Omens: The Gods Make Themselves Heard

A black locust tree lays fallen in the author's backyard

I regularly hear people say that they’d need to be hit over the head to notice messages from the Gods, but allow me to stress that if the Gods want to be heard, you will get a clear and obvious message. Those in the Roman community (and likely others that I don’t frequent) regularly discuss ways to read omens, as it’s historically a part of the tradition from birds to entrails. This week I’ve fully cemented a new and obvious way to read omens.

And yes, this was very, VERY serious, but my main defense against life is humor. I’m putting this story out there as a reminder that even with having a place as a teacher, part of the ever-going process of learning means that lessons never stop coming. The Gods make it very clear if they’ve been offended…

Very clear.

Wednesday I went to a labyrinth ceremony with a group of women I’ve spent some time with lately. They are not of my religion. They are not under the same spiritual obligations as I am. It would easy to go on a rant about how New Age is excessively eclectic, but at the same time what works for others and how they approach and the engage the Powers is honestly okay and absolutely none of my business. Our paths are our own.

I spend time in the New Age community, since quite often my interests actually overlap. I take these moments as a lesson in the reciprocal nature of hospitality. I do my best to approach everything I encounter as the best guest I can be, which means that if I choose to interact that I try my hardest not to hold people to my own religious expectations while involving myself in a level that is comfortable to me. If I find tools to be useful, I incorporate them into my practices.

However, the ceremony that took place was far from what I knew to be acceptable in my covenant I enter with my Gods. Trepidation kicked in, but I ignored it figuring it was just me being judgmental. I rolled with the flow of things while trying to see to it that I worked within the perimeters I was greatly aware I couldn’t set aside.

While walking the labyrinth and meditating inside of it, I had a perfectly pleasant chat with my God. The wind picked up. A blue jay called in the distance. He was there, and I was very aware of it. We talked about what the next leg of the walk I’m taking involves in regard to tasks I’m set to do. It wasn’t a deep religious or spiritual experience, but I did see the practical uses of the labyrinth.

During this point, I was told if I kept my eye out, I’d get the message if my offerings were accepted. A crow flew over and called while sitting there afterwards. I didn’t think it was the message, but it tickled in a way that said it was some sort of sign. One of the women noted the way she’d looked to see a larger tree swaying in the wind, but was aware its large roots held it firmly in place. That resonated, but again not the omen.

Afterwards my friend and I went out to lunch. We talked about it and had a nice time. As we drove back to my place, I noticed that in my part of town the winds had picked up. Dust was flying through the air. I thought to myself, “I’ve not seen that happen here before.” But again, I knew it wasn’t the omen I was waiting for.

When I got home, I went out back to ground and was wandering around. The wind had knocked over some of my orchid pots. I was standing and looking up at the branches thinking, “Hello. That’s some pretty violent wind up there,” when suddenly about a foot away I heard the tell tale sound of cracking wood.

In that split second looked over to see which way the tree next to me was falling, and I realized it was safer for my to just stand there instead of running. I watched as the trunk broke off and the tree went down in front of me. My mind quickly went to the promise of an omen on if the offering was accepted, and the words that fell out of my mouth were, “I fucking guess not.”

Okay, they were yelled. I may have peed my pants a little, not gonna lie.

(Meanwhile in Missouri, a tree was falling in the backyard I’d gotten married in. The third and final tree in that yard to fall in the last 4 years.)

I came inside and texted my friend who had been with me that day telling her what was going on. I said that I was going to be burning liver sooner than later to make things right, and needless to say I would not be partaking in any more ceremonies. I was very, very aware suddenly that it was absolutely out of the question for me to engage in spiritual or religious practices where the Gods do not take first precedence. It’s funny how clear these things are when you’ve nearly been taken out by a black locust falling.

Not too much later she texted me. She’d been playing Boggle on her phone and had gotten a few words that seemed eerily out of place and like a message: witch, liver, pyre, Luna, spear, Titans.

