Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Last word on Pagan Values Month

It's the last day of Pagan Values Month, so I want to share just a last little bit: some Pagan terminology. I'm sure my Pagan readers already know these, so this is more for my non-Pagan readers. I'll stick to just three things, because more aren't coming to mind at the moment (but I'm sure they will after I hit the "publish post" button :P) and because I have schoolwork to do!

"In the closet" and "Out of the closet"

When we talk about being "in the closet" or "out of the closet," we're talking about whether or not we're openly Pagan. It is a fact that Pagans can and do get hassled -- sorry, but the law allowing freedom of religion somehow doesn't protect people as much as you'd expect. Just ask any Muslim what it was like for them after September 11th. (I know that some weren't hassled, but virtually all I've talked to had been.) So, there are plenty of Pagans out there who are "in the closet." Some are "out of the closet" to their friends, but "in the closet" where they work and to the general public. There are also those, like myself, who are so far "out of the closet" that we couldn't find our way back into the closet if we wanted to.

Heathen

Some people think that Heathen is another way of saying Pagan. I used to think so, before I started hanging out on online Pagan forums. But it turns out that while all Heathens are Pagan, not all Pagans are Heathens. Heathens specifically follow the Norse deities and practices. They might honor deities from other traditions, but it's the Norse ones who are first and foremost for them. I think that the term "Heathen" has its roots in some plant (heather?) which grows in their homeland, but I'm not sure.

Pagan

I may not remember the roots of the term Heathen, but I do remember the roots of the word Pagan! :P

Originally it was an insult. I guess it is still used as an insult, by some, in today's world. Our word Pagan comes from the Latin paganus, which meant "country dweller." After the introduction of Christianity it was sort of a put down, making fun of those who clung to their "old superstitions" instead of worshipping the Christian god, since Christianity was spread more easily in the cities than in the countrysides. I'm not sure exactly how the term evolved, but somehow it changed into the modern meaning(s) for Pagan.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Edit and henna

Ok, I chatted with my mom and let me make an admendment to what I said on the last post: I was not born in a Protestant hospital, but my birth state (Louisiana) was highly populated by Catholics. That means that there's a good chance one of the nurses was Catholic, and may have baptized me Catholic.

I don't know how I managed to fit Protestants into the picture. Maybe because my mom was raised Protestant down south? Dunno...

Anyways, I had a request to share photos of my sparkly henna, so here they are:

















The glitter only lasted until I took the paste off, but that was fine. It was cool while it lasted. :) I had never heard of using glitter like that before. I rather like it. I think I'll have to do it next time I do my own henna!

Oh, and I made a discovery -- it's hard to photograph your own arm!

Passport

You know, I had been planning to ignore the passport problem thingy, but my mom has explained to me that that is not a good idea. So, I have finally looked at what Uncle Sam has requested of me.

In addition to five pieces of ID, they want:

School history/info
Work history/info
Family history, including where my family members were born
Everywhere I have lived
Where I was born (let me add, they have yet to return my birth certificate to me)
Some random type stuff, like my social security number, and...
Time and location of baptism

I refrain from comment in general, except for...what the heck does my religious history have to do with anything??? Just for you info -- not that it's any one's business -- I was almost certainly baptized twice, though my parents didn't see it happen. I was born in a Protestant hospital, where the nurses probably baptized me pretty quickly. And my grammie was the type who almost certainly baptized me Catholic in secret, out of concern for my well fare. So, I've likely been baptized two ways -- I'm totally covered, and will totally get into heaven. Whoopee. Is Uncle Sam happy?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Of Uncle Sam and Saturday Market

I heard back from Uncle Sam today about my passport. Guess what? Even though I did exactly as I was supposed to, he claims that I didn't provide enough proof of my ID. And why didn't they tell me that when I talked to the nice lady at the passport office, and she put everything together to mail?

So it wouldn't have made any difference whether or not the passport stuff came in yesterday, since I haven't got a passport.

