Helping humankind live with the earth not against it

Category: writings (Page 2 of 2)

I am not ready for the darkness

Meditations on the Path of Knowledge

I want to talk a little bit about the idea of light and dark. The world is all about two things in my mind, cycles and balance. There is light and there is dark. I think there are three attitudes towards darkness in a path that is pagan bent, the first being acceptance and use of the darkness, the second being acknowledgement but not use of the darkness, and the third is ignoring it. I have always been in the second group. To me I am impressed by those who roll up their sleeves and dive right in. I have had a rocky relationship with the darker aspects of life.

I lived in fear for a few years when I was younger (it’s a long story I don’t want to share, but believe me my safety was not something that was a given at that point in my life). This led me down a very dark mental path for many years. I struggled with things beyond my years while my friends talked about boys. I remember even as young as I was the feeling of not wanting to drag them down into my darkness. I put on a happy face and did battle myself. I have always been a very do-it-my-self person and part of that extended into not wanting to burden others with my problems. I have learned to lean on these same friends now, but it took me a while.

I have spent so long trying to free myself of this unstable relationship with the darker aspects of my mental well being that I very strongly stayed away from the darker aspects of my spiritual path. This is not to say that everything was always rainbows and sunshine and fluffy bunnies, but I have never really worked anything that could be even slightly considered negative.

Why this reluctance to explore half of the universe? I think it has to do with not feeling like I have my own darkness under control. I have a wildly explosive temper, and when I am angry I am very deeply and violently angry. I develop strong hatred towards people as well. I know these are not healthy. I know I do not have these emotions under control. I don’t like them. I don’t do workings when my emotions are high. There is a reason I haven’t done much this past year. There is a situation that came up in March that I am still very, extremely angry about. I have considered actions to take magically but when I write them down and come back to them, even when they seem reasonable at the time, I can tell they are over the top. To balance out this darkness I have what I call a creamy center. I am the person who can’t watch uncomfortable comedy like The Office because I feel so bad for the characters. It’s not funny it is painful. Because of this dynamic I often regret and feel horrible about things I do when I am angry. As gleefully as I come up with evil plans, a few minutes later I can be horrified.

Until I learn to control the darkness in me I don’t trust myself working with the darkness. I consider myself an acknowledger of the darkness, while not feeling ready to work with it. Maybe soon I will and I will start down a road of discovery. Sending positivity into the world is something I feel comfortable that I can’t over do and hurt someone. Working anything darker is something I am afraid I will over do, because I know myself.

I recognize flaws in myself, but this I consider a strength, knowing when you are not yet ready for something. I don’t like the way negativity takes over in me sometimes, but I am proud that I have enough control to not do something I will regret later. As I continue to struggle and learn and improve on control of my darker aspects, I feel myself coming closer to exploring the darkness I’m just not there yet.

So I’ll stay in the light, spreading positivity and being contagiously enthusiastic about everything I love!

I don’t belong here… shhh someone might find out!

“Meditations on the Path of Knowledge”

I guess I set the bar a little high for myself. When I said I was zombified from work yesterday…. that was nothing. I spent my day arguing with a computer that won. I don’t have a huge topic for tonight so I am going to introduce you to a concept that I will hopefully be able to expand upon tomorrow. I was going to write about fear in general tonight, but that would be a longer post than I am capable. But I said WRITE EVERYDAY and code doesn’t count so here I go.

Impostor Syndrome

This is the feeling that it was a fluke that you got accepted to/or hired at someplace, and the fear that someone is going to find out that you don’t belong. This runs rampant in science, and is something I suffer from. Although it is technically not a “disorder or syndrome” it has became popularly known as such. Partially I think my issue with it comes from the “jack of all trades, master of none” saying. I have always identified with that. I have always liked to try many different things. For a time I was a musician, and then I was interested in anthropology, found out I am horrible at economics, and have only ever been “OK” at math. I have never felt that I excelled at anything. Although now that I think about it, I was convinced I wasn’t good enough to make it on the classical music scene and quit out of fear.