Beyond my typical question of if I’m actually a fictional character in a novel, I knew what almost all of these words meant:

Witch: This is how I tend to identify these days when it comes to labels.

Liver and Pyre: Well, as stated I’d just invited my friend over if she wanted to get in on the offering of liver to the Celestials, so I feel like that was explained quickly.

Luna: This one I’m not sure about, but will likely have pop up sooner than later.

Titans: So lately I’ve been pondering the stories of the Gods before the Gods that tend to rest within the Indo-European family. Lately I’ve been wondering if perhaps the clear stories of the Gods putting the order to chaos, sometimes allowing the older Gods to stay around, and generally what those older Gods represent is a narrative that is starting to reflect in my own religious practice. I look for the older Gods in the stories of those we tend to worship. More divination will have to be done to figure out exactly what this message meant, but the word alone confirmed that this was a message.

Spear: Divination needed as to why this was put into the mix, but spears are a regular order of business in messages sent through other people for me. Considering the nature of falling trees, I decided to play it safe and assume that He wanted me to get Him one. When flowers aren’t enough of an I’m sorry, always fall back on the gift of weapons.

So there is my story for the week. I pissed off the Gods enough that they took out a tree in my backyard while I was standing next to it. Divination did reveal that I’m to make a few things out of some of the tree for myself as a reminder of what the Gods want of me along with a few gifts for others. I also have a hand-forged reproduction of a La Tène Era spearhead coming from Great Britain for a new cult piece.

However, the take away from this and the lesson that I will impart is that we do not always have the same covenants with our Gods that the ancients had. But the Heavenly Ones won’t hold back in letting you know what They want from you. May you not have a tree dropped on you while figuring out what those rules are, my friends.

 

 

 

The Tempest of February

I may not have much to update with in the next few months, since life is pretty intense currently.  These things happened last month:

  1. I was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation Type 1 of the brain, which means my brain has slumped down in my skull and the cerebellum’s tonsils have fallen out the bottom into my neck.  Just slightly.  Enough that I have symptoms.  Which means I’m facing a very likely possibility of skull/brain surgery (and/or spinal cord surgery) in the next few years.  Ideally after my husband is done with his residency.
  2. My husband was gone for half the month interviewing for residencies.  We’ll know in 23 days if he was accepted to one of them, and if he has been, we’ll move in June or July.  So now I’m working to get things thinned down to bare minimums around here.  I may have some shrine tools and pretties going up for sale.  I’ll post them here.
  3. Pony was diagnosed with ASD (specifically what would have been considered as Asperger’s before) last week.  This came as no surprise to us, but due to the fact she’s able to pass as neurotypical in most situations I have had no less than 3 people question the diagnosis.  This week has been a blur of phone calls, more evaluations, and trying to figure out what will be in her best interest and not just what they suggest to come off as neurotypical.
  4. I got everything in line to get my wheelchair built for me and should be getting it in about 9 weeks or so.  I’m excited about it, because by the time it gets here I may need to rely on it due to fatigue while I recover.

 

A Perfect April Day

DSC01421

The Kalends isn’t over, but we’re taking a moment to rest in our day.  For me that means I get to do what seems to be becoming a job, but is still basically a hobby (This is my justification for it today, since I have always tried to not “work” on the Kalends, Nones, and Ides).

Yesterday over at my blog on Witches & Pagans’ PaganSquare, I wrote about my plans to observe the Kalends with my 3-year-old daughter for the first time.  The day is only half-way over, but I’ve been so moved by how the day has unfolded that I couldn’t wait to post.

My daughter had breakfast, and I had coffee with a few peanuts.  I fast for the Kalends, Nones, and Ides from sunset the night before, but my health issues require I don’t do a full fast these days.  I don’t feel that 3 is old enough to fast, but I explained why it was I wasn’t having my normal breakfast to her.

