Thursday, September 7, 2017

Nancy, Faces of Death, and Dry Ice Birthday

Cousin Kat came up for Labor Day weekend to say goodbye to her Grandma Nancy. Even though she couldn't be there for the funeral and won't be there for interment, being able to come up and say goodbye in her own way was really necessary for closure. So she came up and Hannah and I pretty much adopted her for while she was in town. It was really nice getting to spend some time with her and I am sad that she's gone already. I'll get to spend some more time with her in October at the end of the honeymoon though and that will be good.

Our goodbye to Nancy was a crazy day. First of all, Washington and Idaho and surrounding areas are absolutely filled with wildfire smoke right now. It's like a permanent haze of filth and yuck and it's making everyone sick. We woke to this smoke on Labor Day and knew already the day was going to be weird. That morning we went to see friends and to go through some of the things they are getting rid of. I found an athame among other things. Also she lent me her stature representation of the god Herne (Cernunnos) so that we could work with him before the wedding. I'm going to spend some time with him over the weekend.

For me he's 'horned god' instead of a name because I always feel like I'm saying or using the names wrong. I want to really meditate on his aspects and find out which aspect I would like to write into the handfasting ceremony script. All aspects are welcome of course, but I would like my words to make sense when I write them and for that I need a little time to get to know him better.

After visiting our friends we headed to my mom's house and debated whether to go all the way over the hill to visit Nancy's 'soon to be' grave or not considering the awful weather. In the end it was just too important not to go. So we headed over east and stopped in Kellogg to look around. Kat was feeling very nostalgic so we drove around some of her old haunts and relived some memories. We also went to where Nancy's spirit burned down a building - at least we're pretty sure it was Nancy's spirit. An old hotel and a bed and breakfast burst into flame on the night of her memorial rosary. The cause of fire is still yet to be determined. Which in my mind means Nancy did it. She was a feisty lady in life, of course she would be just as feisty in spirit form. 

While we drove up in that area we happened up on a video rental store going out of business and we decided on a whim to go and check it out. Turns out it was more than just a rental store. The man running the store was a witch, if not Pagan, and had a ton of really neat witchy stuff as well as super rare and bizarre collectibles. He was also a gore and horror movie aficionado and had movies that most of us will never see a hard copy of in real life.

He had 'Faces of Death' and 'Nekromatik' and many others. I picked up Chaos and Martyrs since I, too, enjoy horror and gore. I also found a small cast iron cauldron with pentacles on either side. And Hannah found some CDs and an old copy of Gothic Beauty magazine which we will most likely be framing some articles from. Kat even found some neat things. It was a really surreal experience going into that shop. He said he works a different job and so he only opens up this store on Mondays. How fortuitous of us to be there on a Monday. 

After this we went to the Day Cemetery in Osburn. Nancy remains are going to be laid to rest with Uncle Frank's remains. So we visited Uncle Frank's grave to visit him and also to say goodbye to Nancy because we were pretty darn sure her spirit was already there even if her ashes weren't. We gathered around the headstone. We lit some sage and a grandma candle for Kat (she can take it home and light it when she needs some grandma Nancy love) and did a small blot, passing around a growler full of Pepsi, to praise Nan and share our memories of her. It was really nice and at the end of it I felt goosebumps. I know that Kat really needed to have that moment and I'm really glad we made it down there for her.

Since that night, the house had felt a little weird. I noticed something funny in the Bowie room the other night and then again after we came back from the Silver Valley (Kellogg area). I know that Narcisa freaked out horribly after we got back from the Silver Valley and we think it might have been something (a smell? a spirit? a emotion?) that we brought back with us from the old DVD rental place or maybe from the cemetery. Anyway, I think we should do a little smudging this weekend and see if we can't reinvigorate the house for a while and keep things positive.

Last thing: my birthday is coming up. My mother had planned to do a murder party for me (yes, it really is as cool as it sounds!) but she just had surgery and so we're going to put that off for another time. Maybe for Hannah's birthday next spring. Instead, I'm going to put together a lab for 'easy to do at home' science experiments and play the mad scientist for the evening. One of the things I'm definitely going to do is use my old, old fire extinguisher (as long as it's a CO2 based one) and make some mutha-fuckin' dry ice! Please observe this video where the process is made simple and fun.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Nanny Goat's Legacy

I spent last Saturday morning planning our the framework of the wedding ceremony with our officiant and her husband. It was a wonderful morning and I felt about a million times better about the wedding once we were done. I now have to write the script and make a logistics list and then on to the other million and one things!

