Sunday, September 30, 2012

Casting with Feri Fire

The first blog today will be the one I intended to write yesterday. I have this excellent book called Evolutionary Witchcraft, written by T Thorn Coyle, a Reclaiming and Feri practitioner, that I've adopted some of my regular spiritual practice from. I want to work more on some of the exercises in the book, so my idea is to do some of the writing exercises from each chapter here on my blog. I'm going to be as open and honest and possible here. It is not my intent to offend anyone. The purpose of doing these exercises here is to continue the idea of writing often to overcome my fear that writing and doing things that are important to me is a waste of time.

The first chapter is called The Sacred Sphere: Casting with Feri Fire. It deals with opening to the energies unique to the Feri Tradition and some ritual basics that are familiar to many Pagans, grounding and centering, and casting a circle.

This exercise is called Finding your Feyness. Exact text of the exercise from T. Thorn Coyle's book is given in italics.

Divide a piece of paper into three sections and begin to answer the following questions, one for each section. What in your life makes you feel "different"? What fears keep you from cultivating the sense of walking "in-between" What changes would you make in your life to cultivate the fey point of view - to dance, to dream, to stand tall, to have deep knowing? Make a list of all these things in your three sections. Check back with them in a few months. Are you answers different, or the same?

I think that last portion of the exercise is the most important. Checking back in, seeing what still holds true, which things are still holding you back. Maybe after facing one fear, another takes its place. Spiritual work is not completed in a few weeks or months, it is the work of your lifetime

Section 1 - What in my life makes me feel "different"?

Being intelligent, thinking about things in a way other friends and family don't. For example, I find it fascinating the word methelglin derives from the Welsh word meddyglyn. The Welsh for mead is medd and the word "metheglin" is from a compound of meddyg, "healing" + llyn, "liquor." My family cares about the taste and the alcohol content. And they think beer is better anyway. (specific details here from Wikipedia article)

Section 2 - What fears keep you from cultivating the sense of walking in-between?

I'm afraid of being thought crazy if I spend too much time in the "magical" world. I don't want to lose touch with reality. I want to know that my choices are responsible for what's happening to me, not outside "occult" forces. At the same time, I fear separation from my friends who do walk more in that world, because I find myself judging them as nuts when they look for magical solutions before practical ones. At the same time, I'm envious of their freedom from the mundane, 9 to 5 working world I live in most of the time.

Section 3 - What changes would you make in your life to cultivate the fey point of view - to dance, to dream, to stand tall, to have deep knowing?

The magic I do believe in is the magic of action. You can light green candles all day long, but if you don't send out some resumes and make some calls, you'll never find a new job. You can tie up rose petals in pink sachets all you want, but if you never go out on a date, you won't find love. Action in accordance with will is what makes change. To cultivate a more fey point of view, I need to not be afraid of the weirdness as long as I know I am acting in accord with my own wishes and needs. For a long time, I put my needs before my wishes. When I ignore my wishes, I'm ignoring my own feyness. In Feri/Reclaiming terms, I'm ignoring my Sticky One/Younger Self, which is the part of the spirit that lives closest to the space between the worlds. This part of me doesn't deal with practical needs (money to put food on the table, a roof over my head, a car to get me to work to keep getting the money I need to put food on the table, etc.) It deals with the needs of my heart and soul, the need for bright colors, good smells, cake, dancing and singing.

So my challenges from this exercise are to eat more cake, and create magical symbols of the things I am working to bring into my life.

2 for the price of one!

I know, I didn't get a blog up yesterday. It was a busy day. I went to Zumba, we took Amoonda to get her nails clipped, then we hung out with Tim's brother and sister-in-law and went to dinner. So today there will be two blogs, and I think that more than makes up for it, don't you?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Why I really can't call myself Wiccan anymore

This has been a long time coming really. I haven't attended a Wiccan ritual since 2 Beltanes ago at Brighidshaven in Erie PA. And I mostly went there to see Grey and Leo. I still find the rituals of Wicca comforting, enlightening and beautiful. I am still moved by those rituals. But I've never truly belonged to it. I think other Wiccans wouldn't consider me a Wiccan. I'm not part of a family tradition, I've never been initiated in to a coven. I don't feel any pull to do that either. Calling myself Wiccan now feels like putting on a shirt that is just too small.