After breakfast we went out to find a stick to make our windchimes with.  We put it together while I explained that it was to bring good fortune and help protect us.

We went out to our front step.  I gave her the little broom she has, and together we swept off the step, making sure it was clean for where we were going to set up our offering.  We sat down the offering bowl.  Then we carried the tray off offerings out.

I showed her how to cover her head with a veil, and offered her a silk scarf I had picked out for this moment.  It’s a smaller one I bought years ago, and it was the perfect size for her.  She was so excited to have a veil to wear like mine that she kept it around her shoulders for quite some time afterwards.

I showed her how to hold her hands while praying, upturned to the sky.  She didn’t keep them that way, but I’ll be sure to demonstrate this position each time I pray in front of her to reinforce it.

And then came the offerings and prays.  I poured a little water into her special pitcher for her to put into the bowl, and she had picked tortilla chips (one of her favorite foods) to give to Janus, Juno, and the Lares today.  I offered the prayer and then directed her to pour and place chips into the offering bowl for each.

I admit that I am rarely moved to tears during rituals.  In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever cried during a formal ritual.  But as I sat there watching her pour and offer, her sweet face peaking out under her veil, I felt my heart grow 10 sizes with joy and pride.  My eyes welled up with tears.

We hung up our windchimes.

Afterwards we sat on the front step, watching the birds.  She asked me while looking around, “Where are the Gods?”

I chuckled.  I couldn’t help it.  She was clearly disappointed They’d not manifested in a way she could clearly see.  So I quietly explained that the Gods show themselves as birds, as the feel of the wind, that They are everywhere.  They are in the plants and the flowers.  They are inside of us, and They are the love we have for each other.

As I explained this, my arm wrapped around her little body, I understood this on a whole different level than I had before.

I thanked her for teaching me that lesson.

NaNoWriMo is Coming!

This is basically just a note to say that November will likely be quiet on this blog, because I’ve decided to embark on writing a novel for NaNoWriMo.  So if you’re doing that, too, you can find me at the username: DaizzyMegs.  I’m considering possibly posting a small weekly excerpt, but I’m not fully decided.

Fall Equinox Conversations at the Foxglove House

Background: Mr Foxglove is an agnostic humanist.  He is pro-raising our children Polytheist/Pagan as long as we stress that it’s the duty in our life to help our fellow man simply because it’s the right thing to do instead of where we go afterwards, which obviously fits in with my worldview perfectly.  After this many years, though, Mr Foxglove has developed some rather peculiar Pagan outlooks on things and is in complete denial about it…  I am starting to record them, because while it’s maddening to me, it’s kind of hilarious at the same time.

Today’s conversation thus far…

Mr Foxglove: Hey, what are we going to do for the Fall Equinox?

Camilla: I hadn’t really planned on much for the family this year.  My tradition states this is when Apollon begins his journey towards Hyperborea for the winter, so prayers and offerings for that.

Mr Foxglove: Heh.  Apollon goes to Florida for the winter…

Camilla: No!  He goes to Hyper- Actually, that’s pretty accurate.

Summer Bounty

DSC01096Hail to the Gods, Big and Small, the Lares and Genii for providing my house with the bounty of summer.  Hail to the Penates for keeping these treasures safe until we are able to enjoy them.

 

Ehlers-Danlos, Hypermobility, and Finally Finding Answers to Chronic Illness (Subtitle: Where I’m At)

I have been quiet lately. I have a lot on my plate. I am behind in life and everything I have promised to others. I am sick and tired constantly. This is a flare. The pain is always looming on the edge of my bodily perception. The bermuda grass is taking over my garden outside, and as I continue to find myself sick feeling if outside in the sun too long I’m beginning to pack away the dreams of a farm. Maybe next life.

We’ve traveled a lot in the last couple months. My husband’s mother was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, so we have been traveling back and forth to see her as she goes through radiation and chemo. We went and visited my father in Iowa for the first time in 4 years. Travel makes me sick. I’m finding as I get older (because 33 feels ancient in this body), it’s getting harder and harder to recover from the pain and fatigue from a long car ride.

