Month: August 2010

The Mercury Retrograde list

Just a running list of various SNAFUs that happen to coincide with Mercury Retrograde:

  1. Confusion at the local science fiction meetup I administrate – from who had the DVDs to when they’d get there, all stuff beyond anyone’s actual control (and that prompted me to send two texts to my husband: “I miss you,” followed by “I really fucking miss you.”)
  2. The plug on my laptop breaking, forcing us to replace it for the second time.
  3. Yesterday, my laptop screen breaking for no discernable reason – I bumped it, but nowhere near the screen.
  4. Being subjected to some of the most painfully awkward social attempts I’ve ever experienced, ever. And I used to work in retail.

I’m sure there’s more coming, but mostly I’m focused on the laptop right now. Given that I’ve already replaced the battery in lieu of getting a new laptop, only to have to replace the plug… I’m thinking I should just give up and get a new laptop, hopefully a smaller one than the one I’ve been toting around. Also, Mike doesn’t believe me when I say that the laptop burns me, so hopefully I can get my hands on a cooling pack or something so I get more out of it later.

Update: My trusty Droid’s alarm went off with the program I use for meditation. It however would not allow me to shut the alarm off, no button, nothing in settings, NADA. I finally had to pull the battery because it was also preventing the phone from shutting down.

Douchebag…a perfectly feminist insult

I have gotten a comment or two about my liberal use of the insult “douchebag.” I believe that Jill on Feministe defends the use of the word by feminists just fine –  douching is a terrible practice that does long term harm to women’s health, suggesting that women who do so aren’t exactly on their own side, either. To refer to someone as a “douchebag” is in common parlance gender neutral, and is in fact not connected with women’s genitalia except in reference to it being harmful/likely to spread yeast infections. People I apply this term to do make me itch, especially Joe Francis.

I will say that someone telling me specifically what words I am and am not allowed to use is a rather oppressive practice in itself, especially when under the guise of “thou art not feminist enough.” Yes, words do have significant power – and that’s why I choose my insults with consideration.

For reference, here are insults I consider perfectly acceptable for myself to use:

  • Douchebag
  • Asshat
  • Dumbass
  • Barbara Streisand
  • SUV Driver
  • Jackass
  • Evangelist

There are others, but I’ll stop there.

Clearly, if you dislike my vocabulary you don’t have to read. But you are not within rights to tell me what words I am and am not allowed to use – and you do not get to say whether or not I am a feminist. That’s my call.

Maybe I’m mainstreaming a little too well

I set aside the loud pentacle-wearing approach to Wicca several years ago, not just for the sake of my job, but because I’ve gradually found my brethren that do take this approach mortifying. Even so, I’m not exactly in the closet about what I write, and if someone asks me my religion, I state it straight out, without blinking.

That said, in some circles I travel I don’t talk about myself much. I guess that the genuinely curious will find my blogs and end up knowing quite a lot about me as a human being, and the rest aren’t terribly interested in me if they’re not asking me questions. At least, that’s how I think it works.

So yesterday, when an acquaintance assumed I was Mormon, I guess I shouldn’t have been totally surprised. It’s hilarious, but still surprising – and I have absolutely no idea how he got that impression.

Now this is a festival I would attend

Gnostic Conjure just led me to the Traditional Folk Magic Festival. It happens over my birthday weekend. I had wanted to go to Paris for my 35th birthday, but since I got married a month after my 34th, we decided to shift my trip. (Husband is theoretically OK with me taking vacations alone. In practice, notsomuch.)  This is tempting, although it’s doubtful I could raise the plane fair and class fees in time. I’m bookmarking this and hoping it happens again – I love New Orleans, and I haven’t been able to pay my respects since before that big storm.

A signpost for my ancestors

To my ancestors, I remember you
and send you my love as I resurrect your visions in this life.
The world is different now.
I give you the past, and you may rule it –
and in exchange, give me the present and future,
Because the divide of the universe makes it so I must live beyond you.
Live in the past and know you are remembered –
Make me proud, and I will do the same for you.

– Diana Rajchel

This came to me today, one of those whispered visions I get while making tea and minding my own business.


What are the really good Pagan blogs?

Obviously, I know about Wild Hunt and its related sites. I’m also finding some really good blogs on Hoodoo, and thinking a lot about how magic practicing American Wiccans like myself at some point face up to how very much of our own practices come straight from Hoodoo. I am loving RuneSoup, as it’s putting into words things I just haven’t found the juevos ((I like juevos as opposed to the English balls. Since juevos means, literally eggs, it applies to women, who have eggs, or to men, since it’s slang for testacles.)) to say, with a better grasp of the corporate concepts I’ve been wanting to integrate. But I want to know: what is really, really good?

Happy Birthday to Joel (a day late)

In early 2003, I spent a long car ride taking heckling from an Indian version of Paris and Nicole. The topic? My not dating despite my divorce finalization for an entire two months. I said little in response to this, realizing that their cultural arrogance was not my problem and also realizing said arrogance made the conversation a brick wall. We stopped at an occult shop I frequented those days to pick up things for a “fix my  love life” spell or somesuch. The girls stared in amazement as I walked into the shop – and immediately into the arms of a man standing in the middle of the shop.

Quitting your religion


This recent spate of coverage concerning Anne Rice "quitting" Christianity amuses me, and I admit I rather enjoy Salon’s commentary about it. Still, she didn’t quit Christianity – she quit Catholicism, despite being very public about joining up in 1998. Despite the best efforts of the Catholic church to persuade their own otherwise, quitting the church does not mean you leave Christianity. They do not, nor did they ever, own Jesus.

