The Adventure of Waking Life

I have not blogged in quite some time! I’ve been doing a lot of reading, praying and soul-searching lately, and what has come from that has felt too personal to share and too difficult to express in words. I have been very happy, and sad, and grateful… everything feels heightened. I know I’ve said this before, but I feel like I’ve finally found my path. Time will tell.

I’ve been reading a lot about Feri. Its an ecstatic tradition that focuses on self-possession and direct communion with God. It’s also supposed to be an oral, initiatory tradition, which is a bit of a problem at the moment. The only teachers I’ve been able to locate are a bit too far away for me to make regular trips (gas prices = empty wallet), and they also charge quite a bit for the privilege! Which is not really unfair, in my opinion, since it’s cheaper than some art classes or even some gyms. But it does put such training well out of my reach. Even if I had the money, I would spend it on finishing college first. So for now, I’m learning what I can from books and websites, and hoping that if I keep looking a teacher will appear in due time. Perhaps if I read everything I can and practice diligently, by the time I find a teacher I will be prepared to really dig into the work with passion and discipline.

So far the work has been difficult, even harder than I thought, but even more rewarding.

The Holy Longing

The Holy Longing

 

Tell a wise person, or else keep silent,
because the mass man will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive,
what longs to be burned to death.

In the calm water of the love-nights,
where you were begotten, where you have begotten,
a strange feeling comes over you,
when you see the silent candle burning.

Now you are no longer caught in the obsession with darkness,
and a desire for higher love-making sweeps you upward.

Distance does not make you falter.
Now, arriving in magic, flying,
and finally, insane for the light,
you are the butterfly and you are gone.
And so long as you haven’t experienced this: to die and so to grow,
you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.

Johann W. Von Goethe

The Harvester is Here

   I wanted to celebrate the First Harvest as Lughnasadh on August 1st… but my schedule got crazy and it just didn’t happen. Also, I just didn’t feel it. I mean, I do have Scottish blood (and Welsh, and English… pretty much the whole British Isles)… but that doesn’t make me Celtic.
I have some Norwegian in there too (uff da!), but that doesn’t make me Norse. Someone suggested that I might even have some Native American in me because of some genetics stuff that I’m doubtful about, but even if that were true, I wasn’t raised in that culture. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in learning about and appreciating one’s ancestry. I just don’t think it gives me a pass to say, “Oh yes, the blood of the Celts runs through me, thats why I’m sooooo much more of a Druid than so-and-so…”

I, on the other hand, was born in California… I’ve lived in the Bay Area my whole life. My whole life I’ve eaten food grown in the soil here, climbed its trees, fished in its deltas, breathed in its salty-sea air, and danced in its fog at sunset. For better or worse, its part of me. If I’m “native” anything, it’s this.

the print in the back is by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

I decided to celebrate my way. For one, I waited until it felt right instead of a calendar date – even though its been super warm lately, I could taste a hint of autumn. I improvised an altar as best I could. The simple offering I came up with was some bread with butter and honey (yum!), and me and the spirits split a beer. 🙂

I sat for awhile, thinking about life and death, about how nothing thrives without loss and sacrifice. I sang for awhile, meditated a little, recited a few poems and prayers. I praised the setting sun, and the earth that will soon be sleeping. I thanked the seasons themselves, and the forces behind them whose names I don’t know. I also thanked the Bee Queen for her recent aid in my meditations. It was nice to just be still and grateful for awhile, to just be. When I was ready, I wished for the spirits to accept my thanks, and continue to guard and guide me and mine in the coming darkness. I left the offerings out for a bit and then took them outside so the birds and squirrels and such could take them to their destinations.

I am fed, healthy, sheltered, safe, loved, and very grateful. I am content, both with the giving and the taking.

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

~ John 12:24

Sophia Goes Crunchy

Things have been busy and stressful lately, but I’m still going. Right now, I’m trying really hard to get my shit sorted. I want my cluttered apartment (which STILL has cardboard boxes everywhere from the fact that we’re hoarders who can’t afford storage) to actually look like a home. I want to find a way for us to live within our means, even if that means having less. And I’m very interested in the concept of simplification. As in, I’m actually kind of exited about having less stuff – it means less to replace when things break, less cleaning, less money spent on storage for stuff I don’t use! I want all 700 square feet of the apartment to be for its human inhabitants, not for our junk! But its hard to accomplish because 1) I hate cleaning 2) my time-management sucks, and 3) I hate cleaning. Still, I’m trying. Today I’m going to go through all my clothes to either donate or recycle what I haven’t worn in over 6 months (accounting for seasonal stuff, of course). This is all inspired by recently having read Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider. Tsh also has a wonderful blog called Simple Mom, which I highly recommend for anyone wanting tips or inspiration for loving life-with-less.

