Ends and means

My general starting point is that the ends should not be assumed to justify the means, because that’s a slippery slope down to doing whatever you want in order to get your own way. It works with the assumption that ‘winning’ is everything. If you want to go through life as a passably ethical person, then you have to allow for the idea that you can be wrong, and that other people’s needs and views are just as valid. Getting the result by any means just doesn’t fit with that world view.

Most of the time that works just fine. I approach almost all things with an eye to acting in a way I find acceptable in order to work towards outcomes I want. However, we live in troubling times. Eco-suicide is a distinct possibility. The damage our species is doing shocks me on a daily basis. Human injustice, underpinned by greed and apathy, haunts me. Sometimes the urge to shake people and scream at them to wake up, is huge. Not that this would be a likely strategy to achieve results.

All too often, the slow approach of winning people round, being the change and so forth is just too slow. I lie awake at night listening to the boy racers speeding their cars up and down the hills and I know there are far too many people out there for whom the idea of responsibility is a joke. There are so many of us who feel entitled to have whatever we can pay for, no matter what it costs someone or something else. There are so many of us who just can’t keep up with the ethical issues of each choice, either. Doing the best you can with what you have is an exercise in compromise and complicity. I haven’t given away everything I have to feed the hungry. I honestly cannot afford to buy entirely organic.

Which leads to the questions of where my own life fits in this balance of means and ends. The ideal outcome for me would be a gentler, more sustainable world with a good-enough standard of living for all. Time to rest and play, the scope to be well of body and mind. Happiness, community, friendship. I don’t want to live in a world where people work seven day weeks and ten hour days and tend not to have the time, energy or money to go out of an evening. I don’t want to live in a world where people are always expected to push through pain and tiredness to get the work done.

There are so many causes. There is so much needs doing. So many things we need to be more aware of. I’ve adopted a more sustainable lifestyle (no car, no fridge, no washing machine) but it costs me in terms of time and energy. If something needs doing, I’ll show up and give it my best shot. As a consequence, I haven’t had a whole day off given over to rest since the middle of July. I make a point of having some rest time each day because otherwise I court mental dysfunction, but there are still more things to do than there is time, and I end up worn and ragged on a regular basis. How to be a good citizen, a good pagan, a good activist, mother, wife, friend, member of society, and to earn a living, and to have a low impact lifestyle… and needing more hours in the day.

The easiest things to drop are the ones that I enjoy – time out for music, reading for pleasure, sewing for fun, just going to bed early. I’ve had patches historically when the only way to keep going was to withdraw energy from the stuff I did just for me. That way lies the collapse of self esteem and the loss of inspiration. I would like the time and headspace to write novels, but the wild elephants are in peril, and our yellowhammers are nearly gone and I am desperately worried about the hedgehogs, and UKIP are running public meetings locally and people are responding to all that is wrong with hate. No matter how wound up I get, I must not fall into hating, and it would be so easy. People are not an innately loveable species.

If I am not part of the solution, then I am part of the problem. But if I do things I think are wrong in order to go after the ends I believe in, how can I not undermine what I’m trying to do? And if I put me first, at all, those are minutes I’m not giving to trying to help with something, trying to change something, and there is so much work to do, and so much to try and understand about what’s going on. I have no answers.


Democracy is in danger, from us

Yesterday I was out in the streets of Stroud with a lot of other people, raising awareness of the Trans-Atlantic trade deal under way and its grim implications for democracy. I think big corporations have too much influence as it is, giving them more power is not a good thing. http://www.38degrees.org.uk/ttip is you haven’t signed the petition yet.

I had a lot of really good conversations with people. I had a lot more where I said ‘this is a real threat to democracy’ and people shrugged, or said ‘I’m not interested’ and walked away. I can’t help but feel if I’d said ‘this is about a real threat to your television watching’ they would have cared. Such are our priorities.

People died to get us the democracy we have. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than many of the options. And yet we’re so complacent about it, and so blind to our own power and responsibility. We’ll abdicate power to any outfit that wants it. We’ll shrug, not wanting to make the effort to know, not wanting the inconvenience of getting involved. I can’t help but feel that if we act that way, we will get what we collectively deserve, namely a ticket back to the dark ages with our hard won rights stripped from us.

