The blog continues…

Well, friends, the time has come.

I’ve moved this little blog over to my actual website.

At this point, I haven’t been able to set up subscribing and email notifications on the new site. But hopefully that will come soon.

I hope to see you over at CandlesAndHerbs.com and on the new blog.

Thank you for all the awesome times, and blessed be.

-Ck

blessed be leaves (c&h)

(Belated) Wiccan Wednesday : Blessed Yule and Other Holiday Greetings

Lately, my social media seems awash with people being offended.

They’re offended by politicians, they’re offended by organizations, they’re offended by coffee cups, and they’re especially offended by the way people say goodbye to them during the winter months.

“Merry Christmas? Don’t people realize that I’m not Christian?”

“Happy Holidays? Don’t people recognize the religious aspect of holidays anymore?”

When it comes to greetings and goodbyes, it seems like a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t kind of situation.

When the hell did we all get so touchy?

 

Here’s the thing, unless you’re walking around wearing a tshirt that says “Hello, I am [insert religion or belief system or lack thereof] so please recognize my holiday [insert holiday name or lack thereof]” you have no right to be offended. And even then, it’s iffy.

If you’re offended by a stranger’s holiday greeting, then you, my friend, are a turd.

That person doesn’t know you from Adam, and yet they were thoughtful enough to wish you a good day in the best way they knew how.

Maybe you would prefer that they recognize your individual religious belief or holiday celebratory style. But guess what -they have no idea what you celebrate or what you believe. And, honestly, they’ll probably never see you again in their damn life. So when the cashier at your grocery store says “Happy Holidays” please, please, don’t be the guy who responds with “Actually I’m a [religion], so I say [greeting]”.

It just makes you look like a buttmunch.

Some people take it a step further and become offended, not only by the greetings of strangers, but by the way their friends address them in the winter months.

Oh, so your friend said “Merry Christmas” the other day, even though they know that you don’t celebrate Christmas? And this has filled you with righteous indignation and offense?

Okay. Step back.

First of all, you seem like such a turd that you should be grateful that anyone is offering you any kind of holiday greeting at all. I mean, jeeze.

Second of all, you aren’t the center of everyone’s friggin’ universe.

Everyone is so different and has such different belief systems that sometimes it can honestly be hard to keep track of everyone’s everything every second of every day. Can you really blame a person if they just throw out a blanket greeting from time to time? Perhaps the greeting that they would enjoy hearing?

Look, the bottom line is this : if anyone offers you any kind of seasonal greeting, they’re doing it out of kindness. Why in the world would you take offense to that?

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And to that end, Blessed Yule, friends!

Go out and be un-offended.

Blessed Yule!

-Ck

We Are Seeds.

"What didn't you do to bury me, But you forgot that I was a seed." -Dinos Christianpoulos-

Sometimes crap is piled on us. The universe, in its infinite wisdom and with its twisted sense of humor, sees fit to dump on us from all sides and from every possible angle.

But we are all seeds.

And we are always growing.

And no amount of dirt or crap or concrete can keep us from reaching toward the light.

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So suck on that, universe.

-Ck

 

Let’s Talk About Stones: Fancy Jasper

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This stone is great for grounding and meditation, as it’s thought to bring a sense of wholeness to the bearer.

Fancy Jasper is sometimes referred to as “the rain bringer”. Some believe that rubbing the stone brings a healing, cleansing rain.

This type of Jasper comes in a variety of colors and often has beautiful swirls inside.

-Ck

Wiccan Wednesday : A Tale of Door-to-Door Religion

Let me preface this post by saying: today I do not look pretty.

I don’t mean that my mascara is smeared or that my outfit is unflattering. I mean that I look like something that crawled out of a swamp in a Jim Henson movie.

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For one thing, I’ve been working furiously to prepare for this weekend’s craft fair. My hands have cuts from wire ends, my fingernails are broken and jagged, and the tail end of a ball of twine is dangling from my sweatshirt pocket.

For another, I spent a sleepless night on the couch, binge watching reruns of Hell’s Kitchen. My stomach and I often have disagreements over my meal choices, and last night was a rough one.

Because of my evening’s activities, my hair is loose and wild, my eyes are packing heavy bags, and my leggings-and-torn-sweatshirt ensemble is less than flattering.

So when the doorbell rang this morning, I was inclined to ignore it.

I hunkered down on the sofa, hoping that the people outside would decide I wasn’t home and wander away.

Assassin, of course, had other plans. She chose that moment to poke a paw through the curtains, creating the illusion that a person was peeking out.

I heard someone outside say “hello!” and the doorbell rang again.

There was no escaping now. So I zipped up my tattered sweater and tentatively pulled the door open.

Outside were two friendly ladies holding a collection of pamphlets.

“Oh,” they both said, taking in my appearance. Though, to be fair, it may have been more than my Fraggle Rock hair that threw them off. “We thought you spoke Spanish,” one of the gals explained.

I blinked. “I do not.”

“Do any of your neighbors speak Spanish?”

