Exploring the past, the present and possibilities- with sojourns into the abyss thrown in for good measure!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New Year- New projects- different blog

For those that know who I am, I follow a different path.

Samhain, Hallowe'en, is the Celtic New Year. A time for beginnings, insights and beginnings/endings.
My birthday is also in October. Many major events in my life have happened in October. For this reason, I don't do spring cleaning, I do autumnal cleanings. I purge my home, my brain, etc and I start my projects.

I have one that I call Life By Numbers, where there are things I do everyday (quotes), week (photos and recipes), month and this time around I'm adding quarters, my 101 in 1001 list and my latest undertaking...30 Days.

Inspired by Morgan Spurlock and science, I'm going to be taking on new things for 30 days at a time, including things like *gasp* going to church and bible study- because frankly, I don't get it. I'm not looking to convert, I'm looking to understand. This is one of many undertakings I plan but in the sake of organization, I will be keeping those in a blog title Life By Numbers.

You can find my introductory 30 Days post there and I would love if you would join me on this journey and share your thoughts, opinions, what would you do, etc?

Join me and see what the lucky numbers are!  http://365-52-12.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hawk and Crow collide

I sat on my front steps the other day. The sun danced through the tittering leaves on the maple tree that takes up most of our front yard and the cool breeze tickled my skin. A hint of autumn scented the air. The neighborhood was peaceful, sleepy almost, though it was late afternoon.

Squirrels skittered about, leaping and bounding through the tall grass of our yard and the weeds that line the neighbors house. From somewhere behind me I heard an uncommon sound split the calm, the distinct screeching of a raptor which was quickly answered by the caw of a crow. The small animals scurried up trees and under bushes as the haunting sounds echoed between the houses.

Then, from the corner of my eye I caught the motion- a crow swooped from the side of my home, a hawk right on its tail-feathers. Awed, I watched as the hawk descended, talons outstretched to scratch along the back of the crow. Both animals released their cries and every critter in the neighborhood coward from the aerial battle.

They dove behind my neighbors house and though I tried to follow them, they moved so quickly that I lost them amongst the trees.

I pondered the entire occurrence, which was like nothing I had ever seen before. Formidable birds rarely seen together locked in a race, a battle, for what? Some delightful morsel? It's too late in the year for the protection of young and nests. What could possibly have triggered this?

For some reason the book The Native American Medicine Wheel popped into my head. I read it ages ago and loaned it to someone, never to see it again. In the days since the battle I've been thinking about this more and more. A friend who is very much into lore, and another who holds to superstitions and omens, believe this was something meant specifically for me to witness. They believe it was not merely a random act of nature that I was blessed to watch but a message designed specifically for me.
Their belief became even more amplified once I told them that I was born into the Medicine Wheel month/moon of the Crow.

Using my astute powers of Google-fu, I have been able to locate information on the Medicine Wheel Animals.

First, what I already knew:

The Crow-
The crow is intelligent, creative, an adapter (shifter)/change, balance, just and a diplomat. A carrier of messages and spiritual energy.
No matter what mythology, a Crow is a powerful symbol of change, and usually of (good) luck.

Here is what I didn't know,

The Hawk is on the exact opposite side of the wheel from the Crow, representing healing, vision and perspective, guardianship.
Hawk helps you see things from a new perspective, to take a break when you're too close to an issue and step back long enough to gain a different perspective.
"If you seek mental clarity on an emotional problem that you can't see your way around, the hawk will help you to zero in on the crux of the issue and work through it."~~Stefanie Weiss, Spirit Animals: Unlocking the Secrets of Our Animal Companions

So I watched the symbol for perspective and healing rake on the back of change, forcing it to move forward, flying harder...toward something or just in an escape?

Looking it up did nothing to help clarify things in my life, symbolically speaking, but it's given me much to ponder and was an incredible sight to behold.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Turning of the Wheel

October 1st is tomorrow. Cool whether has settled in and with it the sensation of breathing again. I know. I know.
People love summer. All winter people will by whinging and whining over bringing the summer back, and some are already lamenting the death of the world but I just don't feel that way.

Winter isn't death, just slumber. The world is locked in a crystalline snow globe but beneath the frost the heartbeat is there. The winds may blow just to cover the dreaming breath of the world. Neighbors who talk, wave and rush past to seek the warmth of their home. Outside of the holidays, the winter drives everything inward, not to hide, just to rest.