We all have power and we all have responsibility, it’s just that the vast majority of people prefer to ignore it. If we all decided, today, to fix all the inequalities in the world, sort out long term sustainability, deal with climate change and protect species from extinction, we would be well on the way to fixing every problem there is within the week. All we have to do, is do it. All we need, is the collective will, and that collective will is made up of individuals getting their bottoms into gear. Democracy is us, and if we bare our necks to the teeth of the corporate vampires, we really shouldn’t be surprised if they bite us.

I love 38 degrees. People led, people funded, doing what it can, and getting results. Every time you see a UK news item where the government have changed direction, there’s usually been a campaigning group in the mix, pushing for just that. Hundreds of thousands of people have roared, and something has shifted. Some of those wins are small, but every win counts. You can tell it works because they’re trying to legislate to shut us down around elections.

I think crowd-based campaigning, coupled with crowdfunding, are the future. When we come together to make things happen, we make things happen, and that enables a lively, active kind of democracy. Anyone who shrugs and walks away loses their voice in that, and may not like what it gets them, but that’s also part of what democracy means – choosing not to speak up means choosing not to have a voice. If enough of us can’t be bothered, then a small minority rules unchallenged. It’s like feudalism, only without the leprosy. Although saying that, if we privatise health so that the poor cannot afford care, (and TTIP makes that more likely) we open the door to get our mediaeval illnesses back. Because everyone loves the romance of weeping sores and untreated cancerous growths, right?


Debates, arguments, disagreeing and the such

I thought it would be worth posting some thoughts on this for all you more recently arrived blog followers. Here’s how it works.

I don’t expect people to agree with me. It’s lovely when I find someone who shares a perspective, and I really enjoy the further sharing that can come from that, but at the same time I don’t expect it. What makes sense for me, and what works for me may well not work for someone else. If your experience is different, please do say. I love learning, and I learn a lot when people share alternative views. I also know that I can get things totally wrong sometimes, through not knowing, or dodgy assumptions. It is helpful to me when people catch that. Alternative takes on things are always welcome.

I love diversity. I love that we are all different. Dogma is dull!

I know I sometimes wind people up, for all kinds of reasons. I say things that push people’s buttons. Sometimes that’s deliberate, sometimes I do it in all innocence. Usually if I’m writing about someone specific, I will either name them, or contact them privately so they know it’s them. With problems and issues, I try to avoid writing about experiences with individuals, but will look for comparisons across an array of experiences. So if you know me a bit offline, and I post something that in places sounds a bit like you but mostly isn’t… I request that you don’t take offence. It’s not total failure to understand you, or a character assassination, the odds are I was thinking about five other people as well and a thing I read.

If I wind you up and you take it personally and need to vent, come back and talk to me – publically or privately as you prefer. I would rather know. If there is a crossed wire, we can sort it out. If I have messed up, I can do something about it. If you just needed to vent, I’ll survive. I do not in any way censor comments to the blog if they relate to what I’ve posted. I don’t need you to agree with me, and if I don’t know you personally, I don’t need you to like me, but at the same time I would rather deal as smoothly and honourably with you as I can.

I don’t particularly enjoy being trolled, hassled or trashed – having had rounds of those. It really does all come down to manners. I’ve had some fantastic, inspiring disagreements; to argue does not have to be to denigrate.  For example if you track Jo van der Hoeven and I across our blogs, we disagree about a lot of stuff, but we also respect each other. We may bang out the arguments now and then, but it is all about the ideas, not about ‘winning’ or putting the other person down, and I love her for that. Turn up and tell me I’m worthless and useless, and there’s not a lot to debate… and frankly it doesn’t engender the best reactions because I am flawed, and neither saintly nor masochistic enough to actually enjoy that sort of thing. I may respond with sarcasm rather than compassion.

