It’s not my fault. My mother tells me this so often that the words bounce off and I’m not even sure what they mean some of the time. How can it not be my fault? This time I dropped a milk bottle – not a full one thankfully. Still, the mess of glass and milk was rather bad, and I cried, and I panicked.

“It’s not your fault,” she said. “Just an accident. No need to cry over it.”

I saw her reach for my shoulder – I know she meant to comfort me but I flinched, and so she took the hand back again. Part of me wanted her to cuddle me up so that I could be her little girl again, safe and protected. But I can’t. Not any more. Not ever again. Not my fault. Not my fault. Maybe it would be better if it was – at least that way I could do something about it.

This morning she sent me to the shops for buns. My brother does not eat buns, although my parents and I like them very much. He’s terribly fussy and usually gets his own way in things. Jeremy always has a cream cake, but they didn’t have any cream cakes left and I didn’t know what to do. In the end I came home without anything at all. Mother wasn’t cross with me. Not so long ago she would have been. She would have shouted at me for daydreaming and forgetting, or for not using my head. Instead, she looked at me very sadly and she nodded, and I felt so ashamed of myself. More than if she had shouted I think. The guilt of it all weighs so heavily on me.

“Did I do the wrong thing?” I asked her.

“No, really. If you weren’t sure what to do it was probably best that you came back. We’ll go together.”

And we did. She bought the buns, and an iced cake for my brother Jeremy. Being with her I didn’t feel so bad. I could hide behind her, and she did all the talking. No one looked at me, which was much better than when I’d been there on my own. I thought they must all be able to see right into me and know what had happened, as though some sign of it showed on my face. Even though mother had sorted things out, I still worried about the cake because it wasn’t the right sort and I knew Jeremy would be cross about it.

When we sat down to tea he eyed his plate up.

“Weren’t there any cream ones?” he said.

“No,” my mother answered. “You’ll have to make do with that.”

“Did Alice get it wrong?”

“No, I went to the bakery myself and there weren’t any.”

“Oh,” he said. “She’s such a scatterbrain these days.”

But that was enough for me, because after all it wasn’t his usual cream cake and he thought I’d made a mistake. His words set me crying again.

“You leave Alice alone,” my mother said. “It wasn’t her fault.”

“I’m sorry,” I wailed. I felt as though it had to be my fault. His irritation over the cake seemed like anger with me, and I couldn’t tell the difference any more. I couldn’t eat my tea after that. Jeremy has been his usual self with me, which meant he bossed me about and said rather hard things. Jeremy is four years older than me, and has a job, and a girlfriend. He calls me kid, and sometimes girly. Jeremy does not know.

I went and sat in the garden for a while, under the tree. It didn’t seem to help much so I went and crouched between father’s bean poles instead. I always used to hide there, before. It felt like a safe place once, but not any more. The evening started to get cold and my cardigan wasn’t very thick, so I went back inside. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. I wandered round the house for a while, looking out of windows and chewing on the ends of my hair. This was to be the last of my free time, but I didn’t know how to enjoy it. After this summer, when I turned fourteen, I too would have a proper job. I planned on going to night-school as well in the evenings – shorthand and typing would stand me in good stead. I felt very grown up when I thought about all of that, even if Jeremy did keep calling me ‘kid’.

In the end I went and sat on the piano stool. I lay my palm flat on the cold dark wood of the lid, then I leaned right over and pressed my check against it too. It was just a musical instrument after all. It wouldn’t care what I did.

For a long time before things went wrong, the piano was my friend. If I felt sad, or the day hadn’t gone very well I would sit and play. Pulling out the bright, tinkling notes and turning dots on the page into melodies cleared my mind. How would I ever be able to do that again? I didn’t know. I wanted the comfort of the music and to lose myself in the sound of it. I lifted the lid, staring down at the keys. The familiar pattern of black and white waited for me. I touched the cold notes, pressing them down so gently that they didn’t sound. A queasy feeling churned about in my stomach, palms sweating, mouth drying.

“Alice?” My mother’s voice, questioning, worried.

I turned to face her, having no words to say.

“Are you going to play? Can I listen?”

I shook my head. “Not today. Not yet.”

Was she disappointed with me? Had I let her down somehow? My fault. Always my fault.