When Spring comes around we use that rest for a less than calm season. Spring, an appropriate name for the riot of action as plants race to burst from their slumber, fresh blooms struggle against the inconsistent weather and people enter the rush along with it. Lawns are manicured, landscaping is meticulously planted, gardens are planned. Suddenly the friendly ways of neighbors become a competition of whose lawn decor looks better, cleaner, nicer.

This gives way to the monotone greens of summer. The heat tends render everyone into a laze. Parties are relegated to sitting around, dipping a toe in the water or hiding in air conditioning. Worry sets in, will there be too much rain to sustain the crops? Perhaps too much and it will a rained out barbeque. Beer drinking becomes a sport of its own and nature creeps along, mostly unnoticed.

And then...

And then there's a spark. A barely noticeable hint of yellow atop a tree, a beacon for the rest to follow. Slowly the other colors emerge; oranges glowing in the sunlight, reds and even burgundies overwhelm the hillsides. Cooler temperatures coax fruits and vegetables to the harvest table. Animals bustle to ready themselves for winter, prime targets for hunters eyes. Suddenly the world lives again. Everything with its distinct personality. The earth crunches and sends its musk to intoxicate us. Smoke spirals up chimneys to hang on every breeze. Fires crackle and brighten dark corners of the night, ushering people from their homes to laugh, dance and live.
And that's the power of autumn to me, the time when everything truly comes to life. Communities come together over the joy of cider and pumpkins. People lose themselves in corn mazes. Families come together to choose the perfect elements for their feasts. We are nourished, enriched. Alive.

Autumn is when life happens; fully, vibrantly and beautifully.

And I stood in the rain today and welcomed it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

In Which I'm Not Complaining- Artful Body

*wanders in and starts dusting*
Yeah. I know. It's been awhile. Sorry about that

In, oh I dunno, 2004 or -5 maybe I started Extreme Hareem to do henna. That's it. I thought it would be good. I had recovered from my accident, done some traveling, was reevaluating my performance career and had been doing henna off and on for a decade at that point. I wasn't sure how important performing was to me anymore and the opportunity to do henna fell into my lap. I took it and started to do some street fests and mostly pirate and ren shows around the northeast. I did well enough that when Ted moved in, I put him to work. We had fun. It was extra money. It was silly.

One event their face painters backed out and we were asked to take up the slack. Huh. I knew nothing about color theory or face paint but what the hell? People liked what we did and even then I knew enough to get face paints from the local shop that supplies theater companies, looking back I can only say we were okay. Not great. Not bad. Henna was still our primary art. We got into bigger fests and I needed to learn what I was doing. I was just winging it really. Like I said, extra money. No real profit margin. Mehron liquid paints (not good for fp, for those who don't know) but they were safe. It worked and we just kinda sailed along in an eddy.

But I was also getting burned out. I was working a 40 hour a week job, trying to figure all this body art stuff out and that's when Ted left. I decided to take the summer off except for some major events that I didn't want to lose (and am so glad I did, it rained most of that summer and I would have lost money). That was also when I realized that Extreme Hareem was meant for henna and that incorporating face paint nulled the name. It was confusing. I debated and deliberated and turned it into Artful Body but only at that handful of places, kind of testing waters. That was 2009.

The following year we decided to do a soft relaunch as Artful Body. I developed a business plan and decided to put it into action. Mark and I worked almost every weekend at small festivals. It was lovely to be there with him but we decided we needed help. I brought in two people to help out on two late season weekends, and it worked amazingly. A little light went on in my head that if I could pull it off, I could set up booths for these girls, train them in my style of the art and send them out.

In 2011, with the help of a money investment from a friend, I was able to purchase additional supplies and do some advanced training, which I brought back to my crew (or paint family, as we've come to call it). This meant I could send out people and increase our festival coverage of the area. It was a good plan. A solid plan. It worked to the point where Mark and I were still going out and I had to bring in another artist.
This process has kept working for me. Of course there is more to it than that but, essentially, that's how I've done this...in 2 years. Each year I add a little more. Tweak things a little bit but the core of what we do is always advancing the training and having the right personalities of the people I am so blessed to bring in.

