Confessions, cont.

Veiling. I began veiling back in 2008, because Poseidon asked me to. It started while I was still in Philly, and I veiled sporadically. When we moved to Oregon, I began covering full time. I’ve researched veiling as a religious practice in various traditions, I’ve played around with different types of styles and fabrics, I’ve watched pagan veiling grow as a movement, from a handful of pagans talking about it, to seeing hundreds of pagans talking about it.

I point to a number of reasons why I enjoy veiling. Eight years ago, it helped set me apart — and eight years ago or more I was big on being set apart. I envied monastics of various traditions who could don garments to make it obvious to the outside world that they were not like other people, that they were not for the typical, normal life that society ascribes to us. I wanted more than my wedding band, carved with Poseidon’s name (spelled wrong!) to set me apart. I’m no great beauty, but I’m friendly, and I’m short and I’m round and I can be cute, and now and again I do get hit on — and I wanted that to happen less. Wedding rings that don’t look like wedding rings are no discouragement, but veiling is. I look younger than my age, and people discount my life experiences — ageism is a thing, and it’s an annoying thing. It’s never okay to dismiss people because they’ve been alive a shorter amount of time than you have been, but it’s a special kind of galling when your peers do it to you, assuming you are ten or twenty years their junior. Veiling helped with that. I’m short, and people see me as approachable — and veiling helped with that, as well.

It also helped me take myself seriously, as a devotee, as a godspouse, and, sadly, as a woman and not a girl. It made me feel more like an adult than anything else has, and this has me wondering all about a lack of rites of passage in our society.

Veiling has helped me not care whether or not I  blend into the crowd. This has been incredibly rewarding.  I grew up a jeans and teeshirt sort of person, and it took veiling and a shove toward modest dress to get me to explore skirts and flowy clothing. For a while I wore these things exclusively. I’m back into jeans and tees, but it’s different now. I’m not doing it to hide, I’m doing it because it’s preferable (and I hate the way my sneakers look with skirts, and my gout insists on sneakers). I’m hard on my clothes, I hate shopping, jeans last longer, and I can wear the same pair over and over again. Mostly, I hate shopping.

It has helped me when in crowds. It’s helped me when in the sun. It’s helped me not worry about the fact that my hair is thin, has always been thin, and that female pattern hair loss is in my reality.

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A lot of the things veiling has helped with, medication for the depression is also helping with. Crowds don’t bother me like they used to. Random people approaching me does not overwhelm me like it used to. On a practical level, I worry about veiling in our current political climate. People should be able to dress however the fuck they want, and taking off a veil that is tied to my religious experience because I’m intimidated has me wanting to say fuck you to anyone who thinks their opinion on how people dress, and for whatever reasons, matters one bit. I get to veil. Christians get to veil. Muslims get to veil. ANYONE GETS TO VEIL. But I can’t pretend I don’t worry.

On  a less practical level: my veiling is so tied up with Poseidon-as-Poseidon, and I wonder/worry, is my associating my veiling for Poseidon tying me too hard to Poseidon-as-I-perceived-Him, and keeping me from going deeper with Him?

On a know-thyself level, I’m a creature of habit trying to become a creature who flows with change. Defaulting to veiling because I’ve done it for eight years, because everyone in my immediate surroundings expect me to do so, makes me want to stop. Or at least, not veil all the time.

On a fuck-vanity, keep it real level, I’m all about owning the fact that hey, I’m losing my hair, and maybe I want to try out some wigs, too. Fuck-vanity maybe should be telling me that I shouldn’t care that my hair is super thin, that you can see my scalp through it, but I’m telling vanity that I am the boss of me and if I want t wear fucking wigs, I can.

No decision happening immediately. Just, playing around with the thought. Mostly, I’m posting to tell my vanity to fuck off. I will not be embarrassed or ashamed that I have female pattern hair loss. I will not pretend it doesn’t exist, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to not talk about it like it’s taboo. My brothers went bald in their late teens/early twenties. I made it to nearly 40, and I can still at least attempt comb-overs. Women have facial hair. Women go bald. It’s not new, and it’s not taboo.

 

Confessions, or saying out loud the things I want to keep most quiet.

and because I’m mad into lists right now . . .

