thessalian: (Default)
Soooooo ... Christianity.

No, I am not going to bash Christianity. Particularly not this close to Easter. Well, I'm not going to deliberately bash Christianity, anyway. However, I will state for the record that I just don't get some of it.

(I'm not alone, incidentally. My mother was raised Catholic and gave it up relatively early in her life. She always told me that it had to do with the fact that she couldn't really believe in a loving, forgiving God who would send all non-believers, even the ones who hadn't so much as seen a missionary yet, to hell. After she decided that, she set to work finding explanations for all the Christian miracles - like, the loaves and the fishes lasted enough to feed all those people because all the people who were lying about not having any food felt guilty and shamed that this one person would give up their food to try to feed the multitudes and so either didn't take any or put in some of their own food, or both. That and her take on the water into wine - heavy red wine stuck in the porous walls of the clay jugs of the time; add water, get rosee - are the only ones I really remember. I think I was the one who likened Lazarus to the Fall of the House of Usher. This really tells me everything you need to know about my family. Difference between her and me is that she still counts herself a Christian, albeit a vague, non-practicing, non-denominational Christian, and I consider myself a pagan ... albeit a vague, barely-practicing solitary.)

So the thing I don't get is the whole thing about Will. God's will and free will, specifically. I mean, I get that God's supposed to have a plan, but is it really His plan? Can it be His plan if he gave us free will in the first place? I've often had arguments with atheists about whether or not omnicognisance negates free will, and I tend to think that those who believe that free will isn't possible if someone knows what another will decide are looking at it entirely wrong. Just because I know that a thing is going to happen a certain way does not necessarily mean that I make it happen the way I know it will. It just means that things are laid out a certain way and I know what's going to happen and I could stop it because I know it's going to happen but don't stop it because I am letting the people involved have free will. Maybe that's all God's plan is; giving people free will and seeing what happens.

However, the whole God's Plan deal seems to be a cornerstone for some - the idea, perhaps, that everything is going to be All Right, somehow, without them having to ... I don't know, do anything? That's another bit I don't get; the whole absolution shtick. See, it's like this: you have this God who says, "I sent my only son to die in pain to absolve you for your sins and thus you are forgiven all provided that you forsake all other gods and worship Me". Now, I grant you that technically it doesn't interfere with free will, because there is a choice ... if you consider 'repent or be damned' a choice. And repentance seems to involve not only worshipping the right god, but also following the mandates and tenets set out by the followers of that god - mandates and tenets that not only contradict what someone over there, supposedly worshipping the exact same god, is asking you to do, not only contradicts the things that the person delivering the mandate said maybe two weeks ago, but also seriously violates that whole 'free will' thing in places (particularly in places involving when and with whom one can or cannot have sex). But then, the Old and New Testaments don't mix well, and maybe that's the problem - I always figured a new covenant meant that the old 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God' thing could go by the wayside, and there seem to be a fair few of the more restrictive Christian believers who try to fit the values of both books into one faith. (I can't even pin the tendency to a denomination; supposedly Catholics are best known for clinging to Old Testament values that the New Testament should have made moot, but I'm speaking as someone who's friends with a Catholic priest with whom I can have reasonable debates about abortion without him screaming hellfire and brimstone at me, and as someone who saw an exorcism performed at an Anglican/Church of England/Episcopalian sleepaway 'bible camp' that smacked more of Koresh than anything sane, so I'm not going to make sweeping generalisations.)

Which I suppose brings me to the last thing: why do lunatic fanatics like Jones or Koresh or ... y'know, pick a serial killer who cited Christian motivations, I know there's a few ... immediately assume that the voice in their head telling them to kill and kill and kill again is God? I figure that if you've read the New Testament at all, you'd at least remember the 'do unto others' thing, and the one about 'he who is without sin shall cast the first stone', and even as far back as the Old Testament we had 'thou shalt not kill'. Also, why is the Christian God, who gave people free will in the first place, ordering people to do anything in such blatant terms, let alone anything that contradicts the Commandments? Surely that kind of blatancy is down to the Adversary? Doesn't God 'move in mysterious ways his wonders to perform', or something? Crap like that is just one more thing that gives Christianity - or Christians, anyway - the kind of bad press that is more often than not undeserved.

I think I understand the basic thing about Christianity ... which, when boiled down to its essential roots, isn't really any different than any other religion. Central tenet seems to be "Don't be an arsehole". So I try really hard to see the people who insist on violating that central, boiled-down tenet because they claim it's God's will as ... well, not Christian. Because the lack of forgiveness, the surrendering of the gift of free will that God gave them and the demands that others surrender that same gift, the judgemental attitudes, the holier-than-thou thing ... that's not Christian as I think it's supposed to be. Hell, that's not even faith. Faith is communion with a higher power and a striving for enlightenment, and I always thought that enlightenment involved getting past petty shit. There was the bit about 'before attending to the mote in my eye, attend the beam in thine own', right?

I suppose, to sum this all up: I know Christians, and I like them and they seem like good people. I wish that violent, judgemental arseholes would stop claiming the religion in the name of hate.
thessalian: (Rant)
So ... religion.

The top three topics you don't bring up at dinner parties, or so says etiquette, are religion, politics and sport. This, as far as I'm aware, is to prevent arguments and social stress from turning a nice round of drinks and frou-frou food into a punch-up. (Unless you're having brandy and cigars with the Young Conservatives, apparently - in which case, go to. I actually had brandy and cigars with Young Conservatives once; I don't like brandy, cigars are overrated and ye flippin' gods, those people can be so unutterably boring. Particularly when all they can do is what their party does, namely pointing out Labour's flaws without actually suggesting any alternatives to speak of. Yay politics? But I digress.) Religion is one of those utterly divisive topics that you just ... sort of try not to mention, particularly if you are of an 'alternative faith'.

