Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Releasing the Darkness

I subscribe to a website called "The Daily OM".  Every day I receive an inspirational message from them, and every once in a while I receive one that is truly exceptional.  Today I received one of those, and I would like to share it with you.  The title of this particular message is "Relating to the Negative: The Danger of Repression".  Out of respect for copyright, the link for the full message is here.

It opens this way:

"For the last several years, there has been a lot of focus on the power of positive thinking. Many people have come to misinterpret this wisdom to mean that it is not okay to have a bad mood or a negative thought or feeling."

This is more or less the way I was raised, that it's better to be positive, and of course, that IS a good thing.  However, I interpreted it to mean that I should never get angry, never be negative, and never express my negativity, especially if it would make someone else feel bad.  That is NOT a good thing; it wasn't then, and it isn't now.  Unfortunately, a lot of people try to live this way.

What I believe, and what this message tells me, is that it's okay (REALLY okay!) to have negative feelings and bad days, to feel anger, sadness, and all that stuff that so many of us are taught is wrong or dangerous to have in our lives.  Without the negative, we would never know what it is to feel happiness or positive feelings, because we would always feel the same.  Where's the fun in that???   

A case in point:  I just got back this last Monday from the latest crisis at my mom's.  She had fallen out of bed and had to go the hospital for stitches in her leg.  I was there for basically six days.  I also have a new position at work, and it's causing me a fair amount of stress as I try to learn it and DO it at the same time.  Last night, I did laundry, and while drying I discovered that I was missing one of my favorite socks (bright green with black skull-and-crossbones all over them).  I had worn them at my mom's, so I knew I had put both in the wash.  I went through every single wet piece of clothing, shaking them and peering into them to make sure the sock wasn't stuck inside something.  Then I came totally unglued, sobbing and screaming -- I even smacked the wall!  Poor Martin went outside to the laundry room twice, checking to see if I had dropped it in there or on the way.  (We have a dryer, but not a washer, so we use the complex laundry for washing, then take our clothes home to dry.)  How embarrassing when I discovered the sock in the dryer the third time I checked it!  I could NOT believe that I had fallen apart like that over a SOCK!  

But the fact is that, after expressing my negativity in that way, I actually felt better.  It wasn't really the missing sock that upset me, it was the built-up tension and fear from dealing with my mom's accident, and the built-up stress of my new job, and the fact that I had to be strong and in control for both.  I needed to be able to express my anger and frustration so that I could release the darkness and continue to function in an appropriate way.  

We need our negative feelings and thoughts, our bad moods and our anger, and we need the ability to express them in ways that release the garbage they produce from our souls.  Otherwise, we become like capped volcanoes, with the negativity building up inside us until, like Vesuvius, it explodes with such a vengeance that it buries us alive.

Monday, February 9, 2015

My New Gothic/Shadow Sabbats

One of the difficult things about being a pagan goth, at least for me, is celebrating the Sabbats in the traditional manner.  I have no problem with late summer and fall harvest festivals, like Lammas (aka Lughnassagh),  the Autumn Equinox (Mabon), or Samhain/Hallowe'en, or with deep winter celebrations like the Winter Solstice (Yule).  But somehow, I just cannot get excited about rituals involving standing out in the sun for any period of time, let alone being HAPPY about it!  So Sabbats such as Imbolc/Candlemas, the Spring Equinox (Ostara), Beltane/May Day, and especially the Summer Solstice (Litha) can be a real problem for me.  However, I have found a few "darker" ways to get around this dilemma.

Frankly, a couple of these Sabbats have absolutely NO meaning for me.  Beltane (May Day) was originally a fertility festival, which is fine if you are trying to have children, grow crops or a garden, raise animals, or "birth" something in your life.  And although I've always enjoyed rituals for Lammas, the August festival of "first fruits", again, there isn't any real meaning for that in my life.  So I decided to remove these from my calendar entirely, unless and until I can find some good reason to celebrate them.  However, I added the Mexican Days of the Dead in November ("Dias de los Muertos") because four days of celebrating and honoring the dead just seem SO appropriate, especially right after Samhain!

I have already replaced Imbolc with the Celebration of the Eternal Maidens/Youths I described in my previous post. Here is my projected list of 'new and improved' Sabbats:

February 1 or 2: Imbolc  "Celebration of the Eternal Maidens/Youths"

March/April:  Ostara (Spring Equinox)  "Celebration of Coming Forth by Day"

June:  Litha  "Welcoming the Waning Year"  (the day after the Summer Solstice)

September:  Mabon (Autumn Equinox)  "Into the Darkness"

October 31: Samhain/Hallowe'en  "Final Harvest: Honoring the Dead"
                    (similar to Samhain and Hallowe'en combined)

November 1-3:  "Days of the Dead  (Dias de los Muertos)"

December: Yule  "Winter Solstice: Night of Shadows"

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term "coming forth by day", the generic name of the so-called Egyptian Books of the Dead was "The Book of Going Forth by Day".  They were individual collections of various prayers, formulas, spells and information written for the dead to help them get past all the dangers of the Underworld so they could reach the Hall of Judgment in safety, and then telling them what declarations to make to the gods so they would hopefully be admitted into their version of the Afterlife. Each "book" (which might be written on papyrus scrolls, on the inside of the coffin, or even on the tomb walls) was specifically geared toward the individual who purchased it, so they are all somewhat different.  In creating this particular celebration (which is still a work in progress), I changed the word 'going' to 'coming' because I am building it around the idea of the dead 'coming' to us instead of us 'going' to them.  Well, it makes sense to ME, anyway...

So, what holidays do YOU really celebrate, and how do you celebrate them? 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

My "Celebration of the Eternal Maidens/Youths"

For most pagans, February 1 is known as either Imbolc or Candlemas.  It is considered the actual beginning of spring, when the earth begins to awaken after her long winter sleep.  However, for the last few years I have been celebrating my own more goth version, which I call the Celebration of the Eternal Maidens/Youths. 

I began by going to my local grocery store and buying white flowers.  I try to find the less expensive ones that have many blooms on fewer stems; they don't have to be fancy, no need to spend a lot.  I cut the blooms off the long stems, leaving individual flowers with stems only a few inches long, and put them into a small basket.  Then I took them to the local cemetery, to the older section, which has an area dedicated to the graves of children.  I looked for the ones under 16 years old, with no flowers, toys or other signs that people are visiting them.  And on each lonely, untended grave, I placed a small white flower, then read the child's name out loud. 

These are the children who will never grow old, the Eternal Maidens and Eternal Youths.  May they dance forever in the sunshine.

"S/he who can be named is remembered.  S/he who is remembered lives."   


February: "I'm So Goth..."

A tribute to the First Lady of Goth...