29 April 2017 23:40
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[personal profile] hollymath
My period showed up today, a rare and surprising event because the birth control I'm on means that I have only a few every year.

Usually they're pretty easy to manage but occasionally I have one that reminds me why I started taking the birth control in the first place. I used to be one of those people who'd miss a day of work a month with them. Missing a 5k obstacle course seems even more understandable.

But I'd been eating myself up about it. I worried that I wasn't "really" sick, or not sick "enough," that it's "just anxiety," that I was making excuses... This is common enough but I think it was especially bad because I was missing an exercise thing. The most virtuous of all things, exercise!

Skipping that wasn't just bad in a "I've already paid for this" sense, or a "I'm supposed to be doing this with my friend" sense, but in a moral sense. I try very hard not to attribute Goodness and Evil to various habits but obviously I'm failing miserably at that based on my reaction here. I know it's illogical but if you could logic yourself out of what society has ingrained into you, the world would be a very different place.

It might also explain part of why my emotions have felt so uncontrollable lately. Obviously some of that is legitimate--life has been demanding and stressful--but I've also been unsettled at the feeling that these reactions are unusual for me. That's been going on for too long to be PMS, but it means it's likely things are not as thoroughly awful as I'd imagined. Which is good, because everything has seemed pretty bleak lately and it'd be great to be wrong about that.

Column: The Poetry of Music

29 April 2017 18:40
[syndicated profile] thewildhunt_feed

Posted by Nathan Hall

This month I chatted with a couple of musicians about the lyrical side, rather than the instrumental side of their music. It felt appropriate, as April in the United States is National Poetry Month.

It’s a curious thing setting words and music together, it’s just so inherently human, something that feels like it came about at the dawn of our species. Doing it well is a different challenge altogether, though. Some songwriters start out with a poem, some start with a tune and let the words flow in, some pull from musical traditions, and others from stories and myths of old. Celtic mythology has certainly had a strong influence on many Pagan musicians.


“I was utterly enamored with the notion of Bards, and their gift of speaking in a twilight language,” said Sharon Knight. Essentially a bard herself, she has been active in the Pagan music scene for the better part of three decades.

Knight mentioned the connection between the language of poetry and the language of magick. Using that “twilight language” that she describes, one can imagine that poetry attaches to the power of spellcraft, in a way, as metaphor and helps to convey the idea without exposing the fragile parts to the air for open scrutiny and, thereby, dis-empowering the whole.

To use it, “is to create a temple that invites a spiritual force to dwell within. If your poem is satisfactory, not only in lyric but in cadence and resonance, then the spirit may grace you with its presence. This is always the hope, with every musician I have known, that the delivery of our craft is sufficient to awaken the indwelling spirit of the song,” Knight said.

Singer and songwriter Mama Gina Lamont said she takes care when crafting the lyrics to her songs in order to engage her listeners emotionally, allowing the rhythms of a song idea to seep into her heart and mind.

“If I listen closely to the voices in my head – or out of my head – the music and lyrics or poetry usually wrap themselves around that cadence,” Lamont said, noting that for her, the lyrics generally come last.

Lyricist Joanna Swan, of the Norwich, England-based acid/spooky folk band the Familiars, shared that she’d, “like to think that most if not all my lyrics could stand as poetry if they were not set to music.”

Some of Swan’s influences include Dickinson, Bronte, Rilke, and Goethe. She also mentioned that Robert Graves’ “White Goddess” inspired a poem she wrote for a folk horror anthology called Corpse Roads.

“It contained an extract from the 14th century Charm against the Night Mare and an explanation of how this aspect of the White Goddess supposedly builds nests in hollow yew trees and lines them with the bones of poets she has killed,” she said, “I put the book down and immediately wrote ‘Mare’s Nest’.”

The lyrics of a song are the message, the animating principle, the poetry which is, “the framework within which music is wrapped,” as Knight put it to me.

She mentioned Wendy Rule’s “Butterfly’s Wing” from the Green Album as a great example of the power of lyrics in song.

