erynn: Gaelic merman image (Ogma)
I spent a goodly chunk of this evening delving about in books, looking up potential healing deities and other figures, and found quite a number listed here and there. I'm still chasing down some others. I found a note that may be of interest to [livejournal.com profile] alfrecht and will be typing up a quick quote and sending it off to him in a little bit.

In pursuit of some of my research I have had cause to attempt to read Táin Bó Flidhais: "The Mayo Táin" by Stephen Dunford. I have a sneaking suspicion that he stabbed a thesaurus and let it bleed out onto the pages. It isn't pretty. It gets the story across, but his language is labored and not at all imitative of Early and Middle Irish tales. He cannot resist using some verbal detritus or other when a simple (or even a poetic) word will do. Here, for your delectation, is a sample sentence from this overwrought monstrosity:

Then, as her bosom throbbed and heaved with the quick deleterious pulsation and palsy of grief, and with her fair and beautiful face blanched with streaming tears, her ululating yowls of lamentation echoing united and multitudinous across the landscape, falling and rising in lingering cadences, Flidhais commenced a doleful and remorseful dirge in which she ruefully recalled and recounted every worthy action of her deceased husband and of his hallowed and atavistic progenitors.

As you can see, not much to recommend this version. It is, mercifully, slim.

[livejournal.com profile] gra_is_stor's mom and one of her sisters will be in town shortly. Her mom may come to the Abney Park show with us tomorrow, and they will both probably join us on Sunday for the bad movie festival. We'll be viewing the two Dr Phibes movies and Mars Attacks. It should be fun.

Dishes were done. Food was had. Research was compiled. All in all, not a bad day.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (ow. Robertson Davies)
I am having a headache and a vaguely queasy stomach that I should not have. It's not in the usual migraine place, though it feels mostly like one. Sometimes I do get them on the other side of my head so that's probably what's happening.

Some nice things were said about the Mandragora anthology at this blog here.

I have a group tomorrow but am not sure if I'll be feeling well enough to get down to Seattle for it. I wanted to write today but could barely focus enough to read. This is massive suckage. I shall check in with you tomorrow. Hope you're having a better day than me.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Book of Dreams)
Mandragora, as some of you may recall, is a beautiful book on esoteric poesis in which I have an essay and a couple of poems. Here are a few words on said book and its contents:

The Larkfall blog by Phil Legard.

Aedicula Antinoi blog discussing the Larkfall review.

Finnchuill's Mast blog by Finnchuill.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Book of Dreams)
Mandragora, as some of you may recall, is a beautiful book on esoteric poesis in which I have an essay and a couple of poems. Here are a few words on said book and its contents:

The Larkfall blog by Phil Legard.

Aedicula Antinoi blog discussing the Larkfall review.

Finnchuill's Mast blog by Finnchuill.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (all your books!)
The VA sent me an appointment for podiatry in the mail today, which is scheduled for 8:30am on July 9th. I called and left them a message that I was going to be on a plane that day, thank you, and they should call me soon, but NOT BEFORE NOON to reschedule. I am so not going to an 8:30 appointment. I would have to be up by 6am to get there in time, given rush hour traffic and all the crap that entails for a trip in from Everett. There is No Fucking Way I am going to have an appointment at that hour. If they only have a morning clinic, I will have the very last appointment of the morning, thanks very much. I had told the gal who was sending the referral in to have them CALL ME first, but of course this is the VA and they don't actually listen. yay.

I sent off the payment for my UK train tickets to [livejournal.com profile] fififolle, who received it today. That finishes up all the travel stuff for my trip except the Isle of Man, where I'll probably get a bus pass for the week.

Last night I also finally got around to answering an email from a young woman (presumably, from what I could get from the email address name) who was asking me about centralizing CR and making One Big Website with Everything On It where info would be sorted and reliable and folks could buy books that were published about CR and... sigh It's a great dream, but that's just never going to happen. The original Celtic cultures were never a unity and it's completely unrealistic to expect CR Paganism to manifest unity when we all worship different deities, our rituals are going to be different, and there are different cultures involved. I wish the online community was a little less acrimonious, but the only way anything is going to get done is by people actually doing them instead of sitting around online talking about it and telling everyone else how UnCeltic they are. Stuff like this doesn't spring up overnight, anything involving an organization that publishes is going to have to deal with nonprofit laws, and it would take a lot of volunteer effort that never quite seems to be forthcoming. Anyone who wants to see organizations and groups start, even if they are not a scholar and don't want to be one, is just going to have to step up to the plate and start organizing things. It's not magically going to happen by wishing. But I have given that particular rant many a time before. I hope I was at least encouraging to her about finding her talents and contributing to the community as best she's able.

