How to burn out

I blogged recently about facing up to the underlying causes of depression. One of them, is exhaustion. I’m very conscious that this is a common problem. Long work hours and massive pressure coupled with little or no pay increase has a lot of people working themselves ragged right now. So, I’m going to share a list of ‘I statements’ that illustrate how I persuade myself that no matter the personal cost, I have to keep trying and pushing. It’s often easier to see how bloody stupid and unreasonable something is when observing someone else, so I offer up my nasty little inner voices in the hopes of helping other people expose them.

Other people’s needs are more important than mine.

I am lazy and not trying hard enough and if I pushed myself harder I could keep going and do the things.

I may be earning enough money right now, but what if something terrible happens? I need more of a safety net, more options.

If I stop, something terrible will happen.

If I stop, everyone else will think I am lazy and slacking and then if anything goes wrong for me they will assume it was because I didn’t try hard enough.

If I do not run very hard, I will miss out. Other people will get the opportunities. I will be a failure.

How I feel doesn’t matter compared to the importance of getting the job done.

Other people work harder than me, for longer hours, in worse conditions. I therefore have no right to complain.

I don’t deserve rest or time off. I don’t deserve good things.

Working hard will somehow magically protect me from disaster and keep me financially secure.

I feel guilty when I stop working. There are so many things that need doing.

If I say no to someone I am being unreasonable and letting them down.

Other forms of working yourself to death orientated insanity are also available. Every time I take a day off I have to face this lot down. Every time I stop, rest, do something purely for myself, I have to fend this stuff off. We live in a culture that sees hard work (no matter how futile) as a virtue, and mental health as some kind of irrelevance. I want to change this. I want to change it for myself, and for the people around me. There are times and places for hard work, long hours, for deploying whatever blood, sweat and tears are needed to get something done. No one should be trying to set up permanent residence there, and no one should be asking us to.


Wife of the artist

Last year, will be remembered by my household as ‘the year of the raven’s child’ because mostly what my husband did last year, was draw. There were a lot of 12 hour and longer days, and a lot of seven day weeks of him sitting at the table, and drawing from the moment he got up, right through the day and well into the evening. This is, it should be noted, entirely normal for comics artists at all levels of the business. Long days sitting at the board and no days off, for wages that numerically are the same (not relatively, numerically) as they were in the late seventies.

Art takes time. Back in the 19th century, John Ruskin was protesting about the way in which people were being required to work as machines, but no one really listened to him, and the industrialisation of creativity has continued, and if anything, got worse. I have heard of artists working 18 hour days. I know authors who write at a rate of a novel a month.

For those not caught up in the creative industry, this can all sound fine. Because as everyone knows, doing art and writing books is fun, so doing it all day must be fun and not like a proper job at all. By extension doing it all day every day and never getting a day off is also fun because this is a hobby so you can just keep doing it. Right? I grant you, a bit of playful painting of a Sunday afternoon is fun. Writing a poem on a whim, making up a short story… these are delightful ways to spend some time.  But when your day starts about 7am and you have to hit the board, or the keyboard, and make content for ten hours and more and then get up tomorrow and do it all again… ‘fun’ is not the best description. When you tot up the figures, the chances of making the minimum wage doing this are slim. No one joins the creative industries seeking this, but to be ‘professional’ this is all too often what’s required.

Many comics artists die prematurely. They die in America in part because their low pay does not allow them to afford health care. They die because their sedentary lifestyles undermine their health, and because if you have to spend your waking hours working, then all the self-care things like cooking and food shopping go out of the window.

Such work does not pay most people doing it enough that they can keep a second person at home to take care of them. Fortunately for us, I also work from home. Last year, alongside the various day job things I do (press officer, publicist, editor, professional blogger, occasionally author of fiction and non fiction) I did pretty much all the household stuff. I fought a running battle to make the time to get him outside regularly, to get odd hours of downtime when we could, and to give him some leisure time alongside this phenomenal project.

There were about 200 pages of art in this project. A page a day isn’t unusual for comics, but often a person is drawing, or inking, or colouring, not doing all three. A page a day doing all three, is tough. Tom can do a page a day, but then to go from the drawn image to the finished electronic image takes more time. A comics page isn’t created by just sitting down of a morning and putting down the lines. It has to be planned to get the text onto the page. Often, research is required. There are continuity issues and things that have to be remembered and repeated. The bigger the book, the more of these there are. So alongside the drawing and the toning, there also has to be time for page design, character design, and research.