“I have always found her lyrical phrasing interesting, and this one in particular has a lovely lilt to it.” she said, “of course it doesn’t hurt to hear it delivered via her spectacular voice!”

We are both creatures of the sky, and animals
A cord connecting to Mother Earth
A mind reflecting the Universe
We’re told a thousand different lies of separation
That Nature is outside, but not within
That somehow we’re immune to the changes we bring
But Nature is both Spirit and skin
A balance fine as a butterfly’s wing
Break through the labyrinth of lies and realize
That we’re not the pinnacle of Life, the Grand Design
That we’re not the winners of the prize of dominion over
Time now to open up our eyes and reawaken
A storm is on the rise, it’s time to see
We must listen to the cries of the Earth, our Mother.
For Nature is both Spirit and skin
A balance fine as a butterfly’s wing
Nature is both Spirit and skin
A balance fine as a butterfly’s wing

This was the first song that I heard off of that album, a fundraiser created in partnership with the Rainforest Trust to help protect endangered rainforests in Africa. Like much of what Wendy Rule writes, it has so much depth — the enspirited universe that she sings about, well, to an animist it rings so very true.

Rule also has a quality of constructing a song that is so unique as to be almost otherworldly. The verse that captures my attention the most is the one that holds the song’s title, “Nature is both Spirit and skin/ a balance fine as a butterfly’s wing.” There are novels that could be written out of that line alone. You can almost feel the tissue-thin veil beneath your fingertips, the Spirit that she speaks of is everywhere, imbued in everything around us.

The theme of nature’s living presence comes up in Knight’s own work, as well. Among her enduring favorites (and mine as well) from her catalog is, “Fire in the Head.”

It’s based on a Welsh legend about a mountain that aspiring poets must sleep before in order to be judged by a giant. The risk those poets take? Death or madness, but if they’re deemed worthy, they awaken with “fire in the head,” the gift of poetry.

“I love the legend because it speaks of nature as a living force, and of what great lengths the artistically-minded will go to receive the gifts of poesy,” Knight said, “as though the gift of vision into the unseen worlds, and access to those worlds through words, is of utmost importance. Which, to me, it is.”

Every line of this song is dipped in magick, enjoy.

One of Joanna Swan’s favorite songs is the traditional, “The Cruel Sister,” a murder ballad which she said comes from the Northumbrian tradition. Collected by Francis Child, a 19th century American folklorist and scholar, it has been performed and recorded by countless since.
Here’s a version by British folk band, Pentangle.

As Swan explains, the lyrics are reminiscent of a fairy tale, “with two princesses, one dark and one fair at the centre of it. The dark one drowns the fair one in the sea in a fit of jealousy. When the fair sister’s body washes ashore, minstrels make a harp from her bones and hair and bring it back to the castle, where, when played, it announces the dark sisters’ guilt to the grieving parents.”

The creep-factor is seriously alive in this song, unlike the poor sister who had her bones and hair made into a harp, wow. There’s a longstanding tradition of using the remains of animals and humans to create magickal objects, to great effect for the listener, and also the wronged sister in this piece.

“The songwriting process has always started with the lyrics and then we’ve composed the music around the story those lyrics are telling,” Swan said.

Among her own she chose to share, “The Shaming of Agnes Leman.”

“It’s one of what I call my ‘new songs that sound old,’ taking a story from local history or folklore and using a fairly traditional ballad pattern to construct the verses,” she said.

The story comes from her hometown, Norwich, and recounts how a woman named Agnes Leman was ducked — that is, dunked in the river on a trebuchet-like device — as punishment for engaging in “lewd” behavior with a married man.

Mama Gina has been touring a lot lately and I connected with her between performances along the Gulf Coast where she said that the music of S.J. Tucker has been accompanying her on her journey.

“I dearly love, ‘Ravens in the Library.’ Those lyrics are gold – so much to mine in each word and phrase,” Lamont said.

Lamont’s favorite verse is, “my friend bids me come and see/ the ravens in the library/ setting quiet pages free.”

