Thoughts, lessons, and theology from an eclectic witch from a varied background.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Veiling: The Fine Art of Diplomacy in a Hostile Environment

A wise (and pithy) person I knew once said that diplomacy is the fine art of telling someone to go to Hell in such a manner that they look forward to the trip. It is tempting to very directly tell the people who have decided to harass us over our decisions to veil exactly where to go and what method to take to get there. It is very tempting when you have a short temper (which I confess, I do). The real question that faces any person who chooses to dress outside the culturally accepted norm is how to deal with people who oppose them.

In my last post specifically on veiling, I noted three major challenges to people who choose to veil within our culture. We encounter problems with people who take umbrage at our standing outside of the cultural stereotypes that get assigned to us on the basis of our gender presentation, skin color, and economic standing. We find ourselves confronted by people who dare to engage in body policing and a campaign to shame us into meeting their ideal norms. And we find ourselves dealing with people and institutions that look at the choice to veil or otherwise dress modestly as a fashion statement and therefore frivolous. Taken as a whole, this trio of problems can make a person fearful of engaging society whilst dressed in the manner that conforms with their sense of identity, comfort, and religious inclinations when it deviates even slightly from what is assumed about them.

There is cases where the persons who make these arguments are well intentioned but ignorant. In these cases, it is best to gently correct them and, if you are comfortable doing so, explaining a little bit about your reasoning for how you are dressed. It can be something as simple as "I cover my hair because of my faith". In many cases, this is enough of an explanation to give. There is also the option of redirecting the conversation into other matters or ignoring their comments entirely whilst pursuing an earlier subject of conversation from the discussion. Most people will get the hint that you don't want to talk about it when you reject their overtures of discussing fodder.

It is important to remember, however you wish to respond, that you do not owe anyone an explanation for your appearance.  You are the sovereign of your body and all decisions that you make with respect to your body should be respected. Those who would scorn or disrespect you on the basis of your presentation and matters as superficial as how you appear are most likely people who you are not going to wish to associate with in any sense of confidence about your innermost thoughts because you can tell already that they do not respect you. The age old maxim "the clothes makes the man" is a lie that we must all reject because our clothes are secondary to the person who wears them. If one is dressed in high couture fashion, they are as much the same person as they are in blue jeans and a t-shirt. Our clothes are a means of expression and a necessary protection against the elements in certain climes. Any additional meaning that they may have is opinion and we know that all people have opinions. This does not make them any more fact then opining that blue is a terrible color. Just as the color blue is morally neutral, so too are clothes.1

The problems arise when people decide to imply that you do not have the right to make all decisions with respect to your body and welfare. The arguments that one does not look 'right' for their cultural situation and gender presentation are subtle implications that one's appearance and mannerisms are not their personal property and within their rights to determine what happens with them. In this case, the argument is made that 'society' has the right/duty to dictate how one must dress and carry themselves. Society argues that certain subcultures are acceptable and others are not, failing to recognize that these people are part of society as a whole and that they have the right to participate in it.

Presently, people who are from a Arabic or Asiatic (generally from the Indian subcontinent region) background are one of the largest groups considered to be unacceptable within society. One of the reasons that is put forth by society is that it is because they practice the religion of Islam. A given image of the person who practices Islam is a caricature of what the people from these regions are like and of the people who practice Islam. This image is a highly sensationalized and very negative one that is used to encourage fear in the population at large2. When women choose to veil themselves, it is assumed that they are practitioners of Islam and they frequently find themselves to be target of the same harassment and negative assumptions that are made with respect to this group.

