It’s ocurred to me that I’ve posted several times about things I’m dissatisfied with — not journaling frequently, not celebrating all the Sabbats, etc. There’s really nothing wrong with that. It’ll happen from time to time. But I want to take a moment to celebrate all the things I am really, really pleased with — and there are many. I think it’s important for me to mention the good things too. 🙂

  • In the past two months, I’ve gotten a lot of knitting done. I’m most of the way finished a blanket that I started a year and a half ago. I’m almost at the end of the third, and last panel. Then I just have to stitch them together and do some touch-up work and it’ll be done!
  • I have AWESOME family and pretty good friends.  I’m especially extra grateful  for my Mom, my grandmother, my Dad, Phire, SJ, and our pets.
  • My Mom’s cat, who was very ill seems like she’s going to be okay.
  • My Grandmother bought me chocolate and hair clips. She collects her easy open medicine bottles and her spare food storage containers and gives them to us. She’s also bought me clothes recently.
  • My Dad drives us to run errands at least once a month most months and drives me to doctor’s appointments frequently. He bought us sunflowers, bottled water, and decaf coffee, and he bought me clothes recently.
  • My Mom is kind and willing to go to bat for me. She bought stuff for me to use in Florida (I didn’t go — long story) and is sending it hear.
  • Phire and SJ are incredibly sympathetic and kind, and they go above and beyond looking after me when I need it (which I sadly do sometimes these days).
  • Our pets are amazing, friendly, playful, cuddly, and caring.
  • I LOVE or beautiful house and property.
  • Phire and I planted the sunflowers my Dad gave us yesterday (with phone assistance from my Mom — the Master Gardener).
  • I tied back the Rose of Sharon that has been blocking the side of the house. I think it’ll need a more permanent solution (the stakes and twine are pretty weak), but it’s done!
  • Phire and I also trimmed the front hedges, at least somewhat.
  • Phire and his friends collected someones junked pickup truck bed cab. We’re going to repurpose it to give the feral cats someplace to shelter in the winter. He and I moved it across the backyard.
  • I applied to college in April. Sadly, I didn’t get in, so
  • I’m applying to a second college now! Phire helped me with getting stuff together for it.
  • SJ ran to the store today to get food for us and he cooks awesome meals for me.
  • I got my first shot of Prolia for osteoporosis treatment yesterday. While it was a really rough day, and I’ve had some minor side effects, so far, so good!
  • I’ve been reading good books lately, and a lot of them.
  • I updated, edited, and added to my blogs yesterday, making major headway in a huge overhaul of them.
  • CampNaNoWriMo July has begun! 🙂
  • I think I blogged more in the last 24 hours than I have in the last two months. 😉
  • I have SO MUCH more energy than I used to on most days, at least for now.
  • I’m also generally healthier than I’ve been since I got sick.
  • Last week, I washed all the dishes in the house. ALL of them. Trust me — that’s no mean feat. And I pulled it off!
  • Phire rearranged the living room and it looks better that way.
  • I’m largely more productive than I’ve been able to be for years.
  • I can exercise a little sometimes now.
  • And then there are the million and one other things I’m grateful for — love, food, a roof over my head, running water, electricity, air conditioning, drinking water, internet, cell phones, books, journals, as much of my health, mental acuity, emotional well-being, and mobility as I have, my Gods, Ancestors, the faeries, my guides, and for happiness, and beauty, and so many, many other things. 🙂

I’m sure there are other things I forgot to mention.


A Trip to my Hometown

It’s not technically my hometown. Not in the sense that I was born there, or lived there for my early childhood, or that I live there now. But when I was in my early childhood, I spent more time there than I did in my technical hometown. Later, I lived there for sixteen years — with a few stints of living for a few months in a nearby town and in the town I grew up in scattered throughout those years. But to date, that far exceeds the number of years I spent anywhere else. Two years that I barely remember in north Jersey, eight years in the town I ostensibly grew up in, just under two years spread out over three occasions and two separate places in a little town in the Pine Barrens, and, so far, two years in my other hometown (where I live now).

It doesn’t seem like much. But it’s huge. And it doesn’t seem overtly spiritual, but it is. Besides, my general life stuff blogs aren’t really running yet. One isn’t created and the other has a few posts and I’ve been delaying writing more on it until I can do a follow-up to my last post there. So for those reasons, I thought I’d post about it here.

We were running errands, but we still had fun. It’s only about twenty miles from where we live, but we don’t have a car and it’s rare that we can afford a cab or catch a ride with someone. So we rely on public transportation, which thankfully is pretty stalwart around here. Generally, these days, we either all have to go somewhere, or one person has to be with me, whether I stay at home, or go out. Then factor in the puppy — someone needs to be here almost all of the time now to watch her. We could crate her for a little while, but bus trips plus whatever we’re doing when we get there almost always takes hours, and I can’t be sure we’d be back in enough time for her bladder to hold out.

