Tuesday, August 31, 2010

American Ignorance Un-Mosqued

I have a rant today and I have to warn that I have a lot of emotions about this and I do not intend to hold back.  That said, if you are angry about the mosque being built in New York, please stop reading this blog and go straight to Hell.

I really thought that as a country we had gotten over the misconception that the tragedy of 9/11 was perpetrated by Muslims.  I thought people had gotten over the conclusions they had jumped to and realized how little sense they made.

I have to admit that I have heard of this story through friends and I don't watch the news.  This isn't a complicated issue so I feel comfortable writing about it.  What I'm hearing:  A mosque is being built near the site where the twin towers fell.  People are outrageously angry about this.  Who are these people?  A co-worker told me yesterday that she almost had to walk out of church because during the sermon the preacher was going off about this and basically saying that this was an evil action and surely implying that all Muslim people are evil as well.  What a kind and compassionate Christian perspective.  I'm sure if Jesus had been there, he would have agreed completely.  (You can't hear the sarcasm but it's thick!)

I have a few Muslim friends and they are among the kindest, most compassionate, gentle people I have ever met.  I have studied (admittedly not thoroughly) the Islamic faith and it is a very gentle path.  The only thing that has ever bothered me about it is that it is a very patriarchal faith.  This is NOT unique to Islam.  Have you ever met a female priest?  How long has it been that women could sit with men in Temple?  At it's core, Islam teaches the same loving message as any other positive faith.  Blaming all Muslim people for a tragic act committed by people who were clearly not following the tenants of that faith is ridiculous!  

Muslim people died in those buildings.  Can you imagine that?  So there were family members, friends who lost loved ones in this crazy act and then felt not only that loss, but a loss of freedom as everywhere they went, people began to look at them as if they were terrorists.  Then in the guise of protection, our government used this tragedy to systematically siphon off our rights.  We lost so much more to this tragedy that what was lost on that day.  We willingly gave up so much of our freedom and privacy.  We lost the cohesion some of us had worked towards.  We looked at anyone with dark skin and hair with suspicion.  We lost touch with what this country is supposed to be about.

The people who did this came from a very different place.  It is my firm belief that these types of actions only take place because of the unbalanced distribution of resources.  So people outside of the U.S. hate us?  I don't think they hate us personally.  I think they live in a place where day to day life is so difficult that it's easy to create hate towards a nation that seems to have everything dangled before them on a silver spoon.  I don't even think these people were intrinsically hateful.  I think they were taken advantage of and used.  They were fed anti-American propaganda and with the way we behave sometimes, we certainly give fuel for that.   I'm not saying that I am anti-American or that I condone terrorism by any stretch of the imagination.  What I will say is that we don't take responsibility for anything, as citizens.  I never hear people talk about what it must be like to live in the Middle East.  Why would we ponder that?  We have a tennis match to go to and then the kid's baseball game and a cook-out this weekend and the car payment and mortgage to attend to.  We'll think of other people another day.  Maybe next week, I think I have some spare time on Tuesday afternoon.  This is what makes me sick about the culture I've been fortunate enough to have been born into.

I don't wish I was somewhere else.  (Well, maybe Canada but they're not perfect either.)  I am so grateful to have been born here and I see the gift in it.  I know that it was luck, chance, that I could have come into being anywhere on this great round planet.  But knowing that, I think I have a responsibility to dwell in gratitude, to carry some compassion for those who were born into less favorable circumstances.

As a good Witch and a loving person I simply cannot abide the ignorance and hate I hear seething around me.  Anyone who holds these opinions should be ashamed of themselves.  To me, building a mosque in that area is a great way to bring healing.  This is a place of worship and of peace.  These people want to come here to pray and express gratitude.  Would anyone have complained if someone had opened a gun store nearby?

What really bothers me about this is the anger it causes in me.  This is not helpful.  I have shame over the way my country-mates are acting.  I am so pissed off that these hateful, ignorant opinions are being sent around the world in the name of the country I live in!  I don't want to feel this anger.  I want to be able to forgive people for being such assholes.  Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I've been thinking of the post I wrote yesterday and something about it is bothering me so I'm here to explore that.  I think the main thing is that it's so vague.  Not a surprise since I don't really have the language yet to express this longing.  I see the different voices I write with in this blog and that came from a place that's not very organized.  That's not necessarily a bad thing.  I don't want to feel as if I have to be organized or proper or correct at all times.  I want to be human, unafraid of showing all the colors of this experience.

