belenen: (Default)

June 2017


Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.

belenen: (gamine)
LJI topic 6, "heel turn": my unlucky feet, how I first heard Godde, & how I perceive that moment now
icon: "gamine (a photo of me as a seven-year-old child, freckled with frizzy hair and a solemn expression, leaning against a tree)"

My feet have always been the most unlucky part of me. I pulled a tendon in my foot so badly that I had to wear a cast; part of my heel got deeply scraped on a shell at the beach; the head of a nail made a hole in my heel when I was running down a boardwalk; I cut open the top of my foot falling down wooden stairs; and I almost sliced off my big big toe and second toe on the bottom of a broken bottle. But that last experience was the opposite of what you might think.

I was about 12 and my parents had taken me and my siblings to a park that had a waterfall and then a wide stretch of flat river. My dad made me give my water shoes to my brother because he was more accident prone (clearly they hadn't noticed the trend of my feet being unlucky) and so I was clambering around the rocks, barefoot. At one point I went to step on a mossy rock and I got a very strong internal "no" but having never experienced that before I ignored it and stepped. My foot slid right down into a hole between several rocks and I stumbled and realized that I had been cut. I called out to my parents, who were quite freaked out by the amount of blood gushing from my left foot, but I could only feel the small scrape on my right foot -- I think I was in shock.

As my dad carried me to the car and we drove to the nearest hospital (with the aid of a paper map), I was not thinking about the cuts at all. I was completely preoccupied with marveling that I had heard Godde's voice! I felt embarrassed that I hadn't listened, but I felt that I had been given proof that Godde loved me, not just generally but me in particular.

I have a very different perspective on that moment now, 22 years later. I can see a variety of alternate possibilities: my eyes took in information that I didn't consciously notice, and my subconscious sent a warning; nature spirits in the area knew of the danger and warned me; someone else had slipped there before and their pain had left an imprint that I subconsciously picked up on (this one I consider the most likely). Whatever the case, some being (even if it was just my self) was watching out for me and trying to communicate with me.

It still feels like a magical moment, and looking back I can see that it had a profound effect on my sense of self and the way that I perceived the world. Back then, it caused me to believe that Godde wanted to spare me pain because they loved me uniquely, and that I could listen on a deep level to get information that would keep me safe. As a kid who never felt safe or secure, that was something I really needed. I no longer believe in a singular, all-powerful deity who will magically keep me from harm, but I was able to believe in that throughout the most unsafe, unloved years of my life, and I'm very glad I had that experience.

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belenen: (progressing)
important events in 2015 / learning and growing in the midst of spiraling anxiety and loneliness
icon: "progressing (a deeply, vividly green forest of thick vines and trees, with a tunnel running through where unused train tracks lay)"

abstract fractal entitled Shriek

An abstract fractal in christmas green, coral orange, and bright rose red with accents of fuchsia, peach, and capri blue on a black background. At the top in the center is what looks like a snarling cat or hissing cobra, in profile facing left. Just underneath is another could-be face, this one like a dog, facing right and sniffing the 'air' of colored light, which you can see swirling into the dog's nose. In front of the dog's face is a bowing-out bubble of swirling blurry colors. Above that bubble behind the cat/cobra's head is a fragmented reflection that could be of the cat/cobra or the dog or both. In front of the cat/cobra's face is a misshapen cone of green light, with some flecks of other colors: it looks as if the cat/cobra is exhaling this and it is pouring down over the back of the dog's head. Neither creature has a body.


1-4 -- visiting biofam: racism, discussing sexual abuse history, misgendering, prompting family to grow
2 -- visiting Anika: having deep talks w Anika & energy work
* Unethical behavior: loopholes out of agreements, poking people's sore spots *
4 -- ritual for Nuit and Renenutet, Topaz keeps me company
7 -- I make a friending meme
-- trying to develop closeness with Anika
11 -- have a somewhat-disastrous crafty party where a new attendee says things that are very problematic and hurtful to Allison
17 -- I decide to require require gender-neutral pronouns in reference to me
18 -- ritual with LilyWolf for connections
24 -- met up with Cass and had our first meaningful one-on-one conversation
* 5-step educate or eliminate / when I realize I'm wrong / reducing privilege effects *
-- hung out with Heather at least once a week

2 -- Kei-won-tia has a major crisis, I find out through Abby, try to get in touch w KWT but can't.
4 -- meet Jezza for one-on-one conversation
6 -- have a great birthday night with Topaz, Kylei, Sydney, Heather, and Lilywolf; Allison, Nick, and Hannah drop in. I set up a photo-booth of sorts with weird colorful lighting and take some photos of people.
7 -- went to Heritage Park with Sydney & Topaz
9 -- met Kayla for dinner and conversation
* forms of intimacy and societal assumptions made: there is no highest form of intimacy *
11 -- my grandmother is in the hospital; I see my aunt and cousins for the first time in years
12 -- have intense conversation w Anika and Kei-won-tia about openness and intimacy and assumptions
* overwhelmed and ineffectual / cowardly and shit at making friends *
14 -- I get up in front of a huge number of people and speak a short poem about trans erasure.
** the intersection of openness, intimacy, and privacy as it relates to me **
20-24 -- Topaz and I go to the last Xenacon, which is worth it but emotionally very difficult because I can't bring myself to talk to anyone and I'm allergic to the air.
27 -- Heather casts runes for me on my next romantic relationship: I get 'wait wait wait'
28 -- art swap at Jezza's: my sorta-kinda first show of my fractals.
-- conflict with Kei-won-tia continues throughout the month, ends in them telling me they need to be able to lie to their friends.

7 -- I experience my first kirtan, with Heather.
* helping people figure out their desires without taking responsibility for their self-awareness *
11 -- march for Anthony Hill (with Jaime & Lilywolf)
13 -- meet Lisa in person for the first time! we hang out for the day.
15 -- mostly-online crafty party with Topaz, Jaime, Paige, Heather, Leah, Anika, Jezza, and Lilywolf.
** what nourishes me in friendship: self-care/growth/awareness, shared passion/enthusiasm, creating together, spiritual working together, asking me meaningful specific questions, cuddles/focused touch, gifts of effort **
28 -- Anika visits, Topaz and I take them to the Cherry Blossom Festival
** PSA: use of ableist slurs will cause me to unfriend you **
31 -- I pick up Anika from KWT's and take them to Big Trees and to my favorite metaphysical shop

2 -- do magic ritual with Anika, Topaz picks us up after
3 -- drinking and playing red dragon inn w Anika, Heather, Topaz, Kylei.
4-5 -- KWT is supposed to spend time w Anika but doesn't... lots of complex shit between Anika and KWT. KWT is supposed to take them to the airport but I do it instead.
9 -- crafty party: Lily & Fey & Alisha in-person, Anika & Paige & Allison online
** slurs are still very harmful when they are aimed at a situation/action/thing instead of a person **
** emotional/artistic work is still work / types of cuddles: giving, receiving, sharing, passive **
** essential qualities to be a good cuddler: good at consent, emotionally present & aware, not in need **
-- school stress
-- made a set of reflection beads
-- applied to be a professional cuddler: they wanted to exploit their workers, no thanks.

-- exhausted
4 -- sweet nourishing time w Kylei
* my eating habits: what I don't eat at all, what I generally avoid, favorite meals & ingredients *
* realization: I need group intimacy as well as one-on-one *
13 -- meet Rachel in Atlanta for lunch
15 -- sleepover w Odd Squad and truth-or-truth w Nicky & Aubrey via ghangouts
17 -- first zikr w Kaleemi Khanqah Atlanta
20 -- start work at my uni
* 4 levels of friendship: fun, support, learning, mutual accountability *
26 -- truth-or-truth gchat w Aubrey, Vola, Elizabeth, Jaime
** on the 'rudeness' of canceling/lateness caused by chronic pain/fatigue/anxiety/depression and/or ADD **
** energy work: 1st efforts, shielding / a funnel not a source / avoiding manipulation **

-- stressssssss
1 -- TransParence gather at my house: Jaime, Jazz, Jude, Hope, Serah, Allison, Michelle
4-10 -- Elizabeth visits! we do alllllll the things
5 -- shopping & Kirtan at SEWA w Elizabeth
6 -- Etowah Mounds w Elizabeth & Jaime, then chill game night w Elizabeth, Heather, Jaime, Topaz, Allison, Jonathan
7 -- Big Trees w Elizabeth & Topaz, then Cracker Barrel for dinner & Breakfast on Pluto with dessert.
8 -- to Margaret Mitchell house and Marietta square with Elizabeth.
9 -- to carlos museum then revolution doughnuts with Elizabeth, then Topaz makes us dinner.
10 -- take Elizabeth to airport.
13 -- intense videochat w Anika about the lack of balanced investment in our relationship
-- scattered ???
** why I identify as demisexual / what makes sex worth the effort / sexual vs sensual touch / kissing **

-- very stressed, can't seem to do much
-- Heather is out of town the whole month
12 -- host cuddly communion #1 w Serah, Alison, Hope, Evelyn, Cass, Heather D, and Joey.
-- elsewise, nothing but work & rest & topaz & writing
** rant: friendships are important / my levels of relationship for everyone **
* what makes me fall in love & how it feels when I am in love *
*** on saving kids from 'broken hearts' & teaching kids about consent / red flags for bad-at-consent ***
* on changing the amount of fat on your body: cortisol, blood sugar, stress, food as fat/carb/protein *
** 4 elements needed for me to feel sexual attraction: consent, bodily respect, awareness, generosity **
* depression is not a cramp, it's a broken bone: a 'mild' situation has intense effects when depressed *

* Open letter to self-proclaimed reasonable white dudes *
13 -- see Arizona, we have very connected time
16 -- host an OPALS meeting which is just me and Johan, also have an amazing talk w Evelyn at Cool Beans
20 -- emotionally falling apart
* too many variations to out myself in a sentence / wordweaving & thought remodeling are central to me *
23-29 -- time at the beach w biofam
30 -- OPALS meeting w me, Saleena, Alison, and Serah

-- dealing with name change paperwork, lots of trips to courthouse and notary
-- exhausted and overwhelmed, lonely
-- topaz' family has health troubles
-- run out of hope for being close friends with Evelyn
* lonely in any crowd / spirit-to-spirit contact / conflict is a tool of intimacy *
23 -- feeling terribly unwanted
27 -- OPALS meeting w just me & Garnet
-- make chant booklet for my reflection beads

1 -- worst I felt in a year, unwanted, useless
15 -- present about appropriation at Sex Down South, no energy to go the other days
* how I manage my neuro-atypicality in relation to others *
31 -- walked Springer Mountain w Topaz, then had a bonfire at their place w Topaz, Heather, Brian, Cass, Kelsey, and Elliott
-- spending more time w Topaz' family
-- reading The History of White People

** an analogy to explain why the privileged are responsible for ending oppression: the racist babysitter **
*** after learning more about microbes, I no longer believe in an afterlife ***
** people demonize spanking because of classism / how corporeal punishment damaged me **
** trust: what builds it and what burns it, for me **
* the art of hugs *
** if you mourn only for the deaths of white people, your empathy is broken. and racist. **
16 -- cry for hours
17 -- see bell hooks & gloria stienem
19-22 TBC w Topaz
27 -- name change denied
-- investing more in getting to know Cass

-- loads of work on final papers, getting minors made official, getting my name sorted
* 5 qualities needed to practice polyamory: awareness, norm-breaking, security, energy, connection *
6 -- great connected time w Cass
15 -- graduation
** my ADD-PI: stimming and prosopagnosia (difficulty recognising faces) **
* creating your own moral code: a ritual for finding your core values & strengthening focus on them *
* ritual tool: reflection beads for my core values, desires, gratitudes, people, deities, & nature kin *
19 -- Solstice gather! Kat, Summer, Abby, Topaz, Kylei, Heather, Sydney, Jaime, Allison, & Jonathan came and Cass vidchatted in due to being sick
22 -- Arizona visited with me for a little while at my house
23 -- breakup w Anika
24 -- Gabe reveals their transphobia
25 -- Xmas at Topaz' family, exhausting, realize how much worse my family is
26 -- time w Abby in the morning, walking in nature and then cuddling at my house, then intense time w Abby & Topaz at Topaz'
27 -- breakfast, coffee, cuddles w Topaz & Abby
28 -- terrible crash of a morning, bad for Abby, bad for me, bad for Topaz. endless crying.
29 -- awful day, more endless crying. reach out to Allison for the first time, feel glad that that feels okay to do.
** prosopagnosia and memory as it relates to taking photos and believing in love **
30 -- recovering some
31 -- connected time w topaz

2015 started off in an intense but growthful way for me, as I had my first ever real conversation with my biosib S, visited Anika and had deep talks with them. I also did a ritual for deities (something I had never done before), and another ritual for connection, connected in new ways with Allison and Cass, and spent a lot of time with Heather. Then Kei-won-tia had a major crisis and I was very worried about them but didn't really get to talk to them until two weeks later. They got very upset with me for talking about my worries to Heather, and there was a whole huge mess which finally ended when they said that they need to be able to lie to their friends. During the same month as the KWT conflict, I had a bunch of other really intense experiences -- Xenacon, my first art show (sorta), speaking about trans erasure in front of loads of people, gma in hospital, interacting with family I hadn't seen in years.

March was more nourishing and less draining, with my first kirtan, my first protest march, and my first time taking Anika to Big Trees. April turned sour with a huge conflict between KWT and Anika, and otherwise intense school stress. In May I had some good connected time with friends and experienced my first zikr, but overall I was exhausted. Lilywolf moved out which was sad and relieving and stressful, and I started working at my university as a student assistant. June started out with a bang, a trans-connection party followed by a wonderful visit from Elizabeth (which included my first visit to a Sikh service), and then became scattered and lost under stress, mostly shared/reflected stress from how awful Topaz' job is, I think. In July I hosted a 'cuddly communion' which was wonderful but otherwise that entire month was empty of nourishment. In August I had some connected times with friends, and spent 6 days with my biofamily which is both good and exhausting; August marked the first of monthly breakdowns, though I don't notice this pattern until later. In September Topaz' family started having health troubles, and I dealt with the laborious process of applying to change my name.

