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.

 

Choices…

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So I have some choices to make. I had some good feedback from some counselors the other day.

1. Am I acting in my best interests? Should I be more honest/truthful with the professionals? Is the crisis a way to feel the care and concern from the people in my life? Will I need to keep the crisis going in order to meet that need?

2. One thing after another has been happening, and it feels like I have no control over my life. Indeed, am I not giving up more control to all of the other professionals now involved? Is there resentment? is it expressed as my defiance and pushing away? How can I exert control in a helpful way?

3. The Wild Boar is a great image, with thick skin, growling and charging. But although it gets us through, it also keeps other people out, and prevents pauses for reflection. Why am I protective, why do I need such a thick skin/personal bubble?

4. There are too many cooks in the kitchen. Being involved with so many professionals means that my therapy might stay at this elementary level, and not move beyond. If i want to go beneath the surface, get help identifying what i know intellectually vs experientially, I may need some help. But I definitely need consistency, and a stable therapist, otherwise the frustration is going to continue.

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So – which therapist gets to stay, which has to go? and if I ask for a new one, how do i know I’ll like them?

what am I protecting myself from? People, the world. They hurt me all the time. But maybe I need to practice shrinking my bubble, and letting select people come closer. And allowing that good stuff to come through the bubble, to penetrate my thick skin.

I think the crisis has helped me to experientially know that i am not alone, that I have lots of love in my life. Something I knew intellectually. And I think I can say with confidence that I do not need the crisis to continue in order for me to keep feeling that love.

And yes, I think there is definitely some resentment in the cloudy mix of my baggage. Who wouldn’t be resentful? But I’ll have to come up with some potions to turn that resentment into something helpful.

 

On Eating Meat & Other Tangents

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paganvaluesChrysalis challenged the blogosphere to write about Pagan Values. I had hoped to do some writing of my own – and a recurring topic came up today. Here’s what I came up with!

Pagan Values: Respecting All Life

1. On Eating Meat and Other Tangents
For many years, I have contemplated becoming a vegetarian. Growing up in Beef Producing Alberta, I was probably in the minority in my exposure to vegetarianism. My mother’s mother was raised as one, so my mother was also. (She was the black sheep of the family though, and left England to come to Canada to marry into a family of meat salesmen.) I knew that Granny didn’t eat animal products because she felt that animals were our friends and we shouldn’t kill them for food. I understood that we had to look out for things like gelatin, but that cheese and eggs were okay.

Later in life, I learned what the difference was between that and vegan. No animal products whatsoever! Naturally, I thought I should go all the way with this path if I were ever to make a decision and stick with it.
But that has always been a problem for me – making a decision and sticking with it. And also respecting both sides of my family history – my father and his father supported their families by working for Canada Packers/Maple Leaf. To become vegan would seem to be disrespectful of their efforts.

Now, my body seems to be telling me other things. I have been dairy intolerant for some time. Cheese is a dream lost to me now! But lately I am also feeling upset when eating wheat and/or gluten, and last night, a nice steak. So perhaps my body is making the decision for me?

The question of whether to eat meat comes up repeatedly. It began again when I embarked on this path to train as a biologist. Observing life would seem to include an inherent respect for it. Observing life would also include a desire to sustain the ecosystem in which it lives: something which does not seem inherent in our current agricultural practices.

I am a city girl, I know very little of farm life. A few of my classmates have grown up on farms, and we’ve danced around this conversation a few times. I think I might be visiting a farm this weekend – I’ll have to ask some questions!

However, I do know what it’s like to drive past cattle on these rural roads, and past the feedlots that populate the highways in Southern Alberta. I passed one today. The cattle in one of the lots were following behind a truck as it drove through the lot, presumably feeding them. It brought to mind the images of people starving for food, following behind army trucks as they pass out food in war torn countries. It was not a pleasant image. And then, as I drive down a rural road, the calves are gamboling in the fields, and pretend to challenge my truck as if they can take it on. (Okay a little bit of anthropomorphizing here. I do not know if cows feel/think this way.) The two do not seem to fit together, nor does the thought of me eating the calf (and yet, that is what I did last night).