“It refers to a real moment in time when a friend asked her to go see a picture of ravens in a library. And it sparks the creative, imaginative moment where she envisions ravens learning from books in a post-apocalyptic world. That is what I love about true poets. The words always lead to so much more… and the more you delve, the more possibilities arise,” she said.

This song was also the basis for a fundraising anthology of stories, poetry, and illustrations from contributors like Neil Gaiman, Laurell K. Hamilton and Charles de Lint, among others. It’s no longer in print, so if you find a used copy at a reasonable price, snatch it up!

Lamont has lately been experimenting with a new musical persona, Nine Toes the Bard. It’s a changeup not only in personality, but in style in some ways, inspired by a surgery that left her with one digit less on her left foot. A favorite off of her new album is “Battle for the Moon,” an antiwar ballad with a twist— a bard attempts to stop a war over the moon from happening, but in the end, she ultimately fails. The sides of the red king and blue king battle, leaving nothing but dead behind.

From that song:

Eight and twenty days she sang – the Bard could do no more
And with heavy heart and gods’ release – she left them to their war
She watched each slay the other – ‘til no one stood, not even kings
Her tears ran freely like their blood, “I’ve changed not one damned thing.”

At that point, a former warrior steps forward and tells her it wasn’t all for nought, that her words inspired him not to fight again.

Thanks for indulging me in my love of a little poetry this month, to me it’s among the most magickal art forms, so closely linked to spellwork. Setting them to song only enhances their power, which is why having musicians who are magickal practitioners is such a gift to our community.

Make sure to check out each of the musicians, and if you like their tunes, you know they’d appreciate your patronage. You can find more information and touring schedules for Sharon Knight, Wendy Rule, Mama Gina/Nine Toes the Bard and Joanna Swan and the Familiars at each of their sites.

Author’s Note: Each of these songs linked from Bandcamp have the lyrics on their site. I considered posting the lyrics for every song here, but for the sake of column length, decided against it. I encourage you to go read, or sing, along.

* * *

The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.

This is pretty wonderful

29 April 2017 11:54
vvalkyri: (Default)
[personal profile] vvalkyri
People all over Wyoming wore tutus last night. In Wyoming. There's a "how to make one" gathering in Laramie. Where Matt Shepard was killed.

There's a bunch of bars in cities around the state offering discounts to anybody wearing a tutu.

#liveandlettutu is trending.

Wyoming. Seeing the mention of the tutorial night in Laramie set me crying. (4 hrs sleep probably helped).

Edit: What I wrote on FB: People all over Wyoming had tutu parties and bar crawls last night and a bunch of bars offered discounts to anybody with a tutu. (People mostly put them over clothes.) When I saw the link to the 'make your own' party in _Laramie_, where Matt Shepard was beaten to death for being gay, not so many years ago, I found myself crying.

I doubt that the guy who Enzi knows will get in many fewer bar fights. But last night was a very public display of a fairly major change.

Tutu protests and parties break out in Wyoming over senator's remark
Enzi has apologized for the remarks he made at Greybull High School, in which he told an unusual anecdote in response to a question about how he sees the LGBTQ community in Wyoming. As recounted by the Greybull Standard newspaper, Enzi said:

"I know a guy who wears a tutu and goes to bars on Friday night and is always surprised that he gets in fights. Well, he kind of asks for it. That's the way that he winds up with that kind of problem."

At the time, Enzi said his anecdote illustrated the need for civility and mutual respect, citing Wyoming's "live and let live mantra," as WPM reported. But he was quickly criticized for not succeeding in making that point — and for doing so in an inappropriate setting.

Wyoming Democrats Chairman Joe M. Barbuto said Enzi's comment "was ugly and indicative of a kind of backwards thinking that has no place in today's society."

On Tuesday, Enzi, 73, issued an apology, saying, "I regret a poor choice of words during part of my presentation."

He added, "None of us is infallible and I apologize to anyone who has taken offense. No offense was intended. Quite the opposite in fact, and so I ask for your understanding as well."

