Whatever you celebrate, I hope it's beautiful for you.
Sunday, 25 December 2011
Whatever you celebrate, I hope it's beautiful for you.
Saturday, 24 December 2011
This time last year we'd been settled for just over a week, having left our home of nearly a decade. There were good things and bad things about that. I'd hoped, futilely as it turned out, that once we got moved and settled the worst would be behind us, and we could start moving forward with life again, but of course the universe had a few more curve balls to throw our way over the course of the year to come. I won't even pretend that it's been easy, or that I've come through it smiling and strong. That old saw about what doesn't kill you makes you stronger? That's bullshit. What doesn't kill you just leaves you scarred and sad. If you're lucky, you might be able to take some meaning away from it that will be of use to you in the future. And scars? Sometimes they fade, but rarely do they completely go away.
It's Christmas Eve now, another year down and another milestone (or millstone) of a birthday staring me in my metaphorical face. It's going to be a cold, clear night. Soon we'll go out, and spend the evening with my relatives, then cruise slowly home looking at the lights along the way. If tonight is like many other Christmas Eve nights, I'll turn on the midnight mass on TV and watch it for a few minutes, then get bored with it and return to the internet. Tonight I'll probably watch holiday themed episodes of Bones or X-Files on DVD. I have no savior's birth to celebrate; but what I do have is the possibility of my own resourcefulness carrying me forward into whatever the next phase of my life will be, and that's a reasonable enough gift. I do have things to be glad of, things to give me joy, and if they can't always balance out the darkness, well, that's all right. This time of year is all about light increasing, and candles against the night.
Happy holidays to you all.
Friday, 16 December 2011
Thursday, 15 December 2011
Wednesday, 14 December 2011
Dua Netjer! Dua Bast!
Tuesday, 13 December 2011
Monday, 12 December 2011
What joys did this first day bring?
A DVD I'd ordered arrived. It's a refresher/instructional video for American Tribal Style belly dance, my preferred dance style and the one in which I used to perform a few years ago. I've missed it, and when I saw this disc advertised I thought it looked like just the thing. I was very happy to find it in the mailbox.
I tested for a company for which I think I'd like to freelance. Even being asked to test was rather flattering, and I felt that I acquitted myself reasonably well. Now to the waiting, to see if they agree!
So, there's a start. Dua Netjer! Dua Bast!
Prayer to Thoth
Lord of Language, Warden of Words
Most well-spoken of all birds,
Sacred Ibis, we beseech
your wisdom. Grant our wish: please teach
the wit and way to model speech
in such a way our prayers will reach
your ears, and so be stirred.
Holy Thoth, Lord Ra's tongue:
give us words; leave us not dumb.
Joyous paeans we'll intone
aloud to praise your gifts, alone
above all others. Do condone
our humble hymns, Bird-lord be-throned,
Accept our thanks and worship, sung.
Friday, 9 December 2011
(Please forgive the sentimentality; blame it on the season and my advancing decrepitude, but this story moved even hyper-rational old me. It was making the rounds on Tumblr. The author is unknown.)
Santa's Advice to Pagans
We had a nice, serene kind of Solstice Circle. No jingling bells or faked-out Christmas Carols. Soon after the last coven member left, Jack was ready to pack it in.
“The baby’s nestled all snug in her bed,” he said with a yawn, “I think I’ll go settle in for a long winter’s nap.”
I heaved a martyred sigh. He grinned unrepentantly, kissed me, called me a grinch, and went to bed. I stayed up and puttered around the house, trying to unwind. I sifted through the day’s mail, ditched the flyers urging us to purchase all the Seasonal Joy we could afford or charge.
I opened the card from his parents. Another sermonette: a manger scene and a bible verse, with a handwritten note expressing his mother’s fervent hope that God’s love and Christmas spirit would fill our hearts in this blessed season. She means well, really. I amused myself by picking out every Pagan element I could find in the card.
When the mail had been sorted, I got up and started turning our ritual room back into a living room. As if the greeting card had carried a virus, I found myself humming Christmas carols. I turned on the classic rock station, but they were playing that Lennon-Ono Christmas song. I switched stations. The weatherman assured me that there was only a twenty percent chance of snow. Then, by Loki, the deejay let Bruce Springsteen insult my ears crooning, “yah better
watch out, yah better not pout.” I tried the Oldies station. Elvis lives, and he does Christmas songs. Okay, fine. We’ll do classical ~ no, we won’t. They’re playing Handel’s Messiah. Maybe the community radio station would have something secular humanist.
“Ahora, escucharemos a Jose Feliciano canta 'Feliz Navidad’.”
I was getting annoyed. The radio doesn’t usually get this saturated with holiday mush until the twenty-fourth.
“This is too weird.” I said to the radio, “Cut that crap out.”
The country station had some Kenny Rogers Christmas tune, the first rock station had gone from John and Yoko’s Christmas song to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Silent Night,” and the other rock station still had Springsteen reliving his childhood. “—I’m tellin’ you why. Santa Claus is comin’ to town!” he bellowed.
I was about to pick out a nice secular CD when there was a knock at the door.
Now, it could have been a coven member who’d forgotten something. It could have been someone with car trouble. It could have been any number of things, but it certainly couldn’t have been a stout guy in a red suit—snowy beard, rosy cheeks, and all—backed by eight reindeer and a sleigh. I blinked, wondered crazily where Rudolph was, and blinked again. There were nine reindeer. Our twenty-percent chance of snow had frosted the dead grass and was continuing to
float down in fat flakes.
“Hi, Frannie.” he said warmly, “I’ve missed you.”
“I’m stone cold sober, and you don’t exist.”
He looked at me with a mixture of sorrow and compassion and sighed heavily.
“That’s why I miss you, Frannie. Can I come in? We need to talk.”
I couldn’t quite bring myself to slam the door on this vision, hallucination, or whatever. So I let him in, because that made more sense then letting all the cold air in while I argued with someone who wasn’t there.
As he stepped in, a thought crossed my mind about various entities needing an invitation to get in houses. He flashed me a smile that would melt the polar caps.
“Don’t you miss Christmas, Frannie?”
“No.” I said flatly, “Apparently you don’t see me when I’m sleeping and waking these days. I haven’t been Christian for years.”
“Oh, now don’t let that stop you. We both know this holiday’s older than that. Yule trees and Saturnalia and here-comes-the- sun, doodoodendoodoo. “
I raised an eyebrow at the Beatles reference, then gave him my standard sermonette on the appropriation and adulteration that made Christmas no longer a Pagan holiday. I had done my homework. I listedcenturies, I named names—St.Nicholas among them.
