2.26.2009

homecoming

I'm about to go on a small vacation to go home.

Home. That's an interesting word, isn't it?

I've travelled some. Perhaps not as much as I would like to, but I have lived in Houston for quite some time, in and around. Now going back, it's both dread and anticipation.

There are people I love there. There are places I love there. There's good memories, fun times, and special things.

There's smog and traffic and roadside construction and more buildings and .....etc... etc...

So I've mixed feelings on it.

There's been things in the wind which are heralding me to move back into that area. I'm concerned, but not really worried. I'm not thrilled, but I don't dread the idea. I think I'm a lot better off than I was...but if I did move back, I hope it would be further out, like Humble or Katy.

Who knows?

All I know...is that in about a week or so, I'm going home.

2.25.2009

To Write Love On Her Arms.

(taken directly from the mission statement at the website, for my friend Renee, so I can share with all of you.)


To Write Love On Her Arms.



MISSION STATEMENT:
To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.
VISION:

The vision is that we actually believe these things…

You were created to love and be loved.


You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known.


You need to know that your story is important and that you're part of a bigger story. You need to know that your life matters.


We live in a difficult world, a broken world. My friend Byron is very smart - he says that life is hard for most people most of the time. We believe that everyone can relate to pain, that all of us live with questions, and all of us get stuck in moments. You need to know that you're not alone in the places you feel stuck.
We all wake to the human condition. We wake to mystery and beauty but also to tragedy and loss. Millions of people live with problems of pain. Millions of homes are filled with questions – moments and seasons and cycles that come as thieves and aim to stay. We know that pain is very real. It is our privilege to suggest that hope is real, and that help is real.
You need to know that rescue is possible, that freedom is possible, that God is still in the business of redemption. We're seeing it happen. We're seeing lives change as people get the help they need. People sitting across from a counselor for the first time. People stepping into treatment. In desperate moments, people calling a suicide hotline. We know that the first step to recovery is the hardest to take. We want to say here that it's worth it, that your life is worth fighting for, that it's possible to change.


Beyond treatment, we believe that community is essential, that people need other people, that we were never meant to do life alone.


The vision is that community and hope and help would replace secrets and silence.


The vision is people putting down guns and blades and bottles.


The vision is that we can reduce the suicide rate in America and around the world.


The vision is that we would learn what it means to love our friends, and that we would love ourselves enough to get the help we need.


The vision is better endings.


The vision is the restoration of broken families and broken relationships.


The vision is people finding life, finding freedom, finding love.


The vision is graduation, a Super Bowl, a wedding, a child, a sunrise.


The vision is people becoming incredible parents, people breaking cycles, making change.


The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead.


The vision is the possibility that we're more loved than we'll ever know.


The vision is hope, and hope is real.

You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.


BEGIN:


This began as an attempt to tell a story and a way to help a friend in Spring 2006. The story and the life it represented were both things of contrast – pain and hope, addiction and sobriety, regret and the possibility of freedom. The story’s title “To Write Love on Her Arms” was also a goal, believing that a better life was possible. We started selling t-shirts as a way to pay for our friend’s treatment, and we made a MySpace page to give the whole thing a home. Our friends in Switchfoot and Anberlin were among the first to wear these shirts. In the days that followed, we learned quickly that the story we were telling represented people everywhere. We began to hear from people in need of help, and others asking what they could do to help their friends. We heard from people who had lost loved ones to suicide. Many said that these were questions they had never asked and parts of their story that they had never shared. Others were honest in a different way, confessing these were issues they knew little or nothing about. It seemed we had stumbled upon a bigger story, and a conversation that needed to be had.



Over the last two and a half years, we’ve responded to 80,000 messages from people in 40 different countries. We’ve had the opportunity to bring this conversation, and a message of hope and help, to concerts, universities, festivals and churches. We’ve learned that these are not American issues, not white issues or “emo” issues. These are issues of humanity, problems of pain that affect millions of people around the world.



We’ve learned that two out of three people who struggle with depression never seek help, and that untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide. In America alone, it’s estimated that 19 million people live with depression, and suicide is the third-leading cause of death among those 18-24 years old.



The good news is that depression is very treatable, that a very real hope exists in the face of these issues. We’ve met people who are getting the help they need, sitting across from a counselor for the first time, stepping into treatment, or reaching out to a suicide hotline in a desperate moment.

2.23.2009

Great Expectations

I am not of a tradition.

Not by choice, I just supposed I haven't run into a lot who were in traditions. I have a fascination with this.

When I hear the word 'coven', I think of family. I think of integrity, of devotion, of loyalty and chivalry. I think of people who say what they mean and mean what they say, all with their full hearts. I think of the ideals of honesty and love, sharing and kindness. I think of having a group around a hearth and a home full of love and acceptance. All this love, all in praise of Ancient and Wise gods.