The plan for a tutu protest was met with enthusiasm in Wyoming, even prompting a tutorial on making one's own tutu in Laramie Thursday night.

Demonstrators were also urged to keep the issues of bullying and civil rights in mind, with Eliza Hanson urging her fellow protesters, "Wear your tutus this weekend but please take it seriously. Some of us 'wear tutus' on a daily basis and I would really appreciate it if you didn't try and make a joke out of yourself while wearing one."
vvalkyri: (Default)
[personal profile] vvalkyri
A couple things I want to do now and slept too little to remember where to search them
1) find the page that allows me to en masse add people back
2) find the page that allows me to en masse deal with filters
3) find the email with the results of the script for finding dw accounts.

This is partly because I would probably post the below flock what with the fundraising link having my full name, but instead I'm going to just not put a direct link to it.

For those playing at home, I badly turned my right ankle on Sunday, landing a jump. A break is terribly unlikely in that it supported full weight immediately and it was on gymnastics mats, so the stress would have been almost entirely from the turning part as opposed to any impact on anything hard part. Yes, my dr's office has seen pictures, and my shoulder PT was unconcerned, and a couple other medclues also seem to consider it not worrisome. The swelling is at this point variable, and the pain is annoyingly more, either because of less swelling or because I spent a lot of time on my feet Thurs and Fri, doing cleaning and sorting type stuff. Walking in the house had seemed to be not painful at all, but letting the aleve wear off last night by mistake showed me just how different walking was without it.

Anyway, I have the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition DC Chapter walk a week from today. Ovarian can sure as hell use more awareness and research dollars - the 5 year survival stats for anything other than stages 1 and 2 are abysmal, first line therapies work for less than half of those treated, there's no screening, and not a whole lot has changed in a couple decades. (Maybe 10 years ago a short list of 'do not ignore' symptoms was agreed on - bloating, pelvic pain, feeling full too quickly, having to pee often.)

But, um, the ankle.
Ellen suggested yesterday afternoon that I fundraise on a 'help Vval make good life choices' plank - donate in the hopes I /don't/ walk on Saturday but instead walk some time it won't damage my ankle. I'll leave my stated goal low, because last night showed me just how stupid walking a 5k in a week probably is (I'm very upset to realize how long I probably shouldn't dance or acro) but I'd really prefer to raise a full thousand. It's a terrifying diagnosis. If you have ovaries you're at risk.

a graphic describing symptoms of ovarian cancer, and that there is no screening

What I wrote over on FB:
No climate march for me on this ankle, despite it being my usual walking distance away. It was suggested yesterday afternoon that I should raise money for the Ovarian Cancer walk a week from today (link below) by asking people to donate as a "help Marcia make good life choices and /not/ be bad to her ankle." Later last night I let the aleve wear off and was appalled to realize how much of 'oddly, it doesn't hurt to walk in the house' was likely directly due to it, and given the walking speed difference with or without worried I could have been doing further damage.*

https://runwalk.ovarian.org/dcmetro/Fundraising/individual/ will get you to the search page; my first name will get you to me.

Re the climate march, I know a bunch of friends will be there, and I'm glad to see there's educational parts. In one post someone commented about hoping economic aspects will be brought up, like, for example Florida real estate.

The Florida real estate part is especially compelling; I've posted about it before. But I ran across an article last night that gives me hope - there's a bipartisan caucus on climate, and it doesn't surprise me that the co-chair of the Climate Solutions Caucus is the GOP congressman who represents the Florida Keys. I'll post about this all in its own post, but I thought including something hopeful in a post about not marching might be nice :)


Edit: Also, I've just learned - the climate march has been planned since 2014 to be on the 100th day of the new administration. A useful tidbit of info.

* lots of icing late last night, slept with it up, planning on being way more slow regardless of what feels okay. A long conversation about how I seem to think my walking around on an ankle all day is a clever response to spraining it, with me realizing that spending several hours cleaning/straightening/sorting is still standing and walking, even if within the confines of one room and not measured in miles what with not using a fitbit or pedometer.

hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath
The 5k obstacle course I signed up for is tomorrow.

