Give me a break!

I got to cassette 14 of “Wicked” only to find out that it had a manufacturing flaw (the tape was twisted during asembly). Nothing like getting to the last “chapter” of a book, only to find the “pages ripped out”!

I actually sat down and went through the entire tape from end to end, just to make sure that it wasn’t something that could be fixed by hand. It’s not. Either the tape needs to be cut and re-spliced, or the whole assembly needs to be taken apart and one of the spindles switched around.

So naturally, I went out to the publisher’s (Recorded Books, LLC) website, found a support number, and called, asking for a replacement. And was promptly told they couldn’t help me because I didn’t buy the stupid thing direct. No, I bought it at Barnes and Noble. So now, I have to run to Barnes and Noble (an hour away, no less), take the entire box back, and deal with them to try to get a full replacement. And of course, do you think I have the receipt? Of course not! I had no intention of returning it! It would’ve been so much easier if Recorded Books would’ve been so kind as to take care of the mess for me. But no, that would’ve been too accomodating of them. Thanks a lot! (Don’t be surprised if I start writing “Return to Sender” on the catalogs you mail me every month out of spite.)

Hopefully Barnes and Noble will exchange it for me without too much trouble…..*sigh*

Oh, and let me just say that the ribbons in cassettes are terribly staticy! The darn thing clung to everything while I was unwinding and rewinding it. You’d think that a piece of plastic covered in rust wouldn’t attract so much static…..

Questions from Witches Weekly

One of the people whose blog I read regularly participates in the Witch’s Weekly exercise. I haven’t decided to commit to answering the questions every week myself, but I particularly likeed this week’s set of questions. So I thought I’d take a run at them.

Do you feel that you are active in your spirituality?
I’m not as active as I’d like to be. I’ve recently been trying to get more pro-active about my spiritual development. This month, I’ve been starting to do fifteen minute breathing meditations. I hope to eventually get this to be a daily part of my practice, but I readily admit that I’m far from it right now. (I’m lucky if I get to it two or three times a week.)

This is one of those cases where I know I need more self-discipline. Unfortunately, I think it’s too easy in Paganism to not take active, experiential steps like this. We spend so much time reading books about Paganism, that we tend to put the books aside and do our meditations, our devotions, and other things. Or maybe it’s just me and I’m projecting my own failings on others. Who can say? But it’s certainly something I’m working on correcting in my life.

What do you consider to be the most tedious task in your path?
This depends on my state of mind. In days when I let myself fool myself into thinking I’m “too busy,” it’s easy to claim that the meditation work is tedious. It’s one of those things that it’s easy to say “I don’t have the time, and I’m not really getting anything out of it, anyway.”

But when I actually stop and think about it — and when I’ve actually been doing the meditations, I know that’s a bunch of bull. Currently, my goal is fifteen minutes. And I know I can make fifteen minutes to meditate. I just have to be brutally honest about how much time (several times longer than fifteen minutes, I assure you) I waste watching television and surfing the web. I could easily take fifteen minutes away from these activities to do my meditation.

And when I’m doing it, I realize just how much I really do get out of it. I feel much calmer. I feel more energetic. And I feel like I could conquer the world and do anything. When I stop and think about it, I have to admit that the only reason I find it “tedious” is that I’m being wrong-headed — and bull-headed — about it.

What is your most enjoyable part of your spirituality?

I think what I really like about it is the nature of the “call” involved. As time goes on, I feel a gentle, loving “call” to my spirituality. My recent desire to gain more self-discipline is the result of such a gentle “call.” It’s this sense that I know I need to do these things, yet it completely lacks condemnation for not doing these things in the past. It’s the fact that I can always look at where I am, pat myself on the back, and yet feel that pull to climb ever onward and upward. It’s both challenging and encouraging.

My issue with “open letters to Wiccans”

Recently, I’ve been in a Harry Potter mood. In a few more days, I suspect I might actually consider getting out one of my Harry Potter books on tapes and going through it again. But that’s a bit of a tangent. My recent Harry Potter mood is “background” for this entry, not the central matter.

While I was in the Harry Potter mood, I decided to do some searches for online stuff about Harry Potter. I found a list of the various “spells” mentioned or used in the books so far. I found some curious quizzes. They even have one about the unorganized “Harry Potter is evil incarnate” campaign. I actually enjoyed taking that quiz.

