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I know this is a couple of weeks late, but life has a way of getting chaotic around Lammas every year.
As with any harvest festival, at Lughnasad we tend to focus on celebration and gratitude for bounty. Indeed, we should be extremely grateful for the boons bestowed upon us and celebrate the rewards of hard work. There is, however, a much more important side to this harvest. This is where we begin to tear up the plants that are no longer producing fruit in order to plant late summer crops. This is where we sort the unusable from the produce worth keeping. This is where we make decisions about what we can store and what needs to be thrown away.
We tend to be a modern culture of acquisition and fear of loss, which leads to hoarding, surplus, and waste. We do it with physical possessions, people, and emotions that no longer have a place in our lives. It’s hard to let go for fear of starving, but holding on to everything indiscriminately means risking the whole lot being spoiled or there not being enough room for what’s good and healthy. This can be a painful process. The wrong choice can be devastating, but even the right call can be tough at first.
This year has been one of, quite frankly, too many goodbyes. What started as a fruitful year all too quickly fell fallow and began to rot, and the only way to survive has been to make some terrifying sacrifices. I pared down my commitments, simplified a lot of my personal life, and cut ties with people who were detrimental to my growth. There have been deaths that touched me personally and a second chance that blossomed into a beautiful friendship only to be pulled from the ground like a weed and left for dead.
All of these things have weighed me down when there are so many things for which I should be grateful. All of these things have cast a shadow on a season that should be full of light, music, and celebration. There is too much rain, too little sunshine, and no way to know what will survive enough to see me through the dark season. I imagine this is how Lugh felt throwing a funereal feast for his mother who became an agricultural goddess. Imagine mourning the loss of a parent while exalting her gift to the Mother Earth and her people.
As anyone who suffers from depression knows, there’s a constant dichotomy at play. We must try to keep pushing forward, We must try to keep finding joy in the every day. We must feel our sorrows, move on from them, and keep looking for sunshine. On Lughnasad I am reminded that this is only the first harvest. There is more to come. There is more to eschew, but there is also more to grow and store in my heart and spirit. Not everything is lost. Not everything has dies. Not everything is gone, and that which is probably needs to be. These fields will not be fallow forever unless I stop cultivating.
Go now, cultivate and know the sun is shining, even if you can’t see it.
Just this last week my home state of Pennsylvania legalized marriage equality, and now that both of the states I call home have done so, I feel the push to chime in with an experience I’ve had in both cases. As someone who identifies as pansexual, and as someone who happens to already be in a legal, heterosexual, open marriage, I have come under a lot of fire for supporting the cause as anything but an ally. Let’s break that down…
Pansexual: Yes, I have love and attraction to anyone, anyone, who catches that attention, no matter how they identify. Why is it that because a cis male is included in that I am devoid of caring about the opportunity to marry any of the other possible pairings? We must stop the labeling, the arguing about labeling, and the snobbery and isolation that arise from that labeling.
Married: Ok, so it’s true. I’m already legally married, and I don’t plan on that changing in my life. Does that mean I couldn’t have wanted to marry someone who didn’t legally apply? I love cookies and cream ice cream, but does that mean I wouldn’t like the opportunity to choose Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, which I also happen to love? Why does the fact that my ultimate legal choice was an acceptable one negate this as a victory for my heart?
Poly: This is something I’ve struggled with within the LGBTQ community for years. In the opinion of some people, aligning with the poly community means a step back for all the work the LGBTQ community has done to convince the world that they can be just as committed to each other as heterosexual relationships can. While I understand this very conservative opinion, I have to ask why heterosexual marriages don’t have to prove the same? Why aren’t accepted social norms put to the same litmus tests as alternative lifestyles? Oh right, because it’s more acceptable to cheat on a heterosexual spouse than to be honest and open. I also realize that poly families have a long way to go in that regard, and that our struggle for acceptance over prejudice and mockery is in a very young stage.
