The Interruption Continues

This month is shaping up to be a busy one. I have to drive the 102 miles to Seattle every weekend this month, on top of it being the last 3 weeks of school. Tomorrow I head south for a neurologist appointment, then spend the night with my Paramour (*le sigh*… but more on that later), next weekend Co-Priest and I are going to the Cascadia ADF Protogrove to celebrate Ostara. It will be nice to see how others do it for a change, since Co-Priest and I have been working in something of a vacuum here. The weekend after that I am attending a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony with my Paramour for my music appreciation class.

The BIG news is that my Paramour (with no small assistance from my Best Friend) is taking me to France and Barcelona in May! Best Friend runs these amazing wine tours in the south of France, and I have been trying to figure out a way to go. I get to spend 10 days with my Paramour staying in a 12th century chateau in the south of France in Spring. Not only that, but my Best Friend, Co-Priest, and several other close friends will be there as well. Seriously, how completely blessed can I be? I am sad that Husband wasn’t interested in going, he is completely disenchanted with travel and doesn’t understand why he should leave the house when all of his stuff is here anyway.

Chateau d'Aragon
This is where we will be staying, Chateau d’Aragon.

Carcassonne
This is the nearest city, Carcassonne.

So now I am slammed with local travel and planning for global travel. Travel with MS requires HUGE amounts of planning. I need doctor’s notes, equipment, and medications. I need to plan for problems with security, figure out the best strategies for expending my energy… not to mention I will be sharing a bathroom with 3 boys when I get there. AND to top of the insanity, I will be coming back to the last week or so of school. THEN we have our grove’s Shakespearean Midsummer rite. So I apologize, the dry spell here will probably be ongoing for a while.

This is the only clip I could find of this Ab Fab episode, but imagine my trip will be a lot like this.

Girl, Interrupted

Sorry for the lack of posts, my MS has been causing me grief the last few days and I haven’t had much energy. Nothing very interesting to report at the moment, other than WMFH has me contemplating how the Anglo-Saxon concept of edwenden ties in with the concept of wyrd. More research is needed, but I have been preoccupied with helping my Paramour find a house closer to where I live, schoolwork, and German verbs. Oh, and I am totally rockin’ Princess Leiea hair today.

20130228-163832.jpg
I am part of the rebel alliance and a traitor!

Life’s a Banquet and Most Poor Suckers are Starving to Death

Mental Floss recently posted a conversation starter question: Some dates carry broad significance, and everyone remembers exactly what they were doing. February 1, 1993, is not among them. But think back to this date (ish) in 1993. What was going on in your life? If you could give your 1993 self three words of advice, what would you say?

1993 was the year I saw someone die. It was one of the most pivotal years in my life. I was 22, about to turn 23, my boyfriend at the time had just dumped me for our new roommate (who 10 years later turned out to be the Villain of my star-crossed love story) and I ended up having to move in with my grandparents. I was a high school drop-out with no skills and only fast food job experience, and my health was failing me. I had developed the first signs of Multiple Sclerosis, only because I didn’t have health insurance and had to rely on Medicaid no one gave a fuck. It would be almost 15 years before anyone would diagnose what was going on with me, and by then the disease had been whittling away at my spinal cord and brain long enough that the damage was done. I am still bitter about the fact that I can no longer dance, run, or walk without feeling like I am trying to run underwater. My cousin was working as a home hospice care worker and needed help with a patient who needed 24hr care. The family couldn’t afford to hire another CNA, so she brought me in cheap. The woman we were taking care of was only in her 60s, but after a lifetime of an abusive husband, criminals for children, and unrealized dreams she had just given up and taken to her bed. Eventually she started to develop health problems and was having small strokes that left her confused and partially paralyzed. Her esophagus stopped working and she would choke on anything you tried to feed her. She was a no-code (meaning no artificial means of life support, meaning no feeding tube) and we literally had to watch her slowly die of starvation and thirst.