And naturally, I ran across a few sites that were apart of that particular campaign. I won’t bother writing any remarkable details about any of them. Truth be told, I don’t think there were any remarkable details. Just the usual nonsense. “Harry Potter encourages children to practice witchcraft!” “Harry Potter makes people who don’t practice witchcraft look like losers!” “Harry Potter promotes disobedience and rebellion.” Honestly, once you’ve seen one such site, you can pretty much expect a strong feeling of deja vu every time you visit another site of the same type. No one’s ever accused Harry Potter protestors of being creative, and it’s pretty obvious why.

But on the one site, I found a link to yet another open letter to Wiccans. One of these days, I think I’m going to start trying to keep a running tally of how many such letters I can find online. There are tons of them. And quite frankly, the people who write them don’t seem to be any more creative than the people who go on about how evil Harry Potter is. That’s probably partly because they’re the same people a lot of times.

There’s really nothing remarkable abou this “open letter” when compared to others of its kind. In fact, I think the only thing remarkable about it is that it’s fairly representative of all such “open letters.” And as I was reading this particular letter, I noticed a certain pattern. So I decided I wanted to reflect upon it.

What really catches my attention is the “background” of the person writing the letter. Most of the people I’ve seen write such letters naturally have experience in the occult. (I do note however, that this one admits that his experience is in Spiritualism rather than Wicca, though he fails to seriously address whether that distinction is important.) But more importantly, they’re “driven” to it by some sort of psychological need, usually of an extreme nature. For example, in this particular letter, the writer was driven to it by the traumatic death of both of his parents and his own resultant fear of death.

In telling about these events that led to their interest in the occult, such writers often seem to make it a heart-rending story. Well, in fairness, I’m sure it was very heart-rending, and they’re only telling it like it is. But as someone sitting here waiting to be “witnessed to,” I still find it a bit bothersome. It seems to me as if the whole set up is to evoke an emotional reaction in me, to create a sympathetic state of mind where I will read the rest of the letter in such an emotional state. In some ways, I can’t help but wonder if the writer isn’t trying to be a wee bit manipulative, trying to get me to respond out of an emotionally charged state of mind rather than careful consideration of these words.

The other thing that bothers me is the implications of such a story. The writer never considers that their traumatic experiences and emotional unrest might not have contributed to their experiences of the occult, thereby biasing them. It seems to me as if there’s this silent implication that the only reason someone might get involved in such things is because of emotional trauma and psychological problems. In effect, such letters seem to me to prey on those who are still emotionally wounded and use their wounded state to the advantage of the writer’s own agenda.

This is why such letters have a different effect on me, I think. I don’t identify with the “wounded child getting messed up with things he shouldn’t.” Instead, I look at such letters and go, “Wow, you really shouldn’t have been messing with such things. You did all of this for completely the wrong reasons.” And their failure to acknowledge these truths causes me to approach the rest of the letter with a heightened sense of skepticism.

I don’t know, I think I’d be much more impressed by an “open letter” that was written by someone who didn’t bring such emotional instabilities with them into their “occult experimentation.” Or I could even be impressed if they didn’t make such instabilities and insecurities the entire foundation for their foray into occult matters. Heck, I can even respect someone who would at least admit how such things might have biased their experiences and their interpretations of such experiences. At least then I would feel like I’m reading something written by a reasonable individual. But someone like this author, I can’t help but look at his letter and shake my head. Because to me, the clear problem in his story is himself, not the occult.

Good weekend and realizations

I had a great weekend. I particularly liked how my Saturday turned out. I got up at around 8:45 that morning and took my shower. Then I decided to drive over to IHOP and have breakfast. I decided to go with the biscuits and eggs with sausage and sausage gravy. It was absolutely delicious. And it sounded good to me because it’s one of their few menu items that doesn’t come with pancakes. I was not in the mood for pancakes. I tend to get in moods where it’s very clear to me that I don’t want certain foods, and I try my best to listen to it. I often find there’s good reason for it after the fact.