Such a great morning and great lunch. I feel so blessed to have these people in my life and I was especially happy to get to spend so much time with them that day.

Saturday afternoon, however, was a little different. I found out via a quick voice message from my mom that my Aunt Nancy was dead. Just like that. I couldn't call mom because she was already on her way down to the silver valley and her cell was out of working range and my dad didn't have much more info than what was in the voicemail. Of my aunts, I have three that I speak with on a semi regular basis and feel are on my side. My two Aunt Bunnies (Lola on my mom's side, Barbara on my dad's side) and then Nan. Mom called her Nanny Goat and, sometimes, Fancy Nancy.

She was quirky and tall and dressed like Dorothy from Golden girls. She didn't like reptiles but she loved my iguana. Her favorite treat was a bottle of ice cold Pepsi and a slice of Tillamook sharp cheddar. She was probably my greatest fan and even after my vocal nodes destroyed my chance of professional singing, she still found ways to force me to perform here and there, talking me up as if I were actually someone to talk about. And, dang, did she love her wild animal prints. Her bedroom motif was Africa. She was particular and there were times she was a downright turd. And for as wild and rebellious as she was, she was also a total prude.

She had eight children. One died shortly after birth. Born and died decades before my parents had even met. I visited his grave in Colorado. Another child died in a car accident. A grown man with two children of his own - that was the first horrific tragedy our family had known. We'd been lucky thus far. A third child of Nancy's died while hitchhiking between towns in the silver valley. The third child was a grown man who was so sick by the time he died that he looked older than his own mother. Of all her loses, though, the one that nearly killed her was losing her husband. She said losing a child is the worst thing you can imagine. But losing a mate is like losing your soul.

Nancy leaves behind five children and plethora of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Also her dog, Taffy, who came to her shortly after Nan lost her husband. This little doe-faced dog saved her life I think. For many, many years it's been Nanny and Taffy, the inseparable duo. They are separated now, though, and my mom told me that she held Taffy on Sunday and cuddled her and the dog cried. It was like she finally understood that mommy wasn't coming back.

Mom told me how Nancy went. She woke up Saturday to get ready to go to dialysis. Her neighbor had checked in on her. When the bus arrived to take her to the hospital, they waited and waited and no one came out. Finally they went in and she was asleep in her chair. Asleep forever. I thank the gods for her peaceful passing. This woman had spinal meningitis twice. She suffered from a myriad of medical problems and was a chain smoker for most of her life. She'd been on dialysis for years and years. She was no stranger to pain and had been in such pain once that she'd prayed for her god to take her. So for her to have passed as if she were sleeping is something I am eternally thankful for. Until we meet in another life: farewell, Nanny Goat.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Two Pagan Princesses Passionately Paired - Handfasting 101

I've read a good deal about handfasting and I've had the pleasure of witness our Officiant marry/perform the handfasting for a couple of our good friends. Also I have a good brain! I think. But despite reading about it and witnessing one ceremony, I realize two things:

1) I have no fucking clue what I'm doing! I have never written or drafted anything like this before. I love writing rituals (possibly one of my favorite things to do) but trying to compose words to the feelings of my quickly arriving hand-fasting is proving nearly impossible. I've found some fun sites that provide scripts so that I can get a feel of the rhythm and flow of the ceremony, but I'm still worried. I think it's the Virgo in me wanting this to be perfect. Eventually the Libra cusp side will slow the Virgo's roll. But until then I'm emotionally back in high school broaching a weird life altering deadline - and speaking of life altering...

2) I never thought in a million years I would actually get married. By the time I was in college I had consigned myself, quite readily, over to being a spinster. Even after Hannah made cute, coy love confessions and decided she wanted to be my person, I didn't think we would ever get married. Or I guess I figured it was enough to just say 'ah, we're together forever and that's the same as marriage, so on and so forth,' but then Washington began recognizing same-sex marriage and then marriage equality really became a thing. And then Hannah and I fell in love with the Pagan community and felt like part of a larger family. And of course there was the Facebook incident (wherein Hannah hijacked my social media account and changed my status to 'engaged' in the most passive-aggressive proposal of all time). It worked though. Because here I am, less than two months out from Friday the 13th, frantically trying to create the best damn ritual/ceremony I've ever conceived of!

