What a Difference a Week Makes! Also, Doggies!!!

In a recent post, artfully titled “Bleh” I wrote that life is basically a big poo sandwich at the moment, and I was surprised to find that I still had faith that something good was just around the corner.

An update:

I start my new job at 9 AM tomorrow.

A veteran’s resource group may be able to help us with about $800 towards our back rent.  (Or they may not – it’s up in the air due to some question about income requirements.  We should know tomorrow.)

Our land lord is willing to take payments on the past due rent.  With the $800, this is totally doable (though it will be tight, especially on 1 April since I won’t have had a chance to save up a whole month’s worth of paychecks yet.)  Without the $800 it enters the realm of fantasy.  But, said landlord apparently “likes us” and is willing to let us move into a more affordable property if we show them we can pay for it.  (Worst case scenario.  I SO do not want to hall all that crap down from the attic that I just finally moved up there.  But in the case of back-breaking labor vs living in a cardboard box with an eviction on our records?  Back-breaking labor wins hands down.)

I took these photos on 6 March 2010 at the cer...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In other news, I’ve spent the last ten days excitedly following the Iditarod.  I hadn’t thought about it much since our honeymoon (where we visited Anchorage and saw the ceremonial start) – so much has happened in the intervening year.

But when I realized it was the first Saturday in March again, I found myself getting all obsessive.  They even have a Fantasy Iditarod League.  (Like Fantasy Football, only with dogs.)  My team is currently ranked about 235 out of 400+.  But I’m very proud of the fact that one of “my” mushers it in the running for Red Lantern.

Apparently I am capable of getting caught up in a sport – it just needs to involve puppies.

Aliy Zirkle's dog team is primed and ready to go

Aliy Zirkle’s dog team is primed and ready to go (Photo credit: Alaskan Dude)

Also,  I have to confess to spending the bulk of the morning joking that the new Pope named himself after my husband.  Or worse.  (“I didn’t even know you were Catholic dear.  Do I have to kiss your ring now?”)  Personally, I was still pulling for “George Ringo II” (since the most recent Pope didn’t do justice to the name.)  But Francis I is all kinds of awesome.  At least at our house.

 

(3/22/13 – Edited to add:  I feel the need to clarify, the NAME “Francis I” is all kinds of awesome.  The Pope?  I was hopeful since he is a Jesuit.  And I really admire his stance on the poor.  However, his recent comments regarding homosexuality are disgusting.  In other words – I’m not optimistic.)

X – Xena, Warrior Princess, or “Gee, I hope my Gods Have a Sense of Humor” (PBP week 47)

I have a confession to make.

I am a huge fan of Xena: Warrior Princess, despite its horrific history and its ridiculously inaccurate costumes.  Even despite its questionable to horrifying portrayal of the Gods.

So, I sincerely hope the Gods have a sense of humor about stuff like this.  They’ve been portrayed badly in pop culture long before this show came along and I don’t remember any reports of mass smitings going down, so maybe I’m OK.  I take comfort from the Odyssey, and its scandalous tale of Ares and Aphrodite told for amusement.

The characterizations of the Gods in the show range from refreshing (Hades), to questionable (Athena, Ares), to horrific (Aphrodite.)

Ares is the deity that appears most often in Xena, and I don’t imagine He would mind His characterization much at all, despite being the chief villain.  He’s pretty much used to that, I’d think.  He is shown to be a serious badass (though, of course, Xena always gets the best of Him) and He gets all the best lines.  On top of that, the actor Kevin Smith (no, not THAT Kevin Smith, this Kevin Smith) is one big hunk ‘o’ tasty.

When I envision the real Ares, it’s this image that comes to mind.  Haven’t noticed any objections so far.

Hades, too, comes off pretty well compared to other modern interpretations.  He is a little on the wimpy side, what with getting His helmet stolen and losing control of His realm and all, but He is refreshingly not evil.