This is a situation that is difficult to handle on a good day. We must keep in mind that the person pushing confrontation over this matter is fearful on some level of what we represent, in their mind's eye. We can possibly attempt to disentangle the assumptions that they have been programmed to have from our personal identity, but this is only successful with people who are willing to attempt the process. When we encounter people who are decidedly hostile and actively seeking confrontation, the best approach is to diffuse the situation. Perhaps the simplest thing that can be done is to do not return their efforts to interact. It can range from ignoring their comments to leaving the location.3 If this is not an option, redirecting the conversation into more neutral territory or bringing a third party into the conversation may be successful in halting the offender's behavior. For some reason, people get uncomfortable continuing their poor behavior when there is an audience.4

We also encounter people who would accuse us of cultural appropriation. This is based in the assumption that certain manners of dress are the cultural property of one ethnic/social group. The assumption is false and can be countered with information. Educating the person who dares to accuse you of stealing from another culture not only shifts the conversation back into more neutral waters, it exposes them to the idea that there are alternate reasons for things then what they assumed. This can lead to an eventual change of behavior. At the simplest, one can state that there are only so many ways to manipulate a piece of fabric and no one has the patent on all of them. If you choose to go the route of education in a deeper sense, learn the history of your practice of veiling and the origins of it. It is possible to find arguments and historical examples of veiling from every culture around the world, though veiling will take different guises due to cultural and environmental differences. This is a tactic that not only allows you to demonstrate how you are a nonthreatening figure (because people tend to assume that one who teaches something is not a threat to them within our culture) but gives you greater depth in your own practice. (This is a tactic that I use and I have found to be very successful and rewarding for many reasons.)

The most insidious of people who argue that we should not veil or dress in a manner they don't approve of are the ones who are the self declared body police. They don't usually come out and say directly that they don't approve of what you are wearing or how you look. Instead, it is back handed little comments like "Your hair is so pretty, you should show it more often." and "You have great legs. You oughta show them off, you're so lucky." Part of the body police nonsense comes out of a measure of envy. Yes, I did just say that and I'll say it again. One of the root causes of body police behavior is the fact that the speaker is envious of the target for some reason. As such, they'll try to cut the other person down in some way to make themselves feel better even as they deny that there is any envy. Another major cause of body policing is fear.

The ones who body police from a position of fear are the ones who warn women not to go out wearing revealing clothing and tells the person veiling that they're in danger for doing so, regardless of the actual threat that may be present. The body police of fear are harder to deal with because in some fashion, their expression is truly rooted in a concern for the target's welfare and a desire to see them remain safe. It is good to remind the person who is body policing out of fear that you have the means and ability to protect yourself in the event of something they fear happening. Instead of letting them focus on the body policing behavior, redirect the focus back to their fear and address it.

The envious body police are a thorny problem to deal with. On one hand, we can not magically fix another person's emotional insecurities (which is the root of 99% of envy 99% of the time). At the same time, we must not make excuses for their unacceptable behavior. When someone who is body policing from a position of envy declares that people who dress modestly are selfish (this seems to be the most popular arguments from what I can tell), they are telling the target of their behavior that they do not have the right to decide their appearance. It is perfectly reasonable to retort with one of the following (tailored to suit your circumstances):
  1. I am sorry that you feel it necessary to say that. It must be very difficult to see the world that way.
  2. We don't expose our (breast or other body part commonly covered) because it is private. So is the rest of me.
  3. I don't appreciate your remarks about my person. Please stop and discuss something else. I am not here for your amusement or approval.
There is a laundry list of variations on those themes. It is possible to take the statement and make it sound very innocuous or a blatant challenge to the person. I trust that you all have the discretion to pick which battles are truly worthy of fighting.

Finally, we have the group that assumes that our manner of dress is dictated by fashion sense. While it is possible to be both modest in your manner of dress and fashionable, fashion is not the primary motivator. In these circumstances, it is important to be forthright and direct about the fact that you are covering for reasons aside from fashion. When in a position where one's covering is being argued to be driven by the dictates of fashion, maintain your argument that it is from deeply held beliefs. The law in the United States allows for freedom of religious expression. This includes head coverings.

There may be some circumstances where allowances must be made. Check, however, if these allowances are required of everyone. If a Catholic nun is permitted to wear her wimpel and veil, you are permitted your head covering as well. Some places may require documentation that you are expression sincerely held religious beliefs (ie: a note from your pastor or spiritual adviser). In the event of this circumstance, go to the members of your religious community and get their assistance. It may be that someone in your local community has the ability to sign said documentation as an ordained minister. If you want to be extra careful, get it notarized and keep a copy of it on hand.

