vintagewitch: (scully truth is out there)
 My winter break is almost at an end. I'm ... ok with that, I think. It's been an incredibly busy break.

Today ... today I was a total bum. And that was glorious. I mean, I worked a bit on some stuff, but not too hard. I largely lounged about the house, played with the cat, read some books, and did a bit of journaling. 

And I took an epsom salt bath. It was glorious. Seriously. 

I've been working on cleansing, because I realized that with doing more tarot and the break up and everything, I had some weird energy tagging along. I did a pretty big space cleansing, but was feeling still a little shaky personally. The bath took care of that right quick.

Now: To bed!
vintagewitch: (Gilmore Car)
The results are in! 

This was a super quick, super general survey to help me out in thinking about names + content for a blog project. There was really quickly a consensus on the name, so I actually created a blog on Friday. 

The name: Northern Lights Tarot

I decided not to limit myself to tarot, so here it is: Northern Lights Witch!

It's incredibly basic, just a Wordpress blog, which I will upgrade to northernlightswitch.com if I begin to make money from the blog. I also have a super baby Twitter account linked to it, and an Instagram as well. I'm thinking I need more content up before I really tackle doing a ton of social media and trying to gain readership.

Which brings me to ... content preferences!

Again, this was a really small survey, and it was mostly with people who know me in person, but a few who know me online. Most people were interested in an eclectic mix, but there were some themes.

In order of popularity (asterisks mean the same rating):

Social Justice from a Pagan Perspective**
Witchy Crafts**
Tarot Readings*
General Witchy Stuff*
Book Reviews/Esoteric Book Club*
Mythology Studies
Custom aromatherapy/teas/elixirs
Astrology Readings

I was surprised by how much interest there was in witchy crafts - I just threw that in the mix because I occasionally craft, but now I'll have to think about featuring that a bit more. I was surprised that book reviews were kind of middle-of-the-road popular (maybe I just love reading book reviews - there are so many books and so little time! I like guidance!). 

I have to say I was shocked/relieved at how low astrology readings are on the list - that is the thing here that I have the least experience with, and it is also the most to learn. So it looks like I've got some time to learn before I dig into that. 

Also because this is dreamwidth I went ahead and made a feed for you! Here it is! [syndicated profile] northernlights_witch_feed 
vintagewitch: (wild unknown tarot draw)
Oh, and I just remembered after hitting "enter" on the last entry. I wanted to put these here.

Chani Nicholas is one of my favorite astrologers, and she sent out a quick blurb on the year ahead for each sign in her newsletter today. I'm already feelin' these 2016 vibes. I thought this was hopeful for my year.

Sun Sign: Cancer )

Rising Sign: Virgo )

Also I've been slowly making my way through a fantastic book on astrology that [personal profile] syntaxofthings lent me. The more specific I get with astrology, the more it makes sense.

In other woo news, I'd like some more practice with tarot. If anyone would like a free 2016 "looking forward" spread, I'd love to do one for you! Just comment/let me know.
vintagewitch: (tea)
AROMATIC SALT BODY SCRUB

makes six ½-cup salt scrubs

INGREDIENTS

1 cup bulk almond or jojoba oil
2 cups bulk dead sea salt
15–30 drops of essential oil of your choice (optional)

SUPPLIES

Mixing bowl
Mixing spoon
Small glass jars with tight-fitting lids)

DIRECTIONS
  1. Mix all ingredients to combine, adding more oil or salt until you reach desired consistency.
  2. Spoon into glass jars, seal and get ready to gift!
NEED this in my life again. I'll feel like a glorious, glamorous, wonderful witch whenever I leave the shower.

I've really been digging the effects of lavender + peppermint on my psyche lately: both soothing and clarifying. So this batch I'm making for myself will be that scent, because it's amazing.
vintagewitch: (Death Sandman)
 This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately, and at the outset I want to say that I am not totally settled in my feelings/thinking on this topic. This could be an entire book's length, or a career's worth of academic study. I haven't done a ton of research, and this is mostly based on my experiences as a pagan person in the community. I am interested in discussion, because I'm not totally settled in my thoughts and feelings about these complex issues.

As someone who is concerned about racism, as a dedicated pagan/witch, and also as someone who is white, I have been thinking very critically lately about appropriation as it pertains to my spiritual community.

Many pagans feel that our religion and spiritual beliefs have been appropriated into the general public. As Christianity spread in Europe, it is known that Christian religious leaders adjusted their practices to mirror or reflect pagan practices - this made pagans more comfortable with converting to the Christian faith. In some cases where Christian leaders were more hostile, pagans continued some cultural practices that weren't overtly spiritual, or hid them. An example of this would be the Yule log, or the celebration of Easter including decorated eggs. It must be noted that other religions have weathered the spread of Christianity this way - medieval Jews maintained a lot of the kosher practices of their people in secret, but attending Christian church and appearing to be Christian. 

So paganism has a complicated history with appropriation and adaptation. 