Anyways...onto a happier topic! :D

I went down to Saturday Market today. I only bought two things: lemonade, and henna. I got the lemonade because I started hiccuping as soon as I got off the MAX (a light rail train, for those non-Portlanders reading this) and I needed to drink something to make them go away. And the henna...well, I have this thing about henna. :) I really like it.

It turned out that this henna artist was doing something I hadn't seen anyone else do before -- she put glitter on the henna, after she finished the design! So now I have a glittering red sun on my arm. Of course, the glitter only lasts until the paste is taken off. But in the meantime, it looks cool.

There was a bagpiper there, dressed in a leisure kilt and a t-shirt that said "Keep Portland Weird." Oh, and he was on a unicycle. I'll say he was definitely doing his share of the work to keep Portland weird! Unfortunately it seems that he was in a place where musicians aren't wanted, because a security guy chased him and a small band away from there.

I'm home now, and I need to do schoolwork. So that's it for now.

Friday, June 26, 2009

No go

The passport didn't come in today. Ah well. There's always next year.

What I find really funny is that I could almost certainly get into Canada without a passport (unless I'm mistaken), yet I wouldn't be allowed back into my own country without it. Funny.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I'm waiting...

Ok, interesting situation -- there's a Highland Games in Canada this weekend, which of course my mom and brother are going to. However, it's sort of iffy if I'm going. You see, I sort of procrastinated applying for my passport (the whole thing was sort of intimidating, I admit) and it hasn't come in in the mail yet. So, I figured I simply wasn't going.

Mom and Tall One were going to leave at about ten tomorrow morning. However, the mail comes in about noon-ish, so they decided to delay leaving in the hopes that the passport will come in tomorrow. Hopefully it will. If it does, I likely won't waste time blogging. Not that I consider blogging a waste of time. It's just I'll probably have better things to do than blogging, like packing, if the passport does come in.

If the passport doesn't come in, I'll probably write a blog agonizing about it. Well, ok, probably not. But I will likely blog tomorrow or sometime over the weekend if I'm still in town.

So if you hear from me, I'm in town. If not, I'll be out of town.

One Pagan's thoughts on math

"Sorry, but I'm a math atheist. You can't make me take this class." lol Ok, no, that's not what I wanted to blog about. But it came to mind as I was sitting down to type this. :P

So on to what I really was thinking in math class today.

Believe it or not, this is what suddenly occurred to me: that it is similar to religion and spirituality. The teacher was explaining two different ways to do a problem, and emphasized that they both work, and get you to the same place.

That's how I feel about religion/spirituality. Yeah, there are different paths, you'll pray to different deities, go to different afterlifes and whatnot...but ultimately, in the end, we'll all wind up in the same place. Just like the math problem.

Of course, that's just my personal belief. Feel free to disagree with me -- after all, this is only one Pagan's thoughts. :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

First day of summer school

I survived my first day of classes. I'm determined to embrace math with some kind of enthusiasm, and I am delighted with my writing class. The writing class is even reading a fascinating book -- "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu. The point is that we are supposed to be persuading people in our essays for this class, and the professor believes that this book will be good for helping us to learn how to persuade people of our opinions.

Enough for now. I have a book I need to read...

ps. Will people please stop carrying on about the freedom that summer brings? I'm not unhappy in summer school, but I was already getting tired of hearing about it last week already. (Yes I know I repeated the word "already." It deserves repetition, in my opinion, even if I won't dare pull that in an essay.)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day and Litha

Two cool days rolled into one! Father's day, and Litha.

I'm usually clueless about what to give dad on occasions like this. But after running to mommy for help (which is what usually happens when I need to give a present to my dad) I came up with something all by myself: a book of my poetry.

I started off looking through my poems, to find some that could go in this book for him. I chose a variety of poems, some of which I had really put some work into, and others that I hadn't really put any work at all into but which I thought he'd like anyways. I also had a laugh at my attempts at love poems. To date, I have one love poem that I think is good -- all the others, even I find laughable. No, I did not put any of them into this book for him.

Next I had to put the book together. I know how to bind a book, and I have the materials to do so, but I didn't have the time. Still, I think he's just as happy with the simple book that's stapled together as he would have been with a properly binded book. :) I also included a few photographs of mine that complemented the poems included.

