Children and Religion

22 04 2011

My darling Rowan asked the questions at the Pesach meeting that my mother took him to. And he found the lucky matzo. They swapped it for him for £1. He was so proud of how good he’d been and so pleased with his prize. My mother was so proud and happy with his wonderful goodness and his interest.

I used to have a problem with my mother taking him to religious gatherings. Let me tell you why I don’t have that problem now.

My son  is not baptized and there was the bellows to mend when I decided he wouldn’t be. I endured all sorts of snide asides about the matter, not to mention a few direct attacks and assurances that he would be the subject of eternal damnation, cast into the outer darkness like an ordinary sinner, because of his unshriven state. I took a long time reminding the various commentators that Ro was a tiny child, utterly innocent, and therefore God would take him home. How could He do otherwise, if we were so unlucky as to lose him? So now, when my mother who is a committed Christian, and a good and solid woman to boot, takes him to church and to all manner of semi-religious meetings and gatherings, I don’t make a fuss. I have seen, you see, that she isn’t approaching the subject of Rowan’s religious introduction the same way as she did mine. I’m grateful for this, but also entranced and reassured.

It’s been a tough year and I’ve worked very hard to remove myself from, first, the terrible, aching, dragging depression I suffered over the winter, and two, the desperate hatred I felt for my mother that was growing and putting down roots and threatening to ruin my goodness, what there is of it.

A week ago today I called my mother and told her that I felt there was a growing rift between us, that I’d started to hate her, and that I wanted it to stop. Like mothers do, she put out a hand and said, ‘Let’s talk’, and so we will.

Meanwhile, she continues to show the care and love and devotion to her grandson, my son, that she always has, and she is being gentler on me, which I appreciate, and I believe there may be a place we can meet and share and care once more. I want to love her. She is my mother. I am a  mother.


Spring and She Returns

6 05 2010

Hello, my dear friends. Had a short hiatus there, where the muse turned to glue. Happens to us all, I suspect! I’d like to thank all my commenters old and new for their kind words while I was away – how are we all in any case?

I have been prompted to restart by a discussion on the Facebook page of one of my dearest friends, regarding an image. I’ll post the image and a precis of the discussion when I can, perhaps later today, but it fascinated me and got me thinking again.

Since moving in with my Best Beloved all my books, papers and previous writings have been stuck in boxes in the storeroom, ungettable-at. The end’s in sight there, I have a book-case, I know which boxes the books are in, there’s a fighting chance I can get back to academic and informed blogging in weeks if not months from now! We’re so busy getting the house ready for paying guests that I barely know where the days go. However, I’ve put in for voluntary redundancy from work as I have other irons in the fire and my job is less than inspriational to my life. Instead of career-mongering, my instincts tell me to step back, get little jobs of work here and there, make up my money and be happy. A bold move for someone as concerned as I am about financial security. I’m thinking about it.

Waxing and Strengthening

21 01 2010

Hello my dears; I’m just back from a short holiday by the sea with my Best Beloved and the dog. It was just wonderful to get the chance at sea air, fresh smelling and sweet; sunshine, salt spray and simple pleasures like rockpooling and dodging the breakers. I spent some wonderful quiet time, facing the sunset, listening to the booming roar of a sea which was quite agitated enough, sitting tucked up warm on a rock with my feet out of the surf, thinking of nothing but the elemental loveliness of the scene, and giving quiet thanks for it. Free for the taking, costing no-one anything at all, except me and my time, happily given. Perfect.

It’s also the New Year in the calendar sense and that now means marmalade and interior design. The house is slowly warming up and cheering, pieces of furniture are becoming settled in their new spots. We’ve had a charity come today and remove three beds, all of which are in great condition, but for which we have no room! After we managed to wrestle the mattresses and bases out of the top room we were able to look about and see what remained – and re-discovered some things that we have needed, couldn’t find and have done without hitherto. Rather a nice little analogy for clearing out one’s head of the dross, to which I referred in my last post.

Just being happy, contented with one’s lot, quiet in spirit and soul, is a blessing; perhaps the best of blessings. No fear, no guilt, no need to tyrannise oneself with omissions and commissions. Ability to sleep, and to wake rested. Ability to laugh at petty torments and brush them away. Resilience for vicissitudes whether large or small.