Depression. Once upon a time, back in May? June? when I had my last check in with my doctor, she expressed a desire to see about having me come down on my medication, or completely off, beginning in March. I’m on 20mg of fluoxetine. I started at 10mg, and that helped me not want to sleep all the time. 20mg turned me into an actual, honest-to-gods person who could do things like handle stress without shutting off. I have marveled, since then, that I do not recognize myself. Why do I say that?

In the time since I started taking anti-depressants, I have (in no particular order): applied for, interviewed for, and landed a new job with excellent benefits and a wage that would be considered a living wage, if not for all my expensive critters; I have formatted and released a number of e-books; set up an Etsy shop; written and released two e-booklets; launched two projects (which, granted, have foundered a bit); addressed the whole Poseidon-and-Vishnu thing with my head out of the sand and embraced a certain willingness to be uncomfortable; written the bulk of When Worlds Collide II and III; formatted a book for a friend; traveled to Massachusetts to visit family and friends; did not require months of recovery time; hosted not one but two sets of houseguests; dealt with Corbie’s myriad ups and downs; made a slew of new friends; did some beta reading.

Yeah. FUCK yeah. Oh, and also: faced (am still facing) mounting medical financial debt, despite the help of generous people, because it took way too long for me to get tho the point where I was able to look for a better paying job. (Good benefits? Shift differential on Sunday? What?What??) and crap kept happening. All of these thing combined, and I’m still not a walking zombie.

I fucked up my medication a bit,  adapting to my new schedule, and I’m finally getting back to okay with that, and that’s awesome. I’m also recognizing that, to a small extent, I let myself become burned out on all the doing. For a few months all I was doing was going to work, working long hours, coming home, and being social and available to people who needed me or wanted to chat. I value the new friends I’ve made, and I value that I know some things and can help people with some things — I can’t help by being physically near, and I can’t help by throwing money at a problem, and so the small skillsets I have, I want to offer — and more to the point, I can offer, for the first time in my life.

So I offered a lot. Or a bunch of little things to a lot of people, and it’s built up. Add in worry over loved ones in these tumultuous times, and the time of year, and yeah . .  . I’m having dreams almost every night of my grandparents, and it’s sweet and good to get to visit with them, but it’s also emotionally exhausting, to wake up and have that reminder that, oh yeah. Yeah. Fuck.

Hunt Season always sends me wanting to retreat, and after the election I thought a lot about stopping blogging, and really curtailing my presence back. I thought about the exploration that He is asking me to do, as w/We go deeper, and about how I generally write about  this, these most vulnerable making parts, and about how I’ve been doing it for ages now, and that maybe that time is over. Maybe I want to be more private? Maybe I want to slip into the background and go unnoticed?

And then I receive confirmation that what I do sometimes makes a difference to people, and that’s got to be good enough, right? I admit that not a small part of me decided that maybe shutting up about being any sort of visible minority might be a good idea, in the current climate . . . but then I need to own that shit, too, right? Because, for all the minority badges I claim, the only one that outranks mine is white and male. Do I only get to be visibly pagan, or visibly bisexual, or visible X when it’s safe? Most people don’t have ‘safe’ as an option. It’s not like I’m ever going to be on the front lines of anything. I’m home, writing things, on the Internet, ffs.

Right now, the scaling back is working. Making sure I get enough disconnected-from-social-media is working. I’m not so good with compensating with staying in touch via other means (phone, texting) but I’m working on it.

I’m pretty sure that I’m going to fight to stay on my current medicine levels. Lethargy hit pretty hard last week, and I felt my interests start to wan. I read. I didn’t write. I didn’t want to write, and I wondered if I’d set that down, too. Not just the blog. All of it. And yes, I saw that for the red flag that it was. Is. Whatever.

There are more things, but these are heavy on my heart, so one for now is good.

Depression, new job, bullet points!