Next veiling post will talk about how to navigate the world of veiling from a beginner's perspective. I'll be focusing on immediate family and household matters first.

1. While garments may have different connotations in different settings due to cultural and social mores, it does not change the fact that they are merely pieces of fabric upon our body. This is a stance that I hold with respect to all forms of clothing and whomever is wearing it. It may not be pleasing in a matter of aesthetics or be appropriate for the situation, but this is not a matter to shame someone over. Any and all aspects of clothing having meaning is assigned by the person wearing it. Assumptions as to what that meaning is by others is pure foolishness and results in the problems that we are discussing.

2.I could devote a small novella to my opinions upon the matter of propaganda and how it influences culture. The perpetuation of the 'dangerous Muslim' stereotype is among the ones that I find repellant because it dehumanizes a vast swath of people with out any regard for the individuals. I object to this on more levels then I can coherently express right now.

3. If you have any reason to be concerned for your safety or welfare, vacate the area immediately and seek out assistance. No one has the right to assault or harass you. This is a crime and you have a legitimate cause to seek out the assistance of law enforcement if it comes to be necessary.

4. If in a situation where all about you are considered hostile and a potential threat to your welfare, exit the location immediately. Don't get yourself into a dangerous situation on the basis of pride.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Choice of Joy.

Choosing joy is something that one may hear mentioned in the Christian circles. It's an especially popular expression amongst the conservative variety of Christians, actually. When they focus upon choosing joy, they focus on embracing the joy that is derived from their faith. In many cases, this push to be joyful in all things leads to quite a bit of difficulty for the adherents because they are divested of their clear and valid emotional responses to the world at large. It is an unfortunate thing that I truly hope will pass in due time.

I do believe that we can choose to be joyful, even in times of difficulty. Joy in times of challenge may come with a grim facade and dark humor. It does not change the fact that we are, however, laughing in the face of our difficulties. Indeed, the ability to do so could be counted as heroic considering how the little struggles of life mount a continual attack upon our welfare and sense of peace. In the Filianic community, joy is something that is to be embraced and sought out. It is a reflection of the grace of Dea and the joy that lead to the creation of the whole of existence.

The joy of existence, however, must not be considered something that is only attainable when the conditions are right. Much of our lives, we spend our time waiting for things to happen, doing preparation work for major life events, and generally just spinning our wheels. It is easy to view this time as wasted or as a source of distress. Feeling as though we are facing off against the futility that comes to frustrate us so often (be it real or perceived) can make most anyone unhappy and despair. Feeling that nothing we do will do any good and that we will perpetually be just keeping time rather then joining in the dance of existence is in many ways the opposite of what we should be seeking out in life.

All too often, however, we find ourselves caught in the bad habit of thinking that just because the days look similar that they are identical and what we do is pointless. It is difficult to break this line of thought. One of the most powerful tools we have in doing so is joy. Consciously choosing to find that which you find joy in through the day lifts your spirits and makes life a little less oppressive. Deciding to consider life from a more optimistic (but grounded in reality) perspective leads to our opportunities for joy becoming more prevalent because we begin to actively look for them.

It is like looking for a four leaf clover in the middle of a patch of clovers. If you just look at the clovers as a whole, it makes finding that four leaf clover very difficult. Considering each clover on its own is time consuming but it leads to the breakthrough of finding the first clover. After you find that first clover, it suddenly seems that all the four leaf clovers come into view at once because you have found the pattern to look for in the sight before you. Considering our days as a collection becomes overwhelming and the similarity of them makes it very hard to distinguish the positive differences between them. Looking for joy is looking for that four leaf clover.

We must consider each day on its own merits. Look for the sources of joy that can be found in that day. Some days, the joy may be only in the fact that it is over. Others, it may prove to be a good cup of coffee or hearing your favorite song on the radio. Finding these little threads of joy in the tangled skein that is our daily lives leads us to recognizing that glimmer no matter how faint once we become familiar with the practice. Our 'eye' begins to recognize the 'pattern' of that which gives us joy and we can begin to seek it out in the day in addition to recognizing it when it arises of its own volition.