The truth is, it shouldn’t matter if this step forward benefits me in any way or not. It shouldn’t even matter that I know people personally who it benefits. The only thing that should matter is that this is the right thing for people. Period. This entire post has been an excuse to say this: Congratulations, people! This is how life should be, and we need to stop worrying about who does and doesn’t have the right to celebrate life.
Go now. Celebrate equality and love!
This Ostara, despite weather in the low 40s, Hubby and I attended the first Ostara ritual we’ve been to in, I’m ashamed to admit it, a couple of years. When the invitation came through I felt it was something we had to make happen. Our family has been extremely blessed this year, and I needed to offer some of that fertile energy back to the earth to show my gratitude.
“Spring”, the High Priest started as I stood in the circle on a close-to-freezing March afternoon and tried to wrangle the sun’s warmth to sustain me, “is a work in progress. It’s not summer. It’s not there yet.” Nothing could have exemplified his meaning quite like my own breath visible in the air around me, when just days before I had been in sandals and a skirt eating ice cream in the park.
His words struck a very strong chord this week. After five weeks of training and a week of recuperating, I started a job that has been a personal goal for over six years, to become a flight attendant. I knew I had all the training, but I was terrified. Would I know it all at the right time? What if I really messed up? Would I be ok? The confidence that had pushed me onward in training quickly deteriorated around me the night before my first day, that morning, and well into my first flight. Just before landing my crewmember looked at me and said, “Breathe. You’re doing just fine”. The ice in my nerves melted, and as we got through each flight over the next few days I began to feel more comfortable.
On my last day of the trip I made a mistake that I considered pretty big. As much as my crew told me it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was, I beat myself up about it for the rest of the day. The ice returned, but so did the words from our ritual. A work in progress. I, too, am a work in progress. I am not yet the flight attendant I will be. The nerves will subside, but they also may return sometimes, and that’s OK. I am OK, and I will continue to be OK. I’ll get there, but the only way to do so is to keep moving forward.
The summer will come. My summer will come. Hail, and welcome.
Go now, push forward.
I’m choosing to end this series with the one who has been both the beginning and the end of all my stories, my husband. Again, this is not a new story to many of you, but humour me anyway.
When I met him I had just started a new job. I was seeing a few people, and while I cared for each of them I wasn’t interested in a committed, monogamous relationship. It was on a trip to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire with one of those men that I met the man who would become my husband. He is the cornerstone of our family, our tribe, our Ohana.
He was working for a booth that sold dragon puppets that sat on your shoulder, and he lured me into a conversation using raffle tickets as bait. He was cute, and I was still unaccustomed to being flirted with, so I followed, my confused date following behind us. After convincing me to wave a flag in the parade and using that time to both question me about myself and critique my flag waving, the raffle began, and he was gone. I bought myself a cute little dragon puppet and tried not to look disappointed as we headed for the car. Before we left the gates I stopped off to use the Privvy where I tried desperately to push him from my mind as just another “could have been”, but something just wouldn’t let me leave it that way.
I told my date to wait where he was and took off running towards the puppet booth where I made up some story about losing my debit card. It wasn’t until a year ago that I told him I had gone back just for him. We struck up a conversation. I was nervous. So nervous, in fact, that I failed to notice when my bodice stopped functioning. I was essentially topless. “I’m sorry,” he said, eventually unable to focus on the work he was doing, “but it’s really hard to be a gentleman with you like…like that.” After that I couldn’t not take his number. Unfortunately, I took the wrong one, and it took me a week to figure out the problem. On our first date he bought me a pair of blue horns and a bottle of mead, which I had to open with a screw and a hammer because I didn’t have a corkscrew. Within weeks he was spending every night with me, within months we were handfasted. It was eerie how much we had in common, down to some of the same stuff, and how often we had most likely crossed paths in years previous.
When we decided to be poly we knew we were embarking on something big. We both knew it was the right decision, and we both breathed a sigh of relief at finally being able to express ideas we’d each held for years, but we knew there would be growing pains. We knew there would be mistakes on both sides, and we knew it would be the biggest test our relationship had faced to date. We were right. We fought. We exposed fears, insecurities, and emotional roadblocks of every kind, but we kept pushing forward. We fought some more. It strained friendships, relationships, and for a long time we were that couple that brought tension to every social gathering like a side-dish. It cost us more than we could have imagined, and it was almost the end of us. Almost.
Ultimately we came out of the fire more closely bonded than ever. The people who were truly our tribe rallied around us, and our families were able to see us stand tall as a team. Whenever we have issues now it is those moments that we remember, that first victory that inspires us to keep trying, because those were the fires of truth that made us one. No handfasting or legal document could have done that. These new issues are never actually new. They are simply echoes of the first, and they are generally fixed with the same tools. I have learned a lot of lessons from my relationship with Hubby, and I continue to learn from him.
I have learned how to communicate. I have learned better ways to control my emotional responses. It doesn’t always work, but he has learned to try to see why I respond as severely as I do sometimes. I have learned that I am stronger than I ever think I am. Through sickness, money troubles, losing our apartment, and loss, we have thrived as a couple. In times of trial, we have proven to be each other’s strongest ally. Even when we have been against each other, the love we have has inspired us to fight for the life we have built together. I have learned what it means to be humble, what it means to compromise, and what it means to forgive. I have eschewed the I-would-nevers and the expectations of love and marriage that I held onto for so many years. I have learned to accept that I don’t always have the answers and that sometimes we’re just floundering together in the sea of life, and that’s ok. I have learned what it means to lean on each other and how to carry myself knowing it doesn’t mean I’ve been abandoned. I have learned when to let someone I love fail or hurt, because his experience and lessons are not mine to feel. I have learned the definition of unconditional love. I have learned what it means to have someone’s support no matter what. I know that on any path my journey takes I will carry the love and faith of my husband, even if he doesn’t understand or agree with it. I have learned compersion and true happiness for another human being. I have learned to accept that I am a lovable, capable, beautiful human being who deserves to be accepted and cherished by someone who loves her as much as she loves him. I have learned to trust in love, magick, and hope above all other things, and when even those things fail, to trust in myself. I have learned what it means to build a life with someone instead of just living a life with someone.
I have learned what it means to be Ohana.
To my Hubby. Aloha nui loa.
I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I generally believe that every day is a change to start over. Every day is an opportunity to be better than I was the day before. There is no reason to wait until the first of the year to improve life. So what is our preoccupation with New year’s Resolutions? The first of the year gives us a clean slate. It’s like a zero on the timeline from which to count forward. What we forget, however, is that even death is not a tabula rasa. This is why so many resolutions fail. In order to grow and pursue our greatest potential we must accept accountability for past decisions, learn from them, and make peace with them. For example, I can’t expect to jump into a new workout routine and nail it on the first try. I must identify why I have failed in the past and learn how to pass former benchmarks. I must also accept my surroundings, my financial capabilities, my time management realities, and anything else that may throw my new goal off course, not to make excuses for failure but to make a strategy for success.
This year the New Year falls on a new moon in Capricorn. What this means is a very earth heavy new moon energy with the added optimism of a whole world of people celebrating a new start. This is the perfect time to dig deep, plant the seeds for the coming year, and pushing ahead with goals that may have fallen into stasis or become unmovable. This moon also pushes us to make this new start with integrity and authenticity. I want to look healthy and feel better about myself, not, I want to look like an airbrushed supermodel. It inspires us to pursue the future in the spirit of passion rather than one of fear. I want to lose weight so I can participate in a Disney Marathon, not, I want to lose weight because I’m afraid I’ll never find someone who thinks I’m beautiful.
The alignments of this new moon center strongly around transformation and self liberation. Most of our resolutions fail because of self-sabotage. We constantly compare ourselves and our lives to past experiences and limitations we’ve either placed on ourselves or allowed other to place upon us. The task here is to decide what’s important, what’s worth what you’ll spend on it as the wheel turns, and how to fit it in to the life you’re already living.
What will aid us in this all of this? Perspective. Attitude. Balance. We cannot take on these new tasks already defeated, guarded, or at limited intensity. We must be able to give them our all with the firm belief that we will be victorious. We must be able to identify the walls that have trapped us for too long, realize that the mortar that holds them together is nothing but fear and self-doubt, break them down, and begin to build the roads that lead us to the rest of our brilliant lives. Without this new light on life is the only thing that will get us through the darkness between planting our new seeds and having an orchard of fruit-bearing trees at our disposal, because what Capricorn teaches us is that this is going to take time, but oh will it be worth it if we can stay on target.
My work for the night is deeply personal as I try to learn to focus, not on what I want to manifest in the coming yea,r but how to blaze the paths that get me there. Those things have been manifested for a long time. I just need to find them.
Blessed be, and Happy New Year!
Go now, celebrate and start forward!
All my life I have been the “unique one” in my family. At the age of 5 I was determined to be the next Reba McEntire, and it didn’t get any more normal for me from there. I don’t think it was any surprise to my family that I chose some sort of alternative lifestyle. I think the main question was which one I would pick and when. That being said, I never really came out to my family about any of it. If anything they outed me to themselves.
I have been a decidedly practicing pagan since before I moved out on my own, and my daily practices before that all had pagan flavour no matter what I called it. I never hid my alter, my tools, or my jewelry. No one asked. My dad did ask me once to light a candle for something for him, but beyond that no one mentioned it until I was wedding planning. No one had heard of a handfasting, and my mother-in-law had been telling people we were having a “traditional Celtic wedding”. With a guest list of Catholics, Lutherans, Protestants, Jews, and a few others thrown in for good measure, we expected some questions, and we worked hard to put together a ceremony that was both true to our spirituality and not alienating for our guests. In the end we heard nothing but good about our ceremony, and it was everything we’d dreamed of. I guess, in a way, it was our coming out, and we did so my showing how beautiful our spirituality can be.
I’ve felt my sexuality from a very young age. I don’t think there was ever a question in my mind or heart that I was Pansexual, even if I didn’t have the words for any of it. My mother never told me I was wrong, and it was just who I was. I never felt the need to have a “coming out”. I did try to talk about it a few times, but it never resulted in anything memorable. Though he had heard me use the word “girlfriend”, the first time my father and I ever discussed it he had met my girlfriend and was more concerned about the trappings of polyamory than anything else. That was the same weekend Hubby and took him to his first Pride festival. He wasn’t particularly comfortable, but he went along with us and did what he has always done as my dad. He watched and listened and didn’t judge or protest.
Our talks with our respective families about polyamory was as close as I have ever come to “coming out”. Hubby just up and mentioned our girlfriend in conversation one day. My dad asked me on a visit from California because my grandmother had taken to reading my blog and had given it her own twist. In each case the conversation was calm and pretty well received. Both parents met our partners at the time, and once they were sure we were being safe and that we were both happy with the arrangement they were fine.
A lot of my lazy “coming out” process can be attributed to social media. I only have the energy and time for one Facebook, so all my friends and family get to see the same online persona. I have had cousins I didn’t know paid that much attention tell me they think it’s really positive how I live. This past summer I had a really relaxed conversation about polyamory with my grandmother, dad, and a cousin, and no one seemed weirded out about it.
This has been my experience more often than not in my family, and for that I can be grateful, because I know it isn’t the case for everyone. I am in constant awe and appreciation that I can discuss men who are not my husband with my mother-in-law and she doesn’t even bat an eye. I feel like I could tell my dad I like to paint myself purple and roll in marshmallows and he wouldn’t judge me unless it led to some kind of jail time. I’ve never felt the need to make a grand gesture of “coming out” because I’ve never felt like I wouldn’t be accepted for being who I am and acting accordingly.