I'm of an 'alternative faith'. I suppose I come under the wide blanket of 'Pagan' but if I'm honest, I'm probably of the First International Church of For-Pity's-Sake-Own-Your-Shit. I'm really keen for people to stop justifying every action they take through outdated, contradictory, poorly translated allegorical source material and just accept that they're judgemental arseholes. Faith isn't an all-access pass to Fucktardville, okay? I've known a lot of people who follow a lot of faiths and not all of them have acted like complete arses about it. Sure, I had a friend who got on my case when my mother started seeing a married man - apparently it was my responsibility to flag up the fact that adultery is a sin in the eyes of the Lord and blah. I went to that stupid sleepaway camp with six different daily prayer sessions, the guy telling people they were going to hell because they didn't speak English and the exorcism of the hyperactive eight-year-old. A boyfriend of mine insisted that he was a devoted Lutheran and then two weeks later insisted he was a devoted Mormon and started bitching me out for my caffeine intake. However, I have devoutly Christian friends who are open-minded and willing to have theological debates and deal with a changing world without getting judgemental - up to and including a Catholic priest. Of course, I also know atheists who dock me IQ points for believing in a 'higher power' at all, so I guess the whole judgement call thing is not restricted to faith-based militant believers.

In short: religion doesn't give anyone the right to act like a fuckhead. And, to say it a lot better than I ever could, here's Marcus Brigstock.

thessalian: (fed up)
When I was quite young - maybe six - my mother took me to some skeevy wax museums, mostly horror-themed, in Niagara Falls. I recall crying and having to leave very quickly. You'd think someone that was reading Stephen King a year later wouldn't have had that problem. Now, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] kixie, I think I may have figured out why said wax museums distressed me so.

If any of the models were this bad, it's no fucking wonder I started to cry.

PEOPLE PUT SHIT THIS BAD ON DISPLAY?

In other news, for the first time in about a year, there is nothing on the floor on my side of the bedroom except for shoes, furniture, and the laundry hamper. And the lady from the recruitment agency is still trying to chase down the Royal Brompton people but says that if that one doesn't come up, there's another one with the Royal Society of Medicine that has an actual end date, pays a fair bit less but is a good foot in the door. And at this point, I can hardly turn down a job that will actually pay me money. The lady from the recruitment agency knows that I would prefer the Brompton job, but does understand that I want to be employed now. So she's doing her best. It's nice of her to keep me posted, anyway. If only everyone was so good at, for example, returning my godsdamned phone calls.

Apparently there might be some sort of Pagan Federation 'do on Saturday. Between being ill, being depressed and being hacked off at the world at large, I'm not sure I'm going to make it even if it does go ahead. However, I realise that a goodly portion of my stress and depression has to do with a very, very limited ability to get out and do anything. I know that going out will make me exhausted and queasy and in pain, but I am sick to death of being at home, trying to drag jobs out of agencies and doing as much cleaning as my substandard energy levels allow. It's frustrating. Bleh.

Seriously, though, I've missed everything in the last few months. I haven't been able to run a Mage session in weeks (though okay, there was the HIPPIE thing but that was out of necessity), I missed Beltane Bash, Dragonmeet, Feast of Fools and more pub meet-ups than I can count due to illness and I only ever seem to go out for Waitrose runs these days. And just cleaning up my side of the bedroom has reduced me to a state where I feel I can do little more than curl up in bed and go comatose for a couple of hours. I'm tired of missing things, I'm tired of being ill and I am sick to fucking death of being stuck at home.

Kinfolk

Nov. 9th, 2006 10:02 pm
thessalian: (weiiiiird)
Today's Something Positive references otakukin. If you can't be bothered to click either link, basically otakukin are people who believe firmly that they are the reincarnation of anime characters or video game characters who somehow ended up in this world from whatever parallel universe in which the actual characters exist.

[livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo reads S*P, and is familiar with the concept of otherkin. In fact, usually you can get a really good rant out of him if you mention otherkin to him when he's in the right mood. The first I knew of him finding that strip was him screaming, "NO! NO! TELL ME HE MADE THIS UP!" I explained that no, Milholland had not made that up, and then [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo Googled. Then he stared at the screen for a couple of minutes, looking like he wanted to laugh, cry or scream. When I pointed this out, he said, "Yes! All three! And I only have the one head!"

I hear typing in the other room. The rant has begun.
thessalian: (hoodoo)
I was browsing Amazon's pagan section (well, Other Religions / Earth-based Religions, actually). At first it was just to try to find the title of a book I own but don't want to have to dig around for, but then some interesting stuff caught my eye and I decided to add to my wish list while I was about it. Anyway, I hit "The Witch's Bible" by Janet and Stewart Farrar - do I know these people in a "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" kind of way? I suspect I do, but I am teh suxxors at names. Anyway, I was reading through the reviews and found the following comment:

I've been practising wicca for over a year now and had had my eye on this book for a while. Though when i got it all i can say is i was very disappointed! The content was what i didn't need because it was making the craft sound very serious. Plus me being a teenager the pictures in the book weren't for a person of my age! I knew clearly enough why the people in the pictures were that way but they should have some kind of warning to the content. I hardly think pictures of people skyclad (naked) should be put with no warning in a book.

If your a teenager and are looking at this book i suggest you wait a while until you are ready to set up a coven e.t.c because it is also very coven orientated.


The coven-oriented bit ... fair enough. I don't have a coven myself - not that I'm not interested in that, but I've no idea who (or rather, how) to ask and am happy enough in my solitary faith and practice for the time being in any case. One of these days I'm going to do an entry on exactly what the hell it is I believe and do just to get it straight in my own head, but I suppose the best way of putting it touches on the old White Wolf - 'polytheistic Chorister', or 'pantheistic polytheistic pagan with a touch of the Gnostic' for those of you not au fait with Mage - the belief in and worship in the One by acknowledgement and worship of (not to mention magics involving) the Many. Anyway, so the coven thing is fine. It's the rest of it that makes me lose all grip on the English language for a few minutes as I sit and either laugh or grind my teeth and make incomprehensible noises of rage.

