Monday, January 23, 2006

The Color Quiz - pretty true colors

Reading my friends' Scott and Tonja's blogs recently, I saw this color quiz. I followed the link and took the quiz. Results? Stunningly accurate. Read and learn...

Your Existing Situation
Seeks to share a bond of understanding intimacy in an esthetic atmosphere of peace and tenderness.
Your Stress Sources
Wants to overcome a feeling of emptiness and to bridge the gap which she feels separates herself from others. Anxious to experience life in all its aspects, to explore all its possibilities, and to live it to the fullest. She therefore resents any restriction or limitation being imposed on her and insists on being free and unhampered.
Your Restrained Characteristics
Feels that she cannot do much about her existing problems and difficulties and that she must make the best of things as they are. Able to achieve satisfaction from sexual activity.
Your Desired Objective
Seeks success, stimulation, and a life full of experience. Wants to develop freely and to shake off the shackles of self-doubt, to win, and to live intensely. Likes contacts with others and is enthusiastic by nature. Receptive to anything new, modern, or intriguing; has many interests and wants to expand her fields of activity. Optimistic about the future.
Your Actual Problem
Fights against restriction or limitation, and insists on developing freely as a result of her own efforts.
Your Actual Problem #2
The fear that she might be prevented from achieving the things she wants leads her to play her part with an urgent and hectic intensity.

You can take the quiz, too, if you'd like:

What do I believe?

Being a modern neo-pagan, without the convenience of a pre-packaged kit of thou shalls and thou shalt nots, I have worked hard to develop a statement of belief. It's always been more about the process than the result. I don't 'require' a mission statement for my life, but the exploration, the questioning, the searching that have gone and are still going into the process of this statement of belief have been very enlightening. Never a dull moment!

So...where am I in the quest? Right now, I have a working thesis of what I believe. I call it that because I am loathe to think of it as a static, now-we-have-the-answers kind of thing. Faith, belief, knowledge, wisdom - all have to remain fluid or they risk becoming just another set of outdated ideas, clung to out of some misplaced loyalty to what may have been truth (or not) at one time. Getting 'the answer' would mean that I might miss 'the next answer'...the better, truer, more important answer. If I get 'the answer', I might stop peeling back the layers before I reach the source. That would be tragic!

Here's where I stand today.

1. I am a neo-pagan practicing an eclectic Wiccan path. I've come to the conclusion that it is a Wiccan path, though that wasn't an easy conclusion to reach. There are so many disparate answers to the question of what is Wicca and how it differs from everything else. It seems to boil down to just a few things: Recognition of both God and Goddess, celebration of the Sabbats and Esbats, the embracing of natural magic, and acceptance of the Wiccan Rede ('An it harm none, do what thou wilt.") It seems that most else is left up to individual interpretation. There are common ritual forms and ritual etiquette, though none of them are carved in stone. All in all, Wicca fits me as well as any other description and I'm happy to bear the name.

2. I am a panentheist. I believe that God and Goddess are terms we use for a creative force that exists both in us and outside us. We are part of that force and thus, in essence, we are part of the Divine. There are times when I call on Divinity within. There are other times when I look to the larger expression of that Divinity, to the Old Ones, the All, the Creative Force of the Universe... the huge, collective mass of all that force. I do not feel separate from the Divine - I am Divine.

3. I call on Divinity both within and without through the many faces and personas they have taken (or we have given) throughout time. I call both male and female, God and Goddess. I can no longer imagine walking a spiritual path that marginalizes or eliminates one gender from the concept of Divinity.

4. I do not believe that the body is bad the spirit is good, or any other false and oversimplified categorization that tries to separate the physical parts of our existence from the emotional, psychological, intellectual, sexual, and spiritual parts. There are no parts. There is just the whole - integrated, interdependent, and sacred. My sexuality is just as divine as my spirituality...they are one and the same, expressed differently to fit the circumstances.

5. I believe in the rule of three - that what we put into the universe comes back to us threefold. Whether the "three" is literal or simply expresses that energy expended comes back to us increased - for good or for bad - is immaterial to me. I've seen the truth of the concept every day of my life. The same concept appears in other mythos, and I remember well from my Bible study days, "You reap what you sow." The famous Golden Rule: "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you," is most often interpreted as a way in which to treat others. I believe it's more about ourselves - it's telling us that the way we treat others is what we can expect in return. In fact, the Golden Rule is really a pretty lousy guide for how to treat other people. Why not treat them as they would have done unto them?

6. I believe that every one of us is ultimately responsible for his or her own behavior, decisions, ethics, morals, and actions. I cannot relinquish that responsibility. It is mine and mine alone. For that reason, I cannot grant spiritual authority to anyone else. I respect elders in the Craft and in other belief systems. I learn from them. I turn to them for guidance. Ultimately, though, the decisions are mine to make. No matter how learned, wise, or experienced the teacher, they cannot shield me from that responsibility, nor can I follow unquestioningly. They are responsible for what and how they teach. I am responsible for what and how I learn and what I do with the knowledge. It is my job to sift through the words and rhetoric and find the nuggets of truth that live there, to apply them in my life, and to pass them on when opportunity arises.

7. My path is more about now than then. I am interested in "the old religion" because there are truths to be found there that have been distorted through time. I am interested in "the old ways" because they reflect a lifestyle that was by necessity more in tune with the rhythms and cycles of Nature. The test of the validity of my path, though, is how it informs my life, here, now, today. How do I apply the knowledge? How do I make my own life more responsive to the heartbeat and breath of Nature? How do I honor the Divine in a world that has so little honor? How do I live in balance in a world of artificial daylight, year-round climate control, and unceasing productivity? That is the test of my path and the quest of my journey.