This year one of our stellar artists has found herself unable to come out and work (she moved and hoped she'd be able to make it out). We miss her terribly. With the unexpected expansion over winter- we picked up entertainment companies that kept us going as well as some birthday parties- we've been able to not lose momentum over winter but to keep it going. Normally our season starts with 1 or 2 small events in May, 1 or 2 in June. July will be packed. August is meh. Sept is busy. Last year we had a nice dose of private parties and some lovely corporate events.

This year fest season started in May, after a steady winter of sporting events, and have had stuff every single weekend since. We're getting festivals calling us and asking us to be there, or walking up to the booth and handing us an application right there. We've already tripled the corporate/ent company bookings from last year and have picked up (no joke) 3 more entertainment companies. Private parties? We just started our season and have already doubled what we did last year.

And I am short on people. Two new artists are being trained and one of our hawkers is also being trained as an artist. I need one, if not two more hawkers desperately (as one of my awesome ones from last year is working full time and going to school).

We are turning down work. We have conventions calling and asking us to be there. Haunted houses and such are already contacting us for the fall.

Originally the plan was to send out crews and stay home and manage so that I can fully launch my other businesses. However, it's not working that way. I'm going out every weekend, as is my crew, and we are still turning work away at this point -which I HATE doing. I feel like a dingy against a leviathon, paddling like crazy to keep from being swallowed whole.

It's scary too. The crew no longer has this as their "extra money". This is paying the rent for some of them. It's food money. Bill money. It became serious when that happened.

One of them said to me "It's such fun, such a release for me, that I don't even pay attention to how much I make. It's nice but the money isn't the important part."  It's wonderful but I bet if I stopped paying, they'd mosey along, not that I ever would but let's face it, this is work too. Hard work. Kids wiggling, sneezing on us and chatting away; parents hovering, art creation on the spot- even when the muses aren't tapping us on the shoulder. Hours in the sun, humidity, in a room with a bunch of happy, bouncing, squealing teenage girls. It's exhausting work that should be compensated even though it is fun.

I spend hours every day doing paperwork, bookings, marketing, making sure they stay in money because I am terrified of losing my crew. They are absolutely amazing, all of them. Not perfect but amazing.

And every now and then I feel overwhelmed. I have to take a step back and breathe. I have to look at all of this and ask myself if I still love doing it, and every time the answer is yes. I love seeing the smiles, the surprise, the joy when the "canvas" sees their art. I love hearing the stories from the crew when we all come together and I see them laughing over some of it, or regaling over the challenges of painting a killer bunny on a kid, or dealing with a parent who wanted to glitter up his 7 week old. It's fun.

I'm not sure any of them know how much I put into this. Every day looking for something more for them to do, to try, to keep us not only in events but also one step ahead and better than the "competition". We need to stay challenged and interested in the art side too. We have to always leave the others in the dust in order to get these bookings. It's a lot of pressure for me to learn these things and then translate them to the crew. Always something more. Always growing. Always going forward. Always working. I literally wake up forming emails in my head.

With the larger number of people I also find that I am human services dealing with scheduling, conflicts, personal conflicts, complaints, pay sheets, tracking, etc. I do so much more paperwork than art these days. I have no HR training. I'm making this up as I go and hoping that I do a good job at it.

Some days I'm not sure which motivates me more- the desire to do art or the desire to keep my crew in business. I fear failing them more than myself, which is a huge switch from how it used to be with me. The days of "Well, it's a hobby." are long over.

But I've also learned a lot about me in this process. About what I enjoy and the lengths I will go to. For me this isn't a business about art and money. I mean sure it is, sure. It can't exist without them but this is a business of people. Of the happiness of those hiring us, the smiles on the kids, the relief of the parents, the laughter of the adults who indulge their inner child and get a glitter tattoo, the "henna hugs" when someone loves the piece so much they throw and arm out to the side and hug me. It's about my crew, my artists being able to do art that they love, that they believe in, to benefit from those smiles and laughter and hugs too. It's about my hawkers absolutely beaming when they see the joy, excitement and giggles they create for passersby whether they get decorated or not. It's about the stories of connections with other vendors, a community of gypsy-spirited souls in its own right. 

In the end, as I became overwhelmed today by all this is become, as I look to the future and wonder what beast this will be next year or in 3 years, I realized it's the people that keep it going for me- because that's who this is all about.
Not me.
And I really do adore them.

