A New Blog for the New Year

For those of you who are reading my blog with an interest the topics of disability, jewelry, and/or art, I have decided to move a lot of this over to a new blog: Wunderkammer by C. Laurentine.

This blog is going to be focused mainly on religious, spiritual, and death-related topics along with mental health specifically in the Pagan and Polytheist communities.  I’ve decided to do this due to fear that my religious blog was going to be overtaken by my activist work and my art.  It felt kind of weird and not right for some reason.  There will be cross-over from time-to-time, but don’t worry!  I will be sure to post links and reblog when appropriate.

And for those who are here for religion specifically but are raising children, I’m going to spend the next year over at my PaganSquare blog talking on the subject of Syncretic Roman Polytheism and how I’m bumbling through religious education with a pre-schooler.

I look forward to hearing from and talking to everyone in the upcoming year!

On the River and the Flooding

We in Columbia aren’t experiencing the massive flooding that’s hit around the state at a devastating rate that in some places is surpassing the floods of 93, which I’m old enough to remember very clearly.

I haven’t been out to see where the Missouri River is at.  I almost can’t bring myself to even think about it.  I have a specific cultic practice towards the Matronae attached to the Missouri that eventually I will get around to writing the booklet for, and this winter’s flood of the major rivers to me shows the massive arrogance of man thinking they can control the will of living Place.

My great-grandfather was one of the Army Corp of Engineer members that worked to control the Missouri River, which turned the Missouri River from a feared natural waterway into something completely different than what Lewis and Clark experienced…  And in turn it has been a natural disaster.  He is remembered dearly as a conservationist, an early one at that, so I wonder sometimes if he knew that this would happen.

While there are obviously less boats sinking on both the Missouri and Mississippi these days, we see over and over again that the levies we keep building to protect development we build on flood plains continue to make flooding worse.  The water has to go somewhere, and the fact that we’ve yet to realize that we need to respect the natural course of the rivers and the space they need to relieve themselves of too much water is, to me, a travesty all on its own.

Our community needs to settle into our understanding of our rivers and the Powers behind them.  We need to have our hands in the silt and clay, rebuilding what our not-so-distant Ancestors decided were ours to tamper with.  We need to find ourselves helping to bring these living landforms, ever evolving and changing, back into balance.

When I look at the Missouri River, or even the Mississippi, I see a caged creature that has been cut up and mutilated in some sort of twisted reconstructive surgery in our hands so that it conforms to what we want of it.  I see mankind’s willingness to force its will onto everything around it.  Rivers aren’t domesticated livestock.  Rivers are living entities who don’t really give a crap if they destroy our homes and businesses when we build in their spaces that they historically flow into when necessary.  The more we tamper with them, the more damage we do to the world around us, even if it helps our own existence.  But that’s not something a big river is going to put up with when it’s bloated and uncomfortable from the rain.

They are bigger than us.  We can try to control them all that we want, but time and time again we continue to see that it doesn’t work.  The water has to go somewhere.

 

Give Away and General Note

I’m alive.  I’m dealing with family and health of both the mental and physical variety currently.  The focus has been on creating physical items lately for me, because I’m forcing myself to stay grounded.

A copper bun pin with 4 pink pearls at the top laying on a dark gray bookWith that said, over on my Facebook page for my jewelry, Wunderkammer by C. Laurentine, I’m hosting a give-away for a bun pick.  I’ve pinned the post to the top of my page, so it should hopefully be easy to find.

The winner will receive their choice of plain or pink, gray, or white pearl copper pick.

Hope everyone is doing well during the holidays!

Self-Promotion Thursday: New Jewelry and an Early Sale Announcement!

It’s been a while since I’ve put up new jewelry pictures and links, so I’m going to work harder at getting that done on Thursdays.  I’m working on getting an actual art and jewelry blog up and running, but I’m not moving too fast on it.  Stick around, because I’m running a sale this weekend at my Etsy shop and you’ll find a coupon code that starts today at the bottom of this post. (I honor the discounted price on pieces placed on layaway during sales, by the way.)

New in the Etsy shop this week:

A black butterfly wing with blue and orange spots along its edge encased in a stain glass pendant.  It is attached to a rosary-style chain with peacock blue pearls and 5 larger brown smoky quartz beads.
Click picture to visit the listing.