There’s a really macho culture in comics. It has, for a long time, celebrated the habit of working yourself to death. People take pride in their long, long hours hunched over drawing tables. Anyone who can’t keep up should get out, is the general wisdom. That complicity with the system helps keep the comics industry the way it is. But in the last few months I’ve seen increasing numbers of artists stepping away from this, to talk about the truths of their lives, the human cost of being asked to work like a machine. It’s one thing to suffer for art out of personal passion, another to institutionalise that process. Last year was tough, but we got through it. Tom could have made the choice to push straight into the next big thing and go along with the story about how you get successful as a comics artist. He could have chosen the short life expectancy, and restricted relationships. He didn’t. Having put heart and soul into the year of the raven’s child, he’s eased off, and we’re going to try and find other ways to make this work.

I’m with John Ruskin on this one: We should not be trying to turn people into machines.


Living in harmony

I live in a culture that thinks ‘business as usual’ is by default, a good thing. It is part of how western culture expresses its power over nature that it can carry on regardless of what the weather is doing. We don’t shorten our working days when the nights draw in. We put our lives at risk driving through ice and heavy rain to get to work. And if you had an outdoor activity planned and there’s a heat wave, slap on the sunblock and carry on as usual! There’s mounting evidence to suggest that sunblock won’t stop you getting skin cancer. Removing the natural warning sign of sore, red skin, you may get a higher level of cell damage and never know there was a problem.

Go into a pharmacist and you’ll find all kinds of ways to mop up the symptoms of illness. Dry up your cold. Suppress the cough. Hold back the diarrhea and get back to the office. Never mind that these are the means by which your body is trying to get poisons and diseases out of your body. You also need antiperspirant, so as not to smell bad or look damp. Never mind that sweating is a way of dealing with overheating, never mind that sweat smells bad because we’re getting toxins out of our bodies. Sweating is antisocial and should be stopped so that we are better able to be crammed into tight, airless spaces without offending each other’s nostrils.

Triumphing over nature – be that the weather, or our own bodies, is part of what makes modern western culture the way it is. To go faster, do more, be awake longer, travel further, and never stop being busy, we do all kinds of things that are not natural and suppress rather than answering our physical and emotional needs. It’s worth looking at how this manifests in your life.

I use caffeine to push my brain and body when I’m tired and should be resting. I use electrical light to extend my day, despite how much better I like natural gloom and sleeping a lot in the winter. I can’t get enough done that way. I buy some pre-processed food because cooking absolutely everything from scratch takes so long (Biscuits and cakes, sauces, rice cakes, tvp, and other snacks). I use sugar to push my energy levels up so that I can do things that otherwise might be too much. I use pain killers to keep going when I’m bleeding, and St John’s wort to keep going when I’m depressed. I let keeping going be more important than healing, dealing with underlying problems, or resting.

There’s a lot of room for improvement here. If we want to live in harmony with nature, our own bodies are a good place to start. If we could collectively learn how to live with our own bodies rather than trying to triumph over them and make them into smooth, convenient plastic, we might do a better job of living more harmoniously with everything else, as well.


Honourable relationship and conflict

The idea of honourable relationship as a key part of being a Druid is something that I came to through the Druid Network. It’s a tricky concept, because honour is by its very nature a personal thing, so where honour systems do not match up, it can be difficult to work out how to engage with each other. For me, clear communication, respecting difference and the right of other people to self determine, recognising as best I can where there might be issues of power imbalance, or privilege is the starting point.

When dealing with another well meaning, honourable person, even when things go wrong or someone messes up, it’s possible to find ways forward without aggression, point scoring or anything else toxic and misery inducing. However, there are times (especially online) when the other person is so offensive that gentle negotiation isn’t possible, and emotional responses to the offense are challenging to manage.

We all have our own rage-triggers, some of them more easily set off than others. Other people’s reasons for taking offence can seem unreasonable, ludicrous even. Our own are, of course, perfectly natural and the only thing a decent human being could be expected to feel in the circumstances. This of course doesn’t help in the slightest.

There is a school of thought that taking offence is meaningless and that a person who is offended has no right to expect anyone to do differently just to appease them. Stephen Fry has famously commented to this effect. There is a school of thought that the only good response to things that make us cross is to be patient and compassionate with the offending person. There are schools of thought that say we are only angry with other people when we see bits of ourselves that we do not like reflected in what they do or say. And you know, there are things about these arguments that make me really, really angry.

