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Lughnasadh always brings an interesting energy with it.  While Lugh won a lot of trials in his life through sheer skill, some of that skill was humour and wit, and there is never a shortage of humour or wit in the messages that come through this time of year.  But what else?  In honouring Lugh we remember the funerary games he organized for his foster mother, Tailtiu. We play games of skill and celebrate our respective talents.  We dance, sing, enjoy the life energy of summer thriving around us.  Now let’s incorporate the celebration of Lamas, the first harvest.  Traditionally the first grains would be used to make bread to bless the occasion as the community came together to enjoy the bounty of harvest.  Sometimes bread was baked in the shape of the Green Man in honour of the sacrifice he gives so that we may thrive.  In all of this there is a theme of both celebration of the light and recognition of the dark as we begin to notice the days shortening, reminding us to be thankful for the harvest that will sustain us in the coming winter.

In my practice I’ve used it as a time to cleanse and bless my hearth and home, fortifying our household for the year to come with the rich energies of summer.  This year I took a deeper look at that practice.  Yes, I will probably still cleanse our home and reinforce our crystal grids, but the more meditation I’ve done the more thought I’ve given to the “hearth” in my life.  While my tangible household is a brick and mortar place, my home is transient, my family scattered between the coasts, farther once I incorporate metamours.  So what of this tribe?  What of our hearth?  How can we be cleansed and fortified for the year to come?

The beautiful thing about our Ohana is that everyone, no matter how far away or how little involved, brings something to the tribe.  We each have our strengths, skills and talents that enrich the energy of the whole.  There is not a single one of us who doesn’t work hard and strive to really experience life in their own way, and this energy finds its way to the core of what makes us strong as a unit.  Those skills and strengths become our grains, and with some nurturing and encouraging, those talents flourish.  Through their harvest we begin to manifest our best selves, and we become the bread men of Lamas, ingested to feel the blessings of the very earth that grounds and holds us.  So, the hearth?  The hearth is community, fired with our dedication to each other.  It’s love, support, and solidarity, but it’s also sacrifice.  We each give at one point or another so that the others may thrive.  When each of my partners’ family becomes my family, and we weave a web of compassion and love, we become a strong tribe.  Through that web we feel each other’s joy and pain.  Through that web none of us can starve no matter how cold the winter might get, and because we’ve got Lugh on our side we do it with the flare of laughter and maybe some smartassery.  Ok, a lot of smartassery.

Aloha, and Blessed Lughnasadh

Go now, celebrate your talents!

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Yesterday was Beltane, and I didn’t have sex once. In fact, I turned it down for physical reasons. Later that day an acquaintance posted how hard Beltane was for those who are single or otherwise unable to have sex, and I realized just how many people miss the point. Yes, the lore of Beltane centers around sex, but like any lore, there are layers and layers of meaning, and no one meaning is correct. I’ve always had issues with events that center around kink and sex in relation to Beltane, because I feel like so much is lost in the need to free the libertine, especially in a group setting.
Let’s step back a moment, and I’ll tell you a story.

Two years ago I started running. My first focus was consistency. Making it happen on a regular basis was a struggle, but last year I began to focus on theat first mile. How was it improving as i went? How was I feeling after each new time landmark? Was I keeping that time and endurance consistent? Last week I hit a pretty big deviation in my mile. It wanted more. Not just faster, but it wanted more….something. Today I threw it all off course. Instead of the straight timed distance run, and int he spirit of the season, I chose a multilevel course on the elliptical that mimics a run through a state park. Despite the extra complexity, it shaved a noticeable chunk of time off my first mile, and an internal check begged me to keep going. By the time i was done with the second mile I was ready for more. Unfortunately I had more to accomplish today, but the energy raised by that second mile was powerful.
So, back to Beltane. Yesterday I recognized the energy of the season manifesting differently. There were primal urges, yes, but there was so much more beneath it. You see, Beltane isn’t about what fuels us, it’s about the spark that ignites us to push to heights we didn’t know we were capable of. It takes us out of a comfort zone and tell us to quit limiting ourselves to what we think we’re ready for. It reminds us we are beings of powerful energy and awe inspiring abilities. That we can make change and manifest our lives in ways even we can’t imagine yet. Yes, many people find that inspiration and raw power in sex, because it’s one of the most primal ways we have of letting go and letting our real power surge inside us. Sex makes us, for an instant, a different being all together. It allows us to step outside of our physical existence and experience the world around us, the universe, and yes, other humans, in ways the body cannot.
So no, this Beltane I didn’t have sex once…..but the spark of Beltane was very much alive inside me.