My spirit is equally fed by the ADF rituals I've attended with Snow Water Grove (Long live the Tradition!), the lay-led groups I attend at the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, and the Sunday Services at the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg. In fact, UCH is the first church I have ever made a decision to belong to. I love belonging to their community. I feel truly welcomed and appreciated there. The principles and history of Unitarian Universalism are completely in alignment with beliefs I've held literally all my life.

Seven Principles (from

The inherent worth and dignity of every person;

Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;

Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;

A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;

The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;

The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

So I would say that I am a Unitarian Universalist, with distinct Pagan leanings. I still love the God and Goddess, but I see them as one facet of a universal truth, that I can only hope to understand one piece of in this lifetime.

Links to organizations/groups listed in this article:

Unitarian Church of Harrisburg
Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (ADF)
Snow Water Grove

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Restaurant Review - Aroogas

My boyfriend and I have been going to the Arooga's location at the corner of Colonial and Linglestown Roads since the start of last football season. It's a great place to watch a game and hang out with friends. We've always had good interactions with the wait staff, and we've always enjoyed the food.

Arooga's is a sports bar. Their menu staple is definitely wings, but don't think you won't like it if you aren't into wings. Their menu is 8 full pages of appetizers, sandwiches, subs, wraps, pasta, flat-bread pizza, stromboli, etc. etc. Tim and I have tried most of the appetizers, the wings, and many of the sandwiches and other entrees. I have yet to try everything on the menu.

Of the appetizers, the Aroogas Baseball Bats are my favorite. They are warm soft pretzel-like breadsticks. You get honey mustard or cheese to dip them in. They go perfectly with a nice Yuengling Draft. Another favorite there is the boneless wings. The appetizer sampler plates are great for sharing.

The service is excellent. Tim and I regular spend 3-4 hours there on a game day, and the staff never gives us grief about hanging out long after our food is gone. They come back to check on us just enough so that our drinks aren't empty, and that we can order more food if we are feeling a bit peckish around halftime.

The only things I haven't been 100% thrilled with there are the lack of beer selections (Nothing from the local microbreweries) and the fried macaroni and cheese balls (the mac and cheese was dry, and I consider myself a connoisseur)

So if you are traveling in the Harrisburg area and you think you have to miss the Steelers, don't despair. You can come to Arooga's with Tim and I. We'll likely be in a booth on the left side of the room with the big screen.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why I like, no LOVE, Zumba!

Zumba, according to wikipedia "is a Colombian dance fitness program created by dancer and choreographer Alberto "Beto" Perez during the 1990s. Zumba involves dance and aerobic elements. Zumba's choreography incorporates hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts, and some Bollywood and belly dance moves"

I've been going to Zumba about once a week for a month or so now. I've always loved dancing, but now that I'm a little more mature (cough *old* cough) I don't like going out to bars and having to deal with cigarette smoke, crowds, and music that is way louder than it needs to be. At Zumba, I get to dance with other women, listen to fun music and burn calories. There's no bar stench and no nasty men trying to rub all over me when I'm shimmying and shaking.

Zumba is also an equal opportunity exercise. At my class at the Gold's Gym in Linglestown, there is no judgement in that room. Women (and occasionally men) of all ages, sizes and colors, are moving however they can and having an awesome time. Some of the instructors will have people from class get up on stage with them to dance, if you feel comfortable and know the moves. That gives me a goal to shoot for, makes me want to go to more classes so I know the songs and the steps.

I've never had a workout where I finish with great big smile on my face. I've done latin dance and bellydance DVDs at home and it's pretty good. But there's something about being in a room with other people, and having it change up from week to week, that makes it pure, sweaty fun.

So if there's a Zumba class in your area, or at your gym, I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Empathy is defined as "The ability to understand and share the feelings of another." To me it means to feel what another person is feeling, sometimes whether we want to or not. Many times it's a good thing. I came up with this topic because I received good news about a friend I haven't seen a in a long time. I felt happy and excited for him, and at the same time, I feel the sadness of the people he's leaving behind. Then just a few moments later, Facebook reminded me that it's the birthday of a friend who passed away a few years ago. (This week is also the anniversary of his death) And for a moment I felt my grief from when he died, along with an echo of his wife's grief. Empathy is a way I understand how much people have affected the world around them. For people to still be posting "Happy Birthday, I miss you" on my friend's Facebook Wall tells me something about what lasts and what makes a difference - to paraphrase Whitney Houston, "It's so emotional, baby."