So what does it mean to me to have a spiritual life-path?  It's not a great big, pious sacrifice.  I'm not going to live in a cave or join a monastery or a coven.  I don't feel I have to change myself to honor this path.  My belief is that we all are good, inherently.  As such, I don't think I have to "live up to" my aspirations.  As a Christian, I always wondered how people could be comfortable "giving their lives up to God" or being "used by God".  The reason this sounded so scary to me then was that the Cristian idea of God was so stifling and judgmental.  It felt like a life of no fun, no cutting loose, no hilarity or debauchery, only being very "good" all the time.  Who wants to do that?

As my beliefs have grown and changed, I see that my joy is a potent way to worship.  If I'm dancing and twirling or laughing with friends, that's a great feeling and it feels good for a reason.  I don't believe that God wants us to abstain from everything that feels good.  I think we're here to delight in every moment that we can. If we can't enjoy ourselves, we aren't learning.  We're stuck.  Being joyful and showing that helps the world.  When you smile at other people, they smile back.  It's not something people think of a lot but it's a very powerful thing.  A little thing like a smile or a kind word can really change the landscape of someone's day.

So that's what this path is about to me.  I may never be in a job that evidences this path, (although I'd like to).  It may only be the small things that we all do.  I'm already doing those things- when I vacuum at  work I try not to suck-up spiders as I remove their webs.  Even though I don't have much money, I give to causes I believe in when I can.  If I'm in a bad mood, I am aware of it and do my best to not take it out on others.  When I'm in a good mood (thankfully most of the time) I try to share that.  I do my best to be present with people I spend time with.  I try to be sensitive to the needs of others and see things from other perspectives.  I always remember that there is more to life than this, that we are spiritual beings having a physical experience.  I guess I'm already walking the path, I just didn't recognize it as such.

Maybe in the future my path will show up in planting a community garden or volunteering in my city.  Maybe I'll teach classes, write books, give aid and counsel.  Maybe it will just be about praying and meditating in my living room.  Who knows?  Not me, but what I do know is that the most important element is trust.  Trust is what stops me from feeling urgency.  It's not imperative that I do anything, only that I trust that I will be in the right places, doing the right things, helping in the best way I can.  This affords me some freedom and strengthens my sense of purpose.  Just like I've always trusted that God was there, I trust that my path will unfold for me in the way that it should.  I will be able to make the right decisions.  I will be able to do the work. Whatever the world puts before me, I will be able to handle it and act with Love and Trust.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It's About Faith

I pray a lot.  I always have, since I was little.  It's become so much a part of my life now that it's almost like hunger, I feel the need.  The amazing thing about prayer now is that I get answers.  Not always and not complete solutions, but I get nudges in the right direction. 

I've recently had a very profound prayer experience and while I would love to share it with the world I don't yet have the words for it.  Let's just say I felt/saw/intuited/became aware of something I've never experienced before.  I have always believed that as humans, we have so many abilities we don't use.  I think we wall-off psychic ability out of fear of exposure and vulnerability.  I think we forget our intrinsic connection to everything in the tumult of daily life.  I think we lose faith to the machine of complacency.  I am so grateful that I've not lost this.

I'm not sure why I have always had such a strong and abiding faith in God.  From Catholic upbringing, through Baptist churches, through general Christianity, through Wicca straight into the Witch I am today, my belief in and connection to God have not waned a bit.  To me this is the seed of faith.  That even as a child, when I was aware that the things the church said were not true to my life, I still believed in God.  I must have had some borrowed wisdom then to have known that God did not belong to the church, that God is in our hearts and everywhere. 

