Monday, July 06, 2015

Neighbors

I've now officially met more neighbors in my country house than I ever did living in the city.

There's the YardGuy* and his lovely wife, the Conversationalist. They live up the hill from us, and are delightful people. The Conversationalist gave Paddy a number of lovely plants, which are now merrily growing in our cottage garden.

There's the Mule Guy. He is what we call around these parts, a character. He goes to the local fairs with his mules, and has a mustache that simply will not quit. He's got that way of speaking that is at once incredibly odd and endlessly fascinating.  There's a bit of curmudgeon in there as well.

There's Elk Jewelry Girl and her German Beau. Interesting folks who are renting the property that simply has a great big garage/workshop on it, and living out of their RV.

Yesterday, we met Terminal Preacher and her husband. She runs a home church for terminally ill people, and has cancer herself. We had a fascinating conversation, about the similarities between Pentacostalism and Johannite Gnosticism. There are more than one would think initially: The personal nature of the relationship to divinity (in their form symbolized as Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit), the nature of the gnostic experience ("slain in the spirit"), and the primacy of the individual relationship to the divine over doctrine.

There are differences, of course. Their approach is more emotion based, ours is more intellectual and we have a ton more ritual, but we came to that common ground of helping those who are seeking find the Divine. It was a lovely conversation, and I can't wait to take in a service of theirs.

*All names are changed to protect the innocent.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Illuminated Circle Vol 4

The fourth volume of Joseph Wolf's series on the Shem ha Mephoresh is now available on Amazon for kindle.

This fourth volume goes past angel summoning 101, and into deeper contacts and ties with the entities in the Illuminated Circle. You'll read the results of Mr. Wolf's explorations here.

This is the final volume of the series, completing the elemental correspondences of the zodiacal signs. The books will be updated with further explorations of the angels as they become available. We are also working on a print version for people who prefer text that is not electronic, so stay tuned!

And don't forget to check out the other works in this series, here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Immortality



"Two fates bear me on to the day of death.
If I hold out here and I lay siege to Troy 
My journey home is gone, but my glory never dies. 
If I voyage back to the fatherland I love, 
My pride, my glory dies... 
True, but the life that's left me will be long, 
The stroke of death will not come on me quickly." 
- Achilles on his death in The Illiad, Book 9, 499-505


Some legends are told
Some turn to dust or to gold
But you will remember me
Remember me for centuries
- Fall Out Boy, "Centuries"


I don't wanna die, I'm a God,
Why can't I live on?
-Iron Maiden, "Powerslave"


The knowledge that one day we will die makes us crazy.

Our whole species is insane.

We are these wonderful special snowflakes. Each one different, each one unique, too weird to live, to rare to die.

And yet, we will.

And it makes us angry. Resigned. Hopeful. Insane. Fearful. Crazed.

There is only one form of immortality we can count on. We talk of heavens and hells, we talk of life beyond death, but there is only one thing that can ensure our existence is not forgotten down the line.

Fame (and it's cousin, infamy).

Achilles, long dead these three THOUSAND years, is a name familiar to most of us in the West. Alexander the Great. Julius Caesar. Genghis Khan. Leonardo Da Vinci. Gustavus Adolphus. Napoleon Bonaparte. Adolf Hitler. Joseph Stalin. Winston Churchhill. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. John F. Kennedy.
Helen of Troy. Cleopatra. Joan of Arc. Elizabeth I. Catherine of Aragon. Catherine the Great of Russia. Marilyn Monroe. 

These are names I know, and I'll bet you do too. And we know them because of great deeds, because at some point in history, they did something noteworthy, something of which we have taken note. And their names live on.

They do not.  But their names do. Stories and tales of their deeds, actions, words live on.

And there are many who try to achieve this immortality, and fail. Or they fail to do it widely. Or their works live on, and we don't know their names without looking it up, if it is even preserved. I can't name the architect of a single one of the Pyramids, but his works live on. I can't name the artist who cast the Statue of Liberty, but his work is a symbol of my country. 