As I said, today is two days rolled into one. I've talked about father's day, now I'll talk about Litha. :)

Litha is the summer solstice, and is a Pagan holiday. We aren't really doing much for it. Truthfully, it seems to have sort of gotten lost in father's day. I did make a nice fruit salad using strawberries from our own backyard...and that seemed to get lost in father's day. *sigh* Ah well. Well, there's still the whole evening left to celebrate Litha! So we'll see what I can think up. :P Correction: We'll see what I can think up and still get to bed at a reasonable time, since I start summer school tomorrow. Yikes!

ps. The spellchecker doesn't like Litha. >.<

Edit to defining Paganism

In my previous post I attempted to define Paganism. It turns out that there's one key thing I forgot! So I'll recap what I said before, and add in what I'd forgotten as number seven.

1) We don't worship Satan. We don't even believe in the guy. If someone believes in Satan, then that's fine, but they aren't Pagan. This is one of those hard and fast rules I mentioned. Yes, some of our deities (Loki from Norse mythology, and Seth from Egyptian mythology, to name just two) can be unbelievably nasty, but they arenot Satan.

2) Some people are under the impression that a hard and fast rule to being Pagan is that you have to follow a nature centered path. Guess what? That's just not true. I think it's safe to say that all of us hold the Earth sacred, but it isn't the center of every one's universe.

3) Pagans will not try to convert you to Paganism. Ok, so I know there are a few exceptions, but they are few and far between. We also tend to get ticked off at people trying to save our souls.

4) We're usually polytheistic, but there are also people who are duo-theists, monotheistic, and even people who regard deities as symbols and not actual beings. But we're mostly polytheistic.

5) Our Sabbats (holy days) follow the turning of the seasons.

6) Paganism is not one religion. The term "Paganism" is an umbrella term that covers many many religions and spiritualities, some of which are so different they don't seem to have much in common.

7) A Pagan is someone who is not Muslim, Jewish, or Christian. That is not to say that anyone who is not of one of the Abrahamic faiths is automatically Pagan, though. Also, I know some Pagans who blend a Pagan religion with Christianity.

Confused yet? I thought so. This is why I pointedly avoided this topic until the month was more than halfway over.

Defining Paganism

How does one define Paganism? That's a sticky topic I thought about doing at first, gave it some thought, then pointedly avoided it. But, if I'm going to properly take part in Pagan Values Month, I guess I should give it a go.

You're probably asking me why I'm avoiding it. Allow me to quote Pete Jennings: "It has been said that if you gather three Pagans together, you will get five opinions." Usually I only get three opinions (tops) from three Pagans, but when it comes to defining Paganism, Jennings has definitely got a point. I have seen this topic come up in several online groups. Usually everyone offers their own definition, but sometimes they'll offer two definitions. lol That gets interesting. I've always seen a general consensus reached, always along the same lines, but still with some questions unanswered. (Like are Hindus Pagan? I'm still not sure of the answer there.)

So I'll offer some general guidelines as to what does or does not make a Pagan, and hopefully clarify some misunderstandings about Paganism -- but even though I'm Pagan myself, I suggest that you take what I say with a grain of salt. There are only a few things that I have so far found to be hard and fast "rules," and I'll point them out when I come to them. Otherwise, remember, these are guidelines that I'm writing up here.

1) We don't worship Satan. We don't even believe in the guy. If someone believes in Satan, then that's fine, but they aren't Pagan. This is one of those hard and fast rules I mentioned. Yes, some of our deities (Loki from Norse mythology, and Seth from Egyptian mythology, to name just two) can be unbelievably nasty, but they are not Satan.

2) Some people are under the impression that a hard and fast rule to being Pagan is that you have to follow a nature centered path. Guess what? That's just not true. I think it's safe to say that all of us hold the Earth sacred, but it isn't the center of every one's universe.

3) Pagans will not try to convert you to Paganism. Ok, so I know there are a few exceptions, but they are few and far between. We also tend to get ticked off at people trying to save our souls.

