Hello, October

October is nearly here so, naturally, I’ve been setting up my bullet journal planner to get prepared.

As a stay-at-home, non-working mom of a 1 year old, I don’t have a lot on my schedule. My bullet journal helps me stay on top of day to day tasks when my depression makes things difficult. But I’ve also added something new for next month. I’ll be keeping track of the Hallowdays  (holidays, holy days) that I try to observe monthly.

New Moon

This month is exciting because we’re getting two new moons this month; the second new moon in a month is sometimes referred to as a Black Moon and it falls on Halloween, aka Samhain.

With Hekate being a new presence in my life I know that it’s important to both of U/us that She be included in my workings this month, but I’m having trouble deciding when. I typically do Underworld workings with Persephone for Samhain. But with the Black Moon falling on the same night, I feel like it may be more appropriate to work with Hekate.

Feast of Guardian Spirits

I have a few spirit guides and helpers that have been with me for a very long time, one of which has become a sister spirit to me over the years. This time of year, when the veil that energetically separates our realms is thinnest, I like to take the time to celebrate our relationships.

This day also happens to land on Pagan Pride Day where I live, so I’ve decided to make a day of it and do some merry making.

Thesmophorus

This marks the beginning of a 5 day women’s celebration of the different aspects of childhood and motherhood. It honors Aphrodisiac, Persephone, and Demeter. In ancient times, this was said to be a pilgrimage during which women traveled to the temples of each Goddess. Feasting, fasting, mourning, and celebration took place on different days.

This is my first year celebrating this event. I’ve considered it for a couple of years but for different reasons I never have. This year, I think it’s time that I follow through.

Great Horn Festival

This takes place on the 18th. This festival has always spoken to me and I’m not sure why. It really got nailed in to that sensitive part of my brain when I read the Mists of Avalon for the first time. I usually mark it by rereading that book over a few days. Hopefully I’ll find time to do it again this year.

Zetesis & Heureris begins

This is an Egyptian festival from October 26 through November 2 and marks the search for and recover of Osiris by Isis. 

I wrote this on my calendar not because I typically observe it, but because it’s an event and myth I’d like to learn more about. I figure, what better time than during its observance.

Samhain

We all know Samhain to be the time when the veil is at its thinnest and the spirits of the other realms join us on this plane ar invite us to join them on theirs.

As I mentioned, I’m not sure what I’m going to do this year with Hekate now in my life. She has so much to teach me and I may just take time to meditate and be in her presence.

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Concepts of Modern Polytheism – Piety

After my last post I’ve done a lot of thinking about what piety means to me as a Pagan, as a polytheist, and as a person. This post gives a great breakdown using “devout” as the term in place of “pious”.

Next month, to strive toward building a deeper connection with the Gods, I’m going to start the challenge from the “30 days of devotion” meme. This seemed to be pretty popular on Pagan based blogs a couple of years ago, but I think it suits this step in my journey well.

I’ll also be sharing different things from my bullet journal that help me to make religion a part of my daily life.

The order that seems most logical to me would be Hekate in October, Persephone in November, and Poseidon in December. However, I feel strongly that I should begin with Poseidon. I welcome anyone who may feel moved to participate to do so and I’ll try to find ways of sharing this on Instagram as well.

MystikNomad

Piety is an incredibly contentious idea. It’s an important topic, and I’m glad people are discussing it, but sometimes the discussions can seem frustratingly theoretical.

For those new to the concept, or new to considering how piety might manifest in day-to-day life, I thought I’d wade into these turbulent waters and toss my two cents in. As per usual this is by no means meant to be a definitive anything. It’s simply my breakdown of the subject.

Disclaimers out of the way? Awesome.

blues-brothers-hit-it-quote-scene The Blues Brothers. Still classic.

What is piety, anyway?

The basic definition of piety is “reverence for God or devout fulfillment of religious obligations”.

Leaving the monotheistic bias of the definition aside, on the surface this seems simple enough. Applying it is a whole different thing, though.

That’s ok. This definition is a decent enough place to start. We just need to unpack it a bit.

There…

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A Purposeful Endeavor

I started this blog a bit hastily in an attempt to thwart my mercurial habits when it comes to writing projects. I planned to somehow blend polytheism and parenting and I likely would have slowly added more things to the list until the focus of this blog was far beyond lost.