Every day, every moment, we have a choice. We can choose to be pessimistic or optimistic in how we approach the situation. The person who is question for joy tends towards the optimistic choice because they are training their 'eyes' to see the pattern of joy which is much like optimism. If joy is the four leaf clover, then optimism is the three leaf clover that gets our hearts up and whets our appetite.

Choose joy, seek it out. You will find your heart's burdens easier to bear for it.

May Dea's love be ever upon you.
May Freyr's blessings rest upon your heart.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Veiling: Three challenges to the practice

The western world is very secular and views the only appropriate time for veiling is for a wedding. On occasion, the secular world will tolerate a widow wearing a birdcage veil but only if it is small. The people that the western world view as appropriate to wear veils on regular basis are nuns. There is grudging tolerance given to Muslim women and their hijab. Additionally, it is tolerated in a restricted fashion for women who are of African-American descent, if they do so in a fashion that is appropriately 'ethnic'.

The Mennonites and the Amish are tolerated in much the same fashion as women of color. The wearing of bandannas and charity style veils are becoming accepted in conservative Christian communities. It is, however, viewed as a sign of their status as 'other' within the more protestant Christian oriented society at large. Because the conservative Christians are similar in their beliefs to the protestant Christians that society at large considers to be mainstream, the people who come from these sects are given something of a blind eye to their increasingly distinctive manner of dress.

The ingrained attitude that veiling is for specific people and should be done in certain ways for the groups in question is the first challenge to people who wish to wear a veil and do not fall into those categories. A white woman who is non-Christian is viewed with suspicion when she chooses to wear her veil in a manner that resembles the styles of hijab worn by Muslim women. Especially if in the midst of it all, she does not conform to the appearance expected to accompany that style. Accusations of cultural appropriation are an extension of the tendency of society at large to pigeonhole people as being a certain way on the basis of their appearances.

When one wears a veil and does not conform to the expected appearances for the fashion of veiling that is worn, they find themselves on the receiving end of a great deal of vitriol from people who are attempting to keep societal norms within the 'commonly accepted' parameters. This body policing brings people who stand outside of those norms a great deal of difficulty and can contribute to problems in how these people view themselves. This is the first major challenge that people who veil encounter, especially at the beginning of the practice.

The second major challenge that is encountered is a direct outgrowth from the attitudes that give rise to the first. When a person begins to veil, they will inevitably have someone comment on their new appearance with statements to the effect that they should show their hair/body because it is so 'pretty'. This is partly body policing and partly a continuation of an attitude that is problematic for women in general. The idea that one's appearance and body is some how communal property is one that we consciously reject when we choose to dress in a modest manner (including but not limited to dressing in 'traditional' clothing styles, ie: dresses and skirts for women).

It is very difficult and very uncomfortable to have people tell you that what you are doing in dressing in this fashion is selfish. It sends the message that this is improper behavior and that we are not permitted autonomy with respect to our appearances. It also sends the message that we do not have the authority to make decisions with respect to our bodies. Veiling brings out the 'wistful' body police almost as much as when a woman chooses a shorter hair style after having long locks. Sending the message that one is some how less for making these decisions is reprehensible.

The third major challenge that people who take up veiling encounter is the attitude that it is a mere fashion statement. Veiling for spiritual reasons or other purposes is a legitimate thing. The person who veils as an expression of their spirituality and in accordance with their professed faith is not doing so because it is stylish. Unfortunately, the secular aspect of Western society fails to consider the spiritual aspect of doing so. It is bitterly ironic considering how it accepts that one wearing jewelry in accordance with their faith is appropriate. One is no less important to the person wearing it then the other. Indeed, a garment may be considered to possibly be of greater importance then jewelry in some cases.

This failure to consider veiling as a legitimate form of expression of one's faith has lead to many people being troubled by their employers, coworkers, and officials in the community over their head covering. It is the attitude that one's manner of dress is dictated by the trends of the day rather then one's deeply held religious beliefs that creates situations where it is considered appropriate to ask someone who is wearing a veil to remove it. The outward expression of one's faith is not limited to their speech. It can also be expressed by their clothing choices, hence veiling. It is difficult for people who veil to do so because of the intolerant attitudes they encounter.