October I felt the worst I have felt in a year, managed to present at Sex Down South but felt so socially anxious I couldn't talk to anyone and couldn't participate in the conference; I went home crying. I started spending more time with Topaz' family (which is nourishing in some ways but a lot of added stress) because they all seemed to be feeling the need for more company with each other due to the health worries. I started actively building a friendship with Cass around this time. In November I was massively stressed and overwhelmed, but seeing bell hooks and getting to attend TBC gave me enough energy that I was able to give three talks and speak on a panel, and handle some very difficult emotional conversations and realizations with Topaz. But November ended with me finding out that my name change was denied, which is massively crushing. December started with me finishing my 2 huge final papers and giving a presentation for school, doing a shitton of paperwork and hoop-jumping to get my minors made official and my name read correctly at the ceremony, then finally graduating (where my biofamily mostly flaked out and I realized that my dad was planning for a graduation present for my cousin but didn't even congratulate me). I only had three days to recover before Solstice, which was the best ever though hugely energy-consuming. Then I had an intense conflict with Cass, then Arizona visited me briefly which made me miss them a lot, then Anika broke up our friendship by attacking me, then Gabe (my emotionally-adopted little brother) revealed that they're transphobic by choice not by ignorance, then I spent Xmas with Topaz' family which made me realize how bad my biofamily is, then I spent an intense morning with Abby and an intense evening with Abby and Topaz, and finally I had a massive terrible crash that negatively affected both Abby and Topaz and lasted almost through the end of the year. Honestly, reading over December I'm amazed that I made it through without falling apart much more. That was so much, way too much.

Looking back over this, I feel like losing KWT set off a sharp increase in my social anxiety because when we initially became friends, it was built on mutually valuing intimacy and openness -- I actually felt that KWT was better at being open than I was, that they were more willing to take risks in sharing. To have them do such a complete turnaround and say that they value lies in friendship and they want to control who knows what about them was so shocking and confusing that it made me feel like I can't know people, I can't believe them, and I can't find ones that I can genuinely connect with. A similar thing happened with Anika -- I can’t explain because it would be a breach of their privacy but even though it wasn’t the same on the surface, it felt very VERY similar. That followed by the OPALS meetings falling by the wayside and getting very hopeful about a new friend only to have that vanish -- by the time I got through September I was feeling so deeply sad about friendships that despite my repressing, I was having at least one multi-hour crying jag a month about it.

So overall, 2015 brought me a huge increase in social anxiety although the relationships that I currently have are mostly at all-time highs and are overall very nourishing. I think I learned a lot through my black feminisms class in the spring, my internship, my whiteness class in the fall, and TBC, and I made a lot of progress in designing my spiritual practice, but I feel like my interpersonal life stalled out in most ways, and I lost myself as far as my social self goes. This year I will regain my social self.

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belenen: (Renenutet)
my most powerful spiritual experiences & how some have shifted in meaning
icon: "Renenutet (a relief carving of Renenutet, represented as a winged cobra, overlaid with a fractal coloring)"

what are your most powerful spiritual experiences? if you've transitioned to a different religion/spiritual philosophy, did you recontextualize the experience in any way? did the power or depth of an experience diminish at all due to a transition? if so, why? (from here)

My most powerful spiritual experiences: when I felt a strong warning, "no," as I was walking through a river and was about to step in a spot, but I dismissed it as not real and stepped anyway and nearly sliced my toe off on broken glass and had to go to the hospital and get like 28 stitches (age 9); when trees have spoken to me (it happened twice where it was strong enough that I felt no doubt); when interacting with los Niños Santos; when I realized that an afterlife didn't make sense to me anymore and stopped believing in it; when I had a dream-that-felt-more-real-than-waking about having sex underground with Geb; when I felt someone energetically draining me through my lover and did energy work deliberately for the first time out of desperation; when I help someone find a name that is true for them; when I have had sex in ways that involve more spiritual/energetic interactions than physical ones; when singing and dancing in church, particularly once when I felt Jesus' presence so intensely that I didn't doubt it; one time when a prophet gave me a message from Godde saying "I believe in you" which both felt very validating and turned my perception of deity on its ear; once when I felt the presence of Aphrodite while interacting with a lover who I perceived as a priestess/incarnation of them; when I felt perfect unity of consciousness with a lover to the point where I wasn't sure which limb was mine, and we spoke the same words at the same time; when I have sensed the emotions of my spirit-kin over great distance of mind and body; when I felt/saw the heartbeat of the forest; when I have dreams about people who are important to me that I meet, later; when I felt in great despair and then found a green-blue piece of sea glass (I had never found any before despite careful searching); I'm sure there are others.

Some of my experiences have been recontextualized. I used to attribute everything spiritual to a singular god, but now I don't attribute things to deity unless I feel a specific presence. For instance, finding the sea glass I would have taken as comfort from god, whereas now I take it as me desperately seeking a sign of hope and drawing it to me and me to it with the force of my longing. This doesn't make it less meaningful to me, it makes it more meaningful. Rather than relying on something external, I rely on myself. I don't need attention from a particular being to be able to have magic.

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belenen: (bluestocking)
spiritual literature and relics, over my lifetime
icon: "bluestocking (photo of a book lying open on a table with a bright window in the background, overlaid with a yellow fractal that looks like the sun shining through dust motes)"

Literature and relics: what sources (like spiritual tomes) did you consult or study for increased knowledge and guidance in each phase, if any? (from here)

When I was a teen, especially between the ages of 15 and 18, I read the Bible (New International Version, New Living Translation, The Message, New King James Version). Well, I read it throughout my childhood, but during my teens I read it cover to cover twice, and read the whole thing again in my early 20s. I used it as an emotional shield when I was in public school: days when I read it before school, I wasn't disturbed by the massive invasive energies of all the others, but days that I didn't I came home feeling like I had no skin and wanting to scream at every little thing. I'm not sure why it worked but it did. I also used it as a divination tool: I would ask Godde a question and then randomly open the bible and read to find the answer. Later I read a lot of books on near-death-experiences, because I wanted to have proof of spiritual things. After I was scorned by my pastor for calling them out on contradicting Jesus, I stopped reading books about spirituality (I collected them from used book stores but never actually read them). Once I had an experience of sensing a tree communicating with me, I started looking for books about plant communication because I wanted to feel like what I had experienced was real. I found a few books that seemed to have similar experiences to mine, but most of the stuff out there is just bullshit. Recently I read through the Chapters of Coming-Forth by Day (the ancient Egyptian book of the dead) which I found very inspiring, mostly because there were a lot of self-affirmations in it and reading them aloud made me feel powerful and connected to ancients. I hadn't really thought of doing that kind of self-affirming before. In Christianity the tradition is to describe yourself as a helpless worthless peon who god takes care of anyway out of great generosity and other illustrious characteristics. In Coming-Forth, a supplicant describes some deities as full of astonishing characteristics, asks for their help, then describes themself as powerful and amazing and tells other deities that they better not fuck with them. Much more in line with what feels true to me. A powerful, secure being has zero interest in other beings groveling. Only a whiny, insecure, selfish creature would feel at all uplifted by the self-deprecating of other beings.

what, if any, physical objects have held spiritual significance for you over your journey? if you transitioned to another belief system, did you keep those objects despite the change? did you re-purpose them? get rid of them? give them away? how did individual objects become charged with meaning? was it instantaneous, or did it happen gradually, over time?

Objects with significance are the Bibles I have owned (they are tucked in my memory box), objects I found at meaningful moments (on my altar), and various symbolic objects representing some part of my being or beliefs (also on my altar). I keep them all, unless I feel like they would do more good to someone else - then I will give them to that person. Meaning usually is instant, but there are some objects that grow in meaning, with repeated use as a tool (such as a stone for holding in meditation or a deck of cards for divination).

In general I value things not just for their current associations but for their history. So I still have my love letters from my ex-spouse (even though they are super embarrassing) because they are a part of my history. I don't throw things out when they are associated with something painful - if something has a large amount of my emotional investment (whether positive or negative), I value it highly. There's pieces of me in there! I might put it in the bottom of the closet for a while, but I won't voluntarily part with it if it still has meaning to me.

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belenen: (spiritual)
my one spiritual mentoring, its cruel end, and my inability to find another
icon: "spiritual (a photo of a snow leopard with (edited) violet eyes staring straight into the camera)"

Have you ever had a spiritual mentor? if so, what was the relationship like, and if you are no longer close or in contact, was there anything specific that caused the disconnect (aside from moving away from the religion/spiritual practice in general)? (from here)

I've never had a personal one, but I think that my ex-pastor was a spiritual mentor to me in that I admired, learned from, and engaged with them on spiritual issues. Our relationship was me listening to their sermons and going up after sometimes to mention a bit that was especially meaningful or ask a question about something that wasn't clear. I took notes, applied things to my life, and felt like I grew as a person through it. This was true for about 13 years.

Then they preached about 'witnessing' (xtian-speak for trying to convert people) and said it was the most important thing. This contradicts what Jesus said is the most important thing (loving God, others, and yourself), so I went up and asked how those things could be reconciled (thinking that I must have misunderstood something). This person then got very defensive and started attacking my life, saying I wasn't doing enough in this that and the other, and told me that they weren't my pastor. That was the end of that. (the whole story)

Since then I have tried to find people who seemed ahead of me in the direction I want to go, but I haven't had much luck. I have a unusual approach to spirituality in that I treat it as a practical balance of the pragmatic and ethereal, but a lot of people either don't put the pragmatic in their spirituality or they don't explore spiritually because they're focused on the pragmatic and don't hold the ethereal as a priority. To compound that, I reject hierarchy and gender but not the concept of deities -- yet I don't consider deities at all central to my beliefs. This is an extremely unusual spiritual attitude.

I meet people who are more advanced than me, but not people who are more advanced in the ways that I want to grow. They have to exist, I'm sure, but I have no idea how I might find one.

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belenen: (magical)
ritual tool: reflection beads for my core values, desires, gratitudes, people, deities, & nature kin
icon: "magical (Michael Whelan's "Beanstalk" with a fractal overlay of color)"

I made myself a new spiritual tool. (I'll try to get a good photo of it soon) It's a set of reflection beads (like prayer beads or meditation beads, but not from any religion). I made it with 80 beads: 11 spring-green translucent prehnite beads for my core values, 22 glow-in-the-dark light green & clear glass beads for my desires, 13 white moonshine beads for my gratitudes, 13 shimmery grey-violet glass beads for my people, 11 green kyanite beads for my deities, 8 kambaba jasper beads for my nature elements, and 2 large prehnite beads for the quality I am most trying to develop (to be reflected on at the beginning and at the end). I made a little booklet to go with it, where I wrote down little verses which I will read aloud and reflect on (and hopefully eventually memorize but I'm doubtful).

My core values are the thing that started all this off: justice, growth, creativity, connection, curiosity, openness, honesty, action, reverence, respect, thoroughness. (the details on my core values verses)

I also came up with 22 desires, phrased as thank-yous. These are things like "thank you for tangible, memorable spiritual interactions."

Gratitudes I plan to do on the spot and varied each time, and they'll probably be things like "the sweet warmth of the sun." I will say a thing I feel grateful for and rest in that for a moment.

People will vary over time, but at any one point I will have a certain set of names, and do a little gratitude/well-wishes for each person. I made up a new set of paper coins which I will draw from them each time.

For deities, I looked up traditional honorifics and titles, used some of those and interpreted from some old ones to make new ones that were more suitable for me. I listed out a good number of their titles, thanked them for their attention, and requested their blessings and promptings in the ways that I felt they most care about. I included Bast, Nuit, Geb, Hapi, Renenutet, Ma'at, Taweret, Hathor, Shiva, Jesus, Aphrodite (in no particular order).

For nature, I wrote little four-line poems of praise for the 8 aspects of nature that I most connect with: fungi, trees, wood violets, witchgrass, moss, stones, fruits and vegetables, and vines (in no particular order).

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belenen: (Ma'at)
Q & A about my beliefs regarding deities
icon: "Ma'at (a photo of one side of a brass balance scale, with a feather inside the bowl. The background is sky blue. On the bottom of the image, below the photo, is the word "Ma'at")"

if a god (or gods, or goddesses, or some other kind of divine entities) has ever factored into your spirituality, what drew you to them?
Many have. First was Jesus, and that was very early, at age 4. What drew me was probably partly my parents fascination (my dad would sit and memorize bible verses often, my mom sang a lot) and partly that Jesus was the way I interpreted my mystical experiences. I saw a glow in a person once, and another time I had a vision about my mom that scared me and I prayed with my dad and found out later that my mom had been in a wreck at the same time (and was not hurt, which we attributed to the prayer). Later I was drawn to the ancient Egyptian pantheon, especially Nuit, Geb, Hapi, and Renenutet. I loved the whole pantheon because of the central tenet of Ma'at, embodiment of truth and order, and because there was no subordination of women or intersex people. Other than these, I have been drawn to a few deities because I felt their presence, and afterward learned about them.

how did you perceive them at the times you felt most connected with them? as beings that exist, or more as mythical constructs? something else?
My concept of existence is based on my senses, mediated by my mind. So they do exist, but perhaps only in my reality. I do not know - or care - if deities exist in the grand-blended-everyone's-overlap reality.

did you ever feel that you genuinely had a two-way means of communication with those entities (say, for example, through prayer or meditation), or were they silent?
Not in a truly verbal sense, no. I have had feelings, both physical and emotional, which I perceived as communication from deities. More commonly than that, I will notice something that seems to me to be a sign from a deity. I don't often talk to them, though, so it makes sense to me that I have not gotten to a higher level of communication (I do feel that is possible).

have you ever felt that a god has intervened in your life directly, for better or for worse?
I mean... Yes? But not in any dramatic way. Small things, usually reassurance when I feel hopeless. Like the time I was heartbroken about breaking up with Hannah and Nick and I found a piece of colored sea glass, which I had never found before. I felt that was an intervention from a deity. I didn't know or care which one, I was just grateful for a little hope.

if you did feel like you had a two-way communication with a god, or felt that they intervened in your life, but later your beliefs changed, how did you perception change of those experiences? did you feel mistaken about the nature of those experiences?
My beliefs have certainly changed. When I was monotheist and solely Christian, I perceived everything as the work of that god, and I believed they intervened in the world in ways that broke the laws of the natural world. I once prayed without stopping for over an hour for someone who was very sick with pneumonia and bronchitis while also having asthma (the doctor said something like 'you should be dead'), and I felt my prayers and god were the reason that person lived. I didn't consider any other factors as relevant. Now, I still believe that such an action would have power, but not miraculous power that is better than medicine. Just a small push, which might be vital if someone is near the edge. I feel I was mistaken, but that it wasn't an important mistake because the choice would have been the same either way.

