Change

Loki is known to his followers as a god of change. He will take your life and shake it out until you’re left feeling disheveled and wondering what the fuck just happened. He is not a cruel god. Not entirely, at least. He will put you in positions where you have to face your truth, an unpleasant life situation, or a decision you’ve been putting off for far too long. He will force you to take a step one way or another. Stagnation isn’t a pretty look to him.

It’s a bit silly to be a Lokean and say that you’re afraid of change. Yet, here I am. Change is scary. More-so when you don’t know what the domino effect from one change will turn out like. Want a new job? Now you have to get new health insurance, get to know new people, learn new policies, have a new schedule, so on and so forth. All of which could go one way or another… or another, or another.
I am finding myself in this position where I’ve been considering a change in my life. I am also terrified of what that could entail. Will I make things better or worse? I need change, but what if I end up with the wrong choice? I suppose I could pull out the tarot and/or pendulum for clarity if I weren’t so scared of what they’d tell me. Some witch, huh?

As a Lokean, I find that I often find myself questioning my truths. It’s a start. I know that I need to take a leap eventually. Baby steps can only get us so far, after all. Does Loki ever get tired of watching me and others like me? Perhaps I am lucky when he doesn’t take action to move things along. Or perhaps it’s just what I could need.

And what of The Morrigan, the goddess to whom I first devoted myself? I can’t imagine that she’d be too proud of my inability (or refusal, depending on how you view it) to make a decision. Surely, she must view it as a weakness. Of course, I can not speak for the gods. There is only speculation and UPG.

No, this topic is not something that The Morrigan or Loki has discussed with me so far in any form of communication. It could very well be that I need to learn this lesson on my own. It could be that I already know the answer. Change is necessary. Fears must be overcome. Nobody can make decisions for me. The list goes on.

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My Art

I spent part of today painting a drawing that I did for my spouse. Watercolor (tube paint) is my preferred medium for color, with some coloring pencils (regular or watercolor) and oil pastel thrown in for good measure. I don’t work on my art as much as I should. I don’t have the luxury of being a fulltime artist. Not that I’m saying those who do have it easy. They don’t. But it’s definitely easier to work on one’s art more often without a separate full time job taking up most of the week. Still, I should make more time when I am home. A little here, a little there. More than what I currently do, certainly.
This talk of being an artist, and I don’t usually share my work here. If you want to check it out, my Deviant Art page and Reddbubble accounts are both under the AlviniaBear username.
Deviant Art | AlviniaBear
Redbubble | AlviniaBear

Marketing is one of the more difficult parts of being an artist who would like to be a paid artist. It’s not one of my better skills, if I’m being honest. Still, I try what little I can. I share on my personal and public Facebook pages, on Pinterest, and finally started a Twitter that I now share on. All I can do is keep trying, right?

Can We Knock That Pedestal Down?

TW: Mentions of abuse, some offensive language.

Want to know a pet peeve of mine? People who insinuate that, because someone is Christian, that makes them “good” and “trustworthy”. It’s usually said something like, “He’s a good, Christian man. He would never do anything like that.” You know, because there have totally never been a case of abusers and sexual offenders in Christian churches. Let’s just sweep all that under the rug, hun.
I’m not ragging on Christians as a whole. There are a lot of good people who are Christian. But for the love of gods, can people please stop acting like belonging to that particular religion makes them more trustworthy than everyone else? Not only is it wrong, it is both dangerous and offensive.
How? For one thing, people let their guards down based on someone’s religion. Somehow, it lets them put on blinders that make them incapable of seeing the possibility of someone being a potential threat. That’s how we have preachers who beat their wives and do unspeakable things to their children. That’s how parents force their underage daughter to marry her rapist (statutory or otherwise) so the baby she’s now pregnant with won’t be a bastard. That’s how people of minority religions get threatened, ostracized, harassed, so on and so forth. Some of which is illegal, but sometimes overlooked when it happens.

When the claim is made that being Christian, by default, means someone is “good” and “right”, that places everyone else automatically in the “bad” or “wrong” category. Yes, that is offensive. It can lead to discrimination, such as what Jewish and Islamic peoples have historically faced due to their religions. It can lead to using others as a scapegoat or otherwise preventing them from fair treatment. It means placing someone up on a pedestal for the very virtue of which god they believe in and whether they go to an “acceptable” church.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s not just Christians who have their share of crooks, abusers, and general assholes. Every group has them. Oh boy, the Pagan community is rife with issues that need addressed yesterday. The difference, in the culture we in the US live in, is that Christians benefit from a privilege that people of no other faith experience. There are so many that it’s not difficult to find a new church, to talk with someone who will agree at least on basic religious beliefs, to have the support one needs to convince themselves of the lie that being Christian is enough to make them “good”.
The truth of the matter is, you either have a decent moral compass or you don’t. The god you worship or church you attend isn’t going to change that.