Lately my mission has been finding natural – and affordable – solutions to beauty and health needs. An example: For the past year or two I’ve been CO washing (conditioner-only washing) my hair. The product I use, while awesome, is just a little expensive, and it comes in a tiny plastic bottle that I doubt is eco-friendly. Unfortunately this product isn’t listed on EWG’s Skin Deep Database, so I had to research each ingredient separately. Most of the ingredients are not problematic, but a couple are slightly concerning – and then their is the dreaded “fragrance/parfum”, which could mean anything. So now I’m researching/experimenting with other “no poo” options. I tried using baking soda as shampoo and apple cider vinegar as a rinse, but I hated this method. I think the baking soda is just too harsh, it reminded me of the shampoo I gave up ages ago. Frizztastic. So now I’m experimenting with Indian herbs. The powdered forms are only about $2 per box (cardboard box with plastic baggy inside = more eco-friendly than plastic bottle with pump), and since I just use a few spoonful’s they’ll last quite a while. Since they are just dried and powdered plants, its a non-synthetic and totally renewable product. But, I’m still tweaking my potion to find just the right amount of cleansing and conditioning. This has been both fun and traumatic, as I’ve had a few pretty bad hair days, and one awful nightmare about my hair falling out in clumps (hasn’t actually happened… yet). Also, one of the mixtures make my hair smell like curry. For several days.

However, I’ve had some clear successes! I started washing my face with honey instead of traditional cleanser. Sounds crazy, but its AWSOME. My skin has NEVER looked so good! The redness I assumed was hereditary is gone, I’m getting fewer and smaller breakouts, and it’s safe for my skin and the environment. I also discovered the miracle that is coconut oil. I got a jar of organic extra virgin coconut oil for about $10 that will last me a looooooooong time since I use it in terms of drops rather than spoonfuls or cups. I use it to remove makeup (which is now the super-granola-hippie-all-natural variety), to moisturize my face and body, and as a leave-in conditioner for my hair. Again, it’s safe and renewable, and I can reuse the glass jar it came in! I found some really helpful ideas on this theme at the blog of my new guru/girl crush, Crunchy Betty. This site is a must for going crunchy and looking good doing it!

The final bit of hippie behavior I’m embracing is something I’m still a little sensitive about, but here goes: I’ve entirely stopped wearing bras. I did it initially because of some stuff I read on the internet about links between bras and breast cancer, a claim which I now believe to be tenuous. However, in the short time before I reached that conclusion, I notice a marked decrease in neck, shoulder and breast pain. Aches that I had tolerated for so long that I barely noticed them, suddenly disappeared. Movement is actually more comfortable now, without “support”. My posture has improved too! The girls now hang at their natural height (although mine have perked up noticeably since being forced to fight gravity themselves!)… which is definitely lower than what is considered normal-looking in a world where cloth and metal bindings are considered normal. So I’m still a little self-conscious about the whole thing. For one, I don’t look like Heather up there. I’m pretty sure she could wear a potato sack and still look fabulous. For another, I’m a 38DD. So there’s a LOT to worry about, ya know? But so far no one has commented or treated me any differently – with the exception of my boyfriend, who has given me nothing but positive feedback! 😉 – and its been about a month already. The fact is, bras are just modern corsets, and even if they don’t cause problems like cancer, they certainly aren’t medically necessary either. And I feel stronger and healthier without one.

Blatant Self-Promotion

***Update: due to time constraints, and the fact that there are, like, a zillion blogs that are already doing this better than I could, I’ve decided not to start a new blog after all. It may not fit with the “theme” of this blog, but if I have something beauty/health related to talk about, I’ll just do it here.***

I’ve decided to start a new blog about skin & haircare, just for funzies. I’ve been working on finding ways of saving money, and a big problem has been the amount I spend on shit I don’t need. But I’m addicted to nice lotions and expensive cleansers, and don’t even get me started on conditioner and styling products! What can I say, I’m a bit vain. Still, enough is enough. I’ve started reevaluating my needs and reading about all the chemicals added to products, and I decided to experiment with natural solutions – and its been awesome! So awesome, in fact, that I want to start sharing what I’m learning. If you are interested, you can visit Simple Clean Beautiful and read more.

I will still be blogging here at Theosophia, but I didn’t feel like the beauty stuff really fit into this blog. I am working on a long post that will be published on August 1st, so check back then for more spiritual musings!

A Little Follow-up

… from my last post.

So as I mentioned a few weeks ago, I have been looking at Paganism. Not exactly unexplored territory for me, but I haven’t discussed it on this blog. Years and years ago, when I was a whiney teenager (as opposed to a whiney adult), I was absolutely enthralled by Wicca. After about a year (sound familiar?) I realized it wasn’t for me and resigned myself to agnosticism. I never expected to look back… but here we are.

Now, let me clarify: I don’t plan to convert to Wicca. I still don’t think its right for me. But Paganism and Wicca are not actually the same thing, although the terms are often used as if they are. Wicca is a tradition-based religion, with its own moral code, deities, mythology, dogma, etc. Paganism (at least as the term is used these days) is kind of an umbrella term referring loosely to nature-oriented, typically polytheistic, quasi-historically/mythologically-based belief systems. Often, but not always, Goddess-worship is involved, and the feminine is honored. So, Wicca could also be called Paganism, but not all Pagans are Wiccans. Some Pagan traditions are very, very modern (although some claim grand and ancient origins – often with little actual historical backup) and some are Reconstructionist, as in they try to reconstruct the practices and worldview of pre-modern religions, with varying degrees of genuine scholarship. Some Pagan traditions only have one follower: the practitioner who creates their own tradition.