I will spare you the details of what those 9 days were like, because they were nightmarish. That she lasted that long was remarkable. That modern medicine would do nothing to end her pain was unconscionable. My cousin and I discussed various ways to stop her suffering; a pillow over her face, an overdose of her morphine suppositories, but ultimately neither one of us had the stones to do it. We were girls in their early 20s, and even though both of us had already been through hell and back (she was a former drug addict and street kid who had been having a lesbian relationship with a meth-addicted prostitute, I spent my teens as a goth chick living off beer, potatoes, weed, and sex in a barn with a rock band. Welcome to the Jerry Springer side of my family) neither one of us were jaded enough to murder another human being, even if it would have been a mercy. The woman finally died one evening as we were sitting in her room watching “Hairspray” (I still can’t watch that movie). Her breathing became labored and eventually she just… stopped. People often talk about the miracle of birth, I am here to tell you that death is no less miraculous. One moment, there is a person there, even in a coma there is life there. Then, suddenly, it is gone. As sudden as shutting off a light or snuffing a candle, and just as easy. It left me with no doubt in my mind that there is something more to the state of “life” than just chemicals and synapses.

My life was never the same after that day. I spent weeks thinking about the decisions I had made with my life. In the following 12 months I got my GED, went to college to study anthropology, and eventually moved to Los Angeles to be with my best friend and pursue a career in the adult entertainment industry. Yes, I actually sought that out, because as a sex-positive third wave feminist I wanted that experience. I had spent my entire life the fat ugly duckling, I wanted to know what it was like to be a swan. I wanted to live my life, chase my dreams, explore my being, experience life in all its facets. And live it I did. Because I did not want to die at the age of 66 in a bed with 2 white trash hussies keeping death watch, riddled with bedsores and reeking like piss after having lived an unfulfilled and sheltered life. I have seen and done things in this lifetime that I can’t even begin to describe. Between my jobs in health care, child care, and sex work I have seen the human body do just about every thing a human body can do and then some. I have learned and grown and sought and reached with every fiber of my being and every ounce of my soul. I have loved and hated and raged and laughed. I have been seduced and worshiped and battered and reviled. I have been the hero of my own story as well as the villain (and believe me, no one can fuck up my life like I can). I worn so many hats, been called so many names. I have been a companion, a friend, a whore, a slave, a teacher, a nanny, a housekeeper, a boss, a receptionist, a health care worker, a student, an entertainer, a writer, a priestess, a housewife, a mistress, an assistant, a waitress, a model, an actress, and so many other things. And I am nowhere near done yet. Middle age is proving to be a great adventure, and I approach it with every ounce of anticipation, excitement, and horror as I have every other stage of my life so far.

So my 3 words of advice to my 23 year old self?

It’ll be AMAZING!

Since that day in 1993, I have tried to live my life according to the mantra of my favorite fellow diva/drag queen/gay man trapped in a woman’s body:

Pagan Politics aka “Leave Britney Alone!”

Since everyone is talking about this subject, I guess it’s my turn to weigh in:

I could not give 2 1/2 fucks what Star Foster chooses calls herself.

Not to single Ms. Foster out. I don’t know her, I don’t read her blog. I just find it completely baffling that the entire community actually feels that this one woman’s decision to stop calling herself Pagan matters in the slightest. How exactly does this effect you? Does this actually change your own self-perception? Are we all lemmings charging off the cliff now? Why are people fighting about this? Why does it mean everyone suddenly has to pick a side? And why are people heaping insane amounts of hate on this poor girl for what is ultimately a very personal decision? Even more disturbing is the fact that people are posting the most hateful personal commentary on other people’s blogs. Whatever happened to “if you can’t say something nice”?

I am aware that Ms. Foster is a rather controversial figure in the community, and when I checked her blog while researching this topic, I can’t say that I found her… completely sympathetic. However, saying that because someone comes across as a bit of a bitch on their blog means it’s ok to be abusive towards them is like saying “She was wearing a red dress! She was asking to be raped!”. YOU are the one in charge of YOUR behavior, act like a grown up and walk away from people who don’t improve your world. Just because I found her style abrasive does not invalidate what she has to say, nor is it my place to “correct” her. It means I won’t be reading her blog, and I doubt she gives 2 1/2 fucks what I choose to do either.

I have had either the great fortune or disadvantage of coming at Paganism from a uniquely isolated angle. I came of age before the advent of the internet. I have spent most of my Pagan “career” either in blissful solitude or with a close knit group of like-minded Pagans. My mother and her husband are Pagan, my sister was Wiccan, so family ostracization was never an issue. I never went through a Wiccan phase, I went straight from the confused quasi-Catholicism of my early teen years to Ceremonial and Chaos magick in my late teens and 20s to Reconstructionsim in my 30s. Even then, I managed to avoid groups and online communities, having been blessed with a circle of friends that were also of the same general faith. Even here on the island, our grove consists of around 10+ people who seem to share a similar spiritual comfort zone. Once I became active in the online Pagan community, I was appalled to learn that Pagans don’t really like each other. Even Pagans within the same “denomination” argue and bicker over the most banal points of dogma like dogs growling over a bone. Even more disappointing is the condescending “Comic Book Guy” know-it-all tone people adopt. Seriously, read just about any comment on a Pagan blog in the Comic Book Guy’s voice and you will see what I mean.

