Tag Archives: Mind Ramblings

I Prefer the Term “Child-Free”

I’ve never wanted children. Even when I was a little girl, I disliked other kids. Playing with dolls was only fun because I got to style their fashions and create lives for them. Its one of the same reasons I grew up to love the game SIMS – I could create fully grown people and tell them exactly how to live their lives, complete control. Playing God, one could say.  But as a kid, the part of playing with a baby doll, changing pretend diapers full of pretend urine, singing it to sleep, carrying it around – to be honest, it grossed me out. I couldn’t understand why anybody would find that an enjoyable pastime. And as I got older, the idea of having children translated exactly the same.

For some reason, it is still somewhat unacceptable for a woman to choose to live a “childfree existence.” Females who choose this way of life are sometimes thought to be cold-hearted, selfish, or ‘not in touch with the self.’  When people would ask how many kids I wanted I would say, “None, if I’m lucky.” And suddenly I was transported to 1952, met with widening eyes and confused looks followed by endless comments and questions: “Why don’t you want to be a mom?” or  “Of course you want kids,” or the inevitable and condescending “Oh, you’ll want them when you get married.” (Right, because all it takes is the right man to convince me I don’t know who I am or what I want. But that’s a whole other blog.) I got so many negative reactions about not wanting kids that for awhile, I really thought there was something wrong with me. Girls were supposed to long for children, right?  Wasn’t my womb supposed to clinch every time I saw a woman pushing a stroller? Weren’t my daydreams supposed to be of finding the perfect husband/father and spending my days raising his munchkins?

Um, no.

My days were spent in dreams of celebrity and world domination, sunning myself in Capri, climbing pyramids in Egypt. Sometimes I’d throw in a husband, or a lover, but most times comfortably and blessedly alone. There was never the patter of little feet in my thirty-room mansion in the Hollywood Hills, or my flat in London.

As I grew older and started my lifestyle of “professional witch” I came to realize that I was a mother in many other ways. My work as an energy therapist and spiritual counselor required me to hold hands, instill discipline, and kiss the boo-boo’s to make it better. My friendships are full of listening and offering advice, supporting those I love with the proper encouragement. My environmental activities put me in the role of Mother Nature, taking care of the earth and making sure (at least in my corner of the world) that it survives and thrives. I saw that despite the fact it isn’t meant for me to have children, everything about me is mothering. A caretaker, a rock to be leaned on – simply because I am a woman, and that is what women do in every aspect of their lives, regardless of whether they are dealing with their own children or the world’s.

Some women are meant to mother children, which is the most important and difficult job on the planet. Others are meant to mother the world, which can be just as trying and just as rewarding. But the fact is we are all parents, in one way or another. And whatever we decide to give life to, to love, nourish, and provide for, is a valid personal choice.

Top 10 Reasons to be a Druid

Top Ten Reasons to be a Druid:

10) Travel form is awesome! Who doesn’t want to be a cat??

9) You can be a bear when you want to tank, a cat when you want to deal DPS .*

8 ) By turning into a manatee, you can swim underwater without breathing!

7) DoTs ROCK! **

6) Kiting rocks even harder! ***

5) Treeform = excellent healing power.

4) Moonfire, for an early spell, is exceptionally useful.

3) Buffs (especially Thorns) are some of the best!

2) No one else gets a port to Moonglade.