Athena’s characterization isn’t too bad either.  She’s sympathetic, but cold, and in the end completely daddy’s girl.  She cares about humanity, but when it is “Us vs them” She unashamedly takes the side of the Gods.  The actress, Paris Jefferson, is gorgeous and has the most amazing grey eyes.

I can’t imagine Her being at all happy about that outfit, though.

The same is true of Artemis, costume wise.  All that skin cannot be good.

I haven’t seen the episodes She appears in – they are part of the “Twilight of the Gods” storyline which makes me incredibly uncomfortable (even my fangirlishness has its limits.)

So I can’t speak to how She is portrayed, except that the actress is too old, but I have no problem seeing Artemis in this image.

Cupid is shown as a teenage momma’s boy and Discord, well… Discordians may approve of Her portrayal, actually, though she is a bit petulant.  Dionysos, called Bacchus, appears in one episode “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”  I honestly don’t remember how they wrote Him, as I was too busy being alternately horrified and amused by the demonic vampire maenads.  Many other Gods make appearances in the series and I haven’t seen them all.

Now comes the real trouble.  The second most divine appearances in the show are from Aphrodite.  I really, really hope Aphrodite has a generous sense of humor.I suspect She does.  Otherwise the regular portrayal of Her as a lingerie clad air-headed mean girl would have resulted in some serious smiting.  (*Note to self:  see if you can find out how Sam Raimi’s, Alexandra Tydings‘, and Lucy Lawless’ love lives have been going.)

Then there’s that whole “Twilight of the Gods” story line I mentioned earlier.  Xena gets the power to kill Gods and does so with abandon, in order to protect her daughter Eve (this is when the show decided to throw Christian mythology into the mix.)  Ares and Aphrodite survive, having become mortal (temporarily) but that’s about it.  There’s more to it than that, but as I said even my fangirlishness has it’s limits.

And yet, I can’t resist Sam Raimi‘s ridiculously campy style, I adore Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor, and I am delighted by the occasional appearances of Bruce Campbell as Autolycus.

Most of all I love the story of love and heroism among women.


So still a fan, even though I watch it less than I did before becoming a follower of the Greek pantheon.  And even though occasionally when I do watch, I sometimes feel I should take a shower to clear away the miasma and then make conciliatory offerings.

Are your Gods often portrayed in fiction?  If so, how well?  Do you approve, ignore it, or take offense?  Do you disapprove and watch anyway?

Things I learned today…

1.  Pumpkins don’t have as many “guts” as one might think…

2.  They do, however, hang on to what they have rather tenaciously.

3.  I may have the skill to carve a pumpkin that looks exactly like Heath Ledger’s Joker, but I SO do not have the time.

And

4.  Its perfectly normal to anthropomorphize your pumpkin after carving it.

Its even OK to do so before.

But talking to your pumpkin WHILE cutting it up and scooping out its brains?  If you don’t find that incredibly disturbing, those around you will.  Especially if you also happen to choose this time to rehearse your evil laugh.  (Its about standards.)

Happy Night Before Halloween!

Pagan Quiz

I found this in someone’s old blog post and decided, what the heck.  I’ve got nothing better to do right now.

B A S I C S //
Do you have a magical/Pagan name? No
What does it mean? No
How did you find Paganism? A combination of Ray Harryhausen movies, Janet & Stewart Farrar’s “Witches Bible” and high school mythology classes.
How long have you been practicing?  20+ years
Solitary or group practitioner? Solitary, but not entirely by choice.
What is your path? Hellenic inspired polytheism
Are you out of the broom closet? Erm, as much as I would be if I were of any other faith.  I don’t discuss religion with people unless I know them well.

D E I T Y //
Who is your patron God?  Dionysos
Who is your patron Goddess? One patron’s plenty, thanks.
What Gods do you worship?  I worship the Greek pantheon, but also pay honor to Brighid for past assisstance.
Do you fear darkly aspected Gods/Goddess, or rather respect them? All of my Gods have both bright and dark aspects.  I believe both fear and respect are appropriate.
Do you worship the Christian God? No, not as such.
Do you ever worship animals?  Why would I?  I wouldn’t worship animals any more than I would people.  I believe there is a lot I can learn from them and I honor and respect their spirits
Or plants?  See above, re: animals.