Am I a hopeless romantic? And idealist?

Maybe. Maybe not.

2.17.2009

amber and jet (because someone asked)

This looked like a good link. It's one of the better ones I've been able to find. But I've always found discrepancies when it comes to 'jet'.

So what do I do? Hit Wiki. (It's damn got everything.) I remember before, a friend and I debated it. Coal or fossilized wood?

Both.

Wiki says:

"Jet is a geological material and is considered to be a minor gemstone. Jet is not considered a true mineral, but rather a mineraloid as it has an organic origin, being derived from decaying wood under extreme pressure.

The English word-name "jet" derives from the French word for the same material: jaiet. Jet is either black or dark brown, but may contain pyrite inclusions, which are of brassy color and metallic lustre. The adjective jet-black is better-known perhaps than the substance from which the descriptive phrase derives.

Jet is a product of high pressure decomposition of wood from millions of years ago, commonly the wood of trees of the Araucariaceae family. Jet is found in two forms, hard and soft. Hard jet is the result of the carbon compression and salt water; soft jet is the result of the carbon compression and fresh water. Jet is easily polished and is used in manufacturing jewellery, according to the Whitby Museum, dating from 10,000 BC in parts of contemporary Germany. The oldest jet jewellery was found in Asturias, Spain, dating from 17,000 BC.

Jet as a gem material was highly popular during the reign of Queen Victoria, during which the Queen wore Whitby jet as part of her mourning dress. Jet was popular for mourning jewellery in the 19th century because of its sombre color and modest appearance, and it has been traditionally fashioned into rosaries for monks. In the United States, long necklaces of jet beads were very popular during the 1920s, or Roaring Twenties, when women and young flappers would wear multiple strands of jet beads stretching from the neckline to the waistline. In these necklaces, the jet was strung using heavy cotton thread; small knots were made on either side of each bead to keep the beads spaced evenly, much in the same way that fine pearl necklaces are made. Jet has also been known as black amber, as it may induce an electric charge like that of amber when rubbed. Powdered jet added to water or wine was believed to have medicinal powers."

What I think is neat is that it has the electrical charge thingie.

And of course, Wiki's take on Amber:

""Amber is fossil tree resin, which is appreciated for its color and beauty. Good quality amber is used for the manufacture of ornamental objects and jewelry. Although not mineralized, it is often classified as a gemstone.

A common misconception is that amber is made of tree sap; it is not. Sap is the fluid that circulates through a plant's vascular system, while resin is the semi-solid amorphous organic substance secreted in pockets and canals through epithelial cells of the plant.

Because it used to be soft and sticky tree resin, amber can sometimes contain insects and even small vertebrates.

Semi-fossilized resin or sub-fossil amber is known as copal.

Amber occurs in a range of different colors. As well as the usual yellow-orange-brown that is associated with the color "amber", amber itself can range from a whitish color through a pale lemon yellow, to brown and almost black. Other more uncommon colors include red amber (sometimes known as "cherry amber"), green amber, and even blue amber, which is rare and highly sought after.

A lot of the most highly-prized amber is transparent, in contrast to the very common cloudy amber and opaque amber. Opaque amber contains numerous minute bubbles. This kind of amber is known as "bastard amber", even though it is in fact true amber."

But be wary, kids, of 'reconstituted amber' sold as the real McCoy:

"Reconstituted amber is the most difficult, sometimes fooling experts; it is, after all, noting more than amber chips made into a large piece with a “filler”, usually melted copal or something similar."

Anywhozzle, I would file away the 'electrical charge' as part of the value of the 'stones' to more traditional witches, but I make no assumptions.

I had to restring mine recently, and not having enough (poor lost beads! they are quite expensive!), I actually restrung it with magnetic hematite. Wonder what that's going to do.

Cheers.

2.15.2009

normal reaction

So you want to be a witch?

My 11 year old daughter has been considering it. But it has certain side-effects.

For instance, she is struggling towards goth-dom by wearing skulls and whatever black she can find. Somehow, in my blended tribe of a household, she's managed to come across a black fleece blanket and black pillow case. She has read those more recent vampire books (my generation was Anne Rice) and really is shaping up to be some sort of 'glam goth' theme.

This was bound to happen.

I think that there are a lot of things that we correlate in our early adventures towards the idea of witchcraft. The idea of mystery. It is figuratively shrouded in darkness to many, and that figurativeness translates into literal. We sometimes ride the line of being blatantly ritualistic to oversimplification (HMMM...the solid silver chalice crafted in 1802 with some history behind it or the hand-thrown one that my buddy made under full moonlight and ritually blessed???). As 'noobs' or outsiders coming in, sometimes it is hard to process the differences between necessity and comfort, between practical and not-so-practical.