“In the twentieth century version,” I assured him, “Christmas is two parts crass commercialism mixed with one part blind faith in a religion I rejected years ago.” I gave him my best lines, the ones that had convinced my coven to abstain from Christmassy cliches. My hallucination sat in Jack’s favorite chair, nodding patiently at me.
“And you,” I added nastily, “come here talking about ancient customs when you—in your current form—were invented in the nineteenth century by, um…Clement C. Moore.”
He laughed, a rolling, belly-deep chuckle unlike any department-store Santa I’d ever heard.
“Of course I change my form now and then to suit fashion. Don’t you? And does that stop you from being yourself?” He said, and asked me if I remembered Real Magic, by Isaac Bonewits.
I gaped at him for a moment, then caught myself. “This is like 'Labyrinth’, right? I’m having a dream that pretends to be real, but is only made from pieces of things in my memory. You don’t look a thing like David Bowie.”
“Bonewits has this Switchboard Theory.” Santa went on amiably, “The energy you put into your beliefs influences the real existence of the archetypal—oh, let me put it simpler: “in the beginning, Man createdGod’. Ian Anderson.”
He lit a long-stemmed pipe. The tobacco had a mild and somehow Christmassy smell, and every puff sent up a wreath of smoke. “I’m afraid it’s a bit more complicated than Bonewits tells it, but
that’s close enough for mortals. Are you with me so far?”
“Oh, sure.” I lied as unconvincingly as possible.
Santa sighed heavily.
“When’s the last time you left out hot tea and cookies for me?”
“When I figured out my parents were eating them.”
“Frannie, Frannie. Remember pinda balls, from Hinduism?”
“Rice balls left as offerings for ancestors and gods.”
“Do Hindus really believe that the ancestors and gods eat pinda balls?”
“All right, y’got me there. They say that spirits consume the spiritual essence, then mortals can have what’s left.”
“Mm-hm.” Santa smiled at me compassionately through his snowy beard.
I rallied quickly. “What about the toys? I know for a fact they aren’t made by you and a bunch of non-union Elves.”
“Oh, that’s quite true. Manufacturing physical objects out of magical energy is terribly expensive and breaks several laws of Nature—She only allows us to do that on special occasions. It certainly couldn’t be done globally and annually. Now, the missus and the Elves and I really do have a shop at the North Pole. Not the sort of thing the Air Force would ever find. What we make up there is what makes this time a holiday, no matter what religion it’s called.”
“Don’t tell me,” I said, rolling my eyes, “you make the sun come back.”
“Oh my, no. The solar cycle stuff, the Reason For The Season, isn’t my department. My part is making it a holiday. We make a mild, non-addictive psychedelic thing called Christmas spirit. Try some.”
He dipped his fingers in a pocket and tossed red-gold-green- silver glitter at me. I could have ducked. I don’t know why I didn’t.
It smelled like snow and pine needles, and cedar chips in the fireplace. It smelled like fruitcake, cornbread, savory herbal stuffing, like that foamy white stuff you spray on the window with
stencils. It felt like a crisp wind, Grandma’s hugs, fuzzy new mittens, pine needles scrunching under my slippers. I saw twinkle lights, mistletoe in the doorway, smiling faces from years gone by. Several Christmas carols played almost simultaneously in a kind of medley. I fought my way back to my living room and glared sternly at the hallucination in Jack’s chair.
“Fun stuff. Does the DEA know about this?”
“Oh, Frannie. Why are you such a hard case? I told you it’s non-addictive and has no harmful side effects. Would Santa Claus lie to you?”
I opened my mouth and closed it again. We looked at each other a while.
“Can I have some more of that glittery stuff?”
“Mmmm. I think you need something stronger. Try a sugarplum.”
I tasted rum ball. Peppermint. Those hard candies with the picture all the way through. Mama’s favorite fudge. A chorus line of Christmas candies danced through my mouth. The Swedish Angel Chimes, run on candle power, say tingatingatingating . Mama, with a funny smile, promised to give Santa my letter.
Greeting cards taped on the refrigerator door. We rode through the tree farm on a straw-filled trailer pulled by a red and green tractor, looking for a perfect pine. It was so big, Daddy had to
cut a bit off so the star wouldn’t scrape the ceiling. Lights, ornaments, tinsel. Daddy lifted me up to the mantle to hang my stocking. My dolls stayed up to see Santa Claus, and in the morning they all had new clothes. Grandma carried in platters with the world’s biggest Christmas dinner. Joey’s Christmas puppy chased my Christmas kitten up the tree and it would have fallen over but Daddy held it while Mama got the kitten out. Daddy said every bad word there was but he
kept laughing anyway. I sneaked my favorite plastic horse into the nativity scene, between the camels and the donkey.
I came back to reality slowly, with a silly smile on my face and a tickly feeling behind my eyes like they wanted to cry. The phrase“visions of sugarplums” took on a whole new meaning.
“How long has it been,” Santa asked, “since you played with a nativity set?"
“But it symbolizes—"
“The winter-born king. The sacred Mother and her sun-child. Got a problem with that? You could redecorate it with pentagrams if you like, they’ll look fine. As for the Christianization, I’ve heard who you invoke at Imbolc.”
“But Bridgid was a Goddess for centuries before the Catholic Church--oh.” I crossed my arms and tried to glare at him, but failed. “You’rea sneaky old Elf, y’know?”
“The term is `jolly old Elf.’ Care for another sugarplum?”
I did. I tasted gingerbread. My first nip of soy eggnog the way the grown-ups drink it. Fresh sugar cookies, shaped like trees and decked with colored frosting. Dad had been laid off, but we managed a lot of cheer. They told us Christmas would be “slim pickings.” Joey and I smiled bravely when Mama brought home that spindly spruce. We loaded down our “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree” with every light and ornament it could hold. Popcorn and cranberry strings for the outdoor trees. Mistletoe in the hall: plastic mistletoe, real kisses. Joey and I snipped and glued and stitched and painted treasures to give as presents.
We agonized over our “Santa” letters…by now we knew where the goodies came from, and we tried to compromise between what we longed for and they thought they could afford. Every day we hoped the factory would reopen. When Joey’s dog ate my mitten, I wasn’t brave. I knew that meant I’d get mittens for Christmas, and one less toy. I cried.