Want to convince me someone is a good person? You’d better have more to go on than telling me that they’re Christian. I will laugh you out the door with that bullshit and just might even trust your judgement a little less.

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When Your Woo Gets Weird

In our modern society, we’re told that, for the most part, only the scientifically provable is real. Everything has a reasonable explanation. For what doesn’t, it must be a trick of our brains. Just a misunderstanding, a dream, or perhaps a sign of mental illness. What this means, is that many people don’t feel comfortable sharing their stories. Even when our experiences are not harmful to ourselves or others, and our mental health professionals don’t feel a diagnosis to explain it is necessary, we often fear that we’ll be viewed as delusional or otherwise foolish.

I am of the mind that our experiences should be treated as valid if there’s no other explanation and that dreams are sometimes more than random psychological mechanisms. We don’t have to all agree with each other, but we should at least be supportive. The constraints that we and society put on our experiences often only serve to dampen the enrichment of our spiritual lives.

Within the Pagan community, there are more experiences and practices that are labelled as “woo” than what’s found in the largely Christian population found here in the U.S. We have our mystics and our UPG (unverified personal gnosis).
When I was a beginning Pagan, I had a few experiences that were scary only because I hadn’t yet gained the appropriate context for them. Seeing faery orbs or one of the Sidhe can be surprising if one doesn’t know to expect it. As can astral travel or out of body experiences be terrifying if one doesn’t understand it. As my spiritual perspective grew, I learned how amazing these experiences truly are when we have them. The common culture most of us live in simply doesn’t give us the context we need to understand when we face certain spiritual occurrences.
Yet, even among the Pagan community, sometimes shit gets weird by our usual standards. I don’t mean “weird” in a derogatory way – I love weird. However, to face the facts, many people look down on weird. Sometimes “too weird” can get you in unpleasant situations with others.

Take astral travel and spiritual relationships. Astral work is often viewed as important, spiritual work. But it seems that there are limits to what’s deemed to be acceptable experiences. One largely controversial example is astral children. This can tie into another controversial experience: spectrosexuality and godspousery. Did I cross a line here? Whether we view these experiences and relationships as metaphor or literal, why the fuck is there so much judgment if it’s not negatively affecting anyone? Many will laugh and some will outright bully those who speak up with these claims.
No, I get it. I used to silently judge others for these things. That was until Loki taught me a lesson in judging others’ experiences. If someone keeps a healthy balance, it’s not anyone’s business. Some practices and experiences are so personal that they aren’t shared. There are things that I will not talk about, but instead hold close to my heart.
Some people will choose to share as a way to educate others, or to help others see that they are not alone. This, too, is important work. We need to know that our experiences can be beneficial to us and how to use discernment when they might not be. That is why I’ve chosen to join the fray in talking about it, at least on a limited basis.

I’m not saying to blindly accept everything someone claims as fact. Just to be supportive even if you don’t agree. A story told in literal terms can be translated into metaphor if it’s more easily digestible. Is it really that difficult to have an open mind?
This also does not mean to allow others to become abusive based on their claims. Our experiences are our own and should never be used to manipulate others. I feel that it’s crucial that we keep this in mind. It can be more difficult to verify spiritual claims and we should trust our own intuition over someone else’s. Based on what I’ve seen, however, there are more people out there who just want to feel a sense of community than who want to take advantage of it. Nobody likes feeling like they’re the odd one out.

There are things that happen that seem to have no explanation. We see things that should not be, hear others who are not physically there, travel in spirit to far away places. I believe in science, but I also feel that it is limited and that there is so much more for it to find. Things can get weird as fuck and we need a support system with the appropriate context. Yes, this includes the experiences that even the Pagan community tends to dismiss.

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Small City Life

Charlestoncapitolbuilding
Credit e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

I’ve lived in Charleston, WV for going on two years now. It really doesn’t feel like it’s been this long yet. Charleston isn’t a large city. It almost has a small-town feel to it, but on a larger scale. The West Virginia capitol city has a nice focus on the arts, small business, and community events. It’s mostly clean and the people here are generally friendly. There is also more diversity here than what you usually find in more rural locations. The city is welcoming toward the LGBT+ community and those of varying religions. Needless to say, I love it!

There were multiple reasons for choosing Charleston when we moved from the rural community that we used to live in. It’s much closer to work, more opportunities, closer to my family, so on and so forth. I don’t have to travel thirty minutes to an hour to get to most places! There are truly so many advantages to living here.

The area we live in has benefits for my daughter, too. She goes to an amazing year-round school. To be honest, I like it much better than her previous school. It has also given her the opportunity to attend the Magnet Music program for the Charleston area. If I had the money and my work schedule were more flexible, I could also sign her up for the varying extracurricular classes that the city’s businesses have to offer. There are parks within walking distance, sidewalks to safely walk with her on if we choose not to drive somewhere, the Clay Center has free events for kids a few times a year, and the WV Cultural Museum at the Capitol is free to visit.