So of course today I get sick.

I feel bad because I've already paid and I was planning to do it with my friend. But my body has very definitely done that "you've done Too Many Things so I'm going to make you sick enough that you stop!" thing that I recognize so well.

And I have done too much this week. But it's been worth it to keep Lib Dem stuff going, and it's been interesting. But man, even with 24 hours "off" between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday afternoon, it's taken a huge toll on me.

Not just in hours spent but being responsible and having to make decisions all the time is grinding me down. This is so the opposite of what I signed up for.

But things change, and things need doing, and done is better than perfect.

Scheduled Site Maintenance

28 April 2017 10:01
[syndicated profile] daily_otter_feed

Posted by Daily Otter

Hi everyone! Just a note that the Daily Otter will temporarily be down over the weekend for some site maintenance. We’ll be back as soon as possible!

[syndicated profile] thewildhunt_feed

Posted by Karl E. H. Seigfried

From Oct. 5 through 8, Frith Forge 2017 will be held in Petzow, Germany. Organized by the Troth’s International Relations and Exchange Program, the event is designed as “an international conference among inclusive Asatru/Heathen organizations and individuals.”

According to the official website for the October conference,

Frith Forge is the space and time on an international level to build alliances, understanding, and friendships among us instead of compartmentalizing further in an industrialized world. Let’s learn from each other with respect and fellowship to forge frith [Old Norse “peace”] among us. Together we can enjoy this opportunity to discuss inclusion in religion and to promote cultural, religious, and educational exchange.

frith forge poster

Several organizations have confirmed that they are sending leaders or prominent members as representatives to present about their groups, including Asatru UK , Distelfink Sippschaft (USA), De Negen Werelden (Netherlands), and Verein für Germanisches Heidentum (Germany). Other Pagan groups that include Heathen members will also be participating, including Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (USA) and Pagan Federation International Deutschland.

In addition to these introductions to the various organizations, the conference will include rituals, workshops, group discussions, presentations on a variety of topics, and vendor tables.

Although based in the United States, the international Ásatrú and Heathen organization known the Troth currently has members served by official stewards in Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. A branch in the U.K. was started in 1993, chartered as an autonomous branch in 1995 and — due to increasing interest from non-U.K. Europeans — became Ring of Troth Europe later the same year. A German partner organization was founded in 2000 as “Eldaring – the Troth Deutschland,” although it became independent in 2009 to receive nonprofit status and is now simply called Eldaring.

Founded in June of last year, the Troth’s International Relations and Exchange Program was created “to explore options for improved interaction, education, research, and communication among the Heathens in the various Heathen homelands.” Program coordinator Amanda Leigh-Hawkins says that a main goal is to build and strengthen ties and focus on commonalities rather than differences: “The inclusive USA Heathens need to connect more with the inclusive European Heathens and vice versa. I hope that as all of our small groups connect, we will find that it reduces the infighting and obsession over old redundant arguments.”

Troth steersman Robert L. Schreiwer expands on the goals for the conference:

While Frith Forge is about inclusive Heathenry, it may be more accurate to say that it is a gathering of Heathens who are inclusive. We are seeing a rise in dangerous thinking that is creating the same schisms within Heathenry that are appearing within several Western nations. The true diversity of American Heathenry is often misunderstood abroad, but, as some of the same issues are arising in other countries, more Heathens abroad are seeing the value in creating networks and friendships with like-minded Heathens around the world.

Heathens have many different traditions and backgrounds, yet we face many of the same challenges in many countries. Our wider societies do not understand our religion or why we pursue it. Many Heathens do not understand the many subcultures within our religion, and events like Frith Forge can help Heathens who are inclusive to learn about one another, to form networks to help one another, and to make friendships that will help us to keep pace with one another’s activities.

Leigh-Hawkins also hopes the conference will create a space to build dialogue on the engagement of Heathenry with changes in today’s world. She says, “I want to discuss implicit bias and inclusion in religions versus inclusion in the branches of Ásatrú and Heathenry specifically, how our political and religious struggles are overlapping more than before Brexit and Trump.”

