Monthly Archives: September 2015

Seeking a Closer Relationship With a Select Few Deities and Possibly a Patron

I didn’t begin my meditation practice when I said I would. Off to a bad start already! 😼 lol. I had good intentions that day. But then they day carried on and ended before I knew it. The next couple of weeks were consumed with stress and school work. Today, despite all that I need to get done, I made time for my mental training. I included it as part of my daily devotional. Ok, So I have to admit here that a “daily devotional” as such hasn’t yet existed in my practice. This is something I am also aiming to remedy, along with regular mental training and meditation.

My devotional today was slightly more elaborate than I plan for it to be in the future. But I wanted a more involved rite in order to apologize to the Powers for neglecting them and to ask what deity I should begin developing a closer relationship with. I was sort of hoping to receive confirmation that I am on the right track with Thunor, but also anxious to learn if I am ignoring another who would be better for me to work with at this time. I still feel like Thunor has been with me most of my life, but maybe I am mistaken. Or maybe he is there, but there is another I need to build a relationship with as well. There are still many questions left for me to ask.

I asked the Powers to indicate via a rune, which deity I should focus my worship on at this time. I drew the rune Wunjo, associated with the Goddess Frige, consort of Woden. (ETA: apparently it is also associated with Woden – he is a God I feel no connection to and I am too intimidated by him to start one just yet – if he is indeed the one I am supposed to notice, I feel safer getting there via Frige first). I can’t deny that her name hasn’t been in my mind recently. Also, just this morning I was particularly drawn to a beautiful piece of devotional jewelry made in her honor. But, skeptic as I am, I passed this off as nothing more than my usual “ooh pretty thing!” response. Never mind that I had put a Frige-related necklace on my wish-list a couple weeks ago as well. But I put it there because I liked it, not because of the association with Frige. All this time, I have still been strongly drawn to Thunor-related stuff, even to items I would normally not like at all. For example, Beth, whose blog I follow, sells ritual cords (among other items) on Etsy and I had absolutely no interest in them until I saw one she made for Thunor. I am probably going to buy one as soon as I get paid on Wednesday. Before I saw the Thunor cord, I thought the cords were an “other people” thing. Because my interest in these cords was based on the deity and not on the physical item itself, I took that as a sign. The Frige jewelry, on the other had, I liked regardless of its deity association and didn’t think to make the connection.

There is still that lingering complication with a goddess from another pantheon whom I feel drawn to. I did ask, during my ritual, that any non Germanic deity interested in working with me give me an obvious sign. In the mean time, I am going to focus my devotions to the Germanic deities lest I take on more than I can handle.

ADF Dedicant Path: Second High Day Recap (Harvest Home)

I celebrated the Harvest Home with my grove on the 19th. We had an indoor ritual this time because a feast-centered holiday is better suited to the indoors (not that we don’t feast after all rituals, but this one was bigger). There is a lovely little new age shop that lets the grove use a room in their shop for indoor rituals.

The ritual this time was Norse and we honored Thor as the patron since his storms are essential for bountiful harvests. Heimdall was the gate keeper. Two of the grove members conducted the ritual. I gave a praise offering to Thor (Thunor in my private practice) , since I have been feeling increasingly drawn to this deity over the past couple of months. When I began the Dedicant Path, I was anxious over selecting a patron, thinking that it was required. Thunor is the deity who led me to my current path and the one whom I feel has been in my life long before I recognized him. Once I learned that patrons and such weren’t essential, I focused less on Thunor and more on developing a general working relationship with all of the powers (ancestors and wights included), and trying to figure out how or if to let in a deity from another pantheon whom I am interested in working with. Despite my efforts to be all-powers-encompassing with my private rituals, I keep feeling Thunor’s presence the most. I am not at any point yet to deem him or any deity a patron, but I am comfortable saying that I am in a close working relationship with him.