I do sometimes censor comments on those rare occasions when someone is shitty to someone else who posts here. It doesn’t happen very often because for the greater part I seem to get lovely, splendid people with meaningful insight to share, not trolls. Troll me, if you must. Not anyone else. Debate, discuss, exchange – it’s all fab and I get really excited when there are conversations going on in the comments. We had a round recently of someone attacking another poster though, and I didn’t let it through, nor will I.


Art or Craft?

This week I did a post for the local Green blog about the politics of art.  This is a follow on, because I have been mulling it a lot, and the issues are many.

So, what is the difference, between art and craft? Both are visual, both require skill and are generally intended to result in something pleasing. So why do some activities get one label and some the other?

As far as I can make out ‘Art’ is something rich men pay other people – usually also men, to do for them, and it should have no particular practical application. Craft is made by the poor, and by women. If a very wealthy woman does it then (historically) you’d whip out ‘accomplishment’ as a term instead. Not having so much space or spare resources to lavish on decoration, those of us who are not wealthy have always tended to favour getting beauty and utility into the same item. Quilts. Rag rugs. Pottery. Gorgeous baskets. Beautiful shawls. These are crafts.

Here’s a thing though, because if people with money suddenly get excited about a craft – Shaker furniture, historic quilts, etc, then they can buy it for silly money, put it in an art gallery or display it as an Art item, and magically it becomes Art and no one uses it for its intended purpose any more. Only when we stop valuing an item in terms of utility will we see it as a beautiful piece of Art and want to display it. I think there’s a very interesting reflection of the human condition in all of this.

We tend not to value small beauty, or beauty in the mundane, or the grace of everyday items. We value things that someone can be persuaded to pay ridiculous amounts of money for. We treat utility as ‘common’ and innate uselessness as attractive.  I could take a sidestep and rant extensively about women’s footwear on these terms, too.

There is also beauty in effectiveness and efficiency. There is beauty in age and durability. There is beauty in the love that goes into crafting. I am in no way opposed to Art as a form of creativity, but I am increasingly uneasy about where it sits in terms of affluence, gratuitous displays of wealth, consumerism and smug superiority.

Historically, that which is deemed ‘great art’ has mostly been funded by either the church, or the nobility. Patronising and patronage are related words, it is worth reflecting. Our history of great art has a lot to do with who was willing to pay up, and our history of artists is frequently one of struggle and abject poverty while they were alive. The best career move an artist usually makes, is to die. They become more collectable when you know they won’t make anything better. That’s hideous, when you think about it, and the whole underpinning logic seems very wrong to me.


Pagan Puritanism

When the subject of Pagan Puritanism came up in a conversation recently with Robin Herne, I initially thought of it as a bit of a joke. As a bunch of people we’re far too fond of dancing, shagging and drinking to fit with any of the images in my head of Puritans. But of course those images I carry are innately Christian. Robin suggested that Pagan Puritanism is about obsessively low impact lifestyles and diet. That pulled me up, because if that’s the measure, I may well be one.

Generally as a culture, we fear extremism. We understand ‘extremist’ to be other – foreign, worshipping other gods, or worshipping familiar ones in unfamiliar ways, or irrationally fanatical about some other thing to the point of being willing to blow people up over it. I think it’s worth noticing that you can pollute the air, poison the rivers, destroy irreplaceable landscapes and slaughter people in droves with all of the above and not be considered any kind of extremist at all if you do it all in the name of profit and personal greed.

We don’t tend to generate much in the way of fundamentalism – having such a wealth of histories, cultures, pantheons and belief structures to draw on, it’s hard to get all ‘one true way’ as a Pagan. Not having any formal financial structures, the hassle of recruitment in the face of no material gain means we’ve not developed a conversion culture either. Or, being a touch less cynical, I might suggest we’re just respectful of other people’s beliefs. So apart from the odd over-zealous soul, we don’t really do fundamentalism, and if we did, we’re just not organised enough to agree enough for it to have much impact. I like this about us. Generally speaking, fundamentalism is a group activity where belonging to the group is key to its functioning. Again, these are things we are not so good at.