So "it was making the craft sound very serious", was it? I fear and loathe in equal measure the people who read this stuff and say, "Oh, I don't like this, it's too serious". I mean, shit, I may not be a Wiccan per se (or an anything in particular, for that matter) but what I do, I take seriously. Oh, yes, I take some joy in it, because there's as little point to not taking joy in your faith and practice as there is in not taking it seriously. But I take it seriously all the same, because if I don't ... well, isn't that just dicking around with something that you don't understand and can't be bothered to learn about? Shit, that'd be like fart-arsing about with a grenade launcher with only a basic knowledge of firearms and not bothering to read the manual because "it was making armed assault sound very serious".

The worst part of this is that the reviewer claims to have been practicing Wicca for over a year. If she thinks that The Witch's Bible is too serious, I have the strong suspicion that she is practicing pretty much entirely out of stuff like Ravenwolf, Teen Witch and, lords bless and keep us, The Charmed Book of Love Spells. (Oddly enough, I had my character make a joke about this the last time I played in CbN; little did I know...) This is the kind of person that I want to shake and say, "Look, I may not be a Wiccan myself, but even I know that what you are supposedly practicing is not Wicca as Wicca is meant to be. What this makes you is a fluffy, part of the reason why pagans are almost never taken seriously, and generally making a mockery of someone's faith. It's idiotic, it's rude, and what you are doing is dangerous. Now fuck off and get some respect for the craft, you little twit." Or something to that effect, anyway.

I suppose it just depresses me whenever people twist a valid faith to suit their own ends and then get so loud about it that their twisted views become the public consensus view. Christians become 'Bible-thumping fundamentalist fascists' to a man. Muslims become 'fanatical terrorists-in-training'. And pagans become either 'Satan-worshipping freaks' or 'tree-hugging crystal-waving attention whores' ... or a combination thereof. I just wish the people who do this would just shut up for a moment, or at least that the people who actually have a sensible clue about their respective faiths would speak out a little louder. I know, that's not what reasonable people do - reasonable people don't feel a need to advertise their faith in this kind of way because they're comfortable with their faith and don't need to yell about it to get justification from the masses - but if it's a choice between that and being lumped in with, in my case, emo kids, fluffies and otherkin, I'm fully prepared to shout it from the rooftops:

I AM A PAGAN AND I ACTUALLY HAVE A CLUE!

Thank you, and have a nice day.
thessalian: (caffeine)
We got a phone call from the agency that got me this job. They asked to speak to Michael. The bit of the conversation I heard after that was essentially, "No, we're all fine here. No, settled in well. No, we really don't need anyone else right now." I think this means that I have 'improved' (read: got better at navigating Ham-Fisted Editor's bullshit) and I can keep my job. Good. We couldn't afford me being unemployed.

I went out shopping for more herbs yesterday. I haven't organised or even thought about how to use 'em yet, but I've got 'em. Whee. Incidentally, Golden Seal? A total bitch, thank you. Over £17 for 25g! Ack!

STILL NOT KING. Talon and I wound up amusing ourselves (due to extraordinary lack of RP opportunity, as still not king) by having our respective characters having something of a meta-bit of IM RP. It ended up with a pillow fight in which we were using our Gifts to cheat (both Garou). It basically went like this:

KARYN: I could so totally cheat.
GRACE: Yeah, I know. So could I.
KARYN: How?
GRACE: Persuasion. "Stand still a minute..." *tickle* *whump*
KARYN: ACK! Oof! *drops shroud* (which means to drop isolated bit of darkness to which the caster is immune on the scene) *whump*
GRACE: Ah. It's all gone--OOF! [[Mindspeak]] ...you dirty little cheat.

Which is why, I suppose, you don't get into a fight with a Garou. Any kind of fight. Particularly not with dizzy Galliard bimbos and Uktena Ahrouns who are learning how to do the fun goofball thing.
thessalian: (too cute)
Having read and reread the available characters at Hollow City, I realise that one cannot roll up a Sabbat character at this stage. Like, at all. So no Maklie with Dementate. Which is a pity, because I was thinking of a cross between Drusilla and the Scarecrow from Batman. Someone needs to run me a Sabbat game. I'll have to read through my Toreador book again. I'm sure I'll come up with something. The vamp threads move so much bloody faster (unless they're Elysium. Elysium just takes for-fucking-ever).

[Edit: Actually, Sabbat aren't banned. They're just restricted. I'm not sure if I can roll up a character that's going to kick enough arse to get around that restriction, though...]

However, there are things that make up for this. Big honking huge ones.

1) Payday is the 23rd ... or the first weekday before the 23rd. Which means that today is payday. Payday! Yay! My bank account is a radioactive chia pet once again! Of course, much of this money will be going towards a haircut and a new pair of shoes, but still, money!

2) I have plans tonight. Cinema-going plans. Date-movie plans. Silent Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiill!

*does the happydance and SQUEE!*

Okay. Now, Melpomene (Greek Muse of Tragedy, as would seem to be appropriate for a film of this type) grant that this is the two-odd hours of sheer glory and fear that the trailers seem to indicate, and not the unwatchable tripe that so many video game adaptations turn into. Let this be Resident Evil and more, and not ... I dunno, Doom. You and Thren seem to have worked on many projects together, Melpomene, and I couldn't take another disappointment like Hostel, so... Frankly, if this one kills my faith in horror entirely, Thren will come and kick your arse, so please? I know it's already made and everything, but there's no harm in a little internet prayer anyway. There's Pick n Mix sweeties in it for you...
thessalian: (rant)
Bright colours in Harry Potter are a Satanist plot!

Morons.

I have decided that, rather than just ranting blindly to an audience who, for the most part, agree with me that stupid of this variety should not be allowed to live, I would take the bullheaded by the horns and actually write a reply to these arseholes. Never mind the whole Satanism v Wiccan thing; never mind the short-sighted idiocy of a bunch of people who really believe that their children are going to be led down a path of evil by a series of books that is, at its foundation, all about morals and so forth. It's the very idea that bright colours are a tool of Satan that really, really gets to me. So here is my reply in its entirety.

I'd have started 'Dear Arseholes', but decided I would stay polite. )

All told, people will find any godsdamned reason to pillory that which they do not understand. The worst part about it was the apparent research they'd done on godform creation and so forth that they then deliberately perverted to make their case, and yet there's a true, wanton ignorance of their own stupid faith screaming its way out of that mess!