Today I spent some time talking on Skype (texting actually) with [livejournal.com profile] vyviane about pilgrimage stuff and sorted through some things. I sent her a link for the doc where I have a bunch of research links and stuff for some of the sites we're visiting, and where I'll be adding more things as I find them in the next few days. I also wrote up part of a document for the list on three cauldrons meditations that will be the basis for the daily work we'll do before the writing prompts each morning. I would have spent more time on it, but I needed to get down into Everett to pick up my guests and have dinner with them, then we came back here and watched the Lovecraft movies, which were greatly enjoyed. She did note that airfare from Boston or New York into Dublin is, I believe, just under $1,000 for a round trip right now, so if anyone was wondering if cheaper airfare might make going on the pilgrimage possible, now would be the time to consider tickets and coming along!

ETA: [livejournal.com profile] vyviane says "I found tons of 1,000 RT from all over the place via Air Lingus and Expedia has a couple 811 and 864 RT from Boston and New York City!"

Further work was done on dealing with the specific themes and readings for each day's meditations and travel. I still need to dig through some books to find appropriate poems, but that's tomorrow's job.

I was delighted to discover that the Celtic Scholar's Reviews blog had posted a very positive review of Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom a few days ago, giving it a very high recommendation. Her reviews tend to be honest and clear about a book's flaws, as well as its positive points, and she was really quite pleased with my work.

Thursday I've scheduled a chat with the Sisterhood of Avalon again, given that the last one was pretty much utterly defeated by a lousy internet connect. I'm looking forward to it, as it was so messed up last time. Apparently they really enjoyed what little I did get through to everyone, so it'll be nice to be able to actually talk to them realtime instead of with those hideous delays and signal drops.

Monday is the CR schmooze, and Jeff is going to be doing a presentation on deity imagery on Celtic coins. He's really into numismatics and will have illustrations and such. It should be fun.

Arms hurt

Mar. 9th, 2012 12:27 am
erynn: Gaelic merman image (ow. Robertson Davies)
The arms have not been getting any better. If anything, the pain is getting worse. It's not quite at the "can't pick up a fork" point but it may get there if this keeps up. It's times like this that I wish I could get tylenol with codeine over the counter. American drug laws are so fucked up. Sadly, there's not much I can do to reduce my use of my arms right now, given I have a lot of work to do, and typing is about the only way to do it.

I may be going up to Vancouver from the 19th - 22nd to help out [livejournal.com profile] mael_brigde after her surgery, if those dates work for her.

The weather today was gorgeous. It was sunny and about 60f-ish in Seattle when I was down there this afternoon. Ran into [livejournal.com profile] nathan_fhtagn at Travelers and he was going to head out to the airport to pick up [livejournal.com profile] meddevi for their show this weekend. I'll be there with [livejournal.com profile] gra_is_stor Saturday night for the show.

Today brought a copy of Brigid of the Gael by Conrad Bladey in the post. The book claims to be a pretty much complete compilation of source material on Brigid. So far it seems reasonably comprehensive, but it's poorly edited and extremely cheaply made. A lot of the material looks like raw scanner output that's barely been formatted. There are typos everywhere; in some passages you actually have to know what you're looking at in order to decipher it. I can't deny that there is a vast amount of information here, and it would undoubtedly be useful to people interested primarily in Brigid as saint. There's very little information here about Brigid as goddess, not even the brief passages from the Book of Invasions. The Cormac's Glossary passage is there, but it's the only text directly quoted regarding Brigid as goddess. I would say more, but my arms aren't really going to hold out for it.

In other book information, I'm not sure how many folks were aware, but Damien McManus's A Guide to Ogam is back in print for only €10 + postage from Trinity College. Information can be found at this web page, at the bottom: http://www.tcd.ie/Irish/research/publications.php

I have to stop typing. Maybe more tomorrow.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Default)
I went down to Seattle today to go to my monthly shrinkage only to find that the appointment is actually next Wednesday. *headdesk*

It certainly wasn't a wasted day. I dropped by Travelers, where I finally wrote up the review I've been planning to do of War and the Soul, now posted on the Warriors and Kin blog. That was an interesting exercise. It would be great if you'd drop over and check it out!

While I was at Travelers, I talked briefly to [livejournal.com profile] nathan_fhtagn, who was in having a conversation with another musician. He said hi and asked if I'd be at the show with [livejournal.com profile] unwoman tomorrow. He promises banjo and theramin. My brain hurts at the mere thought of it, but I really do have to see this. I told him [livejournal.com profile] alfrecht was back in town and that we'd both be there.

I was glad to get the writing done. That's one thing off my plate that I've been staring at for the last month or so. I'm not sure what the next thing I need to tackle is. I should go poke at my writy reminders tag and see what's lurking under the surface.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Default)
I got a copy of Witches & Pagans magazine in the mail today with a review of my ogam book in it. Five broomsticks out of five! It's in their short takes section on page 90-91.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Default)
Recently I was talking about an interview I was doing with Aontacht, the online magazine of the Druidic Dawn website. They had projected publication on the 21st but when I popped by for a peek today, they had already posted it! The interview with me starts on page 9 of the PDF file. There's a formatting kerfuffle due to the two-column format towards the end, but I pinged the editor to see if it could be fixed.

