Posted by: naiadis | August 31, 2014

on Compassion and Setting Boundaries

Long-time followers of this blog will know that, in sharing the ups and downs of my path, it is incredibly important to me that I keep shit real. We as people are encouraged to write about the good things, to talk about the good things, to share the positive stuff, to put a positive spin on things, to put on a happy face. I don’t believe that this is always a bad thing – I believe that there is honest sincerity in the “fake it until you make it” adage, and that for some people that works. I also know that for some, airing things publicly is the worst thing they can do in order for them to move beyond whatever “it” happens to be. I’m not going to make that call for anyone else. For myself, in knowing myself, in knowing my quirks, and also in knowing what has helped me, when reading about other peoples’ experiences, I can say: transparency. Keeping shit real. I love my gods, I love the conscious living that I strive for, I love my family, I love this semi-secluded lifestyle Beth and I have going on. But there are ups and downs. It’s not perfect. There are struggles, some the type you would expect, and others the type that you really can’t prepare for. And, more often than not, the struggles fall somewhere in the huge range between the two extremes.

Currently, I’ve got some stuff going on in the non-spiritual part of my life centered and is more potential hassle than actual big bad thing. I’m hesitant to label people as toxic, and I’m always mindful of compassion when dealing with people I’d rather not be dealing with. I’m also wretched at standing up for myself, and unexpected questions (“Can we do X?”) throw me for a loop and wind up with me making ‘maybe’ responses that I later feel badly backing down from. Giving our word matters, and never mind that there is a huge difference between ‘giving my word’ and ‘maybe'; in my default mindset, my wants and needs matter less, so it’s nothing to sacrifice my time/comfort/own goals in order to do this other thing for this other person who isn’t really much in the way of a friend. There is added grey areas when I find myself conceding that said person is likely being as good of a friend as they know how to be. It is simply not where I’m at in my life. Worse, we have nothing that I rate as important in common. They are not spiritually minded; they are more social/more extroverted/they are not interested in metaphysical stuff/writing/history/anything really that we could have common ground in, and I am more a listening ear than anything else.

There is no perceivable-as-kind way to say, ‘We aren’t really friends, you aren’t really friend material for me, I’m not interested in cultivating a friendship’. That said, how much of my own comfort do I give up to try to be kind to someone whose presence is not welcomed in my life? Does it matter, to a point, that that sounds terribly cold? Am I so concerned about compassion for others that I’m ignoring my own compassion, and self-care?

So, currently: I have a full time job outside the home. I have a very full and fulfilling spiritual practice that I’m not willing to give up even a little bit. I have a chronically ill partner, two chronically ill (one of which is also terminally ill) family members, and, thanks to humbling support of some generous fans, a steady part time writing job that I desperately need to find more time to sink into. (Website! Formatting! Editing! Things to learn and do well!) That doesn’t count the friends and family I am struggling to keep in steady contact with. I’m not saying I’m closed to meeting new people and making new friends – but I really don’t want to do that in ‘real’ time, in ‘real’ life. I certainly do not want to get together with people to go shopping or to hang out and chat small talk stuff or bitch about the annoyances of our daily lives. That’s not to say that I don’t do those things, because I do. But, I do them with my family.

That thought brings me to: my idea of family does not meet the cultural standard for ‘family’. Because when I say ‘family’ . . . there are layers, right? It’s a group of concentric circles. There’s a hierarchy. I’m fucking tribalistic when it comes to understand human relationships, and that’s not about to change. Even when we’re talking about global communities, that falls in a tribal landscape for me. So I have immediate family, and the extended family and it goes out from there. I don’t really seem to have casual friends – if you are a trusted member in my heart, you’re part of the family, ranging from immediate to extended – and, you need not be human, is another bit that is maybe different from ‘normal’ society’s understanding of family. The hierarchy, one’s placement within those circle, is largely dependent upon 1)how much you factor in my day to day life and 2) how dependent upon me you are for your well being, shelter, care, etc. Call me cold, but being a blood relative doesn’t get you an automatic ‘in’ – though in my life, those who are blood are pretty high up in those circles. I have more blood relations that I don’t really know one way or the other, and I have one in particular who, despite a shared history, is not my family, will not be my family, is a hair’s breadth away from being part of the “and everybody else in the world” crowd.

The friendships that I cultivate, the people that are part of my “spiritual family”, are inside the family circles. They are trusted and they get to see bits of me that other people may not. I don’t have casual friendships – I have family, and I have acquaintances. This is my preference.