Pagans often worship ancestors, looking back to and connecting with your ancestors' mythology and ancient practices. For me, those ancient practices are Norse, and I have studied aspects of Asatru. In fact, when I was "learning Wicca" the group I learned from had a very Gardnerian focus on Wicca, but also some roots in Norse mythology and interest in Asatru. We incorporated ecstatic and shamanistic elements into our very traditional Wiccan rituals. I am interested in Norse mythology - the nine realms of reality, the trolls and giants and frost giants, Freyja's carriage driven by giant forest cats, Odin's ravens, and rune lore - are all fascinating to me. I feel a connection with these things through my ancestors. My grandmother is extremely Norwegian and makes lefse by hand, and has taught her daughters the recipes of the old world. We've gone to lutefisk feeds (which is a tradition I am more than happy to let die), my great-aunt decorated intricate Ukrainian Easter Eggs, and my mother makes Sanbackles every Christmas.

On a more personal note, I have interacted with beings that name themselves Odin or Freyja, and they have become an important part of my practice. I don't know whether these beings are the Odin and Freyja, but they answer to those names and Norse mythology seems to resonate with them.

Recently, I've been learning more about the dark side of Norse mythology and contemporary Odinism. Of course, I've known for decades that the Nazis envisioned an "Aryan race," but I did not know how closely that tied very specifically to an appropriation of northern European mythology. Many white supremacist groups around the world have rejected Christianity in favor of Odinism, and they will commit hate crimes in "honor of their ancestors." Because of this, it might be even MORE important that I'm open about my association with my Norse roots, and show that this is not ok. But sometimes I don't know how open I want to be about my spirituality, even without having to navigate troubled waters about being confronted/accused of being associated with white supremacy.

I have also traveled in India, and had a couple of deeply spiritual experiences there. I visited Bodh Gaya, and meditated at the tree where Buddha gained enlightenment. I have interacted with spirits that are definitely not-Western-pantheon-spirits. But I feel uncomfortable publicly talking about these experiences, because sometimes I worry that this is not for me. And I want to respect that.

As a pagan with connections to her roots and also a commitment to antiracism, all of this becomes difficult to navigate. I don't know what to do. 

I don't want to continue the essentialist belief that connecting with your ancestors means connecting only with the pagan practices of your particular ancestors. I would also like to recognize and honor the ancestral practices of people from around the world. I don't want to whitewash my understanding of paganism or polytheism. 

At the same time, I don't want to appropriate. There are some things that are just not for me as a white person, and that's totally ok.

I recently had a conversation with one of my very dearest friends about this stuff. This friend got their master's degree in comparative religion, so they know their religious history. Basically, my friend explained that in the development of any major religion, there has always been appropriation. Case in point: This friend studied Christian history, and basically said Christians developed a new faith, but were very much in love with the Jewish god, so they stole large parts of Judaism and/or gradually incorporated them. Religions are greatly influenced by one another; there is a lot of crossover study.

The fact that the neopagan movement is still relatively new means that we're struggling with these growing pains, but we also have the rich language of cultural analysis and contemporary social justice philosophy to draw on and inform our practices and community. And I think that there's a tension between recognizing the cultural diversity of mythology, esoteric practices, and pagan roots globally, but also finding our place collectively.

So there are really several problems that I'm struggling with:

1. How do I disrupt racist and essentialist practices within my own spiritual community?
2. How can I reclaim Norse practices and practice them in a way that is antiracist and antioppressive?
3. How can I diversify my understanding of world pagan/polytheistic practices, and possibly incorporate wisdom from other areas of the world into my own spiritual practices, without blatantly appropriating a culture that is not my own?
vintagewitch: (kitsch witch)
Thanks to everyone for supporting me on Thursday! Your comments really cheered me up. I think I just need to set aside Thursdays this semester as self-care days. I usually hit a wall re: my energy and self esteem on Thursdays, so I just need to be nice to myself on those days. <3 you all.

Halloween this year pretty much rocked. I'm feeling a bit behind in schoolwork, but SO worth it for celebrating my favorite holidays in style. 

There's a big Halloween/Samhain puppet play that happens every year in my community. So I went to that with some friends on Friday night. Matt was going to join us, but he didn't quite get out of work in time. The puppet play was amazing - it's usually more of a play, and this time around it definitely felt more like a Samhain circus, which I am 100% ok with. It was in a beautiful, spooky park after dark, and there were trapeze acts hanging from the trees, and ribbon climbing, and a lot of fire play. 

After the performance, I brought friends back to our place to hang out with Matt, drink beers and eat some pizza.

Then yesterday, I worked on schoolwork all day and eventually met up with [personal profile] syntaxofthings for some Halloween festivities! A local art collective released a new tarot + oracle deck based on astronomy/astrology, with over 100 participating artists. Neither of us were able to go to the opening night party, but we got together and went to the show yesterday. The art was so beautiful, and I actually know one of the artists involved, and being in that space ... I was totally inspired to purchase a deck. So now I have a shiny new deck to play with! 

I think it will actually be a really good way to learn more astronomy and work with astrological forces.

So that was awesome! 