It’s 3:33 am and like a fossil pulled up through the tar pits I found a combination of things that I’d truly like to focus on, religious devotion and planning from a Pagan perspective. I’m well aware that Hekate is not the only Goddess (or God) with an affinity for organization, but She is the Goddess whom has chosen to to beat me with the “organization stick” until I get a hold of it. 

Persephone asks little aside from motherhood, but I do know that She would like me to lead a more pious life than I do now. How I’ll do that in my present situation, I’m not entirely sure.

Poseidon, the drifter that He often can be, asks the most of me but in the simplest ways. Change. Grow. Adapt. Be vigilant in your daring. Be open. Show respect. Love. Be free. And, perhaps, be pious; W/we haven’t settled on the last just yet.

As this blog is a part of my Work, I think it’s best and appropriate to take it from an approach that serves all of the Gods/esses presently in my life.

Mabon 2016

Today is Mabon in the Northern Hemisphere, marking the Autumn Equinox. For a lot of Pagans, it represents rest after a long harvest and a time of reflection on the year past. The Sun God  is mourned as his days of ruling in the sky pass on to darkness.

In honor of Persephone, I celebrate this Hallowday a bit differently. For me, the Autumn Equinox marks Her last day on Olympus and Her return to the Underworld where she reunites with Hades for the dark half of the year.

This year, having a toddler on my hands and a being in the home of my judgmental mother have led me to think of something simpler to make this observance special. I have to say that’s it’s giving me great opportunities to find the magical in the seemingly mundane.

I’ve decided to prepare my space at home for arrival. Essentially in the way that you might prepare your home for family or guests to come stay with you.

I’ve purified my space by smudging with sage and sprinkling with a blend that I call Acheron water. It’s water in which I soak a mixture of herbs representing the river Acheron; this is the river down which Charon ferries the dead.

I’ll add some to the bed laundry, sweep the floors, change the towels and bed dressings, dust, and generally just do a ritualized cleaning of our living space.

Welcoming Persephone home and celebrating Her reunion with Hades is one of the best ways I’ve found to honor Her. I find myself looking forward to it throughout the year. For the next few months until the return of the Sun, she’ll be happy and home where she belongs. Something we should all strive to be more often than we are.

Diapers: Up & Up vs. Huggies

Duckie is just over a year old and as a new mom I’ve played the diaper dating game a little here and there. Pampers and Huggies came home with us from the two hospitals (birth hospital and jaundice treatment hospital). We tried Luvs on an emergency run while visiting my mother at the VA. And we’ve switched back and forth between Huggies and Up & Up (Target Brand) pretty regularly based on budget.

I recently moved her up from a size 3 to a size 4 and here’s what I’ve noticed so far.

Up & Up

Right now, size 4 in these diapers is 28.99 USD for 144 diapers. These diapers used to be 24.99 for the same count. I also used to prefer these diapers to any other brand. The pattern is bland but I’m not buying them for decoration. They were sturdy, absorbent, they didn’t give her a rash, and they were great value.

What I’ve noticed recently with these diapers is that they don’t pull the moisture away from my little babe’s skin. She has gotten diaper rash more times in the last couple of weeks than she has in the last year. And they fill up so quickly. I have to change Duckie’s diaper twice as often as normal.

They’ve become flimsy and don’t hold closed which leads to a lot of leaks. It’s frustrating that I have to change sheets almost every night (on two beds because we bedshare via the sidecar method).

Huggies Little Movers

These diapers are a whopping 45.99 for 152 diapers. This price can break the bank some months and I’m brought to tears anytime I have a coupon or a deal on the Cartwheel app. Sometimes I have no choice but to get the Up & Ups. But these diapers are the best we’ve used recently. I notice the leaking only at the same time I notice she’s ready to go up a size. They hold up well against her bedtime gymnastics and daytime dance offs. If she picks at her diaper there’s not a ton of diaper fuzz that can end up in her mouth. They don’t irritate her skin. She doesn’t end up with a saggy bottom right away and never any diaper rash.

Needless to say Huggies wins the battle.

What I don’t understand is why there is such a drastic difference in price and quality between diapers. These items are treated as though it’s a luxury to to not have your baby piss and crap all over the place. If cloth diapers weren’t so expensive I’d probably have made that switch by now. Unfortunately, at this point, Duckie will probably start potty training before the investment would be worth it.