On December twenty-fifth we opened our presents ve-ery slo-wly, drawing out the experience. We made a show of cheer over our socks and shirts and meager haul of toys. I got red mittens. We could tell Mama and Daddy were proud of us for being so brave, because they were grinning like crazy.
“Go out to the garage for apples.” Mama told us, “We’ll have apple pancakes.”
I don’t remember having the pancakes. There was a dollhouse in the garage. No mass-produced aluminum thing but a homemade plywood dollhouse with wall-papered walls and real curtains and thread-spool chairs. My dolls were inside, with newly sewn clothes. Joey was on his knees in front of a plywood barn with hay in the loft. His old farm implements had new paint. Our plastic animals were corralled in Popsicle stick fences. The garage smelled like apples and hay, the
cement was bone-chilling under my slippers, and I was crying.
My knees were drawn up to my chest, arms wrapped around them. My chest felt tight, like ice cracking in sunshine. Santa offered me a huge white handkerchief. When all the ice in my chest had melted, he cleared his throat. He was pretty misty-eyed, too.
“Want to come sit on my lap and tell me what you want for Christmas?”
“You’ve already given it to me.” But I sat on his lap anyway, and kissed his rosy cheek until he did his famous laugh.
“I’d better go now, Frannie. I have other stops to make, and you have work to do.”
“Right. I’d better pop the corn tonight, it strings best when it’s stale.”
I let him out the door. The reindeer were pawing impatiently at the moon-kissed new-fallen snow. I’d swear Rudolph winked at me.
“Don’t forget the hot tea and cookies.”
“Right? Uh, December twenty-fourth, or Solstice, or what?”
He shrugged. “Whatever night you expect me, I’ll be there. Eh, don’t wait up. Visits like this are tightly rationed. Laws of Nature, y’know, and She’s strict with them.”
“Gotcha. Thanks, Santa.” I kissed his cheek again. “Happy Holidays.” The phrase had a nice, non-denominational ring to it. I thought I’d call my parents and in-laws soon and try it out on them.
Santa laid his finger aside of his nose and nodded.
“Blessed be, Frannie.”
The sleigh soared up, and Santa really did exclaim something. It sounded like old German. Smart-aleck Elf.
When I closed the door, the radio was playing Jethro Tull’s “Solstice Bells.”
Thursday, 8 December 2011
...Give me not words of consolation. Give me magic, the fire of one beyond the borders of enchantment. Give me the spell of living well...
...I walk in harmony, heaven in one hand, earth in the other. I am the knot where two worlds meet. Red magic courses through me like the blood of Isis, magic of magic, spirit of spirit. I am proof of the power of gods. I am water and dust walking.
Sunday, 27 November 2011
I am a wild goose honking. I am an ember burning in the heartland of Egypt. Open my mouth and fill me with the countless lights of heaven. Bind the jaws of doomsayers and let me dance on their rotten teeth. I strain against the lies told about me as I strain against the bondage of earth. Open my mouth. Build a bright fire of rags on the west bank of the Nile. We shall roast the leg of an antelope. Give all the gods mouths to sing.
(translation by Normandi Ellis)
Sacrificial, dying and resurrecting gods are familiar to us from many cultures, the celebrations of their stories most often closely tied to the agricultural cycles of their places of origin. I was feeling a bit wistful earlier, wondering how it felt to be a literal believer in Christ or another deity, to the point of really deeply engaging with the mythos on an emotional, visceral level. I thought at first that such a feeling would be very alien to my nature--until I realized that it was anything but. I engage on that level frequently, just not in a religious context. Let me explain.
I'm one of those annoying vaguely neo-Jungian types--and you can blame that on my educational background if you like, or on some other personality defect--inclined to blithely spout off about archetypes and symbols and other infuriating buzzwords. While I love the concrete in regular life, spiritually I'm all about the abstractions, baby. It does make it hard for me to grok the soul-deep ecstatic experiences that others claim to have, though I'm comfortable enough just marking that down to differences in our wiring. We're not all designed for the same experience of the sacred, and that's less of an issue for me than it is for those who find my skepticism off-putting or dismissive. (For the record, I rarely mean it that way.) Thus, not being a religious literalist, I am rarely deeply emotionally moved by myth, though of course I can find it very inspirational and meaningful. But who says it has to be a religious myth?
This is Agent Scully; you may remember her from The X-Files. To say that I was and am an XF fan is to also note that fire burns and water is wet. Agent Scully, in this photo, is not happy; she has just discovered the corpse of her partner, Agent Mulder, in a field beneath a tree. (A similar thing happened to Isis, when she sought out Osiris' body and found it lodged in a tamarisk tree.) I was deeply engaged with and emotionally invested in the Mulder/Scully mythos, and I suffered along with them through many years and many changes. And when Scully--as channeled by Gillian Anderson there--fell to her knees and screamed "NO! This is not happening!" as if the words were being ripped from her along with her still-beating heart, I too wept, and agonized along with her, and knew vicariously the viciousness of loss. Through Scully, I came to understand the mourning of Isis. Through Scully, I came to understand grief and love just a little bit better, in ways that I had not yet had to face.
(For a more profound examination of the parallels between the Osiris/Isis myth and the Mulder/Scully mytharc, I recommend The X-Files X-egisis from The Secret Sun.)
Those of us who become involved in fandom are engaging with myth on a daily basis. Those myths may be secular in intention, but what they express to us becomes spiritual in scope. Through myth we examine ourselves through others, we rehearse for those pivotal human experiences yet to come in our lives, or try to recapture those that have already passed.
Whether or not the myth that moves you is of ancient source and religious intent, or as new as next week's episode of a powerfully moving series, does not matter. Let me repeat that: it doesn't matter. What matters is you, and how you engage with the material, and what it means to you--how it moves you, what it makes you think, how it makes you feel, what kind of a person you discover yourself to be because of it. Those are the real mysteries. Agent Booth and Dr. Brennan over there aren't looking too happy themselves, though I daresay they're in better shape than poor Scully; I'll participate in their mythos as it unfolds and find lessons for myself therein. You might take something away from tomorrow's Caprica, or from seeing Avatar again, or from a marathon of Deep Space Nine on DVD. Myth is not restricted to specific times or cultures; it's alive and flourishing within us and all around us, in our popular culture just as surely as it is in our ritual circles and our history books and our churches. The real mysteries transcend all of those things, and are found when the divide between the without and the within fades away.