And for those of us who were born into the Christian church, and who considered Jesus and decided … "nah," the famous author joining or leaving the Catholic church makes little difference. Besides, I find the religious experiences and reasoning of Poppy Z. Brite within Catholicism much more interesting – and Brite goes in eyes open to what’s wrong with that particular denomination. In fact, some of the very core of current Catholic church teachings are set against Brite depending on the parish, and yet this particular cult author forges on in the face of it, connected to a much bigger picture.

I think the fuss about Rice is not that she "quit Jesus," it’s that she thought she could. Even in the liberal denomination I was raised with, confirmation was a lot like being made in the Mafia. Once you’re in, there’s no getting out. You may not see it that way, but if someone else with a vested interested in keeping butts in the pews had a say, you were Christian forever no matter what your personal spiritual experience might dictate. ((No, I have no grudge against Christianity, at all. And I’m well aware that there are too many types of Christians out there for the term "Christian thinking" to apply.)) Most enforcers in most churches are little old ladies laying on the guilt and wildly uninformed assumption, and as weapons go…well, I’m glad they’re not usually armed.  I’ll never forget the look on the campus pastor’s face when I asked him about having my confirmation vows revoked. I might as well have casually requested a recipe for cooking a baby. His answer was, essentially, "There is no getting out." I can only imagine if the local old ladies at the church had known about me, because there were a few talks through that year about where and how I was headed.

Judging from the many, many attempts it took me to persuade my former church to stop sending me their newsletter ((my mother was quite liberal about sharing my unlisted address with anyone willing to guilt trip me about my lifestyle during my first marriage))  they definitely bought into the "if you’re in, you’re not getting out" perspective. Again, all religions are cults by the literal definition, and all such organizations need people to stay for them to survive. Part of my own very mild harassment was the normal behavior of an organism attempting to sustain life. While wildly gossiped about, my own religious conversion was not newsworthy, nor is it now.

Anne Rice quitting draws yet more attention to a paradigm that I left more than a decade ago. I’m curious as to how this works out, because if she wrote a 95 Theses they’d be downright florid.Tags: , ,

Dialogue bit – notes left in my head

“Schöne Diana:

As much as I do enjoy the possibility of shooting myself in the head at your behest, I must protest. Murder-suicide pacts are most unseemly, particularly for a married woman. As gratifying as I would find it to follow you into death as you take me with you into the spiraling hell in which we both belong, I suggest we attempt some other form of diplomacy. Boxing gloves, perhaps?”

Sometimes characters wander into my head and leave me notes. This was one today. It makes me want to turn around and yell, “What is going ON in my subconscious? Do I need to pull my cranium over?”

Survey extended

I’ve extended the survey for those who have experienced divorce and who identify as neopagan to October 31, 2010. I may extend it again. This is for my book, currently with a working title of Divorcing a Real Witch.
What does knowing all this unpleasant stuff about divorce mechanics do, and how does it help you?

1. If you are neopagan/Wiccan or any other type of non-traditional spiritual type who has experienced divorce, you get a safe place to talk about your experience. I’m not sharing the information that makes you identifiable, and using the explicit identifying material such as your name only if you give me explicit permission to do so. Incidents shared will be given pseudonyms. Also, I’m surprised at the popularity of throwing angry cats.

2. If you are neopagan/Wiccan who has NOT experienced divorce, you get two benefits long-term from helping this book come about:
1)If you go through a divorce, it will help to know what other people have done. It reminds you you are NOT alone. It also gives you a place to work from if the stress shuts off the creative part of your brain that designs ritual. 2)If you are a clergyperson, it’s a specific guidebook on the topic. It won’t make you accredited as a counselor or anything, but it gives you a platform to work from, especially if you do get that counseling accreditation from someplace like Cherry Hill Seminary.

So, how can you help? In a way that takes very little effort, where you need not leave the computer. You just need to direct people to http://survey.dianarajchel.com. If you have the ShareThis plug-in you can send it to multiple spaces at once. Or you can click thumbs up on StumbleUpon. Otherwise, you can just cut and paste that link – drop it in your Facebook and Twitter, send out a message to your pals still on Myspace, comment on the Reddit Link to it, add it to your delicious.com bookmarks, digg it – just the clickity you’d do without really moving anyway.
Just a little bit of help from all of you goes a long, long way.

Great, so how’s the book coming?
Along.

After evaluating where I’m at with the rough draft of the entire book (sitting at around 65K right now) and with the book proposal (in the third draft on the opening chapters right now) I’ve decided it’s OK to slow down, as long as I keep working at it daily. ((Well, more or less daily. I’m also engaging in a gym exercise schedule because I have to face the fact that I need to look a bit more conventionally attractive if I want any of my creative work to get the chance it deserves. For me this in itself is a long, long road and is not actually about weight, though it is about health. But not because I believe overweight is unhealthy, counter to “common knowledge” thought that is. Read Fat Chic, you’ll get it.))

I’m finding I’m excising all the stuff about my personal history. I’ll work it back in later, or maybe use that stuff to write a memoir down the road. With Mercury Retrograde starting August 20, and with planetary conjunctions making waves right now, I’m thinking this is a good time to lean back and really analyze my work, get feedback, do yet more revision. (Remember: Mercury Retrograde is a RE opportunity. Revise, reconsider, remember, relax.)

I’m also trying to work up a little something for Witch’s Voice that will hopefully bring the survey to the attention of people who want to participate, and I did exchange emails with the Minnesota Pagan Newswire Collective. At some point we plan to do a special interest story – and at some point, I plan on bringing all those journalism skills I developed in college to them.

That’s where I’m at – still working on that book!