N A T U R E //
Do you regularly commune with nature? Yes.  I live down the street from a redwood forest.
Ever walked barefoot in the woods? I’m sure I have, but my toes are too tender these days.
Taken a camping trip just to talk to nature? Oh, hell yeah.
Describe the moment you felt closest to Mother Earth? If by “Mother Earth” this means nature and not some specific goddess, it would probably have been hiking in the redwoods when I was a girl.
Do you have a familiar? No.  Though I once had a cat who liked to sit on my shoulder as I read occult books.  (And only occult books.)
Have you ever called upon the powers of an animal in ritual? No.
Or a plant? No.
Do you hug trees? Yes.
Give them gifts? Yes.
What is your favourite flower to work with? Rosemary.  (Hey, it flowers!)  Or, for something more floral, lavendar.
What is your favourite tree to work with?  Haven’t worked with trees much, but I am very partial to redwoods.

W H E E L . O F . T H E . Y E A R //
What is your favourite holiday?  I don’t celebrate the wheel, but when I did it would have to be Samhain.  Come to think of it, it still is.
What is your least favourite holiday?  The equinoxes, I suppose.  Never found much meaning in them.
Have you ever held a ritual on a holiday? Isn’t that kinda what holidays are for?
Ever taken a day off work to celebrate a Pagan holiday? No.
Do you celebrate Yule on the 21 rather than the 25? Depends on what day the solstice falls on.  The 21st or thereabouts.
Have you ever felt the veil thin? Yes.
Ever danced the Maypole? No.  But I’d like to.
Know what the Maypole symbolizes? Yes.
How do you usually celebrate the Pagan holidays? As I said, I don’t celebrate the Wheel of the Year.

D I V I N A T I O N //
Do you use Tarot? Yes
Do you use runes? No, but I think they’re pretty.
Do you use a pendulum? No, but I’m planning to learn.
Do you use dowsing rods? No.
Do you use Astrology?  Not as divination.
Any other form of divination? Bibliomancy is fun.

S P E L L S //
What was the first spell you did? Protection spell for a friend who thought a Satanist had cursed her.  (We were very young.)
What was the latest?  Money spell.
Ever done a love spell? Never had cause.
A job spell? Not yet.  May do so soon.
A healing spell? Yes.
What was the most powerful spell you’ve ever performed? Erm.  There was that time I changed my brother into a newt.  Seriously?
What deities do you usually call on? I don’t usually call on deities for magic.  If I need Their aid, prayer and offering is much more respectful, IMO.

C R Y P T O Z O O L O G Y //
Do you believe in Vampires? Energy vampires, maybe.  Humans who like blood, yes.
Werewolves? As in people who physically turn into wolves?  No?  See below.
Shapeshifters? Yes, it’s a technique used by spirit workers.  The change in form is (usually?) psychic, not physical, though.
Elves? Yes, I believe in a variety of nature spirits that have been called many things by different cultures. 
Faeries? Yes.  My Irish ancestors would not forgive me if I disrespected the sidhe.  Neither, of course, would the sidhe.
Dragons? Yes, but more the Asian interpretation than the European, I think.
Nymphs? Absolutely
Sprites?  Yes
Mermaids? Yes
Satyrs? Yes – would love to meet one
Ever “seen” any of the above? I don’t think most of these entities have a physical presence in our realm.
Ever talked to any of the above? Sort of.  When I talk to trees, I think of the dryads living within them.
Ever used any of the above in magic? “Use” sentient beings?  Very much no.
Do you have one of them as a personal guardian? No.  I imagine they have better things to do with their time.

