Knee Deep in a Project

This update is going to be brief – I’m up to my eyeballs in a sewing project.

Thankfully, this hasn't actually happened in a while. Fingers crossed!

Thankfully, this hasn’t actually happened in a while. Fingers crossed!

And a research project.

And teaching.

This weekend was the first weekend I haven’t gone to the Market, other than when I was away, since May. I slept in, and did laundry, and watched Galavant on Netflix (which is hilarious, by the way!), and sewed.

I almost didn’t write today. I wanted to keep sewing. I’m at the point where I’d be making mistakes if I stayed at the sewing machine any longer, though, so it is time to step away and get some rest.

By this time next week, I hope to have the sewing project done, and feel more inspired to write. 🙂

Blessings,

Mary

Tell Me About Peace

Last week, I had the honor of speaking at the local Interfaith Celebration of Peace organized by Unity Comox Valley. The theme was, “Tell Me About Peace”. It was a wonderful event, with speakers from the Aboriginal, Buddhist, Baha’i, and Jewish communities, as well as myself. This is the speech I gave.

religion-peaceWhat is peace?

That’s an interesting question. Logically, my mind’s first answer is simply, the absence of war, or the absence of fighting. But that more accurately answers the question, what is peace NOT?

As a Pagan and a Wiccan, I don’t really have one set holy scripture to turn to for answering such questions. I look to mythology, and nature, and I turn to my own heart.

For me, I experience peace in the early hours of the morning, when I meditate. Peace is that quiet place inside myself, when I connect with my body and my soul, my guides and my Goddess. When I am fully grounded in the Earth, and fully connected to the stars.

Peace is a walk in the forest, listening to the robins and the ravens, and the babble of the creek, and the wind in the trees. It is being connected with the natural world all around me.

Peace is a walk on the beach, listening to the waves as they gently rush, or loudly crash, on the shore. It is wading in the water, and watching the crabs and fish, and digging my toes in the sand.

Peace is sitting in my home, drinking a cup of tea, and listening to my children laugh and yell as they play outside. Sometimes it is looking up when everyone is working on their own project, on their own devices and just being comfortable being in the same space together.

Peace is laying in bed with my beloved on a gray morning, listening to the rain fall on the rooftop, and softly sharing our lives with each other.

Outside of myself and my family, peace looks a little different. Peace is acceptance of each others’ differences. We may have different colored skin or different genders, different body shapes and sizes and abilities, different ways of seeing our selves and the world, different opinions, different food preferences or sexual preferences, different ways of connecting with the Divine. Peace is being able to BE different, to be able to say, “I am Wiccan,” or “I am bisexual,” or “I am Aboriginal” (not all of those are ways I identify myself) and NOT be afraid of what others will say or do because of that difference.

We are blessed to live in a country that is not at war (some might say it’s peaceful). We are blessed to live in a time and a place that has not seen bombing, or famine, or epidemic illness. And yet, there are many around us who live in fear because of what they look like, or how they identify themselves, or who their ancestors were, or what they believe. They do not experience peace.

I have been afraid. I have been afraid of sharing my beliefs because of the judgments of others. I have been afraid of the misconceptions that others’ may have when they hear the words Wiccan, Pagan, Priestess and Witch. I have been afraid that I might not get the job, or the loan, or even just make a new friend if they knew what I was. Who I am. Even now I don’t feel entirely comfortable calling myself a Witch, though many of my friends may be.

It’s been a long, slow process of becoming comfortable and confident enough to share who I am. And there have definitely been setbacks along the way! I have been encouraged by friends and mentors, and even strangers. By being confident, and yet vulnerable, by loving and accepting myself, by simply BE-ing who I am, I get to be a guide toward peace for others.

What is peace? Peace is acceptance, and peace is love. Blessed be.

Blessings,

Mary

Thank You, Brothers and Sisters

thanks unionsFor most people, today is just the last long weekend of summer, another paid holiday, another excuse to go camping, or have a barbecue, or sleep in. Tomorrow, it’s back to school, or work, or whatever daily life looks like for you.

And I admit, that’s what it used to mean for me, too.

This year, though, I am keenly aware of the original intent of Labour Day (Labor Day for those in the US). It is a day for celebrating the hard won rights we have as workers, and honoring those who fought, and those who died, to secure those rights for us.