I pride myself on being a fairly tolerant person, but the ‘fairly’ aspect of that is becoming more important to me all the time. An it harm none, do what you will. It’s none of my business. The more harm you do, or support, the more entitled I think I am to take issue with that. So I’m not going to tolerate bullying behaviour. I’m also not going to tolerate lies and misinformation, manipulation, wilful cruelty, those who ‘have’ bashing those who do not have. I will not tolerate victim blaming, slut shaming, prejudice, bigotry and fundamentalism. I will not stand by quietly, or necessarily be very polite towards someone who is acting out, throwing their weight around, hurting something else or otherwise acting in a way I find totally unacceptable.

Where possible, I try to respond to things that make me angry with calm, clear, non-aggressive expressions of why there is a problem. When someone is determined to hate because they enjoy hating, when people use personal attacks and won’t talk in reasoned ways, I will not be tolerant. When the ideas involved have people’s lives at stake (racial hatred, fundamentalism, austerity) then I will set out to be an enemy to whoever is perpetrating that. Words are my weapons. I will use reason, and satire, and if needs be I will be rude and challenging if I think that might get a point across rather than entrenching the position.

When there are genuinely evil ideas in the mix, when there are lives at stake, when real people are really suffering, or real creatures, or ecosystems, then to be tolerant is to be complicit. It is not enough to be a well meaning person with a live and let live attitude. We have to look at what we tolerate, and why, and if we are angry, what we think that anger entitles us to do, and why. There’s a lot we need to be angry about right now, but to make anger part of the honourable response, part of how you function as a Druid, takes thought and attention.


Deep Time and the wilderness

Most of the wilderness fiction I’ve read is historical. Last of the Mohicans, Moby Dick, Robinson Crusoe, assorted American transcendentalists, – books whose authors who had the advantage of writing about places and environments that were largely unknown, unpredictable and clearly dangerous. While people still go off on adventures, exploring less known places, mobile phones and GPS make that a very different game. The places untouched by humans are far scarcer than they were two hundred years ago. And yet we have this collective attraction to the unknown, the untouched. For the greater part, fiction has replaced the wilderness with fantasy worlds, and the science fiction bid to seek out new life and new civilizations, and boldly split infinitives where no one has split them before.

Anthony Nanson’s “Deep Time” is a real stand out as a piece of modern wilderness writing. It is a speculative novel, but at the same time so rooted in observation and detail, that it is able to create a sense of adventure and mystery right on the edge of human experience. Where fantasy and science fiction can tend towards the escapist, Deep Time brings us back to ourselves, to the land, to the idea of wilderness as something precious that we ought to preserve. It also, by cunning means, encourages us to look at our own time and place with fresh eyes, seeing connections and possibilities we might otherwise have missed. It delivers all of this, and more, in a fast placed action adventure plot that does not let up for some 700 pages.

I’ve head genre fiction defined as ‘everything happens and no one thinks about it’ versus literature as ‘very little happens and everyone thinks about it a great deal.’ It frequently bothers me that modern publishing often defines ‘literary’ as something dull, worthy, tediously real and lacking in pace. Very little happens. Everyone thinks about it a lot. At the same time, more creative plots and unreal settings fall into the low brow pop culture bracket, and are not to be taken seriously. Shakespeare could write about faeries, Dickens could write about ghosts and be taken seriously, but they probably wouldn’t get away with it these days.

I know that it is possible to have books with pace, action, adventure and speculative elements that are also powerful literary pieces. The quality of writing, the kind of depth that can be woven into a plot, the way in which speculation can reflect the world back more meaningfully than representation can. The unfamiliar requires us to think, to test assumptions and the boundaries of our own reality, and you just can’t achieve that by giving people the wholly familiar. Anthony Nanson has entirely proved my point, creating an entirely modern novel, with great literary depth and the kind of narrative that would readily adapt into a summer blockbuster movie. We can have books that are exciting and profound. We can have meaning and enjoyment on the same pages. We can still have wilderness, it hasn’t all gone, and we can protect what remains and recognise what we’ve got.

Deep Time is not suitable for younger readers (I’d suggest 14 and up) and I heartily recommend it as a fantastic read.