This is the important part for me. I like it this way. I’ve cultivated my life to have it be this way. I live a semi-secluded life. I don’t make spur of the moment plans. I want weeks advance warning. Hell, the people I adore and miss terribly, I still need to make phone dates with as much to factor in our schedules as to give myself time to psych myself up for the phone call. Interacting with people is exhausting for me, and it’s part of my full time day job. It’s not not exhausting because sometimes it’s the people I love dearly. (I’m more willing to talk to people I love dearly when I’m feeling like I’d rather scream than have a conversation, than I am willing to talk to people I’m ambivalent about) I have my home life the way I want it to be. My time home, away from errands and away from the day job, is my retreat from the world at large that I need and, more to the point, want. This is what I keep getting drawn back to. Want. This is what I want. And is it my responsibility to help other people who aren’t part of my family to gain what they want, simply because I am good at putting my own wants aside for other people?

I am naturally a care-giver type person. This is not a bad thing. I am able to provide for my family with this particular skill set and ability and willingness to set my own issues aside when they need me. I’m easy going – for the most part I don’t have day to day plans when it comes to projects and goals, and I don’t care enough about a lot of things to get overly worked up. I’m way more of a beta type than an alpha type personality. But in this, in establishing boundaries and feeling like I have a right to said boundaries, this is to my detriment. I’m 36 this year; this is beginning to feel pathetic.

I’m trying to institute stock answers. “I’ll have to check my schedule.” “You know, that sounds like it could be fun, but I really don’t have the time.” They feel forced when I practice them, but they’re not exactly untrue. The truth is: I have two days off a week. One day is for running errands and spending with Beth, our only day off together. The other day is my writing day. So I’m not lying when I say I don’t have time. It may be “I don’t want to give you that time,” because essentially that’s what I’m saying – but shouldn’t that be a given when said person is not my partner? But my stupid brain. I say things like, “I’m working that day,” and it runs with “but you’re not working at your real job/you can write any time/insert all excuses they could think of here.” Given enough breathing room I arrive at knowledge that, if what is important to me isn’t a factor to them at all, they have no place in my life. But out of the blue questions don’t give me that breathing room, so “I’ll have to check my schedule,” is better. Really, what I want is to be comfortable saying, “No.”

And I’ve tried – because bitching aside, said person is not someone I dislike, although in my course of not standing up for my actual wants, there’s an association of dislike, and that’s on me really, my fault for not honoring those boundaries in the first place – I’ve tried to give said person some of my time, now and again, and then they get graspy about it. Clingy. Let’s do more things, let’s go places, let’s hang out. The kindest answer at this point, simply, no. If that makes me an asshole in their eyes, then I’m an asshole.

Situations like these, I wish so badly I had an easy way to say, “My house is my cloister and I leave it only when I must.”

(Our Pagan Cloister. Beth, maybe we should rename our house? Hrmm . . . )

I know that this is something I need to get under control. I know that this means, most immediately, there is going to be some “breaking of my word”, and disappointment on their part. The question is: am I okay with that enough to put my family and writing and wants first? The answer is: yes. But it’s still going to be annoying and bad-feeling-making to deal with. Why is it on me to care about other peoples feelings and what they do with them?

Frustrated. Keeping it real, and right now, real is frustrated.

naiadis:

This I am _extremely_ pleased to share. Odin, yay Odin!!! *rubs hands*

Originally posted on Wytch of the North:

A little more than a year ago, I put out a call for submissions for Prayers to the Allfather, a book of prayers and rituals for Odin. Well, despite a number of people being kind enough to share my CFS across the internet, I received exactly three submissions. Due to various factors in my life at the time, I just wasn’t feeling equal to writing the bulk of a book of prayers on my own (since when I think prayers, I think poetry, and I am not primarily a poet), so I reluctantly shelved the project for a while.

Then I got to thinking: maybe a prayer book is too limiting. Maybe most other pagans, witches and polytheists out there also shy away from writing prayers for public consumption, either because they feel too personal, or because (like me) they associate them with poetry and feel unequal to the task…

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Posted by: naiadis | August 30, 2014

Call For Submissions for a Beloved Dead Devotional

naiadis:

So, I’m a bit late to this party. I’ll be honest — I thought about spreading the word for this project so often, my brain decided eventually that I already _had_ reblogged it. Oops! I’m very excited about this project, cannot wait to get my hands on the book.

Originally posted on Foxglove & Firmitas:

I said I wasn’t going to start this, and yet here I am anyway…  Doing the Work.

Crossing the River: A Devotional to Our Beloved Dead

Calling for submissions for Crossing the River: A Devotional to Our Beloved Dead, edited by Camilla Laurentine (and possibly others to sign on at a later date). Submissions open August 7th, 2014 and close February 28th, 2015.