Then factor in how easily exhausted and fatigued I get these days, and the trouble I have regulating my temperature, AND all the medicines and such that I need to bring with me. And that I can never just pick up and go anymore. Everything requires planning and packing at least one or two bags of stuff to bring with me. Finally, add in the weather, which has NOT been cooperating for travel for a long time. It’s been months — like, MANY months since I went anywhere outside of the house that didn’t involve a doctor’s appointment, a chore, or errands, and usually some combination of those in one day.

We were still running errands today. But the pace was (slightly) more leisurely. We didn’t exactly take our time, because while SJ and I went out Phire was at home alone watching the puppy, and feeling sick to boot. But we had to stop to eat twice. Once we got comfort food for me — the most awful, greasy, disgusting pizza known to man that I normally can’t stand and that I shouldn’t be eating anyway, but that is nostalgic for me and is kind of a huge thing in these parts, and once we got comfort food for SJ — ye old Mickey D’s (shudder, grimace).

We also brought the wheelchair, which was a huge pain in the ass, but also a really good thing because there’s no way I could have walked that today. My muscles have atrophied to begin with from my illness, and the stagnation of the last few months along with having less energy for some of it because my schedule was screwed up have not helped matters. It was hard work for both of us, which I feel guilty saying because SJ was the one pushing me all over creation while I just sat there — and I’m sure it was a lot harder for him. And yet, we still had fun.

We got coffee, mine was supposed to be decaf, but I think they flaked and gave me a regular which is usually a disaster for me these days. I was feeling it, but it wasn’t as bad as the number full caff often does on me these days.

And I scraped my thumb, which wouldn’t stop bleeding (Yay, steroids) and went for a pit stop in city hall (hurray for automatic doors!). Getting on and off the bus, in and out of buildings, and up and down curb ramps still covered in snow was an experience, but still we had fun.

We walked/rolled on the boardwalk. I got to see the bay on the way in and out of town, the other bay at the end of our street on the way home, the ocean, the beach, and some shore birds. We also went to the bank and the pharmacy, which were the errands we actually needed to run today. I’m too tired to do the other things on my to-do list today, but those got done, and to paraphrase one of my least favorite protagonists, “tomorrow is another day!”.

And it was SUCH a beautiful day! Not warm, but not frigid, and fine as long as you dressed appropriately — even for me, with my abysmal body temperature regulation these days. The sun was shining and it FELT warm in comparison to all the freezing cold, sleet, rain, snow, and even hail we’ve had lately. And the sun was shining fiercely. I’m not a jewelry person, you want to talk to my grandmother for that, but the bay looked speckled with topaz and champagne diamonds.

We had a lot of fun, and in many ways it was a religious experience for me, with my connection to the land and town, and my animism that is strongly bioregionally based. It was good to be home today. And tonight, it’s good to be at my other home. Cheers!

A Family that Prays Together (or, Paying for Paganism)

I want to start this post with a disclaimer or two, especially for those who are new to Paganism.

First, you absolutely do not ever have to pay anyone anything to be Pagan or to practice Paganism. Eventually, you’ll probably want to get some supplies, but not neccessarily. And as frustrating as it can be if you feel you want/need supplies for your particualr path (believe me, I know!), they can usually be dispensed with or aquired very cheaply.

Second, while most of the organizations, etc., that are Pagan in nature and charge that I’ve personally come across are ethical and charge reasonable fees. There are also plenty of Pagan groups, probably most of them, that don’t charge a blessed thing. But I’m sure there are unethical groups around that are just out to effectively rob people. So if you do decide to join a group, order, class, or event that charges, do your homework. Make sure they’re on the level. Ask around if they have a good reputation. Ask yourself if the fees they are charging sound reasonable. You can never be too careful.

All that being said, I want to write about my families recent experiences with paying for Paganism. Or, rather, with paying to participate how we want to in our particular paths of Paganism. I don’t intend this post to bitch or gripe, in fact I’m super happy about it. These are all things that we really, really want to do, and there were times in our life when we didn’t have the money. So here goes:

I’m super, super happy and excited!

Last Autumn, I believe was when I joined Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA). It took me several months to gather all the supplies I needed for the Initiation Ritual (which I really can’t talk about beyond that. It’s not exactly oathbound, information, I don’t think, but it essentially is). Then it took me several more months to gather the time and energy neccessary to do the ritual, and I still kind of bungled it, though I don’t think sufficiently enough for it not to count. AODA has a lifetime membership fee for each Degree. So you only pay each time you move up a level. It seems kind of hefty to me, only because we live well below the poverty line and currently all three of us have a fixed income (though that may be changing soon). But aside from that influences how it seems, the fees really are not that hefty. Futhermore, they’re entirely reasonable, especially considering that their fee for each Degree is for life. So while most of what I’ve been doing with Paganism lately has to do with AODA, I haven ‘t actually spent any money in the Order lately. While I believe it’s coming close to the anniversary of my first year with them, I’m nowhere near where I need to be to complete my candidate year and move on to the next degree — though I’m working on changing that.