After breakfast, I decided to run to Barnes and Noble. I love the store in Vestal. It’s quite huge. It’s not as impressive as the two story buildings that I’ve heard stories about. But it has a lot of books in stock. So I ended up doing some window shopping, which turned into a shopping spree of way too much money. I’m glad that I don’t go to the Vestal Barnes and Noble very often. If I did, I’d be broke. But I found some excellent reading material, including an unabridged copy of Gregory Maguire’s Wicked on tape. I started listening to it yesterday.

After that, I went back to my hotel room and read for a while. At around 1pm, I decided that it was time to think about food. I decided that Applebee’s was a block or so away, so I decided to walk there. As I went, I decided to walk some extra distance (around the entire plaza Applebee’s is in) in order to make a full twenty minute walk. Hey, I decided that I might as well get my exercise in, too. In fact, I did a lot of walking on Saturday. In all, I know for sure that I walked over forty minutes total that day. Go me!

When I got done with my walk, I decided I didn’t want to go to Applebee’s, though. Instead, I decided I was in the mood for Chinese, so I hit the buffet in the same plaza. I think I mainly wanted it because of the beef and broccoli. I’ve been wanting more vegetables again, and I’m tired of raw vegetables. I think I might look into having more stir fries for meals.

After lunch, I decided to go for a soak in the jacuzzi. That was highly enjoyable. And then after that, i decided to go for a drive around the Vestal and Binghamton areas. I’m trying to learn those areas better. I’d really like to know where I am and how to get where I want to go. I mean, usually, I just have Mike drive while we’re together. But it’d be nice if I could get around when I’m not with him. So I’m working on improving that.

Other than that, I just relaxed the rest of the day. It was quite nice. I had the curtains in the hotel room open for most of the day, too. I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m not getting enough sunlight. On Saturday, I was very energized and relaxed, and I think a lot of it has to do with how much time I spent in the sun. So I might have to make some lifestyle changes there. I’m also looking at seeing if putting those “full spectrum light bulbs” in my computer room would help a bit. I don’t think I can rely on that alone, but maybe it would at least help my motivation enough to get me out of the house to get some real sunlight.

I also think I gained a bit of insight into my struggle to exercise. For some stupid reason, my brain fights the idea because I feel like it’s an “obligation.” I know that’s stupid, but it’s true. So I need to find a way to make it an enjoyable thing. More than that, I need to make it something I want to do. I had absolutely no problem walking all that time in Vestal.

Of course, part of that is because I was walking someplace. I wasn’t just going for a twenty minute trek around a walking path, or weaving through the mall for twenty minutes. I was going for a stroll to eat lunch. Or I was walking over to the gas station to get a couple liters of water. Or I was walking to the drug store to get some odds and ends I forgot. I can handle that so much better. Too bad there’s no place to walk to here at home. Well, there’s the gas station, but that’s three miles away.

I’ll have to figure something out.

He’s back in print!

Today, I ran to Waldenbook’s to pick up my order. I got a copy of both Witchcraft Today and The Meaning of Witchcraft by Gerald Gardner. After being told that they weren’t available in the U.S. six to nine months ago, I was finally able to order a copy of them. Of course, I have used copies of both, but I was glad to get brand new copies. Especially since my used copy of Witchcraft Today is so old the pages are just about falling out and my copy of The Meaning of Witchcraft has a blank (misprinting) page in it. That was annoying when I found it. So I’m glad to have new, in print copies.

Personally, I’m ecstatic that Gardner’s books are back in print. I loved reading them, and I think that they are very telling. I look at some of the things that Gardner makes so abundantly clear (such as the Goddess and God being “the little gods” rather than an Infinite Creator) that most people today never even stop to consider. There’s just so much in his books that most Pagans don’t even seem to know about these days.

Unfortunately, I don’t expect that they’ll sell many copies. It seems to me that the current consumer tendency towards “how to” books will keep Gardner’s books to a rather small readership. Because after all, he doesn’t give careful instructions on how to do any spells or rituals. In fact, he doesn’t give any such details at all. Sure, he describes a couple things, but not in enough detail to do them effectively. His books are informative and descriptive rather than instructive. And because of that, most people will likely toss it aside. Heck, I doubt they’ll even make it to the shelves on most bookstores. To be honest, I even told Jeanine an Waldenbooks not to bother stocking them, despite the fact that they’re excellent books.