Monday, 10 October 2011
I might not think that Hermes is "real", but that doesn't mean that I can't aspire to be like Hermes, make art that represents Hermes, talk about Hermes, do things and claim Hermes did them, dress like Hermes, act like Hermes, get other people to call me Hermes, or be Hermes...for myself or others...for a time. Just because something isn't real doesn't mean that you can't experience it. If things that didn't really exist had no power, I sincerely doubt that people would go to see Batman or Iron Man movies. People love connecting with those complex symbols of heroism. People just also know that you can't shine a bat-shaped searchlight when you're getting mugged and that you can't trade in Stark Industries on the NYSE.
Wednesday, 21 September 2011
"'He signed up for it' is the phrase that excuses all sins...As though making sure everyone is in it consensually is the sum total of our moral, ethical, and aesthetic obligations to humanity." ~~Richard Rushfield
(The comment was made in reference to the entertainment industry, in the context of an article lambasting the "celebrity roasts" on Comedy Central; but I think it's more broadly applicable than that. Just because your victim agrees to their abuse--under whatever duress--the perpetrator should in no way be held less culpable for their actions. That holds true in any context.)
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
I don't care how you dress it up, or what labels you attach to it. The ads this "temple" ran for its services were listed under "adult entertainment" and were quite obviously advertising outcall and incall sexual services, which is prostitution, and which is illegal most everywhere. Calling it sacred doesn't make it so. Candles and incense don't make sex-for-money a federally protected religious practice. And go ahead and call me a prude, or tell me I'm still laboring under Judeo-Christian hangups, or whatever, but I will state absolutely that yes, shit like this really does make it a lot harder for pagan women who don't fuck everything that moves or sell their asses and call it sacred to be open about their spirituality. There are still plenty of people out there who conflate "pagan" with "promiscuous" and naturally assume that any woman who assumes that mantle is--hell, may even be religiously required to be--open to all comers. (You should pardon the pun.) Do I speak from bitter, unpleasant experience? Bet on it.
(Disclosure: At this point in my life, I'm a married woman in a monogamous situation. When I was single, that was not necessarily the case, but I did have standards to which I assiduously adhered. At no time in my life have I ever allowed any outside entity, be it a religion or a corporation or a supposed deity or anything else, to dictate my sexual behavior. Nor should you, Gentle Reader.)
Paganism comes in many flavors, some of which wish to be respectable to the larger culture in which we must live. Illegal brothels using the language and symbolism of paganism to acquire a veneer of acceptability are criminal and reprehensible in my book. Do what you will and make your living however you see fit, but not at the expense of the reputations of others.
And yeah, I'll admit I'm still a little touchy on the whole "sacred whore" subject. Very early in my internet pagan days I kicked that hornet's nest on a mailing list and found myself dogpiled by a plethora of apologists who made it seem that there was something wrong with me because I was disinclined to trick for the Goddess, as it were. The only support I received was backchannel, from others who frankly admitted that they felt as I did but wouldn't say so out loud for fear of the kind of tar-and-feathering I was taking for the team in my newbie ignorance. (The party eventually ended when the proud Sacred Whore who was leading the charge against old stick-up-the-ass me was shown to have plagiarized most of her responses via verbatim cut-and-pastes from the website of a "sacred" prostitute of some repute. I left that mailing list shortly thereafter, with a bad taste in my mouth that stuck with me.) And what did I say to start the war?
"'Sacred Whore'? Isn't that an oxymoron?"
(I slay me. Seriously, I think my jokes are very humorous.)
There is new scholarship available to suggest that the received wisdom on temple prostitution may not be entirely correct, and I would direct the interested reader to begin with this article from Johanna Stuckey and go from there. I would also remind the reader of the import of words, the dangers (or delights, depending) of aligning oneself with words that carry heavy cultural significance, and the difficulty of "reclaiming" language and attempting to redefine strong terms. The meaning you, even in your best intentions, assign to a thing may be vastly different from that given to it by the rest of the world, and that may be more dangerous to you than you realize.
Friday, 19 August 2011
This was me yesterday: breaking at last, the dam breached, the walls down, critical mass attained. Even the most impervious of us have our limits. (I feel very fortunate that, like poor Brennan over there, I have a "Booth" in my life willing to be there for me; though it wasn't until later, when I was more myself again, that I realized the scenes were so very similar.) At least some of the horrible, grinding sorrow washed away with the flood of tears, although I'm not sure the hollowness of the aftermath feels all that much better. It's not like this is a particularly new sensation for me, but in all my years I've never learned to like it. I will say emphatically, however, that it is rather better not to have to writhe through it alone.
So there it is. According to the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, I should probably be dead by now (and that is only a slight exaggeration). I am not dead, and luckily for me I have dealt with situational depression, intermittent dysthymia, in the past and know that it does pass eventually. It's just the waiting for it to pass that is the annoyance. A lot has gone on in the past year, and in the year before that, and the year before that--a constant accumulation of stressors with very little downtime, and me with few reserves left from which to recharge. I suppose I should be surprised that it took this long for me to collapse in a sullen, sodden, weeping, self-loathing, self-recriminatory, heart-crushed heap! (Note: I got better.) Hell, I've lost my oldest cat, my job, my free time, my house, my land, along with various intangibles that it would be far too melodramatic for me to go into, and that's just in the past 12 months, never mind what came before; wouldn't a normal person have long before now gone completely round the bend? But as usual, I'm down but not entirely out.
I'm trained in psychology, but that doesn't necessarily mean I can apply it to myself; like reading Tarot for yourself, it's all to easy to interpret things as you want them to be rather than as they truly are. You can run and run, but eventually you have to stop running. Your world may turn upside down, but it will eventually right itself. It's said that it takes the brain three days to adjust; maybe it takes the heart a little longer.
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
Remember her? Yeah, so do I. She's that part of me that, just a couple of troubled months ago, I thought I'd lost--or worse, that had never existed at all. At best I thought she'd been left behind in the move, packed away in a box stored in a far corner of an attic, perhaps given away in the final mad scramble to disassemble the last decade of my life and tidy away the details in preparation for the next phase. I thought there could be no place for her in the very different world I was entering.
And I thought wrong.