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belenen: (writing)
abstract concepts: my definitions of deity and spirit
icon: "writing (a relief carving of Seshat, overlaid with my fractal "Colorflight")"

A self-motivated sentient being with massively more-than-human awareness, ability to move its consciousness from place to place, ability to communicate with all living beings in a meaningful way, ability to deliberately maneuver energy, and ability to harness the power of randomness.

A body/blueprint of energy with its own consciousness. I believe every thing has a spirit, whether animate or not.

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belenen: (mysterious)
experiencing kirtans at chantlanta, 'meeting' Shiva, considering appropriation, looking into Sikhism
icon: "mysterious (a photo of the snow leopard Shynghyz from the Tama Zoological park, staring straight at the camera)"

Two weeks ago I went with Heather to an event called Chantlanta and experienced kirtans for the first time. I had mixed feelings about the leaders of the chants and event (it felt like there were appropriation issues, especially in the vendor area), but the chants themselves were amazing. Heather explained that the chants are considered sacred in that just saying them brings more of that thing into the world, that the thing is contained in the word (this is a thing that I have always believed and I feel happy to know another belief system (besides Kemetic systems) that does too). As I was chanting I imagined the words leaving my mouth as orbs of energy.

Heather and I attended two of them, and at the first there were several that when we first chanted them they made me cry, and others that also hit me in a strongly emotional way. The second one wavered between really powerful and really jarring, because the leader kept shifting the rhythm and tone every time it started to get intense. Still, there was a point where this sensation of floatiness filled my head to the point that it shocked me and I stopped chanting, just feeling it until it faded. I kinda wish I had kept on chanting because I want to know what would have happened if I had just gone into it.

The chants about Shiva made me cry, each time, unexpectedly. I didn't know anything about them, yet I felt so intensely longing and sad-happy at their mention. I looked up their traditional titles to write verses of praise for them, and one of their honorifics refers to memory/concentration/focus, which resonated so strongly with me. I understand why it made me cry: thinking about memory often makes me cry because I feel great loss there. Shiva makes me feel hope for memory.

I want to figure out if there is a good way for me to participate in kirtans in the future. It makes me really uncomfortable to give support to white leaders of a ritual that was created by those who white people have oppressed and continue to oppress. I also just don't want to learn from people who might not understand the nuances of things. But it's not like there's a guide so I'm not sure how to check, besides looking up pictures of the leaders I guess.

I looked up some things and Sikhs (one of the religious groups that use the practice of chanting) seem to welcome others to join in their worship, but I don't know if that is just for 'potential devotees' or if they are okay with people who are definitely not going to convert still participating. I think I'll email the nearby temple and ask. I don't know if theirs would be ones I want to participate in though, because they are strongly monotheistic and there's a lot of gender in their conception of deity. And gender is the most alienating thing for me.


I've been working on this post since then and reading about cultural appropriation with regards to this - most of the stuff I found was about yoga, but some of it referenced the chants. From what I gather, yoga is a practice that is meant to put one in the space for meditation, and to use it as mere exercise is profaning a sacred practice. Other issues are profiting from the severed pieces of yoga and Hinduism (for instance images of deities on objects sold for the purpose of fashion or decoration not worship), exoticizing, and sexualizing. I think for me there is also the money aspect that is a problem, but after looking into it, I think that there is a respectful way for me to participate in kirtans, so I feel encouraged to keep exploring. And I haven't yet asked anyone "what if I never convert" but I did ask a local temple about attending and they were very welcoming, so I may attend one and then ask about that.

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belenen: (nascent)
spiritual transitions, why and how: religions, deities, spiritual concepts
icon: "nascent (a painting by Michael Whelan of a person with long flowing hair and large breasts sitting naked and cross-legged inside a green egg, which is being held against the sky by giant blue hands with pointy nails)"

[ profile] darkestgarden asked me to describe my spiritual transitions: how did you transition from one spiritual phase to another? what thoughts and questions and feelings sparked those transitions? were the individual transitions easy difficult, painful? have you suffered loss of any kind because of a transition? have you faced someone else's anger and/or disappointment and/or scorn for changing? has a change ever destroyed relationships? have you ever felt angry or disappointed or foolish for having believed in something, once you've transitioned away from one set of beliefs?

The first transition between one belief set and another happened when I went to my pastor and gently, respectfully inquired how they could reconcile their "witnessing (getting people to convert) is the most important goal in life" with what Jesus said, that love is the most important goal in life. There was no good reason but they were invested in their evangelical attitude and so rather than reconsider, they attacked me. They told me that everything about my life was wrong and useless and I wasn't really a part of their church, because I wasn't part of a small group. (I had tried several small groups but they were all just interested in socializing so I kept trying to find one that would actually be growthful. Essentially I had not failed, the small groups had) I had been attending for about 13 years, always sang and usually danced in worship, took notes during the sermon and often talked with the pastor afterwards to process it; I always took everything profoundly seriously. There was no possible way to actually doubt my devotion. This pastor just wanted to maintain their bad doctrine and was willing to eviscerate my soul to do it. At one point their spouse came up and tried to get them to stop and they silenced their spouse rudely (also the only time I'd seen them be rude to another person). Eventually they told me that they were not my pastor. This is the equivalent of being disowned by your parents, if you loved them. I kept their photo on my wall: that is how important they were to me. So I left, crying my eyes out, and didn't go back for a while, because it hurt too much.

That church had been the one thing between me and giving up on the institution. I admired how they did anti-racism work and how the pastor used to say before each sermon "this is just my human interpretation: check with God, your own spirit, and the Bible to be sure it is right." They sure turned their back on that. I have visited every once in a while to see if they've gotten better but they have descended into worse and worse blasphemy, advocating that women put up with spousal rape, advocating that you use violence to 'save' your children, being violently anti-queer, hanging a bunch of flags instead of doing anti-racism work outside the church building, etc.

Anyway, for a while I had no spiritual community and I missed that so much. I looked and looked. I began exploring other ways of connecting with deity, since I couldn't do my old methods. I came to realize that the perception of Godde presented by the church was wrong. I studied things alone and realized the intense levels of sexism and hierarchy that were imbedded in the worship music, which had always been a haven for me and now I couldn't have that either. I studied other religions but they all had something wrong with them: sexism and/or codes of ethics that included things I could not agree with. So I started the lonely road of creating my own belief system.

There have been other transitions, but gradual and natural ones based on new experience or understanding. I moved from believing in a male 3-in-1 god who sometimes wore other faces to a gender-neutral Godde and male Jesus and gender-neutral holy spirit, to a life that is all things and manifests as various deities sometimes which are no more or less important a manifestation than are planets or oceans or humans or fish or ants. I have transitioned my belief in ownership of an eternal soul to a belief in a transitory experience of beingness, upon realizing that the former did not make sense in light of my understandings about who "I" am. That was a realization that shook me intensely, as it was foundational, but it wasn't painful. It was a little uncomfortable as I know it moved me further from the possibility of fitting with a larger spiritual community, since so many are based on an eternal soul, an afterlife, and/or an inherently "more important" deity. These transitions happened as I learned more about the universe and myself, and integrated what I learned.

I've lost many things in transitions, but most were illusions. For instance, the profound sense of unity that comes with believing the same thing as another person: inherently an illusion, since no two people believe the exact same thing even if they have the same belief set and religious/spiritual education. I feel nostalgic for the comfort of those illusions sometimes but I don't miss them.

I've never felt angry or embarrassed or anything for having believed something spiritual that I don't anymore: my old beliefs are the fertilizer for my new ones and I don't think it would have been possible for me to get to where I am without having believed those things. The only things that I have been ashamed to have believed are the ways that I reinforced oppression in my religion many many years ago, but I always feel a little removed because those were things I never truly believed, yet accepted because I couldn't find a way to resist them.

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belenen: (Renenutet)
Ritual for Nuit and Renenutet/ spiritual properties of stones
icon: "Renenutet (a relief carving of Renenutet, represented as a winged cobra, overlaid with a fractal coloring)"

Sunday I did a ritual for Nuit and Renenutet, the first real ritual I have done for a deity in many years. I lit candles and incense, then wrote prayers while topaz played guitar. While writing to Nuit I held lapis lazuli and held amethyst while writing to Renenutet. Nuit I already knew to be associated with lapis, but for Renenutet I pulled a stone from a bowl of stones I had gotten for solstice, and it happened to be amethyst. That makes a weird kind of sense to me, as I associate amethyst with naming somehow. After I wrote the prayers I read them out loud and then reflected on the intended recipient while holding their stone. I felt incredibly awkward reading out loud, and had a hard time focusing on the words, but I felt satisfied afterwards.

I didn't really put any stock in stones having metaphysical qualities until this past Solstice. My belief system is composed only of things that I have experienced, for the most part, and I'd never felt effects from a stone. But after I chose stones based on intuitional feeling and then people pulled the one's I thought were right for them, especially after I pulled snowflake obsidian and then realized that it was the only stone I had that was for stress, I began to feel meaning there. Then when I was visiting biofamily and I could FEEL a difference immediately when I wasn't holding the yellow obsidian, I was convinced. I'm a bit perplexed that I have never had such experiences before but I am glad to have had them now. Curious about how it might affect my future and my spirituality in general.

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belenen: (overwhelmed)
leaving Maxwell House for Freeflow, my altar, spiritual realizations, loss, exhaustion
I have been painfully busy this week. Today I just sat on the floor in my old room and looked around and wanted to cry and give up. There wasn't even that much there, I just felt so unable to do the organizing and the deciding. This move has been the hardest for me, emotionally, for a lot of reasons. I had actually bonded with the Maxwell House; it was the first place I've ever lived that really felt like MINE. I'm starting to love Freeflow but it's not home yet, and all of my art is still on the walls at the Maxwell House... I also felt sad because I felt less supported (number-of-people-wise) than I had in previous moves. Also I moved the big/heavy things before even packing my altar, and that was a huge mistake. Having to sleep in one house with my altar active in the other is like having my body split from my spirit. Kyle helped me get started packing it (handing me things one by one as I wrapped them, because I just could not do it alone), and I brought it home tonight.

That intense discomfort made me more aware and I've realized some things. I feel like Sekhmet-Mut has just become active in my life. I've had a figure of zir for a long time now, but just out of admiration, not out of a sense of zir presence -- I knew the statue wasn't of Bast but I didn't know who ze was. But I feel strongly that ze wants to be active in my life in this house specifically, and I feel like it has to do with the intent of this house's agreements. I also feel like the agreements are in alignment with Ma'at and that pleases me deeply. I also feel a heaviness at the idea of trying to be true continuously and not just re-direct when things start going wrong. I feel I have swung the pendulum too far within myself and I have faith that it will settle to a less scary place, but it will take time. Also, I used my sistrum for the first time in a VERY long time today and realized that I need to perform more active practice; it's a need that I too easily ignore. Also also I anointed myself with an oil that is sacred to me and was incredibly relieved to find that it smells the same; it is many many years old and scented oils are not made to last, especially in a container with a permeable (cork) lid. But I feel it has remained vibrant through being on my altar.

I'm so exhausted. I experienced my first dear-to-me death last week, and went to the wake last Sunday... I am still processing this; it was shocking to me because I didn't know ze was so ill. What do you do when the person just isn't there to talk to anymore? The wake was a powerful experience and I want to write about it but I'm just too wiped. I just need a shower (the hot water is not on here yet!) and to be able to sleep and then lounge all day, without any more fretting or deadlines or losses, for just a day. I'm hoping Sunday will be that day...

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belenen: (progressing)
important events in 2011 / becoming an effective catalyst for the change I want to see in the world

2011 was a whirlwind of growth and renewal; looking back, I cannot believe how much I've changed and how much my life has changed. I feel like I wouldn't even recognize my year-ago self. And yet so much has changed since the turn of the year... exponential change. I'm so much more fierce, nourished, confident, and aware than last year. I've created the sources for art, creativity, and intimacy that I want; I've found avenues for developing change; I've started stripping away the fear that blocked me from being a catalyst for equality.