There is a saying that “coming out” is something we do every time we meet someone new, and it’s true. I do it whenever I mention my husband and my girlfriend in casual conversation. I do it whenever our whole family goes somewhere together and I don’t introduce our partners as “friends”. I do it when I wear rainbow or pentagram jewelry or someone sees my poly heart tattoo. I do it by how I live, because I refuse to censor myself for strangers. If you ask about my family, my holidays, or my home I will tell you the truth. This is just the way it is for me, no matter what day it is.
I was once told during a Mabon divination ritual to plant my seeds in the winter instead of the spring like most, and it has rang true that I am generally more inspired and fruitful in the darker half of the year. Maybe it comes from the introspection that comes in the colder seasons. I am less distracted by the light energy and vibrating dance of the spring and summer. It could also be that I find my inspiration in the darker portions of myself, those places that we often try to ignore or change.
In the story of Persephone we see an eventual balance of light and dark. In embracing the darkness and joining Hades, Persephone sets in motion the events that create a separation between the light and dark times of the year. It is her journey that brings the world balance.
It is important that we too have this balance in our lives to reach our full potential. Persephone doesn’t just travel to the darkness, she loved it. She takes it in and tastes it, and in the end she returns to it again and again as a part of her self. We too must learn to experience and love our darkness as a part of who we are.
When we use the word “darkness” we think of frightening and unwelcome things. We think of violence and negativity. We think of anything dark as a blight, but true darkness can be a thing of beauty. The dark is “scary” because that’s when our imaginations take over, but some of life’s most magical things come from the imagination. The dark is the unknown, but the unknown gives us endless possibilities if we can get over our fear of it. From the dark we pull courage, strength, and inner calm. If we use what the darkness can give us to create and grow as much as we use the light we can be unstoppable.
Inner darkness is a place of deep emotion, sensuality, and survival. A place of transformation and rebirth. Each of these aspects of our personality holds immense power and potential that can be tapped into if we can take the steps to make our own journey to our own Underworld. I won’t say it’s not a little daunting. Steps are unsure and footing is loose. At first it can be terrifying, but once you’ve mapped the route and made peace with the darkness it can be a place of solace and quiet comfort.
Loving your darkness is about balance, but it is also about releasing fear. Once you are fearless you are free.
Go now, embrace your darkness.
(This post is a little later than I wanted it to be, but it fits with the overall theme of the topic. See, I’m not a procrastinator; I’m a demonstrator.)
We live in a world of five year plans and college prep pre-schools, a world where, at 30, I am considered too old to make new plans or pursue unmet dreams and goals. Now, were it my dream to be an Olympic gymnast I’d agree with that sentiment, but I believe those things to be the exception, not the rule.
At Mabon we celebrate the late harvest and the beginning of Autumn. This brings two very important things our way.
The late harvest is our last chance to stock up for the coming cold seasons. We must decide what we can and cannot use and rid our valuable space of anything that isn’t useful or that takes up too much room in order to keep what will help us thrive through the winter months. Setting goals and following our passions can sometimes require sacrifice and tough decisions. There may be people who don’t support us and hold us back. There may be other activities we have to miss and other interests that must be set aside to focus on those goals. Dreams take time, money, and effort to be viable. In the meantime we must be able to feed, clothe, and house ourselves. This generally leaves little room for anything else. What are you willing to give up to store your dreams?
The beginning of Autumn is also the beginning of the dark half of the year, which is generally a time where we turn inward. Introspection is always my first step when reaching for a goal. Why is it something I want? Is it really what I want, or am I trying to fill some other void? Is it something that can actually be accomplished? What will it take to get me there? I cannot begin to make real plans until my head and heart are in the right place to do so. Imagine trying to write a novel with a litany of other things on your mind. You will most likely end up distracted, frustrated, and incoherent. Clearing your thoughts and structuring your life to be conducive to writing a novel before you begin is going to give you the clearest path to that end result, and your novel is more likely to reach its full potential. When you are strong and healthy so are your dreams. The same is true when you are cluttered and not in top form. Take the time if you need it to prepare during this time of introspection so that you’ll be fresh and vibrant when the light returns and it’s time to plant again.
