Wells of Power

If you didn’t read Monday’s blog, please do.  Anyhoo…

The tarot card reader told me I needed to change my perspective.  She told me I was looking at it all wrong, and that if I would just tap into the well of power that I already knew existed, things would be fine. She was not the first to say this to me. 

I went to Lilydale many years ago, a Spiritualist community in south western New York.  The medium I saw told me I was psychic.  At first, I thought maybe this was a gimmick she used on folks, after all, I’d never had a reading before.  But then she asked me if I just knew things.  I do, all the time.  She told me there were spirits there wanting to speak through me, not just to me, but I couldn’t hear them because I wasn’t quite in tune enough to their frequency.  She told me I was the most psychically in-tune person In the group I was visiting with, and I should consider studying…maybe even there at Lilydale someday.  I assumed, still, this was a ruse of some sort…a way to drum up money for the community.  But at the end of the day, no one else in my party was told they had a gift; just me.

Then, Salem last week.  The reader was on the money about everything, so I’m going to assume she’s right about perspective, too.  I wrote a piece in my Patreon about how the Salem Witch Trials affected me when I was young, and how it was difficult for me to understand why I was so deeply saddened over something that happened hundreds of years before I was born.  And not like how I was over learning about a war, or even learning about the Irish potato famine with which at least my heritage identified.  No, it was the Salem Witch Trials in 3rd grade that made me cry unexplained tears.  A couple of years later, my parents and I took a vacation to New England and went to Salem, and I remember my excitement and joy and how I gobbled up every morsel of information presented to me.  I wanted to see and do everything, but we were only there for a couple of hours.  I do recall a live reenactment of Bridget Bishop’s trial…which leads me into my name.

I was named after St. Brigid of Kildare. I knew no Brigid’s other than myself, though a couple of “T’s” (that’s what I call the “Bridget’s,’) crossed my path.  When small, I loved that my name was similar to one of the “witches,” so when my parents suggested we go to the reenactment I was delighted.  Then, in high school, I read a book one day, on Celtic folklore…just for funsies.  What a rabbit hole that turned out to be!  I discovered that there was not just a masculine god, but a feminine goddess…many of them in fact…but the main one, the goddess of the country of my ancestors?  BRIGID.  With a damn “D!” 

Naturally, I needed all the information on that immediately, so off I went to the library where I learned all the things as a child.  It was right around this time that I learned that St. Brigid of Kildare may have been a real person, but it is far more likely she is someone that the early church in Ireland used to appropriate the goddess form Celtic belief structures to lure folks to Catholicism, which is of course exactly something the Church would do.  So, from that point on, I started the practice of remembering who shares my name when I am feeling powerless: a might powerful goddess. 

Anyway,

The tarot card reader told me I needed to change my perspective, and I have.  I won’t lie, I have felt a complete shift in my perception of the world in the last few days, which has made me question many things. Part of me, the part that is trained to silence myself, says these are all silly thoughts and to pay them no mind.  But the part of me that knows, the way I knew where our car was parked that time it was stolen, or how I knew that there was a spirit talking to me when I was five, or how I knew that my best friend was throwing me a surprise party for my 16th birthday, or how I knew Mark was going to propose….in that way, I know-there is indeed a greater power within, and perhaps it is time to cultivate it. 

Church on Sunday

“Going to Church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.” – G.K Chesterton. 

I was raised Catholic, as the seasoned reader may already know, and spent about fifteen years in Catholic school, going to church every Sunday with my family and every other Friday with my classmates.  Around age 25, I completely dropped the “act” I’d been running since I was fifteen and first saw the quote above.  I’m not saying that one quote changed my outlook on things…it just gave voice to an opinion I could not find words for. 

I remember being young and telling my Aunt Ka, a Sister of Mercy, that I wanted to get married at the Botanical Gardens because it was the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.  She told me that I couldn’t, that I was Catholic and therefore had to have a wedding inside a church…I could have the reception outdoors, though, she claimed.

This concept was a hard no for my ten-year-old brain that wanted what it wanted when it wanted it.  I had been taught, almost daily, that God was in every living thing, including trees and grass and sunshine.  So why on earth did I need to CELEBRATE in front of statues of dead people, under a roof made by man?  It was nonsense then; it’s nonsense now.

