Imbolc-less

As I’m sure you all know by now, I am not the best when it comes to keeping up with rituals and holidays. Not just Craft related, I even suck when it comes to, for lack of a better word, secular holidays. Case in point, the date of Thanksgiving always eludes me. As do the dates for Memorial Day, Easter, and Presidents Day. I know they are holidays but damned if I remember when and doubled damned if I know what to do for them.

So I hope you will forgive me if I don’t write you a refresher course on Imbolc.  I know that it is important and has major significance as it marks the halfway point between winter solstice and the spring equinox and is one of the eight Sabbats in the Wheel of the Year. I know it is often seen as a women’s holiday and is one that centers around the goddess Brigid, especially in the Wiccan tradition. But this is nothing that you can’t find out via hundreds, if not thousands, of other sources. Most, if not all, will be written much better than this, I’ll bet. But for me, it’s just not something anything I’ve ever been about.

Imbolc had never called me the way other holidays have.

I don’t know if the weirdo kid in me was just predestined to feel more comfortable with Samhain once I fully learned about it or if the end of the year is just something I prefer.

Maybe its the timing of the year that makes Ostara feel right. I’m not sure.

And Yule, well it’s Yule!! Even if I say I don’t get hyped for Yule, I do.

But Imbolc? It just doesn’t work for me.

I know that’s not much of a thing to boast about but, maybe that’s just another part of the beauty of being an eclectic witch. You find what works for you and use it. When something doesn’t, well you can leave it behind.

The key thing to remember however is that just because one thing is not your scent of incense doesn’t mean you get to ruin it for others. With being on this grand adventure of eclectic witchiness comes some responsibility. Just because it’s not right for us, doesn’t mean those that feel it is are wrong. The converse is also true. Just because our path is roomy enough for some spiritual pick and choose doesn’t mean that those that stick to a more narrower version can gatekeep and try to keep us in their lane. It’s a two-way street, and if we all check our egos, it’s one that’s big enough for all us.

When the sticky parts of something as personal as religion and spirituality are discussed it’s hard not to be defensive. And for those of us who have lived for years in a society that has always made us have to be prepared to protect ourselves, we tend to walk around with our fist clenched. But when it comes to being honest, open and understanding among each other, it’s time to unclench those fist and listen. We have enough enemies. We don’t need infighting to pick apart what those on the outside would celebrate seeing undone.

So, me not being into Imbolc isn’t a big deal. If you are, that is awesome. I hope that your Imbolc is amazing. Whatever it is you have planned, I hope it is wonderous. I hope it is beautiful and brings you happiness. (And if you are going to share it, I want to see!! I might not be doing anything, but I love seeing others doing their stuff. I’m a pro selfie/picture sharing person. If it makes you happy, share it with the world. I want to see it!)

While a whole lot of us in the Americas are frozen right now, being reminded that Spring is on the way isn’t a bad thing. Knowing that the thaw is on it’s way is something to look forward to. Enjoy whatever makes you feel good inside and fills your heart.

You do you, Dear Readers, you do you.

The Blood Moon Eclipse

Excitement abounds!

Tonight is the night of the Blood Moon Eclipse!

Overnight from January 20th to the 21st, the Moon, who happens to look a bit larger thanks to its Supermoon status, will turn a bloody dull red color as it slips into the Earth’s shadow. The event will be visible in North and South America. Parts of Western Europe and African will also get to see the event as well.  

According to the site TimeandDate, for me, the partial eclipse will start at 10:33 pm with the moon getting a little red. The party will really begin around 11:41 pm when the total eclipse starts. It will reach it peak around 12:12 am and from there on start to decrease.

(Short unsolicited plug for that website: Just plug in your zipcode and boom! It will tell you the times, direction, altitude, and give you a nifty animation of the eclipse. And if you are boxed it, there are links for a live stream of the event so you watch from home. I stumbled upon via a google search and it looks to be a really handy tool.)

I am pretty psyched about the eclipse.
One, because duh, it’s a moon event. It’s pretty common knowledge, witches love moon events. I’m totally one of those “Hey look at the moon!” type people.

And two, it gives me something to look forward to, and a small goal to set in the continued effort to make myself better.

Staying awake at night is one of my current struggles. I have never been a night person, but recently? It’s like a hundred times worse.

Not an actual picture of me, but close enough.