I realised that my previous motivations were centred largely around fear. As I no longer feel this fear, I no longer feel so insanely motivated to do things. I have had to find an alternative motivation, which is far less potent, and to wrestle a little with the urge – sometimes irresistible – to not do the thing, whatever it is, that I might be required to do, and to do whatever I want to instead – but, by and large, I’m equal to the task. And now, if things don’t get done, well, they don’t get done.

I’d like a potion for flu, please

5 11 2009

Garr ,when I feel ill, I feel ILL, and no mistake.

I spent the whole of Tuesday sleeping, getting up for five minutes and staring blearily at my partner before being hustled off back to bed again, and falling asleep immediately. It was like someone had removed most of my higher brain. Useless for anything except breathing in and out. Tea appeared, piping hot and strong, at regular intervals; as did nurofen and glasses of water. Pillow plumping and shaking out of the duvet, soothing of brow and gentle bossing about to stop me doing stuff I shouldn’t. I got caught watering the geraniums in the sitting room, received a quiet ticking-off and was sent back to bed once more.

It’s lovely to be able to rely so much on another person. I don’t find this sort of thing easy to do at all. Apparently I give the impression of being generally invulnerable. Not when I’m ill, I’ll promise you.

Divergence and Laziness

27 05 2009

There’s a very great deal to be said about the power of the urge to do nothing. It’s closely allied to the conviction that there’s no time to do x, whatever x happens to be. In some people, this could be characterised as a conscious decision. In me, I’ve seen it as simply laziness and inattention.

I was looking round my rooms the other day, and saw all the books lining the walls for the first time in a long time. In many respects, books, moveable press, are a form of interior decoration to me. Not, as I saw once, a way to add colour to a room – when I asked the owner of the house if she’d read any of the books in question she gave me an extremely funny look and said no, of course not; she’d bought two tonnes of green-spined books from a wholesaler and was using them as decoration. No, my definition of decorative goes more toward Rennie Mackintosh – both beautiful and useful.

I’ve got books in every room and some of them are unread, the bindings uncracked. Most of the books in this category are regarding pagan studies. I realised concurrently with my musing over the number of books unread that I haven’t done a really meaty book review (read: hatchet job) on anyone’s work for a good long while. And as I am going to be absent from the Ludlow Symposium this year, and therefore unable to provide a digest of the day, I should get reading and noting.

One of the downsides that we all acknowlege about practising solitary witchcraft (if we do; you might not!) is that sometimes, and sometimes for extended periods of time, life supervenes or you lose your way or your thread or your enthusiasm, even, and everything stops. I’ve had six months or more of this, feeling like there’s no energy or will in the pot for anything other than dragging myself out of bed, getting Rowan ready for nursery, keeping the house straight and trying (and mainly failing) to keep up with my friendship commitments.

One of the things I always do in this situation is believe that the false dawn of returning energy is the end of the problem. I forget every single time that it’s just a burst, a sprint for the tape, a momentary second wind. I become part of the problem, by forcing myself back into the fray. This tendency has an unfortunate side-effect – it seems to make other people doubt me when I say I’m fine (or maybe it’s the edge of hysteria on my voice. ‘I’m fine. No, I’m fine. FINE!’ 🙂

I don’t think I’m fooling anyone, though; least of all me. I’m getting too old to be constantly hauling myself up right and soldiering on if I’m down. And I am down; why do women like me never give themselves credit? I’ve left and divorced my husband in less than a year, moved house, become a single parent, dealt with crises at home and at work, held down a full-time job, done a good job as a parent and haven’t actually gone insane or become emotionally incontinent in the process. That’s quite good going.

So to get irritated at myself for not continuing my observances, work, writings, visits, pilgrimages and dedications seems specious to me. None of these things are dispensible in my life, but neither is my son, earning a living or having peace of mind and heart. So, not indispensible; but slightly more dispensible than the things I kept up with.

I’m here, Goddess, I still hear You. I worship You. I think the life you’ve given me should be lived well; and so I dedicate all my efforts to You. By doing my best I give my best to You.

Green Witch Chariot Race

4 03 2009

At the risk of coming over all Ben-Hur this morning I’m going to talk a little bit about calls to action, and what they make us do and feel. Well, what they make me do and feel, actually; I speak for no-one but myself on this topic!

