[sticky entry] Sticky: Starting Over

Oct. 5th, 2011 12:01 am
emberleo: A rabbit with antlers eating blackberries (Default)
I need to journal again.
I want to journal here.
I need a clean slate.

So I've turned this archive of my LJ into that clean slate. All the old posts are now locked down (if I reference one, I can unlock it accordingly - the LJ version is still as it was). All my old access groups are deleted. All my connections with non-DW accounts here are gone.

I'm starting over.
I'll make new filters as the need arises.
I'll find my friends as I go.

To that end, please let me know you're here, by leaving a comment below!

(I am still willing to give access to non DW accounts, if they're actually being used to read my journal.)

emberleo: A rabbit with antlers eating blackberries (Default)

It seems folks comment more than I realize here, but they don't make it to my inbox properly. I'm not sure if some messages get sent to the SPAM bin by Gmail or if DW isn't sending them consistently in the first place.

I apologize if I missed something. If I don't respond to you, it's decently likely that I haven't read your comment yet, rather than that I'm just ignoring you.

Regardless, please forgive me.

emberleo: A rabbit with antlers eating blackberries (jackalope)
Gods help me, I've started a public-facing blog: http://embervoices.wordpress.com/

I'll still keep this one for more personal musings, to the degree that I've kept it thus far.

[Edit] I have a request to CC my WordPress posts to this journal as well. If I do, they'll be locked to the access list, as I gather it's considered poor form to fully duplicate the public content. It's just apparently some folks can't access WordPress outside of the US, for some reason...

emberleo: A rabbit with antlers eating blackberries (jackalope)
Last Saturday, August 10th, at Greyhaven, I took my public vows as a Gythia to the Vanir:

I took oaths to Nerthus, Njordh, Freyr, and Freyja, each in turn. )

Oaths with the Folk

For so long as we respect and support you, and you are able:

Do you vow to serve us as Gythia,
to guide us and teach us,
to counsel and comfort us?


And do you, fellow folk, vow to uphold Ember as our own Gythia,
respecting her limits and supporting her efforts on our behalf,
and on behalf of the Vanir?

emberleo: A circular knotwork phoenix (phoenix)
I have heard an argument that goes something like this:

"Stop complaining that women are under attack just because a bunch of clinics are being shut down in Texas. The women in Texas still have CHOICES to get their care elsewhere, or even out of state. I have been through hell and have made lots of excruciatingly hard CHOICES, you have nothing to complain about!"

There are SO many problems with the argument above, and especially in this context, that it actually woke my brain up 2 hours early this morning because I couldn't just let it go, so y'all get me ranting on (hopefully artfully) for many paragraphs just to shut my damned brain up about it. Lucky you!

First of all, Misery Poker is a problem in its own right )

Now a few notes about the problems in this context:

The context being reproductive rights and healthcare for women, especially poor women, in Texas and elsewhere )

I could go on for pages about this, but other people have already done so in far better detail than I ever could, so I'll stop there. The real point of this particular rant was all up in the first section: The fact that one person's life has been very hard does not excuse other people's lives being made unnecessarily harder, it does not render their arguments invalid, and it definitely doesn't make silencing their protests appropriate.

Whew! Now maybe my brain can shut up for a while!

emberleo: A rabbit with antlers eating blackberries (jackalope)
Okay! This weekend was the Mystery portion of my Ordination process.

Although it was a bit of a muddle logistically right up until the very end (which I suspect was actually deliberate on the part of the Powers as a way to keep me off balance) it went quite well. I had exactly what I needed, no more, no less.

I can't talk much about the details, however, because... uh... Mystery.

HOWEVER! My public Ordination Vows will be taken in early August and now my job is to go about figuring out what those Vows will actually BE, in terms of actual wording, and then design a ritual around it, and recruit appropriately those I need to execute the thing.

The date has already been set, and the design has already begun, so that ball is rolling. Location is still TBD, but it's looking like East Bay makes the most sense - either Greyhaven or some likely outdoor location.

I can't even tell you how much LESS crazy I feel now.

But I'm still daunted. I'm starting a Lineage. This is A Thing now in a way that goes far beyond what I ever expected of our little affinity group back in 2004.