We often take those rights for granted nowadays – an eight hour work day, a five day work week, meal breaks, safety precautions. But it was less than 150 years ago that unions were illegal in Canada, and the shorter work-week that people were fighting for was nine hour days.

I’ve been a member of several different unions in my working life. Most of the time, I could take it or leave it because I didn’t understand their importance. When things are going well, the Union is pretty quiet. Members will even start to grumble about why they are needed, or why a portion of their pay goes to the Union.

Women support laborHowever, when things are not going well, that’s when the Union steps up. Unfortunately, I got to experience this first-hand recently, and I have never been more grateful for being part of a Union, and having the support of my Brothers and Sisters. The Union had my back, and the backs of my coworkers. They fought to make sure our contract was upheld and that we were treated fairly. My work is once again a place I enjoy.

Thankfully, I already understood the importance of unions. My current Union, IATSE, has a traveling presentation called “Why Unions Still Matter” that I was blessed to be able to see about a year and a half ago. It describes the history of labour unions in Canada, up to current events. Businesses and government policy are once again attempting to limit workers rights, though more subtly than before.

So today, I am grateful for those who have fought for me, now and in the past, to ensure fair treatment of workers.

In solidarity,

Mary

Choices in Perspective

Today (Sunday, when I’m actually writing this), was the Pier Street Market. It’s the Market that I read tarot at every Sunday (almost) from May-September, in lovely Campbell River, BC.

Market Comparison Walks WithinIt’s right on the waterfront, next to the pier. It’s an absolutely gorgeous location – beautiful sea breeze, view of the water and Quadra Island. And most of the summer, the weather is great. We have the odd occasion where the wind threatens to take out our tent, but we’ve had sun almost the whole season.

Except today. Today, autumn announced itself, with wind and rain. Close to half of the vendors (I think) backed out or just didn’t show up today. We even sat in the parking lot for a while trying to decide whether to stay or go, and if we stayed, how and where to set up.

We did stay, and really had to adapt for the weather. Because of the wind, the rain got everywhere, even inside the pop-up. Every gust spattered us inside the tent. (Admittedly, the pop-up is three years old, and it gets regular use in the summer, so the canopy is showing its age.)

We used our van as a brace, and bungee’d the legs to the tires. We used the curtains that normally make a privacy area for reading to make a canopy within the canopy, so the tarot cards would stay dry. We pulled the table back further into the tent, and didn’t put out all of our normal display to avoid damage.

And then we waited.

And waited.

And smiled at the hardy folks who came to the Market. And waited.

I thought to myself, “This is it. This is going to be the first day that I haven’t even made my table fees.”

This isn’t actually the first time that I have thought that. I have had quiet days in the past. The mental conversation typically goes something like this:

“Quiet day today. It’s still early. It will pick up. Today’s going to be the first day that I don’t make my table fees. Grr! That sucks. Focus on the positive. Be attractive. Maybe that person will come for a reading. No? I’m so angry. They’re going to ask for my table fees and it has to come out of my pocket. GRRR! Calm down. Relax. I can’t have lunch, because I haven’t made any money, and now I’m hangry, too. Great. ”

Et cetera, et cetera, working myself up into a tizzy of frustration and poor me. Which usually ends up as a lot of wasted energy, because I have always covered my table fees, at a minimum.

Today was different. The conversation started out the same. Up until the “Grr!” Today, it was, “Oh well. I’ve done well at other Markets, and that’s part of the risk of coming out.”

I actually maintained a positive expectation to cover the table fees. Yes, I dipped into doubt a few times, and I was able to bring myself back up easily. Even when the Market coordinator came to collect the fees, I was OK with it. I didn’t complain. I mentioned that we hadn’t done any business today, but not in the hope of not having to pay (like I sometimes have before). More as information for how the Market went overall.

I tried to work out the reasons we weren’t doing as well. Was it the weather? Was it our location? Was it because our tent was set back a little from the rest of the row? Was it because we had less on display? Did it really matter?

No. It didn’t. I was in a position of abundance instead of lack. Is positive thinking and a positive attitude a cure for all your ills? No. It still helps.

Sure enough, in the last half hour of the Market, I had two full length readings back to back that not only covered the table fees, they also covered the lunch my husband and I had. Thank you, Universe!

Blessings,

Mary

Opening to Sacred Sexuality

I’m a prude. Well, not entirely, though I do have quite a few hangups when it comes to sex and sexuality.