She also pushes back on divisive trends in Heathenry today that build walls instead of bridges: “There is a struggle for inclusive Heathens to maintain and nurture healthy boundaries in our circles. We fear connecting with other Heathen groups because of racism but also because of ‘you’re not the boss of me, you’re doing it all wrong’ and ‘you don’t live near me, so I’m not going to recognize that you matter.’ We try to define and label ourselves, which further separates us for good reasons and bad.”

Philip John Parkyn, a founding member of Asatru UK, also believes that current events necessitate action from Heathen organizations: “With racist religious groups in Europe seeking to exploit the current surge to the right in the political tides, I feel the need is more urgent than ever for the inclusive groups to join in finding positive actions to address the public perception of Heathenry.”

Haimo Grebenstein serves as Ewart (coordinator for ritual and religious matters) for the German Heathen organization known as Verein für Germanisches Heidentum (Association for Germanic Heathenry). He has been working with Leigh-Hawkins to design and coordinate the specifics of the conference. He emphasizes the importance of Heathens engaging in open dialogue: “The world is becoming weirder at an accelerating pace, and this happens everywhere. In my experience, this has an impact on personal relations, and I consider that to be not good at all. As Heathens, Pagans, and Ásatrúar, we do share at least a similar – or even an equivalent – mind-set as a foundation for frith: dialogue, friendship, and mutual respect. I honestly consider Frith Forge to be an act of international understanding.”

Schreiwer explains why the U.S.-based Troth decided to hold the conference in Germany:

When the idea of Frith Forge first arose, we in the Troth had considered several locations for the first conference. Historically, the Troth has had strong ties to some European organizations. The idea of Frith Forge is to celebrate and to expand those relationships while creating new connections with other organizations in Europe and elsewhere. Since we were the ones seeking the new connections, it made sense for us to take to the road.

German culture is very rich in Heathen lore ranging from sacred sites and ancient votives to Externsteine, the Brocken, and the Goseck circle. German Heathens know their history, and they have a lot of insight and experience to share. I am looking forward to learning from them as well as sharing with them some of what the migrants from these same lands brought with them to the United States.

Germany also is located within a comfortable traveling distance from many other European countries that have large Heathen populations. I am eager to meet these people and to learn about their histories and their current methods of Heathen religious expression.

Grebenstein believes that Frith Forge complements the International Ásatrú Summer Camp (IASC) and the Eldathing, Heathen gatherings already established in Europe, and says, “These are three different events with different settings and target groups. Frith Forge goes across the borders of Europe and extends the target group of the others. There have been a few difficult moments with U.S. visitors at the IASCs, so I do see a need for a mutual engagement in order to understand each other better. IASC has proven for Europe that, although we have different religious understandings and ritual practices, we have more in common than we expected and we can support each other.”

Teutoburger Forest by Ivan Shishkin (1831–1898) [public domain]

Grebenstein is also organizing the Sacred Sites Tour Germany 2017, which will follow the conference and run from Oct. 8 through Oct. 14. It includes visits to places of Heathen interest such as the Kyffhäuser monument to Barbarossa; the Oberdola excavation site, museum, reconstructed buildings, and recreated sacrificial sites; the Frau Holle pond; the Exernsteine; the Teutoburger forest; megalithic sites; and the Viking Age trading center Haithabu (Hedeby).

He hopes that the tour will extend the frith-building of the conference, and points out that “Frith Forge is only a couple of days and is packed with scheduled events. There will be not so much time for individual talks and really getting to know other persons. The tour is different – being close together for six days all day long, sharing Heathen experience and history. In the Asatru-EU Network, it took years to build up the mutual trust that carries the network, split up into several smaller gatherings. The tour may pack this process within a week. At least I hope it will.”

Specifics for the Frith Forge conference can be found here, and details for the Sacred Sites of Germany Tour are here.

* * *

The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.


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