Apr. 26th, 2013 08:46 pm
emberleo: A rabbit with antlers eating blackberries (Default)
The Rabbits have me cooking on Fridays with [personal profile] purplerabbit.

This is both nerve-wracking and very good for me. If I'm alone in the kitchen I start to panic, but all I need to avoid that is company if I'm reasonably sure of what it is I'm trying to do, or else that nobody else knows any better than I do. If I am wary I wait until [personal profile] uncledark comes home, so he can instruct me.

So far I usually make pasta, because that's what I'm confident at. When we've made other things, PurpleRabbit has taken the lead.

Tonight I made it up as I went, trying to make something similar to the polenta they serve at Pomodoro:

I cut sun-dried tomato and garlic polenta into slices and then cut out the middles with a little cookie cutter. I wrapped pieces of fontina and sage leaves in prosciutto and stuffed them in the middles.

But then I had a bunch of extra polenta, fontina, and prosciutto, so I filled the rest of the dish with the spare, and poured roasted garlic alfredo sauce on top. I baked it all at 350 for half an hour, and then took off the foil and baked it a bit longer so the cheese would melt.

To put on top, I chopped up roma tomatoes, and mixed it with a bit of chopped onion, dried basil, and salt, with extra virgin olive oil, and as an afterthought added feta cheese. It needed more salt than I expected.

Finally I tried crisping the remaining sage leaves in olive oil and butter. That worked perfectly, and they're sooo goood. I want to take a whole sage bush and crisp them for snacks.

All put together it was quite yummy.

Next time I think I should put the sauce down first, and not try to make stuffed rounds, but just crumble all the polenta and shred the cheese to make a more ordinary casserole. Same flavors, better presentation. I wish the tomatoes were more flavorful, but overall it worked really well.

I'm very proud of myself. I made dinner and it wasn't pasta.

emberleo: A rabbit with antlers eating blackberries (jackalope)
What are your favorite folktales with female protagonists?

I'll accept anything with unknown author as "Folktale" whether it's a parable, a legend, a saga, a fairytale, or whatever.

I guess I don't mind knowing about works with known authors too provided you cite the author's name for reference.

But I'm really looking for the kinds of patterns that primarily manifest when a story has gotten told and retold and reshaped and retold over time, rather than a single person's idea of a good story, however grounded in tradition it may be.

emberleo: A forked crossroads symbol with the letters A M U H (umbanda)
I have been removed from the American Magic Umbanda House, and all relevant contact lists.

Per Exu on Mama's instructions, I stepped back to Alumna status last August - essentially an inactive member-in-good-standing who generally acts as a Friend to the house. I had promised that I would help out at any event where I was requested (to the best of my ability, anyway - what more can anyone do?) and that I would come back to dance out for Senior Medium with my House-Twin when he was ready, as he requested and Mama had approved.

I had already decided that I should only attend events I was specifically requested or otherwise obliged to attend. I thought at first that might include events the Powers requested I attend, but it was made clear that They did not want me to attend rituals only for Their sake right now.

Although I'm aware of social gaffes, and some ways in which people were unenthusiastic about my manner of service, I'm not aware of having broken any house rules, or harmed anyone. If I harmed anyone, I am deeply sorry, as that was never my intention.

I'm not entirely sure why Mama felt the need to remove me from the house altogether, given that I had already stepped back, but it's her choice to make, and it's what she felt was needed.

I am very unhappy with this turn of events. I don't understand, and I'm not sure what I should do next, other than get out of the way. My head is swimming, and I've already stuck my foot in my mouth several times trying to make sense of this. I don't want to upset anyone else, so I'm making this general announcement that if anybody wants to know more about what's going on with me they are welcome to ask.

I still love my former house-siblings, and wish them all well. They all have my contact information and are welcome to call on me.

Be Well,
emberleo: A dark-haired woman weaving strands of light (dreaming)
I dreamt this yesterday (Monday) morning:

I had to ford a slow-moving but very cold river that was about 4 feet deep, in my car. It was the kind of river that is near the sea, because the waves would periodically flood the car, so I couldn't stay dry. Finally I had to turn my car into a little boat and get out and kick-paddle to push us to the other shore.