The intention of this devotional is to build a source book of modern meditations, hymns, prayers, and other resources for death workers working in our greater community. All Pagan and Polytheist traditions are welcome and encouraged to submit to this project.

Submissions should fall into one of three categories: Vigil of the Dying, For the Recently Deceased, and Funerary Tools. They may include, but are not limited to meditations, poems, hymns, prayers, original retellings of myths, rituals, and scholarly articles with a…

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Posted by: naiadis | August 25, 2014

Where’s the Support?

naiadis:

Reblogging this because Columbine sums it up better than I could hope to. Those who fought before us so that we could even get this far may not have been on the exact same path, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t reaping those benefits. Just so, we need not be on the exact same path to support those whose paths are parallel to our own. I do not see myself ever hoping to have a public temple like this — my talents, passions, and skill sets do not lie in that direction — but that does not mean that this outcome doesn’t effect me, isn’t important to me.

The dominant religious groups _cannot_ be allowed to decide for everyone what does or does not make a valid religion or religious group, what constitutes a legitimate place of worship. There are at least 10,000 pagans in the US. Every dollar helps. Don’t be the person who decides that your dollar won’t be missed. I’ve donated — have you?

Originally posted on Queen of the Waiting Ones:

So, I’m curious and have a question for all the super serious Pagans, Polytheists and other Alternative Religious folks out there who so often proclaim that they are all about founding new temples and other types of religious worship areas for those of our kind.  Where exactly, is your support for the Maetreum of Cybele?

I know most of you have read the recent Wild Hunt article detailing the Maetreum’s struggle against the Town of Catskill, NY, where government officials there have vowed to spend the Maetreum into bankruptcy, despite the Town’s losses in court.  Is it because you are tired of hearing about the priestesses’ plight?  If so, why haven’t you donated anything to help ease their burden?  This lawsuit has been going on for several years, and if you think you are tired and burnt out with it, just imagine if you were one of the priestesses.  Priestesses…

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Posted by: naiadis | August 18, 2014

Poseidon Hippios

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Poseidon Hippios is a festival I hold in honor of er, Poseidon Hippios, every year. Recently I’ve had the occasion to sit and think back, and I’m realizing that I’ve held this holiday for Poseidon, in one form or another, going back thirteen years although I’ve only been holding it continuously for nine. It is the longest running of my various Poseidon holy days. Like with pretty much all of them, this one is something of a working ritual as well. There are no horse sacrifices or mock-sacrifices held in His honor; instead there is petition prayers for the well being of our equine cousins. There is energy work. There is a reminder of the horrors that are committed against those who are denied sovereignty over their lives, and, as alway, there’s a reminder as to why, again and again, I find myself compelled toward a vegetarian default with a heavy emphasis on ethical meat consumption and consumerism. I fail at this much more than I succeed, because our world is not set up for this to be embraced nearly as much as I’d like it to be. It’s not enough, in my mind, to replace animal made products with synthetic alternatives whose creation destroys as much as it saves, and so I struggle. A lot. And I fail, all the time.

I’ve talked about it before, how for a while I was one of those holier-than-thou pagan types, in my food consumption if nothing else. I ate locally and organically. The meat I consumed was raised within a hundred miles of where I live, if not closer, and it was slaughtered humanely. We spent a fortune on our food, and we felt good about ourselves . . . but we can no longer do that and provide for our own needs. We have an increasingly expensive dog and one cat with medical needs as well. We have a tighter income than we used to have. The produce I buy comes from all over the world, though I still try to eat to match our local seasons, but that’s not based on what I can get, that’s purely aesthetics. We’re easing into eating more meat again (we lighten it for summer, eat more of it during the Hunt Season) and while we always endeavor to purchase meat that was raised ethically and treated humanely up through the end process, we don’t always stick to that. There are times when I am exhausted by having to be so focused all the time, when I can’t muster up the wherewithal to be so damned conscientious.

Because we’re not set up for it, in this culture. Because sometimes there are no options available that meet our ideals. Because sometimes we simply can’t afford it, and if I can spend $40 on groceries to see Beth and I through a week, or $40 on groceries that won’t take us more than three days, you can guess which one I’m picking. This stumbling has taught me, continues to teach me compassion, and humility. It reminds me, constantly, to keep it real.

So, too, does it remind me to keep my practice real. Once upon a time, this meager spread would have embarrassed me. Despite Poseidon’s insistence that He does not desire Stuff. This has historically been a simple affair — generally sugarcubes and apples, carrots, oatcakes if I though of them enough ahead to make them. A prayer to Pegasos, to Sleipnir, to Poseidon. Some wine. Fancy fairtrade sugarcubes. Organic apples and carrots, locally made wine. Only the best, right?