Puritanism can be viable as a much more personal project. In other religions it means a move to try and get back to the true meaning of the core text. As religious bodies get affluent, decadent and self important, counter movements evolve to go back to the imagined simpler, more authentic vision – except these probably never do take us back, and are just as capable of becoming decadent over time. I give you North America…

We don’t have a core book, and the stock Pagan answer is to say ‘nature is my book’. Arguably a Pagan Puritan who is going back to the book… is going back to nature in a really determined way. Zero waste, recycled knickers and no flying, bean sprouts (organic and home grown) for breakfast. Pagan Puritanism suggests fanatical devotion to trying to live in harmony with the planet. I can happily give fundamentalism a miss, not least because it tends to be so tedious, predictable and destructive, if other religions are anything to go by. I may be more inclined towards Pagan Puritanism than I might have previously assumed.

I’m a long way from being really hardcore though – I do still have my computer, I can’t spin, I don’t have the means to heat and cook directly from a fire – although I have done that in the past. I aim to reduce my impact all the time, it is a bit of an obsession. Fortunately, the dancing, singing and shagging are entirely compatible with this agenda, so as Puritanism goes, it should be fairly cheerful.


Meditations on time and space

Normally I am more organised about the blog, setting up posts in advance when I know I have a mad day ahead, writing early so they go up before they show up. Time management is utterly key for me – as it is for most self employed folk and people who work from home. There is no one else to supply the discipline and structure, working out what has to be done when and in what order, how to get the most mileage out of resources, be efficient and get some breaks.

Frankly today is not going to plan. But there is a blog post (of sorts) and I have now dismantled my old bed and am drawing breath before it leaves and the new one turns up. This is part of an epic plan to maximise space (by most people’s standards, this is a VERY small flat for three people). It’s also the first time in our married life that Tom and I have a bed we both picked and that is specifically for us. Given both the practical and symbolic role of the bed, this is a bit of a moment.

Time management… space management… there’s not as much of either as would be optimal, but both raise similar questions about how to get best use, how not to be cluttered up with needless things. Knowing what’s important, what’s needed, what’s negotiable and what isn’t. Getting to that knowledge as a couple, exchanging ideas and finding out who we are individually and collectively in this space, in this time.

Arguably this is a dull, mundane day full of housework things. It would be so easy to let this be sheer grind, and to let it all pass by without reflection or consideration. Everything is an opportunity to grow. Everything is an opportunity to let go of something, to be lighter and more liberated. In this case we’re letting go of bed size, because we don’t use it. There’s self knowledge in the letting go. Everything is an opportunity to ponder and contemplate.


Fictional solutions

Since last November I have been wrestling with trying to write a novel. This has featured long sections of block, bouts of despair, existential crises over the point of fiction, gloom over the state of the industry, frequent absence of faith in myself and other entirely unhelpful things. The novel has yet to achieve first draft status.

I have over the years written more than a dozen novels, most of which have been published with small houses. Technically I know how to do this. The question of what has been going wrong, and why a thing I once loved and defined myself through has become a form of torment, has taken some considering. Some of it is because you can spend months of throwing everything you have at a project and sell half a dozen copies – most writers cannot make a living, and that can get demoralising.

Things are better at the moment, and I’ve been writing a few scenes most days. I test these on Tom as I go, which means I have some confidence that it’s not total rubbish. So, what’s changing?

One of the answers is that I have greater financial stability. I’ve picked up other work that pays steadily, the flat is bought, the mortgage is cheaper than renting was, so I’m under a lot less pressure to produce commercially successful work. Rather than trying to write something that will sell, I’m rediscovering something I had in my teens and early twenties, and lost in the need to make writing pay. I’m putting the words down like my life depends on it, not my livelihood. It’s much more emotionally exposed, and a little bit like going mad in an organised way, but I am now giving this book everything I have, and I feel better as a consequence.

The other issue, is time. I can’t switch from my blogging, marketing press officer day job head to creating fiction at the switch of a button – I have nothing lined up to write about, and if I stay at the computer, things from my other jobs will flow in and I end up doing those instead. I have learned it is critically important to make spaces, every day, where I can think about what I’m going to write next. To do that I have to get off the computer, but then what? I can’t just sit round waiting for inspiration to strike.