In 2011 I gained a much deeper understanding of oppression, both historically and in its current manifestations; Kyle and I went through so many shifts, deepening our relationship and creating positive ways of managing conflict; Kyle became a feminist/equalist; I met lots of important new people; Kyle and I started doing energy work regularly on ourselves and each other; I was in continuous growth and needed rest which I didn't know how to take, so throughout the year I had several depressions and learned how to notice when I needed rest; I started hosting crafty parties! and now have a source of amazing creation in my life ♥; I met the Angel Oak, participated in a TreeSpirit shoot, and had so many incredible magical experiences with Kyle in Charleston; I realized my intersexedness in a profound way and began living it, though not sharing the details of meaning with folk (and it's still too scary to write about though I hope that will change soon); I experienced my first burn, Euphoria, and loved it -- then experienced my second, Alchemy, and did not like it; Aurilion and I had several bursts of intense connection; I fell in love with Abby and we started dating, quickly moving into a time-committed relationship; Arizona and I started dating again; Kyle and Adi started dating; I became part of the formation of a queer group on campus; I sortakinda dated Eanox for a short time; I had my first successful anti-oppression experience and felt thrilled with the possibilities of further action; I went to Transcending Boundaries with Kyle; I started forming tribe (a truly interconnected group of people all of whom were building connection with each other).

important events in 2011 )

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belenen: (ecstatic)
important events in 2010 / overwhelming change, desire, and passion wrapped in community
a drawing titled "Adolescence" by Norman Lindsay
& a fractal titled "Conception" by sideoutman:

2010 was such a huge year that I'm intimidated by the idea of trying to sum it up, but combining "Conception" and "Adolescence" is a good start. The fractal is expressive of a coiled, freshly-created energy and purpose, which I certainly conceived in 2010. The drawing (oh Norman Lindsay I love you <3) is full of exploration and communication and relating. I see myself in quite a few of the characters, and the harpies and sphinxes with their worshipful open faces speak to me of turning lack and mystery into love and knowledge. The horned characters make me especially happy, as the presence of Pan in my life this year has been quiet but oh-so-profound.

Last January I declared 2010 the year of passion, and oh GOD/DESS yes it was! both good and bad kinds. It started off with a BANG -- hate (which I hadn't felt in years) and fury (over the ex-partner), followed by a few months of stress and worry (mostly over finances), then a few days of delirious happiness (in an almost-triad with strong energetic exchange), then depression and anger (break-up pain and mistreatment), then an explosion of sheer joy (Arizona!) which increased (Serendipity!) and increased (Chip!) and increased (Kyle!) for two months, then contentment and productivity (living & working with Serendipity), then stress and shifting (school again! culture shock, not dating justben actively), then horrible pain (herpes AGH), then exploring/adventuring inspired by Kyle (meeting more people, going new places, having more sexperiences), then an emotional breakdown as I finally reach my coping limit (so much change! so much intensity!), then my first burn-type event!, then breaking up with Arizona, then lots of intoxication with dancing and kissing, and lots of friendship exploration (mostly in Kyle's social group).

Or, most everything I expressed gratitude for at the beginning of the year. It was DEFINITELY "filled with all the love and sex and joy and passion and boldness" that I could handle -- and I was able to handle more than I thought possible. And I certainly met more people with whom I connect deeply, and learned more about sex and the role it is to play in my life. And for the first time, I've experienced being satisfied by the amount of loving touch I get, and for the first time since the Wynnes I've felt fully understood and appreciated and accepted and desired. And I've become more comfortable sharing my art (I did photoshoots! with people I didn't know well at the time!) and became healthier. The only thing that I feel didn't increase is my understanding of my spiritual connection with nature and having my lil sis live with/near me, so those move to my 2011 presumptuous thanks :D

important events in 2010 )

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belenen: (hopeful)
the crazy happenings of the past 11 days -- relationships and Dreaming
my life has gotten even MORE insannnne and at this point I'm going to have to start posting outlines in order to get anything down. This past timespan has been just... massive. And there is so much I haven't said!

the 11th through the 21st in list form! )

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belenen: (creative)
tattoo plans, hopes, & maybes
tattoos I want, including a bad sketch: )
sounds: Elsiane - In a Crisis... | Powered by
connecting: , , , , ,

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belenen: (plant magic)
important events in 2009 / tangled joy and pain, vibrant growth
"Curl and Tangle, Color and Thorn" by me:

This is a photo I took on a trip with Ben to Big Trees in November. It expresses the entire year to me -- the sharp pains and vibrant joys, and most of all the crazy tangled unforseeability of it. And the focus too -- not seeing far behind or much ahead. Oh, what a wild ride.

I dedicated 2009 to risk-taking (since the focus of 2008 became faith-building instead) and I feel that I fully met that goal. I practiced living in the moment, doing things because they feel right without concern for how they might turn sour; being with Viv, going to San Francisco, deciding to end my partnership with [ex], beginning a relationship with Ben, moving in with Ash, hanging out with people I didn't know well and didn't feel miraculously connected to, couchsurfing, driving a rental car. Those are all things I wouldn't have done a year ago out of a habit of thinking "but what if bad stuff happens."

This year brought me the greatest disappointment and the greatest joy I've ever experienced. It's been such a blend, every joy right next to suffering (and vice versa). This is the first year I have had local friends since I was 20, and the first time in my life I've had a sense of community, an actual CIRCLE of people whom I love and feel that I belong with. It used to be so rare that I spent time with friends that every single time was intensely noteworthy and now it has become NORMAL to me! I feel immensely rich. I get hugs at least every single week -- after YEARS of feeling like a leper because no one touched me. I speak and people listen and care and respond -- after years of having no one to talk with in person (well, no one who cared about the same things or was very interested in my thoughts). I am so profoundly grateful. Thank you Deity, thank you universe, thank you localtribe, thank you everyone and everything!

important events in 2009 )

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belenen: (concupiscent)
haiku: 10-29-09
haiku )
connecting: , ,

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belenen: (wild)
important events in 2008 / glowing in brilliant expansion
"Phoenix" by Richard Powers:

After 2007, a year I called "waiting in dim light," 2008 was a year of incredible exploration and growth! Like the phoenix dying, I suffered through the beginning of the year, and like the phoenix reborn, in a short time my life just EXPLODED into a firework display of astoundingly intense experiences. Looking over this year in order to write it up, I realized that just the bare summaries of everything make for a intense read. In fact, I can hardly believe that all this happened in the same year.

I intended to make this year the year of risk-taking, the year in which I sought to build my physical fearlessness. Instead, it was the year of faith-building, and I built my spiritual fearlessness, which I hadn't even realized was something I could grow in. Through my relationship/connection with Aurilion, my oh-so-brief triads with Aurilion & Hannah and then Hannah & Nick (both of which lasted a day), reading The Secret Life of Plants, A Door Into Ocean, Talks With Trees, and several Michael Roads books, experiencing connection with myself, with trees, and with people in a way far deeper than ever before, learning to believe in myself... there is far too much to sum up, even. It's like the entire universe conspired to bring my spirituality from tentative theory into wild bold practice! and whyyyyy might that be? read this -- "Thank you God/dess for so many wonderful gifts this year! It has been the best of my life so far! So much growth and love and newness ♥ I know you more in all your forms. Thank you for visiting me in my dreams and sending me myriad encouraging messages. Thank you for telling me some of your Names. Thank you for enlightening me and guiding me, and most of all for showing me so much love!" all of that happened. I got chills when I re-read it, writing this. And I wrote it originally in an almost-silly frame of mind, trying to come up with the most effusive stuff -- but writing it opened up the door for all that to flood into my life. and. it. did. I rather blushingly included finding a girlfriend/having new lovers, without having even the slightest possibilities in mind, and -- it happened! Yet another astoundingly faith-building happening, on top of all the others. And yet I feel like I've just begun believing. I don't yet know what my goal for 2009 will be but I know I'll be writing another gratitude-in-advance letter!

in 2007's summary I said "I want to come out of [2008] feeling like I have a handful of jewels, not just three or four." haha! Now I laugh at how puny a handful is compared to the arms-full-and-running-over that it turned out to be.

important events in 2008, tenses go a bit haywire, sorry )

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belenen: (nascent)
what does 'having faith' mean to me? knowing&believing / the way I have faith
Faith, to me, is simply choosing to believe something. I don't think anyone can have faith in something without evidence, but the evidence is merely the key to the door -- faith is walking through it. Some people might throw away the key as useless or not even notice it because it is so ethereal, others spend their lives looking for more keys to more doors to walk through. And this 'evidence-key' is different for different people, of course. Some have to be absolutely sure it will fit in the door before attempting to use it, others try it out and keep looking if it doesn't work. Some people only accept evidence which can be measured or understood in a concrete way (science), others accept evidence which is expressed in abstract (intuition).

It takes faith to believe in even the most evidence-substantiated things. One can have knowledge of something and not have faith, and vice versa. I have known people who have experienced the supernatural yet refused to believe it. I have known others who have believed without experiencing. Anything which one has not experienced, one is taking on faith. I do not have 'knowledge' that people speak Hungarian, because I have never heard it -- but I have faith. Knowledge is simply strong evidence; it still takes faith to accept. If a chair has always supported you when you sat on it, you can call it knowledge that the chair will support you, but it is still an act of faith to flop on it. It takes only a little faith because of the amount of evidence you have, but really every action anyone ever takes is an act of faith.

Most people make a distinction between something one believes and something one knows. I see them as exactly the same thing. I believe there is no such thing as a single, objective reality, but rather that we are all continuously creating our own overlapping realities. ... )

The way I have faith is hard to describe. I have no text(s) which I hold as the structure of my faith, nor do I have a community of people who believe as I do. Instead, my faith is an ever-changing thing, based on what resonates with me as truth. I practice listening to my spirit, and when my spirit suggests something in an intuitive sense or a dream or just a pull towards a certain person who will give me guidance, I examine that. I turn it over and over in my mind, I seek evidence in both intuitive and concrete ways -- through divination, 'coincidence,' prayer, and (if it's available) research. Eventually my feelings/thoughts about it develop enough that I either reject or embrace it. Sometimes immediately upon suggestion I embrace it, but that doesn't stop me from seeking to learn more and strengthen my faith in whatever it may be. So I would say that my process is: 1) learn new information, 2) feel inspiration (kinda like an epiphany), 3) consider evidence (abstract & concrete), and 4) embrace/reject idea, sometimes with 3 & 4 reversed.
sounds: Enigma - 20,000 Miles Over The Sea | Powered by
connecting: , , , ,

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belenen: (nascent)
how does one have faith? my further reflections
I think I may have been a bit confusing in my recent post on faith because I was responding to a certain attitude rather than simply addressing faith. There is a certain attitude among some religious people that it is destructive to faith to seek concrete evidence or to use one's mind in conjunction with one's spirit, and I have a profound disagreement with that. I believe that if you have faith in something, you can make it even stronger by adding more knowledge /understanding /wisdom. or maybe... [rabbit trail] )

I definitely value believing without concrete evidence -- I wasn't speaking against that, at all. I certainly don't have proof for everything I believe, but I have experienced the strengthening of my faith with the increase of knowledge. Maybe some people don't ever need it, but if a person ever feels doubt about what they believe, I think that a very good way to strengthen faith is to find concrete evidence -- whether that comes in the form of 'coincidence' or scientific studies or whatever. I can't see it as being harmful, and I CAN see it as being helpful. I don't think it is ever helpful to tell a person who is struggling to have faith to 'just believe.'

For years and years I had believed that plants, trees especially, have spirits and can feel. I believed this deeply, 'blindly,' and did not feel I was deceiving myself; I never really doubted it. But it wasn't until I read "The Secret Life of Plants" and learned that the feeling/sensing abilities of plants are proven facts that I was able to bring this belief from my spirit to my mind, where I can understand and express it in words! Because my mind now has a framework in which to place information from my spirit, I can understand mentally what I could previously only feel. I haven't yet written in-depth about the affect this has had on my spirituality but to put it simply, my spiritual faith has exploded with growth since absorbing all those physical facts. This is definitely not the first time that new knowledge has lead to stronger faith for me, but it is the most intense time (so far), and has left me with no doubt (haha!) that seeking knowledge on areas of faith is a positive choice.
sounds: Massive Attack - What Your Soul Sings | Powered by
connecting: , , ,

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belenen: (progressing)
how does one have faith? my own answer
I've been thinking a lot about faith lately, and three times recently different people have brought up the question of faith. Why believe in spirit, and specifically how does one have faith in Deity(-ies)? And I realized that I've actually learned the answer to that question (at least for me).

When I was younger and I asked "how do you know God is there / loves you / is listening?" the answers I got were vague and useless, no matter who I asked -- "oh, just have faith / you just have to believe." Essentially, I was told to ignore reason, ignore my mind, and just trust for no reason at all. And I would try, and I would scrape by, but I never felt safe or secure or fully able to believe in my own beliefs. My awareness of spirit was strong enough that I could never ignore it, but my mind was not in harmony -- half of me was left out.

Faith in Deity/Spirit is just like faith in any other being -- it comes from experience and research. Say you meet a person. You could choose to just 'have faith' that they are kind, trustworthy, honest, etc., but that faith would crumble the moment trouble came -- because you would have evidence AGAINST without evidence FOR. However, if you knew all their friends/family, learned their life story, spent hours talking to them, then your faith would be strong even if things looked really bad. It's not a bad thing to doubt and question -- that is the only way to build REAL faith that can withstand anything. I'm reminded of the parable of the person who built a house on sand versus the one who built a house on rock. Faith is the building -- but it is only as strong as the facts that you build it on. Even the most skilled builder can only do so much to compensate for a shaky foundation.

I once had an LJ friend whom I loved deeply and had a great deal of faith in. As time went by my mind picked up clue after hint that led me to believe that this person was lying to me, and my faith began to be chipped away by these things. I asked this friend for something solid which I could use to strengthen my faith, but ze refused. I tried to have faith without any proof, but I cannot lie to myself, and eventually I broke off contact with this person. I found it very hurtful that this person would not make any effort to help me -- instead, ze demanded unquestioning faith. If ze truly wanted me to have faith, why would ze deny me help when I confessed that I could not do it on my own?

