Tuesday, April 27, 2010

When I Speak of Myself part 1

Oh, you thought I'd forgotten about this huh? Suckers...

I think it's about time to get a little more personal in this whole conversation, to give people an greater understanding on where I get some of my ideas from.

Let's start with the basics...I was raised Irish Catholic. The cultural modifier is important, because for as pagan as Roman Catholicism appears, it ain't got nothin' on the Irish. Mima got to actually visit Ireland when she was younger, and while on a train ride she asked another woman if she believed in the "Little People". The woman responded, "Tsk, I'm a modern woman I am! Of course I don't believe in the Little People...but they're there just the same."

This pretty much exemplifies the Irish, at least as far as I was raised. I went to Catholic school, and was given all the liturgy and dogma, I learned the "stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight" pattern to the mass, sang the songs, did the dance...blah, blah, blah...and at home, when I asked my parents if animals went to heaven, because teacher said they didn't, I was told, "Of course they do."

I was also taught to make a wish on the New Moon over my left shoulder, to throw spilled salt over my shoulder, and that my Godmother and Mima could do magick.

I loved Yahweh, as my child's mind separated him from Jehova (who was kinda a douche, with all the plagues and smiting...), and loved Jesus cuz he seemed a really cool guy. But then there was the Blessed Mother...(you can prolly see where this is goin'... ;) )

Then I was told that I couldn't be an alter girl, like my worshiped older brother. That was pretty much the beginning of the end. I got the High School and read the Epic of Gilgamesh (in my freshman religion class...no, I'm not sure how that works either, but that teacher only lasted a year...), and generally realized that I didn't much like the god of the bible. I was reading a lot of mythology and fantasy and was *really* liking this whole "goddess" idea.

And then my Mother died.

I say without exaggeration that this single event has more impact on my life than any other. The ramifications continue to inform my decisions and probably will for the rest of my days.

While I was struggling with the anger and grief of not only the event, but with how my family shattered because of it, I discovered that I did not like the idea of my Mother in some distant heaven, so far removed and untouchable to me. And I sure wasn't even going to imagine that there was *any* remote possibility of a hell. F' that.

It was right around that time I discovered some books on Celtic mythology and learned about Tir nAn Og, or the Summerlands, the Land of Youth. Souls would rest and review their lives, learning their lessons and awaiting their beloveds so they could be born again together. Something in me wanted this so badly that I simply couldn't conceive of anything else.

Being a teen, I was pretty angry. Being a teen that had lost a Mother, had a crazy Father and Sister...I was raging. It bothered me that I was so angry all the time, so when my school gave us an opportunity to go to confession, I went, hoping that the priest could give me some idea of how to deal with myself. Looking back, I can say that I feel sorry for the priest...he simply didn't know what to do with me. I hadn't sinned, and he wasn't a psychologist. I don't blame him for the lack of solace I received from confession.

Walking back to class I went through a grassy patch. It had been watered and the cool sprinkles tickled my ankles...and I felt better. I don't know how to explain it other than all the anger I carried at that moment wooshed out of me through my feet and into the ground. the back to back events and how reacted to them remain a turning point in the development of my spirituality.

Later that year I dedicated myself to the Goddess under a Full Moon. I was 15 and wanted something other than what I had been taught in church growing up. I wanted a place where woman were not only not discriminated against, but were held in high esteem. I wanted magick to not only be possible, but expected every day. I wanted the ground beneath my feet to be sacred and not something to just be dominated. I wanted animals to have souls, and babies not to have to worry about "original sin" (I poked a badger with a spoon!). I wanted joy and love and laughter again. These I all received, like gifts, along with all the cool toys! (I got rocks and candles, beautiful smelling oils and incense, a rockin' awesome dagger for my athame, cloaks and robes, goblets and eventually a teeny, tiny baby cauldron...and then the metric ton of beautiful jewelry.)

I also, finally, got the sense that there was something else out there. Something that loved me, looked out for me, and wanted me to be bigger than I was, as big as I could be. It connected me to the earth beneath my feet and the vast universe above. Connected me to every living thing on the planet. It was a very good start.

When I was 18, I went to my Baccalaureate Mass (the last Mass you go to before graduating High School and become an adult) conscious of the fact that I was no longer Christian. It was my formal good bye.

It's been 20 years now since that night under the Full Moon and I am more comfortable now within my spirit than I was so long ago. Everything that I looked for I am still finding, and I choose consciously, everyday, to continue down the moonlit path. I can only hope that everyone finds this same sense of peace and joy in their spirit...it is a wonder indeed.