Thats right! Many Pagans create their own tradition, usually sharing a lot in common with Wicca and other Pagan faiths, borrowing bits from religions and cultures as they see fit. These are usually referred to as Eclectic traditions. And I really like the word “eclectic”. So, inspired by a recent list by Candice, here is a list of things I might fit into a self-created belief system:

1) Panentheism; One God who is part of and yet transcends everything. The very deepest core of us, every one of us, IS God, so God is never far away and we are never truly alone. Sometimes our various human frailties obscure our divinity even from ourselves, make it harder to find, but it will always be there.

2) Agnosticism (the above is my personal theory, but it’s only a theory. At the end of the day, I can’t prove anything); There is more about God and the universe than any of us can possibly fully understand… but that doesn’t mean we stop trying! And even if we get really, really good at trying, we can’t assume we have the only right answer. Also, I don’t believe God has a gender or a human face, but I also don’t think its wrong to anthropomorphize our idea of God as way of reaching God, as long as we realize that WE are creating that image, and God is not limited to that one idea.

3)  Nature is God/God’s creation; Nature is a gift to us, to itself, to everything, and should be respected. Seeing God in the multiplicity of nature is just as valid as seeing God as the ultimate father figure. Humanity is part of nature, and therefore what we do is, by definition, natural. That doesn’t mean its good! But neither is a volcano if you’re standing on it. Humans have a responsibility to measure the consequences of modernity, but modernity is not inherently evil. (e.i., I likes my internet, vaccinations, toilet paper, deodorant, etc.). I don’t think we should keep raping the Earth, but I don’t think becoming cave-people is really viable either.

4) I was born this way and God makes no mistakes; yes, I totally just quoted Lady Gaga. Nothing about my body is evil, dirty, wrong or otherwise inferior. It is a little overweight, but that’s on me. The fact that it has boobs and bleeds on a schedule is not a moral failing. It would not be better or worse if it had been a male body – it just is. Naked, clothed, sore from work, play, or lovin’: my body is yet another gift and nothing can make it “unclean” (except maybe actual dirt, I guess, but that washes off).

5) Life is for living; I don’t believe my existence will end here, but I don’t think that means I should spend this life focusing all my energy on the next one, which I really can’t know anything about (but have I do have theories).  Finding meaning in the mundane is just as important as finding it in grand spiritual quests, and probably more practical too! And thats really what I want: To wake up everyday and feel God as I go about my daily life. I want God to be as welcome in my kitchen as on a pristine mountaintop or an ornate temple.

Ok, this is not nearly long enough, and its pretty vague. Its a preliminary list, ok?

I like lists.

Anyway, I kind of  like the idea of a custom-built religion, and Paganism still offers the sense of a framework, even if its a very, VERY tenuous one. Plus, I’m not required to abandon what I’ve learned about Islam. Some Pagans even cover their heads/hair for religious reasons! There is a lot of common ground there in the rituals too. And while I don’t think any particular ritual carries God’s stamp of approval, I do think they are important.

On a semi-unrelated note: my work schedule will soon be changing and I will actually be able to start attending a church! Yay! I am torn between the local UU Fellowship and local Society of Friends Meeting House. There’s a lot to like about the Quakers. I’m thinking of trying out both and just sticking with the one that feels right, or simply rotating if they both are great.

Sorry folks ;)

Its been awhile, I know. I’ve been very busy and I just haven’t had a ton of extra time or energy. On the plus side, I feel like I’m right on the edge of epiphany in my spiritual life. My religious views seem to be taking a wild left turn. I think it will turn out to be a good thing, though. As crazy as things have been lately, I’ve been really happy. I’m still broke, still facing some major relationship problems, even more major trouble is looming with my mother and sisters, and somehow I am still most illogically happy. Its not that I don’t feel sorrow or pain, I do! Very deeply, in some instances. But somehow I know it will all be ok. Its like I’m able to feel everything, but in the deepest part of me I feel safe. Its not constant, to be sure – I still freak out now and then. But its like since I finally know its there, I think I’ll always know.

Sorry to get all weird and sappy on ya’ll, but there it is.

I will not be blogging so often, as I’m guessing you’ve already noticed. But I’m not gone either! Fair warning: I’m probably going to be posting on some stuff next that’s got absolutely nothing to do with Islam, and adding new links too. So those readers who only come here for Islam-related content: enjoy the archives! The rest of you (if there are any left): my thoughts lately have been going in a bit more… primitive? Right now I’m spending a lot of time reading and absorbing new info, so we’ll see what conclusions I reach. But right now, I’m reexamining… bum bum buuuuum… Paganism! Gasp! Not polytheism, per se, because I really don’t feel drawn to the idea of multiple deities. But I’m not sure I’m a monotheist either, strictly speaking. I feel like maybe I might be more of a panentheist. Tune in next time! (like, in a few weeks or so)