As has been my experience with group ritual so far, I had trouble feeling a connection during my praise offering. I cannot focus my mind and intentions when there are many eyes on me. I went through the motions, but I did not feel like they were authentic. I am hoping I will get better at grounding myself and making meaningful connections during group rituals. It isn’t only during my personal praise offering that I feel this disconnect. I am fairly comfortable with the guided meditation before the rite, but after that I can’t maintain the focus throughout the ritual.

Besides my private setbacks, the ritual went well. Algiz was the omen for our group, a rune indicating safety, protection, and spiritual growth.

After rite ended, we feasted, of course. There was lots and lots of beer and wine and mead. I had some fantastic pumpkin spice beer and hard apple cider. The main course was a delicious lentil and ham stew (yummy lentils!).

I am looking forward to the next High Day and I hope my private meditation practice in the interim will pay off by then.

ADF Dedicant Path: Second High Day Essay (Autumn Equinox)

The autumnal equinox is known variably as Mabon or Harvest Home among Neopagans. It is the second of three harvest festivals on the neopagan calendar. Depending on the region, it may or may not have represented the final harvest of the season for Indo-European pagans. Of the three harvest festivals recognized today, it is the one exclusively associated with harvest-related festivities. Lammas, for example, is often intermingled with or replaced entirely by Freyfaxi, which is less about harvest and more about Ing Fréa and his corresponding lore. Samhain is generally recognized as a harvest festival, but the significance of the harvest is muted by ancestral rites.

Harvest Home (or just “Harvest”) stands out as exclusively related to harvest time. It makes sense that the festival in the middle of the harvest season should receive the bulk of the harvest-related celebrations. Not surprisingly, it shares customs,  with both Hlaefmaest (Lammas) and Winter Nights. One such custom was to leave the last sheaf of the harvest for Woden’s horse.

Most Neopagans celebrate the autumnal equinox as a time of thanksgiving and, in fact, the date is sometimes referred to as the “Witch’s Thanksgiving.” Thanks are given not only to the Earth and relevant fertility deities for the fruits of a bountiful harvest, but also for the fruits of less literal (non-agricultural) harvests.

 

Dealing with an Invisible Disability

As an Aspie in the grown-up academic world, maintaining a professional demeanor at all times is important. Indeed, this is important as an adult in any situation. Having a (mostly) invisible “disability” (for lack of a better term at the moment), I can’t expect understanding from the world outside my closest family and social contacts.

I am usually comfortable with blending in for a limited time in most situations. But sensory overload is still a difficult one for me to handle out in the wild.

My most sensitive sense is my sense of smell. If something smells off, no matter how slight, I immediately lose a good bit of my ability to function. My focus is lost and I quickly get a headache from trying to maintain my cool. Add to this even one more sensory annoyance and the day might as well be done for me.

The feeling of drafts or wind blowing on me from certain angles is one of my bigger sensory triggers. I often find myself making a scene in restaurants playing musical chairs (and tables) to find a spot out of the way of drafts. I don’t mind wind blowing on me if it comes at me straight on, but I don’t like isolated bursts of air or off-center drafts. I especially can’t stand the feeling of people breathing on me. I can’t even stand feeling my own breath on my arm. I have to keep my arms under the covers at night or arrange myself awkwardly to avoid breathing on myself. I also have to rearrange my husband from time to time, :p

Today, there was a terrible smell in one of my classes. It may have been a person. I don’t know. It was one of those smells that most people wouldn’t notice, but it stands out like a sore stinky thumb to me. While attempting to casually redirect my gaze to find a better source of air, the professor asks students who don’t have a book to look on with someone.