Some things in life seem irrevocable, unalterable; they're the things that you always come back to, or the things that simply are. I will always have distinctively blue eyes; colored contacts could disguise or conceal them, but the essential fact of their blueness remains beneath. A trip to the spray-tan booth only briefly alters the fair skin that betrays my ancestry. I like Warehouse 13, but it's The X-Files that holds my heart as a personal, modern mythos. I'll drink the wine you serve me, but I might secretly be wishing for the moscato or plum that I like best.
I have many interests in this life--you can't live this long without discovering a few things you like--but some are more enduring than others. Egyptology is a long-standing one, dating back to about sixth grade when a school trip took us to Chicago's museums and my first glimpses of mummies and funerary goods and shiny lovely things. Egyptian religion, in theory and then in practice, was a later awakening. These things endure. But witchcraft? I can't remember a time when I wasn't infatuated with witchcraft. And no matter that the books I was reading as a wide-eyed youngster were tainted with questionable scholarship or authorial bias; the die was cast, the spark was struck, and a little witchlet was born who eventually grew up, looked around, fell in with the wrong crowd, made it out on the other side, licked her wounds, and--
And what? Gave it all up because her life got weird and other people were assholes?
No. You know what? Fuck that sideways. That's not how this is going to work.
Just as spray tans fade and contacts can be removed, so the disguises and distractions all fall away eventually. The truth is, I love this stuff. And if it took me this many years to physically and psychologically and spiritually and magickally sever all the miserable bonds to that Wrong Crowd, then so be it. And scars add character, right?
I will be doing the spooky blog I mentioned before, I think, but there's something else I want you to see first. I think some of you may end up liking it: http://classicwitchcraft.blogspot.com.
And here's your appropriate Bones quote for the day, from Agent Booth:
"I'm BACK, baby!"
Friday, 5 August 2011
And just because I stop believing in a thing, it doesn't necessarily mean that thing stops believing in me.
So don't count me out just yet!
(In other, somewhat related news, I think I'm going to open an adjunct blog dedicated solely to the spooky things I love so much. It's almost That Time Of Year, you know.)
Monday, 25 July 2011
But it's late, and these are questions best left for another more wakeful time. Oh, and don't worry about me (as I know some of you might, and I love you more for it); I'm not at all upset, just a bit bemused. You know--one door closing, another one opening, that sort of thing.
For now, I leave you with some Bones quotes that are apropos:
"Entropy is a natural force that pulls everything apart at the subatomic level. Everything changes." --Brennan
"Pyramids are better at change than you are." --Booth
Friday, 8 July 2011
So I was sitting around, meditating (or more accurately, letting my mind wander as it would) and the subject of my spiritual parentage came to mind. As (some? most?) of you know, I am a divined daughter of Hethert (Hathor) in the House of Netjer, a parentage that sometimes seems absolutely right to me and other times seems completely insane. My thoughts were veering down that secondary path this morning, contemplating the qualities that Hethert possesses and failing to find them in my brain-bound, non-ecstatic, hyper-rational cranky self. For some reason I was then reminded of someone's Tumblr post where they declared "Temperance Brennan is my spirit animal," which led me further on into fretful contemplation of how I've found much to identify with in her character, and so on and so forth ad nauseum round and round until a voice/thought cut through all of my mind-chatter with this:
Remember, before she was Temperance, she was Joy.
Oh. Oh oh oh. OHHHH. Right, then. Spiritual parentage/patronage (and one's name, as well) are less about who you are at any given time than who you were/are at your core, who you were/are in the very first time, when you came into being. All it took was one internal fandom reference to remind me of that, which proves that even fannish obsessions have their uses.
Because before I was temperatelogic (here, and on Twitter, and elsewhere) I too was joy: Nehmetemhethert, my Kemetic name, translates to Dance in joy for Hethert.
Oh. Oh. That's...OH.
Wednesday, 6 July 2011
(This is an excerpt from Normandi Ellis' translation of ch. 1 of the Papyrus of Ani, titled "Coming Forth By Day" in her book Awakening Osiris.)
I am changeable, yes. It is like this. A hummingbird's wings beat so fast he seems to fly standing still. Atoms in the rock whirl about, yet the rock holds together. Lions roar in the temple and the earth trembles. It is only yesterday and tomorrow keeping watch over today. The solid earth like a baby is lifted up to be kissed, to be blessed and set down again. I see things other men don't see. Secret words repeated in mirrors, bits of legend fallen from the lips of slave girls. I gather the greater seed as they thresh their wheat. I am an old priest dancing the mad dance, whirling, whirling, whirling.
I have studied the manifestations of gods and men, and I've seen the dead conversing in thin, reedy voices amid the air. I have read books of magic and made offerings of moly. I've longed to be free, to rise up as smoke from earth into air. I am a priest of change.
I am a priest of love, a courtier enchanted by the slender ankles of women, by bells and incense, dances and gauze. Beneath the moon my boat rocks gently. I scoop up fish by the fistfull and feed the ibis outside the temple. I remember to weave my garlands of onions and flowers on feast days. I plant my seeds and carry god in my hands through fields to bless them. I drag the large stones to hither ground and write prayers to last forever, songs to gods and creations, women and kings. I have turned the spade and smelled the black moist secret smell of earth and I knead the clods gently in my hand. They are supple and innocent as woman. In the right season, I plant my seeds.
Oh spirits that guide a man through the dark halls at death, guide me safely in life past sorrow and depression, steer me from fear and anger and hopelessness. Let me always know the reason for my becoming. Let me hear what gods hear, see what gods see. When the sun blotted from the sky, let even a small light shine to steer a man's feet. Let me stand in light, bathe in light, clothe myself in light. Let me sit in the lap of gods and hear words of comfort. Oh offerers of cake and bearers of beer, let me not also starve for love, thirst for wisdom. Let my spirit be stronger today than it was yesterday, my heart more peaceful, my mind more fertile, my hands more gentle. Let gods touch my face. Let me go forth shining. Let my feet know the way. Let me walk and pass through fire. Let wild beasts and thieves by the roadside go on sleeping pleasant dreams. Let me pass undeterred into heaven.
For I have made a reckoning of myself, of the things I have done and said and of my intentions; and I long for nothing but to live as a light within; to enter god's heart singing a song so stirring that even slaves at the mill and asses in the field might raise their heads and answer.
Let me always know the reason for my becoming.