Empathy is tied up with memory for me. I can remember when I felt a certain way, and bring it back to the surface. It helps me clear up old issues, or be able to deeply listen to a friend who's suffering. Sometimes I feel that by listening and feeling what they feel, I am sharing their emotional load, which at that moment is the biggest help I can offer. I feel really rewarded by those occasions.

I've also completely lost my ability to empathize at times. When my own heart was damaged and broken, I couldn't feel anything for any of my friends. I couldn't help myself, so there was no way I could help them.

I think empathy is one of the most valuable and yet undervalued human abilities. And it's one that I'm proud to have.

Finger on the pulse, that's me

This isn't today's actual blog, I just wanted to say that I think it's very interesting that while I was posting yesterday's blog, this debacle was going on in Seattle.

Goodell to Blame for Referee Debacle

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Replacements

No, not the movie with Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman. I'm talking about the NFL replacement referees who've been officiating every game since pre-season. The ones who I think are doing the best they can, but just don't have the experience and the knowledge to be a voice of authority on the football field. They come from leagues where the rules are different, or more lax. (Division III college football, Arena Football, High School and even the Lingerie Football League) When they do make a call, they sound as wishy-washy as Charlie Brown. The longer this situation continues, the worse it seems to get. Week 3 was the worst yet. My concern is that if this isn't resolved soon, anything that is accomplished during the 2012-2013 season will always be called into question, or have an asterisk beside it, if you will, because of the replacement referees.

To provide some background on this situation, the agreement between the Referee's Association and the NFL expired during the off-season. There are 4 major points of negotiation that need resolved. The first is compensation, the NFLRA is asking for twice as large of an increase to what the NFL offered. The second is that the NFL wants to eliminate the existing pension plan and offer the refs an employee-contributed plan like a 401K. The third is bringing on some full-time positions to help oversee enforcement of policies. And the last is adding more crews of referees, which would result in less games (and hence fewer paychecks) per ref per season. The largest point of contention seems to be the pension plans. All of the current referees were hired with the promise of significant pension plans upon retirement and have planned for their golden years based on that promise.

After watching the games Sunday, it was apparent that the replacement referees have no control over the game. Many calls were overturned, games ran long, and players are getting hurt. The players and the fans need to demand that the referees and the NFL work out an agreement so they can get back to work, the players can get back to playing football, and I can get back to enjoying football.


NFL Football Post
The American Prospect

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

Today was a good day.. I could write about any number of the events of the day. There was an interesting and thought-provoking guest speaker at church this morning. I gave blood for Central PA Blood Bank at a blood drive at my gym. Tim and I had lunch with friends at one of our favorite Sunday places, Arooga's. And we watched football out at his folk's place tonight. I do want to keep this brief though, as I still have last night's Doctor Who to watch.

So, briefly, a haiku about my cat -

Fluffy Amoonda
Likes tuna and belly rubs
Sweet purring happy

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Clover Lane Coffee House Review

The Unitarian Church of Harrisburg puts on a Coffee House Night on the 3rd Friday of each month. They get some interesting and eclectic acts, some local and some from all around the US. From the UCH website:

Each month offers a different type of entertainment, including blues, folk, dance, and a few surprises. Admission is $10, and shows typically start at 7:30 pm.

Last night, Tim and I went to see folk singer Cary Cooper at Clover Lane Coffee House. Opening for Cary were her band mates Brad Yoder and Jason Rafalak.

This was Brad Yoder's second appearance at Clover Lane. His last performance was 6 or 7 or 8 years ago depending on who you asked last night. Brad was introduced as "the king of the Pittsburgh coffee house scene" and it was easy to see why. He and Jason are both very talented musicians. Between the two of them they played guitar, soprano saxophone, xylophone, mandolin, ukelele and guitar in the course of the evening. Brad also has a unique voice, both vocally and for songwriting. He performed a song titled Lite Brite, which was written for a songwriting contest where you had to talk about a toy you played with as as child (and got bonus points if you could work in monkeys). Another highlight of his set was WWJD? My favorite line from the song was "So if you wonder, “what would Jesus do?”/he’d probably mess it all up just like you/it’s just he’d do it with a lot more love…" My favorite song of Brad's was also what determined which of his CD's I decided to purchase, since it's the title track from that album. The song is called Excellent Trouble. My interpretation is that it's about being yourself regardless of what the world tries to make you be. If that gets you in trouble, then that's excellent trouble to be in.