At the same time, I miss spending nights writing until the wee hours. I miss the stories and the characters flowing from my fingertips.
I miss gardening. I grew the seedlings and they are holding on for dear life, because I think they know I will get them in the ground- soon, I hope.
I miss curling up with tea and reading while watching a movie and sharing that time with Mark and Noah. I miss the ability to just take off and go for a hike or to the beach with my family because Mark works weekdays.

This past weekend Mark and I saw each other on Thursday night. He saw the back of my head on Fri morning as he left for work. I was gone to a gig by the time he got home. I saw the back of his head (as he was in bed sleeping) when I returned. When I woke, he was gone to a gig. The entire weekend went like that until Sunday afternoon. I have an amazing husband to handle that, not only handle that, but he worked for me at a booth. That blows my mind. He enjoys it. He wouldn't do it if he didn't but still...I am so freakin' lucky to have his support. He's amazing, and I missed him over those days.

I need to get back into the garden, into writing and schedule more time with the family as a whole- not just in bits and pieces. Those are not sacrifices I was prepared to make for Artful Body.

Still, it's good. It's still growing. I suppose it's a lot like gardening really. I didn't just start it and have it grow. I've nurtured it, fed it, snipped and tucked and anchored it. It's not the wildling I like to think it is because I know if I stopped advertising, handing out cards, pushing as hard as I do it would slowly suffocate.
I suppose that in the end, as the leviathon swallows me up, I only have myself to blame. But really, I'm not complaining. I'm marveling. Everyday I marvel.
And that is never a bad thing.

Monday, January 30, 2012



How many of us yelled this as we, bodies curled tightly, launched ourselves as cannonballs into a favorite swimming hole or pool? I know I did, repeatedly, while aiming to soak my friends in the biggest splash ever.  It wasn’t until Karate Kid came out that I realized it was more than a fun word, that it is an art form with a far reaching history delving through Japan and into China. Even as Mr. Miyagi shared his love with Daniel-son, as Daniel and his girlfriend (in KK3) tried to get the perfect tree from the side of a cliff, the true glory of these carefully crafted plants went right over my head.

Originally from China, the art of Peijing (Chinese landscape) was adopted by the Japanese and combined with Suiseki (the Japanese way of viewing naturally formed stones as works of art) to create Bonsai.

My first Bonsai, a Chinese Elm
In its literal translation “Bon” means little pot and “Sai” means planting, so together we get those lovely plantings in a little pot. However, while we think of the actual little trees when we hear the word, a Bonsai is MUCH more than that. The type of tree grown dictates how it should be delicately pruned to shape and mould its path. The vessel it is grown in, from the colors to the shapes have meaning- whether to energize or, more commonly, to relax. Naturally formed stones, and the layout of them on the earth of the pot, is just as much part of the representational art as the tree choice is. Everything about a Bonsai requires thought, love, dedication and the end result is a fulfilling, reciprocating piece of nature.

Whodda thunk, right?

What is so incredible for me is that these need not be special trees that cost a tonne of money either. Thanks to the root binding of the pot, their growth is controlled. There are several tree types that adapt to becoming a Bonsai exquisitely, anything from an Elm (Chinese Elm often called the “beginner Bonsai”) to a Pomegranate or other fruit trees to even my favorite herb, Rosemary.

Here is where I have to admit to being quite the novice. My husband thought one of these would make a wonderful wedding gift for me, and I now receive one at each anniversary (though I am requesting he stop around 15 or so, I think. Lol).  The art itself representing love, beauty and longevity means he was absolutely right. During our deep winters here in the north I have found them to be an incredible piece of nature for me to care for while I am missing the fullness of my garden. There has also been the joy of discovery. The one I received this past October dropped its leaves for its winter hibernation. They have since come back accompanied by deep pink bunds that are now bursting into magenta fringe flowers. Since he ordered it online as a gift, it came with no information about what it was, which means every stage is a magnificent surprise (btw, it’s a Fringe Flower tree).

Unlike any other plant I share space with, Bonsai require a bit…more. This isn’t saying they are difficult because they aren’t, however they can’t dry out and throughout summer need to be fertilized every other week with a nitrogen rich liquid fertilizer. The peaceful art of pruning the Bonsai is a process of learning and patience that involves controlling both the upper growth and the root system. Taking it slowly, learning before acting, small steps, etc. Generally when I get excited about something I barrel in headfirst, which is exactly the opposite of what these gorgeous bits require and what I needed. The lessons I’ve learned have been wonderful in every other aspect of my life.