8. I believe that one of the reasons I am here is to help remove barriers to understanding and acceptance. As a step in that direction, I do not hide my path. I know that Wicca was kept secret for many years, and that "to keep silent" is part and parcel of the Craft. I also know that, as a well-respected corporate professional, I have an opportunity to put a face on paganism and Wicca that isn't always seen. I have a chance to be the well-liked team member, the trusted business partner, the ethical employee - and a practicing Wiccan. I'm not 'in your face' about my religion any more than I would want others to be in mine. But I don't hide it. I rarely name it, though. I will talk to anyone about what I believe, how I celebrate, and the ethical standards that guide my daily steps. Typically, especially among Christians, we find a surpising amount of common ground. By not naming my path immediately, I usually postpone the slamming door of the mind and leave a pathway open for understanding and acceptance. Of course, if asked, I will answer honestly, and I have been asked several times, "Are you Wiccan?" I answer truthfully and let the chips fall where they will. So far, so good.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Chattacon Weekend - Come and Gone

This weekend was spent at Chattacon, partying among the geeks and nerds, the freaks and fetishists, and all the assorted and uncatagorized who come out to play at Sci-Fi conventions. It is my fourth Chattacon (had to count the t-shirts to be sure); it is Jim's 20-something-th Chattacon.

Even if I hated cons, I don't think I could possibly refuse to attend with him and try to have a good time. He loves these things. Fortunately, so do I. Truthfully, I doubt that I enjoy them as much as he does, but that's ok. We have a good time and it's fun to watch him revel in the revelry.

My husband is a very loved man - by me, of course, but also by a host of friends who truly cherish him and the magic he brings to their lives. Jim has the uncanny nack of making everyone around him feel welcome. He especially is good at making women feel attractive and sexy and desired, without ever making them feel disrespected or demeaned. The only explanation I have for that is he honestly, truly, loves and respects women. He finds them fascinating and mysterious and sexy. He loves 'em all...tall, short, fat, thin, old, young... and he enjoys different facets of the - slutty, demure, all-business, playful, intelligent, emotional. And women, it seems, are able to bring more and more of those facets out to play when they feel safe.

Safe from what? Safe from someone who respects the demure woman or the business woman but treats the slut with derision. Safe from someone who would attempt to take advantage of the emotional. Safe from someone who would treat that emotion with disdain.

Jim can ogle a woman's breasts openly and she will enjoy it. She won't get mad, or tell him to look at her eyes. Most, given a little time to get to know him, will shake their ta-ta's for him in a heartbeat. It's quite amazing, actually. And he loves it. Interestingly enough, so do I. Well, most of the time.

Occasionally, the green dragon raises her head and gives me a bit of discomfort. I try to keep her under control because I am convinced that jealousy is a totally non-productive emotion. Nonetheless, she lives. Fortunately for us, though, she's an easily controlled dragon most of the time. Jim is a unique man and squandering that special gift on possessivness would be a shame.

So... back to Chattacon. It was a blast! I hope we can continue to enjoy the cons for a long time. It's just another good thing my husband has brought to my life. :) Thanks, Baby.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Morning Song

New blog...first morning song.

I've been journaling lately using paper and a humble pen - a big change for one so tuned to technology. I've been composing at the keyboard for 25 years! Returning to handwriting was freeing, rythmic and peaceful. Unfortunately, it's also slow, and time is so short. And there's the problem of others not having access to my handwritten journal.

One might think it an asset to have one's private thoughts remain private. In truth, I believe that we call those thoughts private, not so much because we don't want to share them, as because we fear rejection or derision. Deep down, we want more than anything to be understood, to have others know us well enough to understand the heart behind the hapless blunders, the giving spirit behind the goof-ups, the shy child behing the silly humor. We want our most private thoughts to be known to those who will hold them delicately, careful not to bruise or soil. We want to be known.

This blog is a leap of faith for me. Most people who know me characterize me as an open book. I have come a long, long way from the girl I was 30 years ago, the girl who was so good at being a chameleon that she couldn't remember who she actually was. I am no longer that girl, and yet there are still times when I feel the old fear of rejection creeping in. Through this blog, I hope to ignore the fear and say those things my heart longs to say, taking my chances that some may choose to throw the baby out with the bathwater and reject me along with my ideas.

There is another aspect to the faith behind this journal. I read years ago, in a book called The Adjusted American (Snell and Gail Putney, publication date unknown), that one of the greatest gifts we can give to others is to let them in on our fears, foibles, and fantasies, our doubts, dreams, and desires, our beauty and our beast (and our absurd fondness for alliteration). Our culture emphasises sharing only the positives. We stoically keep our shortcomings to ourselves. In doing so, we increase the isolation in which we all move through life. We begin to think of our personal struggles as unique, unusual, out of the norm - when, in fact, they're absolutely normal. We all struggle, we all fail, we all triumph. And if sharing mine will make others feel less isolated and alone in theirs, the share them I will.

So, settle in, mark the spot, and visit again often. Here in my hymnal will you find the songs of my heart, the music and rhythm of my life. Sing along if you like... harmony is always welcome. So is discord, when delivered with respect and honesty. Or simply listen, if you prefer. Either way, I hope the song eases your path for a little while.