Next veiling post, I will propose arguments to present when these challenges arise and one must handle an intolerant person.

Eastre & Equinox = Renewal & New Beginning

The Vernal Equinox is the time when Spring officially begins. It is also the (approximate) date of the celebrations of Eastre and Ostara. Eastre is not to be confused with the Christian celebration of Easter. While the two holidays share the name and similar themes, the Filianic holiday of Eastre is different from the Christian holiday of Easter. Ostara is celebrated within the pagan community by many different faiths. It is well known in the Wiccan community and derived from the ancient Germanic pagan holiday of the same name. I celebrate Eastre and Ostara around the time of the Equinox, though I am considering moving my observance of Ostara to coincide with the Christian celebration of Easter for the sake of ease.

At Eastre, within the Filianic faiths, we observe the death and resurrection of God1 the Daughter. The Festival of Eastre is a multiple day event. It begins on the last day of the month/season Moura. This day is named for the destroyer face of the angel2 Werde, Kala. Kala is the last day of the liturgical year. It is also the day where the Daughter is slain by the Dark Queen. This is a day that is inauspicious for beginning new activities and planning future events. After Kala is a period that is not part of the liturgical year, as it is considered to be a time outside of time called Hiatus. Hiatus is one day (except during leap years, then it is two) out of the Julian calendar and is the time where the Daughter hangs upon the pillar of the Nether World in absolute death.

At Hiatus, the world is considered to be ended by most Filianic communities and it is a time of mourning. Prayers are made to God the Mother for the return of God the Daughter and the renewal of the world. Hiatus is a time where a taboo is extended for the worshiper of Filianic faiths to not consider the future because technically there is no future at this time. Starting at Kala and through Hiatus, all icons and statues of God the Daughter are veiled to reflect her absence from the world and her death. In my observance of Kala and Hiatus, I veil my icons of the Daughter and extinguish the light that I have for her presence in the world.

This light remains darkened for the totality of this observance to reflect that the Daughter is dead and gone out of the world. I also make a point of not burning any new offering candles during this period. Because I still feel that I should give offerings and candles is one of the few things I can readily afford, I use one big pillar or jarred candle that will last me through out the final week of Moura and into Hiatus. I keep my candles in the liturgical colors for Moura (purple/black). At Eastre proper, the icons are revealed and I dispose of the candle that I had been burning through Moura and Hiatus. I replace it with something in a 'spring' color and I try to find one that is floral in scent. (This year a sunny yellow that smells of honeysuckle.)

I also relight my candle/light for the Daughter's presence in the world because at Eastre, the Mother rescues and revives the Daughter, thus returning her to the world. With the resurrection of the Daughter, all of the world is considered to be renewed. This day is the first day of the liturgical year and a day of celebration.
Eastre does not fall technically on the equinox but it is within the time frame that the equinox happens. Just as spring begins in the solar year and in the Julian calendar, spring in the Filianic calendar begins with Eastre. It is considered an especially auspicious day for starting things.

Ostara comes from the ancient Germanic holiday of the same name. It is a time where the goddess for which this holiday is named brings spring's renewal into the world. She is accompanied by her sacred animals (the rabbit and birds) and brings warmth and new life with her. At Ostara, I not only honor this ancient goddess but I also celebrate the return of Freyr. During the winter months, he is often considered to be residing in the realm of the dead following his slaying during the autumn harvest. With the renewal of the 'life' of plants, I consider it to be when he returns from that time.

For Ostara, I put fresh flowers on the altar and ask that my gardening efforts and houseplants be blessed by both Ostara and Freyr. (I also ask for Gerda's blessing for good measure as well.) I also give offerings of sweet things, bread, and alcohol. This is also when I do my own little version of the charming of the plough. While the Asatru community celebrates this holiday in February, I observe it at the time of the equinox because this is when farmers in my area are actively preparing for the ploughing and planting of the fields. While I haven't a plough to bless, I bless my gardening tools (usually one in representative of all) for healthy plants and good harvest.