Of course, the “anniversary edition” of Witchcraft Today irks me in its own right. They’ve made it an “expanded edition” by adding extra essays from “big names” in Paganism. These “big names” include Judy Harrow, the founder of the Protean tradition; Ronald Hutton, of Triumph of the Moon fame; and Wren Walker, co-founder of The Witch’s Voice. Now, let me say right up front that I have no problems with any of these individuals. They are all respectable individuals that have made good contributions to Paganism in general. And even their essays in this book aren’t bad in their own right. My only annoyance with it all is that my first skim of this “added material” is primarily there to make the book appealing to the “Wicca is what you want to make it” crowd by stroking their egos. It’s all about how Gardner was an “innovator” in his own days or how “Wicca” has changed since his day. I’m sorry, but I just find that sad. Why not let the man’s book stand on its own right? Why not embrace the fact that the man was a Traditionalist and wrote from a Traditionalist standpoint. Why must everything be made to cater to the “eclectic” community.

Oh wait, that’s where the money is, right? *sigh* Somedays, I hate that the publishing industry is a business.

Unsent Letter

Dear Z,

Well, hello there. I doubt you never expected me to write you another letter, did you? I mean, it’s been over four years since we’ve had any contact at all. I’m not sure you even think of me. I don’t know how I feel that. For the most part, I’m fine with it. You’re out of my life, I’ve moved on, and I’m happy to keep it that way. That’s while you’ll never actually “receive” this letter. But that’s okay. I’m not writing it for you. I’m writing it for me. So you’ll forgive me if I picture you on the other end reading this. I know it’ll never happen, but just picturing it makes me feel content.

I’m not sure what kind of letter this is going to be. I’m not entirely sure why I’m even writing it. I just know that even after all of this time, I still think of you every now and then. I even wrote a couple of diary entries about you last Fall. So I figured I’d write you a letter. I don’t know. Maybe this is my goodbye letter. Maybe some part of me hopes that once I write this, I can quit thinking about you from time to time. Though another part of me doubts that’s going to happen.

At any rate, I just wanted to share my thoughts and memories of “our” past with you. Even if I continue to think of you — and it’s not a totally terrible thing to think of you — at least I’ll have gotten a chance to express those thoughts. And I guess that’s all I really feel that I need right now. So anyway, here we go.

We broke up five and a half years ago. No, let’s rephrase that. You dumped me five and a half years ago. I’m not exactly bitter about that, you know. As I say it, I’m not even really angry about it. I just want to state how things went down clearly. Maybe it’s petty of me. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. But like I said, I’m not angry. In retrospect, I now realize that it was bound to happen.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I was angry with you once upon a time. But you know that, don’t you? I chewed you out in an email a year after the fact. What can I say? I’m human, and I get angry. I will neither excuse it nor rationalize it. Just don’t expect me to apologize for it, either.

Of course, in fairness, I don’t blame you for everything bad in that mess I thought of as a relationship. (I’m still not sure whether you ever actually considered it one.) I made my share of mistakes. I was less than a model boyfriend. And for that, I’m sorry. But I’ve grown since then.

I suppose most people would say the regretted the relationship and the breakup, considering how messy it was. But I’m not most people. I can only look back, nod, and say what a fool I was. But I also have to look at the path leading on from there and realize that my foolishness earned me wisdom. One of the people on a mailing list I frequent often comments that experience is the thing that you get after you needed it. I’ve always liked that saying since the first time I heard her utter it. I think that’s partly because that’s how I see the nightmare I went through with you.

I learned a lot about myself and relationships from dealing with the emotional rollercoaster dating you put me through. Or perhaps I should say that I discovered the kinds of things that I needed to unlearn because of it. Either way, it works. And it makes a lot of sense.

I’m dating a wonderful guy now. His name is Mike. We’ve been together for three years now. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, though the relationship hasn’t always been easy. Like I said, I’ve had to unlearn a lot of things. I still have things I need to unlearn, but I’m doing better now. Unlearning is rough business. Especially because things go to hell until you do.