Perhaps it’s time that we all focus more on the choices we are making. The internet has made us all into cheerleaders or trolls, and very few of us are actually in the game playing. It has given Pagans a false sense of community. These people are not your friends, they are not your kindred. You may have had the good fortune to have met some decent or interesting people online, but to assume that even a small percentage of us are going to have the same world view or be able to get along based on the fact that we share an extremely tenuous umbrella faith is laughable. Star Foster’s decision to abandon the title of Pagan has no more bearing on my world than reading the latest patriarchal decree from that Hitlerjungend Sith lord sitting on his golden throne in the Vatican. It’s like apples and oranges, if the oranges had an unreasonable hatred of vag and a penchant for really silly hats. Likewise, I do not expect anyone who reads this blog to even remotely ascribe any weight to my opinions. They are my opinions, my world view. I write them down so I can work them through, I share them because this is the age of the internet and we are all attention whores in this grand electronic bordello.

Some of you might care about who calls themselves what, some of you may have even been involved in the conversation. That’s fine, I doubt any of you are the sort to go on another person’s blog and call them a fat, ignorant, whore because you disagree with them. Seriously, one of the few places in the Pagan realm I am finding reasoned discourse is at fellow ADF dedicant Teo Bishop’s blog. I find him a delight to read, a gentle and compassionate soul who seems to draw people with a positive outlook toward him. I envy his ability to wield such patience. I come from a more “HULK SMASH” space. Meh, sometimes you need whisk broom, sometimes you need a sledgehammer. I am getting better at determining when to use which.

Oh, and speaking of which, this blog is not a free-speech zone. Trolls will be deleted. I don’t feel the need to be diplomatic in my own house. I would no more tolerate someone being rude or abusive on my blog than I would allow them to come into my home and spread their own filth on my walls. To quote my all-time favorite scene from “Mommie Dearest”:

What I Really Think

Yesterday was a bad day.

Important detail: I have Multiple Sclerosis. I have probably had it since my early 20s, but I wasn’t diagnosed until my mid 30s. I have a cousin who also has MS who is only a few years older than I am and is already in a nursing home. I am still walking and talking, but what I have to go through to maintain that is colossal (and insanely expensive.) I take 58 pills everyday (I do a mixture of traditional and modern medicine). I require 2 intramuscular injections a week. I need a machine to help me breathe while I sleep. I have acupuncture once a week. Sometimes I still need a cane. I can’t walk for very far or very long, and sometimes the fatigue hits me so hard it’s literally as if my body is shutting down. I recently went grocery shopping when it hit and I was forced to sit in a Haggen’s parking lot, unable to get out of my car and having to pee for 25 minutes. At one point I seriously considered peeing in the car out of sheer desperation. My point being that when these things happen no amount of determination or will power can change the situation. Because of the damage the disease has done to my brain and spinal cord, everything I do requires 5 times the effort and stamina it requires other people.

For the most part, I try to maintain a “positive” outlook. By positive, I don’t mean cheerful as much as determined and driven. I don’t do cheerful, it ain’t my nature. I try not to let on how much my legs hurt, how tired I am, how much it breaks my heart when people want to do things that I can’t participate in. I think the most devastating loss is the fact that I can’t dance anymore. Believe me when I tell you I am not being mawkish when I say to dance every chance you get, because you really don’t know when it will be your last dance, and you will miss it more than you can imagine. I try to forge ahead with my life and not let the disease or the burden of my healthcare get in the way. But sometimes something small can trigger a cascade of rage and sorrow that I think runs under the surface for anyone in my situation.