Tuesday, 21 June 2011
As for me personally and spiritually, well, the work continues apace. I'm in the final course of my FOI studies prior to ordination, which if all goes well should take place in the fall. I still feel very disconnected from the pagan community in general and can only watch with mildly interested detachment as things go on all around me as I sit here calm in the center of my own world. It's fascinating to see the exciting things that others I know are exploring, but I know that I can't join in or follow along; those roads are clearly barred to me, by my own natural proclivities as much as by anything else, but at least I'm finally old enough and wise (?) enough to recognize those paths for the traps they are. I get the grey path, the middle road, the still point at the eye of the storm. The place of balance, of temperance, of Ma'at is where I am best utilized, at least for now. It's a reflective and inward-directed place at the moment, but I have no doubt it will eventually circle around again. Nothing remains static forever. And everything happens eventually.
Thursday, 19 May 2011
I'm afraid that statement makes me sound like a monster of selfishness, and I don't think that I am all that bad; it's not that I didn't care about what was going on with the troubled people who chose to confide in me. On the contrary, I am empathetic to a fault--to such a painful degree that I had to learn early on how to compensate for that lest I drown in feelings I had no clue how to process. As a result, I next developed a reputation for being "cold." Alas! (And people wonder why I identify with Dr. Brennan up there; that's who the writers crafted her to be, at least before they began to systematically destroy her last season. But I digress.) Still, I was open-minded and tolerant of things that others might have considered aberrant. But that changed somewhere along the way. Gradually my bullshit tolerance faded away, if only because I'd finally had too much shoveled at me for too long. I didn't ever want to be so open-minded that my brain fell out, and I could only suspend my critical reasoning skills and analytical nature for so long. Paganism did me in, I'm afraid; long-term exposure to a wide variety of mental issues being thrust forth aggressively as everything from lifestyle choices to "religion" nearly destroyed my capacity for cheerful disinterest and benevolent acceptance. It's not entirely gone, but I have to work damned hard these days to find even a glimmer of it.
Now, I started this new blog shortly after I started working with the concept of temperance last year, and a big part of temperance is balance. I hate imbalance, intemperance, immoderation; these conditions feel unnatural and uncomfortable to me; these things are not Ma'at. Extremism is so rampant in our larger culture these days, filtering down from the political sphere to infect nearly everything else, and I hate it (and yes, I understand the paradox of expressing the extreme emotion of hatred against other extremities). I feel that I have become extreme, unbalanced, my expressions skewed in the direction of intolerance and judgment. My task, then is to find the balance between blind acceptance of complete bullshit and utter condemnation based on the subjective criteria of what is ultimately my own personal preference. It should be easier now to go back to my old way of saying "not my kink" and moving on, since I have little exposure these days to the aggressive types of people who like to demand you "accept" their behaviors no matter what your personal values might be--and by "accept" I mean you're usually expected to embrace said behaviors, lest you be dismissed as being somehow not really pagan or whatever shaming technique the manipulator brings to bear. This doesn't mean I won't speak out against things that I perceive to be dangerous or damaging, but I won't pursue them unless they're in my face and causing me a problem. Otherwise, not my kink, and others may do as they will. I won't endorse it or participate in it, and I won't attempt to "change it from within" (that trick never works), and if someone asks my opinion I won't lie, but I'm tired of being so consumed with negativity and anger over situations long since past. It's time to balance that with things that I find positive and enriching and delightful, time to moderate my own behavior and perceptions, and restore Ma'at in my life.
(Gods, does this mean I've embraced the Wiccan Rede at last? I honestly can't find much fault with the philosophy at the moment: an' it harm none, do what you will. It seems like a sort of noninterventionist policy that I can get behind right now. Being a crusader is so exhausting.)
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
These days I'm more inclined to find the spiritual in the secular, and to look for it in places you might not ordinarily expect to find it, than I am to go seeking out a prepackaged religious experience. Just like anything else that's been heavily processed for consumption, those things tend to be not only lacking in nutritional value but often actively bad for you. At the very least you're getting empty calories, something superficially satisfying that leaves you lacking that which you actually need. The 4000th how-to book rehashing the same tired tropes, the public ritual parroting the same tired themes (that the organizers took from one of those 4000 previously-mentioned books), the workshops that range from mercenary exhibitionism to crafts day at the looney bin; it's all like fast food, masquerading as a gourmet meal. It's unnecessary, and more than slightly disgusting when you think about it.
I'm sure I'm not the first person whose state of gnosis leads them to bewail the lack of authentic spiritual experience, or whatever the hell it is I'm trying to get at. Having abandoned my search for that authenticity, I'd rather embrace the flamboyantly fantastic; the food and the costuming are generally better, the programming is more professional and punctual, and there's no denying that it is an entertainment product and a moneymaking venture. Pour me another tankard of ale, please; I think I see a Maypole dance starting!
* Yes, I used that term very deliberately.
Tuesday, 17 May 2011
I've used the term pagan (or sometimes even neo-pagan) as a general descriptor for quite a long time now; it isn't quite right, but it's the closest I've been able to come to a generally-understood word that encompasses at least a good portion of what I'm about. Unfortunately, the term also carries with it other associations that are incorrect, imperfect, inappropriate--things that are emphatically not me and not what I do or think or believe or perform--and those associations weigh more heavily on me these days than they did earlier in my life, back when I was perhaps a bit more idealistic and energetic and less generally stabby in demeanor and outlook. I still hang out under the pagan umbrella, but I'm scooting ever closer to the edge, and I'm not entirely covered anymore, a side or so of me hanging out exposed to other elements. (If I may carry my imperfect metaphor that far.)
I think I'm just tired. Tired of the realization that in many ways, I was right from the start, and what I dismissed early on as knee-jerk reactions born of imperfect understanding and lack of gnosis were in fact the simple truth. It's galling and disheartening to me, and sometimes I feel like the biggest damned idiot that ever walked, feel like my stupid yearning heart has betrayed me yet again when I accidentally let its demands override the certainties of my brain (which knew all along that only fuckery and foolishness awaited down that road). I'm cutting ties--physically, symbolically, ritually--to these elements, but it's hard, and shaking off the anger, not only at others but even more so at myself, seems the hardest part of all. Everything in me says it's time, finally, to try for a different outcome (Bones fans, you know this one). And maybe I need to write down the date on which I think I'll finally be ready to be free of all this and burn it, so the Universe gets the message:
I want to sit on a big rock with my harp and play a song to the sky. I want to burn incense before the serene golden face of a goddess and shake the sistrum for her. I want to drop all the pretenses and all the ill-fitting labels and feel my spirit soar the way it once did, long ago and far away before I'd ever met another person claiming the p-word for their identity. My husband keeps saying we should just call ourselves Kemetic Druids and I always think he's joking, but what if he's not? And what if we just refuse to call ourselves anything at all, and just be who we are--whoever and whatever that happens to be on any given day. What then?
