Vintage flowers

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Give it to the Mountain

Work has been blechy lately. Busy. Oh so busy. Budget time, deadline time, audition time, busybusybusy. Everyone seems to be stretched for time and patience, grating on each others' nerves, and trying to invent more hours in an immutably 24-hour day.

The only saving grace is that despite the frigidly cold weather, I can still get my daily walks in. Walk to and from work, and a little half-hour jaunt on my lunch break. It just gives that little mental break that allows you to come to he desk with that little extra patience, the smile, and a kind word.

My boss is a great outdoors enthusiast. Hiking, biking (that's her idea of a vacation!), back-country skiing, rock climbing, you name it she's probably done it. She takes her lunch break everyday outside, usually hiking the small mountain trail nearby everyday. We were chatting the other day about stupid, ridiculous people, getting yelled at for things that are not your fault, and just the unfairness of it all! She told me there are some days when she laces up her boots, heads out for her lunchtime hike "and that mountain is a little smaller after I'm done with it. Just give it to the mountain, it can take it."

Ah-HA! Something finally clicked into place. Visualization is not the only way to release your negativity into the earth! I have lot of trouble with visualization, it's a major snag I've uncovered when working through the Pagan 101 books. My mind is always sitting there in the background saying "it's not real, you know.  You can't really feel anything, can you?" But here my very non-pagan boss-lady had the key. Take it out on the mountain. Let your shoes pound the trail, let all your anger and frustration drain through feet and into the earth. These mountains have been standing for thousands of years. They can take it. Let the air fill your lungs and with each exhale your soul unburdens and becomes a little lighter. And while you're busy taking it out on the mountain, the mountain takes care of you. The trees, the breeze, the scenery....the tourists you blaze past...all serve to make things a little better. Yes, especially blazing past the tourists. And trust me, with my lungs burning and blood pounding this is very much something I can feel.

I'm not quite sure how I can incorporate this into a practice (aside from being a very good reason to get off my butt and get outside), but I'm certainly going to do it the next time someone sends a snarky note about me to the outgoing president of my company (...and the incoming president....and 4 members of the board...)....just give it to the mountain.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Hallowe'en 2011

Another Hallowe'en come and gone, another year I keep pronouncing "Sow-en" as "Sam-hane." I just can't break myself of that habit, I always see "Sam-hane" whenever I read "Samhain". Other practicing pagans must have this problem, I can't be the only one.

Sowen/Samhain/Hallowe'en, call it what you will, it was yesterday. And, I did virtually nothing to celebrate. Bad pagan, bad pagan! It was supposed to be a super busy day with work and a class in the evening, I wasn't even going to be home for the trick-or-treaters. Honestly...I hadn't planned ahead or done much of anything. I didn't have any decorations, was at a loss for a ritual that I could do in a rush with my bf hanging over my shoulder, and didn't even have a pumpkin.  Halfway through the day I found out that my class was canceled for that night, so I came rushing home after work to get ready for trick-or-treaters. Woohoo, small children in adorable costumes! I've never gotten to hand out candy before, so I was definitely looking forward to it.  I live in an apartment, but my balcony is on the main floor facing the road so I figured we'd at least get some people coming by. I sent the boyfriend to the store to pick up a pumpkin along with dinner, but wouldn't you know all the pumpkins are gone by 6pm on Hallowe'en night. Not to fear, Martha Stewart to the rescue! I used an idea out of last year's Halloween magazine (I bought it to read on a flight. Don't judge me! :P) and carved a butternut squash instead!

The Screaming Squash

Not too shabby, eh?

Despite my wonderful carved creation, we didn't get a single kid at our balcony, not a one. *sad face * :( I had to resort to yelling at people I knew walking down the street and forcing candy on them. Okay, it was just one person. But he did take the candy. Then we invited some friends over and ate the rest of the candy while watching Star Wars: Return of the Jedi on Blu-Ray.  And that's it. C'est tout.

So a very last-minute and un-pagan-y Halloween. I just couldn't find the energy to come up with my very own Samhain ritual, and now that the holiday has passed I probably won't. Also, I still feel very stupid doing rituals if I know that someone (aka the boyfriend) could walk in while I'm doing it. How about you? What did you do to celebrate the witches' new year?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Oh hi there, blog. I've been lurking around you, but haven't had time/things to write about lately. Sorry 'bout that. I'm back now, though!

Even though I'm no longer in school, September seems to still be a busy month. It was the end of the summer season at work, there were a couple of birthdays (including my own), went on vacation for two weeks, got a second job, Mabon came and went, and then all of a sudden it's October and Thanksgiving! Whew!

