Friday, March 27, 2015

Taim Buioch Diot

Taim Buioch Diot

I walk dampened forest floor,
moss soft, knee deep in brambles
to stop among the Duir.

My hands, I place palms resting flat,
against the gritty surface an Oak—
cold thin fingers level with the divine.
            Go raibh maith agat   
            Go raibh maith agat

My voice slight against
the stillness of silver grey
shifting in the gathering.

I press my face onto the tree’s 
dark reptilian bark—
the earth around me stirs,

Then falls quiet 
and becomes lost amid the
circle of standing coffins.

no movement to fulfill me
no sound to affirm me—

I push away,
the ragged  lines of the Oak pressed deep
into the pale skin at my face, neck…
            And awaken,
            my sheets on the floor,
            my feet sore, and dirty from my long trek

            wet leaves in my hair again. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Feast of Lights

A Feast of Lights is upon us!

If you are not doing anything of note this weekend, do yourself the most amazing favor and head on down to the Northampton Clarion in Northampton, Massachusetts and enjoy a weekend of learning, communing and general rabble-rousing with New England's most esteemed and hilarious Pagan Elders and teachers. This annual event held by the EarthSpirit Community is the only thing that will secret me away from my workouts, warm fire and books. The ability to learn with some of the most influential Pagan artists, teachers, musicians, thinkers and activists is not the only seductive lure. You get to dance the night away at The Stag King's Masque

A Feast of Lights is a weekend event that begins Friday afternoon and will carry on until Sunday afternoon. THIS WEEKEND! (I am very excited.) (Can you tell?) 

But Muirakai! I haven't registered for this event!! Worry not my bacchanalian sweeties! You can register at the door! You can also register only for the Masque -- which in my opinion is a cannot miss New England Pagan event staple. Pull out your blackest black and reddest red and romp with the creatures of the winter forest! The drumming is always excellent as is the ritual before hand and the DJ that follows will knock your knickers right off. (Hey, this is a skin tight velvet dress... there are rules people, rules and I don't do granny panties.) 

"Hey" you ask... is there a Facebook event page? You know what? I think there is!

A Feast Of Lights On Facebook

And they have posted the  amazing Schedule of Events!

I am particularly looking forward to attending any and all classes with the enigmatic Jane Sibley. She really brings to life the stories of the Elders. If you haven't had a good read as of late and are looking to learn more about Norse Mythology from a woman who tells it like it's TMZ than she's your lady!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Mysteries Within

I have been a might bit absent but the end of the year is always a very busy time for me at work. I have been keeping up with my workouts and have been making some headway with my tibia bruise but I have to say I have been stressed out and exhausted despite trying to maintain sanity and balance in my day.

I have a back log of blog posts I’m working on but I didn't want the entire Yule season to pass by without having something of my brain out into the world. Yule is always a special time for me. Introspection is always something I am working on and although I know I do not meditate as often as I should – I am trying to look within and do the work necessary.

But basically… I’ve been seriously depressed. I have a history of depression and anxiety. It does run in my family and despite my best efforts at attending therapy and taking my prescribed pharmaceutical prescriptions—two years ago (with Doctor permission) I decided to release myself from medication. I found that my workouts and the change in my eating habits were actually working better than the pills that I was taking. Last year (around February) I began seeing a Naturopathic Healer to help me look deeper into my depression as I was beginning to struggle on my own. After a multitude of blood tests, urine samples and all manner of scientific specimens removed from my person it was officially discovered what my general practitioner and I already suspected: my depression is chemical.

I've had amazing behavioral therapists almost all my life but I’m not naturally “depressed.” My actual self is very upbeat, I’m usually the optimist of the group and problem solving is actually something I’m pretty good at. I've had difficult times. I've lost loved ones and I've had to deal with drug addiction in my family and high stress situations, yet I know, on the inside, that these things are merely things that pass and change. If anything, I am okay with letting go of the past and striving towards the future. Enjoying the present is something that I struggle with but I don’t feel that this is equivalent to the sometimes crippling depression that comes over me or the terrifying panic that overwhelms me—often times when nothing untoward is occurring.

At the end of the day my Naturopath and I came up with numerous options and plans of attack—all of which I am currently working with. Aside from my chemical deficiency I have a reoccurring vitamin D deficiency and a slightly concerning vitamin B deficiency which I am still trying to stabilize. This has worked very well for me over the past six months but recently, as I stated earlier in this post, I've been seriously depressed. I am, at the very least, so proud to say that it is unusual for me to be depressed. To be depressed for so long and not to have found relief in the things that now help to relive it. I'm locked in a room with 100 keys and I don't even have the energy to try any of them. 

