Saturday, June 29, 2013

M is for Music...Again

I realized in retrospect and had it pointed out to me that my last post had absolutely no truly Pagan music. While it is nice to have mainstream music that can be moving and inspirational, I am doing myself no favors by neglecting music created with and for magick and spellwork. I'm not sure what my hesitation has been up this point. I don't know if it's denial or fear of some sort. Or just stubbornness. I think I've told myself that I don't know who the good artists are, who will fit in with my music tastes. But I know that is an excuse. I never had problems finding stuff I like in mainstream genres. Just turn on a radio, check out other people's playlists. Hell, just ask a fellow Pagan. I wonder if it was a way to hold myself back. Music is integral to my daily life and I am avoiding what could be my most powerful magickal tool. I don't even know why.

So I did what I should have done years ago. I asked my closest Pagan friend what she likes. She sent me links to her favorites and things she thought I would like. What follows are my three first baby steps in discovering music that could increase my magick exponentially.

The above videos (for those who can't see them on devices that don't allow them) are by S. J. Tucker, Emerald Rose, and Damh the Bard. I also am trying Wendy Rule, Gwydion, and the album Return of the Goddess. I look forward to adding playlists to my devices and trying out new spell work with my newly acquired knowledge. This is but the beginning of my learning. As far as I'm concerned, I can never have too much new music. I welcome any and all suggestions of your favorite magickal music.

Monday, June 24, 2013

M is for Music

I was pondering while checking e-mail, at a loss for a post for this week. None of the suggested prompts really called to me. When the idea finally did come, it smacked me upside the head Gibbs-style via my very eclectic playlist playing in the background. Music has always been important to me. I entered talent shows in elementary school. I made hours of mixed tapes when buying music wasn't in the family budget, which was pretty much always. Back when MTV actually played music videos, we made a contest of who could guess the next song the quickest. Which is also one of the last times I remember my sister and I getting along well, before boys were the primary focus.

Though I didn't realize it until much later, I believe it was music that drew me to go to church, to join the choir. It gave me a sense of belonging and a feeling of accomplishment. Eventually music wasn't enough of a reason to stay in a place that didn't reflect my true beliefs. The songs rang hollow. And the music I enjoyed wasn't acceptable as a reflection of what I was supposed to believe according to the church. Secular music was a big no no. So, instead of my faith deciding my music, I let my music express my "faith" without the church.

Once I let go of expectations and just went with my heart, the pure joy of song returned. Music not only can reflect my mood but also affect it as well. The right song can kill any bad mood. It can make me feel joy and sorrow, can bring peace or a need to fight for something in which I believe. It can recall special memories, like smells that remind us of home and family. Every time I hear "Imagine" by John Lennon, I think of my grandmother, can hear her funny way of singing it. When I hear "Paperback Writer" I always think of a good friend who is a writer (and a HUGE Beatles fan). Pretty much every classic rock song is a reminder of growing up in the 70's. Alternately, when I hear "Gone Too Soon" by Daughtry, I am immediately reminded of my niece, killed by a drunk driver, taken away too soon. This post was inspired by "If Everyone Cared" by Nickelback.

 If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
Then we'd see the day, when nobody died

The idea is so simple. And yet it is something we will probably never experience. Since ignoring whether a song is "spiritual" or not, I find a bit of magic in every song I add to my playlists; songs that make me smile, songs that make me feel empowered, songs that teach me about other cultures. Sometimes the singing is more important than the song itself. The ability to make music with my own voice is empowering in itself. And no matter how bad my day is the positive energy of my music can make it a bit better. The song that is playing as I end this post? "Gangnam Style" by PSY. It's fun and silly. And makes me laugh every time I hear it (and dance along).

Monday, June 17, 2013

Review: The Fort

The Fort
by Aric Davis
2013 Thomas and Mercer
Received an eGalley from the publisher

This story of three boys and their tree fort, is also about that quintessential summer of childhood, the one that we will always remember. But for these boys it will be one that changes them forever, one where they learn too quickly that true evil exists. And that evil lives too close to home.

The story moves quickly, letting the reader see several perspectives, including the killer. Much of the suspense comes from the unfolding of the killer's thoughts about why he kills and just how deep his psychosis runs. The detective on the case is not allowed to follow his instincts frustrating both the character and the readers with the typical politics of expediency over accuracy. But heart of the story is the boys, the ones who witness the first real break in a long unsolved case and try to do the right thing by reporting it to the police. When no one will believe them and even accuse them of making up facts for attention, they investigate on their own.

The best part of this story was the friendship between Tim, Scott, and Luke. Their families are all very different (a typical well-to-do family, one with divorced parents, and one with an alcoholic mother and no father) but they are still at an age where money and class don't matter yet. Their reactions to what they go through, the surprise, fear, hurt and anger, are well expressed. Very believable. My only problem with the story was at the end. Not with the resolution of the main plot. That was solidly done. But after all is finished. A large part of the story is from the point of view of the kids. But once one of them tells the detective who the killer is we never go back to them. The detective tells the rest of the story. Something major happens at the end and I REALLY wanted to hear from at least one of the kids, wanted to experience the emotions of the event from the kids' perspective. Otherwise, the story was just about perfect.

I still very much recommend this story and can't wait to read more of Davis' work.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Confusion: Pt 2 - Gay Rights

Image borrowed from PCMag
In honor of Gay Pride Month, I've chosen gay rights as the next topic in the "Confusion" series. I think this particular issue is the one that confuses me the most. The most baffling part is the simple thought that, "Why is this even an issue? Why do so many people feel the need to tell others how they are allowed to live their lives?"