Well, it's either that or they're completely taking the piss. However, I don't have enough faith in humanity to be convinced that this is a hoax. Not to mention the merchandise, the donations page and the rest of it...
thessalian: (hoodoo)
Commentary on that pagan who was on Wife Swap last night. I mainly read this because I thought, "Oh, hey, when she says 'Janet and Gavin', does she mean the Janet and Gav that [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo talks about?" Janet Farrar, yep. This is probably the first time I've seen people I've heard of referenced by total strangers. Of course, context is also interesting, because it touches on a couple of worrying points that come up in pagan communities (in fact, in most any communities): charlatanism, infighting and interpretational issues.

Charlatanism: This Belladonna character, if this is right, sounds like some piece of work. The reason that Janet and Gavin came up in all of this is because this woman, eight months after asking for teachers, started announcing that they were 3rd degree Gardnerians, citing Janet as part of their lineage via a Mr DeMartins. Never mind the fact that going from seeker to 3rd degree in such a short time is pretty much unheard of. According to the OP (original poster), she asked around and Janet hadn't even heard of this DeMartins person. I'd personally like independent confirmation of that, but I don't think it's unheard of. As far as financial compensation goes ... there's a whole big debate on that going on in the Pentacle forums (which I currently can't access) and the general agreement seems to go that, in terms of acting as a guest speaker at a convention or what have you, charging's okay, but beyond that, not really. There was even minor debate on the issue of charging money for training, but I think that was in the case of things like herbalism or anything else truly specialist, but I don't remember at the minute. However, charging to let people into her Imbolc ritual? On the grounds of "I am using the money to build a new driveway so that more people can come by"? That's just not on. That's not what rituals are about, from what I can tell; they're about communion or achieving a goal or both, not about just being there and saying, "Wow, look at me being a witch!"

(I had a conversation about the purposes of ritual with [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo last night. Basically, the gist of what we said was "Sometimes you have a goal in mind, sometimes you're doing the ritual just to touch base with Deity and sometimes you're doing it as communion and celebration, but whether or not your ritual has a goal, it should have a purpose. You shouldn't just be doing it because it's something you ought to be doing, or because doing so makes you more of a pagan, or because someone told you to." Purposeless ritual, much like purposelessly pretty ritual tools, does not lend credibility to what you are doing. If asked, I'd suggest that, if you're being trained in a trad that is telling you to do a ritual but isn't telling you why, make your own purpose so it's not just a general waste of time.)

Interpretational issues: After the OP had her say, there was a surprising amount of disapproval from the rest of the community. Various people accused her of "violating the Rede". For those of you not in the know, the Rede is that "An ye harm none, do as you will" thing. Also for those of you not in the know, it and the Threefold Rule are not as ancient as people would have you believe (I think dating back to the 1980s), and are seen more as guidelines anyway. The interpretational issue here is probably on the word 'harm', though. Honestly, have these people never heard the one that goes "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me"? If you see bullshit, you have a duty to call 'bullshit' in whatever language suits you, lest a whole bunch of people be hurt (conned, badly trained or worse) by the perpetrator of the bullshit. Anyone who wants to hide behind the Rede to keep anyone from saying or doing something that offends them needs to remember that the world is a nasty place, that the Rede is a suggestion rather than a command, and (as someone in those comments quite eloquently said) Baba Yaga was described as having iron skin for a reason. You can't count on "An ye harm none" to prevent people from offending you. Deal with it. If more people ripped into more con artists and uberfluffs, the pagan community might get taken a bit more seriously, you know?

Infighting: "Infighting scares away the newbies!", comes the whimper. "No it bloody doesn't," say I. Yes, it scares away some people ... like, for instance, the fluffies who rely on the Rede to keep people from calling them on bullshit. It does not scare me. You want to know what would scare me? A lack of infighting. With so many different factions and trads, with charlatans, fluffies and high-and-mighty self-righteous types thrown under the same umbrella with the sensible, moderate pagans because the common man can't tell the difference, there has to be infighting. If there wasn't, I'd wonder what the hell cult I'd stumbled onto where no one's allowed an opinion. When it's a matter of faith or ritual, things are going to get heated because faith is a thing that matters to people and if you don't get emotional about what matters to you, you're just plain not human. I can deal with that, provided I'm allowed to join in when I have something to rant about, and I am, so that's okay. The only thing I find intimidating is the onslaught of names that results from the infighting, but that's passing. (I still never got it entirely clear about the Alexandrians and Gardnerians, except that it was a great big schism that wasn't really.) And incidentally, if you don't want infighting, don't perpetuate it by going onto someone's (entirely allowable) warning post on forum and bitch at them for violating Rede and LJ TOS, particularly when they're not doing either of those things.

Overall, I find I'm learning a whole lot about who I am and where I stand on this whole pagan thing, entirely because of the bullshit. I certainly know what I'm not looking for, and now all I have to do is find out how far I want to take what I am looking for. Of course, that would involve getting into a conversation that doesn't involve calling 'bullshit' on fluffies and con artists, which can be rather difficult ... but that's a rant for another day.
thessalian: (hoodoo)
Yesterday was ... well, yesterday was.

We pootled off to Holloway around about midday, got vaguely lost, but at least wound up outside the pub that [livejournal.com profile] l0stmarbles and his entourage (I can't think of a better word, really) had holed up, so stopping for lunch seemed an idea. So we did so, and wound up sitting off to the side a bit during the typical rampant rollicking conversation with me still bitching about the whole Tony Blair calls on God thing. Then we went to the convention.