The fact is, faith is not a matter of blindly accepting. It's a matter of seeking, being open, and then remembering all the experiences, all the knowledge, and putting it together to get a picture of life/love/spirit/God. Faith is not real if you copy it from others or take someone else's word for it, it's real if you build it yourself from the ground up. If you question everything and don't hold back out of fear. If I had never been willing to lose the false faith I had, I would never have built the very real faith that I now have.

Over the years I've studied various things to 'build my case'. NDEs, OBEs, Secret Life of Plants )

So, essentially, there is proof that there is 'something' but it is still an act of faith to believe that that is God/dess, because there is no way to prove that. For me, it is the experiences I've had, the times I have felt zir/their presence and received messages from zir/them that make me believe. To me it is logical to believe in a personal deity(-ies) because I have experienced that in a way as real as anything else I've experienced. I have asked for signs, and received them. And now that I have found some solid foundation with which to strengthen my faith, it has grown by leaps and bounds. Now when I have an experience which many would class as 'supernatural' or 'crazy,' my mind understands that there are aspects of reality which cannot currently be explained by science, and I can believe in those experiences because of that. I'm able to trust in my spirit because my mind knows for sure that my spirit exists. My mind no longer automatically shuts out those experiences, because I have a way to understand them.

So my answer to younger-me's question "how do you know God is there / loves you / is listening?" is "because science tells me that there is more to life than the physical, and out of faith I believe that 'more' to be the spirits of beings, including Deities. My experiences with the personality and presence of God/dess show me that ze loves me and is listening, in the same way that my experiences with my friends show me that they love me and listen."

ETA: There is nothing wrong with 'blind' faith but it should not be an expectation, nor should it be held up as the ultimate kind of faith. Questioning faith is just as good, and for some people (like me) it is by far the best way.
sounds: William Zeitler - Utopia | Powered by
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belenen: (tree joy)
Aurilion's 2nd visit - Aurilion is called by Bast / we discover the Big Trees Forest Preserve
Aurilion and I went to Phoenix and Dragon (a metaphysical shop and bookstore), and on the way there we passed a small sign on the far side of the road that said "Big Trees Forest Preserve." It's really quite miraculous that we even noticed it -- I believe it called to us. We both noticed and exclaimed at the same time, and decided that we would stop there on our way back.

While at Phoenix and Dragon, Aurilion found a figurine of Bastet, a Deity who had called zir earlier this visit. Witnessing that calling was such an amazing experience! I sensed something happening and sat next to Aurilion, feeling a warm golden energy slowly blossom around us. Neither of us said much, just sat together feeling this presence, and I 'heard' Bastet's name so clearly and with such power. I am always hesitant to speak that which might be someone else's sacred truth, but this was so clear I had no doubt. I still had to work myself up to saying what I had heard though ;-) Aurilion instantly confirmed that ze had heard the same name (in the stronger form, Bast) and, filled with delight, received a message from Bast. Right after, I painted Aurilion with golden dust and gave zir the magic vial I had created for zir. Ze wrote of the beautiful spiritual experiences then and at Phoenix and Dragon. I was so honored to be witness, and to feel the magic of it. ♥

We both got stones -- I got stones for two of my Deities and various stones to represent the spirit, heart, and soul of Nimajn and Aurilion. (I may photograph my sanctuary/altar and share it here; if I do I'll explain the stones) We brought them along when we started walking the trail, because I had had the idea that we could cleanse them with the dirt at the roots of a tree that called to us; but it turned out there was an even better opportunity waiting for us.

(I have Named some of the trees we met -- not explaining more just now because I'm conceiving a post on the significance of names/naming in my life)

many many beautiful, magical photos )

It was so beautifully and lovingly kept. Created in such a way as to honor nature's design, rather than impose a new design and destroy the old... the signposts were mostly recovered wood from fallen logs & such, the bridges were constructed of the least material possible in order to blend in, rather than grab attention... the paths were mulched rather than paved (and some simply packed dirt), surely harder to upkeep but so much more natural and comfortable. I didn't see a speck of litter. I could FEEL the love put into the preserve. I would really love to meet the caretaker(s). And I can't wait to go back and explore more (we didn't go far because we were taking everything in so deeply). And this, THIS, surrounded by industrial, bustling city! Safe, forever, thanks to the reverence and generosity of one person.

Truly the most magical place I have ever been; such a beautiful example of people working with and honoring nature. ♥ ♥ ♥

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belenen: (hissing)
spiky energy, raw frustration / prayer is harder now that my beliefs are different
I have had a very... spiky day, energy-wise. Feeling very raw and unhappy, like I'm wriggling to get out from under a heavy and very rough rock, and being scraped by every movement. I have been digging away at myself trying to find the root of this -- I keep finding things, tossing them out and then realizing that the problem is still there. I don't know what it is. This isn't depression, but it mimics it; all my usual tricks to shake off darkness had little effect. I think maybe this may just be something I have to crawl through.

I went into my sanctuary to meditate and pray, and as I started talking to God/dess I realized that prayer is not as easy as it once was. When I fit wholly within the Christian belief system, prayer was easy -- just ask for the things you want, and thank for the things you have. Now... it's not so easy, because I don't see God/dess the same way -- not a male-bodied being on a throne, but a multi-dimensional, multi-faceted, unsexed and DEFINITELY ungendered being which is truly omnipresent. I feel zir as soooooooo much BIGGER than before, and it is hard to feel the personal connection. I'm not sure what to do with this. Do I pray to each facet that I resonate with, or pray to the whole being that the facets are part of? Hm. I'm just remembering a similar issue I had with the trinity, maybe I will pray separately at first. I dunno. I feel pretty confused about it. And I miss having the same deity as someone else and being able to simultaneously connect with that deity -- what an amazing feeling that is.

The meditation/prayer helped, as did going for a short drive in the warm sun and cool air, but I still feel so on edge. If this is part of the incubation/awakening that seems to be happening in my tribe, I feel sorry for everyone else, heh. I just want to tear something or scream or explode! I'm in the mood to create but I can't because I don't want this energy going into my creation, and I can't calm down enough anyway. I think I'm going to go out again.

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belenen: (nascent)
in love with everyone, awed at the beautiful intricacy of people / the stories we have to tell
the wonderful thing about falling in love is that you learn everything about that person, and so quickly! and if it's true love, then you start to see yourself through their eyes, and it brings out the best in you... it's almost as if you are falling in love with yourself.

Being in love... I feel in love with everyone, everything. It feels almost too much to bear to go out in public because everyone is so impossibly beautiful and wonderful it overwhelms me. I want to kneel at the feet of each person and honor their unutterably amazing, fascinating Self. It's like being hurried through a gallery of the most intricate, meaningful paintings, and only getting the merest glimpse of each one. I have felt this for always, but never so strongly. Never so fully.

Everyone is so important. Whenever I hear of someone dying, I feel a loss because most likely, that person's wisdom, their view, has been lost to all of us who are still here. The thing they had to teach us rests only in the minds of those who knew them, and soon fades. I want everyone's story! If our education consisted of learning others' life stories, how wise would we be? How much would we understand? That is the true wisdom, learning other people. If you learn even one person in a deep way, you learn more than you could ever know from all the objective facts.

Instead we hurry (or are hurried) through the gallery of life, taking perfunctory glimpses, and don't even consider that each painting is more than a splash of random color. (we concentrate on the walls and floor!) We don't even look at ourselves, thinking that we are just random splotches too. Most of the time we draw curtains over most of ourselves so that others can't see our 'splotchiness' -- and we rob others of the joy, the wisdom, the love that they could get from seeing our trueselves. And we measure everything by how it matches the little we know of our own colors, instead of exploring, delving into others and realizing how amazing it is that we all have so much intricacy, so much complexity that we could gaze and gaze forever and there would always be something we hadn't noticed before.

I want to cry out, don't hide! please don't hide from me, I want to honor you. I want to know absolutely everything about you. When I offer you the opportunity to gaze at my trueself, please don't flinch and hide yourself, open to me also. We are the same, perfect in our difference.

I have a fanciful dream )

This is a big part of the reason LJ is so important to me. Here, people pull back the curtains -- some a little, some a lot -- and I can learn others. And I can explore myself, and save my discoveries so that others can see my intricacy as well. I want to offer people the chance to know me, because just like everyone else, deep knowledge of me brings wisdom. I am a facet of God/dess that no one else can ever show.

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belenen: (hopeful)
meeting Charles at the antique store / dolphins / going to church, incredible worship
I had an incredible experience last night. I was leaving a shop as a guy walked in, and I felt a connection with him, so I smiled at him but kept on walking. As I was in the parking lot headed toward my car, the guy hurried out of the store and called out to me. He told me that God had a message that he wanted him to give to me, so I said okay and waited to hear it. He said that God wanted me to know that [ze] loved me and that [ze] knew about the dolphins, or something about dolphins (he had the image of a dolphin). I thought that was REALLY interesting because someone recently told me that my primary totem was a dolphin and I immediately wrote her off as a quack because I feel little about dolphins. But this is the second sign and they certainly couldn't have known each other. I'm still not sure if that actually means it is a totem of mine, or if these people are 'reading' my connection with Hannah (whom I also associate with dolphins). I told him that someone had recently told me that dolphin was one of my totems (inwardly thinking "oh no, now he's going to be all 'pure' Christian and start telling me how other beliefs are evil") and he asked what a totem was (???) and I tried to explain it, doing a clumsy job. He didn't seem to get it but he didn't seem to be judgmental about it either.

He also asked me if I knew about Jesus and I said yes, that I had been saved since I was four (so easily do I speak Christian-ese), and then he asked if I was Catholic, which I thought was a really weird question. I said no and asked him if HE was, he said no. Then I asked if he had a church nearby because I had been looking for one, and he did -- within walking distance of where we were. I asked what it was like and he started talking about healings and miracles, which I think is a great bonus but it is not something I need in a church. He was really excited about it though, and I just wanted to HUG him (I kinda wished he hadn't been Christian because then I would have felt free to hug him, oh the irony -- the church has a misunderstanding of what 'lust' is and how to avoid it) for having so much faith and love and courage to share with a stranger. I miss that sense of putting yourself in God/dess' hands and just acting in faith. I still do it in some ways, but there is this... sense of security that comes from acting in tandem with a church. Faith is greater when it is shared. I asked him what the worship was like and he said it was like Deliriou5, which sold me. He showed me where it was and I said I'd come that evening (they were having a special service).

The worship was fucking incredible! These people know how to do it! GOD/DESS, I've missed this. There is absolutely nothing like people passionately singing and dancing in love and faith. These people ROCKED OUT and not just the children, and not just the females, but EVERYONE. Even in all the Christian places I've been, I've never seen males dance in worship like that. Or rather, I've seen one here and there, but never all together in unity, never so unselfconsciously.

Imagine a rock concert where everyone is believing in faith-love-beauty-life, everyone is deliberately bringing out the best in themselves (rather than the worst, as is often in secular concerts). Imagine feeling that! If you've never gotten sweaty and disheveled from worshiping wildly in tandem with others, you are missing out. (not saying that other things aren't just as good -- saying that this is a great thing too!) This was the closest thing to a Benjamin Gate concert that I have been to since they disbanded. And they had the most incredible drummer, holy fuck, I was transported. And. they sang this song, which made my spirit shriek in joy:

dance, dance! let the spirit move you! )

After that they gave testimonies of healings, which sounded amazing about the healing and the message from the speaker )

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belenen: (spiritual)
my beliefs on the parts of a person -- spirit, heart, soul, mind, and body
DISCLAIMER: this is my view. These are my beliefs. They are not based on any religion, though religions have planted seeds that sprouted into these beliefs. They cannot be 'right' or 'wrong' and I will not tolerate any such claims. Feel free to share how your beliefs differ or are the same, but approach with respect. (i.e.: "I think this" not "no, it is this way") This is an extremely sensitive and extremely intense part of my belief system, and careless words would be very hurtful.

spirit (ka) -- the way you connect to life source.
        This is your core self, perfect and unable to be broken, corrupted, or changed in any way, because it is literally a piece of life source within you. This is where all healing comes from. Our spirit is in constant communication with the source of life, but if our heart is closed we cannot sense our spirit, our soul, mind, and body cannot connect with it. Sometimes we need to connect with someone else in order to reach through our other layers and allow life force to flow fully through our being. Prayer, sex, and energy healing help with this (and probably other things I don't have words for). Everyone has a perfectly beautiful spirit, but sometimes it is deeply hidden under layers of pain and cannot be easily seen -- and sometimes people are very wounded in heart or soul and treat us terribly, but we can still see their spirit and so we still love them. (that can be extremely confusing, because often all others can see is the hurtful outside, while you see the spirit -- and it's really hard to recognise that sometimes despite that connection, it is not the right time to be close to that person)

If you have a strong spirit connection with someone, ... )


heart (ib) -- the way you connect to the world.
        This is where a person's spirituality is, how they emotionally understand their faith. This is like the iris of an eye -- it can change by opening up or closing, but otherwise stays the same. You can choose whether to open it or not, but if the soul is wounded the heart cannot shine through clearly even if it is open. It's the part of you that connects with the rest of creation -- people, animals, etc. It's where your own style of loving comes from.

When you have a strong heart connection with someone, ... )


soul (ba) -- the way you interact with the world.
        I think this is where a person's personality (outward expression of self) is, how they approach challenges. This changes a lot as it matures. If it is wounded and not yet healed in a place, that place will be a dark spot where the heart and spirit cannot shine through.