I don’t know how much of it is related to emotional exhaustion and how much of it is actually being tired, but once it gets dark and we get the kiddos to bed, my brain pretty much shuts off. All of my evening plans get canceled and I end up pre-sleeping on the couch before I shuffle off to bed to sleep some more. And to top it off, that sleep isn’t even restful! It’s frustrating having a sleep schedule that rivals that of a retirement community when you physically have a lot to do and so many ideas you want to accomplish.

So this rare occurrence gives me something to strive to stay up for. Unlike the 20/20 on Jim and Tammy Bakker that I really wanted to watch that other night, I really feel I can achieve this.  (Listen, they were local and it was a huge scandal. Tammy Faye and her full face of makeup can never be forgotten. Also, I love stories about disgraced pastors. It’s a guilty pleasure I will never feel sorry for.)

My plan tonight is pretty simple. Seeing as how I’m more of a play it by ear witch than a ritual specialist, I plan to just spend some time observing the Eclipse. I’m going to take out some of my crystals out for charging, burn a new palo santo stick, and, until the cold makes me too uncomfortable, recharge myself under the Blood Moon.

While I am not an astrologist, I do accept that the eclipse and the full moon are agents of change. They are symbols that everything is in flux and that sometimes we have to be open to the shake-up of cyclic nature of the world around us. They are a reminder that all things, all ideas and more importantly, all struggles, are temporary. We are forever changing and experiencing growth. And if the Moon can travel into the path of the Earth, and change her color, while in the middle of her shape changing dance, we can change the things about us that we are struggling with.

And I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty damn inspirational.

I hope no matter where you are Dear Readers, you take advantage of the Magick of the Blood Moon tonight. Even if it’s from indoors or online. Whatever you need to replenish and replace during this amazing event, whatever you need to heal or fix, I hope the Moon and her special event provide you some support and clarity.

Writing, Depression, and That Damn Blinking Cursor.

The longer I sit looking at the blinking cursor, the more it starts looking like an enemy. So if it’s going to taunt me with it’s blinking nothingness, I’m going to fill it with a whole bunch of uncomfortable realness.

When I decided to get serious about this whole writing thing, it was a lot easier for me to pump out content. I had a good stretch where I was writing what I felt was some really good stuff. Not just for the blog here, but for the few other sites that would occasionally pick up my pieces too. I was finally giving breath to the part of me that had always longed to breathe. And I was writing a lot. It felt like my fingers were trying out ideas as fast as my head could thinking them up. I was balancing all my life stressors pretty well, spinning the domestic plates with one hand and assaulting the keyboard with the other.

And it felt right. I felt like I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I was being a mom, a wife, a friend, and I was writing. I was checking off all the boxes of the things I had to be and the thing I wanted to be. For the first time, in a long time, I felt like more than just a homemaker. I was who I was called to be. I even got a poem published in a book. It really seemed that 2018 was going to be my year.

The hounds of depression nipped at my heels constantly though, even louder and closer than before.

I spent more time dragging my feet just to get through the day. Illness cost my husband his job and granted me the role of caregiver. His days became filled with doctor’s visits and physical therapy. And forms. So many forms to fill out. School became a challenge for my youngest son as he adapted to kindergarten. I had not foreseen it a struggle for him. I was wrong.  I addressed a personal health issue of my own and even began medication for depression. The nation took a huge leap into The Twilight Zone and each day brought a new headline of insanity. And slowly and almost silently, my ability to write as much as I wanted when I wanted, started drying up.

Sometimes things change without you noticing. Just little things here and there, that you are too busy to see. By the time you catch it and rush to fix it, it’s usually too late. That’s how this feels. It feels like maybe I’m pulling on the last fraying string of a sweater that’s already come mostly undone. (Weezer may have inspired this last sentence.) I know I talked about this in It’s Been A While, but I honestly thought by now things would be different. I thought I would have shaken whatever this was and I’d be back to my old self. That just doesn’t seem to be the case.

I have been writing. I was gifted this wonderful Complete the Story journal from Piccadilly by my sis in law and her SO for my birthday. Each page has a story prompt and the rest of the page is blank. I’ve been hand scribbling my stories in there when I get the moments. I even took one of those stories from the page to the computer and submitted it to an online magazine after sharing it with my best friend. I was so stoked about what I had created! I had thought that it had such potential. It was the first real bit of fiction I had pulled out in a good while that felt honest and real and more importantly, good. It felt like a real story with some real potential.

It was promptly rejected.

Honestly, It’s just frustrating. Being a writer is something I’ve always wanted to be. When I dreamed of it as a kid, being a blogger wasn’t included in the dream because blogs weren’t a thing then. (Someone fact check that for me. Were blogs a thing in the 90s?) But writing in a blog is as legitimate as being any other type of writer. I know I will probably never be an official, proper, make money out of it writer. I’m not the next Stephen King. My blog is enough. And now I feel like I’m not even doing that.