I know that many Christians believe that homosexuality is a sin, expressly forbidden as stated in the Bible. Okay, that is their prerogative to believe according to their faith. But LGBT people are not asking the Christians to become gay. They are not trying to break up Christian relationships. They are simply trying to live their lives in the way they see fit, being with the one they love and asking for the same respect given to heterosexual relationships. Acceptance over judgment is supposed to be a very "Christian" attitude. They won't even give tolerance. Homosexuality is not an infectious disease or mental disorder. It's not a choice someone makes one day and can just change their mind about. It is the natural instinct of personal attraction. The choice comes when trying to decide to whom it is safe to share their feelings.

I know that not all Christians feel that way. It is vocal ones, the ones with money and power that make this such an issue. It is why I'll never EVER give a dime of my money to Chick-fil-A again. Fundamentalists who believe that their faith is the only true faith will fight against anything that goes against what they believe is right. They will incite anger, hatred, and violence for their cause because they are certain their God wants such ugliness. No God I ever learned about in my years at churches would ever condone such senseless hate. The Jesus I read about would not tolerate such ignorance. It is this new idea of what God and Jesus are to the Fundamentalists that would allow it, that supposedly demand it. And the idea stated by many "important" Christian voices that school shootings and major disasters are God's way of punishing the world for the sin of homosexuality (among others) is disgusting and despicable.

What really gets me is the constant right wing demand for smaller and smaller government, saying there is already too much federal control, only to demand one of the most intimate and personal invasions by that same government. Big brother doesn't get much bigger than to tell a person who they can make a commitment to, who they can love. "No, you can't have my guns, but it's totally okay to go into that man's bedroom and take away his love." WTF is that!?! It is ridiculous that a spouse cannot receive the same benefits as a hetero couple simply because they won't conform to what is "normal." They don't ask others to change their choice of life partners. They would dare to say my love is just as valid as yours. Check out this video and tell me they don't love each other as much as you love your significant other. The true Christian God would not want to take away that love simply because it is not a man and a woman. Oh, and there is also this article answering someone's question of why there is not a Straight Pride Month. And this video that asks people when they chose to be straight. The responses are interesting.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Me hiding behind my cat, Willow
I've read several blogs recently that talk about letting go of negative things in order to make room for the positive. I realized my problem isn't so much getting rid of problems. It is allowing myself the positive. So for this blog post, L is for Letting, as in:
  • Letting myself make mistakes. I am so hard on myself. If a drawing or a story doesn't start out perfect, if I can't get it right the first time, I assume no one wants to see it. Technically this is getting rid of self-doubt, but it feels different in allowing myself to try, no matter the outcome.
  • Letting others in. I have such a huge fear of rejection that I rarely let anyone know the real me. I always keep important parts of myself hidden. All this gets me is a feeling of extreme loneliness.
  • Letting me just be me. I generally feel like I don't measure up to what I should be like, how I should look. Naturally the constant media push for all women to look like a plastic doll with the perfect, unattainable proportions doesn't help. Nor does the long line of thin, attractive family members. I need to learn that my size and lack of fashionable wardrobe is okay for me.
  • Letting magick be my way of life. I work the occasional spell on holidays or moon phases, but I haven't explored all the possibilities, found the Pagan way that just makes magick natural, something that simply is without having to over think things. I haven't allowed this as yet for fear; of doing it "wrong," of making issues worse instead of better, of admitting that I feel like a huge fake.
Fear, in some shape or form, is a big factor in pretty much everything I do. So it seems that I really must allow the fears and learn how to get past them, how to be brave enough to acknowledge them as part of the process of growth.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Kitchen Island

While I've never been very proficient in the kitchen, it has come to be the heart of my home. It took living on a farm with a couple of friends to open my eyes. They had an open kitchen with the sink and stove along one side and the fridge and pantry on the other, all surrounding an island, a simple counter with storage underneath. Pretty much everything we did started in the kitchen at that island.

Gathering up feed and treats for the outdoor crew (chickens, ducks, guinea, a turkey, and rabbits), doling out food to the indoor animals (cats, dogs, and one guinea), and coffee and toast for the humans happened at sun up. Okay, so I wasn't part of the sun up crew. My day began at about 10 am. I am so NOT a morning person. But the toast was there along with a cup of tea. I also am not a coffee person. We'd all go about the rest of the day either going to work or staying home to work, but were always back at the island for meals and conversation, no matter how late the day ended. And it was through those nights of tea, toast, and talk that I learned more about living a life with nature, seeing the beauty in the simple things. I planted my first (and only) batch of strawberries and watched them grow. Of course, the chickens ate them, along with the blackberries. Before, I was admired nature from afar, through the photos and experiences of others.

I've always lived in a city, so that much nature was quite an experience, an in your face lesson about the seasons and cycles of life. I found out the chickens really don't like to be picked up, but tolerate it when it's cold outside and I can share my warmth. They are very soft. And strong! Oh, and roosters can be mean bastards who bite and claw.

I got to experience the birth of new farm animals. Baby ducks are adorable following their mom around everywhere. I also learned the hard way not to get too attached to the critters that lived outside. They sometimes didn't survive past a few days. One particular incident involved a duckling who'd gotten into the wading pool with no way of getting out on its own. When we found it, it was still alive. I held it for a while, trying to warm it up enough to be okay under a heat lamp. But when I got home from work, it had passed away. Other times they lived long enough to be a snack for the coyotes and owls, who lost their homes to the "progress" of fracking and new construction.

My roomies gave me a greater appreciation for power of nature. They also taught me that power can be borrowed. Since we live in a state prone to tornadoes and severe storms, the property was protected by placing knives at the corners. We could watch the radar and see the more serious storms split around the area. Every time. It was done well enough that we'd still get the rain, but danger passed us by. It was amazing and awe inspiring to see a spell so simple work that well.

So, even though my new place doesn't have that island, the kitchen is still where the magick comes together, through food and friends. It is the heart of my home.