When you have a strong soul connection with someone, ... )


mind & body )

I see spirit as this one universal thing that all living beings are facets of (people, trees, animals, rocks, etc). Humans have additional non-physical parts; our individual hearts are wrapped around our spirit-facet, and then our soul is wrapped around that, and it is our soul that we bump into others with. I kinda see life source as this snakelocks anemone, and humans are special tentacles with two 'gloves' on, the heart and soul. We are unique in the same way each tentacle is unique, and we are all the same in the sense that we are all part of the same body, the universe. We are all extremely important because only by understanding fully every human and every living thing could one even begin to understand the universe. At our core, our spirit, we DO understand everything fully, and I believe that when we die, we will "know fully, even as [we are] fully known" because our wounds/blocks will be gone, and our spirits will be able to shine through us completely, even into our minds. I believe we can do this in a limited way now -- we call it intuition, when our spirits speak and our mind hears. "Intuition allows one to draw on that vast storehouse of unconscious knowledge that includes not only everything that one has experienced or learned, either consciously or subliminally, but also the infinite reservoir of the collective or universal unconscious." (Frances E. Vaughan) Or basically, our intuition is our connection to life source, which is all things and therefore omniscient, and when we tap into it we can know anything that is known.

I see the ethereal parts -- spirit, heart, soul -- as colors. People who have like colors to me have a connection to me. For instance, I see myself as having a vivid violet spirit, and I see Hannah with a lavender-violet spirit, so we have a strong spirit connection. I see my heart as spring green, and I see Aurilion with a minty-teal heart, so we have a very strong heart connection. I see my soul as bright scarlet, and I see Kat with an intensely red soul also, so we have a strong soul connection. Colors are the best way for me to understand these connections, because they don't fit into words, but you can get the gist of them by reading my description of the types of connections. (I also have ethereal connections with others, but I'm not going to list them all now because I want to make that into its own post)

thanks to Nick, Hannah, and Ava for inspiring me to FINALLY get this written.

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belenen: (curious)
hopeful / Christmas / fantastic day; meet Amber, see Enchanted, hug from Thiago, long talk with Ava!
Hello beautiful beautiful people! *hugs whole flist*

I feel like I hit rock bottom and pushed off, and now I'm finally rising towards the surface. It feels really wonderful to be looking up instead of helplessly staring at my feet as I sink further and further. It wasn't anything I did; it was the love given to me by so many people, in so many ways. Megan especially -- she kept reaching out even though I was late and little in my responses. Thank you lovey ♥ You've been such a positive force in my life!

My Christmas was less than sparkly overall ... ) One very sparkly point was the dream I had while sleeping my cramps away. It was my Christmas present from God/dess; the vivid, spiritually-real kind. ♥ It gave me so much hope and joy -- I'll post it after this. Now if I could only interpret it!

Two days after Christmas I had a fantastic day. I dropped my partner at work so I could have the car, and went to meet a new friend (who found me on craigslist) at a coffeehouse. Amber is bouncy and outgoing -- I think we're going to get along famously. We talked for a good long while and it felt so comfortable! I've met several new people in the past few months, some of whom I got along really well with but none with whom I felt soo comfortable. I really like to be around people who have a higher energy than me -- I love all types, of course, but when I have no higher-energy people in my life I really miss it.

Later that day I wrestled my partner into going to see Enchanted with me in the theatre (he thinks only action movies should be seen on the big screen *pah*) and we LOVED it! My partner actually laughed out loud which he hardly ever does -- he usually laughs in this 'heh heh' kind of way, not 'ha ha ha!' I love his laugh ;-) The beginning is almost painfully ironic, mocking the syrupy-sweetness of the 'classic' disney films. There's also some subtler feminist irony which I REALLY loved, and one incredible curvy-positive moment that almost made me cry. See it!

Then as we were leaving my partner spotted his old friend Thiago, whom we haven't seen in AGES! It was so incredibly meant to be -- if we had left a little earlier or a little later we would have missed him. Thiago is this absolutely amazing guy; I can't put into words what it is about him, as I don't even know him that well, but I really love him. He's one of the most respectful people I have ever met -- he has a deep respect for every person as themselves, and that just radiates from him. You know he would respect a prostitute, a politician, a pastor, or a child equally (or at least, I feel so) -- and he's one of the very few guys I've met who gives me the impression that he respects women as much as men. When we walked up to him he was with several other people, and he put out his hand as my partner walked over to greet another guy (my partner didn't notice his hand out) -- I laughed and said "I'll shake your hand!" and put my hand in his, and he turned to me and gave me a hug. I was just beaming -- this guy feels like a spiritual brother to me. Just before we left Thiago hugged me again, and I must have just been glowing with happiness. He was so genuine! Genuine physical affection is absolutely the most wonderful thing to me -- those two hugs meant SO much. ♥ ♥ ♥

And this amazing day wasn't over (it lasted over 25 hours :D)! After my partner went to bed, I got on gtalk in the mood to chat for the first time in AGES (usually I just pop in long enough to check my email) and had the most AMAZING conversation with [ profile] mourningdoveava! I friended him in August and we've had quite a few commentations, but never a real-time conversation before. We talked for over SEVEN HOURS overall, about so many things, and it felt like such a short time! We're so alike it's insane. No, really! I thought Hannah and I were alike, but I think Ava and I have even MORE in common! It blows my mind to the point where I have a hard time believing he's real. *pinches him*

I'm using my super-extremely-very-uper-duper awesome new icon right now despite it's irrelevance because I am totally in love with it. Yay self-adoration! :D I have more to say *overflows* but I will put it in other posts! I am so... fertile right now! yum, rain. :D

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belenen: (gamine)
remembering childhood places, people / my favorite childhood memory
I remember places. The space under the trailer where I played at making food (mud pies and mud soup) for homeless people (whom I'd never seen) with a stick and my rust-colored depression glass cup. The spot on the edge of the playground at school where no one but me and the caterpillars ever went. The place on our driveway where I stepped over a black-and-yellow snake and didn't realize it until three steps later, 'cause I was running so fast. The edge of my mother's iris garden, where a baby pine tree poked out of the ground and I rescued it from my mom's weeding hands. (to return years later and find it had grown to at least twice my height) The tree in the backyard where I once peeled a strip of bark and saw to my chagrin that I had wrecked the roof of a family of ladybugs. And the bedroom where I laid belly-down on the floor with my cat and watched under the door as people moved us out of the first home I remember.

I remember people. The girl who I played paper dolls with, who wouldn't let me play with the one I wanted so I chose a bellydancing costume with headscarf and veil, called her 'Noface' and played her so happily that we ended up fighting over her. The teacher that I thought was so cruel -- until one day she paddled me (it was a school that allowed for that, with proper documentation/permission) and afterward picked me up, hugged me, and told me she loved me: that she had to spank me for lying but it didn't change how she felt about me. (I think that may be part of the reason I can't stand lies to this day) The aunt who gave me a glitter-filled plastic baton and encouraged me in my dreams of being a dancer. The stranger who told me 'boys will be boys' when my brother was being a little ass in the grocery store, who infuriated me (at age 6) and made me realize for the first time that boys and girls were treated differently and that it was wrong. The 'big kids' at my school who called me Pocahontas (for my protectiveness of my crush and my waist-length hair), which I took as a huge compliment because I desperately wanted to be Native American. The group of girls in my neighborhood whom I told elaborate stories of how I was really an Indian Princess who had been switched at birth, but my real family was keeping a close eye on me and would take me back once I learned enough. (and I told it so convincingly that they believed me -- they told me so years later when I moved back into that neighborhood)

But I only remember one positive event, one positive moment in time that I can remember clearly enough to picture it. I was four years old. I went into my parents' bedroom where my dad was sitting on the bed reading the bible and making notes. He had a yellow legal pad with a HUGE list of verse references, and I pointed to random ones, asked him what they were, and he quoted them for me. After a few we lapsed into silence, him reading and me just thinking. I thought that his turning those little letters and numbers into whole verses was Jesus inside him working miracles. (it was too much to imagine memorizing them all) Then I asked him what I had to do to have Jesus come into my heart, and he got very excited but tried to stay calm. He asked me if I knew John 3:16, so I quoted it to him, and he prayed the 'sinner's prayer' with me. (I now believe that it was the act of opening my heart, not the words said, that created the experience) I remember so clearly the feeling of euphoria that came over me. I felt that Jesus had come into my heart and was glowing in me -- I felt connected to everything, that everything was absolutely perfectly beautiful, and that I was fully loved.

My beliefs have expanded and changed since then, of course, but that moment will never leave me. I don't call myself a Christian because that does not encompass all of my beliefs, but I have a deep fondness for Jesus, who was my only real friend and comfort throughout my childhood. I talked to him constantly, in all those places and about all those people whom I remember -- he's my favorite childhood memory. ♥

LJ idol topic 1: my favorite 'childhood' memory ((please vote for me here!))

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belenen: (honesty)
identity: my self-labels and my definitions of them
Words and actions are like clothing; we can express ourselves with them, but they cannot describe the person we are. They can hint, they can shout, but they cannot sum us up. People are simply too complex, and too much of us exists in a place where no one can see actions or hear words. The only label that has any worth is our self-label: the words we choose to dress ourselves in. And even those have no worth until we explain our own meaning for them.

On that note, here are the words I wear: spiritual, creative, honest, open, compassionate, bisexual, polyamorous, partnered, nuevo-gypsy, Georgian, curvy body-positive, fiercely individualistic, feminist/equalist, genderfree female-bodied person. (in no particular order) And my definitions:

spiritual: I don't adhere to any one religion, but believe in whatever resonates with me. The main belief systems I draw from are ancient Egyptian concepts (including aspects of Kemetic Orthodoxy), Native American animism, Christianity, and Buddhism (I don't know much about it but I really love Hotei). I worship God/dess, and have a relationship with several of hir personalities, of Christian and Kemetic names. Ultimately I believe God/dess is love, that the physical world is a metaphor for the spiritual world, and that we chose to come to earth to learn how to love more. I believe everything is connected, all things have a spirit and a name, and there is no such thing as a coincidence.

creative: I am one who creates. I do my best to create love in myself and others, and to pour myself out in my creations: my writing, photography, modeling, beadweaving, painting, dancing, singing -- whatever way I can. I believe that every act of creation ripples out and changes the world (as does destruction, but that in a negative way). Even if no one ever sees my art, I feel I have changed the world simply by creating it (though I think it has even more power when shared).

honest: I do my best to never lie. I think 'little white lies' are like 'little white maggots' that infest connectedness and ruin it. Even one 'little white maggot' in a bowl of soup is going to make you not want to eat it -- I feel the same way about lies. If you can't trust me on something small, how can you trust me with your heart? also, little white maggotlies are usually born from insecurity in the relationship, or lack of willingness to work out all issues. 'I don't want to offend her' or 'I don't want conflict.' Conflict is the best source of growth. I say brrrrring it oooooooon.

open: I will share myself with my friends without prompting, and I will share myself with strangers upon them showing the interest to know. I think every time one person shares themselves with another, that creates more of a connection and ripples out to affect the whole world. To me, honesty is giving truth when it is asked for (passive), and openness is offering your truth (active).

compassionate: My most intense passion in life is to learn, in order to grow, and to grow, in order to love - more deeply, more freely, more openly. I believe love is my purpose for being. The more I love people, the easier it gets, because I come to understand them more, and when you truly understand a person, it's the easiest and most natural thing in the world to love them. I believe that at core we are all amazing, glorious spirits of incalculable worth. We all have a level of brokenness that keeps our spirits from being able to shine as they were meant to, but every act of love ripples out a wave of healing.

bisexual: ... )
polyamorous: ... )
partnered: ... )
nuevo-gypsy, Georgian: ... )
curvy body-positive: ... )
fiercely individualistic: ... )
feminist/equalist: ... )
nudist: ... )
genderfree female-bodied person: ... )

LJ idol topic 0: introduction/open topic (no voting this round!)

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belenen: (hypnotiq)
uncorking the bottle after my unintentional hiatus
I have so much to say... Meliae called me Wednesday and I must have talked nonstop for at least half an hour just summarizing all that has gone on! To uncork the bottle:

- my camera broke! :-( Halfway through the visit, it stopped going into shooting mode, and I left it alone for a while before replacing the batteries (it did that before on low battery), and when I finally put new batteries in it still didn't work. I've been without a camera for like three weeks now and it's really depressing. :-( For a long while now I've been carrying it everywhere, it's become a big part of my life and now it's gone... It's 3.5 years old, so it was its time I guess, but that doesn't make me feel better. Rest in peace, Spyder.
- Hannah's visit was by turns beautiful, horrible, exciting, dull, healing, & painful. She left early for several reasons, mainly because we just didn't have the energy to balance against each other for another 2 weeks. The visit was really draining, but really important, and very necessary. I have a loooooot to write about that, don't want to get started right now.
- Meeting Nick was awesome! I want to make a post about it so I'll save details for later.
- my partner and I have been working on our relationship, with huge steps forward... also deserves a post of its own!
- My parents have invited my partner and I to go on vacation with them and lil sis at the end of August and we've accepted. o.0
- I'm worried that I'm being frozen out by some friends who are really important to me, and I've been too wimpy so far to confront the issue.
- I'm sooooo disappointed that Meliae can only visit for 3 days. I had it in my head that she was going to stay a week (don't assume, Bel!) and now I'm sad... but still very happy that I get to meet her soon.
- Last Saturday I went to church for the first time in over a year! It was fantastic and I've been looking for churches to try. I went looking for GLBT inclusive ones and they all seemed too conservative -- wtf? it was like they thought they had to make up for their 'progressiveness' by having bland (to my taste) worship, wearing fancy clothes and having traditional-style preaching. But I found a few that seemed interesting enough to try.
- I spent ages today catching up on approving members to the curvygirls comm! finally caught up. I've been such a bad mod for the past month.

Hopefully I will be getting back into LJ f'real now. I didn't have time to do more than skim during the visit, so please give me links to any recent posts of yours that you think I'd find especially interesting or that you want my input on!