On the other shore was a strange house full of wanderers, where I could rest for a bit. Once I was well-rested, I found myself in a bazaar, talking to an older woman with dark hair and caramel skin. I picked up a gorgeously-illustrated picture book, and looked at a picture of a beautiful older African man. The style of the painting was a sort of splotchy watercolor. I grinned and turned the picture around to show the woman. "This reminds me of Obatala!" I said, pleased, but not expecting her to know what I meant. She replied that it was Orunla.

She started to tell me the story, which was indeed about an Orixa. I wasn't quite sure of the name.
"Wait, you mean Oxala?" I asked.
"You're not LISTENING!" she replied sharply.
I was abashed, and apologized, explaining that I WAS listening, but I knew different names for the Orixa and wanted to make sure I understood her story correctly. She grumbled and told me to read the book myself, then.

The book told the story of the first two Orixa, with Oludumare: a Man and a Woman, made to be immortal, to keep Oludumare company, and guard the world. Oludumare had created a world full of wondrous things that moved in cycles of life, creation, and death. The Man and Woman at first were occupied learning about all of the many things in Oludumare's world. They loved each other as husband and wife do.

One day, Oludumare came to the Man and said "She wants to die."

The Woman had made her case, that if she could not create, she had no reason for existence. She wanted very much to create children, as all the plants and animals do. Everything else in all of Oludumare's creation was part of the beautiful cycle, why not her?

Oludumare admonished that they had been created to be immortal and thus did not need children to carry on their traditions in their absence.
"Then let me die," she replied.

But the Man did not want her to die, and did not himself want to die. He loved the Woman and wanted her to stay with him. Oludumare was firm.

"You must help her die."
"You can't want me to kill her?!"
"Go out into the world and learn all there is to know of death."

Reluctantly, the Man did as he was told. At first he was angry with Oludumare, then resigned. Finally he began to see the beauty of the cycle that the Woman had perceived. As it moved before him and swirled around him in its mysterious glory, the Man understood the value of death in the cycle.

He returned to the hall where the Woman and Oludumare were waiting, his garments stained with blood, with mud, with salt water and sweat, with all the substances of creation and death marking his garments.

"I understand," he said.
Oludumare smiled. The Woman was relieved.
"Then I may die now?" She asked. And it was so.

That the Man would not be lonely, Oludumare made another Woman. She was able to die, and able to create, both these things built into her being from the first. The Man, too, was given the possibility to die. He, too, could create now, his journey having initiated him into the mysteries of the cycle.

They soon had children, who became part of the cycle themselves. They multiplied, and spread across the world, and each in time took up guardianship of different aspects of Oludumare's creation.

Oludumare was never lonely again.

I closed the book, and brought it back to the woman. I told her I MUST own the book, and asked its price. She was reluctant, as though she was obliged to let me have the story, but didn't believe I deserved it, and thus didn't want to sell me the book. I was in tears - it was the most beautiful story I had ever heard, and I could see myself the mysteries of the cycle moving through the artwork, the beauty of Death moving through the cycle. She relented, selling me the book for some strange fee I no longer remember. Not coins, certainly, but perhaps bites of bread, and a snippet of my hair, or somesuch.

I woke up not being sure if the story was about Obatala or Orunla, and knowing no name for the first Woman.

I thought the story was about Obatala until just now, when I looked up Orunla and saw that Orunla (Orunmila) was the first Orixa, who got to watch Oludumare create all things, and that's how He knows all fates. So I think yes, this story IS about Orunla, and I was given a gift of it, that the one sent to give it to me didn't really feel I deserved, but she was under orders of some kind.

Edit Note:
Although I must admit what I looked up after the story contradicts all the stories I knew before, where Obatala was the first Orixa under Oludumare, and Orunla was Obatala's youngest son, who spent most of his time growing up buried to the neck under the tree Iroko.... Have I got wires crossed, or is this just a place where mythology has multiple answers?

emberleo: A dark-haired woman weaving strands of light (dreaming)
The dream was convoluted.