Where does that leave those of us who are not heads of state? Leaders? Artists? People who live on farms, who work in desk jobs or factories, who build and labor and raise families and die?

Or even some of us who are?


I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
-Percy Bryce Shelley, Ozymandias

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Sustainability

When embarking on a new endeavor, a good question to ask is "Is it sustainable?"

For instance: A diet, or an exercise program. You may start out all enthusiastic, but can you sustain the effort and care needed to succeed?

Raising animals: Can you sustain the expense or effort required to take care of the animals? Vet bills, feed costs, etc?

Ideals: Can you sustain the effort to protect your ideals, even in the face of stiff opposition?

This all bears on me. I'm currently looking at how we raise our animals, and it's not sustainable. We currently buy a lot of feed, and we're getting little return for it. Some eggs, some rabbit meat, but not nearly enough to justify the expense. It's not sustainable. So I'm exploring ways to make it more so.

Diet and exercise are on my mind a lot. My health would improve greatly if I can drop 40 lbs. It's simply a matter of, what can I do that I can sustain to get that kind of weight loss, and keep it off?

Ideals: I see the supreme court decisions today, and I see the uproar over the Confederate Flag.

I'm happy the ACA is upheld; I think healthcare should be kept affordable for all, and those without means should be aided in obtaining it. My fear is that the way it was upheld will lead to other similar issues. The 'Rule of Law' would state that what the law says, it means, and the way it reads, the subsidies are only a benefit afforded to those exchanges established by the State, not the Federal ones. It's simple enough to walk an amendment through Congress and change the language. That's done all the time.  However, SCOTUS has told us that what the law says is not what it means, and that what it means needs to be interpreted in the wider reading of the law.

This is the issue that fundamentalists run into with the Bible. Every verse needs to be read in context with every other verse, and all of a sudden you get a religion that preaches the opposite of what the book says.

With this ruling, we've gotten the result we wanted, but we haven't fixed the problem.

The uproar over the Confederate Flag upsets me for three reasons: First, it's the flag of an unsuccessful rebellion. It should not be flown on any public grounds. Period.  Second, private companies taking it down seems like an overreaction, as we still respect freedom of speech in this country, and an individual or private organization should be able to fly the flag if they so desire. Three, it's distracting from the very real problems we have of racism, over and possibly incorrect medication of the mentally ill, gun control, and all the various other things we have to talk about. The flag is a quick, easy symbol, and by destroying it we feel like we've won a victory.

But all we've done is take down a flag. Nothing has changed.  We haven't fixed the problem.

As a society, as a culture, we've been doing this for some time. We sort of sideways avoid the problem. We put a band aid on, we throw a tarp over the hole in the roof. But we still have a wound, still have a hole in the roof. It still needs to be addressed head on, no matter how much we dislike blood or manual labor.

Eventually, these problems will fester, or the temporary solutions will create problems in and of themselves. Once the problems will no longer be ignored, it may be beyond our ability to address them.  The wound may bleed out, the house may collapse.

These sorts of 'fixes' are not sustainable. Eventually, the bill will come due.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Upheaval

Change always comes with a cost. In our case, changing our residence comes with a disruption of the bills. The immediate needs came first, and now that the dust from the move is settling, some of the more recurring bills are coming to rest, as are some of the realities of owning your own home.

For instance, we're woefully unprepared to deal with certain things. There's more work than we can do all at once, we had no garbage cans, or service, there's no power to the Barn and that project will take some time to get off the ground.  All the payment schedules are wonky, and the checking account is overdrawn. We're spending a lot more in gas as we move all the members of the household hither and yon, as we've moved some distance from our former base of operations..

All of the above is temporary flotsam and jetsam in the wake of the move. It will all settle down, in a month or two. The move was worth it, the transformation in our lives is immense. We simply have to navigate through the process.