Over the course of my life, while my connection stayed strong, my understanding of Deity grew and changed.  Obviously I no longer think of God as a male.  I believe Source is indefinable and genderless, but to make prayer easier on my little human brain, I choose to focus on the God and Goddess as balanced polarities and a complete whole.  I have never believed in being "judged" by God, only that our lives lead us down the course we choose to take.  When awful things happen, some people get angry at God, as if this could have been avoided and they can't understand why God (who they heard was great and good) would allow them to be in such pain.  What people don't take into consideration is that we are all here to learn.  If a bad thing happens to you, it is not necessarily a result of something you did wrong in the past.  That happens, we sew the consequences of our actions into the fabric of our futures.  But often things happen simply because they must.  They become our challenges and it's up to us to decide how to grow through them.  These are the worst, and maybe most common, times to turn our backs on Deity. 

So back to my amazing prayer experience.  I had to ask myself why I was shown this, why I received this gift.  What had I done to deserve this?  I have not been an avid studier of meditation, I have not committed myself to diligent prayer.  It took a friend to shine some light on it for me.  She told me that I've earned this path through trust.  It took a minute but that started to ring true.

Over the past few years, I've prayed a lot about finding my path.  I'm so shocked and saddened by the state of the world and it hurts me so deeply.  I've been begging for a way to help everyone.  I've continually given my life up to Goddess (God, Source...) and offered to do any work that will help.  I've said I don't care what I do, as long as I can make a difference, make something right.  I can't say that I can see what that work will be, but I do feel as if I've been heard.  I feel that my path is opening for me and I can start this work now.  I have to keep reminding myself- how many times do I have to quote this?- to BE the change.  If I am praying in rapture, if I am confident and believe in the power of Love, if I am positive and believe we can fix this, then those beliefs may just migrate into other open minds.

I don't think I have a point in this post.  Maybe it's this: prayer works.  Another thing I've learned recently: we can keep anything out of our lives by not being open to it.  If we JUST ALLOW, amazing things will happen. You would be surprised.  That message- just allow- came to me in prayer a few months ago while I was fretting over something I had to let go of.  I surrendered my armor and told Goddess it was up to her what happened, that I would not get in my own way.  She delivers quickly! 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Rough Draft

I wrote this poem at the laundry mat yesterday and it may not be done but I want to share it.

At the Washtenaw Coin Laundry

I love this town and all its colors
so many shades of black and brown and tan
on skins and eyes and hair and hands
accents that come from     I know not where
languages lilting lyrical lullabies
myriad mantras
so many gods    all one
All One
cultures not clashing
not shocking me
only calling to my eyes and ears
with whispers of lands I'll never see
secrets of souls
swishes of fabric and whiffs of oil
spices speak sustenance
words awaken wonder
music exciting in mixed-up modes
drifts from windows where
kitchens sit with laden bread
always a table to be filled with old places
a landscape of different
aromas  abundant      call back in time
ancestral  answers     gifting with grace
a smile touching eyes
gives me welcome without words
human-ness beyond language
beyond any perception
of not-like-me


I've been contentedly single for quite a while.  I needed time to get to know myself and to heal, to think about what went wrong in past relationships.  It's always so clear what the other person did "wrong" but it takes a while to see ourselves.  Time lends a certain objectivity that, while not always imparting the whole picture, can still be eye-opening and humbling.

Over the past few months my resolve has softened a bit.  I think it may be because I have a clearer picture of what I want a relationship to be about.  I'm weary of being out here on my own and long for the comfort of an other.  That longing doesn't assuage the fear, though.  Hesitance, maybe, would be more precise.  I know I can see where I've made mistakes but will that stop me from making them again?  I need to take a look at what I've done "wrong", or what has not served me in the past.

* I've looked at potential rather than present.

* I've thought I could change people. (What girl hasn't?)

* I've not taken my time.

* I've shut down when things bothered me rather than sharing how I felt.  This always causes a rift and the bond just breaks down.

* I've stayed when I should have left.

* I've ignored red-flags.

* I've charged ahead when my deep, true voice told me to stop.

* I've waited around for not-love.

* I've seen what I wanted to see, ignoring what was right in front of me.

* I've taken more shit than I should have.

* I've expected things to change but not done anything to change them.

* I've given less than I should have.

* I've given more than I should have.

* I've lost myself.