PhD Comics is always spot on!
As I have continued on my path both spiritually and academically to understand the world around me, I started to notice the phenomenon pictured above. The more I studied the less I thought I knew. I think that is what I really liked about Fire Lyte’s Project Pagan Enough campaign. I felt like I knew nothing, and that I was going to be “found out” for not being pagan enough. I felt like I wasn’t coming from a place where I could even talk to the people I had found and looked up to as being CRAZY smart on the pagan front. I felt like worse than a beginner because I knew I knew nothing, and that anything I asked would sound stupid and I would be found out.
In science though I think the stakes are higher since I am employed in my field. I felt like I didn’t deserve to get into grad school. That I was in no way smart enough. I felt like I didn’t deserve to work with the people I did, and I definitely still feel like I don’t deserve the degree I got. Almost on a weekly basis I run into something that is intellectually challenging enough that it stops me in my tracks. My boss and coworkers are brilliant and I feel stupid compared to them. I come home feeling that I am not qualified to even walk in the door at work. 
I would like to say that this is all in the past tense, but lets face it. I am giving a talk at the biggest conference in my field, in front of people I have always looked up to as WAY smarter than me and I am terrified. I started writing my thoughts down and have been SHOCKED that these posts (few as they are) have been so well received. I have almost a visceral reaction to the praise from them. “They must be joking, these are shit. Why would they say they like something that is so obviously simplistic and nothing new?” See?  It takes me a lot to get rid of this thinking. I have to remind myself that I have high standards for my work, and that is a good thing. But, sometimes you just have to let go and trust other people, and your own work.
I think everyone suffers from the impostor syndrome to some extent. I think it is worse when the stakes are high. I think we need to put more faith in ourselves and the people around us to be able to judge our ability better than our self. I also don’t trust anyone who tells me they are smart, or knows everything, total red flags in my book. The more you know, the more you know you don’t know. —Aristotle is another favorite quote of mine, and I think that simple fact leads down the impostor syndrome road. If you look around and everyone else seems to be getting something you don’t (because you can see the complexities) you feel stupid. But sometimes, that’s just because you are the smart one. 
Fear and negativity have been major factors in my life, so I guess you can say “to be continued…” I do not work with the darker aspect, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know it is there. I think its dangerous with the wrong mind set, and I don’t think I am ready. 
Until next time… (I’m going to pass out now….)

Damn my subconscious is smart!

“Meditations on the Path of Knowledge”

My topic for today is dreams. You will have to excuse the zombie like writing since I feel like my head is full of mud and not brains. That is what happens when I try to reason with computers all day. I have strange dreams sometimes. I have dreams that hint at truth, and I have dreams that are like movies.

Sleep is one of those important things, that when you think about it evolutionary make little to no sense. When we sleep we are vulnerable, so why did we evolve to need sleep? This is a question tackled by Radio Lab and I think they did an excellent job. There was a study published in Science last month that might have answered some of this question. It appears that our brain cleans itself. This is all very interesting (and I encourage you to explore more on this topic) but that is not my topic for today.

If you aren’t already listening to RadioLab why the hell not!?

Dreams. There is a long tradition of prophetic dreams. I am no stranger to this phenomenon. A few weeks ago I had a dream that an ex-coworker (who moved to Europe) stopped by the lab. It was short and comical (I told him to go back outside and knock like a normal person). I told one of my current coworkers this dream while we were hiking. He went home that night to an email from this co-worker saying he would be in town in November. Coincidences like this, and strong Deja Vu experiences have always seemed to happen.

It seems to me that there are at least to ways one can approach the “what are dreams” like this question. The first is with magical thinking, and the second is more rational that your subconscious picks up on cues that your conscious brain doesn’t. I lean on the second approach, but there is always a sliver of magical thinking. There have been cases where I had a dream about a conversation with someone, only to have that conversation YEARS later. I have recognized people out of dreams from years before as well. It could be my brain playing tricks on me, or it could be something more. While it is pleasing to think that I can see through time, and that I am having prophetic dreams, I’m not sure that jumping to that conclusion doesn’t take something away.

Once you give something an explanation and put it in a “box” you stop trying to figure out the problem. Where is the fun in that!? I personal like the thinking that time doesn’t have to be linear and that I might be experiencing a bit on non-linearity of time in my sleep, but I also like waking up in awe of how smart my subconscious is. What environmental triggers made me think about my ex-coworker, and conclude that he was due to come back for a visit? I have no idea. But my brain might have picked up on some pattern that my conscious self hasn’t seen.

Wouldn’t nonlinear time be fun? For a while… 
then I bet it would get annoying….

My subconscious also likes movies. I refer to my sleep state as “Sleep Kat” and she is very different from me. She is a total bitch, and will hang on to her dreams with both hands. I posted on social media recently that I had a very vivid dream that was very linear like watching a movie. I wrote down this dream and 6 pages later I have an outline for a much longer story. I think I will write that one up in January in full. This is far from the first time I have had this happen, and a collection of stories from “Sleep Kat” might be a fun project.

Why I picked dreams today is due to a dream I had last night. I tend to have very vivid dreams. There are times that I wake up unsure if that was a dream or not… This morning right before my alarm went off I dreamed that a colleague of mine posted a photo of a beautiful dark red candle with a heart carved on the snow into it with a caption that insinuated that she was also pagan. It was so vivid that I checked my facebook three times this morning to see.

(not what it looked like but the closest thing google images came up with)

It made me realize that while I know they are dreams I put a lot of stock in what my dreams tell me. I don’t take it at face value, but I question if it really happened or not. I guess I don’t have much in the way of concluding remarks besides saying that dreams have a funny way of sticking to you and making you question reality. And I love it!

P.S. My brain feels much better now! I knew this writing thing was a good idea! 🙂

The divination tool

“Meditations on the Path of Knowledge”

I was having a hard time figuring out where to start this discussion. Maybe the best place to start is what I think divination is not. I use runes and tarot for my divination work and I do not think I am psychic, I do not think I can see or predict the future, and I don’t think I can glean anything I didn’t already know. What I think I am doing is changing the context of my question.