After nearly 20 years of trying to find an answer to my chronic fatigue and pain, I was diagnosed last month with benign joint hypermobility disorder. That’s an outdated term for joint hypermobility disorder, which is also likely a full-blown case of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility Type.

We’d worried I had Lupus. We looked at the criteria for Fibromyalgia and nodded slowly. We found that I was genetically at-risk for Celiac Disease, and considering how we discovered my bipolar disorder was actually a severe case of gluten-intolerance we suspected that I did, in fact, have Celiac Disease. It was just that I’ll never be able to confirm it, because after being off wheat for my daughter’s food problems as an infant taught me that I can no longer eat gluten without getting violently ill. There’s also an egg allergy/intolerance thrown into the mix.

But even with the food issues worked out for myself, I was still in constant pain. I was still sick. I was finally sent to a rheumatologist with a full lab work up saying I was slightly insufficient in vitamin D and had inflammation… And a history saying that my liver freaks out any time I get put on a new medication and starts eating itself.

At the end of 4 hours split between 2 appointments and 5 rheumatologists (at a teaching clinic), I came home angry that all of my problems could be blamed on being double jointed. They might not have spent enough time explaining things to me. When I started googling, though, the final puzzle piece fell into place and I realized that they were, in fact, correct.

I have Joint Hypermobility Disorder, which depending on what expert you talk to is also Ehlers-Danlos Hypermobility Type. This means that I am incredibly flexible, which I could have sworn was supposed to be a good thing. What it really means, though, is that my muscles are weak and fatigued constantly, because they are working overtime to keep my joints from dislocating…

Because my joints dislocate or subluxate (slip in and out of place), or they do anything in between those two things. It’s painful. I’ve dislocated a hip in my sleep. I’ve dislocated my back bending over to pet my cat. My neck is so weak that I recently cut my hair, because long hair was giving me severe headaches due to the weight it was putting on my neck. I am tired all the time, because my spine compresses and causes severe, burning nerve pain up my back down to my toes.

I fall sometimes. My ankle rolls, and suddenly I’m on the ground.

EDS is a genetic callogen defect. Collagen is the glue of the body, and it’s in most of your body. Mine doesn’t work right, and because of that some days I feel like I’m falling apart. This has been going on since I was a teenager, at 14 my knees started going out. I had a doctor tell me at 16 that my sciatica was simply due to being obese and having poor posture, because, you know, sciatica is really common in 16-year-olds.

My pregnancy was a nightmare, but I couldn’t get my OB to listen to me, because she’d had a bit of back pain while pregnant and it was normal…  Except many women end up in wheel chairs and destroying their backs with pregnancy when they have this, and, oh right, epidurals?  They don’t work, because local anesthetic doesn’t work.

The funny thing is that beyond the pain and fatigue, I thought all of this was normal. Despite it being a rare disease, both of my parents have these problems to varying degrees. My grandmothers on both side had problems

With this I most likely have an autonomic nervous system problem, which causes my heart and blood pressure to do crazy things throughout the day making me feel weak, dizzy, ill, and anxious. My heart races. I find myself having a hard time breathing. Apparently this isn’t normal? Apparently it’s not just anxiety.

Apparently it’s normal for a person with EDS/JHS to be diagnosed with a million things, including mental illnesses, because doctors learn this is a rare disease they will probably never see. It took me nearly 20 years to get a diagnosis, more if you count my stomach problems that started at 9.

My husband is now working on getting his own diagnosis for EDS (I would have preferred the odds be used towards winning the lottery instead of us both having the same rare disease, thanks). Our GP looked shocked and said, “I’ve never actually seen this before. I’m going to have to research more,” when he pulled his skin away from his arm and neck to show how it stretches…  Well, after she cringed and gave a very professional “Ew.”