For instance....I have several athames laying about. When I feel I need a little more masculine force, I use a crude iron one that my husband made on the forge many years ago. When I have a group, I use a silver-colored one that is 'mass produced' and a little fancy, and when I am alone, I use the small, plain one that I bought at the dollar store when I was 16 (EONS ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth).

But differences? Differences only come with experience. You can see them, you can get to learn them, but it is the experience which makes us more adept at what we are doing. Eventually, the self-starters, their black clothes will fall away, their loud pagan jewelry will minimize, and their swishy gypsy clothes might be saved for faire or ritual or something instead of public, everyday wear.

Now, not everyone 'grows up'. I don't expect them to. If I could get away with being perfectly acceptable in 'gypsy clothes' at work, you're dern right I'd wear 'em out of personal preference (They're loose-fitting, comfortable, colorful, and damn CUTE). But short of a stunt or reputation in the pagan community, most of the people I have met that are serious about their craft, well, I haven't noticed all the 'trims or trappings' out in public (they generally save that for ritual, if at all).

Not saying that it doesn't have it's place and each to their own, but personally, I'd rather be taken seriously than look like a Rennie whack-job (no offense to my beloved Rennie friends).

So I think I'll humor her, then point out the differences. Maybe she'll just grow out of it.

2.07.2009

bottles

We're sitting around, talking about doing a full moon ritual, and the silliest thing occurs to us.

Witches bottles.

Now, I start thinking, and I begin to wonder about the places I've lived....and some random gardner digging up a flowerbed and finding one of my bottles of protection. It set us all giggling.

I mean, really? What would you do, digging through your flowerbed, finding jars filled with shards of mirrors, pins, needles, what looks like herbs and wine or piss? Seriously?

So here we are again, giggling madly. I guess it's better than digging up bodies.

a Rite of Passage

It is hard to explain to someone who knows nothing about piercing or tattooing that a parlour is one of the most sanitary places to get anything done. Health department comes in and inspects, asks questions, and by the gods, those 'artists' have to be on the money.

In those multi-purpose store that have those earring places, well...I never hear of anyone inspecting the ear piercer.

Anyway, another thing I've always had a hard time explaining was why I never pierced my daughter's ears.

When I was pregnant, both times, I quit smoking, because frankly, it wasn't the kid's choice to partake of those noxious substances. By the same token, I never pierced their ears. If there was going to be mutilation to their body, it was going to be their choice, not something inflicted upon them 'just because'. Not that it didn't tempt me, the older child had almost no hair as a young one and people mistook her for a boy often, even if she was wearing pink and frills and flowers.

Regardless, the older one, who just turned 11 last month, comes to me and tells me she wants her ears pierced.



So, like the adults, I explain to her the advantages and disadvantages of having a tattoo parlour piercing as opposed to one you can get in those little botiques in the mall. The fact it's easier to clean rings than studs. The fact that it costs about the same amount and a lot of other little things that you'd only know if you were A) interested in that kind of lifestyle or B) interested in doing that kind of work. After weighing her options, she decides she wants to go to the tattoo parlour at this point.

So as we go in, I explain to her about the jewelry. The purpose of the captive bead ring, gauges, and the different kinds of piercings. I tell her that other than her ears, she'll have to wait to get anything else done for a while. I explain to her the care and feeding of a piercing, what it all entails, the kinds of jewelry, the stuff the jewelry's made of, and assorted other things. I also tell her about some of the experiences I went through when I was a piercer. After a while, I just put it to her, "If you don't want to do this, then we can just leave and it's all good. If you want it, tell me and I'll make it happen."

"I want my ears pierced," she says promptly, with a bit of surprise - I guess she was still kind of unsure of herself, but sure enough wanted some earrings.

So the guys look at me like I'm a bit soft in the head, but they don't say anything. I bang her birth certificate on the counter, fill out all the paper work and just talk a little about why we were there instead of at the mall. By that time, they've already got her saddled up and cleaned off, so I'm rushing to go take pictures.

And I'm proud. I'm SO proud.

Last week she won second place in a spelling be. We're talking afterwards, and honestly, I told her I was almost as proud of her for getting her ears pierced as I was of her winning in the contest. "I'm not proud that you had your ears pierced," I explain. "I'm proud that you realized you were afraid, but you did it anyway and you overcame your fears because it was something you really wanted to do. I'm proud that you were afraid, but you did it regardless. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to overcome our fears. But if we can get past some of these things we're afraid of, we can do anything. I'm so proud, I want to cry."

And she does that, "Mom" where it sounds like they want to roll their eyes, but she adds, "If you cry, it's okay. It's not bad to cry."