I have always had a guiding star. A dream, a goal, and a sight-line that even through the darkest night I have at least had a glimpse of.  I am so lost in the woods right now I cannot even see the moon. The dreams I dream are still within me but they don’t hold the same luster they used to. The goals I used to cling to don’t feel as important anymore and the force that I have relied on to drive me out of the darkness just does not hold the protective power it used to. Nothing has replaced these losses. I find that one can abandon one’s dreams. We progress, we change and our dreams change with us. My dreams have become a little hollow—as though I am changing. I accept this change. My Tarot is filled with The Magician, Death, The Devil, The Tower, The Empress and many other charged cards. I know these lead me down a pathway, I can see the wisdom in my weekly card pulls and I accept the challenges ahead of me. I see my failings and my strengths and yet here we are. I am so lost in it all.

If I were counseling another, I would tell them that the answer awaits at the altar. Especially now, in this time of darkness—we must in tune with the solstice now passed, welcome back the light. The light is always within us. The goddess shows us that no matter how dark the night the moon’s cycle brings it to fullness, the flower blooms once more, the ants rebuild their sandy pyramids and the raw earth is planted with seeds once again. We need almost do nothing—observe, sit in soft silence and let the universe happen. 

Like the Hanged Man, the hardest part is when we let go and in typical human fashion I am struggling in this. I know I must not try. I know that I have to let go—perhaps entirely—of the dreams that are no longer serving me. Perhaps I am so bogged down with the weight of dreams that no longer inspire me I am unable to create new dreams. This depression and despair I feel is the force of my wanting to find purpose when purpose is trying to find me and cannot break through the pain of my want.

No matter how many years we spend in study of the mysteries of the universe and the goddess, we still fall prey to the challenges of our own personal mysteries. So I shall continue on my path and I will try to heed my own advice and the wisdom of the elders around me. This is all I can do and I need to know that for the moment, this is enough.

Bright blessings and a merry yule. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Squat Day & Dresses

So my last workout (Wednesday 11/05/2014) went thus:

A1. Back Squat
            5/4/3 Waves
            30 sec. rest between reps
            Add 10lbs ea. wave
Wave#1= 120lbs x 5, 130lbs x 4, 140lbs x 3
Wave#2= 130lbs x 5, 140lbs x 4, 150lbs x 3
Wave#3= 140lbs x 5, 150lbs x 4, 160lbs x 3
B1. 1 Arm Rows x 5ea @ 30lbs
B2. Db Floor Press x 7 @ 35/35lbs
B3. RDL x 7 @ 95lbs                         2:00 x 4
C1. Weighted Step Ups x 5ea @ 25lbs
C2. Over Box / Under Crawls
C3. Push Ups x 10                              X3
:30/15 x2
Wall Balls
Ab Saw
Rope Slams
Rope Climbs

It was my third workout in a row and I have to admit. I was so tired by the end of it. I’d also like to note that my squats were awesome despite being absolutely shattered. I didn't really finish the C-Series as it was a little too soon to be stepping down on my bad shin which (because I like to learn things the hard way) was evident halfway through. Push ups were all done but the step ups faltered down to pretty much nothing and I walked around the boxes so it was a little bit of a bust. It’s okay because I was able to make up for it on the finisher and rounded the week out with a all-around good showing.  

On a silly Pagan-y side note: I am currently trying to figure out what my costume is going to be for Earth Spirit’s Feast of Lights Stag King’s Masque this year. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to go last year so my costume was slightly less than stellar.

I am currently courting this number from

I think I would pair it with a minimal midnight blue laser cut mask and some black ballet slippers. The only thing that concerns me is the very long pooling fabric. I like the dramatic look of it but I think I’d trip over it ALL night.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Deadlifts and Darkness

So those of us in the Eastern US have finally taken the plunge into darkness with the time change. I left work last night at 5:30 to go workout and it really hit me that winter and the long dark time of introspection is upon us. In the winter I find it harder to want to get to the gym—I leave work and I’m tired, it’s dark out and it’s pretty cold. Fatigue from working out the day before always hurts more in the winter when my body is cold. My “mental toughness” comes more into play and I really have to focus more on how I’ll feel after I work out and less on how much I don’t want to. It’s a bitch.

I’d like to try to get in the habit of posting my workouts here – apart from perhaps helping others to get their own workouts in it gives me a certain accountability that will help keep me going.

Monday’s workout was pretty tough this week:

A1. Sumo Deadlift
            9 x 60% @ 140lbs
            7 x 70% @ 160lbs
            5 x 80% @ 185lbs
            3 x 90% @ 210lbs
A2. Db OH Press @ 20/20lbs & 25/25lbs

B1. Bench Press x 5 80% @ 95lbs
B2. Rope Rows X 10
E/O for 8 min.

C1. RDL x 7 @ 95lbs (x3)
C2. DB Farmer Carry x 2  @ 35/35lbs (x3)

Finisher:          Sled Rows (235lbs)
:35/15 x2         Bear Crawls
                        1-Arm Carry (25lbs)
                        Plank Variation

I like sumo deadlift but I don’t do it often. It was the first deadlift variation I learned using the straight bar and the second variation I learned after Trap Bar. Randomly I have only recently utilized it as an accessory movement during workouts so this was the first time I have utilized it with weight at my current percentages. In short—I’d never attempted a 210lb sumo deadlift before. It went surprisingly well. I find that I have a lot more power in this stance but I have a lot less control. It is most certainly a lift that requires more balance. I had to go to an over hand/underhand grip during my last set as I almost lost the bar on my first 210lb lift.  It was a lot of fun.