I don’t plan on this becoming a blog about my chronic illness, but I probably will vent from time-to-time about it. This is a personal blog, after all, and I talk about my life here. This is a huge part of my life. Now my life is filled with physical therapy appointments and starting next week cognitive behavioral therapy to help me manage the pain and anxiety that has developed due to pain and what we thought were panic attacks.

Mainly I just wanted everyone to know I’m still here. I’m still alive. I’m working on stuff for the blog this afternoon, including videos! I’m working on getting thank you notes written, but truth be told I’m slow because lately my hands haven’t been wanting to hold pens much… Which doesn’t bode well for my art. Little bit at a time. I will get things done.

More on EDS: http://www.ednf.org/
More on Hypermobility Disorder: http://www.hypermobility.org

The Last 7 Months in Review

Sheesh, I took a break on a negative note last year.  Things got stressful and crazy.  Things continued to be stressful and crazy.  Yet somehow my head didn’t explode.  My goal at this point is to return to blogging with a post a week.  I have a two-month-old.  I’m not sure this is going to happen, but it’s worth a shot.

Anyway, the wee one is sleeping, so I get a chance to try to give a quick update of life events in the last 7 months.

October:

I found out we were having a girl!  She quickly receives the nickname Pony, and this is most likely what I will refer to her as on this blog.

There was a knife fight in our cul-de-sac.

I get sick while in Kansas City taking classes and need to go home.  My mother drove to get me because Mr. NaW was unable to.  Her car broke down in the garage of the hotel.  We are unable to find a car to rent to get home, because Nascar is in the city for the weekend.  My friend from the program was leaving early that evening, and we were able to hitch a ride to a distance Mr. NaW was able to pick us up.

November:

We were looking to buy a house, but were turned down for a mortgage – Not surprising considering the amount of student loan debt involved, but disappointing since we’d found a place on the outskirts of town we really, really liked that we felt we could afford.

I start feeling really sick when eating.  I realize that I most likely have gestational diabetes, but my OB didn’t seem too concerned with getting it diagnosed until further along in the pregnancy.

One night Mr. NaW and I are sitting in our living room and hear gunshots.  We call 911 after ducking for cover.  The police find unspent bullets in our front yard, because one of our (numerous) bad neighbors managed to drop them while shooting at whomever they were shooting at.

We went to Arkansas for Thanksgiving.  About ten minutes after getting home, the police are knocking on my door wanting to know if we knew anything about the burglary next door.  A week later the same thing happened.  It’s at this point that we became desperate to find another place to live.  Fast.  We’d had enough.

We found an awesome duplex for cheap with a fenced in yard and beautiful view out the back window.  Best of all, we would be surrounded by couples and widows who are all older than us.  The family that is renting it approves us without even doing a background check.

December:

I manage to get through giving a 20 minute presentation on my business plan despite being unmedicated for my social anxiety disorder.  I graduate from my ag business program.

I am still really sick from food.  I’m not shocked when I’m diagnosed around Christmas with gestational diabetes.  I end up having to go onto medication because diet was unable to control it.

We start moving across town at the end of the month.  We don’t finish until February.  We love our new place, but I will never move again while pregnant.

January:

I finally have my blood sugar under control, and am feeling better.  We’re still stressing about moving.  My blood pressure starts looking kind of strange, but it’s chalked up to my social anxiety disorder and my OB’s waiting room.

February:

About the time I start nesting at the beginning of the month, I wind up in the hospital for observation due to my blood pressure.  I get diagnosed with gestational hypertension, which means I’ll have to be induced a week earlier than my due date.  It also lands me in the full-blown high risk category for my pregnancy.  I have biophysical profiling and an appointment once a week because of it.  I also get stuck on bed rest.

The next day I go into latent labor that comes and goes for the next month.  Yes, I was technically in labor for a month.

March:

My glucose readings are no longer controlled by medication.  I have access amniotic fluid that makes me measure way beyond 42 weeks.  My blood pressure is a mess.  We bump up induction to the beginning of week 39.