I’m really excited to be teaching myself how to do stained glass, which eventually I hope to start building wardian case greenhouses and display cases for things like Ancestor relics.  I’m not there yet, but it’s the dream!

This is a Red-spotted Purple butterfly wing that was found naturally-expired in a relative’s garden.  I’ve encased it between 2 sheets of glass and used lead-free solder around the edges.  The pendant has been put on a rosary-style beaded chain that includes peacock blue pearls and 10mm brown smokey quartz beads.  The metal of the chain, including the hand-forged hook clasp, is copper.  And that hook clasp?  It’s been placed to the front of the necklace instead of the back, which is a style I’m moving towards for ease of use as well as aesthetic.  I know I’m not the only person out there that has issues clasping necklaces behind their heads.

The necklace is seconds quality, because a bit of flux slipped between the glass while I was making this.  It won’t structurally harm anything, but it does show up.  Therefore this piece has a 50% discount.

A sterling silver palmette-shaped filigree earring with a cluster of amethyst beads and jade green chrysoprase tear drop underneath.
Click picture to visit the listing.

These are actually older earrings that I am just getting around to listing.  They include my hand-made filigree pieces, variagated amethyst beads, and faceted chrysoprace briolettes.

A pair of long earrings consisting of an ivory and red handmade bead, 3 clear herkimer diamonds, 2 red garnets, hand-cut sterling silver hearts, and black sapphire teardrops
Click picture to visit the listing.

And some newer ones, featuring self-representing artisan-made lampwork beads, Herkimer diamonds, garnets, and black sapphire briolettes.  Oh, and hand-cut sterling silver hearts that I’ve texturized and put an oxidized patina on.  These lovelies measure almost 4-inches long.

Click picture to visit the listing.
Click picture to visit the listing.

Finally, there is this bracelet, which is another piece from my death-related line of mourning and memorial jewelry.  The beads are antique French jet, which are a wee bit chipped and definitely worn between the late 1800s and 1930.  I’ve made them into a brushed sterling silver chain and haphazardly stamped a Pablo Naruda quote onto them from his poem The Dead Woman.  Oh!  And lace.  Because lace.

But what about that sale announcement I promised?  Yes, from today until November 2nd, you can take 20% off in my Etsy shop with no minimum purchase.  Use code Samhain2015 at checkout.

I’ll be back in the next few days with photos from our Ancestor shrine.  But until then, have a great weekend with your Ancestors for those of you celebrating Them!

Spirit Work & Mental Illness

Glad to see someone else talking about this! Also making me feel that my inevitable return to school to become a counselor is needed by people other than me a decade ago.

The Twisted Rope

Alternate title: Quit romanticizing my illness.
Alternate title #2: Quit demonizing my treatment.

Every so often I will see little flare-ups in the pagan community that center on two fairly unrelated topics: spirit work and mental illness. Don’t get me wrong, these topics can be related, but they aren’t necessarily related, though many people try to make them out to be. I’m sure many of you have seen articles like this and this that go on and on about how we’re killing our spirit workers because they have mental illness and are not handling it “properly”. And if we’d only just learn how to “properly” handle these “gifts” that we’ve been bestowed, we’d suddenly find that our problems would poof out of existence.

Being a spirit worker myself, I read these posts and feel my jaw clench shut as I find rage welling up in my stomach. These posts are…

View original post 1,969 more words

Let’s Talk About How Others Talk about Godspouses!

(If you subscribe to my blog for disability stuff, you may want to cover your eyes and continue on or unfollow the blog.  My woo may be more than you can handle, and I’m okay with that.)

I started to write a whole essay on the sexuality and respectability policing that happens in others’ publicly stated views about godspouses and the sexual component that some have (either much like the sexual nature of other religion’s mystics’ written experiences or actual sexual acts), but in the end I just keep thinking Meh about justifying my personal experiences that I willingly share with others. So I’ve shortened it to a few statements…

1. If you don’t believe that the Gods exist as individuals, that’s really all you have to say. In fact, please, leave it at that. We’re talking about 2 very different belief systems, so you don’t need to carry on to explain that you don’t believe in godspouses… Because, let me be really clear here, whether you believe in my religious, spiritual, and magical practices or not doesn’t invalidate that I exist and self-identify as a godspouse, nor does it invalidate my religious and spiritual path of 20+ years.  People tend to go on to attack the people and not the practice, because let’s be honest, they don’t actually know anything about the practice.
2. Commentary on godspouses being mentally ill needs to stop. You are being ableist, and while I, myself, have a few mental illnesses lurking in my shadows, it has very little to do with my personal relationship with the Gods. In fact, the God who I’m married to has been an integral part of the path towards mental equilibrium. Belief in the Gods and their ability to be in your life isn’t a sign of mental illness. It’s a sign of religiosity, or, at the very least, faith in the Gods to be an active, participating part of the cosmos. Unless you are a licensed professional and have studied mystical experiences heavily, I’m going to say you have absolutely no right to deem what is and isn’t mental illness in another person when it comes to religious experience.
3. Commentary on godspouses being lonely (typically women) or lacking something in their lives needs to stop. I have a mortal spouse. I have a child. I have family. I have friends. The only thing I’m lacking is the peace of existing in a world where people on the internet don’t give their opinions of things they aren’t educated on… Which is 99.9% of the time godspousery, and 80% of the time psychology that isn’t of the pop variety or 101 levels.
4. Since rarely are male godspouses ever attacked on the internet and usually it involves sex toys being invoked, I’m going to calmly assume that those bringing it up have some Puritanical mores looming around that they may not be aware of at best and at worst may be misogynists who are offended by the idea of people having sex without a mortal penis involved. If godspouses are masturbating and invoking the Spirits and Gods, then so the fuck what? For a group of people who regularly deal with fertility cults, phallus worship, and myths that talk about all kinds of sex (including but not limited to bestiality and incest), Pagans seem to really get caught up in the worry that we’re all masturbating with or without a God present.
5. The most impious thing I can think of is a mortal trying to tell me what the Gods do and do not want from me, sex included. Stop railing against the perceived threat of godspouses wanting authority over your experiences by announcing that you are the authority of all things Gods-related. Not only is it impious, but it’s hypocritical.

Sex happens. Sex with Gods sometimes happens for those that believe that the Gods are real and not just archetypes* and sometimes even for those that don’t. Whether that aligns with your personal beliefs is neither here nor there, and as offensive as you may find it to be, I assure you that my private personal practice has absolutely nothing to do with you.  In fact, I would go so far as to say it has no effect on you as well.

*Oh my Gods, I never thought I’d actually say that, and I’m so annoyed that I am having to say it. But there it is. My Polytheism is getting hard just thinking about it.  You’re welcome for that mental image.

Depression: Round 4

Today I’m going to talk about depression. At some point yesterday, I felt myself stand still in a moment where chaos was unfolding in my home and listened to what my mind was telling me. I didn’t like what I heard. I have been watching since then, quiet and mindful of the words I’m using on myself. There is decidedly a part of my brain that needs to, quite bluntly, shut the fuck up. I’ve been here before. More than once. I’m sure this will not be the last time I am here again. This will be the 4th major depressive spell I’ve had in almost 34 years of my life.

This time is different, though. This time I have a certain quality of mindfulness that I didn’t have the last 3 times. This time I don’t have some defining moment where I take depression as a weird comfort, the apathy being a welcome difference to the deep, aching pain that had no origin.

Yesterday I was standing in the hall, as my daughter ran off from me in the middle of trying to get her dressed for the fifth time that morning while laughing and calling me all sorts of names, and I heard my inner-voice say, “Everyone would be happier if you were dead.”

There’s a certain quality of defeat I can’t even begin to describe over the moment where you are being verbally abused by a child and go there mentally. I don’t talk about my daughter.  I don’t feel like I have the right to talk about her life publicly; partially because I want to protect her. But my daughter was born of 2 adults who have ADHD and likely both are undiagnosed autistics. I have a wicked case of sensory processing problems, and she was recently diagnosed with sensory processing disorder while we wait on the 8-month-long waiting list to get an appointment to get her evaluated for behavioral health… I don’t talk about it in part because people don’t see the way she acts at home at night when she’s tired. They see a shockingly intelligent little girl who is absolutely gorgeous and sweet. They don’t see the nights where she’s beating her head against the floor, throwing her body into the wall while being unable to sit still, or gagging over each piece of food she tries to eat. They don’t see her at 3-and-a-half telling her mother she’s an idiot. They don’t see her refusing to have her hair brushed, struggling with potty training, or being unable to go to sleep on her own. And I don’t talk about it, because no one sees it or understands when I do. I know most of this she will grow out of, but there are things she won’t.

I wake up every morning facing this. I go to sleep every night worrying she’s going to fall through the cracks, that they won’t see it until she’s in her teens, if ever… I worry she’s going to have the same outcome of battling depression, social anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder that her mother has, because at 14 when I recognized I had ADHD and asked for help, I was told girls don’t get it, they just get depressed. I was “just” depressed. For some reason people still think women don’t struggle as autistics or have other behavioral differences… No, we’re just depressive. Hysterical. Irrational.

I have a reason to be depressed, but that situation isn’t letting up any time soon and is really just the spark that starts the fire. Some part of me had hoped that I would be able to hold out. Hold out until we get the phone call saying we’ll be seen soon. Hold out that my husband will get a residency and we’ll move back to a blue state. Hold out while I deal with the fact that my health is possibly declining more. Hold out…

Gods, please don’t let me crumble. Let me fight the stress of being poor, disabled, and a mom to the most magical little creature I have ever encountered.

There’s an ugly beauty to the depressive mind, a certain beauty to the art of being able to tear yourself down that only another depressed person will understand. In my experience, it slips in slowly at first. Depression pretends to be your friend. It understands your pain. It understands your suffering. It shows you the beauty of suffering. And for me there’s always been this defining moment in my episodes where I open the door and invite it in fully, seduced by that beauty. Where those little urges to harm myself cease to be quite as terrifying as they should be, because I’m too exhausted to ignore them anymore even if I’m present enough to not carry them out.

And there is a gift there. You get comfortable with the concept of death when you’re simultaneously wishing it upon yourself while fighting against that desire. You start to see the beauty in death. You, in short, get fucking morbid as hell.  That’s not necessarily bad… It’s the actively wishing to be dead part that is when, hey, you’ve got a life to live still.

But yesterday I was standing in the hall, listening to a 3-and-a-half-year-old tell me how stupid and scared I am, feeling like a complete failure, and when that little voice in my head said, “You’d be better off dead,” I stopped and named it.

Depression.

I looked over the months I’ve not wanted to do anything. The untouched tomatoes of summer that normally bring me so much joy. The unfinished art. The unstarted plans. The mess that’s my kitchen… The insatiable hunger and exhaustion that leaves me too tired to move. My friends who I’ve not seen in months. The dread of being responsible in any way, shape, or form of anything at all. The guilt over it all. So much guilt. Feeling like I’m not a good mother, a good friend, a good human… Desperate to be left alone.

Oh, Depression. You’ve been here longer than I realized. You sneaked in this time uninvited, and it’s taken this long for you to gather the bravery to really start talking to me.

This time I don’t have the luxury of breaking down. I don’t have the luxury of possibly swinging manic or even hypomanic. I’ve got shit to do and a life to live…

You aren’t welcome here, and you are not who I choose to be.  In short, you’ve got to shut up.

So I give myself a few days to get over this darkness I’ve found myself in, and then I have a psychiatrist picked out to start seeing if it doesn’t somehow magically lift… Because the “in case of emergency” plan for the unmedicated bipolar-not-bipolar-maybe-bipolar-who-knows-anymore person that is me has always been very, very detailed, and as soon as we got health insurance I picked out a psychiatrist in the event I needed one. Because depression never magically lifts. It magically implodes into all sorts of ridiculous fuckery that is not acceptable to me at this point in my life. Even if I had a 5-year remission, that threat of this happening has always been the elephant in my room just camped out in the corner smoking a hookah that I’m always aware of.  The what-if.  The please don’t let this happen ever, ever again, please.

Well, this time I’m not hitting rock bottom before I get help.

I’m going to practice what I preach, which is medication-based intervention is a completely acceptable and sometimes needed route to go.

Why did I decide to talk about it? This is my personal blog. Because people need to be open about this sort of thing. Because I refuse to hide this part of me due to stigma.

Also because it makes me feel better to write, and even better when I hear that what I’ve written touched someone else. So, if you’re that person needing to hear it… You aren’t alone, and neither am I.

I Speak to My God in Silence, but I am Not Silent.

Disclaimer: If there is one moment where you can point to this blog and say “And this is where Camilla stepped off the edge with complete faith in her God to catch her; this is it.” (Because you speak with semi-colons rolling off your tongue in my version of the story.)

This, my friends, is the point of no return. This is where I start to shoot off at the mouth (or fingers) about what I’ve learned and been given to work with. As a note, I’m going to try to come back and actually cite things and provide sources, but since this is really just me babbling I may have to follow up with a more, uh, scholarly… Scholarly thing. Yes. Scholarly things. For Revivalism!

(There’s always so much terror in sharing this stuff.  I’m not gonna lie.)

It has been bothering me for a while that, for some reason, it seemed like everyone I know, including my students, prefer to speak aloud to the Gods. Except me. Now that I’m modeling praxis in my home to a 3-year-old, I’m finding myself forced to say with my physical voice. I am perfectly fine saying prayers aloud. But talking, actually having a conversation with my God and occasionally Others? No, I’ve always, always done it in my head.

There are some of you that will say that if I believe the Gods are individuals and not archetypes or facets of my own spirit, then I’m talking to myself. In fact, I’ve had quite a few people kindly explain to me that their Gods require us to physically talk to Them, because that’s what polytheists do.

And I smile, thanking them for the clarification.

And in the back of my head, I’m going “This doesn’t mesh with my experience.”

My experience has been that certain Gods, especially those that are connected to oracular arts, have absolutely no problem hearing me. Or, if a God does not seem to be able to hear me, my God is more than willing to be a translator for me.

This led me to a few different theories…

One, there is quite a bit of Quaker in my ancestry, so maybe there’s something to be said about that and having some natural propensity towards hearing the inner-voice. This has absolutely no backing in my mind, but I’m amused by it enough to mention it here.

Two, slightly less out there, but probably only partially involved… I’m neurodivergent. I’ve got sensory processing disorder and ADHD. Recently it’s been figured out that I fall on the autism spectrum. My brain is simply wired differently, and part of that wiring involves being able to write what is on my mind eloquently and openly… But physically talking is harder. Much harder. Getting words out physically when I’m trying to communicate something important is, more often than not, like swimming in gelatin. It’s possible, but it’s probably going to be ridiculously harder and slower to do. I have no problem assuming that my natural inclination towards a deeper inner-voice than outer voice leads me to be naturally wired towards having an inner-relationship with my Gods.

Except that some people apparently don’t believe that’s possible…

Which was weird to me, and I couldn’t figure out why my experience was so vastly different than others who honor the same Gods as me.

Except, oh right, this God I’m tangled up with has been part of the mysteries I’ve been taught. It’s very much like the Shakti of Kundalini or the Holy Spirit, the breath of life and the Thing that connects everything. Not the air, but the Spirit. When I say He’s not the Divine “One” (if there is such a thing, which even with a decade of exploration I’m still not willing to say yay or nay to), but He is the vehicle from which the very essence of being comes forth on.

He is literally that: inside of me. He is my breath. He is your breath. He is the breath of the world, which is the wind… Because we, in ourselves, are the microcosm of the greater cosmic macrocosm. We are our own universe, and from each of us creation is capable of springing in art, music, and work. We were created, and each of us creates in one way or another, even the simple act of cooking is creation. Our words are creation that come out on breath, and when we cease to breathe, we cease to exist.

He is the Wind-wolf of the Indo-Europeans, though I will likely spend the rest of my life chasing His trail. He is the original psychopomp, carrying up from the Underworld and returning all to that place. He is hiding in many Gods, Gods you and I can both name, but He is, Himself, simply woven through Them as He is through the rest of us.  But when you look at me, you don’t separate my breath into a separate entity from me.  I’m just me to you.  So is my God.  He can be separated, but it’s been so long since anyone has done that that He is honored by many names as a facet of the Gods we know.

And He’s not alone in that, but that’s a story for another day.

What I was talking about was how I realized that perhaps I couldn’t understand that others weren’t having the experience of inner-talking that I do with the Gods, because my life is dedicated to this God, who dwells on the inside as He does on the outside.

So, yeah.

I guess I’m the Quaker version of a polytheist over here…  Not all Gods may be inside of us, but we shouldn’t dismiss that some are.

(insert much throat clearing) Carry on.