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belenen: (exuviate)
important events in 2006 / inner and outer metamorphoses

Wild Woman by Willow Arlenea

My totem animal, the dragonfly, lives as a nymph for a while, shedding her skin many times to emerge as a more developed creature, and only with the final shedding does she have wings. I feel that I have metamorphosed several times this year, and with this last shedding of my skin I have realized that I now have wings! I have reached completeness, developed all that I need to fly. I will continue growing in a new way, learning to use what I have. This is exciting and scary because there is no more waiting around to be ready; I have arrived.

important events in 2006 )

I feel like some of my metamorphoses have been inner and chosen, but the majority of them were external. My ties with this area have been severed again and again: Rebecca moved, my church wounded me and I haven't really attempted to fix it, Allison cut ties with me, my mimosa tree died, Kristen and I both changed and now we strongly differ on important issues, and Ashley broke up with me. I still love the land with all my heart -- Georgia is in my blood and always will be -- but I have no place that really feels mine since my mimosa died. Emerald is still there but the crook of her trunk is not enough space for me to take root. I feel that I am being prepared for a new way of life, perhaps a move. I welcome it with open arms! and pray that it will be near to one of the glorious friends who fill my life with light. ♥
...Said The Sun to the Shine by Earthsuit...
Said the Sun to the Shine
Come shadow, what you find?
Said the Sun to the Shine
You and I forever bind

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belenen: (nascent)
my beliefs on humansexuality, the purpose of sex, my own sexuality
For the longest time I wasn't sure what I believed about homosexuality, so I just didn't say anything. I refuse to espouse an opinion unless I feel that I can articulate why it is mine. My beliefs on this subject have been years in the making and I now feel secure that they are right for me, they are what I believe at core.

initial searchings... )... )

I believe that sex is a physical expression of emotional and spiritual intimacy; I don't think the primary purpose is for procreation or physical enjoyment. (I think when God/dess said 'go and be fruitful' s/he didn't mean, 'go have a million babies' s/he meant grow, develop, bear spiritual fruit.) I believe that we can have emotional & spiritual intimacy with any human being, regardless of genitalia, and that that can fulfill us without sex, or we can choose to expand that intimacy into sexual intimacy as well. I don't think there are inborn penchants for sex; I think that we are limited only by what our experiences have taught us to desire.

I also don't believe in mental gender. I'll probably go deeper into that in another post, but for now I'll just say that I don't believe that there are qualities that are inherently 'feminine' or 'masculine' -- they're all HUMAN qualities. If they seem to divide according to physical sex, that is only because of societal conditioning.

So I believe healthy sex is a human-to-human expression of emotional and spiritual intimacy, and physical gender is unimportant. I believe there is no such thing as 'heterosexual' or 'homosexual' or 'bisexual' or any of the rest -- we're all just human.

As for myself, I'm attracted to everyone -- "I like everything. Boyish girls, girlish boys, the heavy and the skinny. Which is a problem when I'm walking down the street." There are characteristics that catch my eye more than others, but for me sexual attraction could only develop from an emotionally and spiritally intimate relationship. Sometimes a person's persona can make my heart skip, but it's really not predictable by outward appearance; I think that what steals my breath is their spirits shining through. Women catch my attention more, but I think that is because as a group we suffer more and therefore have more opportunity to grow, and I'm attracted to people who have a passion for growth. And I think it's also because I'm married to Nimajneb, and I don't think I've ever met a man who matches his passion for growth -- and I tend to subconsciously compare men to him.

If I must pick a category, I call myself bisexual. To myself, I'm labelfree. I've wanted to express the fact that I am attracted to both sexes for a long time, but I didn't want to do it until I knew how I felt about all sexuality, and felt confident enough to speak it to anyone. I expect that some friends will no longer be interested in me, and that's fine; I understand that my views conflict with many beliefs that have been reinforced for years, and if our relationship isn't stronger than those beliefs, that's okay. If you disagree with me, please do it from the perspective that this is my opinion and it differs from yours: not 'you're wrong, I'm right.' Like I said, these beliefs have been long in development and they are very strong. I'm open to new ideas but none of the old ones are going to change my mind.

comments screened but will be unscreened unless you ask for them to stay screened -- or if I think they're too inflammatory. don't want any comment wars. ;-)

IMPORTANT NOTE: these beliefs have changed upon new realizations which I need to post about! suffice to say that I believe God has no problem with homosexuality itself and never did. (added nov 9, 2007 -- new post to come on the subject soon, hopefully)

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belenen: (bluestocking)
christmas presents! miracles and used books
Christmas 2006
more magic ♥
magic! ♥

more photos )

and my loot! XD I am still so thrilled about this ♥ ♥ ♥ Oh what the hell, I'll "show not tell":

my miraculous presents! )

why miraculous? because Miss K gave me (and my partner) credit at a used book store as a present, and we went there day after Christmas and they had the LAST THREE Torey Hayden books, the only ones I didn't have!!!!!!!! 'coincidences' like this are why it's easy for me to believe in God/dess and the power of the unseen. just holy wonder, seriously. I exclaimed over the miracle and my partner was all 'yeah that's great' but Miss K agreed with me as I gushed over how fabulous her present was. Miracles don't have to save someone's life, sometimes they're just God/dess's way of showing you love.

more presents! )

I love love love used books. If they cost the same I'd still prefer a used book over a new one. Used ones have a history, and if they're a powerful book then they have absorbed the emotion of another reader, which heightens my own emotion in reading it. I feel like I am experiencing the book along with the former reader. And if they're old in addition to being used, they have that old book smell that is an emotional aphrodisiac to any bibliophile. The only way I ever buy a new book is if I can't find a used copy or I need it in a tearing hurry. Or if I'm getting it as a present for someone who doesn't feel the same way about used books, heh.

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belenen: (nascent)
job decision / brokenness surfacing again / new feelings about God/dess
Ben and I decided to go with cutting my hours and staying a cashier -- even though part of me wants the additional responsibility and money, I just don't think I could handle the stress of learning the ropes during the busiest time of the year. And I am totally burnt out. I feel dumb/weak/lazy for being burnt out on my job when Ben's is so much more demanding, in time and responsibility, and I feel like mine is EASY, what's wrong with me? But that is the way it is. I think part of it is that I genuinely give of myself, as much as I can, when I am working. I try to give a little positivity to every person, and it's become a habit that I don't want to break, but it's draining. Cutting hours should help that a lot.

And I think the other reason I'm burnt out is that I've gotten past my healing-waiting period and it's time to go back to counseling, delve into the next layer. Things are starting to come up again -- I think my dreams are a symptom of that. I've been thinking about it for months and actually contacted the office about a month ago, but the lady who was sponsoring me (God/dess bless her) has moved and is no longer sponsoring people. So when I go back I'll have to pay... and they'll probably help some, but eeshk it's yet another expense -- it may have to wait until Ben goes into the management training program in a few months.

I've been feeling things shift within me and realign, it's very odd. Yesterday I prayed in a way I haven't for... at least a year. I dropped all my questions and stepped out into air... I didn't even know that was possible. I've been trying to reach around my questions and find the Being that I know, the one who loves me, the only reason I survived my otherwise empty childhood. I used to be able to reach right out and feel Hir heart, with little effort. S/he was right there! I think I need to go back and reread my old journals and poems, see those paths that I somehow lost, and learn how to find similar ones now. I needed to leave them in order to work on my questions, in order to break off all the lies that had nearly strangled my love for Hir -- the lies that S/he is vengeful, harshly judgemental, distant, demanding, uncaring, all-powerful but unwilling to make any effort to protect me... all the things I saw my parents as.

I had a dream about Hir way back in January... so real, so sacred to me that I posted it privately -- I didn't understand it at the time but it gave me the deepest, most loving peace I have ever experienced. I'm still very insecure in my new vision of Hir as a genderless Being, so that post will probably stay private until I have a clearer belief. I have felt new energy just sensing this beginning. ♥

...Secret by The Benjamin Gate...
oh hold me and heal me
keep my heart in your hands

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belenen: (lodestar -- adrienne liesching)
my passion for music / all of my favorite music, in pretty linked-to-samples icons!
Pandora has reawakened my love for music! [ profile] bluebl00d and [ profile] acid_burns got it started by introducing me to all kinds of new music, but that wasn't a daily thing of course -- now I can discover new music anytime I want. It's awesome -- just enter a song or artist and it creates a station based on that music, not by genre but by actual SOUND, OMG it's thrilling! Just a few days ago I discovered Neulander, and fell so in love that I had to buy the music immediately (instead of hunting through used CD stores & ebay like usual).

I used to be utterly ADDICTED to music; I never left the house without my walkman, and the first thing I did when I walked into my bedroom was turn on the radio. I knew all the groups on the three stations I listened to; my list of favorites ran into 40s; I could wax rhapsodic on genre or group; I knew all these esoteric groups no one else had ever heard of; I saved up at age 13-14 to buy a stereo that was about $150 -- a hell of a lot of money for someone who made 5$ an hour babysitting occasionally. The greatest thrill in my life was hearing a powerful song by a group I hadn't heard of. Music was my passion, my life -- my mother and father and friend. When I was hurting I turned to God and music together -- I would put on music and talk to God. I would listen to a CD on random and ask God to speak to me through a song... so many times a line would catch my attention, one that I'd heard a million times but had new meaning to me in that moment.

When The Benjamin Gate broke up I lost interest in music. I loved that band SO much and they were SO much a part of my life. I saw them 6 times in concert, three times in Georgia, once flying to Pennsylvania, once driving to Tennessee, and for their final show I (and three others) drove 13 hours ONE WAY to Texas. They gave me so much hope... if they hadn't come out with a new CD when I was living with my aunt and uncle I don't think I could have stood that time. When they broke up I went into mourning, I think. I didn't want to love any band the way I loved them... They WERE music to me, so when I buried my feelings for them, I buried my passion for all of music.

Now that passion is reawakening, stirring to life within me. I am wildly yearning to go to a concert and hear someone play who can make my soul scream in agreement. (I am definitely going to that Mutemath concert -- can't wait!) I think it is beautifully appropriate that Adie has just released her solo album (though I haven't heard it, 'cept for the few songs on her myspace). She's moving on as I am.

this took FOREVER. but I love it! I added part of it to my userinfo and the whole thing to my myspace. Yes I have a myspace, I use it for collecting new music, don't judge me, you!

adored favorites:
(absolutely MUST have, desert island necessity, would perish without! all current loves, listened to constantly)

other favored music -- lots of images but all tiny )

Comment and tell me what (if any, heh) music you share my love for!

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belenen: (nascent)
dream (mother-sister-bestfriend-lover)
I had the sweetest dream... well, not all of it was sweet but one part I just can't stop thinking about.

At some house, visiting, a big party going on with dancing -- one woman started talking to me, said something like "come over to our side." She was bi or lesbian, her wife (a stocky, short-haired, 'butch' but very friendly and easygoing woman) was there, and she knew I was married, but she didn't judge me or consider that a hindrance at all. She was quite willing to accept me, husband and all. I'm really not sure what she was inviting me to... but she hugged me, pulled me against her chest, and as I was pulling back after the hug my hand slid down her chest and I felt her breast, incredible softness -- not exactly erotic but something close to it. She was completely open, and I got the impression that I could feel her body all over if I wanted to, just for the sensation and nothing more -- it was as if she had no desire to receive but just to give. As if she wanted me to learn something or gain something, but I don't know what.

I felt like she was mother, sister, best friend and lover, all at once. She radiated calm confidence and love, and I felt so incredibly peaceful and energized at the same time. She was a mature woman but not at all old -- maybe 40s, with a relaxed, unlined face. She seemed to have no selfishness in her at all -- she gave off a profound sense of not even thinking of herself. She had a beautiful figure, very voluptuous and womanly, medium-long brown hair, and an easy grace and confidence. I felt unimaginably safe and loved and accepted in her arms.

I want to feel that way again.

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belenen: (analytical)
the most sincere compliment / the most convenient car breakdown
Two experiences I don't want to forget:

The other day at work, I checked a guy out who came back after a few more customers (when I had no line) and asked me something about the change machine. I told him that I didn't know whether it was working or not, but they could probably help him at customer service... and then he asked if I spoke Spanish (which was obviously his first language). I said no, sorry, and he asked what my name was, which confused me because it's right there on my name tag, but I told him anyway... then he asked some questions about when I worked, and I told him that I have a very random schedule. I suppose he had worked up his confidence by then, 'cause he asked if I was married, and of course I said yes. He seemed disappointed, but looked me in the eyes and said, "You are very beautiful," with an incredible sincerity, then walked off. I'm usually pretty unaffected by simple compliments, but I felt his honesty and it delighted me. And he obviously wasn't hoping to get anything out of it, he just wanted me to know how he felt. It made me just glowy with happiness -- especially since I was wearing baggy pants and no makeup.


On Christmas Day Ben and I were driving over to his parents' house to feed their animals since they were out of town, and as we drove the lights dimmed and finally turned completely out, and after we got into the neighborhood the car just stopped working -- the alternator had been iffy and it finally just died. I was upset, naturally, because I wanted Christmas to be happy -- but now, looking back, God worked it all out just PERFECTLY. Ben's family was out of town so we were able to use one of their cars all week. The car rolled to a stop in front of an out-of-town neighbor's house, and later on that week Ben used their car to jump-start Sylvia (our car) and drive her up to his parent's house, so that no one would tow it. Later he talked to the mechanics who usually work on our car and they agreed to fix the alternator and let us pay on our next paycheck, using the car now. So we were safe, had sufficient money, had a car the whole time ours wasn't working, and didn't have to pay a towing fee 'cause we were able to jump-start the car. This has been the easiest, most convenient breakdown ever. heh.
feelings: thankful

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belenen: photo of me with violet hair looking down, with a water-reflection overlay (ethereal)
ending counseling with Patricia / theophostic with Lisa / feeling God's presence / karen
I haven't been posting much about my counseling sessions, because we have a confidentiality agreement in the support group and not much has been happening in my sessions with Patricia. It's not wasted time -- but it's not very productive either. We've been on a sort of plateau for a while now, for several reasons: )

So, last session, she told me that she wants to stop having sessions with me, at least for a while. And I had to agree that that was probably the right thing to do. She suggested that Ben and I meet with Richard and Virginia for couples counseling instead -- but I really don't like the mindset Virginia has about how wives should be. She's never rude or outwardly judgemental, but I get a very judgemental vibe from her sometimes. So I don't want to do that.