Well, I think I've rambled about myself for long enough. Next time I'll talk about the evolution of my ethics, and how they tie into my spirituality, and the epiphany I had over the course of a year. And *then* I think I'll go back and respond to my good friend's response to my response to her response of my post which was a response to her response of my post...woah...dizzy...

Thank you for reading, I am honored.

Till next time...Goddess bless,
Red ;)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Stonewise: Amber

banner amber
This is the original banner created for my first Myspace page. All of those pieces are mine, the photo was taken by Ardriana.

It's still April, which is my month (yes, all of it...), so for today's Stonewise, I want to look at the stone that intellectually is my favorite. I love it beyond reason, though it is not the same as with Rose Quartz. >.>

First we'll take a look at what Ardriana has to say:

Amber is fossilized tree sap. Colors are lemon yellow, honey gold, cognac, black, off white, green and blue (brzzt! Blue Amber?!? Why haven't I see this before?!?).

One quick Google search later and we have, Dominican Blue Amber, which is best seen against a black background (this is the same for Green Amber...without the background, light filters through the stone and you only see hints of the color inside).

Pretty cool, huh?

This stuff is rare, expensive and beautiful...should I ever be able to afford a real piece of this stuff...*le sigh* ^^

Anyroad...as I was saying...

The oldest deposit discovered to date was found in 260 million year old Permian limestone in Russia's Ural Mountains near the Chekarda River. Triassic Amber from the Mesozoic Era tends to have a dark red hue and ranges from 240 to 208 million years old. Tertiary Amber comes form the Cenozoic Era and is much younger at 66-1.6 million years old (younger...LOL!) In the U.S. Mesozoic Amber can be found along the eastern coast. More than 1000 extinct species of insects have been identified in amber.

History: Amber took on great value and significance to, among others, the Assyrians, Egyptians, Etruscans, Phoenicians and the Greeks. Amber resin contains aromatic chemicals called terpenes which make them volatile, or flammable. Burning Amber as incense has been done for thousands of years.

Folklore: Stone Age man imbued Amber with supernatural properties and used it to wear and to worship. One myth surrounding the origin of Amber is givin to use by Ovid. when Phaeton, a son of Phoebus (the Sun) convinced his father to allow him to drive the chariot of the sun across the sky for a day, he drove to close to the earth, setting it on fire. To save the earth, Jupiter struck him out of the sky with his thunderbolt and he died. His mother and sister turned into poplar trees in their grief but it did not end their mourning him. Their tears, dried by the sun, turned to Amber.

Another ancient writer, Nicias, said that Amber was from the setting sun congealed in the Baltic Sea and cast up on the shore where, "the sun takes a bath in the sea". In Eastern Europe, it is said that honey from the mountains of Ajan was melted by the sun and solidified into Amber by the sea. The Chinese think that Amber is the petrification of the soul of the dead Tiger, and so think that it gives strength and courage. Sacred to the Goddess Freya, who possessed the magic Amber necklace "Brisingamen". Emblem of the earth goddess. It is one of the two organic fossil stones (the other being Jet) used in a Wiccan High Priestess' necklace of rank.

Magick: The nature of Amber is tree bearing, organic, sun ruled, intellectual, liquid, flammable and attractive. Despite its yellow color and although influenced by its Solar affinities, Amber is an earth stone, a gift from ancient trees. (Pagan author Scott Cunningham says it's a fire stone due to its flammable quality and because it is yellow it is often called an air stone.)

Use this "Tiger blood" stone for courage and strength. Or choose the "Sun blessed" aspect of these honey stones to enhance beauty. When placed on the altar, it increases the effectiveness of your spells. because of its "electrostatic" attributes, use to increase attractiveness, both physically and intellectually. "The blood of the sun" aspect imbues the stone as both a good fortune and protective amulet. With Amber's ancient organic perspective, perhaps it can warm a cool heart and help one find joy and humor in life.

Woah...that's a lot of stuff...

How I use it in my jewelry...right now I use it mostly in my Sunset Anklet, which is three colors of Amber and two colors of Tiger's Eye. I do have plans to make a Sun design to compliment the Moon one I already have, mebbe in the next week or so, since I think I finally have the stones I want to use...

It's strange how I love Amber for it's organic metamorphosis (I love Petrified Wood for the same reason), but I have totally internalized the Sun qualities of the stone. In fact, I mostly don't care for Amber set in silver, as it is the lunar metal, and prefer it to be set in gold (one of the few times where my taste in jewelry gets expensive >.>). Liquid drops of the sun, crystallized fire...strength, beauty, the magick of transformation, these are the attributes I see the most when I think about Amber.