So my question to anyone who knows is this:  When you are willing to admit all of these things, does it help you to avoid making the same mistakes?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thank you!

Thank you so much Yoga Savvy for the award!  Her blog is filled with interesting self-questioning and profound thoughtfulness.  I always feel a little lighter after having read one of her posts.
I will pass this on too.

Daily Spirit who I only recently started following.  Her writing is full of honesty, wisdom, and humility.  She has brilliance that shines brighter than I can say.

Pen and Paper finds the most interesting information to share.  Her posts let her sweet personality shine through and she always makes me think or laugh.

Pumpkins and Toadstools is one of my favorite witchy blogs.  She does so many different types of amazing art and craft projects and shares them, it's truly inspiring. 

The Domestic Witch is another favorite witchy blog.  If you want to learn more about the Craft, check her blog out!  She has so much information and explains everything so clearly.

Unwinding Self has a wonderful yoga blog that's much more than yoga.  I find the most beautiful poetry there and lots of honesty and openness.

Thank you all so much for writing and sharing!  You're truly beautiful!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I was just pondering whether everything sweet in life has a bitter element as we get older.  Even a new romantic interest is a different experience in your thirties than in your teens.  You come to that person feeling, maybe, broken, or at least a bit worn-down.  They come to you the same.  We get hurt and after years and relationships and disappointments, we don't see the possibility of something new in the same rosy light.  In fact, a part of us is scared to death of it.  'Why get that close to someone again? Don't you remember how much it hurt last time?'
Maybe I'm slipping away from my usual idealism into much-avoided cynicism, but it's just how I'm looking at it in this moment.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, it's really a reflection of the experience of life.  To me, this wakes up my feelings of longing for presence.  My own presence in a moment, and the presence of the people I spend time with.  I think I am starting to understand why so many spiritual traditions stress being "in the now".  The only real way to experience great joy in this life is to really be doing what you're doing.  At any given time we could be fraught with worrisome thoughts of bills, health-issues, work stress, friend's problems, the list goes on and on.  There is always something that is out-of-alignment or difficult in life.  True joy must only reside in the act of being totally, yet effortlessly focused on whatever the task is at hand in that moment.

I am not, however, a Buddhist monk or an experienced Yogini.  It seems strange to me that it takes so much training and effort just to stop our minds for a few seconds.  This is telling me that I need to start practicing meditation again, and soon!  That's the only way I've found to consciously quiet my mind.  I think as I learn more and more about how the world is set up, I need more and more to have a safe space inside.  I need to put it all in a different perspective.  I need to "take a few steps back, put on a wider lens". _Ani DiFranco, Everest  I have to see the big picture and, thereby, simplify everything.  Really, I need to re-write the story of all-that-is till I can digest it properly and put it in terms I can deal with.

My problem is always wanting to change everything.  I've ranted about this before.  I see the whole world and I forget that it's my life, my world I need to worry about changing. Little as it is, I really do believe that change for me affects the rest.  I can't get out into the world and make great change if my own life is out of sorts.  I need to put my pieces together in order to find the stability and peace I need to generate the ability to help others.  I feel like I'm writing in circles again.  That's ok, I like circles.  They always bring me back to what the heck I'm getting at.

So I'll take the bitter with the sweet.  I'll be willing to be brave, again and again, if it means I can move forward.  I'll take on each moment and be present with however many I am able.  I'll see that the sweet always outweighs the bitter.  I'll let my cynicism slink back into pragmatism, retaining my idealism.  How many isms does a person need? No matter, I just have to keep writing.  Keep breathing.  Keep loving this world.  Keep knowing how beautiful it could be.  Keep seeing how beautiful it is.  Keep praying and feeling Love as the answer to everything.  Keep letting the fear go, no matter how often it returns.  Keep knowing that I'm on track, even if I can't see my way.  I'll keep putting my weird thoughts out there to see if I'm the only one.   