4) We're usually polytheistic, but there are also people who are duo-theists, monotheistic, and even people who regard deities as symbols and not actual beings. But we're mostly polytheistic.

5) Our Sabbats (holy days) follow the turning of the seasons.

6) Paganism is not one religion. The term "Paganism" is an umbrella term that covers many many religions and spiritualities, some of which are so different they don't seem to have much in common.

I just know there's something else that's not coming to mind. If that is the case I'll make another post on the topic later.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hawks on my block, and Pagan Values Month

My family moved into this house two Samhains ago, which makes this our second spring/summer in it. About this time last year we were amazed to find that there were fledgling red tailed hawks in our neighborhood, and was delighted to find that the nest was only a block from the house. This year, we were on the lookout for them. The youngsters started flying two days ago.

We're a little confused, though. It looks like there are two red tailed hawk nests on our block, which seems strange. They're territorial, and I wouldn't expect they would tolerate having another nest so close. Then again, if there's enough food in the area and they aren't having to compete, two nests on the same block just might not be so weird.

In any event, they're delightful.

I actually woke up this morning to the sound of the young hawks. It's actually not a very pleasant sound, but I was too charmed by knowing I was hearing red tailed hawks to care. Fortunately the youngsters will be gone before I get over being charmed and begin to get irritated. :P

You might be asking what this has to do with Pagan Values Month. Well, my own path is earth based, and as such I love nature. *grin* Or, perhaps you could say that I love nature, and as such my path is earth based. (I would like to point out that not all Pagans follow an earth based path -- that's a common misconception about us.) Following a nature based path doesn't mean that I have to get out and go hiking every weekend, though that would be fantastic. Hmm...I'm trying to figure out how to explain it, but I'm not sure how. So, I think I'll share what I do.

I take joy in watching the changing of the seasons. My family feeds birds, and I can even put a name to some of the species. I have an herb garden. I pay attention to plants. I even talk to plants. I talk to the spirit of the land I live on. When I noticed that a wetlands area near my house needed to be cleaned up, I contacted the authorities of my area and offered to put together a clean up team -- as it happened someone else took charge, and I had no part in it, but I'm happy that I brought it to their attention. I coexist with the box elder beetles that my mom and brother would love to be rid of...though I admit I can't coexist with spiders very well. I recognize that everything has its place in the ecosystem, including the spiders that I am so afraid of. I delight in seeing the young animals every spring/summer. I love seeing new plants poking up through the soil. I thank the plants in my herb garden as I harvest them...

...I think you get the picture. :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Two thingies

I have two things that are sort of momentous, and I want to share both of them.

First of all, yesterday Tall One graduated high school. I don't think he really considers it worthy of the term "momentous," though, because it doesn't feel like much of a transition to him, having been homeschooled. The biggest transition for him will be the fact that he'll really start going after a degree in college. But since he's already taken a class at PCC, and PCC is where he'll be starting out, even that doesn't feel like much of a transition for him. So he doesn't really consider his graduation to be a big deal.

The rest of us in the family beg to differ with him.

I made brownies to celebrate yesterday, and my parents presented him with a high school diploma. Mom, Tall One, and I also played the card game hearts. Tall One won. I almost ran the deck twice, but both times I lacked a single card. (Note to self: Get the queen of spades before you make it obvious what you're doing, and don't try to run the deck if you didn't get the kitty.) It was a fun evening.

Now, onto the second thing I want to share. :)

I received a letter accepting me into the Marylhurst University music therapy program today. OMG. Really, I'm not sure what else to say, other than that I'm really happy. And lucky, since that's the only university I applied to...which is perhaps not the brightest thing I've ever done. lol Ah well.

So we celebrated Tall One's graduation yesterday, and today we'll need to find some way to celebrate my being accepted into Marylhurst. Hmm....

:D

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cats

This morning I was volunteering at my local library, and I got one heck of a nice surprise: there were kitties!