There were little things about Mike that would give me flashbacks to my experience with you. Like the way he’s so tightlipped with his feelings. He doesn’t wear his heart on his shirt sleeve like I do. So there have been times when I would see him not expressing how he felt, and it would terrify me. I’d become frightened that, like you, he would suddenly decide he doesn’t have feelings for me after all. And let’s face it, you did that more than once, despite the obvious truth to the contrary.

But I’m slowly learning something. There’s a huge difference between you and Mike. Mike simply feels uncomfortable expressing his feelings at any great depth. But he acknowledges that he has them. You’d never do that. Hell, half the time, you weren’t willing to admit your feelings to yourself. In a way, I kind of pity you for that. But understanding that has enabled me to start seeing Mike in a different way. I now can rest comfortable on the knowledge that he does have those feelings, regardless of whether he expresses them. Sure, I might have a moment’s insecurity. But I can let it wash over me, and then take a serious look at our relationship. And there comes a point when I can acknowledge that while my insecurity — while very real on an emotional level — is not rational. And I can live with the occasional irrational fear, I think. Especially considering that addressing them in this way seems to make them quite short-lived.

At one point, I think I was mad at you about all this. Or at least I think I thought that I was mad at you about all this. I was mad that I had to unlearn things. I was made that I found myself comparing Mike to you and getting all emotional on him. But in reality, I think was more mad at myself. I was frustrated.

You see, I’m not even sure how much of this was “you” at all. Oh sure, everything I’ve said about you is true. YOu did deny your feelings. You did vascillate on how you saw our relationship. You did put me through an emotional game. But in the end, I played that game. I stuck in there. And to be honest, you only played off of things going on in my own heart. I can’t help but wonder, if it hadn’t been you, would it have been someone else? I think it probably would’ve been.

Like I said, I’ve grown stronger. I’ve grown older. I’ve grown wiser. And I’ve been able to rebuild myself into a better person. And in a sense, this all came from my experiences with you. But don’t pat yourself on the back too much. As I said, I think that if I hadn’t gotten messed up with you, I would’ve experienced much the same with someone else. So I’m taking 95% of the credit for this myself. I’ll leave you 5%, just as a token of my love for you.

Yeah, that’s the strangest part. I still love you. I probably love you more now than I did back when we were together. But it’s a very different kind of love. For starters, it’s not the kind of love that I’d ever build a relationship on. I don’t see you that way at all. Besides, like I said, I’ve been with a man I dearly love in that way for three years.

Instead, it’s the kind of love that one has for past memories. It’s the kind of love that one has for people and experiences that have touched them somehow. Let’s face it, you were a part of my life. In a way, you still are a part of my life. I think you always will be. I’m not sure I’d want you to be an active part of my life, even as a friend. I’m just not sure how I feel about that. But my time with you has shaped what I am now, and that is something I will cherish and honor. After all, it’s a matter of cherishing and honoring myself. And I deserve that. I owe that to myself.

So there you go. Take care of yourself. And I hope that your own experiences have led you out of your own nightmare.

— Jarred.

Fun with lists

This is a “List of 100.” It’s an idea I’ve borrowed from a new journal book I’m reading. Yes, some of the items on the lists are repeats. That’s perfectly acceptable. The point of the exercise is to write things as they come to you. Writing repeats helps you to keep moving.