There's a lot to cover, but I'm going just focus on one or two today. This year was the first year I celebrated Mabon, just a simple bit of a candle meditation, but I have to say, I really like the feel of it. Being from Southern Ontario, the end of September really does feel like harvest season to me. Mabon reminded me of crisp apples from the farm near by parents' house, and being in the mountains, it really did feel like fall. I came back from vacation to crisp mornings, bright days, and brilliant yellow leaves burning bright against the green backdrop of the evergreen forests. Yellow is the only colour we get here with the aspens and the larches, we don't get the gorgeous reds and oranges from the maples like back home, but I'm getting used to it.

The other thing that really appealed to me about Mabon this year was the spirit of thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving and everything that goes along with it (particularly my extended family's hijinks when we go visit the farm!), so I found it...comforting, I guess, that Mabon and Canadian Thanksgiving occur so close to one another. True, no familial hilarity involved per say, but I really enjoyed just taking that time to sit, reflect, and be thankful for the bounty of the harvest and all those wonderful foods I love to eat at this time of year. My own Thanksgiving holiday celebrations were a bit rushed and poorly planned, so I'm glad I took the time before hand to give thanks.

Yes, this year's Thanksgiving celebrations were not the best, food-wise. The turkey didn't quite turn out right, neither did the gravy, we had to use boxed stuffing (such blasphemy!), and the yams and carrots weren't quite up to par either. We did manage to get a few things right, so I thought I'd share one of my most favorite Thanksgiving foods with you: my awesome home-made cranberry sauce. This is my absolute favorite part of turkey dinners, I have been known to eat this stuff straight on many occasions. It's less sweet that your usual cranberry sauce, and that's just the way I like it!

Take your usual-sized bag of cranberries, about 340g.
Add to a sauce pan with one cup of water and half a cup of sugar.
Bring to a boil, and them simmer until the skins split open.
Cool, and enjoy!

Super simple, and super delicious. I always make extras so I can snack on it later :) Speaking of, there's container of tangy-sweet red sauce in the fridge calling my name....until next time!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Personal Responsibility, or how Harry Potter applies to real life

I started this entry a few weeks ago when trying to find ways to deal with a difficult co-worker:

Today’s mantra: I am responsible for all of my own actions, feelings, and reactions. I am only responsible for myself.

Today's post is inspired by my pain-in-the-ass coworker. This person is the epitome of the squeaky wheel getting the grease. Complain about this. Bitch about that. Make passive aggressive comments direct towards me in the meeting I'm chairing. Refuse to work together to fix apparent issues that have come up. This person is the classic example of passive-aggressive "but I'm the victim" mentality, and using that to bring others down.

I should be beyond this, but it's like being back in high school all over again: "Why don't they like me? I'm a nice person!" Watch as my self-confidence is hacked apart.

Personal responsibility is a huge part of this pagan spiritual path I'm walking (or trying to follow, at least). Over the years I always have to remind myself: I am only able to be responsible for myself. I cannot control other's reactions, but I can choose how I act, what I say, and (to an extent) how I feel. So that is my lesson for today. They can only "steal my power" if I let them. I can only feel like crap if I let myself feel like crap. I must be strong. I must be confident. And I must remember that I must be doing something right if people are feeling threatened enough to lash back like this.

Today I participated in a workshop all about learning how to deal with difficult people and stumbled upon another lesson: I can be a difficult person too, and I contribute factors to these conflicts. 

Well DUH! What a "blinding flash of the obvious," as our facilitators said.

It's another factor of personal responsibility that we can easily forget: that our actions directly contribute to the escalation and outcomes of these conflict situations. Or any situation, really. As someone who claims to follow a path that emphasizes taking responsibility for our selves, choices, and actions, I must be aware of my, shall we say "less-than-awesome" qualities. It's easy to play the victim (so-and-so is so mean, boo hoo for me) and not so easy to admit and accept that your actions were a contributing factor. I really hate being wrong/in the wrong and am loathe to admit it even when I know its true. I can see that this will be a big area for me to work on.

As for the co-worker above? She became my Boggart in a closet. Later that same day after I wrote that draft, she made another snipey comment that was just so ridiculous, the only thing I could do was laugh. And, like the dark-loving shape-shifter, the thing I was afraid of burst into a wisp of smoke and I was free to go about my day. 