And all I can do it smile. "I'm proud. So proud."

This is afterwards, when we're at the store getting that liquid Dial soap that all piercing should be cleaned with, and some ibprofen, and instead of listening to me blubber on, she grabs some of those rainbow Twizzlers and asks politely for some chewy candy.

I love my kids. Watching them grow up is amazing.

dropping the study of Wicca...(a rant)

There's a lot to that one someone's writing about elsewhere.

Once the Hollywood facade falls away, what are you left with? You're left with a very vast school of knowledge, most of the time without a teacher.

Oh, boy.

I don't know if it's just the American culture, but anything you have to work for is too hard, so people don't generally persue it. That's pretty much anything. That's why you have a vast majority of people without higher education (we're going to hop around on Wikipedia for some of these points I'm making).

But I digress, let's look at the 'Wicca' situation.

First off, let's call a spade a dirty 'ole shovel. Let's call it Witchcraft. Why? Because it's derived from a lot of things, which to the amateur student, is a lot of information to partake of.

Let's look at history. Let your jaw drop, because there is a LOT of history involved. The creation of the magickal system can be accredited to a lot of sources, including Kabbalah, a mysticism of judaic origins. Throw in a large collection of eastern mysticism (and yes, every one of those links has corresponding elements in the rituals and beliefs of witchcraft). But...that is even before you get to the history of some of the men and women who introduced it to the public and you've got a whole other area of history to work on. Then, if you'd like to get technical and do some research on how Wicca became recognized as a religion in america, then you've got more modern history (like the issues with pentacles being allowed on gravestones, which is a big step in becoming a more common, more 'acceptable' religion during modern times).

Overwhelmed yet? We're not even started.

Herbs is another big fascination. Why? Because witches are concerned about their enviroment and the natural order of things, so herbal remedies are something that they would look towards instead of modern medicines (and if you're lucky, on the internet someone will sell you something to help you out....gotta love capitalism). But if you're going to study that, well, you might as well know some of the magical uses of them. Only the Gods know if if it's really going to make a difference, but it doesn't hurt, does it? So many different places with so many different meanings, but with the idea of hermetic princples and the law of correspondence, well it can't do anything but help.

Divination is another area of study. Runes are getting more popular, but you have Futhark and it's variations, a greek oracle of runes, the MODERN divination tool called druid sticks, and then your older tried and true forms like geomancy and Tarot (Yeah, I forgot the name of what a friend of mine was researching, but it had to do with stones, their proper types, their alignments to the planets, and the 'casting' of them for purpose). And that's if you're not straining your eyeballs scrying.

History. Herbs. Divination. I would say that those are the big ones that most people wind up moving into. Not many really research the nature of the path, the anthropology of it, nor do they really want to think of it as a science (refer to hermetic princples) and get an understanding of how the universe works, or themselves for that matter. It is far easier for someone to dictate to them HOW something works, as opposed to WHY it works. Most 'students' of witchcraft want to be spoonfed and have everything available to study at their leisure.

That's not how it works, kids.

Gather information. Check, double-check, triple-check, and if something new and exciting comes along, cross-reference it to something else you found somewhere else that kind of makes sense. Keep learing. Keep gathering information. Power comes from knowledge, but the ultimate goal is understanding. I believe that is the true Craft of a Witch.

My two cents.

2.03.2009

honey cakes

Generally, we use bread.

But yesterday, I think to myself, it might be nice to have something more traditional. So I find a recipie for 'honey cakes' to use. Mind you, this is the simplest recipie I can find, and I realize that there are at least two things I am missing. Dinner consists of easy elements, so a friend over borrows my car, zooms to her house, and obtains the magickal, missing ingredients that she's got stashed at her house.

It doesn't occur to me how simple the recipie is until she gets back.

I start in...okay, mix the shortening, sugar and honey all together and melt it over low heat. I do that. Then I don't know if I'm over analyzing it, but I think, now...does this sugar have to melt? Does everything have to blend? Why the hell is the honey hanging out on the top and the sugar seem gritty?

Whatever. It melts, it's mushy, and I let it cool. I continue adding the other ingredients, get to the end and I think my brain got stuck in overdrive. Normally, when it says to 'place a teaspoon full' on a cookie sheet, they mean a plop of whatever the hell it is you're baking. I start discussing this with my friend. A levelled spoon? What the heck? So I do this. I level them. Maybe it was lack of sleep.

They come out as these little buttons of cookie-ish substance. Fatter than a vanilla wafer, but maybe just the same in diameter. My friend squeals with delight and happily beings munching on what really is supposed to be for later.

"You know those wafers that they give you in communion? They are about that size," she comments.

Great. Witch wafers. Just what the world needs.
There was an error in this gadget