I had a friend get married a while back and a priest came and did the vows, outdoors.  But it wasn’t an “official” wedding, according to the church.  The priest was just blessing them.  I thought maybe someday I could do something similar to appease my Catholic family…I was not yet telling my mother I was done with the whole shebang.

By the time I did get married, she was well aware of my opinions on the Church, and we butted heads a little.  She wanted some Christianity in the ceremony, and I had to keep reminding her that my husband was not a Christian, and all that would be weird for him.  Not to mention, I wasn’t feeling it either.  In the end, I got married in a little gazebo, outdoors.  The readings were all literary, the music was secular, and the officiant was my uncle who got a license online.  My mother won in the sense that I allowed her to say a prayer before the meal.  I was cool with her doing that because she mentioned Ka, who had passed by that time.  But that was it: one prayer.  That’s all the God I invited.,

But he was there, you see.He was in the trees and sun and grass and breeze.  Nature, that is where I believe God lives.

On Saturday…in the beforetime…I caught a giant fish in the Buffalo Creek.  It was a smallmouth, but there was nothing small about it.  I don’t have a picture.  Mark snapped one, but I accidentally deleted it.  Just believe me when I tell you it was a monster.  I fought the thing, hard…I’ve never really fought my fish before; usually I am far stronger. This guy gave me a run for my money.  When I finally flopped him onto shore, I felt immense pride.  Mark helped me unhook him, and I thanked him for the challenge and sent him back on his way in the stream.  Then I went home, and the world changed.

So, on Sunday, after the events, I was getting a hankering for prayer.  I’ve been arguing with my ancestor’s spirits as of late, over this mess with my mother. One of my favorite authors, Paulo Coelho, said that “Praying is talking to the Universe. Meditation is listening to it.”  So, I figured, why not try a little listening?  I’ve ben talking so damn much.

I went back to where I caught the big fish.  All I caught that day was a pumpkinseed, but it was still worth it to sit there and look and listen.  I saw God all around me, from the fish in the water to the no-see-ums buzzing about to the big tree with all the fishing line and old bobbers caught up in it.  I watched the water of the creek lap upon the rocks and focused on the word “Peace.”  I needed peace.

On the way home, I remembered it was Sunday and thought of church.  I had the same feeling then that I had when I was a child leaving Mass.  Yes, when I was small, I was relieved that the sitting still and being quiet portion of the day was over, but I also always felt that feeling you get when you visit am old friend.  Also, I always kind of felt it hearkened the start of a new, fresh week.  A clean slate.

That’s when I realized: I go to church ALL THE TIME.

Fishing is church for me.  That might sound ridiculous, but where else would I rather be on a Sunday morning? And every time I go, every time, I think of God.  I didn’t even realize it until I examined my thought pattern closely this past week.  I tend to remind myself of God in nature whenever I fish.

Now, no, I no longer believe in a stereotypical Christian God in the sky…I think God is more of a universal fabric, with an understanding that we have not yet evolved to know.  Yet…I find God in the sky, because I find him in the earth, too.

Where do you find God?

Anyway…that’s just the thoughts running around in my head right now.  That’s all for today.  Happy Thursday!

Resurrection

So, the other day, Kevin sent me this photo:

Creepy right?  Well, what if I tell you this is the whole photo:

Creepier.  Why?  Those are Cardinals.  This is the Vatican.

Created in 1977 by sculptor Pericle Fazzini, this work of art is in the Paul VI Audience Hall, where the Pope does his daily blessing if it’s raining in the square.  This is the backdrop, a giant bronze statue called “The Resurrection.”

It is supposed to be a vision of Jesus resurrecting in the Second Coming, from the ashes of a nuclear crater in the Garden of Gethsemane.  It took me a few to wrap my head around all this, honestly.  Ok, I can buy that the Vatican wanted to have a sculpture depicting the resurrection; that hardly seems news.  But then, there’s the nuclear attack thing…this was commissioned during the Cold War, so I understand the threat of nuclear attack then.  Sadly, this is truly just as strong today as it was once, thanks to a certain Euro-Asian country with an itchy trigger finger.  So, I enjoy the concept of Jesus coming at the “end of the world” to rise up and save humanity…y’know, as art.  But then there’s the fact it’s in the Garden of Gethsemane…and I truly am not sure why.  All the info I found told me that Fazzini chose it because it was Jesus’ last place of prayerful reflection.  Ok…now I understand the piece.  What do I not understand?