I'm told that this is the first time that this particular event has been held, so it's probably not all that surprising that things seemed a bit ... limited. Don't get me wrong, but the lady who calls herself Scorch who does something called Pyrography had some really interesting stuff on offer (more's the pity, we didn't win the neat herb chopping board that she offered up for the raffle, but we can buy one at another point) and [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo bought a rather nice t-shirt and a nice bit of wall art for me - stuff about the rowan, the tree that apparently rules Aquarians, from the birthdates, and so technically me if you believe that sort of thing. I'm just chuffed when it's accurate. Also, there was a neat demonstration by a bunch calling themselves "The Hedgewitches' Kitchen" on how to make almond face scrub, which has reaffirmed my desire to start making my own soaps and things. Still, a vast number of the books on offer were pure wank, I was rather leery of some of the actual talks and I will never understand the point of having a "book of shadows" with all that silly shit stuck to the cover given that, if you're using it the way you're supposed to be using it - constant reference, revision and hard use generally - all the gemstones and silly bits are just going to fall right off within a week and a half. Give me a nice plain leatherbound thing where you can wipe off the oils, scrape off the candle wax and carry it around in case of inspiration. Also, they kicked out early to ensure that things were completely clear for the Gospel group that were giving the next bunch of talks and general convention stuff. From "Blessed Be" to Christian rappers in half an hour; it was kind of impressive.

Anyway, we gave up on that fairly quickly and sat in the pub for awhile, being eventually joined by [livejournal.com profile] l0stmarbles, Maria and a few others from the whole pagan set. We had a good time, though big bottles of cider, while looking really nifty, are too much for people who shouldn't be drinking at all. (I blame Maria; she was the one who encouraged me to pull a Marilyn...) At least I realised that it would be too much and shared the cider out with [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo. The talk ranged from theatre productions to costume balls to torturing staff at the Dungeons to mishaps at gigs to Sisters of Mercy and then just all over the place. Definitely entertaining, but I still wonder if there's ever going to be one of these things where I can actually talk to people about crafty stuff, exchange ideas and learn something. I'm also wondering where the people from the Pentacle forums that [livejournal.com profile] l0stmarbles said wanted to 'say hello' went, as I met almost no one yesterday. Sam I think I already knew, I only got Pete's name as he was leaving, I talked to Caroline briefly but only got her name by eavesdropping on the conversation she was having at the next table and the only person to whom I was properly introduced was Neil.

On the plus side, Neil had the Changeling source material that he and Michelle borrowed a year and a half ago. So week after next, Changeling is go! [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo has already come up with his character, and I know [livejournal.com profile] weaselbitch wants in, but still have no responses from the rest of you. [livejournal.com profile] lokean? [livejournal.com profile] neonchameleon? Hello?

Afterwards, we tried to go to the Japanese place at Finchley Central for dinner but it was packed out (a good sign) so we moved on to Two Brothers, a somewhat swanky fish restaurant. Very nice food, though; we must go back when it's less crowded. I swear, half the reason we go out to dinner is to get new ideas for our own cooking endeavours. (Admittedly, the other half involves being too tired or just plain not arsed to cook or wash up.)

So today, I will be playing Sims 2 and cooking duck for dinner. Also getting the last bit of rest I can before ... *sigh* ... work tomorrow. Bleh.
thessalian: (attack womb)
Blair asked God for guidance about Iraq war.

Okay, being cagy when he does it, but the fact remains that this country, like the US, has been dragged into an unprovoked religious crusade and it's not on. Democracy; not theocracy. And the worst part is the justifications being given by various other political bods.

I know Blair's not going for re-election -- he says. However, to say that this is not important because he's not going for re-election? Well, I call bullshit. When Bush said "God told me to go to Iraq", the American people should have had him locked up, because, quite frankly, when most people claim to hear voices telling them, in essence, to kill and kill and kill again, they are stuck in facilities, restrained and heavily medicated. But the American people keep letting the monkey run their country and now Blair has decided that, if it works for Bush, why can't it work for him? He's been pretty good about leaving religion out of his campaign, or at least he was during the Clinton administration, but now... Ugh.

I've heard some shitty things about the war in Iraq. I've heard how Bush and Blair were talking about flying a spyplane marked with UN colours over Iraq in the hopes that their army would fire and draw the UN into war (the story of which, of course, died a rather typical death due to the 30-minute attention span of most newspaper readers). I heard Blair's pathetic whimpers after the London protest march in which something like a million people participated. I've heard pretty much every lie and excuse Bush came up with before he admitted that God told him to go to war with Iraq. And now Blair's following suit.

What really pisses me off is that it puts the concept of worship and belief in such a horrible light. To use faith, particularly a faith of peace, as an excuse for war is ... well, inexcusable. Someone points out that going to war isn't very Christian. Even if you're a Bible-thumping fanatic who only takes the Old Testament into account, please see the bit about "An eye for an eye". Okay, it also said, "If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out", but what happened to the New Testament forgiving, loving God who sent His only Son to die on the cross for our sins? (Which I don't get anyway, because surely we're all God's children, but never mind.) If Bush (and, later, Blair) claim that God told them, "Yes, you are right to want to make war on these people", surely He in His all-knowing state as, well, Almighty, considered inspiring them as to where the proof was that such an act was right?

Then again, maybe God did tell them to do it. Maybe Deity sat down and thought, "These guys are doing major harm, but I'm kind of bored of smiting. I'll tell them to go do something stupid and get them impeached. COYOTE! Got a job for ya!" And now Deity is sitting there and going, "I know you all have free will and stuff, but come on! Would you impeach these yutzes already?"

That thought gives me the warm fuzzies.
thessalian: (contemplative)
And finally, the next Sims 2 expansion pack (Open for Business) comes out on Friday. I have been looking forward to this one but of course, being me, I haven't been paying the remotest bit of attention so it's come as a bit of a surprise. If I didn't check Mod the Sims 2 so often, I might not have known about it at all until next time I was in GAME or something.

Now, of course, this makes me think about my budget and the need to make Spending Guilt as painless as humanly possible. I am mindful of the things I need to replace, mostly in the field of essential oils. Patchouli and marjoram, mainly; I used those up (except for some Boots crap patchouli I bought when I was a little less choosy about where my oils came from) making a bottle of oils for [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo's preferred bath foam mix. I've kind of given up on the sandalwood, because no one seems to have much at the minute and apparently [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo got evils when he asked for it at Neal's Yard the once. As for Watkins, which is where I prefer to buy my oils, the spot for sandalwood is just empty and I'm kind of afraid to ask - at this point, I'm considering getting a lump of sandalwood for burning (they do sell it there) and trying to make my own. I'm not much of a fan (actually, I'm not much of a fan of patchouli either) but [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo likes it.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that there are expenses, and those expenses will make Spending Guilt an issue, particularly when I'm being gouged by Transport for London on a monthly basis. So Sim City is going to have to go on the "to be purchased next payday" list, along with more memory for the Frankenbox and another iTunes music card. At least there's a plan. Plans are good. Plans make Spending Guilt less of an issue.