For those who are apartment dwellers longing for nature indoors, these are amazing. The earthy nature of the tree, a nice fire-pottery pot, a covering of river smoothed stones, the smell of the tree wafting on the breeze through an open window- it’s one of the most relaxing pieces of nature you can invite into your home.

And for those, like me, who come to love this art form this is one of the most sublime ways to literally create your own sacred grove indoors. A bit of research should lead you to discovering which Bonsai trees best fit your representation of a sacred grove. You can place them around your home, your altar room or whatever space you deem as sacred. Keep in mind that with proper care Bonsai will literally last generations making this a spiritual journey and art form that you can share with your children, your grand-children, creating your own family tradition.

Kindness and peace to you.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

As The Teeter Totters

“Hold everything in balance. Without it, chaos and destruction prevail.”- Mercedes Lackey

I have a confession to make. I am a Libra. It’s not a secret but if you know me and you know the traits of a Libra, how it applies to me becomes almost comical. I am a very chatty diplomat who can see the many, many sides of almost any argument. I had to train myself to overcome my indecision the way some will train themselves to quit smoking or cease going to the bar every day after work. Let me tell you, that quote is so true. All of those points of life brought me nothing but chaos and frustration. This moved me in my quest for something absolutely Libran, balance.

Balance is a buzzword we hear so often. Self-help books and shows are riddled with it. We need to find it, obtain it and own it. They are all so quick to say this but none really say how. Find more time, money, people, etc. Easier said than done.

I love polarities and extremes but only if the opposing side is represented. See, I don’t live on the fulcrum, the midpoint where everything balances, the place where there is no motion, and therein lies the problem. If there is no motion there is no opportunity for growth and I’ve always been a learner, researcher, doer, adventurer, curiosity driven sort of person. So while I strive for balance, I live in extremes.

For example, in my day-to-day life I am an artist, of sorts. I thrive in the elements, a child of nature. I adore old homes with colored walls with lots of personalized decorations, and loathe living in a modern, white painted world.  I do a lot of things the “old fashioned” way because if it ain’t broke…  My husband is the absolute polar opposite. He is a tech-geek who would merrily spend his life eating frozen dinners, cloistered inside playing on his computers while never really personalizing his environment. I’m pagan (obviously) and he’s atheist. I’m a DIY-er, he’s a BUY-er.  Of course we have our similarities, that fulcrum, that midpoint where we mesh perfectly. Otherwise, he is my anchor, my grounding force and I lift him to new heights. We are perfectly balanced.

There was a time when I believed I needed to be with someone like me. It was this crazy relationship filled with lust and power but it was too much, too unbalanced. There was no middle ground, no polarity to keep us from overwhelming the other and it was destined to fail. That was my first, but not my last, lesson in balance.

In my post about Akasha and animism, I mentioned that I spent a lot of time working and training with varying Wiccan groups while attempting to run from my truth. In that time I worked with a Dianic group. This group, by far, was the most imbalanced group I had ever seen- all while believing they were in perfect step with nature. No men were allowed in the innermost circle. “God” was a word that would cause hair to stand on end and backs to bristle. I recall standing there and wondering how any of this was better than the Christian world that shunned women. Two sides of the same coin and I was left as poor as I was when I started, but even more discouraged.

Yet, from this experience, from watching my family turn from Spiritualism to Evangelistic Christianity I came to fully understand that one without the other is an empty hole, an incomplete whole. This is when I sat down and I really thought about it, and I delved into it.

We can not live without balance. I’ve seen entirely too many people claim to be a “white witch” to claim they are good even when they knowlingly do things that hurts others. I’ve heard some say that someone is doing “dark magic” when they simply mean something they don’t agree with. What I came to realize is that if we live only in a white world then we are just as blind as we are if we are left only to the depths of blackness. If we leave plants only in the light they burn up and die and if we only leave them in the dark, they will never come to life. We can not exist in the place of extremes without the other side. Think of all of the things we were told as children to never, ever do. It’s impossible to live that life. To be all “good”, all the time, unfailingly. What happens when truth and hurt cross lines? Do we commit the sin of lying to save hurt or do we crush someone to keep from lying?  Without winter slumber the success of summer can not occur. Without something dying, there is no living. Most importantly, while a woman may be the carrier of life, without a man our vessels remain empty and our bodies barren. We can not actually come into being without each other, so why should our faith be any different?