Why is this in the Vatican?  It seems so much better suited for MOMA, in my mind.  It reminds me of that old Sesame Street game: one of these things is not like the others.  This is a sad, apocalyptic depiction of Christ, and while it is meant to be hopeful, I’m sorry…I just do not get that vibe.  And honestly, I don’t want to.  I think the feelings I get from this piece, such as fear, sadness, and devastation, resonate more with its features than hope.  But what do I know?  I’m not art scholar.

I just know I’ve been thinking about this piece for days.  I went to do the research this morning and also found one of my favorite things: a conspiracy theory!!  Lots of people think it’s actually a statue of Baphomet, the goat-headed demon worshipped by the Knights Templar.  Others think the whole thing is about the devil, because of the serpentine structuring.  My favorite brand of conspiracy theory is the Catholic Church kind.  Do you know why?  Because their theories have a terrible track record of actually being true.

Anyway.  I just wanted to share this with you so it can take up space in your brain the way it has been in mine.  Enjoy this image and information, and as always…

Happy Thursday. 

Lenten Sacrifice

I haven’t sat down at my computer since Thursday.  The kids were here so no work was done, and I’m pretty sure one of the kiddos broke my desk chair.  Awesome.

Yesterday, I had a panic attack.  It was around 1030pm and I could not fall asleep.  Both Mark and I had big days ahead, and I was very hungry all of a sudden.  I went in search of a snack and couldn’t find anything suitable, and suddenly, I was crying.  By the time I walked out to the living room, I was hyperventilating.  By the time Mark woke up and realized I was in panic mode, my heart started beating out of my chest, and my whole body ached.  Mark ran to find my Xanax and I took it and did some breathing exercises. 

Why was I panicking?  Couldn’t tell you, in the moment.  I thought maybe it was just stress over the fact that I couldn’t sleep when I knew I had to be up before 6am, but it really wasn’t that.  It wasn’t even the lack of snacks. It was just that I suddenly had this very childlike anger about not getting what I want.

Due to various circumstance, I have been sacrificing many things I want.  From writing advancement costs to large household purchases to simple everyday pleasures, I have said no.  And then, at 1130pm, when all I want is a couple Cheese Doodles and a good night’s sleep, the universe denies me this modest act?!  I don’t know; I just snapped. 

It’s not that I really mind, you see.  I am sacrificing for a greater goal, and that is just fine with me…most days.  But some days, my inner 6-year-old comes out and throws a hissy fit.  I just want what I want when I want it!

I don’t know if this feeling triggered my attack, but I’m guessing.  It’s how I felt in the moment when I started to cry, and I think it just snowballed from there.

I am remembering school today, because right about now we would be working on our Lent assignments, always the same every year: what are you giving up for Jesus?  I was typically urged to give up sweets, because I was fat in the 90s…before the rest of America caught up.  I knew one girl whose whole household gave up television.  I thought that was some serious commitment on their parents’ part.  Then, on Ash Wednesday we would read our little essays about sacrifice and get ashes on our foreheads and have fish for dinner.

So, if you’re a constant reader than you know I quit Catholicism some time ago, but all this stuff?  The sacrifice and the no meat and such?  Indoctrination, baby.  I can’t not think about it once Mardi Gras rolls around (which I would much rather celebrate.)

Sometimes, even as an ex-Cath, I think of some sacrifice to make during Lent.  Something small…or something nice to do for someone else maybe.  Not this year.  I’m not giving anything up, because I have been sacrificing for a very long time now.  This year I am going to reap some benefits, damnit.

Mark and I both started new jobs, so we are extremely hopeful life is about to change up real fast.  I can feel it coming, I’ve had some very prophetic dreams, and I have been told that I’m a little bit psychic (by a psychic, no less.)  So, I am currently confident in a quick end to the sacrifice.

Though, let’s be real…how quick?  Probably six weeks.  Let’s circle back at Easter.

God is Not a Real Estate Agent

I am an American woman of Irish descent who is a former Catholic.  That is my basic profiling headline.  As such, there is a part of me that thinks I should sit down and shut up because I know very little about a conflict half a world away, but alas, here we are.