1) Druids make excellent soloists!

~~~

If you haven’t figured out by now… this list has absolutely NOTHING to do with *real* Druidry. 😉 I thought we all needed a good laugh, and what better way than to show the pros of being a Druid… in WoW!

* DPS: Damage Per Second

** DoTs: Damage Over Time

*** Kiting is done thusly: DoT, Root, Nuke, DoT, Root, Nuke… rinse and repeat til creature is dead. 😉

~Mychael Black, Bonafide Gaming Addict

In the Beginning…

In a time when the world was at its end, there lived a Great Queen whose name meant “honor.” Her blood was made from the sweat of stars, and she lived fire and breathed the ocean’s depths.

She taught the people of love and life, of hardships and forgiveness, of truth and apathy. And when the time came for her to take a place among the Fallen, she was greatly mourned. A sadness fell over the land as the last light the people had known twinkled out into the darkness which covered them, and the earth was still.

The darkness grew, and soon her name was lost in the blackness and chaos which ruled the earth. The people spread across the land like locusts, the anger and grief they felt inside hiding the trust and security they’d known, and before long they began to devour each other in their confusion. A time without measure eased along the horizon, quiet in its progress and cold in its passing.

When the pinpricks of light suddenly pierced through the black and the sulfur scent began to lift, no one noticed. But as the land began to heal itself and green stalks fought through the pestilence and tar, the tears of the Grateful nourished the earth. The Queen’s echoes were felt, and the people began to speak of a time which no one remembered but all knew to be true. Their skin sang, muscles hummed; their bones kept rhythm. The moments changed direction, warmth and calm embraced them.

And in the footprints of the Forgotten, life began anew.

Just some ponderings …

Happy New Year, everyone.

Pagans get a bad rap. We’re at the bottom of the barrel of the religious pecking order. The common conception of pagan is not a friendly one; yep, us pagans are crazy folk, evil folk, yada yada yada. Tell someone you’re Protestant or Catholic and they probably won’t bat an eye. Tell someone you’re pagan, and they are likely to back away slowly then turn and bolt for the door.

This annoys me.

In a country that prides itself on religious freedom, we still get little respect. I’m hoping that, as the green movement snowballs, people come to realize that for a lot of us, it’s a matter of finding divinity in the natural world. No, I don’t worship trees. I just love them. No, I’m not out there killing goats or plotting the destruction of the universe. But the misconceptions continue. And the odd thing is, when you start looking back in history, you find the roots of all religions entwined, at some point.

Religion, like everything else in life, is a matter of choice. For me, I find the bardic path of druidry fits me perfectly. Why? Well, for one, I’m a writer. By definition, that means I’m a storyteller. People have been telling stories since we lived in caves. We’ve always had the capability to imagine, to dream. Whether it’s  cavemen telling stories of, one guesses, the hunt, a shaman at a campfire speaking of the Raven, the trickster god, or a Viking retelling stories of Odin, storytellers do more than spin tales. They tell us who we are and where we’ve been, and force us to believe, if only for a moment, the unbelievable. And though the mediums change, from primitive ink scratched on a cave wall to the sheer memorization skills of the druids, from pen and quill to our current electronic medium, there is something sacred about that. Druidry recognizes that, and it recognizes the divinity of creation, something no other religion does. For two, I absolutely love the forest. I feel nothing in a church, but put me in a pretty little wood and suddenly I feel one with the universe. For three, I just feel an affinity to the old ways. But even so, I’m just not really into ceremonies.

Personally I think there are points of validity in all religion. And really, all faiths lead to pretty much the same place. I kind of think arguing over it is like arguing which road is the best one to take.

After all, freedom of religion means any religion.

The Holly and the Ivy

 

Ah yes, it’s that wonderful time of the year, when pagans nod and smile and sometimes can’t help but grit our teeth a bit as we are bombarded by the trappings and symbols of other religions.

            Or are we?

            One needn’t dig very deep to find the pagan roots of Christmas. Actually, one needn’t look any further than its most visible symbols. The significance of  mistletoe, holly and ivy are of druid origin. December 25 was once known as Brumalia, the ancient Greek solstice festival. Gift exchange began with the Romans, who celebrated the feast of Saturnalia in mid-December. A bit later, and a bit further north, we find the Scandinavians drinking around Yule logs. (I suspect they did the drinking around the fire thing all year long, but whatever.)

            The winter solstice, regardless of which religion’s trappings one dresses it up in, is universal and timeless. It’s a marker of where we are in our lives, and, on a celestial scale, where we are in orbit. We may think of these things in a modern way, in terms of things to buy and things to decorate and things to bake, but below the sales and the silly heartwarming movies and the shiny lights lie more serious reminders that there are deeper rhythms in our lives. Universal rhythms.