First it was my wedding, then it was a friend's )

Then I shifted context again and realized it was actually my Sister's wedding. Everything was going horribly from my perspective, and my social anxiety was triggered as hell. I was trying to hold it together and not quite succeeding. Mom was trying to calm me down and get me to act more appropriately, which was making it worse. I was remembering to myself that my sister's actual wedding went better than this, so how was it all possible?

That caused me to "remember" in the dream that my brother-in-law had died in a tragic car accident a couple years before, and my sister had basically refused to go on more than two dates with anybody until this charming, creepy (to me) guy named Ray Finn McCool came into the picture. They haphazardly arranged a wedding in a few month's time. I was supposed to be my sister's attendant. Ray refused the idea of me officiating again, saying he wanted somebody more "neutral" and that he wasn't comfortable with a Pagan minister. Even so, Ray somehow got her to cut me out of the wedding entirely at the last minute. I was a basket-case about it, again, saying I'd have worn a better-for-me dress and skipped the makeup had I known, but actually being upset over the loss itself.

Then I spent a chunk of time with them setting up the altar space for the wedding, only to realize belatedly that they'd wanted the time alone, but my sister was strangely not telling me what she needed. Once I realized, I pointed out to her that she could have just told me. She looked slightingly at me and said I should have known - using those words specifically so it would sting more, although it wasn't clear if that was her conscious choice or not. (Most likely it was my brain's choice for maximum drama.)

At some point in there, I spent a little bit of alone time with Ray. For some reason he had both latex condoms and essential oils on the altar, and I laughed and pointed out how incompatible those two things were. He said that was the whole point - he's fixed, so he wouldn't get her pregnant, they'd be monogamously married and thus wouldn't need protection against STIs, so this was a symbolic way of declaring that they needed no protection from each other. I had a nagging feeling that it was a way of symbolically *breaking* her remaining protection against him, but I couldn't tell if he chose it purposefully or not.

All the while he talked down to me as though he liked me but considered me basically crazy and stupid, and I "remembered" that he'd always treated me like that, and over the time my sister was with him, she'd started treating me that way too. I kept telling myself "He's nice, he likes me", but couldn't shake the sense that something was deeply wrong.

After walking away from my sister and Ray, I realized that his name was Fionn mac Cumhaill, the Irish hero of legend, and that he had my sister snowed somehow.

I ran to the back room where D was watching all the kids, to ask her about Fionn mac Cumhaill, but for some reason Mom stopped me - I think saying there wasn't time for such things, as the ceremony was starting.

So I had to watch them get married, knowing that this guy wasn't who he seemed, and that he was gaslighting me to keep me as unstable as possible whenever she could see me, so she wouldn't trust my judgement, and isolating her. Obviously the beginning of an abuse pattern, but WHY? He wanted her for himself for some reason, and I realized he considered her kids with her previous husband a threat as well.

I dropped into Otherspace to go check him out, and caught him negotiating with some Power or other to get me out of the way - I was the one he found most threatening, apparently. She already wouldn't trust Mom's judgement about him, and none of the others could see his nature clearly enough to give feedback. When I heard him mention intent to get my niece and nephew out of the way, I went up to him, invisible, grabbed him by the hair, and whispered threateningly into his ear that if he laid so much as a fucking FINGER on MY KIDS (by which I meant any kids I cared about, but ESPECIALLY the children of my blood) I would have his blood.

I then came out of that space, and ran to tell my Mom and Sister what I'd learned. I looked to my sister apologetically and said, point blank, "You shouldn't have married him. I'm sorry." She wasn't happy, but I'd broken the spell. It remained to be seen what would happen next - weddings are, before the gods, binding, rule-changing events.

I then woke up feeling urgently the need to write up the last part and tell it to my sister, and to look up Fionn mac Cumhaill, although I see nothing pertinent in the stories about him... I notice his childhood includes a run with cooking the Salmon of Knowledge/Wisdom, like the bit in how Taliesin was created, but that doesn't really clarify.