It is good to note that Eastre, Ostara, and Easter all come from the same linguistic origin. They all are derived from the ancient goddess Ostara (spelled differently for different regions) who was celebrated at this time. When Christianity was in the midst of overtaking native religions in the Germanic regions, the name of this celebration was taken to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ. Several ancient practices (such as the egg hunt) were tolerated because they were so deeply ingrained into the culture's identity.

Both Eastre and Ostara are important parts of my calendar. It is at this time that I celebrate the renewal of the world with the beginning of spring. It is also when I set out to begin changes in my life. Where most people in the secular world begin at the first day of the Julian calendar, I begin at the first day of the Filianic calendar because I wish to ride the magical tide that comes with the equinox and draw to me the blessings of the season as well.

1. This is a direct reference to how the Filianic/Déanic community as reflected by refers to the goddess whom I follow known in her three aspects as Mother (Marya), Daugher (Anna/Inanna), and Dark Mother (Deam Mysterium). The conflict over the terms god/goddess will be addressed in another post.

2. I use the term angel rather then the term janya (pl. janyati) because it is more familiar to the community at large. While the terms are not completely interchangeable, it is close enough for my purposes.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Hiatus/Ostara 2015

Moura came to a close yesterday with the holy day of Kala. It is the day where the Daughter is slain by the Dark Queen. At Kala, icons of the Daughter are veiled to represent her death and absence from the world of the living. Today is a day that is not part of the liturgical calendar of Filianism and related beliefs. Hiatus is the time where the Daughter hangs upon the pillar at the center of the Nether World. It is a time where we are called to not think of the future and do our best to focus upon the appeal to the Mother to rescue her Daughter from the realm of death and restore her to life.

Kala was a quiet day at my home, for the most part. While I did not keep a full fast, as many would, I did fast from meat during daylight hours and did my best to refrain from having sweets during that time frame. As I veiled my icons of the Daughter and quenched the light that I have for her on my altar, I tried to release the troubles that had been bothering me over the last year and, in some minor and symbolic sense, die to the past. As today is a time outside of time, I refrained from magical working and focused my prayers towards the person of the Mother.

My prayers were focused upon three things. I prayed for the return of the Daughter and the renewal of the world. I prayed that the evil within the world be transformed through the Daughter's death and resurrection into good. And I prayed that I might shed that which hinders me and 'die' to the unhealthy and harmful things of my past. The candle that I burned through Moura remains lit upon my altar.

As I have burned that candle, I have meditated upon the Daughter's descent and death. It is apt that this candle is nearly fully used at this time. After tonight's burning, I will dispose of the candle (in an ecologically responsible fashion). Tomorrow, I will relight the light that I have for the Daughter on my altar and take the covering off of the icons. I will replace the somber indigo colored altar cloth with the cobalt blue one that I made prior to Moura and replace the devotional candle with one that is yellow. This yellow candle is symbolic of the new light of spring and the renewal of the world.

Where the candle for Moura was very plain and austere, this yellow candle is elaborately carved and pleasantly scented. I will offer it up not only for Dea but to the gods of the Nordic pantheon that I follow. While I have kept the rigors of Filianic 'lent' as best I could, I also spent time focusing on what I needed to do to prepare myself for the spring and a renewal in my devotional relationship with them as well. The response to this has been general approval. Loki strongly exhorts me to burn something more then a candle for the transition of the season. Fortunately, I have some incense that I can light. Freyr has felt much more 'present' over the last few weeks.

He has been giving me direction for how to proceed in several things. I anticipate the taboo that was placed upon my writing will be lifted soon. Freyr has been talking about things he wants to see me work on in my professional arenas. He has also been encouraging me to take my gardening endeavors much more seriously. As such, I have begun the work of getting the pots of old soil dumped out in the new flower bed that I have been attempting to establish (which is much easier with them being more or less frozen right now). He has been making comments that I should focus more on herbs and flowers this year. Freyr has also been firmly instructing me to begin making a decisive effort to improve my health and focus upon building more happiness in my life.