            Winter solstice is, in simplest terms, the longest night of year. It is able to be the longest night of the year because of a long list of very, very, very complicated reasons: the way the earth tilts on its axis, the angle at which we face the sun, the speed at which we travel along on our orbit in space. Our ancestors, who were, as a whole, much more tied to the natural cycles of the earth than we are, celebrated the year’s longest night in a variety of ways, which have somehow led us to a fat guy in a red suit stuffing himself down a chimney, a reindeer with a glowing nose, shopping mall chaos, and fruitcake, which I think should be classified as a weapon.

            The holidays are a time to reflect on who we are and who we’ve been, where we’ve gone and where we’re going, and to reconnect with the things and people that matter. As much as I love the more secular aspects of the holidays, the parties and the food, the songs and the smells and the lights, more and more I find myself just wanting to inhale the smell of fresh pine and an icy wind, and to drink some spiced wine while watching a log crackling in a fireplace. Over the last couple years, I’ve realized there are ways to honor my pagan leanings without scaring the neighbors too badly. White candles, mistletoe, hot cider, the scent of pine, traditional foods, Yule logs, medieval carols … these things all symbolize something sacred. Something celestial. Something larger than we are.
            Yuletide greetings to all.

Sparkling vampires?

Okay I’m going to go out on a limb here and discuss why in the wide, wide world of sports it means that Stephanie Meyer’s vampires “sparkle”?  I looked it up and found out that Bella is taken into a field in broad daylight and Edward “sparkles”.  So instead of him bursting into flames and igniting this mealy mouth heroine he sparkles?  Geez, what a convenient plot device to allow Bella and Edward to “walk amongst the daisies and frolic”.  Pardon me my gorge is rising…

…okay much better now. 

Before I get 1,000,000 emails of hate-spewing people who want to defend this I’d like to start by saying this.  I do not begrudge Ms. (or Mrs.) Meyers her millions of fans or commercial success.  Good for her.  However I really do miss the good old days when vampires were bad, women were terrified and heroes climbed out of the woodwork to defend them.  Now it’s all mixed up. 

Let’s take a moment and ponder this much, what is the ecology of a vampire?  Everything on this planet (as Wiccans all know) has a purpose.  Lycanthropy is a curse, zombies are the result of bad science, and Nancy Pelosi is obviously allergic to Botox.    Let us use the one animal that consists entirely on a blood diet…desmondus rotundus or the common vampire bat.

Average weight: 30-40 oz/ blood intake half their body weight ever 3-4 days/nocturnal hunters/bad eyesight/excellent hearing/thermal sensors in their nose/interior of their mouths lined with teeth (to shave away fur)/must urinate half their intake before being able to fly (it’s funny how nobody talks about how much vampires must have to go to the bathroom with that liquid diet and all). 

Their job?  Thin the herds of over populated wildlife. Side effects–very susceptible to blood borne pathogens and diseases.

Let’s do the math.

I weight 165 pounds.   This means I’d have to take in almost 82.5 pounds of blood during 3-4 days and the average human has over a gallon.  That means I’d have to kill (drain fully) almost 7 people in a feeding frenzy.  Although an average of nearly 1 million people go unexplainably missing every year it boils down to a vampire problem of there  being about 125,000 vampires in the United States (minus the occasional serial killer body count or extremely obese bloodsuckers okay).  Can you imagine Ralphie May or as a vampire?  I shudder to think of the carnage.  Either way it’s food for thought, isn’t it? 

The problem is I can’t find anything in nature that “sparkles” in the daytime or that sweats something to coat themselves from sunlight.  Most nocturnal animals just sleep during the day–it’s easier than evolving some sort of diamond-dust skin.  Ooh!  I just had a thought!  Is this how come vampires are rich?  They sell off their flaked skin at the jewelers?

“Damn I’m molting again,” Edward says.

“Cool,” Bella replies, “now I can buy that Mercedes-Benz.”

That’s dialogue I’d like to see.   Oh and that reminds me, can you just imagine what a vampire’s breath must smell like?  Have you ever had bloodstained clothing?  Can you picture what your teeth would look like as a vampire?  I think a great marketing concept would be “Twilight Toothpaste”

Cut to a Victorian reading room with Edward sitting in a chair sparkling for the sunlight pouring in from a nearby window.  Turning to the camera he flashes his pearly white fangs and begins to speak.

“After a hard night trying to keep Bella out of trouble,” Edward says, “I find my breath less than fresh.  Thank goodness for Twilight Toothpaste with it’s minty fresh scent and grime and stain removing action.  And for those hard to reach places try Sparkling Vampire Dental Floss.”

He holds up a crimson and white colored tube of toothpaste and a small box of floss–the camera zooms in for a better look.  Then it pans back out where Bella is sitting across his lap with those half-opened eyes and lazy smile.