I couldn’t sleep. Getting up in the middle of the night, I pulled a jumper over my nightdress and crept down the dark staircase. I didn’t want to light a candle for fear of waking the others up. Father and Jeremy both had work in the morning and wouldn’t thank me for disturbing them. In the front room, I opened the curtains, and let in a little moonlight. The piano gleamed darkly at me. I sat down in front of it and lifted the lid. The keys were so cold that touching them chilled my fingers. I played silently, hands gliding over the instrument in familiar patterns even though I didn’t compress any key far enough to sound it. I could hear the music in my head, but didn’t make a single noise.

He’d stolen the music from me. Taken away all the good things I’d felt. I’d been proud of my playing, before. Now I felt unsure of it. I felt unsure of everything. What could I trust? I mimed playing, that was all I could manage.

I don’t have to go for piano lessons any more. I still want to play, but I don’t know how to. His face is there in my mind. When I touch the keys and make a sound, I can’t stop myself from remembering what he did to me. I couldn’t find the right words to say and make him stop. My fault.

2010 February Desktop Wallpaper Calendar

Here ya go!!!! It’s the Desktop Wallpaper for February/2010. These are free…I make them for my computer as a hobby and wanted to share them with all our fabulous followers showing my appreciation!!!!!

You can share these AND you can add your own info, but please, when sharing, share the original.


Preview: (Do not save the Preview. Will not look right when stretched.)

Just click on the size below and it will take you to my online album. From there, right click and save as.

Desktop Size 1680×1050

Desktop Size 1024×768

Desktop Size 800×600

All, if any, artists used (their names are on their piece of art). So if you like them, please hunt them down and buy their stuff!!!!!

Let us know if you enjoy them!!!!!!!!!!

January 29, 2010 Dear Spirit…On Women’s Issues-Women in Power

Since this month at The Pagan and the Pen is dedicated to women’s issues I thought I’d write about women in positions of power and save the readings for the next go round.

I read a fascinating story recently about Boudica, Queen of the Iceni tribe of ancient Britain. She was a force to be reckoned with for a moment in history, when she fought against Rome and won.  In fact, she was so fear inducing the Roman Emporer, Nero, seriously considered the idea of abandoning the country to the indigenous people.

Boudica (there are several spellings of her name, for ease of use, I chose one of the more modern representations) was married to Prasutagus, an Icenian king who ruled, only barely, in conjunction with Rome, and from whom borrowed considerable amounts of money. When he died, the Celtic king left joint rule in his will to his daughters as well as the Roman Emporer. The patriarchal society of Rome refused to honor his request upon his passing. His kingdom was annexed immediately and Boudica was flogged, while her daughters raped, publicly. All the money borrowed by Prasutagus from Roman lenders was called in. The Iceni people didn’t stand a chance against such manipulation.

In about AD 60/61, while the Roman governor Paulinus was away at war, Boudica led the Iceni and the Trinovantes in a revolt. Her wrath was unrelenting, her vengeance mighty. They destroyed Camulodunum (Colchester), routing a Roman legion, the IX Hispania, which was sent to protect the settlement. Londinium (London) fell next, completely razed and burned to the ground along with Verulamium (St. Albans).  Supposedly, close to 80,000 people died, but that statistic is unverified. Shortly thereafter, the Romans regrouped in the West Midlands and despite the Queen’s overwhelming numbers, she was defeated at the Battle of Watling Street. Rather than be captured by despised Roman hands, she poisoned herself.

Another woman of power, also attempting to force the hand of Rome, shared the same fate. Cleopatra VII Philopater ruled Egypt at a time when Rome was at its most strong–the time of Julius Caesar.  Her charisma and her beauty combined with an exceptional mind captured the attention some of the world’s most powerful men. Contrary to popular belief, Cleopatra was descended from a Greek line, not an Arabic one. Much was made of this incredible woman who could charm the skin off a snake and according to legend, ultimately died from its bite. In the Life of Antony, Plutarch wrote “judging by the proofs which she had before this of the effect of her beauty upon Caesar and Gnaeus, the son of Pompey, she had hopes that she would more easily bring [Marc] Antony to her feet. For Caesar and Pompey had known her when she was still a girl and inexperienced in affairs, but she was going to visit Antony at the very time when women have the most brilliant beauty.” According to Plutarch what ultimately made Cleopatra attractive were her wit, charm and “sweetness in the tones of her voice.”