. If I might go off on a a tangent here. This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. Seriously, huge. I know it may sound rude, but I feel how I feel. It is not my fault or my problem if a lazy unprepared student doesn’t bring their text to class. In some classes, not bringing your text costs grade points. In others, the professors are more lenient. If I forget my text, I’ll be grateful not to lose points and leave it at that. I don’t like being intimidated into sharing my book. It’s like forced charity. It’s peachy keen if some generous student feels like sharing, but I shouldn’t have to feel obliged. It’s not just a principle of the matter thing. I have good reasons. For one, I like to actively write in the margins of my text and underline while in class – sharing with the person next to me makes this difficult. I also may have notes already in my text that I don’t necessarily want to share with some random person. It is MY personal property and I should be allowed to treat it as private if need be. Besides that, there are Aspie related complications – which brings me back to the original topic here


The student next to me asks if she can look on in my text. Of course I say yes, do I really have a choice? Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I say no. So, while I am already under stress from the funky smell floating around, I have to sit at an awkward angle, with another person well too far into my personal space. Then, queue the breathing on my arm. I was just sitting there, holding my book out for her to see better than I could see it, holding my breath, panicking on the inside over the stream of tepid air hitting my arm thinking over and over again “it will be over soon, it will be over soon.” And do you think that I remember anything the prof. was saying at this time? My own classroom experience suffered because another student failed to come to class prepared.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to browse the text for long, so my situation returned to dealing with only the funky smell. Even though I had been surviving the smell well enough in the beginning, the anxiety caused by that short bout of text-sharing remained long after it was over and continued to interfere with my learning. To anyone looking, I may have looked a little tense, but none too worse for the wear. Then we all leave, no one having the slightest clue that anything so traumatic transpired during class.

Not everyday is so bad, but these sort of things happen often enough to be a problem. Everyone has stressful days, but it’s something else to be stressed and to be unable to talk about it lest I come across as crazy. My stresses have to remain indefinitely hidden for the sake of maintaining an NT public image. And for all my efforts, I never really know exactly how I am coming across to people most of the time. I like to assume that if they aren’t looking at me funny, I must be doing alright. :/

Girl Meets World – Asperger’s Episode

I watch Girl Meets World. I’m not the only adult who does. It has a huge fan following of adults nostalgic for the old Boy Meets World. But, I have to admit that I watch kid-TV all the time, mostly Disney (#^^#)

Anyway, last night, an episode dealing with Aspergers aired. I was hoping they wouldn’t make a complete mess of things. I had a little bit of hope and some anxiety. All in all, it wasn’t bad. It addressed a few problematic pop-culture representations, but it also re-enforced others.

The character Farkle (Stuart Minkus’ son from BMW) is suspected to have an ASD. He is a genius character with some social idiosyncrasies. He fits the hollywood Aspie stereotype of genius, a little weird, but popular enough non the less. By the end of the episode, we learn that he doesn’t have an ASD after all. I like the message that being a little “weird” doesn’t necessarily indicate autism, nor does being a genius.

I am also really pleased that a female character (Isadora Smackle, who has a crush on Farkle) was revealed to have Aspergers. Females Aspies are terribly underrepresented on television and in general, so that’s progress right there.

But here is where a noted a problem. Smackle’s character has overly exaggerated Aspie traits. I know there are some Aspies that may act like her, but for the most part, I think her character was dramatized as is often necessary for character representations. We have seen Smackle before, but she has not been a regular. In order to cover something like Aspergers, and make a point in such a short time, her traits had to be exaggerated. She was so “obviously” autistic, that even Maya and Riley, who had not even heard of Aspergers before, recognized her as having it after reading a list of symptoms.

This isn’t the worse thing Disney could have done, but it increases an issue I run into as a female Aspie, that being the  comment “But you don’t seem autistic to me!” As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it is not all that unusual for a female Aspie to blend in better than a male. This isn’t always the case, and there are certainly Smackle’s in real life – but it’s an assumed stereotype that makes communicating my own situation more difficult.

In the interest of countering pop-culture, let me share with you my favorite Aspie-related youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fTBM_3sdwE

Update 2/25/17

Smackle ends up becoming a semi-regular character on the show and her autistic traits become a lot more nuanced. I was really happy to with her character development. It’s a shame the show was cancelled after only three seasons.