For me, the first steps were knowing myself and what is important to me. Using my marriage as my example, when I thought about it I realized that it wasn’t important to me if my husband is pagan, as long as he has respect for my beliefs- which he does. There are things that we are unbendable on, things we should compromise on and things that are really not very important at all. Knowing those things about myself made it much easier for me to find balance. Things that are not important to me or things I can compromise on can live on extreme ends. My husband deplores gardening, I love it. We compromised on it so that I tend the garden beds and he (or our son) do the mowing and the weed whacking. Opposite ends that work together. Another is that my family hates cooked spinach, I love it. I make it and they don’t eat it. It’s simply not important.

The things that are important to me are those things resting on the fulcrum.  My husband and I share very similar liberal views. We share a similar moral base upon which we raise our son. This is where we balance our extremes and where we meet in the middle (for a very simplified overview).

The next part for me in achieving balance came with something I discussed in the “A’s”. Acceptance. When I accepted that sometimes I will hurt people, even unintentionally, made amends and forgave myself- then I was able to find balance. I learned to accept that while I definitely find more comfort and “goodness” in darkness that the light has its purpose too so I can’t condemn the sun shining every day or else my garden suffers. When I embraced that there is truly no “good” and “bad”, that I/we are both. We are all of it rolled into one fleshy, meaty package. We simply can not live without causing disruption somewhere, we can not live without ever hurting something or someone- even just to eat to survive- this has helped me live a better, truer and more honest life. It allowed me to forgive myself of the harm I may have caused. I released guilt and was able to move on with my life. As I looked at the delicate balance in every natural being, I felt more part of that.

Once that came into light I also came to understand that life itself will not allow us to live on the fulcrum, on that perfect balancing point. There are days so filled with sadness that all we want to do is curl up and weep, yet other days are so filled with joy we are ready to burst. Cloudless, star filled nights can be followed by stormy, gray days. Nothing is static. The teeter board is always tottering. There are times when I can make it happen, when I can shift the balance and there are times when I must simply accept this is what I have been handed to make the most of. Still extremes but how I deal with them is where I find the balance point. I can allow life to be disrupted or I can glean what I can learn from it and move along. Balance in our lives is never actually perfect balance as much as it is a pendulum swinging, always back and forth. That sway is a good thing, whether subtle or rapid, motion is good because it’s when we’re sitting at the bottom or resting on the balance point, that’s when we go nowhere.

When I started to apply the same questions to my faith, things became more clear and in balance.
We’re taught that faith must be a group activity, from churches to mosques to covens we are told we need to seek out leadership, guidance and community. Did I really require that? Was it important? I found out that for me, it wasn’t. What was important was the balance of male/female, of the elements, of no one person/life being more important than the next.  I left the Dianic group to find something more in line with my beliefs, that for all the female power in the world, male must be present to balance it out. On bad days I know that good will come, which makes them easier to handle. I know that when I make a mistake it’s okay, and to learn, and minimize the damage to others.  This is how I’ve come to live what I believe is a balanced life.

As a Libra I have always felt the need for this perfect balance in everything, this illusion of perfect placement in life. Now that I understand we can not have one extreme without the other and that we can not grow while sitting in the middle I appreciate all sides even more now. I enjoy the sun, I learn from sadness and I still get to eat my spinach too.

Always with blessings and kindess.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Marriage of Akasha and Animism

Akasha meets Animism
They assess each other.
Akasha feels a kinship with Animism.
Animism soars with Akasha.
It’s the perfect marriage really.

Confused yet?
Wouldn’t blame you if you are.

Let me clarify just a little bit by first saying, I am not Wiccan. I’ve studied it. I’ve worked with groups that were Dianic, Celtic, Egyptian, Norse and so much more. I’ve worked with Native American groups, Druids, Shamans of varying forms. The experiences were always enlightening but, well…you know when you have that light salad for lunch and you’re so happy because you know you’ve done something good for you but then by dinner you are so famished that your own leg looks like a tasty morsel? Yeah. That’s how I felt…wiser, better for the experience but not fulfilled.