I love how light it is, and how it has a "plastic-y" feel to it, so unique in the stone world. I love that it is smooth, though always just a little bit tacky, like it's solidified honey, and with enough warmth it'll flow between your hands. When I discovered cognac Amber, I just about died, I thought the deep red wine color was so beautiful. It's still my favorite, though I have come to love all Amber to some degree or another. I love that green (and blue apparently) Amber has a magic trick to it to see the real colors (this is why you'll find green Amber with a coating of black on the backs of cabochons).

Despite how light it is, you can feel the weight of the years and history behind Amber, it's set apart from other semi-precious stones because of it. All of these things add up to make Amber one of my favorite stones of all time. In the first pic in this piece, there's a large nugget in the center. I got that at the New Pioneer, in West Yellowstone, MT, and after Richard let me take it out of the display case, I held it in my left hand, against my waist, while I looked at other stuff in the store. Even when I was going through the big tumbled stone bin, I did it one handed because I couldn't let go of the Amber. I growled at people who wanted to see it (jokingly...yeah... >.>) and didn't let it out of my sight till I had a receipt that said it was mine.

I do have to confess that I am still a bit snobby about Amber, and prefer the more clear pieces. I'm actually not a huge fan of the milky pieces, and I would rather not have a ton of the "sun spangles". The clarity of the color is what draws me to it.

Well, thank you for wading all the way through this long post. Amber isn't a stone you can just say a few words about, and I probably haven't even done it justice. But hopefully you still understand a little more about why I do what I do.

Till next time, be well,

Monday, April 12, 2010

When I Speak of Religion 2

I have not forgotten the conversation that started with last month's "If Your Religion..." post, I've just let it percolate a bit more before responding...yeah, that's it. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

After the last installment, my friend responded,

The way you speak about religion/spirituality often seems to boil down to those last four words: "always meet your needs." This is the part that I can't quite get past. My whole faith revolves around God, not around me (or at least this is what I strive for). Of course I believe that God loves me more than any human ever could, and that God wants absolutely the best for me, and that God will take care of me and my needs. So my needs do end up being met by my religion/spirituality. But that's just not my starting point, nor is it my bottom line, nor is it the centre of what I believe. My faith is a response to something outside of myself, and to me it seems sad and small to imagine a spirituality that revolves around an individual human.


To the extent that I agree with your "if your religion" posts, it is always because I agree that what you're saying is also what God wants for us. I do disagree with the starting point/bottom line/core belief I am perceiving in your posts that a person's religion must serve their needs. I am theocentric in my beliefs, not anthropocentric. Our ends are often the same, but our means seem to be different, and I believe that the means do matter.

I can absolutely see the issue with the way I've been explaining things. She a good, kind, generous person, who I am lucky to count as a friend, and as such, is actually about the last person I would be talking to in these matters. She absolutely exemplify what I'm talking about when I say that a person's belief system should help them to be "happy and good". If we had about a billion more like her, the world would instantly and irrevocably be a better place.

Everything works out great if one believes that God's plan for them holds nothing more than kindness, generosity, love and joy. But what about those people who believe that God's plan for them is blowing up a train full of people? Or that they are compelled to stick their infant son full of needles? Or to shun someone because of the color of their skin, or because of who they love? What about the plans of a god who is jealous, vengeful, hateful, murderous and cruel?

When one lets an outside force tell them how to behave or think or live, they are at the mercy of that outside force. They could get lucky and have a completely benevolent model, or not. If instead we were to insist on being conscious of our behavior, active instead of passive. Insist on behavior that does the least harm possible and then model our spirituality to alleviate our fears and sorrows from there, the responsibility would then be in our hands and not at the whim of something/one else.

The concept of truth comes up a lot when talking about religion. Seems that one cannot talk about belief in a religion without linking it back to the truth. But if everyone's got it, how can we ever be certain who has the really real truth?

Set aside the desire for the truth for a moment, and consider the possibility of religion for spirit's sake, for wisdom's sake. Let them worship cross-eyed frogs (thanks Mima), and believe in the endless lily pad for an afterlife. Consider religion for no other purpose than to help someone live as good and happy a life as they can be. Understand that generosity, ethical behavior, participation, consideration, and awareness among other virtues, are all absolutely essential. Now, why does it matter that they don't believe the same as someone else, and are unconcerned with the truth?

When a system is set up to include concepts like true/false and right/wrong conflict is automatically included when dealing with those outside of the system. This to me is a fundamental flaw within most religions, and further proof that religion is politics and not spirituality. The means have become more important than the end, and very often the end that was supposed to be there just vanishes altogether.