Aloha.

Go now, feel the spark.

In 2014 I dedicated myself to my career, and I knocked it out of the park.

I declared 2015 the Year of Creativity, and even I could not have seen  where it would take me.

While I had intended to hone crafts I already know, life had other ideas, and I found myself immersed in a totally new experience that has changed not only how I interact with the world and the people in it, but with myself.  When WordPress sent me my Year in Review I realized I had only written 12 blogs all year, ALL YEAR!  If rebuilding a marriage took focus and time, rebuilding myself took more so, and life doesn’t stop just because we’re doing something new.  There was still work and laundry and family responsibilities, and those things multiply daily, but here I am, barreling into 2016 with wild abandon.

In July we had a rather transformative experience at the first public ritual I’ve attended in years, and since then there’s been a growing need to be more connected to my community and to my spirit.  Sure, I still practice.  Sure, I still observe private habits and rituals.  But how long has it been since I’ve grown spiritually?  How long since I’ve connected with something new?

The focus on Good Girl meant there’s a lot of unused potential from last year’s dedication, and the show itself has created a momentum I know is going to carry me through the next year, and years to come.  Much like the career didn’t stop, the creativity won’t stop, and this is how we learn to integrate what makes us whole.  This is how we titrate truth into our lives.  This is how we become who we were always meant to be.

Aloha and Happy New Year!

Go now, barrel into 2016 with wild abandon!

 

Let me tell you  a story.

Let’s pretend you have a kid who’s sick.  He’s got a variety of things that make his health a daily battle, several of which could be terminal.  

You have two choices.

You can treat each battle as something to mourn and never stop pushing forward.  It’s for the kid’s survival.  What kind of parent or you.  You can dwell on the kids who are losing their battles, and never let your kid forget he could die any day.

Or you can celebrate the good days and let the kid enjoy his life despite the battles.  You don’t treat them any less seriously, and you don’t stop taking care of his health, but you take a deep breath once in a while and go to the park.  You keep the kids who have lost their battles in your heart, and you educate yourself on advancements in care.

This is how I feel we can handle the Supreme Court decision about Marriage Equality.  We can celebrate it as what it is.  A step in the right direction.  Not the last step or the most important step, but a step.  We’re allowed to celebrate small victories without forgetting the other issues or those who are still battling.  Why?  Because the kid is still a human being, that’s why.  Just because this decision doesn’t fix all the problems for all the people does not give us the right to invalidate the people the decision does help in any way.

I’ve been told at least half a dozen time today that I’ not allowed to have an opinion on the matter as anything but a bystander.  Because I’m already married.  Because I’m bi and chose to legally marry a man.  Because I’m white.  Because I’m cisgendered.  Because…because…because.  I have never understood this kid of isolation as anything but what we’re fighting against, and I do not understand it now.  As a community of humans fighting together we need to also recognize the importance of being a community of humans exalting together.  The two are not mutually exclusive, but they are both vitally important to the survival of the spirit and humanity of the community.

No, the journey is not even mostly over.  No, the war has not been one.  No, celebrating this victory does not erase from our memories the journey behind us or the long road yet before us.

 

Aloha.

Go now.  Be together.

A year and a day ago I threw away my comfort zone and left the security of a position I knew I could keep for a five-week challenge to see if I was fit to be a flight attendant.  I was both exhilarated and terrified, and believe me when I tell you most of the messages I received in the week preceding my departure from my department on the ground were not encouraging.  A lot of people  doubted I would make it, and I almost didn’t go, but it had been something I’d been pushing toward for over 6 years.  I needed to know.

