A blank unlined notebook rests on a table, a fine pen angling over its surface. The scene is lit by two small votive candles, which give a cozy orange glow to the entire scene.

A month of prayers: week 1

As many people are aware, November is National Novel Writing Month: participants have daily writing goals intended to spur them to complete an entire draft of a novel during the month of November. Not all of us are novel writers, however, but sometimes we like to join in the fun. Rev. Jan Avende challenged her fellow ADF clergy to write a prayer a day, and since then it’s taken off — not just with clergy, but also with bards, liturgists, dedicants; all manner of the folk writing prayers to the Kindreds. Continue reading A month of prayers: week 1

Detail from the facade of the Wales Millenium Centre; the words "HORIZONS" and SING" are visible, part of the larger inscription "In These Stones Horizons Sing"

Imbas and change

Yesterday I was talking with a good friend, catching up on each other’s lives after a couple months only ‘seeing’ each other on social media. He asked me how I was doing, and I paused a bit to think before responding “I think… I feel like I’m changing. Not in a bad way, and not like a total upheaval, but still: a definite shift.” He nodded. “That matches what I’ve been seeing from you online.” It’s good to have that kind of validation, because it’s a very odd experience to see these processes happening; usually they’re only clear in hindsight, so it’s more than a bit disconcerting to feel like you’re observing the building blocks of your life in motion, and to feel like there’s an extent to which they’re moving beyond your direct control. Continue reading Imbas and change

The camera looks up through a group of wood planks leaning together, their ends forming an irregular pentagon that shines bright with light.

Social justice magic (maybe)

I don’t do magic, not as a general rule. I’m not even sure  I think it exists outside of an internal psychological reality, though a number of people I trust seem fairly sure of it. But recently I found a situation that really seemed to call for a response that was, well, magical. A few days ago, a colleague came into the office at work, waving a piece of paper angrily. It was a flyer she’d ripped down from a a bulletin board in our academic building: an image of a bust of a Caesar in white marble, its empty eyes staring out above the legend “Serve Your People / Identity Evropa.”

Continue reading Social justice magic (maybe)

A Kodak stereo camera (from the 1960s or 70s) on a neutral background. The camera has two lenses, side by side, to mimic the stereoscopic vision of the human eyes.

Thinking about seeing in stereo

A thing which people who’ve never met me in person don’t know: I have strabismus. That’s the medical term (synonym: heterotropia), but most people would better know this as being cross-eyed, or having a lazy eye. My eyes generally point in roughly the same direction, but when I’m tired or I’ve been drinking, one of them tends to drift outward.

During childhood, I had three surgeries to try and correct the problem, two monolateral and one bilateral, for a total of two muscle tuck procedures per eye. (‘Muscle tuck’: the surgeon goes in and folds over a muscle to shorten it, stitching the fold into place, in order to try and force the eyes back into alignment.) Each surgery was followed with and/or preceded by some eyepatch therapy (to try and strengthen the ‘lazier’ eye) and by constant exhortations from my parents to pay attention to looking at things with both eyes. Continue reading Thinking about seeing in stereo

A curve in the shoreline at Rialto Beach, with a wall of dark evergreen forest only a small distance back from the shoreline, and jagged outcroppings of rock jutting out of the steel-blue water.

An accidental pilgrimage

As has probably been clear from the crickets around this blog, it’s been a long, busy summer. Work has been busy from the drop, with [largely welcome] changes in my job and in the way we do things at the university. June was given over almost entirely to a challenging show with the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus that took a huge amount of mental and emotional energy. And then only four days after closing that show, Jarod and I went to Denver with about 60 other members of CGMC to participate in the 10th GALA Festival, a quadrennial gathering of gay and lesbian choruses from throughout North America and beyond. We had the privilege of opening Festival, even before the opening ceremony, to thunderous applause and a strong sense of accomplishment (and relief!).

After that, July was smooth sailing as we spent the rest of the week attending GALA concerts, then flew off to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula to spend a week with Jarod’s family in celebration of his parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. I had started the “mental discipline” journal for the Dedicant Path just before we left for Denver, and I looked forward to fitting in some time for contemplation and meditation in and among various family activities.

I had no idea.

Continue reading An accidental pilgrimage

A juvenile possum investigates a potted barrel cactus. The cactus's spines are as long as the possum's snout, but the possum is undaunted and eager.

Balancing confidence against inexperience

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my own (in)experience as a druid. That is, to use the language of educational research, I have a very unbalanced set of competencies. On the one hand, I am relatively new to my path: I began officially-to-myself exploring a pagan spiritual practice in January of 2013, and would not have described myself firmly as a practicing druid until a bit more than a year ago. I have, one might well say and rightly, a lot to learn. And yet, simultaneously, I have a rather large amount of relevant background: I’ve studied comparative religions, with a special interest in neopagan paths, on a hobbyist level for nearly two decades. I’ve been developing my ‘bardic’ skills (as we’d call them) both as an amateur and through formal education for almost my entire life. And thanks to to graduate degrees in the humanities, followed by continual immersion in that same environment as university staff, my ability to absorb and critically engage with large amounts of complex information operates at a fairly high pitch. The gap between my spheres of experience is marked, and I struggle to integrate these mismatched skillsets.
Continue reading Balancing confidence against inexperience