    "One breath at a time is an acceptable plan, she tells herself..." -Ani DiFranco  Tamboritza Lingua

Monday, August 9, 2010

It's About Sex

Why I'm a Witch

I've always wondered a bit about the things we consider "bad" in this society.  Like curse words.  They're just series of sounds, letters lined up in a way that is offensive to some people.  They seem to have some power because they're considered insolent. When we're young, we learn that masturbation is "dirty" and "gross", even though babies do it in the womb.  It is natural, healthy exploration of our own bodies.   I came from Catholic stock and most people know the Catholic view of sex.  It is for procreation only and NOT EVER for fun or connection, or even to express love.  So then the fact that it feels good to our bodies and our hearts is just some temptation we're supposed to try to combat?  We're supposed to deny the inherent beauty in this? No thank you.

I've always felt, instinctively, that if two people love one another, (regardless of gender or marital status), and are consenting adults in a loving relationship, who come together to share and delight in their bodies, that's a beautiful thing.  It's akin to divine communication.  And, indeed, ancient Pagans considered sexual acts to be sacred.  At Beltane, (May Day), couples would pair up and disappear into the woods to perform sympathetic magic, believing that their love-making would "show" the land and animals the fertility they relied on.  In ancient Egypt, in the temples of Isis, priestesses were trained in the arts of pleasure.  Men would come from villages nearby to receive blessing by laying with these women.  People understood that sharing in this way, in love, was not shameful but was a way to remember how deeply God and Goddess love us.  The ecstasy available to us through true love and trust is a glimpse of the energy of the Divine.  This is a gift to be held in reverence, not something that should be connected to shame or guilty feelings.  

The danger in placing sex in such a negative light is that it loses its importance.  It's not something we talk about, except between very close friends and, hopefully, those who we share it with.  It feels awkward to explain to our kids how intense and loving this thing can be when all they know of sex is media over-stimulation and that, according to most adults, they shouldn't do it.  Is is just me or is this a recipe to ensure most kids will experiment at a young age?

Imagine growing up in a world where sex- the physical act of kissing, touching, and making love, and loving relationships were considered sacred and greatly revered by all the adults you knew.  There is so little we hold collectively sacred that I'm having a hard time grasping for a metaphor.  I'm thinking of rites of passage.  Or maybe in terms of how decisions affect our lives.  We tell kids all the "bad" stuff that can happen if they are irresponsible but does anyone ever tell them about the wonderful things that can happen in their lives if they wait till they're older to have a sexual relationship?  Higher self-esteem, richer relationships, less stress, more self-reliance, the freedom of being a kid, a more responsible attitude when they are ready, and of course missing out on all those "bad" things that happen when people aren't safe. 

But how do we treat sex, as the "grown-ups"?  So many people are very casual about the way they share their bodies.  People have affairs, sleep with people they go home with after the bar, sometimes with people they would never consider having a relationship with.  This is a symptom of an emptiness.  It's present in us all to some degree and we try to fill it with the most spectacular things sometimes.  Food, alcohol, work, drugs, T.V., ...  The only way to stop the cycle is to start to really connect, and that's not something we need to do as much as it is something we need to allow.  If we truly saw ourselves as one, intrinsically connected, would we not have deep respect for every other one?  If we didn't feel shame for things we think are "wrong" with us, but saw ourselves a human and beautiful and equal with all the rest, would it not be easier to open up and trust others?

When I came to study the Craft, I found the reverence for love and sex not only felt refreshing, but true.  It made sense with what I had always believed.  Having this positive view allows me to love myself more fully.  I don't have to carry any guilt about my human-ness.  This allows me to talk to my daughter in a very sensitive but matter-of-fact way about her body.  I'm not uncomfortable with the questions so as I answer I can sense how much information she needs and not over-load her. 

As a woman, especially, I have so much gratitude for having found a path that does not admonish my sexuality but celebrates it.  This is as much a part of us and our lives as the air we breathe and the food we eat.  It's as natural as those, too.  (Well, more natural than the food most of us eat lately but you get the point.)  Whether we are in a relationship or not, it's important that we honor the fact that we are sexual beings and see that as pointing to our capacity to love.  This would be a good place to start to collectively let-go of negative feelings and allow ourselves to remember that sexuality is simply and beautifully a natural part of human life.  It's something to reflect on and celebrate. 