It was recorded by Roman historians that Boudica was “possessed of greater intelligence than often belongs to women”. She was tall, had long red hair down to her hips, a harsh voice and a piercing glare.” In my mind, she was considered a woman of beauty as well as power. Perhaps her appearance was too much for Roman taste, but I think her stature was impressive enough for a people whose sense of independence was resolute and unwavering. The fact they respected women as equal enough to lead them, the fact their king willed his kingdom to his daughters, speaks volumes to me about a woman’s equality in their culture.

So what happened to us? What rabbit hole did the human race fall into that women became gelded over time and were treated as chattel? One could argue, hey, men are physically stronger and eventually realized that power was a great equalizer. Perhaps. Another argument indicates that women became too full of themselves and their egos led to their downfall, again, perhaps.

My personal life experience has shown me the strongest woman is stronger than the strongest man. Oh, I hear the groaning now. That is NOT a She-Ra Manhater comment. Men have a different kind of mental, emotional and physical strength. Both sexes have a purpose, both have strengths and weaknesses the other can use and shore up when the going gets tough. We need one another for harmony and balance. It is the natural order of things. What I’m stating is in our modern-day society, women are still allowed to feel and men have been forced over time to stifle the free expression of their gentler emotions. It seems only pride, boasting, anger, aggressiveness are dominant although to be fair, joy, celebration, and love can still be shared if the moment is right. Goddess forbid a man is caught crying in public, he will, 9 times out of 10, be shunned for it (even by women, truth be told), unless he is in mourning. Again, just personal opinion, but a fairly accurate one, I think.

When I watched Hilary Clinton try for the Democratic nomination for Presidency, I was all for it. She has the mind and tenacity to serve in such a position and it’s high time women started vying for that most vaunted of public service. What dumbfounded me though, was watching the crowds around her. In one speech she gave, the camera panned the audience of supporters. As the camera moved right, a man, more than likely put in the audience by the male competition she ran against, held up a sign.  It read, “WASH MY SHIRT.” Goddess help me I wanted to reach right through the television screen and pound that man into submission, Boudica style. Then, I laughed. What it ultimately showed me was how threatened he was by a woman in power. I tickled myself with the thought his sex life must be very boring if he’s always the dominant partner to his woman, i.e., Missionary style.

We have come so far, we women. I do not underestimate how hard we have worked to re-establish our equality, nor the male support we have in pursuing it. The sign incident during Hilary’s campaign shows we still have far to go, though. Until then, I will teach by setting an example not only to my daughters, but to everyone, male and female, power and/or leadership is not about dominance or the ability to dominate (which works, but is a very dangerous way to live), it is not about gender. It is about discipline, self-control and, in my opinion, altruism, working for the highest of purposes for the benefit of all.

Until next time!

Erin Sinclair, (“For love that’s out of this world!”),

Women and Paganism

Since this is women’s issues month, I thought I would post something on why women are drawn to paganism.

For me it was about finding a religion that treated everyone as equals. I was raised Catholic and as a kid I attended church on Sunday and Bible classes. What bothered me was that women in the Bible were treated badly. They were placed on a lower level than men and if they did rebel, they were called harlots. Women in the Bible were at the mercy of their fathers or husbands and could be punished for small offenses, or worse, killed by being stoned to death. This bothered me, but I did not know about other religions until I got older.

I left the Catholic Church when I was old enough to make my own decisions. I just could not be part of a religion that treated women like lower beings. It was wrong to me, but I still did not know what I wanted. It was not until I was in my early thirties that I met someone who opened my mind to other religions. She taught me that pagans are not Devil worshippers like I was led to believe. It was a spiritual awakening for me and I read books on the subject to learn more. I was attracted to paganism mainly because of its equality. There are gods and goddesses, each equally powerful. Women and men are treated in the same way. I also think the earth based religions bring out that nurturing aspect that most women possess. There is respect for fellow humans and all creatures as well as respect for the earth. And why should worshipping be confined to a church? To me, an outside setting is much more closer to the gods.

I have a feeling of freedom that I did not have in the Catholic Church. I also like that one on one connection with higher powers that you do not have in a church setting where a priest is between you and the higher power. That was another thing that bothered me about the Catholic Church—women are forbidden to be priests.

Most women want to be in control of their own lives, to make their own decisions and not be limited to the rules of an oppressive religion that favors men. I have nothing against men. I just want to be treated as an equal, to have a voice when it comes to connecting with the higher powers of the universe. With paganism I found that necessary balance that I needed in my life.

Kelley Heckart

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