On Tuesday I went again and was surprised to find more deadlifts on the menu:

A1. Conventional Deadlift EMOM
            10 x 3 70% @ 160lbs
A2. Band Pull Apart EMOM

B1. Pull Up Variation
B2. Ground Zero Jumps
B3. Db Single Arm Bench @ 20/20lbs
7 min. AMRAP x 2/4/6/8 etc.

C1. Goblet Squat w/ Pause 7-1 :35sec
C2. TRX Row w/ Pause 7-1 :35sec

Finisher:          Chin Ups
:40                   T Push Ups
                        Rev. Lunge
                        Ground Zero Jumps
                        Mt. Climbers
                        Band Punches

                        Jam Ball Slams 20lbs
                        Dynamax Ball Throws (Lying) 8lbs

I was a little leery at first. I've never had two deadlift days in a row and I find that they kick my ass more than any other lift we do. It stands to reason; it’s really a full body lift. It doesn't look like it from the naked eye. It totally embodies the “I pick things up and put them down” joke but somewhere between my gluts, my hamstrings, my core and my arms… by the time we got to that last set I was just trying to stay in form without having to drop weight. I was really proud of myself.

These two days of deadlifting reminds me that even in our everyday lives we face a lot of fears. If I am not careful in my lifts I have a chance of causing myself some pretty serious injuries. Currently I am trying to work with a shin splint (paired with bone bruise) and I’m still watching the hamstring pull I had in June. But eventually all things heal. In this time of darkness and introspection it is time to face those fears and remember that we are stronger then we think. 

Mental Toughness comes from our ability to see the darkness in ourselves and honor its place in our construction. I was able to stick to my percentages this week and have faith in my ability to accomplish the tasks set before me. These valuable lessons in the gym allow me to face the darkness within myself when I sit at my alter in the weeks and months to come –to have courage and faith to do the inner work along with the outer work. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Honoring Our Ancestors

A large and often overlooked aspect of striving to be fit physically is the effort to also strive to achieve mental fitness as well. I know that one of my major fitness goals is mental fitness. My need to reduce the stress in my life and the need to release that stress is actually what led me to weight lifting in the first place. The two for me are inexorably linked.

One of my “mental fitness” exercises is to practice “Letting Go.” As a practicing Pagan I do this a lot with built up energy—especially after ritual. In my personal life I try to use it to deal with the losses of loved ones I am remembering during Samhain. The energy of so many memories builds up inside me. If I am not mindful of this energy it can build and build and work against me.  

This Samhain I am remembering my Uncle Jeffrey. He is deep within my mind and this year I am planning a special alter to honor him.

Jeffrey was my godfather and even though I did not get to see him often he was a very important person in my life. The man had a lot of baggage he was holding onto. Baggage in life isn’t always a black and white term. Baggage just is. I think how you deal with it determines the weight of the luggage. My uncle’s baggage was very heavy to him – a burden he could not escape and he used drugs to lighten the load. His drug problem eventually defeated him.

I was devastated when he died. For weeks before his death I had wanted to write him letters—telling him all the things I wish I had been able to tell him to his face. I wanted those letters to bring him back to reality, to remind him that I was someone who would miss him. I was afraid to write him—which I found absurd as writing is what I do right? It’s the medium by which I express all the things in my head I’m too fucked up to say. Nope. I wrote him letters but I wrote him silly ones full of nonsense.

I think sometimes when I’m having a bad day I particularly like to torture myself into wondering “what if.” What if I had written him honest letters, what if I had actually let him into that place in my head that is so like him? In general though, I have been through this before and I know that the “what if’s” in life lead nowhere. During Samhain it is time for me to remember that instead of allowing sadness to enter my energy spectrum I need to turn it around and allow joy to alleviate that negative energy.

By honoring my Uncle I am honoring all the things I wish he could have found in the universe. I honor him by being truly and uniquely myself. I honor him by being Pagan and proud even though my religion is not main stream. I choose to not let the prejudices of others direct my stars. I honor him by remembering to be kind to myself—that a branch too rigid does not bend but breaks apart. I know that he would not want me to break but bend in all the ways he could not. To honor my uncle I need to remember to have fun in my life, to not let the burdens of my life kill the childlike nature within me. Fun for the sake of fun—we only live once.

To honor our ancestors is to bring honor to ourselves. To reach into ourselves and learn the lessons they were here to teach us. Some of these lessons are painful and full of regret—and like the Five of Cups are a warning to us that it is not too late to change the course of our lives and be the people they know we can be.

When I create my alter for my Jeffrey I will fill it with happy memories and promises for the future. I will bring into this New Year the lessons I have learned from his life and I will give us both the courage I knew he had but couldn't see. I will let go of all this energy within me, I will send it to him so he will know that yes, I am listening and yes, I can hear him.