Gnosticism is all about transformation, and transformation comes with upheaval. The very act of being initiated, of having an epiphany, will stir up all sorts of unanticipated consequences. That realization should not deter the seeker from making the change, rather the seeker should prepare, and realize that the path is strewn with obstacles and impediments, some of which will rear their heads right when progress is being made.

The journey is worth it. The satisfaction and peace one receives once reaching that far shore far outweighs the effort in overcoming the obstacles. In my case, I sit on my deck, and watch the sun set, and my efforts at home ownership are worth it.  In the case of the gnostic path, I see others growing in awareness, and I see the results of my own growth, and I am able to say that my efforts have borne fruit. The journey has not been in vain, the destination has been worth the trip, the difficulties will pass.

Have you set sail on the journey? Are you struggling? Do you need a safe harbor, a bit of peace? Don't forget to watch the sun set off the bow, let that beauty into your life. It will sustain.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Lovely Weekend

This weekend was lovely. We spend a lot of time hanging out at home, letting the animals explore under supervision. The back pasture is rather steep, and forested, so it was with a bit of trepidation we let the horses graze up there. We need not have worried, as they had a wonderful time.

The goats had a wonderful time in that pasture. I'm pretty sure they'll eat all the bushes, brambles, and grass down so we won't have any sort of fire hazard there.  

The chickens also had a great time, wandering around the upper pasture and the our yard, eating bugs and generally having a good time. We have three sets of chicken, and two of them are out wandering around on their own. The layers are wandering in the upper pasture, and the 'blues' (blue orpingtons) are wondering in the lower pasture. Our Dark Cornish (velicoraptors) are not allowed to wander, as they're generally too slow moving and too sweet to not get hurt.

As for the humans, we sat around some, we worked some. I spend a lot of time in the shade, just watching the animals. The kids were variously visiting friends and working on projects around the house. We got more unpacked, we got some cleaned up, and we did our first 'room inspection'. The kids rooms at both rentals we've had were atrocious when we moved out, so we've instituted a weekly clean and look at to make sure it's staying vacuumed, laundry is being done, and garbage is being thrown away.

I think it's a good idea in general, and metaphorically as well as materially. Once a week, pause, and make sure the general maintenance is being done. The rooms are cleaned, the kitchen is mopped, the floors are vacuumed. Make sure the basics are being taken care of, so you can move onto the improvement projects.

So much has happened in the past week that is tragic: The shootings in Charleston, the prison escapes in New York. So much seems to be spiraling down: Greece and the Euro, Syria, Ukraine. So much seems designed to distract: Taylor Swift vs. Apple, Caitlyn Jenner (which is a personal matter), etc.  The more I read and take in, the more I want to retreat to what makes sense: goats eating leaves, chickens scratching for bugs, the llamas contentedly munching on the grass. I want to maintain what is home, and enjoy it while it's here. I turn inward.

Update! I forgot to mention this was the BEST FATHER'S DAY EVER!!!!!!11!!!! because I got to watch Big Trouble In Little China with the family!  WHOO HOO! Rocking it David Lo Pan style...



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Shrines

The move being over, we're now trying to figure out what to do with the space. One thing we've started on is a cottage garden. You can see the path we've started off to the right. The brick is from a Mother's Day present we gave Paddy back in 2011, a bunch of free brick we got with the idea of doing some project with it. We've moved the brick three times: Once from it's original location, then when we moved up to the Farm in Sherwood, and now to the new house.

It's not getting moved again.

So, we're using it for a path. We've got just enough to make a good sized path. We've got it all laid out, and now we'll put some sand in, and level it, and then place it level. Or something.

So, the cottage garden is one thing Paddy is all about. Personally, I'm looking to make a few shrines. Several spirits and angels have helped us on our journey, and I think we're going to set up shrines to them. I have a few out of the way spots that I think will make nice locations.

One shrine will be quite simple, just an image and a space for offerings. The other will be move complex, something like this, but to an angel we work with quite a bit.  We'll probably do a Marian shrine at some point, as well.

The nice thing is, we have space to do it, and time to figure it out.

I love it.