You see, one of the volunteers at the library fosters cats. He sometimes brings them in, and this is the second time I've been lucky enough to be there on such an occasion. The two he brought in today were adorable kittens, are litter mates, and we're certain that they're part Siamese. One already has what looks like Siamese points. The other has a crooked tail, which the guy told me isn't uncommon in Siamese cats.

I hadn't known that crooked tails aren't unusual Siamese cats, and I've been around the breed my whole life. Then again, it's only two Siamese cats I've really been around, and it just happened that neither of them were born with a crooked tail. Hmm. Live and learn! :D

I really want to foster cats someday. I love cats (kittens and big kitties!), I know there's a need, and I want to help. Not now, though -- I need to focus on school. Even if it weren't for that, we already have three cats in the house. I'm not sure if we could handle more, even if each additional cat were only temporary! So, that's something to look forward to doing when I get out of school, move out of my parent's house, and get settled down in my own place.

ps. Did you know that "cats" is an anagram for "cast"? lol Silly dyslexia. It can be annoying, but it does help me find anagrams. :P

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Magick

I'm sitting down to write this, and a memory comes to me. A woman had mistaken my pentacle for a Star of David, and asked me if I was Jewish. I told her no, I'm Pagan. Her eyes went really big, she leaned closer, and whispered the following: "Are you a witch?"

Yes, yet again, I'm doing another post on a Pagan related topic. Hey, it is Pagan Values Month!

I have yet to hear of any Pagan who disapproves of magick. In fact, many Pagans are witches! No, I don't mean like an old crone in a pointy hat, bending over a bubbling cauldron whose contents you'd rather not know. And I'm not talking about Harry Potter witches either -- though those witches and wizards are definitely pretty darn cool! I know I'd love to be able to whisper "lumos" and the end of my wand (not that I have one) suddenly start glowing! ...oh, wait, a flash light also does that trick quite well...

The issue I want to address here is whether magick is good or bad. Often times you'll hear about "black" and "white" magick, and even "grey" magick which can go either way. There are those of us who roll our eyes at the "white" and "black" magick stuff. Yes, spells can be used for good or bad, but magick itself is neutral.

I like to compare it to a hammer. What if I take a hammer and I use it to help make a home for a person in need? Is the hammer good then? No. It's simply what I've done with it that's good. And what if I use it to bash someone's head in? The hammer itself isn't bad, it's what I've done that's bad. The hammer, like magick, is neutral. It's simply a useful tool.

ps. magick, spelled with a "k," is a spelling to help differentiate real magick from stage magic. Not all people talking about real magick spell it that way, though, so you have to go by the context to tell what's going on when it's spelled "magic."

pps. The spellchecker doesn't like "lumos" or "magick." :P

Pagan Values Month -- minorities

I read a story in the Oregonian the other day about a girl called Rainbow. You can click on the link I've provided to see all the details, but I'll sum it up here. Rainbow is a young woman who is homosexual. Recently she was out really late with her friends, just hanging out. A man asked her if she was homosexual, and when she answered yes his response landed her in the ER.

This happened right here in Portland. My Portland, which let me tell you, is really great for minorities. Rainbow has apparently lived here her entire life, and was amazed that such a thing could happen in this city. But, things do happen, even in places you consider perfectly safe.

So you may be asking what this has to do with Pagan Values Month. No, I'm not trying to tell you that we're all homosexuals. But we do have something in common with them -- we're both minorities. As I was reading that article, I was thinking "That could so easily have been a Pagan that happened to."

Being Pagan I am most likely to jump up and down about trying to help people understand about Pagans: that we don't worship the devil, are most certainly not godless, are normal people (if anyone can be called "normal"), and so on and so forth. But at the same time, it seems to me that in order to effectively combat misunderstandings about Paganism, all other minorities voices must be heard as well.

The issue here isn't that Pagans or homosexuals are being targeted. The issue is that minorities are being targeted.

I'm not saying that you should go out and try to educate everyone about every minority out there. No way. I don't think that would work. However, if everyone does one little thing to educate about one minority, that could add up to be a big help. Being Pagan, my little thing is that I wear a pentacle, and show by my actions that Pagans aren't all nasty people. What will your little thing be, to help people learn about a minority? Which minority?