Now I'm trying to figure out if the last part of the dream really mattered, and whether I need to tell my sister about it.

emberleo: A rabbit with antlers eating blackberries (Default)
From July of 2004:

I have a friend who says "The Truth Only Hurts When It Oughtta". In a way, I think he's right, but at the same time I think he doesn't necessarily mean it the way it applies in this context - Truth Hurts most when it is Needed. What we Need and what we Want in this manner are so rarely coincidental. It's strange, though, because the things that should, theoretically, bring us the most joy, hurt the most because of what they release, and a pain we are used to holding inside goes unnoticed until we let it go, and have to feel it one last time before it dies. If we try not to feel the hurt, we can't let it go, and it will only be held until it can try to be released again. A pain must be felt completely before it can die. It is, in this way, a microcosm of life - a true life must be lived completely before it ends, or it will be lived again. These little deaths between are only pauses to regroup and catch our lessons as they go by. If we fail to pause, we may miss the lessons, but it is a failure to continue beyond the pause that brings the real... damage... trouble... I can't find the word for this...


emberleo: A skull-faced woman with long black hair standing among callalilies (requiem)
George Hersh died this morning.

He was a revered elder and a dedicated therapist for our local Pagan community. I am way more upset by this death than I have been by others in my recent past. (There really *aren't* any deaths in my distant past - nobody died around me during my childhood.)

You'd think family members I was closer to than my former therapist would prompt more upset, but for whatever reason, not so much.

I have noticed that the deaths of people I wanted to know better but didn't get to tend to upset me more than the passing of people I knew as much as I felt I could or needed to.

Of course, it remains to be seen how well I'll take the deaths of family members I'm actually fairly close to, so maybe the point is immaterial.

I feel like I should be talking about George here, rather than myself, but you see half the problem is that I didn't GET to know him. He was my therapist, and was good about holding that boundary enough that I know almost nothing about him other than that he was a wonderful, wonderful man and I miss him terribly.

I had hoped he'd live long enough to attend my ordination, but I couldn't get off my ass to make it happen fast enough.

emberleo: A rabbit with antlers eating blackberries (jackalope)
My Up-Goer Five Life:

Job: I make pictures to go on the covers of books for people to read on their computers. I also pick the way the name of the book and the name of the person who wrote it look on the cover. When there is a paper book, I make the back cover too, and also the part in the middle that holds the book together where the name of the book goes. On the back cover, there are words to say what the book is about, what kind of book it is, and how to find the people who make the books by using a computer. The big thing is that the book covers have to make people want to buy the book.

School: I am learning to listen to people talk about things that they don't like, so I can help them. I have been listening for years now. People talk to me about Gods, and the people they love, and what hurts them. I do my best to help them, but I don't have paper that says I can make money doing that. I need to learn how to listen the right way, so I can get paid for it in the long run.

Fun: I make things out of other things. I don't care what kind of things you give me, I will make other things out of it. I'm good at that.


[The original XKCD comic that inspired this meme]
emberleo: A circular knotwork phoenix (phoenix)
For those in the home audience, today was my very first day of Graduate School.

Yes, I was very, very nervous, but not panicked as I feared I might be (yes, I fear fear itself sometimes - panic attacks are like that).

The class sounds like it will be highly useful, and I'm glad to see my friends from my time in undergrad )

So, I'm back "home" academically, and glad to be. This will work. Whatever isn't already set up is just hoop jumping, and I'm good at the rest of it.

Wish me luck!

emberleo: A circular knotwork phoenix (phoenix)
The Powers have been poking at me for a long time to set up a way for people to easily pay me for my spiritual services, like Tarot readings. They finally got a blatant POKE through one last time before I left for Maryland.

Today I went by my bank for the last info I needed to get my PayPal account verified properly. I can now accept payment!

I'm proud of myself. This was a bigger hurdle than it should have been. Even through being proud of myself for having gotten it done, I feel weird, uncomfortable, exposed.

I don't know why I feel this way.

But there you go.

emberleo: A rabbit with antlers eating blackberries (Default)
There's still a lot going on, but being past the hardest bits of my grad school applications, and the Vanic Intensive presentation out in Maryland for the Nine Worlds Festival has cut down my stress tremendously, and with it a lot of my more intense anxiety symptoms.

I still have one hell of a to-do list, even where school is concerned, some of which I find almost as scary as the self-promotional essays, but from where I sit at the moment, my to-do list isn't overwhelming, just irritating.

In place of the overwhelming anxiety and depression, I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude and love for the people who have been so appreciative and supportive of me recently (well overall of course, but the overwhelm is for recent things).