Cary Cooper was delightful, she reminded me of all the great female artists I listened to in my college radio days. She has a sweet, breathy voice that reminded me of Lisa Loeb. She's a wonderful song writer, mixing clever phrases and also sharing real emotions and thoughts. The most memorable song of the evening for me is called "Suzanne." It's a story about a wife and a mother who runs off to join the circus for a year. What it's really about is the choices we make and the dreams we give up to have other dreams. "You can't have everything, everything, everything/no you can't, you can't have everything, everything, everything/can you Suzanne" I also liked the song Jimmy Stewart, as I identified with watching old romantic movies with family and getting some interesting ideas about how relationships work. Many of Cary's songs are upbeat and light-hearted, but the lyrics are actually saying something, usually "Be yourself and enjoy every minute of your life because it is a gift." When she sang songs she had written for her daughters, I don't think there was a mother or a daughter in the room who had dry eyes. Her song "Pretty Girls (Have Pretty Voices)" struck a very personal chord with me as it's about changing yourself to meet someone else's expectations.

Most of the songs Cary played were from her album Pink Umbrella. She also sang a song called Charlie Brown which she wrote for the Real Women Real Songs project she is participating in with many of her songwriting friends. I love this idea, as it's similar to what I'm trying to do for myself with this blog. It's like Jonathan Coulton's Thing A Week project, but with a lot more song writers, and all of them female.

Both Cary and Brad spoke easily and with humor to the small audience about their inspiration for different songs making the whole evening a relaxing and entertaining experience. I'd definitely go to see them again, either together or separately.

You can check out their websites here:
Brad Yoder
Cary Cooper

And you can check out the Real Women Real Songs project here:

Real Women Real Songs

Friday, September 21, 2012

Parking Lot Drama! A Short Story

Last night on my way into the Colonial Park mall for a hair appointment, I parked next to a couple in a pick-up truck having a very loud argument. The fight seemed to be about another girl's number in his phone, and why did he have this number, etc. Here's my version of how this story went down and how it hopefully ended.

It started off as a lovely fall evening in Harrisburg, PA. Jim picked up Sally from work in his red pick-up truck. They headed over to the mall for some Chinese food and so Sally could check out the End of Summer sales. They were both laughing and singing along with the radio, and Sally decided to take a picture with Jim's phone to capture the happy moment. She took the picture and then went to send herself a copy. As she scrolled through his contacts to look for her number, she saw an unfamiliar name.

"Who's Theresa?"

Jim was silent as Sally's mind went through all the girls they knew, Jim's aunts and cousins. Could Theresa be the bartender from Aroogas who flirted with Jim last week? Or the waitress from the Drinking Bone?

"She's nobody, she works in the mall," Jim replied, as he parked, scrambling for the answer least likely to get his truck keyed.

"So is she nobody, or does she work in the mall? Why is her number in your phone?" Sally asked suspiciously.

"So I can call her. That's usually why you have someone's number in your phone isn't it?" Jim asked sarcastically. "She's one of the ladies who sells bath fixtures, I was going to get the shower redone." He loved Sally, had since high school, but when she acted like this he wondered if they were STILL in high school.

"Don't make a joke Jim! You've never talked to one of those people for more than 10 seconds. Tell me who she is. What's her last name? Why is this bitch's number in your phone?" Sally asked.

"You need to stop this now. We've been together for years. Don't you trust me at all? What kind of sleaze do you think I am?"

"You're a lying bastard is what you are, Jim! I'm tired of waiting around for you to get serious about us, and I'm tired of there being other women's numbers in your phone!"

Sally got out of the truck and slammed the door. She started to stomp towards the mall. Somewhere in there was a red dress and a pair of screw-me heels with her name on them. She'd see how HE liked it when she had other guys giving her their numbers. Jim got out of the truck and yelled after her.

"You're a crazy bitch! How can I get serious about someone who threatens to break up with me all the time?"