Thus with the beginning of the new liturgical year tomorrow, I have many new tasks ahead of me that I will attempt to share with you as I progress forward. I will also be resuming my writing on Tuesdays and Sundays. I sincerely hope that the holiday has brought blessings into your life, for those who celebrate Ostara today, and that the day of Hiatus has not been too agonizing for those who observe it.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Moura: Week 2

I am a few days late on this post. It has been just how things turned out over the last week, so I am not terribly surprised. It was hard to get to the computer and do much of anything because my eldest son was sick with strep throat. In the midst of helping him through that and running to the doctor appointment, I realized that this kind of active work in supporting my family and being Mom has been the theme for the last two weeks. It was something of a proverbial light bulb moment when that happened.

I was feeling a bit guilty because I was having sugary things unintentionally. When I get stressed out, I go right for the sweets. It's a habit that I am really struggling with breaking. I've been attempting to replace it with popcorn, but that hasn't been terribly effective. I had the boys help me out with a bunch of cleaning this week. We would have gotten the majority of the apartment swept (we had an electric sweeper, it worked fairly well and the kids weren't afraid of it.) but the equipment had a catastrophic failure. Not so bad that it was smoking or something like that, but the motor in it is non-functional despite my and my husband's efforts. The boys, however, dusted everything they could reach. I had to make sure they didn't dust my plants, they were that excited.

I have been looking at the closet and seriously thinking about going through my wardrobe again. It is less a matter of wanting to be stylish and more trying to figure out how to make the clothing style I want to wear easier to do. I am most comfortable in what could be considered 'traditional' women's clothes. While I wear jeans and such, I don't feel as 'me' as I do in a skirt or a dress. All this cold weather, however, has made that difficult to do because, honestly, it is really hard to stay warm in a skirt. I don't have petticoats or a flannel slip, or I would be doing that right now.

My effort to address my wardrobe is part of a resolution I made a while back. I decided that I was going to be as authentic with myself as I possibly could be. As a result, I started wearing clothes I felt comfortable and beautiful in. I started eating foods that I enjoyed more (and healthy ones to boot). And I have been growing my hair out again. (I had it cut really, really short a few years back in a fit of frustration in high summer.) I have been wearing headcoverings when I go out of the house as part of this effort to be authentic as well.

For the month of Moura, I have been wearing the blue ones that I made. I keep looking for the blue silky scarf I have and I can't find it. I suppose it is a sign that I shouldn't be wearing it right now. I have found the cloths that I will use at Kala to cover the icons of the Daughter that I have. I put them in a safe place last year and made sure it was one I could get to again. They're just simple crochet. I made them from a dark, almost indigo blue soft acrylic yarn. At some point, I hope to get or make ones that shade in silk. It may be a bit expansive to do so, but I feel that it is important to have really good quality cloths for this.

The full moon just passed and I took some time to pour out an offering to the gods. I couldn't do a full ritual because the kids were causing chaos. I am at something of a loss for how to make religion easier for them to understand. Right now, they're still working out things like how to tie their shoes and who gets to have the blue cup. (I have no idea why they fight over that cup, but it happens often. I would get another one but that style has been discontinued for the last year.) They've started showing some interest in the old stories about the Norse gods. That may be where I start with everything.

Honestly, though, I wonder if it was wise to lead off with the one where Thor, Loki, and Thafi went into Utgard. They've been running around with their toy hammers to smash 'bad giants.' They get a bit carried away with it. Fortunately, they haven't decided that I or their father is the bad giant. Mainly, it has been their stuffed teddy bears. I never thought I'd be telling them not to swing hammers at each other because they're not Thor and it's not mjolnir. The things you don't think of until after the fact, I suppose.

Med Moura was a quiet day. I didn't realize it was Med Moura until the day was just about finished, actually. I was just so busy trying to take care of things around the house that it slipped my mind. I did, however, after I realized it was Med Moura, allow myself to have some ice cream. I managed to with out diving into that for most of the week so I suppose it sortof counts, right? But, this is where things stand right now.

Halfway through the season of Moura, and all is still quiet from Dea. A part of me fears that I have displeased her in some fashion and that this silence is an indication of it. I know, however, that seasons of silence come when in any sort of relationship. It is simply silence, and nothing more insidious then that. I strive to maintain hope that I will feel her presence or hear her voice again.