 

ADF Dedicant Path: Meditation and Mental Training

Not a whole lot to say here except that I am officially beginning my required 23 weeks of meditation today. I will be keeping a pen and paper journal to record my weekly practice. ADF recommends starting out with multiple days of practice per week rather than just one, but I am having a hard enough time keeping up with my graduate studies, let alone ADF work. For now, I am going to tentatively schedule meditation work for Saturday evenings and only do more when I am able.

I am still making time to visit my nature spot – though I mostly go for running, I try to multitask and allow myself some time after a run to do a little yoga and experience the nature in a more settled state. I can probably add some short meditation work to the time spent there as well. It’s going to get cold soon, though, so I don’t know for how much longer I’ll be able to go there.

I don’t do well in the cold. I have Reynauds and no amount of layering and mittens has ever been sufficient. When I went skiing as a kid, my father, who has inhuman-heater-hands, used to give me his gloves for a run, wear mine, and trade with me next run so that my gloves would always be warm. Those little hand-warmer things were never sufficient for me. I lose circulation in my hands just handling cold things in the grocery store. :/ Somedays are better than others, and the problem is not always related to the exact temperature, but also my mood, stress-level, etc. Maybe meditation exercises will help me endure a few cold days outside. I can give it a try anyway 🙂

ADF Dedicant Path: Nature Awareness (essay prep.)

I’m not going to post all of my nature-awareness related stuff on this blog. I’m planning to start a nature journal in addition to the required meditation journal, both of which I will refer to later when it comes time to write final essays.

From time to time, however, I will feel like sharing something of particular interest from my nature awareness related activities (outside of those required by DP wheel of the year weekly assignments).

And now, onto the point of this post 🙂

I have a brown thumb. Or, at least I am dreadfully paranoid that I do. After a few (very few) attempts to care for potted plants, I avoided owning any again for the longest time. I managed to kill a succulent desert plant, among others. Who does that? I mean, really? Perhaps I overwatered it (a common mistake). It was so long ago, I can’t remember what I did or didn’t do. I also lost a bonsai because my cat knocked it from a very high shelf to its death. That one wasn’t entirely my fault, but hey, my cat – my responsibility. Now that I have three dogs and three cats, having house plants is out of the question.

I’ve contemplated the idea of starting a vegetable garden. Something small and manageable (or as much as can be for a plant-killer such as myself), but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

The saddest part is that I crave plants and greenery, moreso than your average joe. I especially love trees. I really wanted to bonsai thing to work out. But I have been so traumatized knowing that I am responsible for the death of even a single tree. I have similar feelings about fish. I went through a fish phase. I tried a lot harder to manage my fish than I ever did my plants. I was going to make it work, dammit! I kept my fish alive longer than my plants, but they still died too soon. I also managed to kill a red-headed agama within three days of bringing him home. Perhaps he was already sick – but it added to my paranoia nonetheless.

I am great with furry mammals. They make sense to me. Their needs aren’t too alien relative to my own. The problem with lizards, fish, and especially plants is that they are lifeforms entirely different from me. I can’t relate to them. I don’t recognize what they need intuitively. It’s a lot easier when care come intuitively than from a book.

Well, anyway, I decided I am older (hopefully wiser) now and ready to take on responsibility for an alien lifeform again. I’ve been feeling the plant fever all summer – I need them! I’ve loitered over all the pretty trees and cacti and mossy things in Whole Foods every time I go there. My husband always tells me to get one, and I say no – until now. I got a little “money tree.” I had gone over there planning to get a cacti or something hardy (never mind that I have killed a desert plant already), but the tree spoke to me. I love trees the most. I brought my money tree home, pruned a couple broken branches, sealed the wounds, watered it lightly and brought it with me the next day to keep in my office on campus (so my pets can’t get at it).

If I am to really pass this nature awareness requirement, I need to get over my fear of killing non-mammalian life and get to know some of it more intimately. I can do this!

Meet my new tree, I named her “Pretty Penelope”

Potted Money Tree

I’ve ordered a pebble tray for her – it should be here next week. She will live long and prosper (^^)

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