"It's the only way you pay attention to me, you idiot! We've been out of high school for SIX years, everyone we graduated with is already engaged or married. Just admit that you're just hanging onto me until someone better like THERESA comes along!" Sally screamed. A group of high school kids clustered in front of the mall entrance, watching and smoking in silence. This was better than the Kardashians!

"Do you want to know who Theresa is? Why don't you call her and ask? Isn't that next thing crazy bitches do?" Jim kicked his phone across the parking lot at her. He could buy a new case inside, the look on Sally's face when she called Theresa's number was going to be totally worth it.

Sally grabbed the phone and yelled back "Yeah, I'll call her, and I'll tell her about that time you got so drunk you fell asleep in your truck and pissed all over yourself! That'll impress her!"

Sally hit the send button, and nearly dropped the phone when a pleasant voice answered, "Kay Jewelers, Colonial Park, how may I help you?"

Still not completely convinced, Sally asked "Does Theresa work there?"

The pleasant voice said, "Yes, but she's not in this evening, she'll be her Saturday. Is there anything I can assist you with, or would you like me to leave a message for her?"

"No thanks, no message, I mean thank you," Sally hung up the phone and looked at Jim, perplexed. "Why do you have a number for Kay's in your phone?"

Jim walked towards her and put his hands on either side of her face. "I have Kay's number because I bought a ring for you. Theresa is the saleswoman, she was very kind and helped me arrange a payment plan. It says Theresa in my phone instead of Kay's because I know you go through my phone when you think I'm not paying attention and I wanted to surprise you. I love you Sally, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Now can we go get our sweet and sour chicken?"

Sally started crying, "You bought me an engagement ring? You bought me a ring and I'm horrible and jealous and crazy. Are you sure you still want to give it to me?"

Jim laughed, "Of course I still want to give it to you! C'mon, I don't want Chinese food now. I'm going to take my future wife someplace classy. Let's go to the Olive Garden!"

The End

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Last night during a guided meditation on balance with Clover Grove (the CUUPS group for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Harrisburg) we were asked to think about what in our life is out of balance. What element is missing that we need to grow? (As a dandelion seed needs sunlight, soil and water to grow)
As I thought about it, I was overall pretty darn pleased with my life. I have a secure job and a beautiful home with the man I love. I’ve made friends and found a spiritual community to belong to here in Harrisburg. The rest of my family and friends are only a call, text or email away. I’m the healthiest and strongest I’ve ever been. The things that I most want, to get married, to start a family, are visible on the horizon.
The only thing lacking, the only part of me that feels out of balance, is that I’m not using my creativity. I’ve always been creative. As a kid, I loved to write stories and poems. In college and after, I used my creativity to create adventures and worlds for role-playing games with my friends. When I was going through my divorce and after, I wrote as a way to express my needs and frustration and anger. So what keeps me from writing? What keeps me from using my creativity? What came to mind during the meditation is simply this: Fear. Fear that what I write isn’t any good. Fear that writing will somehow take me away from my other goals. Fear that it will take away time from other things I want to do, like working out, playing with the cat, spending time with Tim. Fear that it will take time away from things I need to do, like laundry, cleaning the cat’s water fountain, grocery shopping. This is an irrational fear. It is something that was planted in me by someone else, who didn’t want me to spend time doing things that make me happy. I will not let this fear keep me from being in balance any longer. “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” - Litany Against Fear - Frank Herbert Last night I wrote what’s keeping me out of balance – Fear – on a slip of paper and burned it in the cauldron. Cauldrons are an important tool/symbol; they transform things - lead to gold, death to rebirth, fear to courage.
How do I bring about change? How can I act in accord with this act of power and work to feed my creative fire? I discussed it with Tim last night, and he suggested blogging. Blogging about anything and everything, writing about different things each day, whether it be something I saw on my morning drive (how often do I see something strange and think, I should write about that!) or something I read about in the news. I think it’s a great suggestion (He’s not just a pretty face you know, he’s quite brilliant.) Starting today, I am making it my goal to write something every day. I’m not yet ready to try to work on a novel or a script every day. So I am starting a new blog – separate from the old one, The Daily Rede. I haven’t touched that blog in over two years. It was a useful tool and documented many important events in my life. Many of those events are things I want to leave in the past. This will be a fresh start. I’m not sure what direction this blog will take. But I have decided what to call it – The Daily Rite. I like playing on words. And this is my new playground.