100 Things I like about myself
1. I’m funny.
2. I’m sensitive.
3. I like to express my feelings.
4. I can laugh at myself.
5. I love computers.
6. I’m willing to help others.
7. I’m a good listener.
8. I’m a sensualist.
9. I give good head.
10. I like to read.
11. I can figure out just about anything.
12. I can be quite committed when something matters to me.
13. I’m willing to consider the possibility that I’m wrong.
14. I like to play games.
15. I can usually understand other people’s perspectives.
16. I can still hold my own opinion despite what other people think.
17. I can usually get myself under control.
18. I’m more interesting in making my lover happy.
19. I’m very submissive.
20. I can trust people.
21. I can get along with most people.
22. I can keep my opinions to myself when I need to.
23. I have a decent idea of who I am.
24. I’m gay.
25. I can be very understanding.
26. I can be an intellectual.
27. I know how to listen.
28. I can make other people laugh, even when they’re down.
29. I have a killer smile.
30. I have a soothing voice.
31. I can sing well when I put my mind to it.
32. I know how to play.
33. I know what I want.
34. I’m learning how to stick up for myself.
35. I love stupid television shows.
36. I love stupid movies.
37. I’m a hopeless romantic at times.
38. I can be pragmatic.
39. I can make other people happy.
40. I can write.
41. I can sing.
42. I don’t stay angry for long.
43. I don’t generally hold grudges.
44. I can love with my whole heart.
45. I know how to let go.
46. I know how to make myself vulnerable.
47. I don’t let my fears control me.
48. I love animals.
49. I can get along with most animals.
50. I have a soft touch.
51. I know how to listen.
52. I usually give good advice.
53. I know enough not to give advice in some situations.
54. I can usually empathize with others.
55. I love animals.
56. I give good head.
57. I can drive far if something matters to me.
58. I can see others’ perspectives.
59. I know a bit about musical theory.
60. I can do things for others.
61. I’m very generous.
62. I can dance.
63. I took ballet in college for two semesters.
64. I don’t always take myself seriously.
65. I’m cute in my own way.
66. I’m very cuddly.
67. I’m physically affectionate.
68. I like talking to people.
69. I can spend time by myself.
70. I know how to relax.
71. I can usually put my life in perspective.
72. My moodiness never lasts long.
73. I like giving others gifts.
74. I can usually see things clearly.
75. I can usually get past my emotional reactions to things.
76. I like children.
77. I am very protective of my “family.”
78. I’m usually very respectful.
79. I can usually smile at a moment’s notice and make it look natural.
80. I’m learning to be comfortable with my own self.
81. I’m willing to try new things.
82. I want to play.
83. I prefer cuddling to sex.
84. I like to dance.
85. I can be creative.
86. I can be very symbolic.
87. I can make a serious commitment.
88. Other people are important to me.
89. I’m a man.
90. I can dance.
91. My computer is a big part of my life.
92. I can be very friendly.
93. People like me.
94. I’m adorable.
95. I can be funny when I’m ranting.
96. I like acting like a kid.
97. My life is pretty much how I want it.
98. I know I’m in control for the most part.
99. I don’t like superficiality.
100. My love life is wonderful.

Another good day

Well, this was another day of doing little, but getting things done that will benefit me overall. For starters, I managed to do yet another fifteen minute meditation. I could grow to enjoy that. I may have to try and figure out a way to continue it while at work. I could take fifteen minutes out of my lunch break, but I need to work out the circumstances. I don’t think I’d manage to do it at the office. People don’t respect a person’s lunch break if they’re still in the building. So I’d end up getting interrupted. So I might see about trying it in my car. I could just sit in the driver’s seat. If I leaned back a bit, most people might even assume that I was taking a nap and leave me alone. I might have to try that.

I have found that having some sort of timer is an absolute benefit when meditating. It creates a situation where you can relax and really get into the process of calming and focusing your mind. Before I got this little programmable digital timer I now use, I’d find myself having to worry about what time it was or how long it’s taken. But now that I can just set the timer, close my eyes, and remain confident that my little “buddy” will let me know when it’s time to stop, I found I can focus much more on what I’m attempting.

If I remember right, I got the fifteen minute time limit from the ADF Dedicant’s program. It’s the nominal time for daily meditations that they recommend (though they actually require much less to complete the program — or least used to). I’m beginning to understand why. There seems to be something about that time frame. Today, as I was doing my meditation, I found a certain pattern forming. And I’m pretty sure that yesterday worked the same way. It seems as though the first few minutes of that time span is spent trying to relax and actually get into the right state of mind. Then the majority of the time is spent in a good meditative state — I completely zoned today, I think. But by the end of the fifteen minutes, I’ve been finding that my mind starts “resurfacing” on its own. My state of meditation tends to get much lighter. And this usually happens — at my best guess, since I don’t actually look — about two to three minutes before the timer goes off.

I also went for my mile walk today, again. This time, I made the circuit in sixteen to seventeen minutes. I think that’s a minute faster than yesterday. I”m really quite surprised that I’m able to walk it that quickly. Maybe it means that I’m not in quite as bad shape as I thought I was. Sure I still have to lose about 100 pounds, but I’m not just doing this to lose weight. I’m also doing this for my stanima and other health concerns. The weight loss — which I do hope comes eventually — is just one more benefit . And a healthy one at that. Of coruse, I also need to cut back on the sweets again and generally watch my eating habbits. But that’s next on my list. I honestly think that my biggest concern is my lack of physical activity. So hopefully, we’ll be fixing that soon enough.