“I have no idea,” I admitted. I haven’t lived in the new house for very long, and I’ve hardly taken a poll of the neighborhood.

And with that, the first lady was done with me. She stepped off the porch and the second gal stepped up to the doorway.

She gave me a smile and brandished her pamphlets.

“We’re coming around your neighborhood today to talk about our religion,” she told me.

“Oh,” I said. “Well, I’m not actually…” I trailed off. I didn’t want to outright offend these smiley women who had braved the Oregon rain to come to my door. But I wasn’t sure how to say “I’m not interested in hearing about your religion and your god, so please get off my porch” in a gentle way.

“That’s okay,” she quickly said, opening one of the pamphlets. “We’ve listed several passages from the standard bible that we feel will help you understand what we stand for. Because we all believe in one creator, right? And we all believe in good, right?”

“Sure,” I agreed. “But I don’t actually use a bible.”

“Oh?”

“No, I’m a wiccan.”

“Oh.” The ladies exchanged a quick look. “I don’t actually know a whole lot about your religion,” the gal at my door admitted.

To be honest, at this point I was anticipating the worst. I was expecting to be lectured about the dangers of hell, or least to hear about the virtues of jesus.

But I was surprised.

“Wiccans are very close to nature, right?” She asked.

I agreed.

“We aren’t so different,” she decided. “Nature, to us, is a representation of the creator.”

I nodded, surprised by her answer and the change in her tone. She no longer seemed to be reading from a script. Instead, she seemed genuinely thoughtful.

She wished me a good day with a smile, keeping her pamphlets to herself. Then she and her companion carried on down the road.

And so, my slightly rambling point is this: none of us are so different from each other.

We all have our own path, we all see goodness in our own way. But we all see it. We are all just trying to live in the best way we know how. We’re all just trying to do right.

I’ve had people come to my door with fliers for religion in the past. I’ve had people hand me pamphlets, ignoring the fact that their god and mine are not the same.

But this was the first time that someone has come to my door with the intention of teaching me about their beliefs, only to realize that we already share values.

And it was a much more pleasant experience. Definitely for me, and probably for the ladies at my door.

Wouldn’t it be easier if, instead of standing alone and screaming about our differences, we took a step back and realized our similarities?

-Ck

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The last five months in pictures.

Since I last posted…

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The Husband and I have moved from the old apartment into our new house.

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Of course, Assassin loves having more room to run around.

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Making the house feel like our home has taken lots of work and elbow grease. One of my favorite changes was definitely replacing this nonfunctional pellet stove with one of my favorite cabinets.

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I've been spending plenty of time with the family.

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And extra time with my new baby nephew. Isn't he just stinkin adorable?!

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Of course, this goof is always around to keep me entertained.

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Lately, I've been hard at work creating new inventory for the c&h Etsy shop.

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And preparing for my first craft fair with the Salem Etsy Team (which is Dec 12th at the Salem Armory, fyi).

I’ll see you next time.

-Ck

On the Subject of The Girl Scouts…

First of all – a new post! I know it’s been awhile. I’m thinking that this blog is probably going to end up taking on more of a story-of-my-life kind of spin soon. So, be prepared for that mess.

Second of all – I’m sure you guys have been seeing the Girl Scout fundraiser floating around your social media lately. If you haven’t had the chance to read up on the situation, here it is…

Basically, Girl Scouts is a non-profit organization that relies on donations and fundraisers. A huge portion of these donations go towards bringing low-income and at-risk kids to summer camp, so that they can have an amazing experience that may otherwise be unavailable to them. While Girl Scouts is nationwide, there are regional troops who work within their own communities.

A while back, Girl Scouts of Western Washington received a massive donation of one hundred thousand dollars. But this donation came with a stipulation – that none of the money could go towards supporting transgender girls.

Now, to me, this isn’t even about whether or not you support LGBT rights and issues. It’s about whether or not you will tolerate discrimination in your community.

And Girl Scouts absolutely do NOT tolerate hate or discrimination of any kind.

The Girl Scouts of Western Washington returned the money.

And I have never been prouder to be a Girl Scout.

Though I was never a part of Girl Scouts when I was younger, I’ve spent many summers working at Girl Scout Camps in Northern California. When you are hired at a GS Camp, you become a Girl Scout (which, incidentally, is why The Husband is an Honorary Girl Scout). Part of the pledge that all Girl Scouts make is to do their best to be “considerate and caring, courageous and strong … to respect myself and others … to make the world a better place”.

The organization truly works to maintain this pledge. They never discriminate towards either campers or staff, girls or troop leaders.

Yes, some of their wording and traditions center around Christian ideals, because Girl Scouts was founded by people who HAD Christian ideals. However, as most of you know, I am not a Christian. And never in my time with Girl Scouts did I feel unwelcome or unable to participate. Staff members were encouraged to uphold the spirit of the tradition, rather than follow it to the letter.