I wish it were out RightNowThisMinute, though; I'm so bored. Still ill and tired and achy (but less achy), though. Then again, if I'm still feeling crappy and unable to attend [livejournal.com profile] l0stmarbles' anniversary do on Friday night, I'll have something to keep me company while everybody parties without me. Then again, I'm a little trepidatious about the anniversary do, mainly because since I'm on antibiotics, I can't drink, and it's always distressing to me when the occasion contains drinking and I can't indulge. (I don't mind if it's because I don't want to, but not being able to sucks rocks.)

However, come hell or high water, I'm going to the Saturday Pagan con thing. Well, not literally, but you know what I mean.

Oh, Canada

Feb. 25th, 2006 06:49 pm
thessalian: (inspired)
Managed to drag myself as far as Covent Garden on my errands. [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo said that we were all in dire need of comfort snack-food, and I heartily concurred. So I made the Canada Store my first stop.

Can I just say that Covent Garden is packed to the gills with nothing but rude fuckers? I got shoved repeatedly on my way to the lifts coming out of the station, one person cut in front of me immediately before I hit the barriers, and then it was nothing but tourists standing around talking about inane crap on public thoroughfares, groups of people milling around and not paying attention to where they were going to the extend that they shoved me right off the pavement into oncoming traffic, and generally being utter and complete pains in the arse. What is it about so many people on holiday that they feel like they absolve themselves of all responsibility the minute they get off the fucking plane?

Anyway. Went to the Canada Store, or rather, the Canada Shelves in the Colonies Store (it contains bits from Australia and New Zeland as well) for snackie things. Super Nibs (the cherry-flavour plastic, as [livejournal.com profile] corone used to call it), Chewy Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies, maple & brown sugar oatmeal (another of my great comfort-when-ill foods), Orville Redenbacher microwave popcorn, two Coffee Crisp bars (one each for me and [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo), some Montreal Steak Spice and a can of A&W root beer for me. Next time I go, I'm getting pickles. There was just a lot to carry. A lot of it will be game-snacks, but if we're watching anything I'm vaguely interested in tonight, I will pop myself some microwave popcorn, add melted butter and some salt, and happily munch away at that. (I miss American cinema popcorn.)

Then to Neal's Yard, where I made my purchases (a few amber glass jars and BaseLine shampoo and conditioner) and nearly got trampled. Then off to Watkins', where I got grapefruit, chamomile and tea tree essential oils to continue my wild and aromatic experiments. Then I was really overtired and hacked off with the whole thing so I came home.

We watched the last disc of Eva when [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo came back from lunch with [livejournal.com profile] weaselbitch. I warned him that it was not to be watched when the brain was foggy and unwilling to be strained. I did warn him, but he insisted. Anyway, that was fun and now there'll be dinner and such. I suppose I should take the time while [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo is cooking to mix up various of my soap, shampoo and conditioner concoctions. No rest for the weary.
thessalian: (hoodoo)
I have ganked a new icon. I like my new icon. It seems to fit generally.
thessalian: (need a hug)
Tomorrow is all for me. [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo is taking a couple of days in York, coming back Thursday night so that, if things with Mum completely implode during our pre-birthday dinner, he will be on-hand with hugs and things.

I would not normally expect things with Mum to completely implode, but Thursday's kind of a big deal because I will likely wind up telling my mother that I'm a pagan. This is sort of a preparatory move, as some day in the not-all-that-distant future, I hope to marry [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo. General agreement is that we do the legalities at a registry office with no real fanfare, then do the handfasting thing. Problem there is that my mother has no idea that I'm a pagan. In fact, last time I talked to her, she kept insisting that I'm a Christian, even though, hello, not. Not that there's anything wrong with Christianity as a concept, and I'm not going to make light of the faith as a whole, but I'm just ... not one. I don't believe that Jesus was the son of God, which as far as I can see is the primary difference between Christianity and Judaism (you know, New Testament stuff). I don't believe that the Bible has any basis in fact whatsoever, much less is the "Word of God" -- allegory, people; look it up. I don't believe in hell, Leviticus makes me want to vomit, I can't believe any perfect, loving God would send people to hell for all eternity for loving a member of their own gender in a sexual way, and in general, I'm just ... not a Christian. My faith lies in other directions, is all. No big deal. I believe in many gods to reflect the diversity in the world, I believe in an infinite, I believe in life after death that doesn't involve condemnation and judgement, I believe in worship and appreciation of life. That sounds pretty pagan to me.

But Mum doesn't know that. And it seems unreasonable to let her find out about my faith when I invite her to a handfasting instead of a wedding. It seems unfair to announce my faith that way. And so I feel obliged to tell her beforehand. The problem is that my mother refuses to believe anything that doesn't fit in with her views sometimes. She wouldn't believe me when I said I wasn't a Christian; I was raised Christian and I was baptised, therefore I am a Christian as far as she's concerned. Never mind that I was a babe in arms when I was baptised and that only happened because it was the 'done thing' in Quebec, a holdover from the time when the entire province was pretty much Catholic and it was illegal to not be baptised. Never mind the fact that I got put off Christianity for life by that fucking Anglican summer camp where exorcism was deemed to be the solution to hyperactivity and one of the substitute counsellors insisted that some of the girls in my tent were going to hell because they didn't speak English. Never mind that the one church service I've been to in the last two decades creeped me out beyond belief because I can't get past the associations and because the entire thing was all about "Let go and let God" and how He will get you through the tough times (instead of 'God helps those who help themselves', which I'd have preferred). Despite all of that, I'm apparently still a Christian. This from the woman who lost her faith in Catholicism because she couldn't imagine a loving God condemning 'heathens' in remote villages to hell just because the missionaries hadn't found their villages yet.