Working with Aphrodite for almost a year definitely helped bring healing to some of my issues, mostly around body acceptance, self-love, and appreciating my own beauty. For those things, I am immensely grateful!

Sex-positive-and-negativeI’m currently taking a class on Sacred Sexuality at the Wiccan Seminary. And I’m learning so much about myself, and working more on becoming more comfortable with the idea of being a sexual creature.

I was raised with the idea that sex is sinful, bad, and dirty, as many Westerners, especially Christians, are. Eve was the source of original sin, and so women bear the curse of Eve, being cast out of the Garden of Eden.

Sex education in school was partly gender education – what happens to your body as you go through puberty – and partly sex discouragement – if you have sex, you will get a sexually transmitted disease or pregnant or both. Masturbation is also bad, or at the very least, not encouraged.

Sex before marriage was taboo. Teenage pregnancy was shameful. If you had sex in high school, you were a stud if you were male, but you were a slut if you were female. And heaven forbid you actually enjoy it as a woman! Sex is only for the purpose of producing children.

Wicca is a fertility religion. It, and really most branches of Paganism that I have encountered, are sex positive, meaning sex is something that is joyful, and pleasurable, and natural, and even healthy, between consenting adults. “The Goddess [God] is beautiful in ALL Her [His] forms,” celebrates body positivity and acceptance.

That doesn’t mean that there are tons of wild orgies, or that we have sex at all our rituals, or that Pagans are promiscuous. (As always, that may be true of some individuals, though not a generality of the whole group.) If that were the case, I probably would have run screaming and never come back. It would have been too big a step for me to take.

This idea that sex is beautiful and natural, joyful and pleasurable, though, while I yearn for this, I still have a hard time with it sometimes. I find myself feeling guilt or shame around wanting sex, or not wanting sex. I’m curious to learn more ways to share and make love with my husband, and yet, I have a hard time even talking about sex with him. Sex magic intrigues me and scares me at the same time.

I’m still a baby on my journey towards sex positivity. I’m lucky to have some pretty great role models in the Pagan community, people who are comfortable in their bodies, who take joy in their lovemaking and aren’t afraid to talk about it, and even joke about it.

I’m probably going to get a ton of spam with all this talk about sex. I’m ready for that. We need to make it more open and less shameful. And the more positive information there is, the better.

What is your experience with sex and sexuality? Is it something you are comfortable with, or still have hangups about? I look forward to hearing your stories. Let’s get more positive conversations going!

Blessings,

Mary

A Mother’s Worst Nightmare

Last week, one of my children was missing. Overnight. It was one of my worst nights ever.

Missing Child FoundIt is extremely difficult to remain calm when a child is not where he is supposed to be. It’s a little easier when said child is 17, and nearly an adult, but not much.

On Wednesday last week, I was working late, and my eldest son was also at work, right next door. We were going to travel home together when I finished work.

My husband came to pick me up, and asked if I had seen the tallest boy. He hadn’t checked in with me, which he is usually very good about doing. Husband checked in with son’s work, and didn’t see him anywhere. I finished things up, and we had a look outside. Son was nowhere to be found.

At this point, I was a little worried, but not much. Son had put some things in our vehicle to be dropped off with one of his friends, so we went to that friend’s house. Maybe he went there.

Friend’s mom and dad were out in front of the house, talking with someone. They had not seen our son. We dropped off the stuff, and thought, well, maybe son took the bus home. I also texted that friend, to see if he had heard from our son.

There was no response from the friend. I texted my son, though he can only respond when he has a wifi connection. No response.

I did my best to keep my cool. He’s 17 years old. He is smart, he is strong, he is capable, and most of all, I trust him. And he’s usually very good at letting us know where he is, so this is out-of-the-ordinary.

We get ourselves some food, and I call more of his friends. No one has heard from him. It’s getting harder to stay calm. I stay up later than I ought to, trying to write a blog post and watching Netflix and really not giving either of them my attention.

We don’t have friend #1’s home phone number, and neither do any of the other friends. I reach out on Facebook to son and a couple of friends. No reply from son, and no friends have heard from him.

Husband figures he is with friend #1, and the cell phone battery is dead. That’s really my hope, too.

Son’s bank account is connected with mine, so I can see that he has used his debit card somewhere, but since it is after banking hours, I can’t see where. I do my best to reassure myself that he is smart, he is strong, he is capable, and most of all, I trust him. He is safe.

Every car that drives by I wonder if it is him being dropped off.