So now I have to pause and remind myself of two more things. 1) I'm not doing this alone. Hannah and our Officiant are right there with me. And, 2) it doesn't need to be perfect. Just as my quote says above: not perfect, but passionate and full of wonder. That's a relationship. That's a life. That's art. That's love.

Here's a quick list of some of the fun sites I found as well as some of the books I have at home for reference - the last four books are borrowed copies:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Animal Totem Talk

In recent conversation with a friend, the topic of Animal Totems came up. I was reminded a long time ago of a side conversation with someone in the past when I mentioned that I don't eat Octopuses or Squid anymore because I've recognized them as deities/totems for me. The person was shocked that I wouldn't "eat my totem" and I suppose, given the act of transubstantiation in Catholicism whereby they eat the body and blood of Christ every Sunday, that the eating of a totem might make sense. Well, I don't have to worry about eating any animal totems now since I'm no longer eating meat but I am actually very down with a little transubstantiation of my own. 

I believe in the power of symbolism (more so than the protestants who claim the break and wine to be just symbols). If I wanted to partake of my totems, whatever animals they may be, I would symbolically ingest and, therefore, truly ingest the archetypal essence of the creature into my being. For Hannah, who has a fox totem, we could eat fox shaped cookies or make an alcoholic beverage to honor the Arctic Fox or the Bat-Eared Fox. You get the gist. I don't need to put the actual matter of the totems flesh into my body to incorporate it's nutritional (spiritual) value. 

Moving on. I don't know for sure that the Octopus is my official totem as I am sometimes more in awe of it than I am relating to it on a spiritual and characteristic level (or I could be wrong - who knows!) but I know that in light of the conversation with had with our friend the other day a few fun things have happened reinforcing Hannah's totem and opening me up to, if not a totem, an animal spirit guide who has some valuable lessons to teach me. 

Animal Speak
Here's what happened: Hannah and I were telling Rachel about the Animal Speak book that had been the basis of the initial conversation and the Magical Menagerie deck fell from its shelf to the floor. We all turned to look when it dropped all we could made out was something falling - we didn't know what had caused the plunk. Later that night I discovered that it was the Animal oracle and I went, "Hmmmm," and told Hannah we needed to draw a card that night! Well we completely forgot. We are quit often  enormous dinguses (dingii?). We drew a card each the next night. These puppies had been shuffled too. So shuffled. Hannah had shuffled them the first night when they fell and then I shuffled them again. Well I drew first and got Griffin/Gryphon. Hannah drew second and *boom* she drew fox. We are going to make a small Inari shrine in the house at some point as fox has been a huge animal in Hannah's life (and, through being with Hannah, in my life as well).

So Hannah's draw made ridiculously perfect sense. Mine was a little weirder. I didn't think the Griffin was very fitting. At first. I took an online, for fun, Spirit Animal test and got Eagle. I didn't put much stock in the test, but I kept it in the back of my mind because why not? And then I started to hunker down and really think about what the Griffin meant. I am fond of Griffins and since that day I've been seeing them, or reminders of them, everywhere. In fact, that other day I saw a large pink heraldic griffin splayed across the bottom of an extra large license plate. How random? Or not. I found many pictures of griffins with the heads of Bald Eagles and felt that was a neat tie in to the previous test I'd taken. Also I found numerous sites offering pretty similar information: the Griffin is a cross between the King of Land (lion) and the King of Sky (eagle) and is known to symbolize a spiritual quest. That the Griffin is a guardian and a guide, usually as you journey a new spiritual path, or go through a particularly challenging trial. 

So I've been paying attention. I do feel that I need some guidance right now. There have been a lot of changes in my life, and new challenges. My sibling (whom I've been somewhat estranged with) is sick and dying; I'm less than two months out from getting married; my computer is broken and is going to the manufacturer for repairs; we lost a full time employee at work and are going to lose another on the 28th of this month; the house is in a perpetual state of mess; my car may or may not be road worthy enough to go to Seattle; I don't want to keep living at Valley 206 now that they are becoming a tax credit community and will have A) the authority to get rid of us at any time due to how much money I make and B) full access to my bank account information and C) they will be making us sign a year long lease in the next few months after we've been on month-to-month for almost a full year already. And it's getting darker sooner now. I can already feel my brain and body reacting to the waning summer. I'm bracing for the shit emotional time ahead but it's hard to see how everything is going to turn out at this point. And maybe that's why a Griffin jumped off the shelf for me the other night.