More about Anthony here – http://www.anthonynanson.co.uk/

More about Deep Time here – http://www.anthonynanson.co.uk/Deep_Time.html


Becoming the Very Important Druid, and other quests

What first brings a person to Druidry? There are of course, many answers. A desire for knowledge and experiences, a hunger for mystery, wonder and the numinous. Wanting a place to belong, feeling a kinship, needing or longing for something. We all have our own reasons and all of those reasons have their own validity.

Once you get onto the path and start learning, those initial desires can rapidly stop being relevant, or can evolve. In the first year of Druidry, working on the wheel of year can seem massively important, but that very work will show you what the wheel doesn’t do, where it fails to connect with your experiences, and so one quest can lead to another, very different sort of quest, as an example.

Sometimes the way a path grows and changes is very smooth and makes total sense. Sometimes the things we start with, and the things we come to want are quite at odds with each other. The very idea of spiritual growth can create interesting tensions. I came to Druidry in no small part because I wanted to learn, grow and change, to acquire spiritual depth. The steps from here to thinking yourself better than other people, succumbing to ego, to hubris, to self importance, are not many. It’s a potential pitfall for anyone who organises, writes or leads – that you start to think of yourself as an important Druid. Being A Very Important Druid doesn’t sit well alongside a deeply lived spiritual life. The more invested we get in our own importance, the harder it is to show up to the spiritual life.

At the same time, there is a real need for people who can organise, lead, teach, write and generally share the wisdom they have gained. There’s a need for celebrants and ritualists that isn’t just about the hungry ego of the individual. What little we know of the history of Druidry suggests that ancient Druids were very much in those places of leadership and wisdom for their tribes.

How much do we quest for the role of the important Druid? How much tension is there between role and personal spirituality? How do we treat those who take on such roles?

For me, the key to all this is service. If you show up to do the job – as writer, teacher, celebrant etc – and your focus is the job, it works a lot better. If you show up to be adored and looked up to, then it’s not about the job, it’s about the self importance. However, these are hard things to admit to. We’re all fragile and human, wanting to be loved and admired is natural. So is wanting to be valued and respected for what we do. The risk is that if our Druidry is all about seeming fabulous to other people, it may well not be giving us anything we need. It’s a shallow pool to paddle in at the best of times. I’ve certainly put my feet in it more than once.

Turning up to serve, the only questions are ‘is this working?’ ‘is this useful?’. If someone finds it useful, then you’re doing the work. If the focus is on doing the useful work, then any larger profile gained is recycled into the means to do the work and to reach and help more people, landscapes, causes. A Very Important Druid who uses their prominence to inform, enlighten and uplift others, is a person to support. If all the fame does is serve to bring adulation to the famous one then they aren’t doing themselves or anyone else any favours. Any attempt to knock that kind of activity down only feeds it though, because someone invested in their own superiority will see only trolling in the behaviour of people who do not like them. If a person is on an ego trip, then any attention paid to them, will feed it.

What to do then, if you wake up one morning and suspect that the desire to be seen a certain way has somehow taken over from the work of being a Druid? Go back to the trees. Back to the soil and the mud. Find a hilltop and be really, really small under the sky. Seek out the ancient dead and consider how long ago they lived, and step back into a more reasonable perspective on your life. I find it helps, at any rate.


Dealing with depression

In recent months I’ve been looking hard at what causes my frequent bouts of depression, with the intention of pinning down reasons and being able to make some changes. I’m now working on three key areas, and while I know there are a great many reasons a person might end up depressed, I expect I won’t be alone in these three. I’m increasingly confident that the process of sitting with it, asking what it is, where it came from and, sometimes, what it wants, is the only way of unravelling it. Any depression that is largely about chemical imbalance may not respond well to this, but body chemistry problems can sometimes be products of life situations as well. So, no answers here I am certain will work for everyone, but some places to start.

Exhaustion. Ten and twelve hour working days, or longer. Weeks with no days off. Years with no holidays. Insufficient sleep or down time. It messes with my body functioning, undermines self esteem, and the more ragged and exhausted I become, the worse I feel about myself. I believe that I should be able to get up early, work all day, run a household, turn up for all the social and evening meeting stuff people want me to do, whilst also being a good parent and wife, fall into bed around midnight and get up early the next day and do it again, with no days off. I haven’t poked into where I got this idea, I am recognising that it is inhuman and I can’t do it, and that trying to do it breaks me. I’m now not working more than 6 day weeks, hoping to push down to 5 days, more sensible day lengths, more rest and sleep and maybe one day, a holiday.