See, I had the extreme blessing to be raised in a Spiritualist family right from the start. I had the extreme blessing of knowing my great-grandmother and the siblings of my grandparents. Lessons in the kitchen were handed down through generations, as were the wisdoms and superstitions of the garden, treasures about honouring life and the sacrifice everything makes for the survival of something else, the truth of Spirit, all of it ancestrally passed down…that was in me from the start. Of course I rebelled, thinking there was something more, some rules that HAD to be adhered to, some form that needed to be followed that my family didn’t know about, some enlightenment they could never know. In the end, I was wrong and (at least about that part of things) they were right. Family and family friends helped me “tap in” and “tune out” beyond the veil. My grandmothers taught me about the power of the hearth, herbs, of nature, of our place in it all, the traditions and histories. My father was king of the hunt and of the working the land, literally. This was a family tradition that had nothing to do with formal religion. This is a way of life, which explains why when I went looking for “religion” I was left so wanting.

What in the bloody blue blazes does this have to do with Akasha and Animism?  For me, absolutely everything.

We were sort-of introduced to Akasha through Merlyn’s blog the first week, when she spoke about the Akashic Library which is a specific belief by those who practice Theosophy. Akasha itself is different. It is the term given by multitudes of religions (mostly of the Eastern base) to describe the universal energy, the Universe, the one energy that unites every living being, that imbues us with life. It’s the start of the cosmos, the first element of creation (of the 5), the one that can not be perceived, the beginning of all material things. It is the very fabric from which all living things are made, the very point of the pentacle, that which fills the empty spaces and why those who are attuned with it feel a kinship with other living things. In science it’s the big bang and cells (the smallest building blocks of life, atoms are the smallest building blocks of matter).

Here is where we come to the first bump while riding the Akashic wave. The definition of “living” has changed over the years but what remains is that it must: feed, reproduce, “breathe”.  That drive is common to every living thing. That desire to live and thrive. That spark of life. That is where we find Akasha. In harmony and balance with the other elements, because without all five, we all die.

Without the Akasha, the macro, Animism, the micro, is so lonely. See, while we all share the common energy of Akasha, the belief that all living things have a soul is Animism. Now, naysayers and doubters will joke and laugh about plants talking back but really, that leads us to define what a “soul” is. This is where things get really hairy.

What is a soul? Some say it’s the spiritual core. I’ve heard claim that it is the heart of our lives- our deepest dreams and fears. Others say it is our intelligence, our wisdom, our subconscious existence. The argument has even been made that it is our emotional center. This is something we all must decide for ourselves but when I stop and think about it, I wonder…does it matter?

Here’s what I do know, all living things communicate needs, at least on a very basic level. Plants wilt, animals vocalize, some insects use body language…all life. Every living thing is dependent on another. We kill to survive, whether it’s an animal or a plant. It’s a basic, and sometimes unpleasant, truth. Everything living thrives on the dead but more than that, everything has the desire to live. No plant breaks free of it’s seeds and fights through the soil wanting to die. No animal is born with the desire to throw itself off a precipice. All living things have a natural survival instinct from birth. Akasha gives us that life, our souls keep it going.

My personal belief is that the soul lives in that primal place where those actions stem from. In our lives we add to that place. Each incarnation becomes farther from the rudimentary beginnings as more and more wisdom is collected. Depending on the place in the life chain, some living things seem to have more Akasha- more fight for life, some have more soul or spirit. Honouring those energies, tapping into those connections, that is what makes me the witch that I am- an Akashic, kitchen, ancestral, elemental pagan.

And for those wondering, I am an omnivore. I feel absolutely no guilt over eating meat because it would also mean I would need to feel guilt over eating plants- perhaps moreso because they are ones I grow from seed, ones that I nurture into strong maturity so that it may then nourish the lives of those I love. I do not believe in feeling guilt over being part of the cycle of life. I do not feel that any animal is more important and needing to be saved over any plant. Now, to be sure, I do not believe in or condone poaching (killing for the sake of “sport”), and I always use as much as possible if not all of whatever our food source is. I honour those lives above all others because they nourish my life, just as someday I will respond in kind. It is my belief that I can not be an equal part of something if I believe that either myself or any other creature is more important than the next, no animal is more important than any plant. No life is more worthy than any other because Akasha lives within us all, helping our souls to soar.

I will also say, I do not keep pets or house plants, they keep me. They would do well outdoors on their own but I don’t, for a moment, believe my life would be as rich and gratifying without them.

Always with blessings and kindess…