For example, every night at GS Camp, the flag is lowered and put away for the night. After this is done, we sing “Taps”, the final lines of which are “All is well. Safely rest. God is nigh”. My very first flag ceremony as a staff member, we told that the final line is, of course, optional. Some people repeat “All is well”, while others stand silently. Basically, the staff was told that we should do whatever made us feel comfortable.

Occasionally, girls would ask me why I stood silently during the final line of “Taps”. I would gently tell them that I loved flag ceremony, but that I preferred not to bring someone else’s God into it. None of my girls ever argued or told me that my choice was wrong.

Every camper and every staffer at Camp is different. We have different religious beliefs, different gender identities, different orientations, different races, and different economical backgrounds. I have talked with fellow staff members about their lifestyles and told them about mine. I have had girls ask me about my spiritual tattoos, my spouse, and my “real job”. Never has anyone treated me as inferior or unwelcome. Staff or camper.

There is an atmosphere of respect and understanding within the Girl Scout community. It’s ingrained.

I’m proud to be part of such an amazing organization.

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You can learn more about the Girl Scouts’ commitment to diversity here.

You can learn how to donate to Girl Scouts, and help give under-privileged girls an amazing camp experience, here.

-Ck

Let’s Talk About Herbs : Cypress

Cypress

Cypress is sometimes known as the Tree of Death. That sounds creepy, but actually the name refers to an old custom of placing a cypress branch into graves to bless the deceased in the afterlife.

Keeping cypress branches in your house, or planting the trees on your property is thought to protect and bless a home.

Adding cypress boughs to bouquets at funerals is believed to ease grief and bring peace to loved ones.

-Ck

Wiccan Wednesday : The Summerland

The Summerland

I often get questions about Wiccans’ beliefs in heaven and the afterlife. Some people think that if we don’t believe in hell, we couldn’t possibly believe in heaven. And, I suppose, that that’s a fair assumption to make.

However, many (but not ALL, because remember that Wicca is a very individualized religion) Wiccans believe that when we pass, our souls go to a place called The Summerland.

For some, this is a place where our souls find peace and rest for all of eternity. For others, The Summerland is merely a comfortable waiting room that our souls pass through on their way to beginning life again.

We do not believe that a person can get “kicked out” or barred from The Summerland because of bad behavior or decisions made in life. Nor do we believe that only those who followed a certain faith may find peace after death.

Occasionally, you may hear someone saying that someone has been “reborn in The Summerland” when they speak of a person passing. This is because many Wiccans believe that as our physical bodies die, our souls shed any hurt or negativity that we may have collected in this life and arrive “new” in The Summerland.

Some Wiccans and Pagans also believe that after several lives (or reincarnations, depending on who you ask), our souls may be elevated. Some believe that angels and spirit guides are simply elevated souls who watch over the living.

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Whatever you believe, it’s important to remember that everyone is different. When it comes right down to it, none of us have definitive proof of what happens after we die. If someone needs to think that there is a peaceful place for their soul to rest, let them. If someone needs to believe that we are rewarded for our good deeds in this life, let them. As long as no one is harming or damning you with their beliefs, there’s no sense in arguing. Understand that death (whether it’s our own or that of a loved one) can be a terrifying subject for some people.

Be compassionate. Always.

The Best Laid Plans …

Two months later, here I am again.

In those two months, I’ve spent my time searching for a house, obtaining and recovering from yet another illness that baffles medical professionals, and writing … but not on this blog, apparently.

The Husband and I have been house hunting off an on for the last few years. A couple of months ago, though, the search began in earnest. Our apartment neighbors have become outrageously loud, and my hatred of the laundromat has only grown lately. So, we decided it was time to get serious and look for a home without shared walls.

And oh, lord, has it been a journey. We stumbled across a Realtor when we stumbled across a house we wanted to see. That Realtor passed off to a fellow in his office who then proceeded to make our lives miserable. This guy was very friendly and likable, but terrible at his actual job. He was happy to show us any house I requested, which was fantastic. Unfortunately, he didn’t do any research on the house before we crossed the threshold. This led to us spending a lot of time in houses which were either not compatible with our loan, or already had a sale pending. Honestly.

Finally, we abandoned him and are now working with a very sweet, very competent lady who has a knack for pointing out potential money pits in the homes she shows us. Just today, we were hanging out in a basement of a cute little house (which unfortunately has a kitchen smaller than the one in my apartment). She turned to me and said “This stuff by the window is excrement from wood dwelling insects. I think this house has carpenter ants.”

And so, the search continues.

Hopefully, we’ll eventually end up in a cute little house with room for an herb garden and I’ll be able to post a million pictures a day of my basil and rosemary.

In the meantime, though, I’ll be lucky if I can crank out a Wiccan Wednesday post once in awhile.

-Ck

"Quiet Neighbors"  This is what I need, I think! (Image from http://blog.timesunion.com/realestate/real-estate-humor)

“Quiet Neighbors”
This is what I need, I think!
(Image from http://blog.timesunion.com/realestate/real-estate-humor)

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