Double thinking. Situations where in order to keep up I have to not feel what I am feeling, or have to relate to how I am feeling as wrong. Imagine working for an ethical campaign group where the work required you to do the things the group was campaigning against, as an easy way of seeing what this might be like. I have repeatedly found myself dealing with people who could only be right, such that I have had to be wrong, regardless of reality. I am often complicit because I will choose to believe that I am the problem in order to keep my good opinion of the other person. I’ve tried to change that in recent years, the results have been messy and variable, but at least mean I put less energy into maintaining a reality bubble that makes it ok to work me to death, hurt me, treat me as second class, or otherwise make me miserable. For all the bumps, challenging this has been a quality of life improver. I’m drawing up new boundaries and recognising that I am fundamentally entitled to say no to anyone, for any reason and for no reason.

Politics and powerlessness. There are days when I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders, and it is crushing me. The enormity of all I cannot do, or fix, the horror of all that is wrong out there of which I know such a small percentage. The emotional exhaustion that comes from reading the news, or too much time on social media dealing with depressing things. I read Philip Carr Gomm’s blog recently about not listening to the news and recognised a lot of my own feelings in his words. I feel morally obliged to know, but knowing is tearing me apart. I’m going to be more protective of my time and careful of my exposure. I’m going to try and focus my attention on things I can do, and to avoid sharing things on unless I have some hint, at least, of what might help. There’s no point being immersed in all the things I can do nothing about and then having no emotional resilience to deal with things I could make a difference to.

I shall be experimenting over coming months with these three things, and watching for other triggers, and nuances within the triggers. I need to stop thinking it’s ok to do to myself things that would horrify me if done to other people. Any person or situation that doesn’t allow me to guard my own wellbeing in this way, will be out of the mix, or I’ll step back to a comfortable distance.


Stepping into ritual space

How do we enter ritual space, let go of the cares of daily life and become open to magic, divinity and that which is sacred to us? When I wrote about Glamour in Paganism a few days ago, one person in the comments picked up on the issue that kit and setting are important in how people transition into ritual space. It’s a valid point, and one that stands looking at. How do we enter ritual space?

Dedicated clothes and objects can help create a sense of specialness, of time out of time. Many people find this really helps them, and I don’t want to invalidate that experience, but I think there’s an alternative that is worth exploring. The trouble with depending on ritual kit is that you can only respond in a Pagan way when you’ve set out to do so, and it makes it that bit harder to express your spirituality in the heat of the moment. Without robes, cloak, wand, crystal, or whatever else you normally need, how are you going to handle it if you get an unexpected experience, or have a sudden personal crisis where a bit of Druidry in self defence would not go amiss?

For me the key thing is spirits of place. Other traditions call them land wights, genius loci, faeries, elementals, and a host of other things. However you understand the idea of that which is spirit and present in the land, is what you need to work with here. Atheist pagans can just take this literally and work with whatever is present – trees, rocks, grass, soil, it’s all good.

For me, the transition into ritual is a transition into awareness of the spirits of place. I do this primarily by taking the time to go in and be with the place. Sitting, strolling, standing as the weather and ground conditions dictate. I look and listen. I feel the air on my skin and I taste it. I think about who and what came here before me, and I open myself to the place. I listen to the songs of its birds, or if it’s what I’ve got, to the hum of the traffic. I look at the sky, because no matter where you are there is sky. If you insist on doing ritual in a cave or a cellar, there’s still sky outside before you enter that space. Sun or moon, rain or shine, the sky brings nature to the most urban of spaces. It can permeate into our indoor rituals, even.

I breathe slowly. I notice what it’s like to be in my body, in this place. I feel out my body reactions to the space. I look for beauty and inspiration, for hope, but I do not ignore anything that is tough for me – the cutting down of trees, the dead things, the absences and the silences. Often at this point I become aware of the absence of great hooves, and recognise that I will not see aurochs.

This kind of transition can be developed by working with a single object, holding it, meditating on it and connecting with it. Improvised altars made from found objects, including human detritus, can be part of the engagement process. Making mandalas, or sculptures out of found items, or just gathering twigs for the fire all help us to be present and part of the place. In recognising the sacredness of the smallest things, the magic of the living, breathing world, we transition. We step out of the ordinary mindset that sees nature as something to use and place as backdrop, and we step into the world of life and detail, and from there, ritual is a lot easier and flows more readily.