I've probably got you curious by now what the Pagan stance on homosexuality is. Like everything else Pagan, there is no "official" stance, but I have yet to meet a Pagan who has a problem with homosexuality. I'm sure there are some Pagans out there who think it's bad, but they are few and far between. The attitude we have is generally "Well if the goddess made someone homosexual, then that's that. And it's not hurting anyone, so what's all the fuss about?" I've even seen some say "It's the goddess's way of birth control!" :D

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Through Pagan Eyes

I'm part of a few Pagan groups on facebook. One day in one of them, someone started a thread titled something like "Yo homies, we should write a book." Well, there isn't a book, but there is now a website called Through Pagan Eyes, with articles about anything and everything Pagan. Sorry, I should say it will have articles. It's only just getting together, and details are still getting hammered out.

This facebook group has Pagans from a wide variety of paths, and more than a few of the people there are real characters. I expect that the articles in Through Pagan Eyes will be fun, as well as informative.

If you're curious about Paganism I suggest checking it out. (While I'm at it I want to also recommend WitchVox. Please note, however, that WitchVox is currently incompatible with the Google Chrome web browser, so if you're using that you're out of luck. D:) If you're already Pagan, I still recommend checking it out. As I said there are a lot of people from a variety of paths; that means a lot of knowledge in the group. I expect that even the most knowledgeable person will learn something new in Through Pagan Eyes.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Courage and bravery

Ok, so I feel like exploring bravery and courage a little further. First, let's look at what Dictionary.com has to say about them. Realize, the cool thing about this particular site is that it shows definitions from various dictionaries.

Courage

Random House Dictionary
1.the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.

The American Heritage
n. The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.

Well, that's two definitions for courage. They're the only two that really made any sense for me to post here. Notice, they're different. Random House says that courage is to face danger fearlessly. But according to American Heritage, it means that you are confident and keep control of yourself in spite of the danger. It doesn't say anything about being fearless, though.

Both of them end with the word bravery. So that brings me to my next search.

Brave

Random House Dictionary
1.possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance.

American Heritage Dictionary
  1. Possessing or displaying courage; valiant.

And here are the definitions for brave from those same dictionaries. Notice, Random House only uses the word courage, which will lead you back to the beginning. So basically, bravery equals courage, which means bravery equals fearlessness. American Heritage, on the other hand, adds the word valiant to the word courage. Hmm. Now I think I'll look that word up...

Valiant

Random House Dictionary
1.boldly courageous; brave; stout-hearted: a valiant soldier.
2.marked by or showing bravery or valor; heroic: to make a valiant effort.
3.worthy; excellent.

American Heritage Dictionary
  1. Possessing valor; brave.
  2. Marked by or done with valor. See Synonyms at brave.
n. A brave person.

Somehow for this one it just made sense to post more than one definition per dictionary. Anyways, these seem to be more of the same, with a few words added in. Dang. You know, I thought it would be simpler than this...lol So I'll look up one of those new words...

Valor

Random House Dictionary
boldness or determination in facing great danger, esp. in battle; heroic courage; bravery: a medal for valor.

American Heritage Dictionary
n. Courage and boldness, as in battle; bravery.

American Heritage is more of the same, while Random House is giving us new leads...but enough of this. I get the feeling I could chase words around like this all through the night, and still have more to chase around come dawn.

In Conclusion

I guess what bravery and courage are ultimatley comes down to who you ask. Personally, I don't think that you have to be fearless to be brave or courageous. And those who are fearless aren't necessarily brave or courageous -- sometimes they're just crazy. Then again, maybe those who are fearless are simply at peace with the fact that the outcome of their situation may not be so great for them. So, I would like to offer up my definition for the words "brave" and "courageous": Someone who faces their fears.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What is courage? Or bravery?

Something I didn't share about my audition in the previous post -- one of my interviewers told me that I am quite courageous, to go after the music therapy degree like this, with the audition and everything. The idea surprised me. I didn't argue, but I was sort of like "Hmm..." Apparently she like that response, and it just convinced her even more that I am courageous.