I’m not sinking, guys, I’m just momentarily stuck. I’m not out of hope. I have buckets of it, it’s just a little bit out of reach. I do want things to be better. I want to do better. It’s not like I’m just rolling over and letting life get the pin on me. I do intend to kick out.  Don’t try to count me out just yet, I totally mean to continue this writing, living, existing journey. I have no plans for an existential break. I have ideas and plans for the future. I’m just feeling a little low and a little unsure of myself.

Depression is real folks. And it doesn’t always look like what you think it does. It’s not all dark clouds full of doom and gloom. Sometimes it’s drying cement around your feet.  Sometimes it’s a new coat of paint covering what you once considered your reachable dreams. Sometimes it’s just the quiet whisper of “I told you so” from yesteryears’ ghost. Sometimes it’s trying to pour from an empty cup so long, all you have left at the end of the day is dust.

So, as the cursor continues to blink at me and I try to think of further ways to combat it, I ask this of you Dear Reader.

  • Keep reading. Not just my blog, but the blogs and works of yet to be bestseller writers everywhere. I don’t think there has ever been a time when it has been so easy to access the writings of so many people the world over.
  • Listen to your friends when they are excited to share with you their latest creations. Support the passions your friends have. Support what pours from their souls. Because one day they are going to feel like they are horrible at the thing they love to do. And it’s going to hurt them. It might make them want to pack all their creativity up and hide it away. For the love of all that is good, don’t let them.
  • While you’re at it, check in on those friends who have gone quiet. Check in on those who are always checking in on you. Check in on those who have their hands full and sometimes maybe press when they say they are “ok, just tired.” Because believe me, it is so much easier to say that you’re tired than to have to find a name for the way you’re actually feeling.

As for me, I’m here and I’m dedicated to making sure that 2019 is more than this treading water feeling. I’m not going to spend the year watching the paint dry over what I wanted to achieve. I want to get back to my status quo of creation again. Or at least, to a level that I feel comfortable with. I just want to be proud of myself again. And not taunted by that damn blinking cursor.


Book Review: Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint By Nadia Bolz-Weber

I don’t know when or exactly why I stopped reading the Huffington Post. But at some point, I did. I can almost guarantee it wasn’t out of malice. HuffPost, for the most part, has long been right up my alley when it comes to journalism. I read them a ton when I was younger. There was even a time when Recent College Dropout Me fantasized about writing for them. But then she got busy raising babies and started reading TMZ between diaper changes. Her brain slipped a bit and those hopes slipped away. Younger me made some poor decisions (TMZ obviously, not the babies). Somehow, other than the passing hashtag on Instagram, I had almost completely forgotten about the publication. That was until one of their headlines ended up on my Facebook timeline.

And oh boy, was it a good one.

This Pastor is Melting Purity Rings Into a Golden Vagina Sculpture

I mean, how could you see that and NOT click on it?

The article talks about how Nadia Bolz-Waber, the lead pastor at Denver’s House for All Sinners and Saints and all-around kickass progressive Christian author and theologian, is working with artist Nancy Anderson to reclaim the idea of the purity ring. Their project asks people to send in the purity rings they were given as young people so they can all be melted down together to form a golden vagina sculpture. People who sent in their rings by the dead received a silicone ring of impurity and a certificate to boot.

In case you missed it, purity rings were part of some Evangelical circles back in the 1990s to the early 2000s. I even covered this topic in the early days of this blog with The Problem With Purity Rings. Basically, they were a yet again another gross way to try to force further control over young women’s bodies and sexualities. Bolz-Waber and Anderson wanted to use art to try to not only change but also recover from that. And that is pretty fucking awesome.

The article left me not only with an overwhelming sense of “Fuck yeah Girl Power!” for the day, but it also left me with some questions about this Nadia Bolz-Waber lady.

Lutheran pastors can have tattoos? There’s a queer-inclusive church in Denver called House For All Sinners and Saints? There are church people who are down with women having the right to have control over their own bodies and make their own decisions? And who are cool with art that has vaginas in it?

Obviously, I must learn more. Regardless of the differences in our beliefs, Nadia Bolz-Waber sounds like a freaking interesting person with a whole lot of interesting stuff going on.

So I did what anyone would do in our era, I googled her.

Then I bought two of her books.