What constitutes a call to action? To me, it’s an irresistable urge to do something in the face of a larger problem. When the need to act, to move, to make a difference outweighs the need to sit, to be still, to be silent, I have to act, I feel compelled to.

This doesn’t necessarily come down to one felt emotion, one strand of reasoning either. It could be guilt. It could be the feeling of a job left undone. It could be anger, pity, empathy. It could be the realisation of a major injustice. It could be as petty as minor irritation. And in the end, it could be the fact that for me at least, action is always preferable to inaction, no matter if inaction would have proved the safer or more prudent route.

There’s nothing more draining or disempowering than chosing to do nothing in a situation of adversity. None of us think the close-the-eyes approach to problem solving makes situations any better; Churchill said that all that is needed for evil to flourish is that good men do nothing. How right he was.

I’ve a number of situations on hand just now that require action; they require me to be brave and take a stand and make executive decisions without the benefit of foresight. How I wish at times for a clear eye to the future! When I was young I used to play Fighting Fantasy rolegames; particularly the ones in book form where you read the sections and govern your choices though judgement and rolls of the dice. I always used to cheat, mildly; looking ahead to outcomes but preserving the ability to backtrack to the last safe point and select another route if things didn’t go so well. Clearly, this ability would benefit me greatly now; bitter, actually, to look around at some witches of my acquaintence who blithely claim the ability to see forward; can they? Would it benefit me to be able to do so? Who knows. I have a sneaking feeling not, actually.

Musings on Prop 8

7 11 2008

California has voted to ban the provision of LGBT marriage, 52 to 48 percent, with Florida and Arizona passing similar propositions. It seems that the Evangelical Right, among other powerful pressure groups, has still enough sway to dominate. In Arkansas, singles, unmarried couples and LGBT couples were banned from adopting children.

If we relate these political facts to Brian at House of Inanna’s recent post about the dominance of the patriarchy over our sexuality, things begin to look quite grim for the free-thinkers out there. And given my recent rantings on the subject of encroachment by the Evangelical right even on our assumed freedom of speech over here on WordPress, I think there’s a larger problem extant; ignoring them and waiting for them to go away might not cut the mustard.

I feel the need to maintain a moderate stance and measured tone – hectoring isn’t going to get any of us anywhere. And perhaps unusually among my pagan brethren, I am all for interfaith discussion. I want that dialogue. I want any attempt at understanding and shared experience to be fully undertaken and experienced by all sides. It may not be useful in the short term, or even very pleasant – it may not be wanted or welcomed. I liked this post by mistyg over at Riverwood Wanderings, which shows willing to connect and to talk… this is what’s needed.

However, there’s no enlightenment in maintaining a rigid position in isolation. One of my interlocutors over the Samhain period accused me of being secretly attracted to Christianity and therefore afraid to hear any more about it in case I somehow got converted without meaning to! I was able to tell her that I had previously been Christian and had chosen to ‘turn my face away’, which is how they term it; a measured decision taken in a reasonable understanding of the subject matter.

It’s a pretty sad day when people of faith, whatever their stripe, are chucking vituperation at each other over the Net; it’s the same prickly and distrusting attitude that, when mixed with a dollop of absolute power and a military machine gets you ‘Holy’ wars and religious genocide.

Prop 8 is a sad day for the West – if we can’t deal with equality on something as fundamental to all of us as sexual enjoyment, if we can’t give it legal protection, then we haven’t really got a hope with religion. Faith and spiritual matters polarise more than sex, if this is possible; the vast majority have some sort of sex, but only a small majority have faith. So the Do’s and Don’ts collide, and then all the Do’s collide with each other as some Do more than others, differently to others…. a proper tangle. 

The way the legislation was framed, by the way, didn’t ban LGBT marriage; it sought to protect heterosexual marriage. Are we that scared that ‘our’ rights are going to be undermined? Aren’t they people too? Don’t LGBT citizens, taxpayers and responsible adults deserve the gravitas of a legally binding union? Simplistic questions, but with all the policial manoeuvring, they easily get lost. These are the questions that matter to me here, protecting my corner of my world in which I hold my faith and my sexuality.