  • Got a new job! I started on the 9th (what a surreal thing that was, sitting through orientation on the day after the election. “What are we doing, how are we not all running around screaming like the sky is on fire??”) I’m three weeks in, and so far loving it. My immediate team is filled with seemingly introverted people, but then it takes a certain sort of person to willingly do night shift, yeah? I’m not used to that amount of quiet, and I’m sort of loving it. I’ve gone from talking with hundreds of people in one day to talking to maybe twenty, often less. I get to do my job, listen to music while I’m doing it (and ebooks/podcasts if I ever get around to getting them onto my phone) and the job consists of two, maybe three tasks. It’s monotonous, sure — but I’m sort of digging that right now.
  • Depression! Some is situational — not paying attention to being sure I’m not over-extending/overwhelming myself with the trainwreck that is our country at the moment — but some is also just not situational.  I’ll be without health insurance for a few months, and so I began half-dosing myself, in an attempt to have the anti-depressant carry me through. This isn’t ideal, but I thought, if the momentum of the various projects could carry me through, it wouldn’t suck.  But then, because I was changing my schedule, I missed a day. And then a second. I’d remember, and then miss two more. The result? Lethargy.

    I cut myself some slack for this lethargy becaues 1) new job/new schedule, 2) menstruation. I realize that being aware of the lethargy and worrying about that being a sign that the depression is worse is itself a sign that maybe it’s not as bad as I think. I’ve been letting myself sleep when I want to sleep (read: most of my days off) and just scaling back on everything else.

    What I’ve learned, though, is: I need to be on this medication, and I really only flourish on the higher dose. My doctor has made noise about trying to taper me off, come March, and I’m thinking I’m going to fight her on this. I was hoping, seekritly, that the depression was situational — a few people have suggested that it might have been, job related, and I had that job for a long time, so how would one really know? — but in the end, I don’t think so.

  • Depression, btw, is an asshole.
  • NaNoWriMo! No, I didn’t ‘finish’, but I did hit my 30k goal for WWC3 rough draft. I’ll be getting the 1st installment ready to go in a few weeks, and then taking December to edit the rest.
  • Corbie! Corbie had a vet visit in November, and we upped his medication on the Lasix front.There is slight increase in his murmur, though still negligible fluid build up in lungs. He’s having more coughing days (possibly due to being dried out on the lasix) but he’s back to having no idea he’s sick, and so this is good.

There’s more, but that’s it for now. I have things I want to talk about on the spiritual front, but they’re not quite there yet.

Rings of Fear, Rings of Grief

So, a ways back, I wrote a bit about the rings of grief — more properly, Susan Silk’s Ring Theory. Go ahead and click that link if you want to read that post, but really, the picture says it all.

susansilk

This has been a guide that has stood me in good stead as I’ve sought to retreat less and less into my ignorance bubble, and I want to repost it here primarily for my readers who are White, who are able-bodied, who, at a glance, can or do ‘pass’ as the privileged group/s, with a plea: model your actions and your words, seek your support networks, with this image in mind.

I’m terrified. I’m terrified for too many loved ones to count, POC, people with chronic illnesses and disabilities, anyone and everyone who is not cis, straight, white, and male has something to fear, and this is very valid. I’m terrified for the girl-child (who, despite being closer to 30 than to 20, is still referred to as the girl-child) in a city that is experiencing on outbreak of racist vandalism, who is clear across the country, and refusing to cower at home despite being a woman of color.I’m terrified for myself, and for Beth, though we’re in a super liberal area, and we face more with her losing her healthcare than we face by being two women living together. I’m scared that something will happen, and we won’t be able to help the daughter. I’m just scared.

I won’t pretend otherwise.

But I’m also not going to look toward people who are in more danger than I am, to express my fear to them, to ask them to make me feel better or even for them to commiserate with me. That the bits and pieces of my ‘otherness’ can be optional for me (it makes my stomach churn, and it disgusts me, but I’d be lying if my first thoughts after the results were announced did not go to ‘how can I blend in better if I need to?’) means that I inherently have more privilege, and thus less danger, and the burden of my fear is my own to bear, not theirs.

Look to your peers. Look to those who suffer or could suffer in the same way, to a similar degree. Shore one another up, and offer your support inward. Do not demand that those who have less to give, give more.

I’m terrified — but  I’m not going to get jumped in the street because of my skin. My scarf is probably not going to get pulled from my head, because of my skin. I’m female, and nothing I do can really hide that, but I’m also white.

Those closer to the center of that circle? They need our support, and further more, they get to dictate how those needs are to be met.

I am like a child, rather than a mature devotee.

Months ago at this point, I switched around the shrine I have for Poseidon. (I never feel like I get this particular phrasing down. I host this shrine for Poseidon. Is it my shrine for Poseidon? Is it Poseidon’s shrine? Most properly, it is O/our space, but then that always feels weird, phrasing it that way, too, and so instead you get an overly long, overly analytical parenthetical. You’re welcome!) In order to more fully welcome into my worship Vishnu-through-Poseidon,  I moved a lot of the items I had on that shrine to a more private, more personal shrine space. The upside: having a second Poseidon shrine, this time in the bedroom, so at a good space for contemplation and private meditation and the like. The downside? Having a second Poseidon shrine. I spend most of my time in that room asleep, it’s not where I do most of my writing and assorted other things, and so all the visual reminders — found objects, gifted objects, momentos, the material signs of a decades’ long devotion to Him — has been largely out of sight.

Why? Because I felt that having a less personal, less cluttered, less territorial space in which to invite Vishnu-through-Poseidon. Over all, it’s been successful, if slow. The shrine cloth is a compromise between the T/hree of us, They each get Their own ‘side’, and it’s a nice headache inducing back and forth between ‘the same/not the same’.

I’ve added some of the personal items back to the Poseidon ‘side’, notably a couple of boxes holding beach findings that the dog managed to get into and upend when they were on the other shrine space.

Between adding those bits back, and tending to the shrine in my post medication fuck-up vulnerable-feeling headspace today, I realized that having a space that’s set aside for Vishnu in the way that I have a space set aside for Durga isn’t going to work. At least, having space set aside on something that is so mine as much as it is Poseidon’s (the shrine space is, at this point, its own entity, a child  created by U/us, by O/our worship, without actually being a child) in the way that I have space set aside for Durga (a shrine that did not exist beforehand, that is not used for anything else, other than a ‘public’ space for Her and a few Others in Her family) isn’t going to work, not for approaching Vishnu-with-Poseidon.

I’m not the serious devotee with formal, fancy shrine space, austere and just-so. I’m the child, bringing  handpicked dandelions and wildflowers, dirt still on the roots, petals half wilted, hands dirty from playing outside. I’m the child with the make-shift offering bowls, and the ritual tools gathered quickly, re-purposed, maybe less shiny than they should be,  pressed into multiple uses. I’m the child who brings my heart to my gods, including my newer gods, messy and stumbling and complicated.

Treating Durga as an honored guest, with adoration and love in my heart, with an aim to please, and filled with gratitude is one thing. She’s the mother invite over for the first time into your own living space, who you want to impress and  serve. Treating Her like an honored guest is a bit of a play, a game of pretend, as if She’s not viscerally part of who I am (and how pathetic, an attempt to get this into words, but Her embrace has changed so much within me) Treating Vishnu-with/through-Poseidon as an honored guest is different. It’s distancing. It doesn’t work for me. Outside of my private worship, maybe. Inside? Inside, I am like a child, grabbing Him by the hand to drag Him around and show Him all my favorite things.

I’ll strive to remember that, for now. So far, realizing this takes me one step closer to being back to good with the shared shrine space.

“You are monumentally fucked up.”

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Silence, for writing this. This is beautiful. It’s needed. Shamelessly reblogging.

The Road, the Walker, and What Comes Next

What does a healthy spiritual practice look like? Well, what does a healthy life look like? There’s considerable wisdom in recognizing that a spiritual practice is not separate from the life the surrounds it; therefore the health of one is going to be indicative of the health of the other. To answer these questions we must therefore take a closer look at the idea of health.

In this context the concept of “health” or “healthy” suggests robustness, strength, the ability to withstand interruptions and unexpected circumstances. We might also extract suggestions of stability, predictability, and resilience from this particular use of “healthy”. On a further level of analysis, I’d suggest that “healthy” in this context also includes the ability to problem solve, to identify shortcomings and develop strategies for improvement; healthy is not an end point but the state in which positive, productive, and beneficial development is increasingly possible. I encompass…

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Writer, Know Thyself

I wrote more things!

Jolene Dawe

(this is the second part of my Things That Have Helped Me Become a Better Writer series. Patreon supporters see this first — so for some of you, this will be a repeat)

I’ve written about this before: in order to develop a sustainable writing discipline, it is imperative to know one’s self. The ideal goal I set before myself was 1k a day, every day — and I never, ever, ever accomplished that goal. Sure, I’d have days when I’d write 1k, but it wasn’t all the time. It wasn’t even most of the time. In between those times, I’d have a whole lot of down time to berate myself for my failure.

I knew what I wanted. I wanted to produce material more regularly. I wanted to establish a discipline, and up to that point, simply wanting that discipline and having some vague goal about obtaining it…

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Things that have helped me become a better writer: intro

I wrote a thing!

Jolene Dawe

I wanted to take some time to talk about the various things that have helped me become a better writer. I sat down and started working on what I thought was going to be an article, and have instead begun what is going to be a series of articles. There is simply too much I want to cover, too much I want to re-examine and explore, to fit into one piece of writing. I’m sharing these things not because I think I have The Answer to offer you, but because these things helped me, and helped me immensely, and if any of them might help you or inspire you, that’s good enough for me.

Before I dive into that, though, let’s talk back-story. As in, my back-story.
In 2011 I released my story collection The Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte and Other Tales. I began writing the tales that would…

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Might I offer You some tea?

Twenty years. I’ve been at this whole involved-with-gods thing for twenty years at this point, tending a shrine space just a wee bit less. You’d be forgiven if you thought that by know I’d have some of this shit down.

This week, some things came together. One: I had some time on my hands to sit and do little beyond recover from surprise!toe surgery. (Why are all my surgeries surprises?) Two: I realized I still had a growing discontent with how things with devotional practices for Poseidon- and Vishnu-with-Poseidon were going (or not going, as the case may be.) Three: I was reminded that aniconic representations of deities appeal to me, and that even when icons are what’s being used, I prefer theriomorphic over anthropomorphic. Four: Beth made me a creature for my birthday that has become my hands-on Poseidon figure plushie thing, and yes, I’m going to make outfits for Him.

I welcome Vishnu into my awareness, my practice, my life. I welcome anyone that Poseidon reveals as important to Him, and the tenderness with which Others came, once that had been opened, cannot be denied. I thought, when He first mentioned Him, Them, that it would have to be all done just so. Properly. With respect and just . . . properly.

And I fumbled. And faltered. Withdrew, because I was expected to be someone else, other than I am. Vishnu and I had a sweet back and forth, centered around felines, around Luna, around other spirits, and we were able to find a common ground, a common language, a meeting point. I realized I had to let go of the study, that I needed experience, and then I would build upon it. Slowly. Organically. Formality for formality’s sake is a sure-fire way to get me to flee.

I still wasn’t comfortable with approach Him at the shrine. The shrine had become unrecognizable, and we were all dissatisfied with it. I was supposed to be inviting Him in, and instead we were all going out to some random public place to meet up and talk over the din as best we could.
24bc1d32b6a36b533978674c4e31af85I stumbled upon this image quite by accident, and more things clicked into place. I’m trying to find the artist – if anyone recognizes it, please let me know. I’ve only been able to find it on tumblr and deviantart, and there’s no attribution, and it’s — well, look at it.

It also made me realize: this is my way in, this is my path into touching in with/relating to Vishnu. It’s the same way I needed to go with Odin, and it’s not quite the same at all, but . . . the fierce protector, the super-powerful, and super-gentle at the same time. I need that. I need the massive to be approachable.

Poseidon does that with me, too. Those moments when He is this huge, massive, beyond reckoning giant presence, held utterly still so as to not crush, not destroy, not obliterate. I need to feel my smallness, in light of Their immensity. It’s different, with all of Them, but that is a thread woven through each relationship.

I offered Him tea this morning, Vishnu-with-Poseidon. I hadn’t been; Poseidon suggested a while ago that  the morning tea was our thing, or that’s how I read it. Really, I suspect He was more possessive about the cup, and a bit about the order. Or, He was possessive about the ritual, and in the time sense He’s come to see that drawing lines between “This is Mine and not His,” is something I can’t deal with if, at the same time, He is insisting They are less different than not. Poseidon got the first bit of the tea, and Vishnu the second. I offered Poseidon His, and drank from it as is our custom. I offered Vishnu-with-Poseidon His, and did not drink from it, as that will not be our custom. His offering bowl had cat fur along the outer rim. “That’s part of being here,” I said, as I wiped it away. It will not be pristine, it will only be the best that we are able to produce.

vishI felt more at peace with this whole adventure, this morning, after offering Vishnu tea along with Poseidon, than I have during all of this development.

Though maybe He’s just looking forward to getting His own creature-plushie-doll made by Beth?