With the equation, "Mine is right, yours is wrong," aggression is very often the response, because of the fear of being revealed a fraud or a fool. Any sort of resolution ends with someone losing and someone winning. This is counter productive. If instead it was, "Mine is mine, yours is yours," where's the aggression? There's no fear, but instead a connection to the end, rather than the means.

I hope this clarifies things. :)

Till next time, be well,

Friday, April 9, 2010

Stonewise: Rose Quartz

First I have to say that I know I owe you guys quite a bit of writing. It's been sitting in the back of my head and I just need to take the time to get it down...I will, I promise.

So, on with the show...it's my birthday today! Which is why I'm doing this special Stonewise now. And no, it's not my birthstone, which is diamond, but rather the stone I have the deepest fascination with...Rose Quartz.

And now a word from our spons...er ...Ardriana!

The pink form of Quartz is created by iron or titanium impurities. Usually massive, uncut crystals are rare. The rare transparent Rose Quartz from Madagascar is called Rosaline. Star Rose Quartz is also uncommon. Presently the world's highest quality Rose Quartz is coming out of Madagascar (further proof that all things awesome come from Madagascar. Say it with me...Madagascar!).

Folklore: Traditionally, babies have been given Rose Quartz to help them during their transformation from the spirit world to their physical world. The gentle pink glow produces a nurturing, calming and gentling effect, which helps them adjust to their new environment.

History: Beads of Rose Quartz have been found in Mesopotamia that date back to 7000 BCE. Rose Quartz was used by the Assyrians as early as 800-600 BCE. In later times it was extremely popular with the Romans for making seals. These seals were used in clay or various dyes to show ownership or to identify authors.

Magick: One can't describe the attributes of this stone without using the adjective "gentle". Rose Quartz is the definitive stone for love and intimacy in all relationships. This stone is used to open one's heart and enhance generosity. It is love attracting and love enhancing. It promotes peace, happiness and fidelity in established relationships. It is *the* friendship stone. It soothes worry and anxiety with its gentling qualities. Heals emotional wounds. Comforts and heals the child within.

So why did I choose to write about Rose Quartz today? Because it is the stone I am most deeply fascinated by. I could own one meeelion pieces and still want the one that's over there. I have a large sphere with a natural star in it (very rare!) and every time I buy tumbled stones, one or two chunks find their way into my bag or tray.

But it's PINK! Argh! Why?? It's almost embarrassing how Rose Quartz sings to me, I can't help myself. I don't even *like* pink! I'm a redhead, I don't wear it, I *am* it! It's just...ooh, look at the subtle amber rose of this one...or how frosty this one is...see this inclusion here, it looks like a river...look at it under the light and you can see... *sigh*

It used to frustrate me that the stone I was most attracted to was so...sissy. There's others I love with more consciousness, like Rainbow Obsidian, Amber, Brecciated Jasper, Petrified Wood, I have reasons that I love them, and can tell them to you. Rose Quartz? You got me...

But then again, maybe it's not such a mystery. All of my life I have been told that I was a good friend. A best friend. A sister unlooked for. Generous to a fault. Trusting, loving, giving...kind and sweet, a living embodiment of the qualities of Rose Quartz.

When debating whether Rose Quartz is a Fire or a Water stone, Ardriana says:

The first level of Fire's passion is carnal, it's all blind head and thoughtless impulse. But that kind of passion burns hot and fizzles fast. That fleeting passion doesn't even come close to the white hot intensity of real love. A person may weep to hear that a good sex partner is no longer available, but the same person will jump in front of a train to save someone the love. The fire that will not die - that's passion! And that is how I love. That is why, Friendship, which is the core and true basis of all love, is my greatest passion.

I'd try to say this in my own words...but it's just a futile effort, hers are always better.

But it's true, the fierceness I feel about the people I love doesn't diminish with time or distance or silence. It remains the same today as it was yesterday, a month ago, a year, ten years...it'll be the same tomorrow. I don't know how to not to.

In my jewelry, I have a friendship piece. It's subtle, eloquent, just Rose Quartz with Crystal or Smokey Quartz for accent.

Wear to attract friends or give to someone you already love.

I also use it in my Desire design. The Rose Quartz offers something more than that fiery burst of passion that dissipates. No other stone I know has such a definite use magickally. There's really no argument, no other interpretation, only shades of the same intention.

I love this stone irrationally. I have *way* more pieces than any one person could ever want or need, and I will end up buying more...it'll just happen whether I want to or not. It is the stone that defines me, represents me, embarrassing or not. ;)

Blessings to each and every one of you, may all your days be full of Love, Light and Laughter!

Breithl√° Sona! (Happy Birthday!)
Bhen Rudha