That got me to thinking, and I remembered something that happened some years back. I was in fencing class (yes I used to do fencing :D I should get back into it when I get the time) and I knelt down. We'd been playing some game, where when you get "killed" you have to kneel down. Then when the one who killed you gets killed, you're back in the game. But when I went to stand back up, I couldn't.

There's something that sometimes happens with my leg. I've been told that it's a cramp. I dunno. It's something, and it isn't pleasant. It's quite painful, in fact. When it happens it can be quite painful to straighten the leg back out again. But when it gets straightened out, it's ok. It feels a little weak for a little, perhaps, and I'm wary of bending it too much too soon, but it's ok.

So there I was, unable to stand up. I got myself into a sitting position where I could try to deal with my leg. The teacher noticed something was wrong, came over to me, and took off my mask. I explained to him what was wrong, and said it was going to hurt to straighten it out. (As it turns out there's a trick that makes it almost painless, but I hadn't discovered it yet when this happened.) Then I forced myself to straighten the leg, and I was able to get up. I wasn't about to do any more fencing after that, but luckily it was the end of class anyways, so I didn't miss anything.

Would you care to guess what the teacher said, right after I'd straightened my leg out? "You're really brave to do that." I was stunned.

If you asked me to described myself in a few words, I wouldn't use the words"brave" or "courageous." I have anxiety problems. I'm scared of spiders. I'm scared of fire. I'm sometimes scared of the dark (but I'm much better about that now). I'm even scared of logs jutting up from the murky depths of lakes when I'm out on a boat. Now that is a pathetic phobia. lol

So what is courage or bravery, anyways? I guess it's facing your fears. Hmm...

I'll leave it at that for now. Maybe I'll blog more about this later. For now, I still have stuff to do before bedtime, and I really should at least attempt to get a decent amount of sleep.

Audition

I auditioned for the music therapy program today. I sang "On My Own" a cappella, "Wouldn't it be Loverly" with an accompanist, and "May It Be" accompanying myself on the piano. Much to my surprise, they seemed to think that my piano skills were better than my singing skills, and suggested that I might want to make that my main instrument.

Truth is, I had been thinking about that. I can have problems with my throat getting tight, and in the spring I get allergies and it is sometimes difficult for me to sing at all. It's been a while since I have taken piano lessons or even really focused on the piano, and I'm still new to guitar, but one of them likely needs to become my main instrument. On the other hand, they also said that working with a vocal instructor may help me overcome some of the challenges I face. Hmm...I'll have to think on it.

I do want to mention, as I was waiting for the audition, and then after the audition, I met someone else who was also auditioning for the music therapy program. Perhaps we'll be taking classes together in the fall term. :)

After the audition, I was interviewed by a couple of people in charge of the music therapy program. Some questions I expected were not asked, and questions I had not expected were. One thing they asked was, "If it were recommended to you to receive therapy (or something along those lines) for yourself, how would you respond?" I answered that exactly my response would be would likely depend on the situation. However, I have been to a doctor before for my ADHD and it really helped, and if I needed to go to a therapist/doctor for something else I needed help on I certainly would.

After I mentioned the ADHD, they strongly recommended that I go to the ADA office. I'd never thought to go to them about my ADHD before, but both of those interviewing me told me that it would be really good for me to let them know about my ADHD. That way, the ADA can let my professors know about anything I might do in class to help me focus, such as sewing, so that the professor doesn't get irritated with me for it.

And since this is Pagan Values Month, I do want to add that I was sending little prayers to Taliesin along the way. After all, he is the Celtic bard. It seems apt to turn to him for help with anything musical. :)

By the way -- I ran into my adviser afterwards. Guess what she told me? She discovered this blog and shared it with a few others. Apparently I have some kind of fan base over at Marylhurst university. So, hello y'all! I hope you enjoy this blog! :D

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Getting onto my path

I turns out we only stayed one night for the Highland Games, not two, so I got back in town yesterday. There isn't much in my travel journal to share. Sorry. I'll just tell you that the five hours I spent at the games were fantastic, and the twelve hours round trip were ok. :D

So bearing in mind that this is Pagan Values Month...onto Paganism!