A while back I did a written role-play with a friend wherein our two protagonists, a married gay couple, were dealing with ghost possession as well as ancestral bloodline awakenings. It was pretty cool role-play concept and, who knows, we might revisit in the future. We both want to write novels and short stories and it could be fun to turn some of our RPs into novellas or novels. Anyway, my character in the RP (the one dealing with an awakening of his bloodline) was a Chamrosh (which is essentially what you see in the above pic). A chamrosh is a griffin with a wolf's body instead of a lion's. It is the lesser known Persian winged guardian and I spent a lot of time for that RP delving into what a griffin/chamrosh meant and what function one might serve in a story. So when griffin showed up the other night I felt a fun pang of familiarity.

Speaking of RPs, Hannah and I are finally writing one again. Just for fun and also to whet our writing chops again. I've already shared some of the beginning story that spurred her to say 'hey, let's write this out together!' It's been kind of fun to delve into these characters. Neither of them comes from what I would call a horribly tragic past or abusive situation. Both have had shitty moments as well as comfort. It's been fun throwing challenges their way, but mostly they are just a cutesy-nervous couple full of unnecessary, self-depreciating worries and woes. Kind of like most people.

In other news, I recently discovered Leo Moracchioli on Youtube. I will be purchasing a few of these fantastic covers. So far my favorites are Adele's Hello and Frozen's Let it Go. I leave you with a song for now. This started as such a focused blog post (started it a few days ago) and then more and more and more just kept happening. so here we are. Please enjoy Leo's cover.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

General Update - A Weird Tuesday and Other Things

A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.
Robert Frost
I hope everyone had a blessed and wonderful Lughnasadh. For me, the Harvest day of August 1 brought some rather interesting things into my life. I was sick in the morning and stayed home to try to sleep off my discomfort. I had wanted to go to work around 1pm so that I didn't have to use a full sick day but I called in a little later and let work know that I couldn't make it in. I now only have two sick days left but we're already in August so I'm not too worried. Also I'm going to be off for most of October so if I can't hack it with two sick days then there's something seriously wrong. 

It turns out that being sick on Tuesday was a necessity because that meant I was home to comfort Hannah upon her return from a very rough doctor's appointment. She really needed me that day and I'm glad I was there for her. She's been dealing with so much, and a lot of it she's trying to tackle by herself with little help from anyone. While that's very admirable she is still healing from surgery and I want her to feel like she can ask me for help. And ask any of our friends. She still has such a hard time doing that though.

The other reason I'm glad I was home on Tuesday was because my mother and father needed to come over and share good news and bad news. The good news was fun but the bad news was pretty dark and life changing. I'm not going to talk about that too much for now. I want to know more about what's going on before I try to come to terms with things. I just know that there will be some very hard times coming and I'm not sure how to feel about it. 

Even the day after this news I was pretty out of it at work. Today I'm doing better. Tonight I'm going to a Stargazing event at the Spokane Valley Library. Should be neat. And on Friday I'm going to ride the Hillyard bus up to meet Hannah at our friend's house for a tea and coffee date. Maybe I'll bring the Nutpods creamer to try. 

On the vegetarian front Hannah and I are doing well however we're getting trapped, or feeling trapped, in what we eat. We need to research more recipes and be more adventurous. I recently saw a cool way to cook eggplant that I want to try (I can't believe I'm eating eggplant and actually enjoying it) and also I want us to invest in more salad toppings like fruit, nuts, and seeds. I'm still eating cheese and I've decided that for now I'm not going to stress about going dairy free until we are past the wedding and the honeymoon. I would like to limit animal products to just about nil but that will take some time and adjusting.

Recently, Hannah and I spent some time with the twins in Moscow. They are going to take care of bachelorette party planning and also they are going to be my smudgers! I'm really excited about this. But thinking about parties and about the wedding makes me realize how much there still needs to be done. I am worried about money (always, always, always... story of my life is a worry over money) but I'm not as worried as I thought I would be. Hopefully that's a good sign.