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Sculpture at the Clay Center

As an artist, I was very much drawn to the art aspect of the city. It can be seen from the painted bricks along the sidewalks, to the murals on walls, to the banners promoting events. Charleston is frequently having art-related events. Problem is, my work schedule doesn’t quite mesh so well with events. That’s not the city’s fault. Some of the events that I would love to attend include Art Walk, Art After Dark, and classes at local stores.

Charleston also has a growing Pagan community. Beltaine In The Forest is one of several events throughout the year that many Pagans in the area will go to. In nearby St. Albans, there is a wonderful metaphysical store that offers many spiritual products, classes, and services.
The local Unitarian Universalist church has a CUUPS (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans) chapter with weekly meetings and rituals for each sabbat. I highly recommend the UUC for any liberal-leaning person interested in a spiritual home. They do so much good for social justice in the community and are accepting of all faiths.

Speaking of forests, Charleston is also within a half hour from the Kanawha State Forest. (Pronounced: Kan-awh.) It’s not a far travel if one wants to go for a hike or fishing. Charleston also has multiple other parks that can satisfy that need for time spent in nature. The forest and parks typically offer playgrounds for kids, shelters to book for events, trails, fishing areas, and many other things.

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A trail at Kanawha State Forest

There are many small businesses that surround the area. On a nice day, when I feel up for it and have extra spending money, I can easily walk to the library and make some stops on the way back for shopping and lunch.
Located in downtown Charleston, the public library here has a decent selection and many events, although parking has much to be desired if one can’t walk or bike. There is news that the city is making some plans for the library that will include easier parking.
As most cities, public transportation is available to those who can’t walk or bike and don’t have a car of their own. I am lucky enough that I can’t comment on what the buses here are like, but have heard they’re not too bad.

I won’t pretend there aren’t some drawbacks. Living in the city, there is more noise. The constant sounds of traffic, people outside, occasional fireworks during events can take some getting used to. Housing is a little more expensive, although not having to refuel the car as often is a help. Crime is one complaint many outside of the city have about Charleston, but it’s actually pretty safe in many places. Honestly, the rural areas we moved away from have growing problems with drugs, thieves, et cetera. At least here, emergency services are closer if help is needed.

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How Not To Be Perfect

“Honey, I’m home!” This is the cliche for the perfect mom/ wife/ career woman to say as she strolls through her front door. Her perfectly manicured nails and not a single hair out of place provide an image that tells the world she’s perfectly put together. Somehow, she manages to do and have it all. While her husband works, she also has a successful job. And, she is ever so lucky to have one that allows her an amazing work-life balance. She’s able to attend every event at her child’s school, take her child to extracurricular activities, partake in her own hobbies, have a perfectly tidy home, and be a nothing-but-loving wife to her husband.

You reading this: Are you okay? Did I make you vomit yet? No? Good. I’m sure we’re all already aware of the cliche that goes along with the above scene: Mrs. “Perfect” is secretly a fucking disaster who is an alcoholic by night, on drugs to get through the day, cheats on her husband with the hot lady down the street, etc. She sure does have it all!

With images like this flooding us, it can be difficult not to be envious of the imaginary Mrs. Perfect. How many of us feel like a disaster in our lives and don’t even have the rewards of an outwardly Perfect Life to show for it?

As working mom and wife who suffers with depression and anxiety, I feel no hope of even pretending to have it all. Some of it is situational. Perhaps with a Perfect Job, life might be easier. Perhaps if I were able to afford to be a stay at home mom, I could have the time and energy to take better care of my home. Perhaps this or that… whatever. The thing is, nothing is going to be perfect.
Many of us grew up being fed a delusion that good jobs were easy to get, that a single income could provide for a family, that there is time in a day for everything. Then we grew up and found out that none of that is real. Sometimes it is. Sometimes, you have to fight tooth and nail for it. Sometimes, you don’t have the health (mental or physical) to put up much of a fight. Sometimes the pain isn’t worth the effort.

If I had the answers, I wouldn’t have slept through my alarm this morning and gotten my child to school late. I sure as fuck wouldn’t be going to a job that I dread in about an hour. My house would be organized instead of a clean mess. Yes, that is my reality. Not usually the late for school part, but it fits the gist. This is me talking about the real. Not the imagined Mrs. Perfect that I wish I could be. I have to say, though, I do usually manage to cope better than our pretend Mrs. Pretending-to-be-Perfect. Probably because I’m not willing to fuck myself over for an image. Sorry, not sorry.

What I’m getting at here is just a reminder to those who need it: Your life is your own and nobody has it as good as they want everyone else to think! Yes, we all have to do shit that sucks. We are all trying to get through some unpleasantness or another.
There is not always a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” solution to everything. You often either get help or get stuck. If you’re stuck, you make do with what you have however you can for as long as you can. You might still find a way to get what you want out of life.
I’m not suggesting to just give up completely. The important thing is not to raise your expectations to an unrealistic goal and not to beat yourself up for not being what you think of as perfect.

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