For over a month I navigated the cutthroat environment with my head down and my eyes forward, stepping out and finding non-industry people near our hotel when I needed to breathe.  I studied, I started working out, and I learned through immersion to be completely alone.  Sure, I had a few friends, but they were taking their own journeys respectively.

On graduation day, it was still just me.  Sure, Hubby was waiting for me when i got home with a big hug and a celebratory dinner, but at the moment I was given my first set of wings the only person there with me was the one responsible for getting me through it.  Me.  Quite egregiously, I had assumed that day that the hardest part of my journey was over, but it was just the first step.

For the last year I have learned a lot about life and about myself.  I have learned to be independent and how to speak up for my needs.  There is not a single relationship in my life that has not been touched and reshaped by the experience, but the ones that have survived the transformation have been fortified by a newfound purpose and confidence that I have thing to offer and a right to not settle somewhere I’m unhappy.  I have learned to adapt and be transient.  I have learned to be fluid but firm.  I have learned to be present even when I am flying across the country.

A year ago I was reminded that my life is not stagnant or restricted.  It is not over, and while I have lost certain opportunities I have gained others.  I still have life and love to give., and it’s worth more than I ever could have imagined.

Aloha.

Go now, be invaluable!

It has never been planned this way, but between Yule and Brighid every year the seeds are planted for what will become the focal point of that year.  Last year I interviewed for the opportunity of a lifetime, a flight attendant position with the airline I have worked for for almost a decade. I got my acceptance call on Brighid in the middle of a blizzard.

It has taken nearly a tear for me to adjust to the lifestyle change.  The traveling and the service were easy.  The hard lesson was one of isolation.  Accustomed to the support system around me, I had to learn to get over my own inertia and face the intimidating silence of being alone.

I’ve had to handle my frustration, my sadness, my fear, and even my happiness on my own, and though it’s been one of the most difficult periods of growth I’ve ever faced, it’s given me more faith in myself as a result.  Last week, after a round of cancelled plans, I walked into a poetry slam not knowing a soul and got on stage as a stranger.  Taking up a chair at a table for four was a bit painful, but as the room filled people would sit and chat for a moment or two between poets, and by the time I knew it the night was over.  I had done it.  I had gone out alone.

From that experience came a voice from within echoing a push I’ve felt since the beginning of the year to take some big strides with my creative work.  Now that I feel fulfilled and content with my career and confident in my abilities to hold my dreams in my hands and know what they feel like, I feel inspired to pursue other goals with the same passion.

Passion.  The one thing that has always driven me no atter what held me back.  When I’ve been sick, broke, broken, and desperate.  When I’ve been fallow and lost.  When I’ve been alone.  Passion has always kept me pressing forward, and it is that passion that I find when I call for Brighid this Imbolc.  As her fire burns within me, it fuels the passion that dries me.  Her flame gives heat to my words, movement to my music, and life to my art.  Last year was my year of water and fluidity.  This year is my year of fire.  My year of Passion.

2014. The year that changed everything.  It all sounds very serious, doesn’t it.  Well, it is.  I know, I know, every year is about change, but 2014 brought transformative change.

With Brighid came the catalyst for the biggest career change I have ever made, and the biggest risk.  The training alone was a challenge, but I rose to it, and on Ostara I earned my wings and held a star I’d been reaching for for 6 years.

WIth the change in jobs came a huge change for our household.  I was based 3,000 miles away on the opposite coast, and the adjustment in all my relationships was a blow that some of them wouldn’t survive.  Routines were uprooted, and we had to find complex solutions to even more complex problems.  I suddenly felt very alone, and Hubby felt abandoned.  As he strove for stability and reached for his other partners, I felt more and more isolated from my family, which strained an already stressful period as I adjusted to a new job that is very much a lifestyle.

By summer there were storms raging.  Hubby and A split, I had completely pulled out of our D/s dynamic, and there were talks of separation. Things were seriously strained, compounded by the re-emergence of The Vanishing Act.  My emotions were shot, and I withdrew.  When my birthday rolled through in August I was sure I was bound to be moving on alone.  Hubby seemed unwilling to see anything from my perspective and immersed in a new relationship, The Vanishing Act had done what he does best, and I felt suffocated by the weight of everything falling apart at once.