I finally go to bed, hoping he will come home, or contact us. When I wake up in the morning, after a pretty crappy night’s sleep. His bed is empty. My whole body feels heavy.

I get ready for work, and husband drives me in so he can go look for son. Other friends and their parents have offered to help look for him as well.

Sure enough, son is safe and sound at friend #1’s house. He’s been there all night. He had met friend while he was out walking the dog, and had joined him on the walk, which is why we missed him when we had checked the night before.

We now have friend’s home phone number, mom’s cell phone AND dad’s cell phone. And a promise from son to be better about letting us know where he is. As much because he doesn’t want to get in trouble with his friends and their parents again!

I’m so grateful my story had a happy ending. My heart breaks for all the parents who have lost their children.

Blessings,

Mary

Tarot Thursday: Two of Cups

This post has been sitting in draft mode for … far too long. I saw the lovely couple who modeled for this card this past weekend, and it motivated me to get off my butt and write this post.

2 of cups tarot card Walks Within ArtLoveLightThe suit of cups is about your emotions, your relationships – both romantic and otherwise – and dreams and intuition. It is associated with the element of water, so it can also indicate the subconscious, or what lies underneath.

Twos are about polarity and balance. Polarity is like a magnet – when two things that possess an opposite charge come near each other, they draw each other in like a magnet.

The two of cups shows a couple looking lovingly at one another, and raising their glasses in a toast to each other. The two colors from their cups combined create purple, a beautiful Union which twines up the caduceus into the head of a lions head with wings. He holds a golden rimmed cup and she holds a silver rimmed cup. A flash of light sparks where their cups clink together.

They stand on a peaceful sandy beach – water is lapping calmly and peacefully at their feet. They are barefoot, grounded in reality and trusting the earth to support them.

The two of cups is most often about a relationship (remember, this could be a romantic relationship, a friendship, or even a business partnership) that brings out the best qualities in each person.

It is the relationship that completes you, or makes you both more than you are on your own.

Depending on where this card falls in your reading, it could mean that this is a relationship that you are attracting into your life, like that magnet.

Or it could mean falling in love with yourself and finding your own wholeness.

There is a lot of polarity in the colors in this card. Stereotypically, pink symbolizes feminine, and blue symbolizes masculine. The woman is holding a cup with pink liquid, and the man is holding the cup with blue liquid. However, the woman is dressed in blue and white like the water, while the man is dressed in yellow and red like fire.

We each have “feminine” and “masculine” traits (I actually prefer the terms receptive and projective because they aren’t gender specific) receptive and projective traits within us, and so it indicates that the two people in this card are balanced within themselves. Two balanced people coming together definitely creates a more balanced relationship!

Where the cups overlap, we see the liquid turns purple, often a color representing spirit, or that essence that is beyond and greater than the physical experience.

From the union of the cups (and the couple) rises a cadeceus, with a winged lion head. The pinkish glow and the golden wings indicate the thought form created by the joining of these two people is one of peace and protection. The pinkish glow indicates affection, the gold, highest and best. The wings are balanced.

You may not know what a caduceus is, though you may recognize the symbol. The cadeceus was the staff of Hermes, the Greek God of commerce, communication, and so many other things. It is a symbol of healing, balance, and finding equilibrium.

It is a wand with two serpents twined round it, surmounted by two wings. The ancient Greeks believed it to exercise influence over the living and the dead, bestow wealth and prosperity, and turn everything it touched into gold.

The wings of the caduceus symbolize the ‘winged radiance’ of those who have achieved the dynamic equilibrium of the two lobes of the medulla, the petals of the third-eye chakra, as well as the lightning speed of Hermes as Messenger of the Gods.

The rod of the caduceus is called a ‘laya rod,’ a central staff surrounded by the positive and negative energy of the serpents. It is the neutral Sushumna, the channel of the Sun’s One Ray.

Theosophy Trust

OK, I could probably add more, and I’ve put off posting this more than long enough! What else do you see in the Two of Cups?

Blessings,

Mary and Katana

A Wonderful Visit

I’m feeling really blessed right now.

Me and my familyFor the past (almost) two weeks, my parents were out visiting. We didn’t really do any site-seeing, or many activities. Mom and I spent a day together at the spa, and a friend of mine took us out on his boat for an evening cruise of part of the Discovery Passage.

Most of our time was spent just being together – eating meals, catching up on what has been going on in each others’ lives, watching movies. It was nice to have them here, because I don’t get to see them very often.