The problem is, if I do this, there's going to be a fight, I'm almost sure. Mum will say, "But you're a Christian" and I'm going to say, "I've told you this before; I'm not" and then there will be the whole "Don't these people believe in magic?" deal and ... well, I came out of an institution five years ago. Mum always said, and had other people say, that I "lived in a fantasy world" during my childhood and teens (and frankly, I'm not surprised; my childhood sucked rocks and if I preferred books and stories to the kids and adults who screwed me over on a regular basis, I think that's pretty normal, all things considered, and it doesn't seem to have done me any harm). I tell her that I follow a faith that believes in magic and I'm automatically back where I started and it will disappoint her so fucking badly. Plus, you know, the "mother thinking I'm insane" factor really doesn't help any. All told, it's a recipe for disaster, on the day before my birthday, and after that thing four years ago when she ripped into me about manners because I didn't want to take public transport with her and my stepfather after our dinner-and-a-movie outing, I don't think our relationship could take it.

I don't want to do this. I don't want to tell her. But I don't want to hide it either. It's an important part of my life, and I don't want to lie about it, or just stay silent to make life easier. It's not my way. But there is the option of just carrying on as normal, not making a big announcement, and letting her know when the time comes for me to announce a handfasting.

So I'm asking for advice from my lovely friends. Stay silent and let her find out the hard way, or make the announcement and hope she deals with it in a mature manner?

I just wish it didn't have to be so hard. But I suppose it gives me an excuse to use my new "I need a hug" icon.
thessalian: (big damn heroes)
New icon. Yay!

Beyond that, I have done nothing today. A major headache put the kibosh on any real activity. Though I did throw together a shampoo for [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo, as he was kind enough to go shopping for my herb stuff while he was on his wander. So now I have new geranium oil, replacements for my bergamot, valerian and marjoram oils (though of course, he gets most of the benefit from those), bases for shower gel / bath bubbles, shampoo and conditioner, some mixing bottles for said products and some marshmallow root. We can't find Lady's Slipper anywhere, and sandalwood oil seems to be verboten at the moment. Arse. I don't want to deplete sandalwood forests or anything, and I can honestly live without sandalwood oil, but [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo likes it so...

Anyway, I am listening to Resident Evil 4 major boss battle in the background, and I'm probably going to go and do Sims 2 architecture now. That or mix myself some shampoo and conditioner and take a shower ... then do Sims 2 architecture. I want to build a hedge maze.
thessalian: (Default)
Shopping kind of a day. I still couldn't find Culpeper's Complete Herbal anywhere, but I got this great book ("Holistic Herbal" by David Hoffman) that will definitely do for the time being. It's got everything from treatments by body system (musculo-skeletal, nervous, digestive etc), pointers on gathering and preparation and a whole bunch of chemistry info as well as the list of herbs and their uses. I also got "Cunningham's Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs", mostly because I'm interested in the correlaries between the magical and medical uses for the herbs. Between that and some of the other books floating around the house, I should have a pretty good basis, and I've already come up with something that works well on [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo's insomnia. I have a ways to go before I'm fully equipped, though -- for one thing, storage of the 32 different types of herbs I've got in the house at the minute is a bit of a bitch. Need little jars. Lots and lots of little jars, preferably the amber glass ones. Well, Neal's Yard does mail order and for big orders like that, it's probably the only way. Plus there's a buttload of herbs I still need before I consider my stocks complete, and I want to pick up some bases for shampoo, conditioner, ointment and so on.

I contented myself with glycerine and three small amber jars today. I figure, since glycerine is a soap base, it can be used externally, and the fact that women used to use glycerine and rosewater as a skin softener means that it soaks into the skin quite well, so I'm going to try using that as a basis for some of the anti-inflammatory rubs I'm planning. I'll be picking up some ointment base for the same purpose, but for now I want something that goes deep. Look, I'm 29 in just under two weeks; I should not have arthritis. But since I obviously do, I would like not to have quite so much pain, please. Plus it would work well on [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo's circulation and I know a few other people who have muscle and joint problems. Spread the healing hoodoo, I say.

Mage tomorrow. No [livejournal.com profile] peter_grafton journal entry yet. Bollocks. Plus [livejournal.com profile] nadriel has to leave early tomorrow. Good thing his character has his own mode of transport and a bunch of colleagues camping out in town. That should write him out early with good effect, if they can time things right. Hopefully I can, given which way the plot's going. It should take them three-odd hours of game time to raid a Technocrat stronghold, right?
thessalian: (snarly)
My work e-mail is wonked. My work e-mail has been wonked all day. It keeps throwing up error messages for no. Damn. Reason. Rrrrrrrrgh.

Not that lunch break was much better, mind you. Running around Covent Garden during lunch is not exactly advisable. Never mind the charity muggers and the Big Issue salespeople shouting in your ear (literally); my main problem is with the bloody tourists. I don't mind tourists as a general rule, but, as I think I've said before, I hate the fact that they seem to think that the fact that they're on vacation absolves them of anything remotely resembling common courtesy. They amble along at a snail's pace, taking up the entire pavement, utterly oblivious to the fact that there are people who have jobs to get to or a lunch break frittering away to nothing with each passing moment walking right behind them, desperately wishing they could speed up and / or get past you. Or worse, they stand slap bang in the middle of the pavement and unfold a huge map, then stand there and gawk at the street signs and then peer myopically at their maps again. Lather, rinse, repeat for about ten minutes. [livejournal.com profile] leopard_lady calls them "meanderthals". I call them an obnoxious pain in the arse. Tom-ay-to, tom-ah-toe...

On the other hand, I did get to Neal's Yard in the end. I felt sorry for the lady who was getting me the herbs; there were about a dozen herbs on my list and it took ages to get it all weighed out. She was very nice, though, and took pains to make me feel like I wasn't imposing or anything. I think I will probably become a fairly regular customer over there, given the good service, the good selection and the relative convenience. I mean, okay, I had to chase down a bus to get back to work even remotely on time this afternoon, but that's only because of a side trip I had to make to the bank. Without that, I'd have been fine for time. Getting to Watkins from work on time might be pushing it a bit (though not if I take the Tube, possibly), but Neal's Yard is doable.

