It’s that time of year again!

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That time when my focus on spiritual matter perks up. When I think about the dark time and how that affects me.

Over a decade ago, my interest in alternative spiritual views brought me to community of women. I was in my mid-twenties, and I’d been exploring these views on my own previously. But doing so in community? With like-minded people? It was a game changer.

I learned a great deal from these women. And I learned a great deal about myself. That will be a topic for another day.

As time progressed, my perspective changed. As it does. I found myself changing position on the pendulum of importance between feminine and masculine. My anatomy no longer ruled how I saw the divine. I participated in groups with women and men, met queer folk who saw their gods as such, attended a conference session on gender neutral language in paganism. These things all broadened my horizons.

This year, I have been walking beside my friend as they speak out about their gender identity and navigate how they want to express it. And how they wish others to acknowledge it.

With my past questions about the nature of divinity/deity, my friend’s experience is turning my mind toward the mythos of the wheel of the year, of our gods, etc. How would one rewrite the story of Maiden/Mother/Crone/Holly King/Oak King? Better folk than I have surely developed such things. I will try my own version. But I would like to explore where others have gone ahead of me.

I told my friend about these thoughts, and they asked ‘are you feeling more neutral-ish lately?’ It was a text conversation so not a good medium for weighty discussion. Hence this more thorough examination and excavation of the concepts lurking in my minds. (I’m always of two or more minds, I should just continue with the plural from now on. 🙂 )

The idea of genderless/gender neutral deity has been lurking in my minds for a while. It is how I have been thinking of them when not confronted by specific images or names (like Himself by Brian Froud) I have not called on the feminine exclusively for a while.

But in my daily life? I am unmistakably a woman on the outside. I mostly wear plain pants, only tending to wear skirts in warmer weather. However, on the inside, I have been having more ‘unwoman’ days. That is the word to describe it at the moment. I am just a person, neither my sex nor my gender being the primary defining characteristic of who I am.

I am not confused about my gender identity. But I think I am definitely entering a new, more fluid stage/state. As a child and young adult, I hated wearing pink and/or dresses and skirts. (In hindsight, I believe it was due more so to the requirement of panty hose. That clothing item is a torture tool and should be abolished. Also, it’s really only fun to wear when it fits properly and you have someone to flirt with. Not suitable for children!) I wore oversized shirts and sweaters, often ‘mens’ or unisex. Being one of the tallest kids/girls in elementary school, and then also being one of the first to develop breasts might have something to do with that. Then as I matured and tried new things, I liked dresses. I was able to enter into my feminine power.

But I think I am swinging on the pendulum again – I don’t need to make a show of my femininity. It’s what’s inside that matters. I think the current excavation is also about how to be a friend and ally. This work of making the world a more inclusive place has been going on for decades. But it is personal and relevant to me now. Because of my friend, and hopefully because of my ever-expanding world view.

 

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Solstice Poems

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Great Nights Returning
It’s a while since I’ve revisited the magnificent poem below by Vernon Watkins. I was moved to do so by the frosty nights we have been having and the array of stars on display. Looking up at the stars in the clear sky the other night, in one of those synchronous moments where an event links with a memory, I just thought I had to come into the house and read the poem. It seems perfect for the Winter Solstice.

Portrait of Vernon Watkins by Alfred Janes

Great nights returning, midnight’s constellations
Gather from groundfrost that unnatural brilliance.
Night now transfigures, walking in the starred ways,
Tears for the living.

Earth now takes back the secret of her changes.
All the wood’s dropped leaves listen to your footfall.
Night has no tears, no sound among the branches;
Stopped is the swift stream.

Spirits were joined when hazel leaves were falling.
Then the stream hurrying told of separation.
This is the fires’ world, and the voice of Autumn
Stilled by the death-wand.

Under your heels the icy breath of Winter
Hardens all roots. The Leonids are flying.
Now the crisp stars, the circle of beginning;
Death, birth, united.

Nothing declines here. Energy is fire-born.
Twigs catch like stars or serve for your divining.
Lean down and hear the subterranean water
Crossed by the quick dead.

Now the soul knows the fire that first composed it
Sinks not with time but is renewed hereafter.
Death cannot steal the light which love has kindled
Nor the years change it.

http://hills-chronicle.blogspot.com/2009/12/great-nights-returning.html

Solstice Blessings

12:17 pm
Know Thyself

There is no longest night, no waning dark,
The sun combusts always, somewhere in sky.
This planet, like our hearts, doth axis mark
And leaves us ever burning. Burning.

Wilt thou now burn with me, beloved one?
The winter’s cold or summer’s heat appease?
Each drawing breath we take another dawn
To waken, finally turning. Turning.

What do you wait upon? The light is heard,
You know the name of every ant and leaf
And sing the spell in every woven word,
Your chambered heart beats yearning. Yearning.

You are the light. You are the one returned.
You are the shining thing that always burns.

T. Thorn Coyle
with Solstice Blessings, 2009

http://yezida.livejournal.com/

Lupita

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From Upworthy 

I received a letter from a girl and I’d like to share just a small part of it with you: “Dear Lupita,” it reads, “I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.”

My heart bled a little when I read those words. I could never have guessed that my first job out of school would be so powerful in and of itself and that it would propel me to be such an image of hope in the same way that the women of The Color Purple were to me.

I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first. And every day I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I had been the day before. I tried to negotiate with God: I told him I would stop stealing sugar cubes at night if he gave me what I wanted; I would listen to my mother’s every word and never lose my school sweater again if he just made me a little lighter. But I guess God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because He never listened.

And when I was a teenager my self-hate grew worse, as you can imagine happens with adolescence. My mother reminded me often that she thought that I was beautiful but that was no consolation: She’s my mother, of course she’s supposed to think I am beautiful. And then Alek Wek came on the international scene. A celebrated model, she was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was. Even Oprah called her beautiful and that made it a fact. I couldn’t believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me as beautiful. My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome and all of a sudden, Oprah was telling me it wasn’t. It was perplexing and I wanted to reject it because I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy. But a flower couldn’t help but bloom inside of me. When I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny. Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty, but around me the preference for light skin prevailed. To the beholders that I thought mattered, I was still unbeautiful. And my mother again would say to me, “You can’t eat beauty. It doesn’t feed you.” And these words plagued and bothered me; I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be.

And what my mother meant when she said you can’t eat beauty was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul. It is what got Patsey in so much trouble with her master, but it is also what has kept her story alive to this day. We remember the beauty of her spirit even after the beauty of her body has faded away.

And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside. There is no shade to that beauty.

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I Know My Soul

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I Know My Soul

I plucked my soul out of its secret place,
And held it to the mirror of my eye,
To see it like a star against the sky,
A twitching body quivering in space,
A spark of passion shining on my face.
And I explored it to determine why
This awful key to my infinity
Conspires to rob me of sweet joy and grace.
And if the sign may not be fully read,
If I can comprehend but not control,
I need not gloom my days with futile dread,
Because I see a part and not the whole.
Contemplating the strange, I’m comforted
By this narcotic thought: I know my soul.

Claude McKay

Getting crafty

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I have been stitching a little this weekend. Working on the kimono cross-stitch, and decided to start an embroidery project of my own design – a jellyfish! I have put in the broad strokes and the basic structure; now to start colouring and filling in the details. Meaning – the tricky part! 

When I got stymied I picked up two older hoops – the green flying witch, and this mandala like pattern. Yay for colouring! 

My first photo of the jelly:

 Image

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