The answer appears to be crafting. I love working with my hands, so that’s a happy thing all by itself. If I’m making something I’ll pay it a fair amount of attention, but it leaves some bits of my brain free in a way that encourages ideas to pop up. Working on developing ideas is nothing like as effective as holding the right pace, not working at it and letting things pop up in their own time (or me). If I’m crafting, there is space for that to happen, but it’s fine if nothing comes because I was doing something anyway. I’ve made two rag rugs and am working on an appliqué wall hanging, and around this a book is slowly getting written. I’m much happier. For now at least I have found a solution to the writing side of the problem. In terms of the commercial – I’m going to do what I love and see if anyone will buy it. I just don’t have what it takes it write fiction for a market, and there is no point pretending otherwise.

While I was writing this blog post, I got into a conversation about a possible joint project for next year. There are a few things in the pipeline, so long as I can keep my head clear enough to see them through. I’m going to need embroidery silks, and dead t-shirts, apparently.


Lying about Love

Of all the human emotions, love is the one we are most dishonest about. We lie and say we feel it when we don’t, for all kinds of reasons, including to avoid causing pain, to get laid and to get other advantages. We say we don’t feel it when we do, to avoid awkwardness and complication, to protect ourselves and others. We’re often not even honest with ourselves about our own feelings, because it is frequently easier not to even go there.

Love is a good thing. Perhaps the best thing there is in this life. It brings joy, wonder, profound connections, and it can get you laid, and that can be glorious. Love begets children and enables enduring connections between people – not always sexual. It underpins co-operation and allows us to have a positive experience of our lives, cultures, landscapes, and other life forms. Without love, being human would be a rather cold and sorry business, I think.

So let’s talk about cake. Most of us like cake – if we can find sorts that suit our needs and appeal to our senses. Cake is one of life’s good things, it brings sweetness and comfort. Talking about cake is also easier than talking about love.

Would we say we wanted cake when really we didn’t? Would we worry that if we say no to cake today, no one will ever offer us cake again? Is this the only cake we are ever going to get? Is no better cake imaginable? Must we make do with a cake that has the wrong jam in it, and lie about liking the jam? If we want some cake, do we feel ashamed to admit this? Do we worry that people will be alarmed or affronted if we tell them how much we like their cake?

But of course cake is not as vulnerable and personal as love… it only connects to our style and buying power, to our body shape and body image. If we make them, they are full of effort and a desire to win approval and recognition. Cake is loaded with deeply personal things, but only a minority of us have eating disorders. Most of us know how to handle cake far better than we know how to handle love.

I learned a long time ago to mostly avoid mentioning how deeply I care about the people around me. I form powerful, enduring emotional attachments, I put heart and soul into anything that is more than a passing acquaintance and I’ve watched people step back if I so much as imply that there is a serious feeling on my part. Too much, too intense, too willing to give even… I’ve had plenty of conversations along the way where I’ve been asked to tone down, step back, or just plain go away. I find it difficult because I know this is the most and best I have to give, and learning how not to even put that on the table where anyone can see it most of the time, has been hard.

It takes a lot, these days, for me to chance telling someone that I love them, outside of already established connections. I have to trust that person not to hear demand or proposition in my words, or to be alarmed and threatened by it. There are few things more demoralising than baring you soul, and have that act of exposure cause someone you really cared about to push you away. Love is more exposed than cake. I wonder sometimes what life would be like in a culture where emotional openness and generosity were encouraged rather than frowned on. Where we supported each other in caring rather than hiding our hearts defensively. I rather feel it would be a better and happier way to live. Whether you can get there from here remains to be seen.

So, anyone for cake?


Goddess mythologies and social justice

A guest blog from Karen Tate

How are ancient Goddess mythologies and religions relevant for social justice?  How can we all hear the call of the Goddess?

So let us look at several brief examples of the Sacred Feminine as deity, metaphor or myth and how we’re given a template for living or advice for values we might embrace with social justice in mind…..