BUT, I also just renewed my membership to Ár nDraíocht Féin! I apparently joined on September 7th of last year and I renewed a few days early this year. And, this year I was also able to subsribe to their magazine, Oak Leaves. Last year I definitely couldn’t afford that and this year, I could. I’m also glad because, prior to this, I only subscribed to one Pagan magazine, and only that for a year or so. One of the things I want to do this year, and/or for however many years it takes, is to increase the number of Pagan and writing magazines I subscribe to. So far, I’m succeeding! Earlier in the year, I renewed my membership to the other Pagan magazine I subscribe to, and this month, I added Oak Leaves when I renewed my ADF membership.

ADF membership is a lot cheaper than AODA membership, principally because they’re membership is annual, as opposed to Degree based. There are also Groves (local groups of ADF) and different types of groups within ADF, some of which charge a modest membership fee. But you don’t have to join them, and, again, they aren’t pricey.

So I’m incredibly happy and I’m so relieved that we did, in fact, have money for me to not only renew my membership but to subscribe to the magazine, as well. But that still means that ADF put me out fifty bucks so far that year. If I join my local Grove, which I want to do, even though it’ll be a pill to get to most of their events, that’ll be another twenty-five dollars, making a grand total of seventy-five dollars spent on ADF this year. I still haven’t bought any of the three books (at least) that I need to get to complete my Dedicant Path studies. I also want a copy of a book that helps guide you through your Dedicant Path in more depth, though the book isn’t strictly speaking required and it has a bunch of other books that are reccommended reading if you follow that book instead of just doing what’s required for the Dedicant Path.

I’m at least as excited, because my husband, Phire, finally joined the Grey School of Wizardy, which is something he’s been wanting to do for years, most of a decade, in fact, I think. This year, we finally had enough money for him to enroll. Enrollment is ten dollars a month, or ninety-five dollars a year, the latter of which gives you a slight discount. Unfortunately, we don’t have the cash to pay ninety-five dollars a year outright right now, so ten bucks a month it is. There is also an ascending fee as you go up levels. The first one is five dollars and they double from there. I had him put aside twenty dollars this month, that if all goes well, we’ll just keep rolling over and adding to each month, so he’ll always have the money to advance a level when he can and wants to. There are also at least two books that are required for the school. Buying the cheapest copies of both of them, plus shipping, cost me about twelve dollars if memory serves. So that’s about forty-two dollars allocated to the Grey School of Wizardry this month.

A few months ago, my partner, Star Jelly (who I’ll probably usually just call SJ or Star), was ordained by the Universal Life Church. That is not the Unitarian Universalist Church, the two are often confused, and the latter has far more stringent ordination requirements. Becoming ordained by the ULC is free, in fact, all it requires is for you to sign up. I should note that the ULC isn’t specifically Pagan, nor is it explicity Christian, nor any other religion. A former friend of mine was an atheist and he was ordained by them. However, I’m sure there are Pagans ordained by them, and Star is predominantely Pagan, with other influences as well, like Phire and I have. However, there are things you can order that help you be able to actually do things as an ordained individual, instead of getting laughed out of town. He’d like to have at least one of them, and I like him to have a few more. This includes a certificate of ordination, a ULC wallet liscense, and a letter of good standing, at least to start with. There may be other resources he might want later, such as books or other resources. But even with those three, that’ll be approximately forty dollars when we can afford it, which is not this month. It was something he really wanted to do, it makes sense for him, and I’m thrilled about it!

So, all told, I believe that’s one hundred and seventeen dollars spent on religious organizations this month, and hopefully, it’ll be at least another forty before the end of the year, for Star Jelly, for a grand total of one hundred and fifty-seven dollars this year! That doesn’t sound nearly as scary written down as it can to us in the moment. That said, it doesn’t sound scary right now either. Sure it doesn’t factor in Phire’s upcoming months of higher levels or other religious supplies — my books for AODA or ADF, or ritual items like candles and inscence, or the possibly that I may finish may Candidate Year next year and need to shell out one hundred dollars to AODA, but considering that it’s three seperate religious organizations for three seprate people, that’s not bad at all. Most Christians tithe for multiple times that. And even though we have less financially than most people in first world nations, that still doesn’t even approach a tenth of our income.

Like I said, I am so happy, and so excited. While we don’t have a ton of money, we have more than we did in past years, we manage it better than we used to, and our expenses have mostly gone done. We may not have a lot of financial resources, but in every other respect we are not remotely poor. We are, in fact, rich!

Thank you for reading, and I hope you are as happy as I am! I wish you well. 🙂

Links to the religious orders, organizations, schools, and churches I mentioned in this post:

Ancient Order of Druids in America — http://www.aoda.org

Ár nDraíocht Féin: https://www.adf.org

Grey School of Wizardry: http://www.greyschool.com

Universal Life Church: http://www.ulc.org

Note: Since I already published a post today, and because I may yet publish more posts relating to contests I am taking part in tonight, I am setting this post to go off tomorrow. It’s currently 8:17 PM EST on September 6th and I’m going to set this post to publish at some point tomorrow on the seventh.

Huh. I set this to auto-post, but it didn’t do it, so I’m posting it today: 9/8/14.