I want to share how I got onto this path, but first I also want to share what I have found to be the most common story: someone grows up in a very Christian household, gets sick and tired of everything (they often talk about "lies" told to them, and how asking questions was discouraged), discovers Paganism somehow, and leaves Christianity behind. There are variations, but that's basically how it usually goes.

I was raised liberal Christian. I grew up hearing all about Jesus, celebrating Easter and Christmas, and saying prayers at dinner time. Without any influence from my parents, I started saying prayers at bedtime. Not only that, but I also sang a song to God every evening, with my prayers. However, we never went to church, and read from the Bible only rarely.

I do remember experiences with the divine when I was younger -- Yahweh and Jesus. (Yes, I do consider them separate deities.) In particular I had two dreams, and one experience after saying bedtime prayers. In each case I remember knowing I was loved, very much. I think I may have also gotten Yahweh irritated with me, when I tried ignoring him. Oopsies.

I remember the first time I heard about Paganism. My mom had mentioned that someone was Pagan, and I asked what that meant. She said that a Pagan is someone who holds the earth sacred. I remember thinking "That's a weird religion." lol But even then my mom was teaching me to respect the earth -- not that I recognized that as religious teachings. I simply accepted that the earth was to be respected, and that was that. (My mom combines Paganism and Christianity, by the way, though I didn't realize that growing up.)

In spite of my experiences with Jesus and Yahweh, I did go through a time of questioning the existence of the divine. I was too ashamed to admit it until after the fact, but I shouldn't have been. Questioning is natural. There's nothing wrong with it.

I am certain I would have wound up on this path one way or another, but I like to cite Juliet Marillier's book, "Daughter of the Forest," as being the turning point. A friend gave it to me for one of my birthdays, and I fell in love with it. It got me into learning about ancient Ireland, the ancient Druids, modern Druids, and Paganism in general.

I can't say exactly when I became Pagan. I think I may have been Pagan all along. But I very clearly remember the moment when I realized I was Pagan. My thoughts after that realization? "When did that happen???"

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Goin' out of town

I'm going out of town tomorrow for one of the Highland Games.

I want to write more, but I still have to pack, and am exhausted. So, I'll just say this. I'll bring along my travel journal, and hopefully I'll have excerpts from that to share when I get back in town. It's sure to be fun. :)

ps. I'll be back on Sunday.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Brighid

This is my first post in Pagan Values Month. On one hand I wanted to talk about Pagan stuff, on the other hand I wanted to talk about what I did today. Then I realized, why not combine the two???

It turns out that the things I want to talk about are relevant to Brighid, my favorite goddess. It's difficult to sum her up, but I will make an attempt to do so. She is a goddess of healing in general, including some specific stuff such as childbirth. She is a goddess of smith craft, which also encompasses fire (oh yes, she's a fire goddess!) and other stuff I think. (Fire is not my forte, so I don't pay much attention to that side of her. I probably should...) And, she is the goddess of inspiration -- music and poetry, in a nutshell. (There's more to it, I think, but I don't know what to say.)

One thing that I wanted to share is that I donated blood today. I was so nervous. But I wanted to help, so I got through the nervousness and didn't chicken out. I get quite some satisfaction from knowing that my donation can help save lives. This totally fits into devotion to Brighid (except that I wonder if I should use the word "devotion," since she's not actually my matron goddess...) since she is a goddess of healing. (But she is my favorite goddess, so why not be devoted to her?) (Oh, because I don't consider myself "devoted" to my matron goddess?) (Hey, Pele chose me, not the other way around!) (Ok, I'll stop arguing with myself now.)

Also, this evening, I went to Tall One's piano recital. This again totally fits into "devotion" (or whatever word is most appropriate) to Brighid, since she is a deity of inspiration. :)

Ok, it's late, I need my sleep. Please forgive any grammar errors and other weird stuff...I'll try to be more awake during my next post!