This past weekend was the Lammas Monologues at the Aquarian Tabernacle Church. It was the cast party from the previous Spring Mysteries Festival, and auditions for the upcoming festival, and I really wanted to be there. On the other hand, I wasn’t about to tell my parents to leave early so we could go to a party. They drove half way across the continent to see us (and other relatives), so I wanted to spend as much time with them as possible. So I invited them to come with us.

To be honest, I was a bit nervous. How were my Lutheran parents from Minnesota going to fit in and connect with my Pagan, not at all body shy, medical marijuana using spiritual family? (OK, they don’t ALL use medical marijuana.) What would they think of the Monologues, with people invoking and telling the stories of many different Gods and Goddesses from all over the world? Where would we all sleep?

It turns out, I didn’t really need to worry. My dad shared his massage toys and skills, and had some great conversations with people about energy and healing and all sorts of things. My mom was a great support, helping out in the kitchen (she loves feeding people!), and I think she had some fun, too. And their dog loved the freedom of being able to wander the property and play with other dogs.

They didn’t really say a lot when I asked them what they thought of the weekend, and whether they enjoyed themselves. I’m curious to hear more.

My spiritual family welcomed my biological family with open arms. I am so grateful for both of them!

Blessings,

Mary

Tarot Thursdays Have Been on Hiatus

I’ve been feeling a bit guilty lately. I was off to a really good start with Tarot Thursdays, and then, they just fell off the map.

Hermit tarot card Walks Within ArtLoveLightThere’s a number of reasons – I went back to work full time. My goodness, that takes more energy than I would like to admit, especially because things weren’t, and still aren’t quite, fully resolved there.

Katana, our amazing artist, moved to Hawaii. She made the decision and moved within a month! She’s getting settled there, and we aren’t quite back to our routine yet.

And I just found out my thyroid levels were low again. That leads to very low energy, among other things. We’ve just increased my medication, so hopefully I will start feeling better soon.

Tarot Thursdays, or rather, the recent lack of them, have been on my mind, though. Each week I would think, maybe I’ll start it up again this week. And then it would be Friday again, and I’d be exhausted, and clearly, it didn’t happen.

This past weekend I did a lot of readings. We were up at Filomi Days in Port Hardy (at the northern end of Vancouver Island) on Saturday, and at the Pier Street Market in Campbell River on Sunday. My teacher taught me that when you see a card, or cards, come up over and over again in your readings, that is the message that the cards have for you.

Of course, when you do a lot of readings in a short span of time, the chances of seeing any particular card more than once are high. I’m talking about the card(s) that come up in several readings.

My messages this weekend were the Queen of Pentacles, the Knight of Pentacles, and the Hermit.

The Queen of Pentacles is the nurturer, the caregiver. She’s the one who has abundance, and makes sure that everyone has food to eat, and a roof over their head, and all of their needs taken care of. Sometimes she does this at her own expense. She may be the one who drops everything to help a friend or loved one. If she does this often enough, she’s eventually going to run out of energy. Who’s taking care of her?

The message I receive from this card is that I need to make sure I am taking time for myself and for self care. I have to practice sacred selfishness a little more often! So I had a chair massage at the Market yesterday, and my mom and I are having a spa day next week. I am really looking forward to that!

The Knight of Pentacles is the defender, the protector. While all of the other Knights tend to be the ones that rush into action, the Knight of Pentacles is the one that makes sure that the home front is protected. Whenever this card comes up, I think of the farmer or rancher walking the fences, making sure there are no holes, and that everything is safe.

The message I receive from this is to make sure I’ve put it place the items to protect what I have built. Perhaps it is time to update my will, clean up my bank accounts, make sure I’ve got a contingency fund, and get a health check up (I just saw the naturopath on Friday).

I’ve already written in depth about the Hermit. You can read that post here.

The message I receive from the Hermit is it’s time for me to do some work on my shadow side. I need to take the skeletons out of my closet and examine them. I need to look at those parts of myself that I’m not necessarily proud of. And then, I need to do something about them.

That something could be accepting myself as I am. It could be forgiving myself for past mistakes. It could be making some changes to fix some of the things I’m not happy about. Or it could (very likely) be a little of all of the above.

Regardless, I have some work to do. I’ll be in my own little world, taking care of myself, and doing some self examination.

Don’t expect another Tarot Thursday post just yet!

Blessings,

Mary