For the first time in a long time I felt helpless, hopeless, and ready to go.  There’s a soul-shaking moment that passes when you no longer feel a desperate need to end your life, but have accepted it as the next step.  It’s not a rash decision you can recover from just as quickly, it’s a concession that the darkness has won, and this is just what happens when you lose.  I was gone.  My spirit was dead for a long time, and I had no one to blame for it but myself.

Enter Autumn and a big push from the universe to be in charge of my life.  I embarked on a last-ditch effort to save myself, and I began living my own life.  Hubby pushed against it, but what resulted was both of us giving the ultimate ultimatum.  Love me for who I am, or let me go live my life.

The season also brought a whole crew of new people to my life.  Friends, love interests, and everyone in between.  2014 has brought me more new connections and strengthened connections with people I already had than I could have asked for.  These wonderful souls are the reason I’m here in as close to one piece as I am.  They are my tribe, my Ohana, and I would be incomplete without them.

As I pulled out of the fall with hope and optimism, 2014 gave me one last reminder that there is still a lot of work to do. A few lives connected to mine were suddenly torn apart.  We had medical scares and heartbreaking developments.  In addition, several of my partners also had some deep rivers to cross.  Once again I felt out of my depth and drowning, but the tools I had acquired and the people who had gathered around me throughout the year had given me the strength and will to keep moving forward.

Things are still rocky.  Things are still changing.  2014 was a year of questions without answer and answers spawning new questions.  I still feel terribly ill-equipped to handle the war that fights, not in violent flashes like they do in the movies, but quietly under the surface of the mundane as war is apt to do.  I don’t have all the information.  I don’t have all the tools.  I don’t have all the magic words.  What I do have is Ohana.  What I do have is people who love me and believe in me, who have y back no matter what happens.    What I have, as i mentioned at Yule, is hope.

This year I have learned to adapt.  I have learned to be away but still present.  I have learned to be alone but not lost.  I have learned to love and not question.  At midnight tonight I won’t be with any of my loves.  I won’t have a single person to kiss, but I shall be kissing each and every one of them in my heart.

2015…a year started with hope in my heart.

Aloha.

Go now, kiss somebody at midnight, even if it’s just in your heart.

This year has been rough, for many of us.  I don’t mean ” I stubbed my toe and had to get a pretty serious ingrown toenail removed” rough; I mean “my soul got ripped from my very core and turned into mashed potatoes and taken to some sinister potluck in Hell, and  had to go find it and figure out how to make it a soul again” rough.  You may have noticed a lot of radio silence this year, as I’ve spent a lot of time inside myself trying to sort out what I wanted it to look like.  What better time to remodel than after a pack of demons has rampaged through your inner temple and torn it to shreds from the inside out.  Ok, maybe that’s a bit histrionic, but that’s what it felt like most of the time.

At Yule we are prompted to give up what no longer serves us, what harms us, and what stands in our way.  We keen, we burn, we eschew what we can no longer afford to hold in our lives.  People, things, sentiments, everything must go!  As we say goodbye to this darkness within we invite the new light that grows with the seasons.  We accept the sunlight into us to shine bright with hope and renewal, and we celebrate that we have survived the longest nights.

This year I have enough friends who have opted out of the holidays to feel it in my heart.  Some have lost loved ones.  Others are having health or financial hardships.  Still others have just become jaded for their own personal reasons.  This is not a new phenomenon, but it has been a bit more pervasive this year, but it always reminds me of my own holiday spirit and the lessons that come to be from the holidays.  I’ve told this story before, but it bears repeating, so excuse me while I wax a little Hallmark Special on you all.

My mom loved Christmas.  Every year, without fail, we had the tree that almost grazed our high ceilings covered in lights and ornaments.  We had garland, worn from years of use, strung around the beams and banisters and enough light up animatronic scenes and characters to confuse the cats enough not to touch any of them.  Some years the nativity scene would be almost buried in presents, but some years it would not, but I hardly noticed.

The warmth and joy that filled our house was tangible, and it instilled in me a Christmas Spirit that goes far beyond commercial messages or expectations we place on ourselves, beyond the stress and the worry, and beyond all the jaded skepticism and religious bickering I see every day on the internet or the news.  No, this Spirit is about love and togetherness.  The memories we made decorating the tree have outlasted any gift I’ve ever been given.  The snuggling on the couch watching Prancer and Miracle on 34th St is something I can still feel when I miss my mom around this time.  The love I felt at Christmas just from the time we spent as a family is something I’ve carried with me and tried to emulate in my own family during the holidays no matter what our situation might be.

Here’s a story I have not yet told:

The second Christmas Hubby and I spent together was a bit bleak.  We were i our first apartment together.  I had just started having fibro issues and hadn’t worked much.  All I wanted was a tree.  The fake one my father in law had given us was in storage, and it was locked up until the 1st of the year because we were behind on our rent.  Hubby’s grandparents had just replaced their tree, so they had an extra, which they offered to us.  It was bigger than the space we had for it, and it shed like a nervous chinchilla.  After an hour of measuring and furniture scooting I gave up.  I was sad, but we had tried.  Hubby, on the other hand, was not going to let me concede to a fake pine tree so easily.

I watched the wheels turn as he surveyed our kitchen and dining area, then we put the resulting plan to work.  What we ended up with was a quarter of a tree.  We had stood the base of the tree against the wall behind our kitchen table and only used the branches for the top three sides we could see.  It was a bit of a stretch, but we decorated the hell out of that little patch of tree, and we laughed and sang the entire time. I knew then that there would never be a dark Christmas at our house even in the worst times.  There have been years that have tested us, but we have managed to find ways to make every one special.

The point?  I’m getting to it.

The point is that Yule isn’t about eradicating the darkness, it’s about finding hope and joy in the light. It’s the stars and moon at night, just as we must also embrace the shows and shade in the daytime.  It’s about approach and soul building.  When I eventually found my soul, it wasn’t really any different than it had been before.  I merely had to scrape off a layer of negativity, pick out some things that made it seem spoiled, and put it back where it belongs.  The darkness didn’t ruin it, and the light didn’t do anything but show me what was already there.

This year has been rough, and we weren’t sure we’d be able to even afford gifts for the kids.   When I left work with a flight bag full of small handmade gifts I never imagined I wouldn’t make it all the way home, but a few days later I returned to California feeling deflated.  I hadn’t even send cards.  We just hadn’t had the money.

I put everything in a box and sent it to Hubby and his girlfriend hoping it would at least make him smile for Christmas.  The rest I carried with me on trips I picked up for the time I was supposed to be home.  The cards, I sent.  I figured that was the end of it.  Then I saw the smiles on the faces of people I saw on my trips and the happy Facebook messages from people who were surprised by my cards.  I heard Hubby and Mouse’s voices when they called me after opening their gifts on Yule, and they were so full of joy that, while I was still homesick, my spirit was renewed.

Yesterday as I placed a blue and while Yule/Christmas bouquet at my mom’s headstone, full of her favorite flowers, I caught the scent of pine that rose from it and was immediately reminded that I get to spend the holidays with family I haven’t seen on Christmas in many years, that I have been able to spend the better part of this year with people who are no longer with us and that I have been able to be a part of the lives of the children in our family again.

This was my first home, and it remains a very special part of me and my Christmas heritage. When I got back to y room I set up an impromptu alter, some festive things my grandma had left as a surprise for me, and the cards Hubby had brought me on a surprise overnight visit, and my heart was immediately lighter.

Light.  There it is.

Light of hope.  This doesn’t mean suddenly everything is better.  This doesn’t mean all the injuries we’ve sustained this year are gone.  This means there is hope.  This means a light has been shed on our strength and our resilience.  This means a light has been shed on those around us who love us, so we know we’re not in this alone.  That light means guidance and a promise that if we are growing we are alive.

Light.  Light reminds us that there is more than darkness.  The fact that we recognize darkness is, in part, due to the very light we hail, as we are reminded when we speak to balance.

Aloha, Light.  Aloha, Darkness. Aloha Christmas.

Go now, be joyous.

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.

Aloha

 

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!

Aloha

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