“So before you go out to find a vapish and morose girlfriend don’t forget to stop by the drugstore and buy some Twilight Toothpaste–you’ll find it next to the feminine hygeine aisle.  Remember Twilight Toothpaste–make your fangs sparkle!”

…let’s not even get into what kissing someone who drinks blood must taste like, and you thought your hubby or girl’s cigarette breath was bad to savor.

Okay we’ve had a little fun with this.  It’s all in good fun.  Let Bella be and Edward sparkle–I don’t care.  I just wonder if we’ll see Werewolf untangling shampoo, Creature from the Black Lagoon Swimsuits, or Zom-Be-Fresh deodorant?

Sparkle on!

Chris

How to build a better villain…

How to Build a Better Villain by Christopher Newman

Ask any actor and they’ll tell you the heavy (i.e. villain) is the meatiest role.  So we, as Pagans, know the cruelty of such characters from history, film, novels and real life.  But how do you build a better, believable villain in your books?  Well lucky you…I can help.

Oh it’s not ego, just a matter of observation and practice.  They come in all shapes, sizes and colors.  Cunning cads, disturbing demons and lovely fem fatales.  Hey, it isn’t easy being evil, that’s the best part.  Evil for evil’s sake is too bland and blasé so you have to be creative.  Here’s a recipe I use occasionally.

1.  Stubborn to a fault is the base of our stew.  Nothing beats an antagonist who is both firm in his/her beliefs and knows the ends justify the means.  No matter of logic or counter-argument can sway him/her.  He/She’s not dumb, the villain has thought this through to it’s “logical” conclusion.

2.  A sense of humor is always nice, let’s add that too.

3.  Choose between darkly charismatic, foully unkempt, military (or quasi-military) strict, hideously ugly or several other options…grade it properly as to not become to cliché.

4.  Avoid stereotypes!  A ponytail wearing evil magician has been done to death…

5.  Nervous mannerisms (always pushing up his/her glasses), eye twitches, etc make all characters unique, but in a villain it can announce to the reader that mayhem is going to follow.

6.  Stir gently and bring to an even heat.  A villain’s sanity/power/plans must not rush too fast in the pace unless the manuscript calls for the heroes to be unbalanced.

7.  Scoop out the ridiculous (eyes opening at the end of the novel like some poorly written 1980s horror film).

8.  Accomplices sparingly dripped in to the mix.  Oh and by the way nothing adds to the spice of a villain as someone (or thing) that admires him/her greatly—for all the wrong reasons.  Or one that hates him and wants his job….

9.  Name him/her… everything, and I mean everything, the very success of the character can hang on a name.  Flopsie the Ghoul Master just doesn’t cut it…

10.  Ladle in a great back-story…why is he/she this way?  Is it believable?  Too much fantasy will make your scoundrel stew curdle.

11.  A pinch of “who does he/she serve?” for as Bob Dylan sang, “Everybody serves somebody” (or at least I think that’s what he sang…)

12.  Vampires don’t sparkle…oh wait that’s another topic.

13.  Taste it… would you be afraid of him/her?  If not add a dash more cruelty and liberally sprinkle in socially inappropriate beliefs.

14.  Almost done now… take another taste.  Afraid yet? No, add more of ingredient 13.

15.  Twist in a twist (somebody’s gonna hurt somebody—before the night is through!)  Eddie the Homicidal Manic has a soft spot for puppies… and removing the heads of nurses.

16.  Pour this steaming cauldron over your manuscript and watch the steam rise.  Ah! Smell that?  Scoundrels are the spice of a manuscript’s life.

In closing you have to remember that the good guy/gal is bound by several rules and moral conditions.  He/She will walk the righteous path, follow most laws and take the heroic stand.  Villains are not so restrained.  If you feel that “Whoa I don’t think that’s fair” happens when you pen an act by a villain…you’re on the right track.  Consider this, poor Bob Ziegler gets fired at a film shoot on recommendation of an actress who he turns down for a date.  Then he goes home to find his girlfriend in bed with his best friend.  Ousted out of his apartment now he needs cash and most of all a camera to shoot his masterpiece, get famous and get the girl back.  Enter the villain… smiling, knowing and ready for him.  You need that old Super-8 recorder?  Oh you’re broke?  Hey I’ll give it to you if you film that hottie next door tomorrow morning.  She likes to work out in skimpy attire and I’m too old to hold the camera steady.  You’ll do it?  Great!

Later on…

Oh you say you have hideous painful tattoos all over your body from using it?  I know just how to get rid of them, darn I’m so sorry this happened.  How?  Well my research shows that if you shoot the scenes of demonic pleasures depicted on your flesh I bet they’d disappear off.  Good question, where ever are we going to find such willing actors and actress?  Of course you’re right!  The porn industry!  My mama taught me how to brew up a special brew that’ll make ‘em forget what they’re doing.  Inhuman?  Not in the least they’ll be just fine.  Immoral?  Well I hate to break it to you friend but those tattoos are going be there until you die.  They hurt?  I bet they look painful!  I know you think it’s kind of perverse but they’re only porn actors, who’ll miss ‘em?….for more on this see “Get Into the Spirit, Baby” from Dark Roast Press.