In German class yesterday, they had the guy in charge of the “study abroad” program come in to talk to the class of predominately 16-24 year olds about they opportunities available for them to travel overseas. I watched these entitled little fucks ignore the guy and act completely disinterested, not to mention say things like “oh I lived in X country for 5 months, but I never bothered to learn the language” or “I lived in blah for a year on a military base, but I never left the base”. Meanwhile, I am sitting there, wanting to jump up and scream at these brats “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?? GO, FOR FUCK’S SAKE! BECAUSE ANY DAY NOW YOU MIGHT END UP 42 AND NEVER HAVING BEEN ANYWHERE!!” Because I never traveled. I’ve never left this country. I was always too poor or couldn’t leave my job or any number of stupid, stupid things. All at once, my situation crashed down on me, the fact that I will probably never travel, I will never go to Prague or Budapest, never visit Dublin or Berlin, never see a real castle, never be anywhere where the common language is anything but English. I will never see a building older than 300 years. I will never walk the streets of a medieval village or in the footsteps of my ancestors. The logistics involved in lugging my medical equipment and requirements are astronomical. My energy levels and physical limitations prevent me from really exploring a city or going to museums. I can’t travel alone and I can’t ask someone to just come along and be my damn nurse (Mr. Sigrun hates to travel.) I need to worry about medical insurance for travelers, making sure I have access to refrigeration and power supply, and a standard toilet, since any kind of insane crouching nonsense ain’t gonna happen. Not to mention the bullshit of airport rapist security and physical demands of air travel. An uncontrolable torrent of suppressed bitterness, self-pity, anger, and frustration filled my stomach. A sense of impotent rage at my own helplessness and feebleness came over me. From that point on, my day was pretty much a crap sandwich with a side of fuck fries.

Adding in the fact that I was already having one of “those” days where everything you touch falls apart, and the day just kept getting worse. Stubbed toes, bad drivers, ferry problems, missed connections, you name it. It culminated in having dinner at a friend’s house, where the glass of wine I was enjoying suddenly had a fly swimming in it. There was a woman I had never met before there, so I was trying desperately to repress the bile that had accumulated in my heart all day, but after a couple of glasses of fly wine I was feeling less like holding back. I was trying to riff passionately about a subject (coincidentally, Americans who don’t know how to behave themselves in another country), humorously but darkly as is my nature, when she said that one sentence that has haunted me my entire life,

“Gee, Sigrun, tell us how you really think!” *chuckle chuckle*

My good friends and husband got quiet for a moment and all instinctively leaned away from me, bracing themselves.

I snarled as inwardly I am capable and tried to brush it off in the most gracious way I could muster, which is to say like a bear dressed in a wedding gown, on its hind legs, trying to speak English, all flared lips and teeth and grunting.

I don’t think the new girl likes me, but then again, my first impression of her wasn’t that great. I HATE that saying. That is such a passive-aggressive, dismissive way of trying to shut someone down by making a joke out of their opinion. I also hate the fact that people tend to say that to women far more than men. Because a woman with a strongly held and passionately expressed opinion is an eyesore, to be scoffed at, negated, and ignored.

After dinner, I came home and had a good cry (because even fucking valkyries get the blues, dammit) while my husband made me a cup of hot cocoa to comfort me. As I was finishing it, a clump of undissolved powder at the bottom of the glass broke open and I ended up with a lungful of chocolatey goodness.

That day couldn’t end fast enough.

I really had no point to this post. Sigh. And so it goes…

Sigrun Pallene- An Introduction

There is always that moment when you start a blog where the cursor flashes ominously from the little white rectangle… ENTER USER NAME… ENTER USER NAME… and you stare vacantly, waiting for a spark of inspiration that will summarize your identity, in 4-20 characters to give a clear picture of who you are and why you have decided to share your thoughts with anyone who wanders by.

Choosing mine was daunting, but eventually the names came to me:

Sigrun: Valkyrie who cursed her brother to wander the woods and live off carrion for the rest of his days after he killed her lover.

Pallene: “A Princess of Pallene (in Thrake, North of Greece) whose father had her wrestle those who sought her hand in marriage. All were defeated and slain until Dionysos came along and won the contest.” – theoi.com

These two mythical women seemed to encompass many aspects of who I am and why I am here. As a Pagan woman, I often find people expect me to be oriented to the Earth Mother. Many a conversation has turned sour for me when I inform other Pagan women that not only am I child-free by choice, I actually rather intensely dislike children and find childbearing rather… unseemly. I have actually be told before that my distaste for reproduction means I can’t possibly be a “real” Pagan, because, of course, all “real” Pagan women are enthralled with the idea of squeezing a fleshy bowling ball out of their blood-smeared nether regions.