Then we went to see a live scoring of the Nightmare Before Christmas, which was really delightful. I had never been to orchestra hall before, and the building is beautiful, and there were wonderful people in amazing costumes all around us. It was a truly magical evening.

Today: lots and LOTS of homework, and then later I'll be doing a Samhain tarot reading and possibly checking out a neighborhood Dia de los Muertos celebration briefly. 
vintagewitch: (stand with antlers on)
I think this weekend I hit Peak Stress. I had volunteers flaking and being difficult left and right on Saturday, then Sunday the balance switched, but it was still very full and stressful.

It's probably just the stress, but despite cutting out dairy my GI issues are still very much with me. I feel nauseous/bloated after I eat a full meal. So I think I'm gonna switch to smaller meals, throughout the day in hopes that the illness stays away.

I'm also just feeling under the weather because of how much I've been pushing myself.

It's also been really difficult for me to shake off the national person's words from Wednesday. She basically told me I was failing at my job, that our numbers were too low, and that what I had thought was success wasn't enough. Which also makes me panic that she would never hire me in the future. I'm torn. I don't know whether to put in so many extra hours (unpaid hours) to make this a success, or to do the best with what I've got and keep myself healthy and maintain my boundaries.

Then again, I've pushed and pushed and pushed myself and STILL I don't have a regular job as an organizer. They're hard to come by, and nothing's a given, but lately my brain has been telling me that it's probably because I'm not that good at it. 

I do know that people in the metro area know about the march. At our flyering events this weekend, I would say an average of almost half the people we talked to already knew about the march. The word is out there - people just aren't RSVP-ing.

I don't know. I guess I'm just grateful that I'm not working another part-time job this week. I can focus all my efforts on this, and not balance all the transportation between jobs and the weird breaks. 

I'm really looking forward to next week. I'm thinking of going camping solo in the middle of the week, just to get away from everything. 

I reread my book of shadows last night - with entries dating back to 2005. 2009/2010 were especially active years for me. I was rereading it in large part because I have some plans for this full moon, and I was looking for ideas, but wow. I think a big part of why I keep a journal - personal, blog, book of shadows, whatever - is to reread it later, and see how far I've grown, and to remember the journey. And it's been a long time that I've been on this path. 

And I still have doubts about my abilities, my wisdom.

vintagewitch: (UP Coast Perhaps)
I'm writing this from my lunch break at work. Things have been just nuts this week! Part of that might be that Matt and I went home for the weekend to see my folks, and things move at a much slower pace out there. (My parents live on this farm about 10 miles from the closest town of 400, so ... yeah. It's quiet.)

This is the last full week that Matt's in town. He's headed off to work on another movie for 7-8 weeks. With how disjointed the communication has been, he's not sure exactly when he needs to leave, which is stressful. He got an itinerary, but from word-of-mouth from other crewmembers it sounds like it's likely to change.

I've been trying to spend as much quality time with him as possible before he goes. He's been depressed lately, and so I'm trying to give him some extra love. I think it's been good for our relationship that we both struggle with mental health issues - we get it, you know? - but it is also difficult when we're both up and down.

Anyway, I want this weekend to be really fun and special and romantic but we're both broke as hell. We'll figure something out - definitely don't need money to have a good time. It's more important to both of us to be mindful/thoughtful than it is to be flashy.

Some things, in no particular order:

1. While I was home, my mom and I looked through some of her natural healing books to see what to do for my gut troubles. And we found a couple of remedies that are working (for now!). This is especially important because on Friday, the pain was so bad I had to have Matt come and walk me up to the apartment from the parking lot. So I have an appointment to see my doctor again on Wednesday, but thanks to some natural remedies it's at least been tolerable this week.

2. I got a TON of writing done on Sunday! I did some word sprints with folks on the @NaNoWordSprints twitter account, which really got words out in a short amount of time. The writing has been going well now that I have decided that the novel will be JUST in first person, and I feel like I have a better blueprint to finishing the draft.

3. I might be brought on for a short-term environmental organizing gig. It would be part time, but pay well, and I would be able to keep part time hours at the accounting firm. Had a hurried conversation this morning with one of the supervisors, and am waiting to hear from her again.

4. I started rereading "The Spiral Dance" b. Starhawk. I noticed that I have a lot of pagan/Wiccan reference books (grimoires, herbal encyclopedias, mythology compilations, etc), but not too much for theology (thealogy). It's been very comforting, and I definitely want to read more of this kind of writing. Not just instructions - but spiritual.

I really miss having a coven to practice with. It's been 8 years since I had a good group. Sometimes I feel selfish practicing solitary - I want to send my energy up to a group of people. I want to commune, to build others up, not just myself.

There are Reasons why I haven't sought out a coven where I live (a former abuser is in the community here and I would rather not cross paths), but I think I need to take baby steps into the finding a coven. There is a strong community of pagans here, I just need to find the right group to join up with.

A friend and I are going to visit a local pagan bookstore soon. I've been wanting to pick up a new tarot deck to practice with, and she's got other things to be looking for. Perhaps I can start asking questions or learn how to find people.

Anyway, lunch break is up. Back to work with me.

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