But I met with Lisa (another counselor in the same practice) for a theophostic session this week, and it was amazing. Actually it was far beyond amazing, but I can't think of a word emphatic enough. It was... deeply soul-cleansing.

I should explain what 'theophostic' is. The easiest explanation is that it's the Christian version of hypnotherapy -- instead of a human leading you into your subconscious, God does, with your full consent. Basically the counselor and I pray together, and then we ask God to take me to a memory that he wants to work with and heal. And he does.

warning: some of this may be triggering for sexual abuse victims )

I began to feel an immense peace and a sweet lightness. I felt as if I was floating weightlessly, wrapped in a blanket of warm water. I felt this physically as well as with my spirit, and Lisa encouraged me to just rest in it. I saw God holding me in his lap, with my knees folded to my chest and his arms encircling me completely. I felt God's love, felt his presence! I don't think you can understand how amazing it is unless #1, you've experienced it and #2, physical affection means as much to you as it does to me. That's one of the reasons I've always had a hard time believing God loves me -- I need physical touch to feel loved.

I've felt it twice before. The first time was when I was on the brink of suicide because I could not climb out of the 'black hole of woe' that I lived in every day. That was shortly after I had begun to seek a friendship with God... it was by far my favorite experience. It felt like a waterfall of warm honey was flowing slowly over me, through me -- on the surface of my skin and in the core of my spirit. It meant so much to me, and that experience alone kept me going for a long time. The second was just a few months ago at church -- I was worshipping and I felt his presence, dancing with me. He was standing behind me with his arms wrapped around me. I tested it to see if I was just imagining it -- I switched rhythms and felt resistance, because he didn't change rhythms with me, so I delightedly went back, and danced with him.

Anyway, this time I sat there in pure comfort for I don't know how long, before slowly opening my eyes to look at Lisa, who was smiling at me. She told me to close my eyes again and ask God what he wanted me to know about that experience. So I did -- and he told me that I could feel his presence anytime I wanted, which confused me because I know I have wanted it many times and not had it. So I asked how, and he told me to take authority. I repeated this to Lisa, who told me to ask if there was more, so I did -- and he brought a verse of Psalms to my mind, "Enter into his presence with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise." Lisa told me to ask again if there was more, and he told me to empty my mind -- not to pray for people or read the bible or pour out my heart, but just think about him and invite his presence (that other stuff is separate, at least at this point).

Then Lisa prayed a sealing prayer, and we hugged and I left. Exhausted, but peaceful and still light. So incredible.
sounds: Olive: "Curious"
connecting: , ,

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belenen: (cobra spirit)
fight me, I grow stronger. / defending myself and believing in myself.
Last sunday, I had a 'relapse' of sorts, emotionally and spiritually. This is what was going on inside me. It wore me out to the point where I called in the next day and didn't go to work... slept all day instead.

Then Tuesday I went to group counseling, and I happened to be last to speak. I poured out my heart, basically saying all I had said in that post. There was silence for a few moments, and then my counselor began to talk to me. She got very heated, telling me that I should give up self-pity and make the choice to trust God... she said it differently but that was the gist of it. Some of the other women got uncomfortable with her directness (she was rather irate) and defended me, and she toned herself down a bit but didn't change what she was saying.

Meanwhile, my inner cobra was flaring her hood. I was furious. I held up my hand, palm toward her, and said, "I reject your judgement. That does not fall on me." I know the inner workings of me better than anyone except God, and I know that self-pity has not been a battle I've had to fight. I can't stand the role of the victim, and I certainly wouldn't wallow in it.

As she 'accused' and I 'defended,' I found myself growing stronger and stronger. I had had those doubts about myself, and as she caused me to face them head on, I realized how untrue they were. As I explained myself to her, I began to believe in myself more.

I know I have never stopped believing in God. I have never taken the easy way out! It's far, far easier simply to put aside these torturous questions and accept what someone else tells you is true -- but I refuse to do that. That's not always 'faith' -- sometimes it's just laziness, or a lack of passion -- or even fear of the answer. I believe that God is truth, and I believe that he is big enough to handle all my questions and pain and fear. I don't need to drop my questions; I need to seek the answer and be willing to accept it when I get it. No, I don't trust that God loves me, not right now, as much as I'd like to -- but some part of me must, because I still believe with my whole self that he IS Love, that he loves every human, and that he works in people's lives in response to my prayers. I've seen it, over and over again.

I don't know what it will take to get me to where I can believe that God loves me personally, deeply, fully, passionately, unreservedly, unconditionally...

... but I know I will get there.

At the end of the meeting, we all prayed together, including a specific prayer that God would give me the answer and that I'd be able to accept it, and then as people started getting up, my counselor apologized for being harsh, and I forgave her. And I asked for everyone's attention, and said that I could understand how they might feel upset with my counselor -- I would have been very upset had it been someone else she was scolding -- but that I believe that she was doing what God wanted her to. The result in my heart was positive -- not the result she was pushing for at all, but exactly the right result. I said that I thought her methods might have been somewhat questionable, but she was following God. After I finished my little speech, my counselor and I hugged, and I totally let go of any negative emotions I might have had toward her. I know she did that because she feels a little like a mother to me, and because she very passionately wants the best for me. There wasn't an unclean motive in her heart. (and I know she'd NEVER have gone off on anyone else like that, she was so completely honest; I kinda take it as a compliment) Another of the counselors came up to me and hugged me and thanked me for saying that, which filled me with the certainty that I had done the right thing. Hopefully it soothed any worried hearts.
sounds: Beauty's Confusion: "Silhouette"
connecting: , ,

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belenen: (pain)
breakdown of faith, outpouring... that poisonous question
I think God arranged for the computer to break when it did… lately I have been too busy to peer into my own heart. Before I was working I had plenty of time… nowadays I'm either working, at counseling, or on the computer, never spending time alone with myself.

So since the computer broke, I've been reading a novel based on the story of Joseph, from a Christian perspective. It's no pretty little fairy tale – and it's really been bothering me, because the main character (Tuya) struggles with trust, and I feel her pain. And the 'consolation' of other characters is just shallow and stupid to me. 'O, just trust' they say.

I really think it would be so much easier if I hadn't always been so devoted to God. It's much easier to start trusting a stranger than it is to have trusted someone for as long as you can remember, and then discover that he let your soul be shattered despite his omnipotence! How do you trust after that? I feel like I've been betrayed, and as much as I would like to believe that God is trustworthy, I just can’t. Or won't. whatever. I devoted myself to God at the age of four, and that experience was very real and completely true. I can still remember details of that day, oh-so-vividly.

So all this time I've been loving him, and for what? If he let it happen in order to teach me something, then he is evil, and I cannot worship an evil god. So I cannot believe that, will not believe that, and I spit on anyone who tries to tell me that.

If he let it happen because he gave responsibility for me to my parents and cannot steal back what he has given – then I suppose I can understand that, with my head. But what about all the adult rape victims? what happens when they pray to be rescued? Does he just sit there and say, "sorry, I can't force anyone – free will, remember?" How does it interfere with free will to have an angel appear and command the human to stop? I think most humans would be freaked out enough by that to stop. Or give the aggressor a heart attack, or simply strike him dead for daring to desecrate another human's soul? If God did it for touching his 'ark of the covenant' why the FUCK can't he do it for something that is far more important than a SYMBOL??? I just can't find an answer, and I NEED an answer to that question.

I refuse to simply throw out the question. I just can't do it. It would be nice to be able to blindly trust, to pretend until I deceive myself into thinking that I truly believe that God is worthy of trust. And if God's not worthy of trust, the whole world falls apart, because he's the only perfect being. I really don't see any way out – other than God giving me an answer directly. What is there to live for or die for if I can't trust God? It's all emptiness and it hurts so badly. I don't fucking know what to do, my soul is breaking. Where can I turn? No one has an answer… even my counselors say that they 'can't explain it, it's something you have to get for yourself' – how do I know they didn't just deceive themselves? How do I know that they aren't hiding the same poisonous question, deep down where they can't feel its sting?

I feel betrayed, hurt, lost, so alone. I have no anchor, I'm floating on an immense dead black sea… no one can comfort me, there is only one comfort and I can't find it.

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belenen: (mysterious)
phone / work / God's been reaching out to me
DAMMIT! Because I paid my phone bill 6 days early, they turned it off. Fuck. I am seriously so pissed about that. Ben said he'd deal with it when he gets off of work, though. They better work it out or I'm gonna be borrowing a phone to call some people and throw fits! This is ridiculous.

They're working me way too much for my taste. My Tuesdays and Saturdays are already filled with counseling & support group & church & home group & (very soon) bellydancing, and then I work four 9-hr days -- so I only have ONE DAY to relax. Me no lika dat. But I'll suffer for a bit so that we can get ahead faster. Oh, and the other day, I came back from lunch and Polly was taking out my drawer, and she said, "Kristen?" "Yeah?" "Thank you for coming back." She said it so sincerely and with such relief. I am teh bestest!

God has been really reaching out to me lately. I am convinced that some of the ladies in my support group must have been praying extra hard for me last week, because I have felt a change in my spirit. I can't pin it down, but something is different. Maybe there's one less demon whispering in my ear. I find it a little easier to hope. And I was working yesterday and one of the women in my group saw me from a distance and God moved her to write me a little note of encouragement and give it to me. She included Romans 8:28-29 -- "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn, with many brothers and sisters." This is a verse I have told myself many times, and I believe it about everything else, but when it comes to sexual abuse... "all things"... I don't feel like he worked for my good. And it's something I have to find for myself, so please don't try to help me see it.
sounds: Kosheen: "Pride"
connecting: ,

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belenen: (disassociative)
sugar and water intake / energy now that depression is less / don't want more healing / trusting God
I tell you what, working 9-hour days after 5 months (almost half a year!) of near-total physical inactivity is kicking my ass! But in a good way. I have discovered that I developed one good habit over the summer -- I drink a lot of water during the day now, and my sugar intake has been minimal, so when I drink a soda it tastes cloying after the first few sips. When I was working before, I bought a coke and a candy bar every break, and I was oh-so-tempted to do that again, but I resisted, and had water and a granola bar instead.

I have so much more energy now! probably partly due to the sensible sugar intake, but I think mainly due to the fact that I used to be so incredibly depressed that it was a huge struggle just to live, much less work and smile and be friendly. I am continually amazed at how easy life is now -- it's like living crippled and then being suddenly healed -- things that were a huge struggle before are just so simple now.

But that has its downside. I don't want to continue healing, I no longer have the drive. The only reason I'm giving it even this half-hearted effort is because I want truth that will comfort and give hope to other victims. I'm so angry at everyone with their sanctimonious bullshit! I have been healed in the basic way, I suppose, but the deeper places are still just as furiously wounded. If I think about it for any length of time I get so pissed. I keep asking, "WHY? how could God not step in?" and all I get is "You have to find your own answer to that question." I don't want that to be true -- I don't want to have to tell victims that. So I hope that it's really just that they're being private about it -- I know I won't have that problem!

And even deeper -- my relationship with God is so broken I can't even look at it. I know part of me never stopped loving and trusting him, but I have no idea where that part of me is hiding. Right now, my faith can't even be called faith. I absolutely believe that he exists and that the Bible is true -- I believe it mentally at least, but spiritually and emotionally, I just can't reconcile a God of Love to this image in my head. And I have no idea where to go from here. I kinda want to believe that he's trustworthy... but I kinda don't.

A kinda cool thing that happened at the support group -- I was sitting bored while everyone else was communing with God, and wondering why it was so hard for me to hear him speak. Suddenly I got this image of him coming up to me (spiritually) and starting to say hi, and my spirit jumping up with her hands on her hips and shouting, affronted, "Who dares talk to me?!?" It made me snicker. The best thing about it was that when he gave me that image, it was with a feeling of amused acceptance. Other people might see me as rude, obnoxious, arrogant -- but he sees me as, and I quote, "Fierce."

That did give me a bit of hope... but still no answers. I am so conflicted.
sounds: Kosheen: "Face In A Crowd"
connecting: , , ,

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belenen: (vivacious)
Good news!
Stress is much less! Here's why:
  • finally got my period! 8 weeks late, but at least I know for sure that I'm not pregnant. I'm going to the ob-gyn as soon as we get a little more money.
  • Ben's parents 'hired' him to do some yard work in exchange for money that we desperately needed. So wonderful, especially since I hate borrowing, this was a much better solution. I went with him to help but got distracted talking to Rebecca for hours. oops. ;-)
  • Ben went to the bank on his lunch and talked them into reversing the fee!!!! YAYAYAYAYAYAY!!! That's really wonderful 'cause it means that my jewelry-making work isn't wasted.
  • reapplied at Wal-Mart, I have an 'interview' on Tuesday, and will likely start working in about a week. Which means more money which means being able to save and have a little bit of cushion from pennilessness. As well as being able to go to the ob-gyn and the dentist and the optometrist.
  • I'm actually ready to go back to work now. Before, it would have brought my healing to a standstill, because my 'responsible self' is the self that keeps me from feeling or opening old wounds, and she was too strong. If I had to bring her out to go to work, she would have taken over me altogether. But now my other parts are strong enough to stand up to her and keep me slowly stumbling towards healing.
I KNOW that it was all the prayers / kind thoughts / positive energy that you have been so kindly giving for me. I do believe that prayer is the strongest, but I don't discount the others, I believe they have effect. And regardless of the power in them, it's the gift of them that makes me love you all.
feelings: relieved
sounds: Obka: "Rush"

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