Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Taking time to remember the natural order.

Today, as I was walking to class (which was a whole 10 minutes ago at the time of writing) I witnessed a truly magical sight.  Near a tree on campus there was a red-tailed hawk feeding on a squirrel.  I promptly brushed the snow off a nearby bench and sat for a good 20 minutes while I watched the hawk feed.


While this is not the actual hawk I saw, it is a fair representation.  I felt intrusive enough observing the bird feed.

To me, birds of prey are the most majestic.  There is an inherent power and intensity in a bird of prey that is beautiful and intoxicating.  While I watched the bird I was struck by the thought off how tragic it would be if animals like this were no longer common in nature.  It was a beautiful depiction of the natural order of things starkly contrasted by the surrounding buildings in which we are educated on abstract topics, many of human invention.  There is often a large disconnect between our everyday lives and nature.  Sometimes we are swept up in the semi-chaos of civilization and forget about nature all together.

Little things, like seeing a bird of prey feeding on its prey can be enough to ground us and remind us to respect and revere the natural world that we all come from, and the ways in which it has been corrupted.  I think now of a letter, sent by Chief Seattle of the Dwamish Tribe to President Pierce in 1855 which states a whole hosts of things far more eloquently than I ever could:


THE GREAT CHIEF in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. The Great Chief also sends us words of friendship and good will. This is kind of him, since we know he has little need of our friendship in return. But we will consider your offer, for we know if we do not so the white man may come with guns and take our land. What Chief Seattle says you can count on as truly as our white brothers can count on the return of the seasons. My words are like the stars - they do not set.

How can you buy or sell the sky - the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. Yet we do not own the freshness of the air or the sparkle of the water. How can you buy them from us? We will decide in our time. Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing, and every humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people.

We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his father's graves and his children's birthright is forgotten. The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the redman. But perhaps it is because the redman is a savage and does not understand.

There is no quiet place in the white man's cities. No place to listen to the leaves of spring or the rustle of insect wings. But perhaps because I am a savage and do not understand - the clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lovely cry of the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night? The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind itself cleansed by a mid-day rain, or scented by a pin├Án pine: The air is precious to the redman. For all things share the same breath - the beasts, the trees, and the man. The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes. Like a man dying for many days, he is numb to the stench.

If I decide to accept, I will make one condition. The white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers. I am a savage and I do not understand any other way. I have seen thousands of rotting buffaloes on the prairie left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am a savage and do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive. What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beast also happens to the man.

All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

On podcasting, and the beginning of a new semester.

I really love listening to pagan podcasts.  Of course, I've plugged the Wigglians already on the blog here and they continue to be my favorite pagan podcast.  I regularly listen to several podcasts and a couple years back I wanted to start my own personal pagan podcast where I would discuss lots of things such as current events, basic topics in witchcraft, things that happened to me in my adventures in witchery, and what my friends were also going through while walking the path.

Thinking about this now seems a bit absurd because I was 17 at the time and still had so much to learn.  I still have a lot to learn, we should never stop learning, but now that I'm infinitely more independent than I was I feel the need to perhaps expand from the blog into the realm of podcasting.  I feel as though podcasting will be a whole new sort of way to discuss things and will be distinctly different from the blog.

Something I really love about podcasts (not just pagan ones) is the concept of having a co-pilot/co-host/partner with whom to converse throughout the podcast.  I feel as though this adds even more depth to the content of the podcast, a richness that can be more difficult to achieve by a solo-podcaster.

If you haven’t already guessed, Ben (Iolair from With My Lantern Held Aloft) and I are great friends (for example, in high school we were referred to as a singular Ben-and-Liz unit, you rarely got one without the other) and thoroughly enjoy talking about almost anything.  We were on the phone last night until about 2AM; I had to call him to comment on Episode 62 of The Wigglian Way, which led to lots of discussions and tangents.  I was reminiscing about my futile attempt at podcasting as a 17 year old witch and then Ben, like the freaking genius he is, comes up with the best idea: to do a podcast that incorporates paganism and crafting, specifically how the two can enhance each other.

It just seems so perfect. We both really love to make things and are always willing to experiment with new kinds of crafts. (Look forward to posts when our spring breaks overlap because we’re going to make candles and… something else, but I can’t remember what at the moment.)  It’s lovely to post about the witchy crafts one makes in their blog, and there is an abundance of that in the blog-o-sphere.  We were both of the opinion that podcasting would really be a great way to talk about merging crafts with the Craft and there are a whole lot of ways we could do that. (I think I'll dedicate a whole blog post specifically to other blogs/sites that incorporate paganism and crafting, so look forward to that soon, as I'll be sure to update it regularly!)

It's a really exciting prospect and we're both working together to solidify the ideas and concepts for the show.  There are also a myriad of technical details that need to be sorted out, so it will all need to happen in its time.  I know Iolair is busy with school right now and I have yet to settle into the rythm of things, so more on the prospective podcast soon.