The Eleusinian Mysteries

This time of year marks the celebration of the Eleusinian Mysteries of Demeter and Persephone. The observance lasts around two weeks and I typically try to take time on at least one of the days to do something special. Considering Duckie was born just a couple of weeks prior to this time last year, I can’t honestly say the Mysteries were on my mind. This year, though, I wanted to do my best to do a little something.

The night before also happened to be the Full Moon, so naturally I felt especially tempted to do some magic. With a toddler on my hands only just trying to figure out what schedule of eating, sleeping, playing, and screaming works best for her it can be hard to get in the magical mood but I turned to the heart of my magic and headed into the kitchen during a golden naptime opportunity.

Cooking is one of my favorite magical practices. Spending the last decade (off and on) as a Pagan in my mother’s house, it’s become the easiest and most discreet way for me to practice magic.

It’s said that the Eleusinian Mysteries marks the time when Demeter tore through the Greek lands turning lush summer into desolate winter. At this time, she taught an honored few the secrets of the harvest. At the end of the celebration of the Mysteries participants were said to leave the sacred space carrying jars of Earth with them, representing Demeter’s womb.

Doing my best to go with the harvest theme, I made a quick run to Ralph’s for some ingredients and got to work.

I have a slight addiction to good, hearty, soups so I took some ground sirloin, kale, potatoes, beef stock, onions, garlic, and green and yellow zucchini, put them in a pot and let them get good and cozy over the stove.

The result is, admittedly, brown and green, chunky liquid (I mean…soup, right?). But it’s delicious and warm and filled with love and the intention of having all I need to get through the next season.

With any luck, my intention will become reality and I won’t just be eating warm soups in this hot, California weather for no good reason.

TL;DR: Postpartum Depression

It used to be that when you thought of the USA you thought of freedom, triumph, and success. These days, it’s becoming more and more evident just how many ways in which that is not the case. We are living in a time where all of America’s big taboo topics seem to be simultaneously in the foreground . While the various topics under the umbrellas of equality and equity are being juggled around, it seems as though one topic in particular continues to get conveniently swept under the rug: mental health.

Whether it be PTSD, anxiety, depression, or any other mental health issue, no one seems to have time to look at what’s clearly in front of them.

11-20% of women who give birth each year are reported to have postpartum depression. This number doesn’t include the countless women who suffer silently and alone.

This week in my home city here in SOCAL, a mother took the life of her 8 week old son and then took her own life.

The local news released a brief article describing the event. How sad. How unfortunate. “Please contact us if you know anything.”

My daughter is just over a year old now but the memories of those first few weeks have hardly left me. While I’m greatful that the idea of harming her never crossed my mind, I had plenty of other thoughts to work myself through.

In the immediacy of the depression I was, in fact, alone. If not for the breastfeeding support group I was (and still am) in, I fear I may have abandoned my child in some way or another. And my guilt still tells me that, for one night, I did just that.

10 hours of emotional hell is too long. Dragging yourself out by your own bleeding fingernails (metaphorically, still) is too hard.
I wish this mother had had the support that I had from a tribe of mothers unafraid to reach out and be open. A tribe of women with been-there-done-that experience and here-and-now compassion.

Here are a few things you can do to help any mother through a difficult time, whether she be a few days postpartum or a few years. Postpartum depression has no time line.

Ask her how she’s doing.

This is easily do able. Sometimes all she needs is for someone to be there, ready and willing to listen. Don’t make her feel bad about repeating the same problems you heard last week. All of it is most certainly still a problem. Just be there open and willing to understand.

Offer your hands.

The hardest things to get done sometimes when you have a child around are the little things. Dishes, vacuuming, changing sheets, restocking toilet paper. Offer to handle the small chores at times when she needs a moment to re-enter herself. Or, when she doesn’t; getting the small stuff out of the way when she’s doing great will give her the chance to get ahead of the curve.

Remind her of what’s important.

Remind her that she’s doing an amazing job. Every day she gets through, no matter how messily it may get done, is a triumph. And every once in a while, remind her that it’s OK to take time to take care of herself. Self care is one of the most important things for a mom to remember. The benefits of a shower, eating well, and drinking enough water are legion, but brushing her teeth and combing her hair are more than just mundane tasks when she’s gone two weeks without doing either. They can feel like the most luxurious spa day given enough time without them.