Apparently, the tyranny of obligatory fecundity is not just the province of the Abrahamic religions.

I was not born to breed. It simply isn’t in my personal make up. Those of you who are parents and enjoy raising children, more power to you, you have more fortitude and grit than I can muster. I would think the world would commend a woman for choosing to remain childless when she knows her maternal instinct is AWOL, but sadly most people react as if you have told them you kick puppies for a hobby.

I was raised to be a warrior by a mother who probably would have been happier if she had been able to be one herself. She taught me to fight, to swing a bat, how to intimidate a man who threatens you, how to take stock of your surroundings and find the weapons and tools you might need in case of trouble. She taught me to voice my opinion, to fight my own battles, and to suck it up when things went wrong. When most people’s mothers read them “The Pokey Little Puppy” and “Goodnight, Moon” before bed, this is what my mother read me:

Invictus
by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

I shit you not, gentle reader.

Needless to say, moving into adulthood created some serious “alpha female” moments in our single-parent household, and I left home as early and often as possible. Nowadays, my relationship with my mother is relatively healthy, but we have both changed and matured, and it was a long road to get here.

My dad is a very gentle and funny guy. He taught me to love nature, to respect it but not fear it, that a little science is every girl’s best friend.

Both my parents insisted I be able to read before kindergarten. I still can’t thank them enough for that.

As I grew, I had several spiritual revelations that have lead me down the path I am currently on. I will go into those in depth later, but for now it is enough to say that my whole life I have been one of “those” women. The woman who is too loud, too vulgar, too rough, and too pushy. The woman who doesn’t know that men hate it when you beat them at games, that you shouldn’t prattle on about Xhosa healing ceremonies or televised eye surgery when on a date, that guys hate it when you use big words they don’t know. The woman who is too blatant in her sexuality, too immodest in her dress, too casual in her relationships with men. The woman to whom people constantly say things like “Geez, tell us how you REALLY feel!” or “Stop yelling ‘vagina’! You’ll upset the neighbors!”. I have tried to fit in, to make myself more demure and “classy”. I often think that somewhere inside me is an inner Audrey Hepburn, but the big mean fat girl ate her… so here I am.

I am currently a dedicant for the ADF and a practicing priestess for a small grove here on the tiny island in the Northwest I call home. I am married to a Bad Ass Motherfucker, who was the only man I deemed could survive being married to me. He is my rock and my hero, even if he wishes I would stop yelling ‘vagina’ and scaring the neighbors. This blog is called ‘Ravens and Ivy’ because I identify with the ferocity of the Germanic Valkyries and the ecstatic abandon of the Greek Maenads. I consider myself a sort of Pan-Germanic semi-reconstructionist, which if it seems like a ridiculously over the top description, it is. I started this blog because I needed a place to talk about my spiritual journey with a certain level of anonymity and candor. If you read this, great, if not, oh well.

When We Were Trees

The Transpersonal Experience in Indo-European Mythology, Folklore, and Music

Northern Heim, Southern Clime

On Maenads and Valkyries

Introspective Maenad

Thoughts of an Unlikely Dionysian

Pixiecraft: Adventures of Magick and Devotion

The Life of a Practicing Pagan and Traditional Witch

leaf and twig

where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry

The House of Vines

where words grow like leaves

The Flaming Thyrsos

Memoirs of a Hekatean Wino

Syncretic Mystic

Exactly correct. You inhabit two worlds. So far, I see nothing strange.

Root Craft

Making magic in the dirt.

Eternal Bacchus

Dionysos from the end of antiquity to the present

eklogai

polytheist extractions

Black Witch

Life from a Black Pagan's Perspective

Aspis of Ares

A Devotional Exploration of Ares, the God of War

4 of Wands

A celebration of me and my interests. Unapologetically.

Down the Withywindle

All paths lead that way, down to Withywindle.

Ozark Pagan Mamma

Folk Magic, Druidism, Heathenry, & Pagan Parenting

beingaleaf

learning, growing, reaching, being :-)

The Druid in the Swamp

Druidic Musings from the Texas Gulf Coast

The Druid's Cosmos

An ADF Druid's trials, tribulations, musings, and victories

A Forest Door

Spirit-Work & Devotional Polytheism

The Wild Hunt

On Maenads and Valkyries

Pagan Reveries

"Everything is full of gods." - Thales

%d bloggers like this: