I have had my camera since 2010 and never used the fireworks setting until tonight.
I have had my camera since 2010 and never used the fireworks setting until tonight.
I have three New Year’s resolutions:
Stop worrying about offending people who don’t/wouldn’t like the real me.
Spend more time studying and practicing my religion.
Start drawing again every day.
The first encompasses the other two. People have always attacked me or mocked me for my interest in Wicca, to the point that I tried to fit myself into Christianity or at least more “acceptable” belief systems that Wicca. I’m done being mocked. Spending more time studying, practicing, and drawing will mean less wasted time online. It will all help my anxiety and OCD and depression, and it will help my arthritis and hand tremor.
More time practicing my religion will naturally lead to healthier eating by eating fresh, seasonal foods.
Focus on study and practice, I hope, will help with my OCD. I do not expect a cure. I do think that Wicca will help me learn to turn my thoughts to positive things and start to banish these intrusive thoughts that keep me from functioning as well as I could.
I’ve been drawing fairies and goddesses since I was in high school. Over the past couple of years, I’ve bought art supplies but not used them. Just as I’ve bought books and not read them. I’ve felt like an old doll cast into a corner, out of date, out of chances, immobile.
But I’m not a doll (although I’m really fucking tired of whiny losers getting their undergarments in wads over my dolls) and I can start to live again in 2017, and I plan to.
I feel like re-starting that story I started in high school, I feel like taking my camera for a long drive.
I feel like stretching and listening to my joints creak back into movement.
I set up a simple Yule altar with a handmade altar cloth made by my cousin and an ornament that she made, a pine cone, and a white reindeer. I placed tall jar candles, red, white, and green behind the reindeer and decorations. *Protip: seven-day holy candles are super inexpensive, safe, and readily available in dollar stores and at Walmart. It takes less than ten minutes to soak off the labels and pictures in hot water. It’s hard to find decent-sized votive candles, at least here, and then there’s the whole digging the old candle out of the holder issue. I use 7-day candles for almost everything except rituals requiring a small candle that burns down completely in a few hours.*
My mother isn’t a pagan, but she supports me being one. She liked the Yule altar. We exchanged gifts. I gave her a Three Birds of Rhiannon pendant that I bought on Etsy, and she gave me The Vintage Wisdom Oracle by Victoria Moseley (I picked it out.) We listened to holiday music, and then we put together a quick holiday meal of turkey burgers, seasonal vegetables, homemade gingersnaps, and cranberry sauce.
We will have our usual Christmas because my mother still identifies as Christian, although she has become a non-traditional Christian. She doesn’t go to church. She’s actively interested in my pagan beliefs and holidays. She kept saying “this is lovely. This is lovely.” There’s something about the simple Yule altar that speaks to the spirit. I included a gift exchange because we have had such a dreadful month so far, and I wanted to give her a gift in advance of Christmas simply to cheer her up.
Here are pictures of our Yule altar and gifts. If you celebrate Yule, I hope yours was a merry one like ours!
Male reindeer shed their antlers during winter. Females don’t. Santa’s reindeer are all female.
Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. Rudolph makes nine, 3X3, three and nine being numbers sacred to the Goddess.
“Of course Santa’s reindeer are female. Only women could drag a fat man in a velvet suit around the world in one night.”
But I’ll get serious now and suggest you read this article, or reread it, for Yule.
Vampires love the short days of deep winter. Wolves aren’t the only hungry things out in the night in January under the Wolf Moon. I was born under January’s Wolf Moon; perhaps that is why I prefer the night to the day and can so easily slip into the minds of the werewolf and vampire characters that I write.
The Winter Solstice, the first day of winter, is December 21st. This day is also referred to as Midwinter. The week that contains both the Winter Solstice and Christmas would seem to naturally be at odds with old and new beliefs. The sun is reborn at the Solstice; after that moment, the daylight grows by the minute each day. The Christ Child is born on Christmas Day. New Year’s Day follows, with a lot of good wishes and merry-making and resolutions and plans for The Best Year Yet.
I don’t think very many thinking people are looking forward to 2017 as a year of positive changes. As our collective humanity fell yesterday with the decision of the Electoral College, the shadows that hunt under the Wolf Moon came to the forefront of my mind.
There will be hunger. There will be fear. There will be loss. It’s nothing that our ancestors, all of our ancestors everywhere, didn’t acknowledge and face at certain times of the year according to their calendar.
We don’t do that. All our Judeo-Christian and secular celebrations lean towards the bright side, except perhaps holidays like November 1st, All Soul’s Day. Other days that honor the dead and the ancestors, Día de los Muertos, the growing devotion in Mexico to Santa Muerte, the voices of women who work in the death industry, death doulas, are working their way into our mainstream consciousness. Death looks back at us from dolls and toys. We talk about death and what we want done with our remains openly, and radically, compared to our parents and grandparents.
We’ve had a year of death . . . people we all “knew” for decades, people whose names we never knew until hatred and fear cut short their lives, entire cities.
We aren’t looking to 2017 as a new start. We’re looking at it as dragging the old year behind us. We wake up expecting a new nightmare. We’re collectively sick from it. Some of us are actually making appointments with our doctors because the depression and anxiety are paralyzing. People are preparing to die if they lose the government benefits that pay for their medications, the government benefits to which they are entitled.
My aunt died at 9:30 in the morning last Monday. I had to help plan a funeral for the first time. I had to approve a suitable dress. I had to view her body at the nursing home to make certain she looked appropriate for an open-casket funeral. I had to position her glasses just right and cover the bruises on her hands–she fell out of her wheelchair–with the flowing lace sleeves of her wedding dress. I noticed that her fingernails were freshly painted. She had this done at the nursing home, perhaps the day before she fell out of her wheelchair.
Cold and dead in a pretty box, like this year.
We look forward to the shortest day because the next day will be longer. At the same time, the worst of winter is less than a month away, January 12th. On December 21st, we are far away from the sun. In mid-January, the wolf is closest to the door. We talk about self-care and taking things one day at a time. Our ancestors sat behind barred doors with weapons in hand.
The daughters are becoming the mothers of the mothers. We turn back to cards and feathers and stones. The peppermint plant is dying, but it has born many seedlings in the cold window under the dingy infrequent sunlight.
After the shortest day, after we make it through January, we look forward to the first day of February, Imbolc, the birth of the early spring lambs, a holy day associated with the Irish Goddess Brigid. Then, in March, the Spring Equinox, because after that we become impatient for the last frost, and the same dirt that covers our dead becomes home to the peppermint seedlings, under the lengthening sunny hours, minutes, seconds, after the shortest day.
In both the physical and spiritual sense.
2016 has been a wild ride, most of it unpleasant, and it ain’t over yet. It’s been a very difficult year for my mother and me. We finally cut off contact with relatives who had been harmful to us emotionally and financially for years. We had a horrible couple of months financially, so bad that I had to start a GoFundMe to pay a missed mortgage payment. That same week that I started the GoFundMe, our elderly dog died.
A friend told me that it seemed that we were going through a period of cleansing. I think she’s right. We’re still having difficulties, but my mother has finally discarded her “don’t rock the boat” attitude and started acting more like Mom. MOM. The mom that I was afraid to defy when I was a teenager.
I’ve spent most of the year struggling with nostalgia for the symbols I loved when I was a young child at Catholic school and the elemental desire to study and practice Wicca. Wicca finally won. I finally realized that Catholic school was the place that I felt safe when my parents’ marriage was breaking up. Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary were real to me and made me feel protected. They still do. I think that I’ll always have my particular fascination with Mary Magdalene, but I feel like I’m falling more in love with the Earth and the moon and the stars and the tiniest seedlings every day. The same friend who suggested the cleansing period theory got me very interested in Tarot and oracle card and frankly, I’ve had some damn spooky experiences with my cards.
So today, I spent almost three hours physically cleaning my house and then I cleansed my altar. Today is the New Moon and the day before Halloween. The timing for a physical and spiritual cleansing couldn’t be better. And I believe that this cleansing will help me and my mother get through the rest of this year, which is not shaping up to be fun in any way.
We’ve discussed our holiday traditions and decided to change some things this year. I’ll still celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday, but I’m looking at it as more of a Mom and friends day than gifts and a huge meal. I look around and see all the things that I have and haven’t been able to appreciate due to the stress of 2016. Unfinished drawings and crochet projects. Books I bought and didn’t read or finish reading. And so many things that are cluttering up my physical and psychic space.
While I was cleaning today, I started being realistic about the clothes I have, the ones I cannot fit into right now, and the ones I’ve held onto for years but not worn. I’m taking them to Goodwill. And I’m really going to take them instead of filling up bags and leaving them sitting around. I hoard anything I think I could possibly use in an art project. That stuff is going in the trash. Books I bought over 20 years ago and will never read again are going to the small library up the street. Things in my “Stuff to Sell on Ebay” box are actually getting listed on Ebay and if they don’t sell, they’re going to Goodwill. Broken knickknacks are going into the trash. I’m giving away a lot of my old dolls, baby dolls, porcelain dolls, because I have so many that I can’t enjoy them.
My mind is starting to settle as I make all these decisions. I’m realistic, of course, I know that none of this is going to cure my anxiety or depression or O.C.D. But it will help. It will help me to move into my 44th year of life with a lighter heart, because confusion and too many physical things occupying my space but not being useful to me have held me back for a very long time.
I realize that I’m preaching to the choir with this post, but I just have to get this off my chest.
The last two evenings and nights have been hellish in my neighborhood, and it’s only been the 4th for two and a half hours. Pretty much everyone expects some neighborhood fireworks, especially over a long holiday weekend like this one. We all know the keep your pets in, close the windows, turn the TV on to mask the sound, yadda yadda yadda 4th of July warnings passed around every year.
The jackasses who need to read those things never do. They’re too busy driving to South Carolina to buy fireworks that are illegal here in North Carolina.
I’ve never gotten into near-physical confrontations with neighbors or had to call the police on the 4th before this year. This year, several people were setting off M-80s. Relentlessly. In the street. It sounded like a war movie. This is a small, crowded neighborhood with young families, elderly people, and pets at almost every house. Anyone setting off fireworks that sound like car bombs is an asshole.
If anyone who thinks this behavior is cool happens to read this post . . . it’s not. And don’t assume all your neighbors are going to go inside and close the windows and turn up their TVs and let you get away with your shit. Some of them, like me, may confront you. And send the police to your house. If a neighbor comes to you and says, “Hey, you woke up my baby/my mother has a heart condition/my elderly dog pissed himself and won’t eat,” fucking knock it off. You are not entitled to be a prick because it’s the 4th of July. You are not entitled to jack shit. You are very likely breaking the law by being in possession of certain types of fireworks/violating your town’s noise ordinance, and you are endangering your neighbors’ homes and property (and your own) with sparks. Sometimes fireworks just fizzle out and fall where you don’t expect them to. If you burn down someone’s house, you’re legally and financially responsible.
If you want to see a big boisterous fireworks show, find one put on by professionals. It’s not hard. Yeah, you’ll have to skip the Budweiser until you get home. You’ll live, and your neighbors won’t hate you, and the cops won’t show up and shut down your little get drunk and blow shit up party.
What we WANTED to do tonight was watch a movie and eat the grilled chicken and potato salad that we prepared. What we did was comfort the terrified dog and call the police. My ears are still ringing. When your “party” ruins someone else’s attempt to simply live their life without explosions every five minutes, you are out of line.
I’m tired of the Founding Fathers excuse for everything that infringes on everyone else’s right to peace and safety. I’m pretty sure the Found Fathers assumed people would understand DON’T BE A PRICK. It’s too bad they didn’t write that explicitly in the Declaration of Independence.
So tomorrow night . . . don’t be a prick.