Wednesday, 27 April 2011
I am Isis, the mistress of every land, and I was taught by Hermes (Thoth) and with Hermes I devised letters, both the sacred (hieroglyphs) and the demotic, that all things might not be written with the same (letters).
I gave and ordained laws for men, which no one is able to change.
I am eldest daughter of Kronos.
I am wife and sister of King Osiris.
I am she who findeth fruit for men.
I am mother of King Horus.
I am she that riseth in the Dog Star.
I am she that is called goddess by women.
For me was the city of Bubastis built.
I divided the earth from the heaven.
I showed the paths of the stars.
I ordered the course of the sun and the moon.
I devised business in the sea.
I made strong the right.
I brought together woman and man.
I appointed to women to bring their infants to birth in the tenth month.
I ordained that parents should be loved by children.
I laid punishment on those disposed without natural affection toward their parents.
I made with my brother Osiris an end to the eating of men.
I revealed mysteries unto men.
I taught (men) to honor images of the gods.
I consecrated the precincts of the gods.
I broke down the governments of tyrants.
I made an end to murders.
I compelled women to be loved by men.
I made the right to be stronger than gold and silver.
I ordained that the true should be thought good.
I devised marriage contracts.
I assigned to Greeks and barbarians their languages.
I made the beautiful and the shameful to be distinguished by nature.
I ordained that nothing should be more feared than an oath.
I have delivered the plotter of evil against other men into the hands of the one he plotted against.
I established penalties for those who practice injustice.
I decreed mercy to suppliants.
I protect (or: honor) righteous guards.
With me the right prevails.
I am the Queen of rivers and winds and sea.
No one is held in honor without my knowing it.
I am the Queen of war.
I am the Queen of the thunderbolt.
I stir up the sea and I calm it.
I am in the rays of the sun.
I inspect the courses of the sun.
Whatever I please, this too shall come to an end.
With me everything is reasonable.
I set free those in bonds.
I am the Queen of seamanship.
I make the navigable unnavigable when it pleases me.
I created walls of cities.
I am called the Lawgiver (Thesmophoros).
I brought up islands out of the depths into the light.
I am Lord of rainstorms.
I overcome Fate.
Fate hearkens to me.
Hail, O Egypt, that nourished me!
Here is the same aretalogy, in a slightly different translation (translator unknown). This version uses slightly more modernized language:
I am Isis, ruler of every land
I was taught by Hermes (Thoth) and with Hermes devised letters, both hieroglyphic and demotic, that all might not be written with the same.
I gave laws to mankind and ordained what no one can change
I am the eldest daughter of Kronos
I am the wife and sister of King Osiris
I am the one who discovered wheat for mankind
I am the mother of King Horus
I am the one who rises in the Dog-star
I am the one called Goddess by women
For me was built the city of Bubastis
I separated the earth from the Heaven
I showed the paths of the stars
I regulated the course of the sun and the moon
I devised the activities of seamanship
I made what is right strong
I brought together woman and man
I assigned to women to bring into light of day their infants in the tenth month
I ordained that parents should be loved by children
I imposed punishment upon those unkindly disposed towards their parents
I with my brother Osiris put an end to cannibalism
I taught men the initiation into mysteries
I instructed them to revere images of the gods
I established the sacred cult places of the gods
I abolished the rules of the tyrants
I put an end to murders
I compelled women to be loved by men
I made the right stronger than gold and silver
I ordained that the true should be considered good
I devised marriage contracts
I assigned to Greeks and barbarians their languages
I made the good and the bad to be distinguished by nature
I made that nothing should be more fearful than an oath
I have delivered him who unjustly plots against others into the hands of the one against whom he plotted
I impose retribution upon those who do injustice
I decreed that mercy be shown to suppliants
O honor those who justly defend themselves
With me the right has power
I am the mistress of rivers and winds and sea
No one is honored without my consent
I am the Mistress of War
I am the Mistress of the thunderbolt
I calm the sea and make it surge
I am in the rays of the sun
I attend the sun in its journey
What I decree, that is also accomplished
All yield to me
I set free those who are in bonds
I am the Mistress of seamanship
I make the navigable un-navigable, whenever I so decide
I founded enclosure walls of the cities
I am called the Lawgiver
I brought up islands out of the depths into the light
I am the Mistress of rain
I conquer Destiny
Destiny obeys me
Hail, O Egypt, that nourished me!
Still another version of an Isian aretalogy comes from the Metamorphoses of Lucius of Apuleius, also called The Golden Ass. In this one, Isis, moved by the pleadings of Lucius, speaks to the supplicant:
I am She that is the natural mother of all life, mistress of all the Elements, the first child of time, supreme deity, chief among powers divine, Queen of heaven! The principal of the celestial Gods, light of the Goddesses, the uniform manifestation of all gods and goddesses: I, who govern by my nod the crests of light in the sky, at my will the planets of the air, the wholesome wafts upon the Seas, and the lamentable silences below dispose; my name, my divinity is venerated throughout all the world in divers manners, in variable rites and in many names. Thus the Phrygians call me Pessinuntia, Mother of the Gods. The Athenians call me Cecropian Minerva. The Cyprians, in their isle home call me Paphian Venus. The archer Cretans call me Diana Dictynna. The three-tongue Sicilians call me Stygian Proserpina. The Eleusians call me the ancient goddess Ceres. Some call me Juno, by others, Bellona, still others Hecate, some call me Rhamnusia. But those who are enlightened by the earliest rays of that divine sun, principally the Ethiopians which dwell in the Orient, and the Egyptians which are excellent in all kind of ancient lore, and by their proper ceremonies accustomed to worship me, do call me Queen Isis.
We may see a parallel of sorts to these aretalogies in our modern Charge of the Goddess. I have utilized the Ptolemaic one above in ritual before, though I found it to be a bit lengthy; despite my theatrical verve in delivering it, the time elapsed did lead to some anxious shuffling of feet! I may do a little reworking of it to streamline it for better delivery in a modern context; I think it would be a nice addition to Iseum proceedings.