The focus of today's shopping excursion was threefold -- remedies for insomnia, headaches and digestive upsets. Therefore, mostly teas and infusions for internal use. I also picked up a couple of mixing bottles and a bottle of base bath and shower gel, which can also be used as a bath foam. Next time I go (probably within the next couple of days), I will pick up some of the other bases they had on offer (shampoo, conditioner, lotion, ointment) and a few more mixing bottles and do some work on home cosmetics. I'll probably pick up some herbs for rheumatism and muscle spasms as well -- start work on salves and poultices -- but I want to do some further reading on that. Mastering Herbalism is all very well, but it's not as comprehensive on remedies as I'd like. I'm thinking I should pick up Culpeper's Complete Herbal and / or The Practical Handbook of Plant Alchemy. Foyles and Blackwell's should still be open by the time I get out of work. The question is, can I really be bothered to go all the way out there, given that there is now moderate neck and back pain?

Time will tell.
thessalian: (defensive)
I must look eminently approachable. It's the only explanation I can think of for some of the events of the last couple of days.

First of all, the bus to Covent Garden over lunch break yesterday. Not only was there little old lady in the funny hat running her fingers over the embroidery on the satin panel on my skirt (and, consequently, over my knee as well), there was the little old lady with the big glasses who patted my hand as a thanks-and-fare-thee-well when I gave her directions to Holborn station. I don't know if it was different in their day or if it's just me, but ... strangers with the touching ... no, no, no. It's hard enough to keep a bubble of personal space intact in this city without random old ladies doing the laying on of hands routine. I think I handled it well ... at any rate, I wasn't rude. I probably would have been, though, if the people doing the touching had been male and / or under seventy.

This morning, however, was a whole different matter. Nobody actually presumed to touch me in any way, but ... well, look, do you ask random people in fast-food restaurants for medical advice?

To explain: I'm going off to Neal's Yard over lunch so I can spend obscene amounts of money on herbs and suchlike as weapons in my ongoing war with migraine, digestive upsets, insomnia and all the other health problems that proliferate at Sourcebook Central 2.0. Unlike yesterday, I came prepared, and spent the commute alternating between Mastering Herbalism: a Practical Guide and the Neal's Yard catalogue, so I know what I need to get and what I can expect to be spending. Over the bus and Tube journeys, this was fine, but I was dreadfully hungry when I got out of the Tube station and didn't have time for my usual faff-fest at the Sainsburys Local down the road, so I figured to pick up something at the local McGreaseball (hash browns are at least edible; there's not much you can do to fuck up frozen hashed potato patties). In the queue, there was a man waiting for his breakfast sandwich to be prepared and when I got up to the front, he asked (in a broad Glasgow accent) if I wanted to trade a fiver for his five pound coins. As I know many people who don't like carting around shrapnel, I said fine and made the swap. This is all fine and normal, and something about which you can approach a stranger in a fast-food restaurant. This is fine.

As the counter lady is bagging my hash browns, however, Mr Glasgow notices my book. He then proceeds to tell me that he's about to have a thyroid operation and asked what sorts of things he could do herbally to help, with particular emphasis on dealing with the incision (antiseptic and scar minimisation, I can only assume).

...Muh? I'm in a fast-food restaurant, where it is safe to assume that I want to be gone in the minimum amount of time possible. I happen to be carrying around a book on herbalism, yes, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'm any good at it. In short, I am not about to pull a herbal remedy out of my arse on no information, or stand around talking symptoms and browsing through my book, when I need to get to the job that pays me. I basically told him to go to Neal's Yard or somewhere similar and ask them for advice. Then I scrammed with all due alacrity.

I must give off vibes.

Two more things:

1) No Fading Suns yesterday. Horrible moods. Horrible.

2) "Kittens...too cute...strength...failing....KAHN!!!!!!!"
thessalian: (defensive)
I meant to go out and get some herbs and such at Neal's Yard, but of course, this was one of my spontaneous whims and I didn't bring my herbal with me, so I thought I'd pick up another herbal -- something a little more comprehensive on the infusions / tea side -- and some herbs as I went. But first, I decided, I'd go to Forbidden Planet and pick up Battle Royale 14. Wouldn't take five minutes, I figured, and then I'd probably have time to find a new herbal and some herbs etc and still be able to grab lunch and be back to work on time.

Not really, no. First of all, when I got to FP, they seemed to only have Battle Royale as far as 10. Suckage. However, they did have Walking Dead 4 and, as I found when I decided, "Hell, worth a look", Rising Stars 3. I knew [livejournal.com profile] dodgyhoodoo was waiting relatively patiently (with outbursts of "MUH!") for Rising Stars' finale, and he was saying just the other day how he'd looked for Walking Dead 4 at Gosh and not found it, and he's not in a great mood today so I thought I'd pick them up. I'm about 2/3 of the way through Rising Stars now; being able to read while walking and still not walk into people / lamp posts / cars / street detritus is a bonus.

Anyway, stopped by Mysteries to try to find a good book on herbs. Not really; apparently the one I picked up a month or so ago was the last of the halfway non-silly herbals they had. All the rest was basically "Ode To Tree By Fluffy Wicca" and homeopathy, which sounds to me like the placebo effect plus squat all. I much prefer Watkins, when all's said and done. At least their stupid Fluffy Wicca or Ol' Black Magic stuff is interspersed by stuff that might actually make sense. Mysteries, on the other hand ... I mean, come on -- "Teen Witch"? Feh on the lot of it.

Of course, by the time I was done trying to rake gold out of the muck in Mysteries, time had got away from me and I just about had time to scoff lunch and only be a few minutes late back to work. And this is despite never having to wait more than two minutes for a bus either way. *sigh* I think there's just not enough time in a lunch hour to get anywhere with actual stuff in it and get anything done. Feh.

And a note to a total stranger:

Dear little old lady in the funny hat,

Do. Not. Touch. Me. I don't care if you did embroidery at school. Stroking the embroidered satin inlay on the part of my skirt stretched across my right knee is not on. It's called personal space; look it up.

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July 2012

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