1) We find under the broad umbrella of Goddess, many faces across continents and cultures, with no mandate that we worship one name, one face.  Instead we see a metaphor for plurality, diversity and inclusion in the loving and life-affirming Sacred Feminine, rather than the jealous, One Way, androcentric and exclusionary god of patriarchy keen on asking men to sacrifice their sons to prove their loyalty and a holy book filled with violence.  Those embracing Goddess might easily see choosing peace, tolerance, gender equality and peoples of all walks of life; gay, straight, people of all skin colors and religions or no religion at all, as being in alignment with Her diversity, resulting in a  more inclusive, just, equal, balanced and sustainable world and society.

2)  Consider the mythology of the Inuit Goddess Sedna.  She is the gatekeeper between humankind and the sea creatures of the regions near icy waters on which indigenous people depend for their livelihood.  If mankind  becomes too greedy and exploits the creatures of the sea, Sedna cuts humanity off until he takes only what he needs.  Greed and excess are taboo as we are all inter-dependent upon each other.  As our environmental Goddess, Sedna, teaches us to be wise stewards of Mother Earth and Her creatures.  This is a rejection of excess and exploitation in all forms and She calls us to environmentalism and to be Her spokespeople protecting habitats across the globe.  We might be called to be at the forefront fighting against fracking, poisoning our water and air, and depleting our natural resources.  We would deplore exploitation of any kind, including wage discrimination, worker exploitation or multi-national corporations decimating local economies and indigenous peoples.   We certainly would use our vote to support those who fight for the 99% and allies who would  protect Mother Earth and Sedna’s creatures.

3) Egyptian wall carvings clearly show the Egyptian Goddess Isis bestowed upon pharaohs their right to rule and they were to rule their kingdoms governing under the laws of the Goddess Maat, namely truth, balance, order, and justice.  Similarly, we see the Hindu Goddess Kali standing atop her consort, Shiva, whose powers must be activated by Her. Clearly this suggests patriarchy, or rule of the father, resulting in rule by the male gender,  has not always been the way of the world, nor would be the way of the world with Goddess restored to center.  Neither would we want patriarchy in a skirt as absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Even a cursory glimpse here shows a call for female leadership and a respect for women’s power, both of which are sorely lacking in our world as academia, corporate America, religious institutions and politics has less than 20% representation by women in the United States.  We must support women who embrace Goddess ideals and support their leadership in these bastions of male control.  Isis instructing pharaoh she is granting him the right to rule, but only if he employs the Laws of the Goddess Maat, can be seen as support for civil rights, voter rights, worker and immigrant rights and consumer protection from powers that might mis-use and exploit the individual or the planet.

4)   In the thealogy of the Sacred Feminine, Goddess affirms women’s bodies and sexuality.  Priestesses of pharmacology, mid-wives and women hold the power over their own bodies and life and death is in their hands.

Today the patriarchy dictates to women the parameters of beauty and women fall victims to their standards spending millions with plastic surgeons to live up to some impossible ideal. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 13.1 million cosmetic procedures were performed in 2010, up 5% from 2009.  Beyond physical beauty, the patriarchy wants to control all aspects of women’s sexuality and reproduction.  Known in the United States as Big Pharma, pharmaceutical companies now hold the power over women’s bodies as they encourage women to disconnect from their menses, that monthly inconvenience, that curse.  They say, here, take our pill and see your sacred blood magically disappear.  Disconnect from one of the very things that empowers you as a woman   In a not-so veiled culture war, one political party has declared war on women by attempting to de-fund Planned Parenthood, thwarting access to contraception, trying to pass laws to make divorces harder to obtain, trying to legalize the murder of abortion providers, and by having miscarriages investigated and abortions abolished.  Women’s bodies and lives are the terrain on which this current extremist conservative movement is taking a stand.

If we had a feminine face of god at the center of society, or Her ideals affirming life, female authority, sacred sexuality, and leadership,  men and their institutions would not control or dictate to women.  Equal is equal.  Women would understand their sexuality and bodies are sacred and in their own hands and would not be complicit in their own oppression or exploitation.  Fortunately many women are catching on to this as they embrace groups like the Red Tent Movement.

