’t be spoon-fed beliefs anymore.  We need to find what works for ourselves, and be ever willing to learn something new, even if it challenges the current belief system we have.

A couple months ago I would have thought that what it is I am doing – challenging my own belief systems to really dig deep into my own morals and beliefs – would be enough to be considered an activist in today’s world.

But I don’t think it is anymore.

I think it is a huge first step, and it would go a long way to healing many of the issues we see today, but it’s no longer enough.

So the question now becomes, what else can I do?  Give money?  Volunteer?  Or is it that if I am not on the ‘front line’ that I am not doing anything of value to the cause of stopping this polarization that we find ourselves in?  It’s a very tough question, and at this time I still don’t know how to answer it fully.  But perhaps the answer is different for each one of us.  Perhaps what I am doing is enough for me, and what someone who attends the protests is doing enough for them.  Perhaps those who cast spells or actively pray to make the world a better place is doing the best they can as well.

I know that if I see an issue, if I see someone who is bullying someone of a different religion or race I’m going to say something about it, and try to deescalate the situation if I can.  I know that if I hear something that is derogatory, I’m also going to speak up (and already have done that in my workplace more than once).  But perhaps that is all I am meant to do – to find the beliefs that settle my soul the best and to live by them.

It’s at least a good start.

I know that I still have to do some thinking on this topic.  The thought of being more active still stirs my soul for some reason.  Perhaps it is enough to have conversation about it, perhaps not.  but if I come up with any other ideas, I’ll write about them here.  And as always, thoughts are welcome.

Photo from Deviant Art

A Suggested Call to Action

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My sister in law, who lives in the United Kingdom, shared with me an article about how Brits are fighting the racial abuse after the vote to leave the EU.  You see, they are doing it by wearing safety pins.

By wearing a safety pin, you are signaling that you are willing to intervene when you see racial or xenophobic abuse.  You are also signaling that someone who is foreign born can sit next to you on a bus or train and that person will not be hassled.

This is huge.  It’s a great way to show solidarity, but as the woman who originated the idea said, it is also a PLEDGE.  It’s a pledge that you are going to step in and help someone in need who is being abused.  It’s a pledge that you will film encounters for evidence, and that you will call the police if necessary.

I’d love to see this go viral here in the United States, but not just include immigrants.  We also need to pledge that we won’t allow bullying against the LGBT community, and that we will pledge to do what we can to stop abuses against women.

So what are your thoughts?  Is this something we in the United States should consider?

For more information – check out http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/29/europe/brexit-uk-immigrant-population-racism/

Photo from Deviant Art

A Story About A Choice

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I want to tell a story about something that happened to me today.  this event was very profound, as nothing like this had ever happened, especially when I was at work.

I am lucky to work for a company that has a mile nature trail on its campus.  Many associates take advantage of this trail.  Some do it for the exercise, or just to take a break from the daily grind.  I do it for that, but I also realize that there are a significant number of spirits in the woods and in the stream near the trails.  So i frequently also send a mental ‘shout out’ to them as I walk by.  There have also been many times that I have had conversations with the ones that choose to speak to me, and from those conversations, I’ve learned a lot about the path that I am currently on.

Today however, things were very different.  I took the path at a fast clip, as there was another associate who was also walking, and my introverted self didn’t really want to walk near the associate and try to facilitate small talk.  He, recognizing that I had much longer legs than he did and was walking much faster, allowed me to pass, and off I went into the first leg of the wooded part of the trail.

And I immediately spotted a large brown and white feather right in the middle of the trail.

Without thinking, I scooped the feather up mid-stride, and never broke my pace.  The feather reminded me of one of a red tailed hawk, a predatory bird that is frequently seen where I live.  However I knew that it was not.  It also seemed beaten up, much like if the bird had lost it in a fight.  I knew that my seeing the feather was a sign of something, as there is very rarely any feathers on this trail that I walk on a frequent basis.

That’s why the second feather was so surprising when I saw it.

This one was all black, like it had come from a blackbird, raven or crow.  Again, all three have been seen around the area, so I really had no way of knowing.  However, this one, unlike the brown and white one, was perfectly formed and surprisingly longer than most.

When I first saw the feather, I walked by it.  After the third step I felt like I had to turn around and get it, to which I did.  The associate I passed was still in range, and watched me walk back to get the second feather.  I quickly took up my fast pace in order to not have any questions asked of me, and overtook a second group of associates walking the trail to get some distance.

As I was carrying the feathers, I took a trail not rarely used (it was full of mud – I didn’t care) in order to double back and make sure a proper ‘thank you’ was said for the feathers.  As I said, they are very rare on these trails, so I had thought that I was very fortunate to find two on the same day, not 20 feet from each other.

When I doubled back, I found that I was the last associate to utilize the trails for that lunch hour.  So I had it all to myself.  And after a proper ‘thank you’, I was off.

As I continued to the farthest part of the trail, I realized that these feathers were more significant than I had originally thought.  While I wasn’t told specifically what each feather meant, I was told that one of the feathers would have to go back to the trail, and with it, a choice was to be made in my spiritual practices.

The beat up one seemed to symbolize my past.  It symbolized the abuse, it symbolized how hard I had pushed through to heal from everything, but it also symbolized all of the strength that I had gained and the spiritual allies that came to my aid.  At least that is what I sort of ‘assumed’.  I was never able to get a straight answer.

The black feather I think symbolized the unknown.  And from it I could sense that there was a hint of a gateway to transform into something that I was not yet able to become.  In the metaphysical sense, I could tell this feather contained no darkness, but yet it contained no light.  The only thing that I could truly comprehend from the energy was that it contained the beginnings of something new.

At this point I was coming to the second trail, which has a bridge over a fast flowing stream.  I was told that I could not keep both feathers; that one had to be dropped into that stream.  And if I chose not to drop one of the feathers, there would be some sort of consequence that I would be choosing to face.

Now I was still at work, and even though I am allowed to take a longer lunch hour, I knew I had to get back to my desk as I was expected for meetings.  It was only within a matter of moments that I was going to get to the bridge and cross it.  And even though it was a short distance, I was surprised at how much dread, pain and longing I felt.  Even though the meanings of the feathers were never truly clear, I knew they had some significant importance, and I didn’t have any time to study or understand that importance.

So onto the bridge I went, and as requested, one of the feathers went into the water.  I watched as it spiraled down and the current carried it under the bridge and down the stream.  For a moment, I thought about going down and trying to grab it as I saw it head toward the bank, but thought better of it.  Instead, I quickly walked away before I could see if it would get stuck.

The second feather now sits on my desk, next to a feather I had found on another walk, and three stones I used for focus and meditation during the day.  the feather sits in the middle of the three stones, much like a small altar in between my two monitors.

I am unsure of all of the intricacies of what it is I have chosen.  All I know and believe is that I have chosen to step away from that which I know and into the unknowns of a new path, one that will hopefully lead me to becoming someone who knows myself well, and can utilize what I know I am for the good of myself and those around me.