Also, I started school on Tuesday!  Spring semester of 2010 at Kent State University in gorgeous Kent, Ohio! (Felt like a commercial just there...)  I'm really excited about this semester because I feel like all of the classes are going to be really interesting, if challenging. (For example, I do not look forward to spending my Spring break writing a paper and crafting a presentation...) All pessimism aside, it's going to be good.  My first two days have passed with only a few headaches and I remain optimistic!

I hope you are all doing well!  Also, if you have any sort of feedback in regards to the idea of a pagan-crafting podcast, please leave comments because I love reading them!

Until next time,

Ancasta (Liz)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Kitsch, "muggles" and my approaching return to college...

Just finished watching that preciously mentioned episode of What Not To Wear and I really want to go shopping now... (Not that we can solely credit the episode for this, I mean, I am a 19 year old female and I so enjoy shopping...)  My response is, on the whole, positive.

They played into the whole witch trials thing at the beginning, and it was a tad irksome.  I figured it was going to be that way from the commercials for the episode, so I was prepared.  From what I gathered, they let the woman keep a few kitschy pieces for special occasions, and I approve of that decision.  Her wardrobe was kind of extreme (goth-tastic to the max) and she looked even more gorgeous in her new clothes and it seemed to be a very positive experience.  Edit: For example, here's a clip from the YouTub when they went through her clothing:



P.S. - I have those same witch-flying-across-the-moon pajama pants, and they are FABULOUS (but I don't wear them outside of my place of residence...)

It was an interesting hour (the commercials reminded me how much I detest television) and made me long for a kitsch section of my closet so much.  I don't often think about fashion aside from whether or not clothes fit my body (going shopping with friends that have nice tastes helps in the aesthetics department though).  This episode made me a) want to go shopping for some more cute clothes and b) made me think; one of the hosts said that everyone judges people [to some extent] based on the way they dress.  That still leaves a lot of room for kitsch, which I adore, and I'm glad that was recognized.

Lesson for today: witches (even if they live in Salem) don't need to dress all in black with pointy hats in striped stocking all the time (especially if they have to attend a PTA meeting).  And frankly, it's not "what everyone looks for when they go to Salem", it's come to the point that it's what everyone expects to see, which isn't really a good thing, in my personal opinion.

One thing did bug me during the show though: the use of the word 'muggle'.  Honestly, I've never heard anyone use that term seriously to describe anything "non-magical" or "non-witchy".  Also, the fact that the word's first major usage was in Harry Potter and is now being used by actual witches in a seemingly serious way was a little irksome (but I'll get over it).

On a completely unrelated note: I go back to college on Sunday!  I'm really quite excited for another semester with 2 concurrent political science classes and am really looking forward to my Intro to Cultural Anthropology class!  I do love school, when coupled with living by myself I find that I am extremely balanced and happy.  I can't wait to return to that state of being and back into my element of academia.  Most of my friends have already had a week or so of classes so the transition will be quite easy.  Being only an hour away means I get to see my family more, which is yet another blessing.

Best wishes and blessings,

Ancasta

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fashion!

Heh.  I just deleted four draft blog posts off my little blog-menu-thingy ranging in dates from later November '09 to three days from this post.  Eh, I start a blog entry and it seems all glorious and laced with my thoughts and opinions on lofty issues like feminism, loss or the past year and how it shaped my craft... then I realize that my ability to articulate on those topics since my winter vacation has started is really shitty.  Perhaps once I get back into the swing of college and sort out all the jumbled thoughts in my head you'll get some really thought-provoking entries out of me.  (That's right, I can only get my thoughts together when I'm in the midst of the chaos that is college...  Perhaps I overthink when I have all the time in the world to think.)

For now, let's talk about fashion!  That's right, TLC's What Not To Wear is making over a Salem witch, and I am really going to be glued to the TV on Friday night.  (That last bit sounded kind of pathetic when I typed it...)  Anywho, I'm excited to see how this show plays out in any case, it seems like the particular Salem witch they've chosen has quite a bit of witch-wear that I don't think Stacy London will like one bit.  (I might be really upset if they make her throw away striped stockings though, I mean... I've been wanting to buy some for ages just so I could wear them all the time and run around like a crazy person with my friends.)

Evidently, they're also playing into the whole Salem witch trials bit, which really doesn't surprise me.  From what I've read in other blog posts, the 'charade of bullshit' (blending modern day witchcraft and pageantry with a tragic historical... oh, just go read Albiana's blog post.  It's far more articulate than anything you'll get out of me at 2:30AM) is almost unavoidable in Salem...  If you think you can stand what that might turn into and if you can stand What Not To Wear, you could watch it so that if I write more about it I don't just sound like a lunatic, and it could prove to be a potential hour (or half hour?) of diversion.

Or, you could just catch the re-run if you're flipping channels on the weekend at some absurd hour of the night because you can't sleep (and don't feel like trudging outside through the snow/ice by yourself in the middle of the night in Northeast Ohio...).