The naming of nature

There are reasons to be careful about naming. Names confer power and suggest ownership, and the naming of things in line with the dominant thought form of the day is something to watch for. As an example, names made up to sound like Latin by people who self identify as scientists are considered to be the proper names, while names used by ordinary people interacting with that same thing for hundreds of years and more, are given no authority at all.

However, naming does not have to be an act of conquest. When we have a name for something, it’s easier to keep track of our relationship with it. We can piece together stories of different encounters and interactions. Knowledge gained can be easily attached to that name, and the thing itself is more readily discussed for being able to identify it to other people.

Names themselves often reveal fragments of story, history or relics of older languages. Place names especially so, where ghosts of former names can be present in new descriptions. Much older naming was descriptive – one of the interesting problems this causes in flower names is that pink and orange are much more recent ideas, so a great many folk names for plants designate as red things which, to the modern eye, just plain aren’t. And if the name and the colour are interchangeable – as with the violet, a sub species that doesn’t conform causes all kinds of trouble, and thus we get white violets.

Folk naming outside of Europe gets even more interesting, because often things are named based on resemblance to other things in the country of origin. Or, more accurately, the memory of those things. American robins are a mostly brown bird with a red (orange really) chest like their British counterparts, only in all other ways look a lot more like a thrush, including their size, and have a migratory habit that the old world robin does not.

To have a name, is to have the beginnings of a story and the means for a relationship. Otherwise it all gets confusing. In a far country, there was a piece of land where the plants only grew a foot or so in height because grazing creatures liked to eat them. And amongst those foot high plants of the distant country, there was one which was darker coloured than all the rest, and while it wasn’t the only one to have little pointy bits on its middle, it was the only one popular with a brown and red night flying creature that liked to feed on it. And while that might sound entertaining and exotic for a while, you at present have no idea if you know what either the plant or the creature are, or whether I made them up, which is no great aid to communication!


Of Glamour and Paganism

I have no doubt that part of the attraction for many people is how gorgeous and glamorous Paganism seems. The cloaks, the dresses, the jewellery, the goblets and knives and carved staffs and all the altar gear, the robes and the velvet. It’s not an aesthetic that depends on being young and skinny, which is a plus, although it has to be said that if you are beautiful and dressed the part, it’s got a power to it. But then, that’s what ‘glamour’ used to mean – a kind of magic that is all about alluring surfaces.

Fairy glamour is gold that at first light turns out to be dead leaves. It’s dirty hovels transformed by illusion into grand palaces, dresses made of spiderwebs and elaborate feasts that turn out to mostly have been mice. Glamour is a mixed bag – wonderful, exciting, enchanting, but also potentially misleading and resulting in bits of mouse stuck between your teeth.

I’m not good about the glamour. I probably have a bit of a chip on my shoulder in this regard. Some of it is to do with money, and I think this is an issue to raise. For the right money you can have the most exquisite kit. Floor length ankle length cloaks are not cheap, and trust me, trying to make one out of a second hand curtain is time consuming, and they do not come out the same. Some of us have the skills and time to make beautiful clothes and items many, do not. For most of my Pagan life I’ve not had the spare cash for kit that has little use most of the time. It’s easy to shift bags of gear when you have a car, but getting to gatherings on public transport, or walking, creates challenges. These can also be economic issues. Further, a poor person living in a small space may be short of storage space. I don’t have room in my small wardrobe for a cloak I seldom wear.

The desire to be beautiful and to be seen as beautiful, to wear beautiful things and be respected for that is all very human. However, beauty is all too often constructed in terms of ability to pay. So much of what the mainstream understands as beauty is to do with products, affluence, and the kinds of lifestyles available to the moneyed. If I walk to a ritual because I don’t have a car, I’m not going to make it in delicate slippers, or the delicate slippers won’t make it. I need good boots or shoes. Much of women’s clothing depends on the idea that you aren’t going to walk very far in it. Smart, delicate, beautiful, ornate… these things do not fare well if you wear them outside in all weathers, and if they aren’t warm, waterproof etc, the wearer does not fare well either.

I’m a big fan of crafts and creativity, of making lovely things and enriching life with beauty. At the same time, I cannot buy the beautiful things that glamorous Paganism suggests. I can’t work with them, often they do not do what I need. I’m not suggesting that we should all show up to rituals in potato sacks (although that could be funny) but it’s worth thinking about what we infer when we see certain kinds of clothes, how we look at, or look through glamour, and how we avoid excluding people for economic reasons.


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