Your brain and my brain are wonderful problem solving machines. However, sometimes they get stuck on a problem, and need a jump start to start churning away again. For me, this is where divination comes in. When I am feeling like I am thinking in circles I will pull out the cards or runes and do some readings. Usually the subjects of the cards and runes will start me thinking from another direction. In this way, divination helps change the context of my problem by adding other elements or ideas I hadn’t considered. Another way I use divination is to break the “haze”. I write code/scripts for work and after a day of nothing but trying to communicate with computers sometimes I feel like my whole brain is frozen. The act of casting runes and then trying to make sense of them wakes my brain up a bit.

Tarot is a tool I have used for many years. I am a fan of the Celtic cross layout. Usually I start with my problem or the general “context” in my head but unclear. Either I don’t know what to do next, or I have a problem and I am stuck on it, or just this area of my life has been causing a lot of stress. Normally the cross section of the spread helps bring my problem more into focus for me. The addition of the meaning of the cards as a parameter in the problem equation generally serves to clarify my thinking. Those last 4 cards generally leave me with a more firm understanding of my issue. All this new information helps my epic problem solving machine chug away. Sometimes by the time I get to the end of the reading, I know the solution. The cards didn’t tell me. The cards helped guide my own natural problem solving ability.

My usual layout

This doesn’t mean that there is no “magic” when I read cards. I think on the contrary, the fact that the cards always seem to tell me exactly what I need to know is magic. It is uncanny, too how one deck is always positive and the other always negative (like having an optimistic and pessimistic friend to talk your problems through). Because I “know” I am just using cards with different meanings to help clear my brain and solve my own problems, and I don’t “believe” there is a guiding hand, I am always left with a feeling of awe. What controls how the cards fall is the shuffle, and I control the shuffle. What always astonishes me is how no matter how stuck I am, the cards have a way of clarifying my thinking.

Pessimistic deck on the left and cheerful one on the right. 
I use the booklet for interpretations. 

I guess what you could say is that the runes and cards don’t tell me anything I don’t already know… its just finding where it is hiding in my brain, and that is magic.

I am reading a book on traditional runes, which I will need to make a new set of. My old set I made in high school with pebbles and a sharpie. I have a set of “witches runes” that were made when I first moved to Hawaii. I like them. Simple. These because they are so simple have far less instruction on how to interpret them and work best when my brain is not all muddy.

These are my runes I currently use. I find it much more challenging with so few,
 and I love a good challenge!

I am out of writing time for today, so I guess I will have to revisit this topic! I am already enjoying sharing my views and exploring them myself. I think this blog series will be good for me!

Just remember, my views are my own, subject to change at any time and without notice and in no way an attack on your own.

November Meditations: Intro

This November I am challenging myself. I want to blog more and write more so why not challenge myself to write every day? Obviously I am a day behind, already…. I waffled about if I would have time to do this yesterday, and you know what? If I don’t make time, I won’t have time, and if I make time, I will have time. Enough with the excuses!

This month for my writing challenge I am going to examine my Path. The idea is that, in writing my thoughts on different topics I can take a census of what I believe, and where my path is headed. I am calling this series:

“Meditations on the Path of Knowledge”

At first I thought that name was too pretentious. Who am I to say I am knowledgeable? But then I realized it is a path about knowledge, a quest for knowledge, and an appreciation of knowledge that drives my life. I will not claim to be wise, but I will own striving for more knowledge at all times.

I think it is healthy sometimes to take out our beliefs and roll them around in our hands, examine and question them. That is how we learn and grow. You are free to disagree with me at all times, and I am free to change my mind. That is what makes life so much fun! Things always change (and I guess that is also terrifying).

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change -” ― Heraclitus

If you have followed me for a while you will no doubt have learned that I have considered myself on this path my whole life. I started using the name “pagan” to describe myself over 15 years ago, and I still consider myself a beginner. I am beyond the “101” books (I never cared for them much in truth) but haven’t found my next step. Maybe in a month of exploring what makes up my path, my next step will be more clear to me.

We all have our own unique paths, and our own truths. I truly feel that each of us are enriched by exploring our similarities and differences. We can always stand to learn something new, and embrace the ever changing world around us!

Peace Love and Knowledge,

~ Kathleen

Give more than you take

I have a phrase that is one I try to live by: give more than you take. I try to align my life to this principle, and see it as a personal challenge.

This idea permeates even my practice on my “crazy path” as I like to call it. I started a daily practice a while back. I don’t ask I just thank, everyday. I have been saving the wax from the tea light candles I light and last night my jar was full enough to melt down.

Left over bits of the tea lights. I need to make something with them…. 
The bits of wax left after the candles have burned down. 
Jar of wax

This jar of wax I have been slowly filling, day after day. Last night I realized I had a few days of candles to put in, and not enough room. So I melted the wax to make more room.

Beautiful red melted wax! 
The red wax is from my big candle I use mostly on the weekends. It needed to be trimmed to keep burning. The white wax was from all those tea lights. 
The purpose of this large candle is this: when I do need to ask for something I would like it to be on the back of those many days of thanks. All the energy I have given in thanks should be much more than what I ask for.

My candle of thanks is a reminder to give more than I take, and thank more than I ask. 
There is still plenty of room for more wax!
Do you do something similar? What is something or some principle that you strive for?
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