This has been yet another installment on things I would like to change about the world we live in.  Still love it, though, and hope you do too.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Journal Entry

 I've not been posting as often as I would like but it's made me think about the reason I set this blog up.  I wanted to share some journal entries.  I've been writing on my lap-top more often now because it's faster but I've started forcing myself to write in my journal because I love it and there's something so organic and natural about pen and paper.  So, here is a journal entry from a while ago:


I've lately been referring to this time in my life as a "forced state of growth" and in the beginning that's how it felt but now I see that what felt forced was simply my sprout breaking ground and coming out into the sun.  I had spent a lot of time buried under things that were holding me down - impeding my growth. I now open my eyes and behold the world at my fingertips. I'm aware that growth is not a state- or that it doesn't happen in a certain amount of time. This is the beginning of me becoming me.  Growth is continual - there is no summit, no finish-line. I can grow and learn for my whole life.  In fact my life is becoming an awareness of my ability to stay in this space- accepting of who and where I am and loving that but also embracing the incoming -  the knowledge and wisdom that life has to offer. Everything I need to heal and grow is being put before me in abundance. Hands to hold when I feel unsteady, shoulders to go to when tears must come, people who have been on-path longer than I have to keep my eyes lifted ever-upward, child-like spirits to remind me to stay little, brave souls to remind me how big we are, beautiful folks whose light shines so brightly to remind me that I shine too, so many ways to see and feel that we are all connected, an easy relaxed view of that so the responsibility of it does not overwhelm, the feeling that all things are doable, the growing knowledge of my own specific needs and so much joy in that, the strong desire to be of service as much as possible, a sense of wholeness I've never before experienced.  This is the most exciting time of my life and I could not be more grateful!!


I started a new blog that I thought I should mention. It's for poetry, some of which I didn't feel comfortable posting here.  I also wanted to encourage other poets who read at a local cafe to post their work.  This is a link to the new blog, check it out if you're interested!


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Poem

I wrote this recently.  I was reading about the origins of the Goddess and how she was considered Sovereign.  It inspired me to write in a style I haven't tried since I was a kid.  Hope you like it!


She walks out freshly into her
own world, that of her making
virtuously attuned to its every breath
ever entwined, ever open
receptive to the ebb and flow of
each cycle as it passes
intuitively present with every moment
giving graciously all the gifts of herself
never failing to abide by her heart

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Non-Professional Writer

I found myself in a conversation about writer's block recently and I've been thinking about it since.  I realized that the reason I don't often struggle with writer's block is that I don't have any deadlines.  I did struggle with finishing a particular poem before the reading last week.  I was adamant about reading that one and so, felt pressure to finish it.  When I did, the anxiety about the reading almost completely dissolved.  All was right with the world and I felt brave. 
I'm not sure you can have writer's block when you don't have a deadline, but I do notice that I'll suddenly realize one day that I haven't written anything for a few weeks and it makes me nervous.  It can be disorienting, like an integral part of me is silent and I'm not sure why.  "Muse", I wonder, "you haven't deserted me for good, have you?".  Maybe she was just taking a break.  Then she'll stop by and won't stop chattering in my ear for days.  I love those days, when I'm so busy I can't even remember what all I've written. 
I've learned a lot about my process lately.  I write when there is something there and I don't try to force it when nothing comes.  This is the luxury of being a non-professional writer.  So on the days when my hands are sore from writing, when my cat is ready to attack my lap-top, when I've forgotten there are such things as dishes, I am in my element.  I feel so alive and so free, caught-up in the flow of life.  I'm happier when I write.  That is not to say I write about happy things, only that I feel better when I'm trying to express things that are going on inside. 
So on those prolific days, I think to myself, "I should just be a writer.  Someone should pay me to stay home all day and write things.  I don't even care if it's creative.  I would be willing to write anything!".  But what about that block?  Would I be haunted by an absence of words?  Would it be possible for me to spend even a moment not-liking writing?  I suppose I don't have to worry about that right now.  But just in case I find that perfect writing-related job, I'm going to push myself just a bit.  I'm going to set some goals and see if I can't help keep my creative fire at least in embers at all times, so that a great fire of insight could be stoked at any moment.  If I'm open to that, the Muse may just stay with me.