Today there were no apples, no sugarcubes, no oatcakes. Hell, no wine. There was incense, and carrots – baby carrots, even, with no tops — from Winco. They came from a bag, not from the soil to the market to me. Who knows where they came from? A candle burning that I know is not beeswax. These are the things I have in my house. These are the things I can afford right now, and of them all, all Poseidon desires of me is my time. The energy work.

Ideals are wonderful things to have. Don’t let them turn you into an unbending, uncompassionate pagan. Do not let them make you miserable. Do not let them keep you from your altar, from your gods, from your devotion. Our gods want us there. They want our attention and our love, our time. They want us sharing our lives with them. Strive for your ideals, by all means, but do not be caged in by them. Do not let them render you too afraid to move, for fear of moving wrong, for fear of stumbling.

Giving these offerings to Poseidon should not have been the self-inflicted guilt trip I inevitably make it be. Do not be like me, in this.

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First: Beth’s got some new, elemental ritual cords up for sale — do yourself a favor and check those out! Hand-spun, hand-dyed, hand-sewn beauties! Her ritual cords are one of her most popular items, and for good reason! I love watching these things come into creation.

Also blog- and vlogospheres:

I came across this touching blog post that reminds me, as I think of the troubles half the world away, in Gaza, in Iraq, in Nigeria — or even the troubles closer to home (I’m looking at you, Ferguson, but Detroit, you’re not that far behind) — that there are people in this world who get it, regardless of what their faith may be, regardless of what path they walk and which gods walk with them. It reminds me to be compassionate, and gives me something to cling to. As I pray my nightly prayers for oh-too-many who are suffering, as I purposefully expand outside of my bubble, this is the tool I use to keep myself from embracing apathy and despair, and I will take whatever tool I can find to fight that battle.

Another blogpost that’s stuck with me this week has been Heather’s post regarding the concept of community worker as a default setting for any and all spirit workers and/or people involved with the spirits. Beth’s reblog commentary is also worth a read. Let me add to this: I know all too well how caught up in the idea of The Work we can get, especially when others are talking about their Work. My “Work” with Poseidon has always, always been about healing, both self-healing and other-healing. What it’s never really been about has been human-healing. I do have Reiki as part of my particular skill set, and that is human-healing that I do offer, but I do not go out of my way to offer Reiki sessions to people in general. I do semi-regularly offering Reiki sessions to various Other Folk, but if I could be accused of serving a community at Poseidon’s behest, it has never been one that is human-centric. Even when I was doing these offerings four times a month (I had them tied to the moon phases, but that is too much and it fell to the wayside for me) it was something I wanted to do, not something He decided I had to do. I wanted to do something Meaningful(tm) with my life, and if I wasn’t going to go to school to be a vet tech or to help with people, by golly I could do this little thing. At the end of the day, though? I want to write stories. The healing work that I do it by and large for me, and it involves Others, but not other people much, and that’s fine. And it’s stuff I’ve instigated, not stuff Poseidon has wanted me to do, or ordered me to do. They can. They do — I’m not saying it won’t be about the Work, for some. And, it is for me, too — but my Work is writing my stories. It’s sharing the parts of my religious life that I’m (mostly) (more or less) comfortable sharing. It’s living my pagan, polytheistic, married-to-a-god, bound-to-another god life somewhat openly, because in this part of the country that I live I can do so without many negative ramifications. That is my activisim. To live visible all the fringe-ish parts of my life, so that we are not in the shadows, so that we are not pushed back into the darkness, so that those who come after us can live openly, too. They won’t be my daughters or my sons through blood, but they will be, at least in spirit.

I believe that the Gods can get Their messages across without us. How many years of monotheistic tradition has separated us from our pagan ancestors, and look, we are calling the Gods back, more and more and more. No, I don’t believe the Gods need us in order to connect with our descendants five centuries from now . . . but how great will it be for those descendants to not have to do the work we’ve had to do to get as far as we’ve gotten. So, the Gods can do it without us . . . but should They have to?

Speaking of living, breathing traditions, I’ve watched some neat videos this week, as well. (And made some!)

Here’s a glimpse of our Poseidon shrine here at the Nunnery. Hail Poseidon!

Silence has posted a tour of one of his shrines, which of course you should check out. (Watch the rest while you’re there!)

Miaerowyn recorded a response to the 7 Witchy Questions tag, and I’m so glad that she did!