Tuesday, 15 March 2011
Monday, 7 February 2011
We received a promotional kit for a contemporary R&B album called "Ritual of Love." Along with the CD were a handful of headscratchingly odd items--at least, they were odd if you weren't paying attention. There was a taper candle--pink, I think--and a packet of sweet-smelling pink powder. A small square bottle of bright pink liquid. A small flat charcoal disk. And a little faux parchment scroll with some instructions written on it. I've forgotten the instructions now, but I'd bet that most any of you reading this could create something similar; I'm reasonably certain that the initial instruction was to turn on your CD player and put in the supplied disc! But the candle was to be anointed and lit, the pink powder incense to be burned on the charcoal, the pink oil to be dabbed on one's person, and the chant or spell given to be recited while planning a romantic evening with a chosen person (the provided CD would become your soundtrack, of course). I remember our music director being amused by the whole thing and sending it home with me for my entertainment (she knew I was, ahem, different). The music was all right, but the incense and oil were way to cloyingly little-girl-perfume sweet for this conjure-woman.
Could you imagine such a thing today? I somehow don't think the modern climate would be so supportive; oh, for those days of Buffy and Charmed and The Craft!
Sunday, 23 January 2011
I've seen this meme in various places, and finally decided I'd fill it out and put it up here.
Do you have a magical/Pagan name?
Yes, several. I have the witch-name I took when I was initiated Gardnerian, and I have my Kemetic name which was given to me when I took my Shemsu vows. Neither are related to my alias here at Blogger, or my Twitter handle, though I don't keep them particularly secret.
How did you find Paganism?
As a child I had a voracious appetite for information about exotic and mysterious and magical cultures--in short, anything that was nothing like my boring whitebread suburban 1970s world. I'd read anything that couldn't escape under its own power, and luckily for me there was no dearth of available sensationalist paperbacks in my youth, so I was reading Hans Holzer and his compatriots along with other more folkloric materials, and these all combined bizarrely in my little brain, fermenting eventually into my personal set of preconceptions which would later be napalmed by exposure to Actual Modern Neopagans. But more on that later.
I, uh, read about it when I was a kid.
How long have you been practicing?
Off and on since I was quite young. I would try to conduct little ceremonies like the ones I read about in my beloved encyclopedias, and my parents were kind (or foolish) enough to allow me to light incense cones (it was the 70s) and behave as strangely as I wished.
Are you out of the broom closet?
I don't precisely hide who I am and what I'm about, but neither do I broadcast it. It's usually not pertinent information.
Solitary or group practitioner?
What is your path?
Syncretic. Dare I even say eclectic. It's complicated.
D E I T Y
What’s your brand of deism?
Uh, agnostic animist?
Who is your patron God?
I don't have one, exactly, but I am exceedingly fond of Anubis, and He whom I have known since childhood as simply "the Leaf Man."
Who is your patron Goddess?
I was a divined daughter of Hathor in Kemetic Orthodoxy (Hethert-Sekhmet if you want to get technical about it), and beloved of Bast; does that count? I've also had a long-term connection to Isis.
What Gods do you worship?
I'm sorry, this question seems redundant.
Do you fear darkly aspected Gods/Goddesses, or rather respect them?
I accept that which is commonly considered "darkness" and understand its place in the scope of things.
Do you worship the Christian God?
I do not; that is not my path. Remind me to rant on the subject of "Christian Wiccans" at another time, please.
Do you worship animals? Or plants?
Respect and work with, yes. And I recognize and honor certain animals as theophanies of certain deities.
N A T U R E
Do you regularly commune with nature?
I keep a respectful distance from it most of the time. Nature appears to want me dead. ;)
Taken a camping trip just to talk to nature?
I am not much of a camper, for reasons I've discussed on this blog before.
Describe the moment you felt closest to Mother Earth?
There is no one singular moment.
Do you have a familiar?
Not in the usual silly-ass sense of the word, but I am very strongly bonded to one of my cats in particular.
Have you ever called upon the powers of an animal in ritual?
Or a plant?
Do you hug trees?
I have, but only ones I knew well.
Give them gifts?
I've left offerings, yes.
are your favourite plants to work with?
Eh, there are some ingredients I favor over others.
What are your favourite trees to work with?
Oaks and maples are nice.
W H E E L O F T H E Y E A R
What is your favourite holiday?
Halloween, no question. It could be Halloween all year and I'd be happy. And there are LOADS of happy Kemetic holidays that please me.
What is your least favourite holiday?
I don't know what that means. If it's a holiday, it's probably pretty good.
Have you ever held a ritual on a holiday?
Ever taken a day off work to celebrate a Pagan holiday?
Do you celebrate Yule on the 21st rather than the 25th?
I do both.
Have you ever felt the veil thin?
Ever danced the Maypole?
Know what the Maypole symbolizes?
How do you usually celebrate the Pagan holidays?
Decorations, rituals, readings, research.
D I V I N A T I O N
Do you use Tarot?
Do you use runes?
Do you use a pendulum?
Do you use dowsing rods?
Do you use astrology?
I occasionally read my horoscope in the paper.
Any other forms of divination?
Bibliomancy, fortune cookies, and a couple of modern Kemetic-influenced systems.
S P E L L S
What was the first spell you did?
I think I tried to cast a spell in high school to get a favorite musician to respond to my fan letter. He didn't.
What was the latest?
I don't spell and tell.
Ever done a love spell?
Love? No. Lust? Yes, but it was a long time ago.
A job spell?
Not in the way that you would probably define a "spell."
A healing spell?
What was the most powerful spell you’ve ever performed?
What deities do you usually call on?
C R Y P T O Z O O L O G Y
Do you believe in vampires?
Just the Austin-Healey variety.
Ever “seen” any of the above?
Ever used any of the above in magic?
Do you have one of them as a personal guardian?
No. I'm not big on "believing" in stuff like this. I "believe" in their existence as tropes, as archetypes, as part of the mythic landscape; but when I encounter people who literally believe they see/interact with/gods-forbid-ARE any of these creatures, I want to thump them on the head, feed them thorazine and hand them off to a qualified therapist.
R A N D O M
Do you see a rabbit, a man or a woman in the moon?
I see a celestial body, and that's interesting enough in its own right.
Own a cat?
Three of them.
When you meditate, what does your happy place look like?
I don't know what that means. I do zen and mantra type meditations.
Do you work with chakras?
Typically not, though I have.
Do you believe in past lives?
Not really, though I'd like to.
If so, describe a few briefly:
Do you believe in soul mates?
I'm not even sure I believe in souls.
Do you have a spirit guide?
Is it ever?