Then comes up the debate with hunting and fishing. As part of our curriculum we have studies mammals, birds, fish, and resource law. I learned about hunting and fishing regulations in Alberta. With my city-girl past, I have never done either. A few years ago I was still much against hunting as a sport. I still am, but have developed a different view of hunting as a way to feed yourself. It takes very little resources – the animals are already there, and they feed themselves. Unlike raising cattle and pigs and chickens. Would it not be better to harvest life that is free-ranging, part of the natural ecosystem, and not ‘poisoned’ with excess hormones, pesticides, insecticides and who knows what else?
(If I were to follow this tangent, I would also have to investigate where I get my vegetables from. I’m not quite ready to go there yet. Also, there is the whole concept of if everyone where to hunt, we’d ruin the entire landscape and everything would die. Humans are a pox on the earth sometimes. Back to my debate.)

While studying the above, we did a number of necropsies – the scientific word for dissecting animals, or, performing an autopsy on an animal and not a human. Why they have to have different names, I don’t know. The whole process was distasteful to me, and I would think if I can’t cut into a dead animal, how can I eat one? Since it was unlikely that I could see myself becoming vegan right then, I got the idea into my head that I would learn to fish this summer, and possibly even hunt, so that I could be the one to kill the living flesh I would consume. While I’ve gotten as far as getting my WIN card, I still need to get a fishing license and rod. I am sure I still have a somewhat romantic view. After all, I have yet to kill something yet. And maybe the wild things would rather be penned and fed lovely meals than to have to search for their own food.

I am writing all this perched above the hoodoos in Dinosaur Provincial Park. After a day of work at my current job: field assistant for Burrowing Owl Research. Learning this has been fascinating. Thank goodness I am coming late to the project and do not have to handle the owls. I find it stressful just watching, and wonder about my path. Can you be a biologist without stressing or harming the life that you study?

I do not yet know the answer to that question. I do know I am going to do my best to find out. There is a bird calling, grasshoppers singing, and the wind caressing my face. I’m going to go enjoy that while I celebrate the life I find here!

Writing this has brought a few other topics to mind:
2. On harvesting wild plants
3. On eating organic and local
4. On offering libations – how does this effect the ecosystem/microhabitat where you do this?

I have also posted “the Creed of my Sacred Journey”.

Solar Questions for Imbolc – Caitlin Matthews

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Solar Questions For Imbolc

  1. What is being initiated in your life at this time?
  2. How do you practice ecological awareness?
  3. What knowledge are you seeking?
  4. What news do you wait to hear? What changes will it bring?
  5. Is your envy of others obstructing your own achievements?
  6. What messages are others trying to tell you?
  7. Where is love manifest in your life?
  8. What boundaries do you need to pass through?
  9. What you ahve been struggling with and how does it challenge you?
  10. How is beauty seeking to express itself in your life?
  11. Is complacency clogging up your life?
  12. What do you most need and what help is at hand?
  13. What significant patterns are emerging from the last year of your life?
  14. What enslaves you and how can you be free?
  15. Who are you trying to control?
  16. What experiences of life do you most crave?
  17. What message is your body trying to tell you?
  18. What do you need to let go of and how is it impeding you?
  19. What new concepts are coming into your understanding? How do they affect your present understanding?
  20. Is your criticism undermining someone or something?
  21. What needs clarification and what motivations underlie it?
  22. In what areas do you need to rest and recover?
  23. What memories do you most appreciate?
  24. What mutual burdens can you lift from others’ backs?
  25. What are your dreams telling you?
  26. How does your present way of life need to change?
  27. What new influences are trying to come into your life?
  28. Where is the Spring in your life?
  29. Which of your abilities are you neglecting?
  30. Are you allowing spontaneity into your life?
  31. What needs to be restored?