You see, one of the most important people in my life is an American Muslim woman of Palestinian descent, Sahar.  We have been friends since sixteen, and for us, religion has always been present in our friendship.  In youth, we examined the differences and similarities between Islam and Christianity.  We learned about other cultures from each other.  For instance, I had no idea that in some parts of the world, the land I know as Israel is actually called Palestine.  This is the land that Sahar hails from, and as the daughter of immigrant parents, she still has family there.  I can’t relate, because any close family we had back in Ireland are long dead.  I can kind of sympathize with all the disruption in the area, as northern and southern Ireland have always had their issues, but I think it’s safe to say it’s never escalated, and probably never will, to the level that it has in the Middle East. 

Growing up Catholic, we learned a lot about Israel and the Jewish people.  In school, we were taught that the Jews were like our kin.  They were the people that Christians would not exist without.  They believed in the same God as us, just with a different view on prophets and Messiahs.  It was actually used as a teaching tool to help us understand other cultures, which is cool.  But, as I’ve said before, I didn’t know what a Muslim was until I was 14.

Are you aware how similar Islam is to Christianity?  Probably not, but essentially, just like the Jews, we are all worshipping the same God, just with different views on prophets and Messiahs.  The Jews sometimes use the name Yahweh, so why do we freak out when Muslim’s use Allah?  It’s just a different name for the same basic principle. 

Anyway, my point is that I was raised to think that Israel belonged to the Jewish people because it is the land God granted to them.  And we, America, supported that.

Then I grew up and I realized that God has nothing to do with real estate.

So, for a while I was like “why can’t they just share the land?”  That seemed like the fair thing to do, and I remembered learning about Gaza in school, so I thought that the whole situation seemed fair.  After all, I was an American and taught that it was totally fair for the Native Americans to live on reservations.

Then I grew up some more and realized that was absolute bullshit and that colonizers were thieves.  I mean, you can’t just come in someone’s house and say it’s yours now.  We literally have a constitutional amendment prohibiting the military from doing exactly that, and I am positive there are other federal and state laws in place to prevent someone from just coming in and taking your house.  And this is what is happening over there…Israel came in and took the Palestinians house.

But wait!  There’s more!

Because they were sick of having their house stolen since 1948, they fought back.  Y’know, as one would in the USA had they property and a gun.  Except instead of a gun (since after all, this is not just one house, but a million,) they used some rockets.

Well, the Israeli leadership did not like this, so in a completely disproportionate response, they proceeded to bomb the bejesus out of the Palestinians.

Sahar told me that on one of the most holy days of Ramadan, they bombed the most important mosque in Jerusalem, just a few blocks from her grandparents’ house. 

For Catholic context, this would be like someone throwing a bomb in St. Peter’s Basilica on Christmas morning.

And that just disgusts me.  I mean, not as much as the photos I am seeing come out of all the dead or injured Palestinian children.  Or the fact that yesterday they bombed al Jazeera’s headquarters, which is their press hub.  Or the part where they’re blocking roads and trapping people in Gaza.  Or the bit about how they’re bombing hospitals, which is a war crime.

Tell me again why we are supporting these people?  Explain to me why Israel is in the right, and do it without God in the equation. 

I dare you.

Me and Jesus

Listen, I know everyone’s having a crap year, but I am just killing it, writer-style.

In March, I wrote a little poem.  It was for a contest for Poesia, and you had to take a line from another poem and start your poem with that line.  The other poem was Sophie Robinson’s “Art in America.”  I chose the line “Honestly, I am sick of helping Jesus count the days…”

I won the contest.

Afterwards, I was surfing though Pinterest one day looking for pins for my development board for my next project, when I saw an old quote I have always loved.  “A poem is never finished, only abandoned.”   This is how I felt about my little Jesus poem.  So, I went back.  I deleted the first line so as not to be a plagiarizer, and then started writing.  And I did not stop, for 12 pages.

But what to do with something too short to be a book and too long to be a regular submission?  Ask Twitter, of course.  Mention that you have just finished a long poem about smoking a joint with Jesus, and see who bites.  And when they do, and they did, send them the poem and wait.

Then, one day, the email.  I have an uncanny ability to know when I’m getting an acceptance.  I can tell before I even open it.  I’m a little bit psychic, which makes it very difficult to surprise me.  I will admit I knew it was an acceptance before I clicked it open, I just didn’t know for what.

Me and Jesus on a Tuesday Afternoon.