In particular, I find myself overwhelmed to the point of tears that the professors at SCU who agreed to give me recommendation letters are being not only accepting and cooperative about having to deal with my confusion over special PDF forms that I didn't know I needed. They're being actively positive and almost enthusiastic about it. They really want me to succeed and return to SCU for real. They actually miss me.

I can't quite handle that thought, it's so contradictory to my expectations of school - even SCU.

So yeah, overwhelmed with yay.

emberleo: A circular knotwork phoenix (phoenix)
From the people who brought us the Love Languages meme (that's my post from back when, and another, while I was at it), here comes Languages of Apology (that's the actual quiz) - and once again I find myself realizing that it's missing something important to me.

To start with, here are my scores:

7 Making Restitution
5 Accepting Responsibility
4 Expressing Regret
4 Genuinely Repenting
0 Requesting Forgiveness

You have chosen Making Restitution as your primary Apology Language. You find it easiest to forgive when action is taken to compensate for the wrong done to you. You listen not only to admission of fault, but also for the question, What can I do to make it better?

These are apparently very similar to my friends' scores, which makes sense given our backgrounds and the cultural trends implicit in these languages - Weregild is a Germanic thing, Penance is perhaps more Mediterranean, or at least Abrahamic. But of course that's only very sweeping generalization.

Ryn and I noticed immediately that something was missing that we both need - and in some cases it was specifically excluded in ways that make us wonder what the hell other people are thinking.

Sometimes the options included wanting people to say "I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking - if I'd been thinking I'd have realized that you're right."

You know, there are times that might make me feel better, but in many cases, like the instance of "Your mother knew how you felt about a matter and knowingly went against your wishes." our first thought was "I want her to explain what she based her decision on, such that my wishes were not the priority." And at those times, I really don't want to hear that she wasn't thinking, because that's worse.

This was not involved, or even really implied, in any of the given options. The closest I could get in that particular question was assuming it was a response to the query "What can I do to regain your respect?" which doesn't sit right with me, because it feels like that focuses on what she would want from me - respect - rather than on what I would need from her. This is also why requesting forgiveness doesn't impress me at all as a form of apology, which explains the '0'. I have no issue with someone asking me for forgiveness, but I parse that as them asking me for something they need, NOT apologizing to me for my sake.

I find some of the differentiations they do make less than useful as well. For example, I consider offering to make restitution (which is really what these things are, since it's about what you SAY, not what you then DO) to just be a preferred form of Accepting Responsibility, which is the real issue here IMHO. More to the point, it's what I consider evidence that you actually understand that you're responsible for your results, and that actions have consequences. Otherwise it's just empty words. "Oh, yeah, totally my fault. (Not that I care, or will change anything.)" Similarly, I don't see any difference between Expressing Regret and Genuinely Repenting.

So my REAL apology languages are:

1: Accept Responsibility, preferably by Offering Weregild that you actually believe you can uphold and intend to follow through with.
2: Explain Yourself and demonstrate that understanding my side matters to you, but that's part of 1 really, by their reasoning.
3: Express Regret/Repent I don't actually need this if you do the first two - I can totally understand saying "I don't regret my choice, because I still believe it's the choice I needed to make under the circumstances. I DO accept that my choice affected you adversely and I take responsibility for that. How can I make that part better for you?"

In that order.

I don't think of myself as being a hard person to apologize to, but I know I've gotten a LOT of flack over the years for not apologizing correctly to other people. Perlandria is right, a lot of this depends on sincerity in whatever form you do use.

emberleo: A rabbit with antlers eating blackberries (Default)
For years I've had nightmares about being on a bridge as it breaks, or is flooded, or just goes somewhere I don't want to go. I have no idea if that's at all related to my current emotional dilemma.

Life is going quite well for me, overall. I'm happy with what I'm doing, the relationships I do have time for are working quite well. I have a sense of clarity about where I'm going in many ways. I feel like I've come through a year of tremendous change much improved, and am still making progress, though at less of a breakneck speed.

So why do I feel so horrible about certain things? )

This whole thing feels so stupid, but I can't seem to get any gauge of where to draw the reality line internally on it.