5) Goddess thealogy affirms female power.  Where Goddess was worshiped, her temples were the centers of wisdom, culture, and financial power and were often presided over by women.  The Unitarian Universalist Women’s Cakes for the Queen of Heaven curriculum, as well as researchers such as Merlin Stone and Heide Goettner-Abendroth, in her book, Societies of Peace: Matriarchies Past, Present and Future  point to matrilineal, matrifocal or matriarchal societies  where Goddess was venerated and maternal values practiced, women and children were protected and had a spot at the center of the culture, reaping the benefit of that positioning at the center.  Not only must we restore women’s position in society to that of equal partnership with men but we must once again turn to the attributes of the Feminine, such as caring, sharing, nurturing, negotiation, collaboration, solidarity, partnership and peace – all of which have been marginalized or demonized under patriarchy – and embrace these values so that quality of life is restored for the most of us.

In conclusion, I’ve touched briefly on but a few ideas showing how Sacred Feminine herstory, metaphor and  mythology might be reclaimed and reinterpreted to provide a roadmap toward a more sustainable future.  We have in the feminine images of divinity deities, archetypes and ideals to show us the way.  It is up to us if we want to move away from or temper the “authoritarian father” idealogy that shapes our religions and culture and instead heed the advice of the Great She and her Sacred Feminine liberation thealogy as our role model.

How do we hear her call?  I can only speak for myself.  Once I started focusing on Her, trying to learn about different goddesses as either deity, archetype or ideal, she becomes a part of you.  You are inspired by her, motivated by her, empowered by her.  You just have to listen to your heart, your head and your body and you will develop and strengthen the connection.  I think its really that simple.  It’s a relationship of reciprocity.  You focus on Her and you get much in return.

 

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I recently read Karen’s book, I thought it was inspiring and I very much enjoyed it. You can read my review on Goodreads. Goddess Calling can be found here -


The shape of our stories

Back when I was working on Druidry and the Ancestors I spent a lot of time thinking about how we tell history stories. Tales of change and progress tend to dominate usual ways of telling. We don’t talk so much about continuity, wrong turns, or mistakes. The tales we tell of our own lives are differently shaped, influenced by when we see ourselves as being at our peak. Is that ahead, (progress narrative) or behind (decline narrative) or do we stay much as we are?

I was fascinated by how Theo writes of her life in this recent post on Wild Yoga.  It’s a mode of telling that emphasises change without any great sense of progress towards a specific outcome. There is no invalidating of past selves, no hierarchies of achievement. I find that really interesting and it prompted me to think about how we shape personal stories. In my teens I would have told you tales of progress, in my early twenties those would have become tales of change, with as much lost as gained and no sense of direction to establish whether progress is made. In my late twenties and early thirties I would have avoided telling you stories at all because at that time there were too many things that had locked me into silence. It was a decline period for me, with no scope to admit how much had fallen away and how much damage I had taken.

At the moment I am telling continuity stories. I am doing all the things I used to do – writing singing, crafting, making wine and preserves, swimming, walking and dancing when I can. I feel closer to my teenage self. The things I do, connect me to more recent ancestors, to my arty grandmother (now departed) and to my father who is also fermenting and preserving things. I tell stories of childhood kitchen adventures.

I feel more like me, and because of that shattering period, I am keen to tap into things that connect me to an older sense of self. Looking for substance, for identity and familiarity, for the things I enjoy and that give me a sense of fulfilment, for feelings of rootedness, groundedness and belonging. Tales of continuity help me to heal the legacy of the hard times, and are helping me rebuild a sense of self.

Different times call for different kinds of stories. It is worth thinking about what the stories we tell do for us. Carrying us forwards, helping us let go, or making us miserable and tying us in knots. We make ourselves and our lives when we make our stories. We tell ourselves into existence, with little tales we create in our own minds. The process of making sense of life is one of making narrative, and how we tell the story, how we shape it, informs who we think we are.

What is the shape of your story? How is that story shaping your life?


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