I go in on a Sunday to be induced.  After 36 hours of labor with back labor that wasn’t covered by the epidural and 3 hours of pushing, Pony is born via forceps delivery.  At some point I might just write out her birth story, but I’m currently pretty traumatized by it.

5 hours after birth.

I struggle with being a mom and recovering from a third degree laceration from delivery.  They only give me 3 days worth of pain medication.  I wind up in urgent care and on blood pressure medication, because my blood pressure is completely out of control.  I go back onto preclampsia watch for a month.

My mother stays with us for two weeks helping take care of the baby.  I am absolutely terrified when she finally starts going home at night instead of staying with us, because I am drugged to the gills and dealing with blood pressure issues.  On top of this, Pony is recovering from a broken collar bone from delivery and suffering from gastrointestinal distress.

We start what end up being weekly trips to the pediatrician because she is constantly screaming from gas and spitting up large amounts of breast milk when she eats.  We get told it’s normal.  I already know at this point that it’s not.

Her body breaks out in a rash.  I, once again, get told it’s normal, but my gut tells me it’s not.

Pony starts projectile vomiting towards the end of the month, and we find ourselves dealing with an inconsolable baby who is screaming and crying up to 20 hours a day.

April:

March blends into April.  At some point we rule out pyloric stenosis via ultrasound, but the reflux Pony is suffering continues to get worse.  I’m starting to suspect a food allergy.  The doctor had already suggested I cut out “gassy food,” but didn’t really think that would help.

I cut out caffeine and obvious dairy.  Some symptoms get better.  Some continue to get worse.

The entire family comes down with a wicked RSV infection.  Pony gets her first trip to the ER at 6 weeks after breathing difficulty, but is not admitted for observation.  We spend the next 4 days wanting to die from our own illness while taking care of a miserable newborn.

Our doctor finally writes a prescription for Zantac for the reflux.  For the first time since she was born, we actually get to see a bit of Pony’s personality instead of just a baby in terrible pain.  Some things get better.  Other things continue to get worse.

Pony is breastfeeding every 45 minutes to an hour and refuses to take a bottle so I can get some rest.  I get told that if I want to breastfeed, I won’t be able to go back on medication for bipolar disorder.

By this point I’m convinced we have food allergies or sensitivities on our hands, but I can’t get a single doctor to agree with us.  Our lactation consultant, however, completely agrees with us.  She also helps us start to teach Pony to drink from a cup after a supplemental feeder wouldn’t work on Mr. NaW’s finger.  And she shows me a list of medications I can safely take if I need to for my mental heath.

I begin working on correcting an oversupply issue and an overactive let-down.

I decide to cut hidden dairy and wheat out of my diet.  Pony gets slightly better and continues to after just a few days.  I eat soy sauce.  Things get ugly.  I cut soy, too.  Things start getting better again.

May:

We still have no idea exactly what we’re dealing with in regards to our daughter’s health, but we have all the symptoms of food allergies.  She is still in pain from the reflux and gas.  She doesn’t spit up or vomit as much since cutting food out.

Two days ago we tried to start her on vitamins only to find blood in her stools and all the symptoms of an allergy come back in horrible ways.  We discontinued use and she’s doing better.  I have yet to hear back from the company about what allergen derivatives are in their vitamins, but obviously there was something.

We have her 2-month appointment this week.  I will be pressing the allergy issue more and requesting testing for Celiac Disease be done for her.  Along with appointments for me, since I’m STILL dealing with postpartum issues physically.  I won’t be tested for gluten-intolerance until after I’m done breastfeeding.  Having already cut it out, I think I’m actually starting to feel a bit better in regard to pain, but time will tell.

Say hello to Pony @ 2 months

Anyway…  That has been what I’ve been up to.  Hopefully at some point I’ll catch up on others’ blogs and see how everyone I’ve followed is doing.