R A N D O M //
Do you see a rabbit, a man or a woman in the moon?  I’ve always seen a tree.
Own a cat? Three of them.
When you meditate, what does your happy place look like? A forest
Do you work with Chakras? A little, when I work with Auyervedic herbalism.
Do you believe in past lives?  Yes.
If so, describe a few briefly:  “Believe in” and “have a clear memory of” are two different things.
Do you believe in soul mates?  Yes.  I married mine.
Do you have a spirit guide? Maybe.  We haven’t met.
Is it always love and light?  Take a look at the world and you tell me.  I think it could be someday, but it’ll take a lot of work.  In the meantime, some folks just need hexing.

Q – Quotes (PBP week 33)

(Trying to find a good “Q” topic, I opened my OED and compiled a list of really awesome words:  quandry, quagmire, quantum leap, Quakers, quietism, quarrelsome, quartz, Queen Anne’s Lace, quest, Quixote, quixotic, quinoa, quintessence, quisling…  I skipped queer, queenship, and quackery because there had been many very good blogs on these subject already, and I didn’t feel I had much to add.  But the others are all topics that I thought it would be fun to explore, and find a pagan slant one.

The thing is, I’ve been having a couple really rough weeks.  I just don’t have the mental capacity right now to put the kind of energy into those projects that I would really want to.

So instead I decided to cheat, and do something that was just fun.) 

The following are quotes that I’ve found inspirational in some way.  They are not specifically pagan, but all are of spiritual significance to me – though it might not be obvious why, since my spirituality is wrapped up in so many things.  Some seem to contradict each other – I take strength from each at different times.  People are complicated.

A few are from pagan sources, many aren’t. 

Many are from people of other faiths – Christians, Buddhists, Sufi – talking about their own Gods, spirits, and philosophies. 

Some are from completely secular sources. 

And, me being me, many are from U2.

I hope others may find some of them as inspiring as I do.

“It is not our intentions, it is our actions.”
– Bono, numerous occassions

“Beware! Beware
His flashing eyes, his floating hair
Weave a circle ’round him thrice
And close your eyes in holy dread
For he on honeydew has fed
And drank the milk of paradise.”
-Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan

“Ἐν οἴνῳ ἀλήθεια” – Alcaeus
“In Vino Veritas” – Pliny, the Elder
“In Wine, there is Truth” – common knowledge

“Kindness and a good heart are the foundation for success in this life, progress on the spiritual path, and the fulfillment of our aspirations. Our need for them is not limited to any specific time, place, society, or culture.”
– HH The Dalai Lama

“Let the beauty you love be what you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth.”
– Rumi

“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.”
-Freiedrich Nietzsche

“To touch is to heal, to hurt is to steal.
If you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel”
-U2, Mysterious Ways

“They sicken of the calm,
Who knew the storm.”
– Dorothy Parker

“I believe in a long, prolonged, derangement of the senses in order to obtain the unknown.”
– Jim Morrison

“This, therefore, is a faded dream of a time when I went down into the dust and noise of the Eastern marketplace, and with my own brain and muscles, with sweat and constant thinking, made others see my visions come true.  Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find all is vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act out their dream with open eyes, and make it possible.”
– T E Lawrence, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

“I pray for the love of madness…”
– The Mission, Kingdom Come

“As you enter this life
I pray you depart
With a wrinkled face
And a brand new heart”
-U2, Love and Peace or Else

“And learning better to feel joy, we learn best not to hurt others or to plan hurts for them.”
-Freidrich Nietzche

“You shall no longer take things at second or third hand…
     Nor look through the eyes of the dead
     Nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either,
     Nor take things from me
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.”
Walt Whitman

“It is not necessary to accept everything as true, one must only accept it as necessary.”
– Franz Kafka

“Love, lift me out of these blues
Won’t you tell me something true
I believe in you”
– U2, Elevation

      “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
– Bishop Desmond Tutu

      “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”
– Albert Einstein

“We chased our pleasures here
Dug our treasures there
But can you still recall
The time we cried
Break on through to the other side
Break on through to the other side”
– The Doors, Break on Through

“I believe in a celebration
I believe we can be free.
I believe you can loose these chains
I believe you can dance with me, dance with me.”
– U2, A Celebration