The Divine works in strange ways, it heard my desperation and certainly gave me what I needed. Now, if I could only figure out how to dress Professor Snape in Neville's grandmother's clothes...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Winter is coming...

Why yes, I have been reading a lot of Game of Thrones recently, thank-you for asking!

Summer is short in the mountains. Just this past week there was frost on the cars and the grass as I walked to work, my breath fogged in the air and I wished I had a hat for my chilly ears. It's only mid-August! This is my second time through a mountain summer, and despite the snow we had last year, I'm still not used to it. Is it strange that I long for the ridiculously hot and humid summers from "back home?"

Luckily today was warm (I heard 28 degrees predicted on the news!) so the boyfriend and I spent it outside at Moraine Lake, meandering around and snapping photos of the Valley of Ten Peaks. So iconic :) We have to take advantage of as many of these warm days as we can before fall hits approximately 2 weeks, lol.
My attempts to capture the amazing shade of blue on the lake

Part of the view found on the back of the old $20 bills

I make no claims at being a great photographer.

The wheel of the year keeps on turning, so we must take advantage of the nice days while they last. It will be ski season soon enough :)

EDIT: No sooner did I write that post than I was greeted with one of the most beautifully warm days of the summer. Maybe fall isn't that close after all.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What's in a name?

I've had this blog for at least two weeks now, and haven't written a thing in it. It's not for lack of ideas, the ideas and half-started posts have been rocketing around inside my skull for at least one of those two weeks, but because (sadly) I can't find a decent screen name that I think fits me. Your name says a lot in the blogosphere - will I be StarFairyRainbowBlossom, the Native-inspired WolfChild, or no-nonesense DragonLady?

Normally, I would just post under my real name, as I have done in past incarnations on both dead- and live- journals. However, circumstances have changed since my first blog's appearance on teh interwebz.

A) I now live in possibly the most red-neck province in Canada (although I'm sure Manitoba and Saskatchewan could give in a run for it's money).

B) I live in a small town in this less-than-uber-tolerant province.

C) My real name is, though not uncommon, fairly unique.

D) Though this is probably one of the most liberal towns out of all the small Albertan towns, thanks in large part to the seasonal influxes of Australian hippie ski bums and Quebecois kids looking to party the summer away, there's a lot of staunch conservative God-fearing folks who I live and work with who may not look to kindly on a self-professed wannabe-witch.

Oh, and E) I don't even know if this is the path I'm supposed to be on. Why come out as a witch only to turn around and announce I'm turning Catholic again!

So yes, I need a screen name. A blogging-persona. Something that is not the name on my birth certificate or driver's license.  I've been mulling it over for two weeks, and I can't come up with a damn thing. Nothing comes to mind that doesn't sound like an airy-fairy fluff bunny or an artificially scented feminine cleansing product. (Seriously, check out my name over on Witchvox. )

I've been an armchair witch for a few years now, and this blog is to choronical my attempts at getting my nose out of the books and starting to really explore this whole "witch" thing. To develop a real relationship with the divinity I feel in the world around me and learn the craft of the wise. To learn to do by doing, if you will. But, as most of my practice has been reading books and all of your lovely and inspiring blogs, I haven't really figured out the staples of the typical witchy-naming-thing. I don't exactly have a patron god or goddess who I mostly work with (hell, I don't even have a pantheon, besides "vaguely-Celtic-but-Egypt's-got-some-cool-myths-too"), I haven't developed an affinity with a certain plant due to a lack of growing space and a really short growing season, nor am I sure if I'll be a kitchen/domestic/garden/witch/Wiccan/whatever, or can I claim to be a really outdoorsy back-woods loving mountain-woman.

What I DO have, is an experience. A couple experiences, to be exact. Those that made me know that the Divine was was more than just within the walls of my family's Catholic church, but out there, vibrant, beautiful, awe-inspiring, and so very much ALIVE.

My last summer living in my native Southern Ontario was a wet and stormy one, filled with massive deluges, floods and windstorms where you could stand outside and feel that there was something else out there in the storm. These warm, sticky, humid nights made itch to get out of the house and lose myself in the magic of the night. You could feel it, it was alive. I felt if I could just walk for long enough in the dark, somehow I'd be able to lose myself and become part of it. That I could meet that presence I could feel out there, that goddess of the night who called me and made my soul long to join it. Those summer nights were the start of my journey, and the most real thing about my path. When I feel like I might be play-acting at the rest, those nights I know. 

So I'm keeping an abbreviated version of my semi-douchey Witchvox handle, because right now it's all I know for sure.