That is the title of my poem, which Pen and Anvil Press will soon be offering in their chapbook catalogue.  “Delightful” and “poignant,” she called it.  I would use those words as well.

I rarely love something I write, but I loved this guy.  I wrote it for my aunt Ka, who passed away several years ago, and I hope that if she is in her heaven, she can read it and understand me as the person I am now.  I wrote it because I am a lapsed Catholic, but Jesus is still my homeboy. 

Anyhoo, I have been added to the P&A queue and am awaiting further details.  I have no other information at the moment, just the knowledge that my not-so-little poem is going somewhere special. And plenty of joy over the fact that I LIKE what I wrote.  Genuinely 100% like it. 

So rare, I tell you.

Good Friday

I do not consider myself a religious person, but rather a spiritual one. I started life being baptized Catholic, and by the church’s standards that means I am always Catholic. I went to Catholic school my entire life. My aunt was a Sister of Mercy and my mother herself was a former nun. Simply put, there was no escaping the Catholic church for me, and of course I believed everything I was taught at a young age. Some bits started to trouble me as I got older. It began at ten, when my church finally allowed girl altar servers and I realized that women could not be priests. It progressed at seventeen, as I was told during a homily that my friend Sahar would not be in heaven, as she was Muslim. Or my friend Mike, for that matter, who was gay. It ended at my sister’s First Communion when I was in my early 20s, and prior to the ceremony, as families were gathering in the church and greeting each other, the priest came out and actually yelled at us, citing that God could only be heard in silence. This was supposed to be a joyful celebration, and Mass had not even started. I consider this to be the straw that broke the Catholic camel’s back.

Now, I’ve always been open to other religions. So far as branches of Christianity go, I attended several youth groups as a child, and none of them were Catholic. I went to a Lutheran one, a Born-Again one, and a Baptist one, the latter being my favorite and the one I stuck with longest. I knew the Baptists weren’t for me in the same way I knew the Catholics probably weren’t, but their focus on Jesus was something I was not finding at my school, where they were already indoctrinating us with church dogma. I found a deeper connection to God through them and am eternally grateful. Also, this taught me that there were options.

When we learned about world religions, which was quite progressive for a Catholic school. I was enthralled. I found Buddhism and Hinduism to be the most interesting, with Islam a close second. I also looked at them through the same lens I had examined Catholicism, finding the bits I liked and felt were true to my core, and dismissing the parts I found to be out of date or restricting to the global community. I developed an interest in cults that I carry with me today. Seriously, one of my dream jobs is to be one of those people that pull others from cults and deprogram them. I find peoples blind faith to be fascinating. I studied other religions on my own time, learning about different world religions and specifically the assorted Christian sects. I have never found a “church” for me, and I don’t expect to, and so I make my own religion, my own set of morals and beliefs, and I have felt closer to God in this time than I ever did when I was younger.

I write all this because it is Good Friday. This is probably the one day a year I hold with some reverence. Christmas does not remind me of Jesus anymore, but rather the friends and family that we love and want to spend our time with. Easter makes me think of the rebirth of our planet, as spring pokes its head out from the ground. But Good Friday makes me think of all those years of Catholicism.

When I was young we had a tradition. My mother and I would go over to her friend Patty’s church for Stations of the Cross. Afterwards we would go to Patty’s for lunch, and then we had to play quietly from noon until three. Her sons would listen to the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack; her daughter and I usually hid in her room, biding our time. Afterwards we would usually dye Easter eggs, and then head home. It was a day I looked forward to, despite the church-going and the having to be quiet while Jesus died. I still think of Patty and her family every Good Friday, and I probably always will.

One year M asked me what the deal was with it, and I whipped out a Bible and gave a short lesson. They’re unbaptized and attend church on occasion, but don’t go to religion class or anything, so I was happy to oblige his questions. The four of them sat rapt as I explained how Jesus was persecuted and crucified, in the kid-friendly way I used when I taught religious education classes. They thought it was a good story I thought that was the best I could hope for.

In some ways Good Friday is like New Years Eve for me. It’s two days before Easter, and I see Easter as the real beginning of the year, when everything starts anew, but Good Friday is it a solemn and spiritual day for me. Not how it used to be, but it holds a remembrance of the life I used to live, and I choose to remember the best parts in that moment. Whatever your spiritual leanings as an adult, it is the experiences of your childhood that shape you, and this is the day I remember that.

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