Tomorrow, I’m walking at the mall. I don’t want to go down to the park because they’re having a tractor pull there. From what I understand, that will be right next to the walking path — if not straddling it! So I figure it’ll be just as safe to go someplace else. And with any luck, the mall will be empty. But I know it’s open, because Raechel says Friendly’s will be open.

Good day, a few activities

This has been a pretty good for today. I’m not sure how productive I’d call it. Except that some of the things I did will definitely prove beneficial for me. Especially if I can manage to keep up with them over a long period of time.

The first thing that I did was a fifteen minute breathing meditation. It went quite well, once I got over the shakes in the beginning. That was quite interesting, really. There’s nothing like having small shudders through your body as you’re tryign to relax and get your breathing into a slow, steady rhythm. But once I managed that, I did quite well. I did have to adjust my body’s position about ten minutes through it, though. I suddenly found myself feeling slightly uncomfortable. I really need to make time to do this more often. I don’t meditate nearly often enough.

The next thing I did was go down to the park and walk the path there. I even went a full mile. I’m trying to convince myself to get up the dedication to walk regularly again. It’s something I know I need to do. I also know how good it is for me. I know that when I walk regularly, I’m much more clear minded. My emotional state tends to be better, overall. Isn’t it funny how we fail to do things that we know are good for us?

This evening, I also went out. I needed to just get out of the house for a bit. So I ran out and bought a collar and leash for Precious. I want to be able to take her outdoors under controlled circumstances. I don’t want to let her out to roam free — I don’t think I’ll ever feel comfortable doing that even if her next FeLV test comes back negative. But I do want to be able to let her go out with me. She gets so jealous when Dad takes the dog out on the front porch to sit.

While I was out, I also ate at Friendly’s. I had a nice conversation with Rachael. She and I haven’t talked for weeks. It was nice. And her little boy is growing up quite quickly. He looks like such an imp, too.

While I was at the restaurant, I also sat down and read chapter twelve of Triumph of the Moon. Of course, I still have to reach chapters four through eleven. However, J pointed out to me that each chapter is mostly self-contained, so I decided to read the chapter that the online discussion group is currently discussing. That way, I can keep up with the conversation and participate. I just have to remember to go back through and read the other chapters.

China Goddesses?

The other night, a friend was showing me various “Goddess pictures” he’s collected over the last few years. As I was sitting there, looking at them, I began to notice a pattern in all of them. All of the pictures, while drawn with exquisite talent and an eye for detail, seemed unreal to me. They all had this almost ephemeral look to them.

I began to notice that every picture of every goddess seemed to picture a slim, almost ghostly woman in a flowing gown of some short. And in each picture, it gave the deity pictured an appearance that was so idealized and stylized that she didn’t seem…well, human. And not in a good way.

It seems to me that I’ve found this characteristic in a lot of “Goddess” artwork in the last five years. It’s as if many artist try to create a lofty picture, but in effect creates a picture of an unreal, untouchable being. (Indeed, they almost look as if they’d be sullied or even broken if we touched them, much like a china doll.) Where is the artwork of real goddesses? Where are the pictures of Artemis walking through the forest in huntress clothes? Where are the pictures of Aphrodite, exuding enough sex appeal to make your average male pop a boner just looking at her? Where’s the picture of the Mother Goddesses who actually look like they’ve held a child and had said child spit up on her?

We Pagans talk about how our gods are close to us. We talk about how they are readily available and even imminent. And yet, then we turn around and create artwork which almost seems to contradict this. I find myself wondering how much we believe our own words.

Not that I’m guiltless of this. I’ve had my times where I’ve pictured my own “china doll Goddess,” too. I’ve pictured the gods as untouchable and unrealistically idealized. But I’ve also come to find more “realistic” images. I try to picture Freyja in a down-to-earth outfit that both exudes sex appeal and strength. I’ve tried to see her in the kind of garb as worn by the spakona. I’ve tried to see her as more real.

The thoughts of a gay witch living in upstate New York.

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