And last, but not least, Beth’s made a tour of our Odin shrine, which you can watch:

Posted by: naiadis | August 13, 2014

Book videos!

I’m not sure why I’m so late jumping onto the Youtube bandwagon. I could hardly sleep last night, for all the ideas of videos I wanted to make. (And possibly equally due to the fever I was experiencing).

Here’s Beth’s video about her recent (library) book haul. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksWCJqHnaXA

And here is Silence’s response! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMBy_-VoyxM

You know, books are pretty awesome. What are you guys reading right now?

Posted by: naiadis | August 13, 2014

7 Witchy (Pagan/Polytheist) Questions

naiadis:

Beth and I made a video! Together! So that was fun. Corbie makes an appearance and Neech (sort of) does as well!

Originally posted on Wytch of the North:

This is a meme started by Ember HoneyRaven on You-Tube that Jo and I decided to answer together. If you enjoy making videos too, or would prefer to answer in your blog–consider yourself tagged!

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When I see photos or videos of other people’s witchy spaces and shrine spaces, when they are wall to wall bookshelves with shrine spaces tucked into shelves, I envy both their abundance of books and their abundance of bookshelves. We are currently not set up to have that, and I go back and forth anyway, with whether I want more table top shrine spaces or spaces tucked into shelves. The only downside to having them in shelves, far as I can see, is it limits one’s candle-burning options. If the upper shelf is to close to the open flame, bad things happen. I’m comtemplating a book purge anyway, because there are books I haven’t touched in ages and I have a strict “if I don’t reread it/am not sentimentally attached to it/if I don’t reference it for a number of years, it must go,” rule. There are books that will never go, even if I don’t read them again, but then there are books that could be given away to make room for new books.

Yesterday I rearranged the shelves that hold our beloved animal dead. I’m thinking about additional spacing for shrines in general mostly due to realizing that, with the next few passings, we are going to need more room. Since our last move, the remains had been sitting on the top shelf of one of our taller book cases, with our beautiful statue of Bast on the top of the actual bookcase, presiding over the whole room. We liked the feel of that statue being up there, above all of us — it touched nicely upon the position our four legged companions have in our household and our hearts. It also, unfortunately, meant climbing upon a chair every time I wanted to leave Her an offering. Between that and Angel making general unsettled/unhappy comments and impressions, I figured it was time to change things a bit. So I flipped the shelf of books that is at about eye level with the shelf that had the remains, and I pulled the Bast statue down to reside on that shelf. The result is a better feel over all, but also heartbreaking. It brings them — Sassy and Orion, Princess and Angel and Amadeus — more obviously into our living quarters, and reminds us both of the loss of their physical presence and of their continued presences and influence in our lives. It’s a good heartbreak, if that makes sense.

I rearranged the Poseidon shrine a few days ago, and I keep trying to make a video of that so I can share, but our lighting sucks in our house, and the shrine is against a dark wall, and it’s impossible to see. I’m going to try again, because I want to share, because I want there to be Poseidon-specific content videos up on my channel, damn it, but I just need to figure out some lighting options.

In other news — August is the month that I typically hold my Poseidon of the Ponds ritual. I also typically aim to have that happen somewhere around the 8th of the month. This year, instead, there was back issues. It’s been a weird August here in that there has been rain. Not a lot, but there’ve been days when I’ve woken up to wet ground outside, so that’s been both neat and a tad unsettling. Funny, how we get used to specific patterns and when they’re broken, we’re all, “Buh?” I’m planning on heading over to Delta Ponds (my original site for this ritual, though I’ve been sticking closer to home the last few years) next Sunday or Monday, providing that my back continues to heal as it’s been doing. There may even be pictures! (From my phone. Let’s not get too excited.)

Writing is happening, on a consistent basis. I haven’t really stopped writing since I started last year. The one story I’ve been working on since April is a few hundred words from being finished. It should end up around 45k. I have three stories planned to follow. My writing is paying a bill, right now. I’m not living off it, I can’t quit my day job to stay home to write, but it’s paying a bill. Consistently. That’s sort of surreal to me, still. What’s annoying about this is I am finally, finally able to, unapologetically, put a priority on my writing when it comes to other, outside commitments, without feeling guilty. This is annoying, because why was that so hard to do before? Writing has always been this important to me. Why does outside, objective –albeit small — success lend credibility? It should be enough that what I want to do with my free time is usually write. Why are we so silly sometimes?

Posted by: naiadis | August 11, 2014

A book video.

So, I did a book haul video. It’s a temporary haul, because they’re library books, but it’s what I’ve got. Enjoy!

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