The first one I read is the one I’m going to finally get around telling you about after this exceptionally lengthy introduction.

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint was released in 2013 and is a wonderful blend of autobiography and living mission statement. The book chronicles not only Nadia Bolz-Weber’s struggles with her church and faith but also talks about how she got there.

The book opens with the definition of what a pastrix actually is. And for someone who didn’t actually grow up in the church but did grow up in the thick of the Bible Belt, it was as hilarious as it was helpful. (Have I ever told you about my great grandma’s sister who was am untrained female Southern Baptist preacher? I saw her anoint someone with vegtable oil once. That’s not really related to being a Pastrix but I felt the need to share.)

Following the opening definition, we are introduced to The Rowing Team and told about Bolz-Weber’s early days of sobriety and stand up comedy. The chapter sets the tone for the entire book because it shows exactly how open and transparent Bolz-Weber is with the audience. I was taken aback at just how real her writings were. For whatever reason, it felt alien to me to see a person in the business of holiness not having a completely polished and perfect image. I grew up in the land of Jim Bakkers and Tammy Fayes, Ted Haggards and Jimmy Swaggerts. We have megachurches here. We also have tiny churches with pastors who act like they have a megachurch. I am not used to people in religious authority being so open about their own dirt and more importantly, their own humanity. I’m used to overdressed and made-up plastic doll “people” not actual human beings full of faults, flaws, and four letter words. Bolz-Weber is an actual human being. Four letter words included.

The rest of the book continues with the same candid, honest communication as the first chapter. Bolz-Weber just does not sugar coat a damn thing. And it’s so fucking refreshing. Even coming from a Pagan standpoint, there are times where spiritual books get a little too saccharine for me. That does not happen here. Bolz-Weber is candid and honest with her struggles and never tries to paint them in a positive light. She does often find the cord that ties them to certain spiritual meanings. And I feel that is important. She finds God in the cracks, not just in the sunshine. That’s how I’ve often found connection with my path too. It’s never been the Goddess coming down and making flowers bloom on the path in front of me while moonlight perfectly reflects off some charging crystals lying on the ground. It’s been finding a connection to The Craft in the middle of the mud and gunk of life.

Speaking of, one of the chapters of the book even features a brief visit into the time Bolz-Weber spent with God’s Aunt, the Goddess. It’s about the few years she spent hanging around the Wiccan religion while she took some time off from Jesus. There is no talk of the evils of witchcraft, no talk of damnation, no talk of Hell. I’m not sure if that’s just the Lutheran way or not, but holy balls, it’s awesome to see.  It’s just her pleasantly remembering how much love was present and how awesome the female companionship was of the group was. There was nothing but acceptance and love towards group she was attached to and the people she knew. While I’m not a Wiccan, it did make my Pagan heart happy to see so much love for us Pagan folks.

Some of the stories in the book are so honest, you kind of feel like you’re reading a diary. What’s great about a lot of them is that Bolz-Weber isn’t always the one that ends up being the hero at the end. You can see her as just a real person, someone who, even though she is the pastor of a church and leader in the community, is looking for the answers too.

Nadia Bolz-Weber does not shy to share where she is cracked, or when she has dirt under her nails (there’s a talk in there about Jesus that will make you understand the reference in that sentence). She is open with readers about her struggles and questions and even the doubts she once had about the whole thing. She is equally as open about her belief and devotion. She doesn’t just pay lip service to being a person of the cloth. She lives her faith. The good parts, the easy parts, the rewarding parts, but that’s not all. She also proud lives the hard parts, the unsure parts, the sad parts, the bitter parts, the tiring and painful parts. And she’s not afraid to share it all.

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to not only seeing the melted down purity ring vagina sculpture but reading the author’s other books in the future. Just because we don’t follow the same path, doesn’t mean we don’t take some of the same steps. I really feel that Nadia Bolz-Weber is an amazing woman who has a lot of world-changing ability. Also, we curse about the same amount, so that makes her writings really relatable and enjoyable to read.

I can’t recommend this book enough. If the mood strikes you, definitely pick up a copy. And since, like always, I am late to the party, totally check out the other books she’s written. I plan to.

And just as a funny add-on, there are a lot of mentions of places in the Denver, CO area in the book. Mr. ConjureandCoffee is a born and bred Denver native, having moved away from Colorado when he was around 10. So pretty much everytime a location came up, my South Carolina self would ask him “Hey babe, do you know where so-and-so is?” He quickly tired of my spur of the moment geography quizzes. I’m not sure why he puts up with me but I’m sure glad he does. 🙂