The key components here are dedication and optimism. In today’s disheartening economy it can sometimes be hard to imagine having the opportunity to reach out of the rut of keeping ourselves alive to even attempt to touch our dreams. Many people my age are still looking ahead to owning our first homes or having a family simply because it is not yet feasible to do so. Many more who have attempted it are struggling to keep it all afloat or have given up. We take jobs that pay some of the bills, and we work ourselves to exhaustion to pay a few more. We have become accustomed to debt and failed credit checks, because we simply don’t have a choice. It’s hard to see past the daily struggle sometimes and imagine being able to do something that makes us passionate, and the idea that we have missed our chance at a good life is prevalent. I’m here proposing the alternative that while the conditions might not be ideal, and while it won’t be an easy task, it’s not too late to keep trying. It’s not too late to make plans and set goals.
It’s Mabon, and it’s time to embrace the late harvest!
Go now, set a new goal!
At 10 years old I was already painfully aware that I was different. I had braces, wore glasses, and was already an outcast. At 13 I had lost my mother and was frantically trying to form an identity that wasn’t awkward. I was completely lost. With very few female role models in my life, my teenage years were a mix of trial and error and what knowledge I could glean from friends who hadn’t figured it out any more than I had. At 18 I had just had my first kiss and was beginning to become the person I am today. I just didn’t know it yet, and I fought against it for many years. At 20 I had my first serious relationship, but I still struggled with the person I was and how I behaved with those I loved. I had left school and had had some pretty deep scars to begin to heal. By 25 I had made some drastic changes in my life. I had begun to embrace all the aspects of myself, but I had only just begun. I fluctuated wildly between self loathing and self empowerment, and I constantly questioned whether or not the one person who said he loved me, desired me, and accepted me for all of who I was could be trusted. I was just beginning my battle with Fibromyalgia, and I constantly struggled with depression. I had a very long road ahead of me. My childhood and the bullying I had received from all sides about my weight, my personality, my mental and physical health issues, and my past mistakes had done a lot of damage. I was still very broken.
But here I am having completely neglected any good that has happened in my life. I have had a family who loves me even if he don’t always understand me or my decisions. Though she passed just as I was coming into my own and forming a more mature mother-daughter relationship, I had a fantastic role model and inspiration in my mother. I may have only had a handful of friends, but they were some of the best friends I could have ever asked for and the reason I pulled though so many rough patches. At 19 I was a member of an art gallery and on my way to running poetry readings and open mics. Albeit on a very small scale, I was living my dreams. I have had amazing jobs at portrait studios, the zoo, and now at an airline working fantastic people every day. I have thrived despite my medical issues and come out stronger. I have built an amazing tribe of friends and chosen family, and my life is moving forward every day. In this past year I have worked towards getting a license an completed my first mud run.
Last week I turned 30. I still have moments of self doubt, but I have started to see my life and who I am for what it is, beautiful and unique. I am starting to accept my body for how it is not how I think it should be. I have begun to believe people when they call me beautiful or sexy. My faith grows only stronger as I mature. I have begun to fully experience my sexuality and sexual identity. I am loving the way I choose to love and make no apologies for being different. I have fully embraced the parts of me that are quirky, geeky, an spontaneous. I have simply stopped letting people tell me I can’t, stopped letting them tell me I won’t, and stopped letting them tell me to grow up. There are goals I wish I’d have met by this point in my life and plans I’ve had to change as life has flowed in different directions, but I have had amazing adventures and grabbed a opportunities I never would have dreamed imaginable. I am embracing 30 with renewed spirit and a better understanding of who I am and what I want from life. The things I hid, shunned, and tried to eschew at 20 are the things that make me dazzle at 30. I feel like this past year has given me a new life, and I fully intend to live every last minute of it…at 30.