Also in this issue, they printed a review of Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom. The review was quite positive, but I'll admit I'm puzzled by its final paragraph:

Even if you are inclined to challenge the premise that the Ogam began in Ireland with the coming of the Celts, you will not be disappointed by what you find in this book.

I'm really puzzled about where this came from. I've never argued that ogam "began in Ireland with the coming of the Celts" -- on the contrary, it's well-accepted in the scholarly literature that ogam originated with Irish Christians some centuries after Celtic civilization and language were established in Ireland. I argued against the POV that 'the Druids did it.' If the reviewer means that she disagrees because she thinks ogam is preChristian and didn't begin in Ireland then I really think she ought to read more on the history of the system and the legitimate debates on the origin theories.

Anyway, drop by and check out the interview!
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Default)
I got handed a copy of Ten Years of Triumph of the Moon today by [livejournal.com profile] alfrecht, who received his contributor's copies in the mail Saturday. Though I took a number of breaks, I read it all tonight.

Some of the essays are good ones, with interesting and useful things to say. A few of them aren't that good at all, unfortunately including those of one of the editors, who doesn't seem to recognize the difference between a period and an ellipsis.

One consistent problem in this volume is the extremely poor copy-editing. In places this book looks like the editing was done with a hatchet. Despite the fact that some of the (lack of cohesive) editing makes some of the sentences in several papers almost unintelligible, there's some good stuff to be had.

Sabina Maglicco's article "Aradia in Sardinia: The Archaeology of a Folk Character" offers some evidence for the origins of Leland's Aradia, a seminal figure in the late-19th and early-20th century roots of modern Wicca.

Amy Hale's "White Men Can't Dance: Evaluating Race, Class and Rationality in Ethnographies of the Esoteric" addresses important ongoing concerns and prejudices within academia regarding the study of Paganism and esotericism in general in modern Western societies. She points out the racism and hypocrisy inherent in an academic establishment that relegates ritual and magic to supposedly irrational indigenous societies, assuming that "white" people of European extraction are above such things. Her discussion highlights the prejudices that scholars of magic and Paganism face in academia when trying to study Pagan and occult subcultures in modern Western society.

"The Occult Underground: Strategies of Power and Antinomianism" by Henrik Bogdan examines projections of demonism and Satanic evil onto various occult and Left Hand Path groups and individuals. He discusses Crowley and the Dragon Rouge order in the context of secularized and individualist modern society.

And, of course, there's [livejournal.com profile] alfrecht's excellent article, "Pagan Celtic Studies (Or, Throwing the Druidic Baby Out from the Still-Drinkable Sacred Spring Water...?!). This is the only article in the anthology that in any way directly addresses and challenges some of Hutton's assertions, which I think has been long-overdue.

While Hutton's work does have value in the community, he tends to be very dismissive of anything that can't be proved with a written cite. One of the caveats that I've had over the years about Hutton's Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles is that it has to be read in company with something like Ralph Merrifield's The Archaeology of Ritual and Magic to counter all his assertions that nothing at all has survived or had any continuity from the Pagan past into the present.

There are a number of other articles in the book, some of which are passable, but unfortunately one of the editors had the least readable and least useful article in the whole compilation. It's unfortunate he didn't himself have an editor to look over his own work.

I think that if you're a Hutton fan, you'll find a lot to like in this book, as well as a few things that might challenge your opinions. If you're not specifically a Hutton fan but are interested in the state of scholarship regarding Paganism and the occult today, this will also be quite worth reading. Just be prepared for a lot of bad editing.

Three and a half dancing druids out of five.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Default)
The book hasn't come out yet, but I spent a goodly chunk of last week reading it and offering comments to the author in preparation for writing a cover blurb. Here's my review of the book.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Default)
Someone reviewed A Circle of Stones: Journeys & Meditations for Modern Celts on YouTube. The lady who did the review emailed me and let me know she was going to be doing it, along with mentioning that the book is available in PDF form. She included my Preserving Shrine website address in her sidebar to the video.

Thanks LibraWitch!
erynn: Gaelic merman image (all your books!)
My copy of Talking About the Elephant: An Anthology of Neopagan Perspectives on Cultural Appropriation arrived today from [livejournal.com profile] lupabitch. Being an author with an ego, I sat down to read it and am nearly done. It's another good contribution from Megalithica. A number of perspectives are addressed, many of which I agree with and a few of which I don't. One essay, "Druids and Brahmins: Of Cultural Appropriation and the Vedas" by Jenne Micale, left me rather confused as to what her point (or even her argument) was, but aside from that it's been a good read. It's certainly likely to stir up some controversy and conversation in our various communities.

A continuing theme through many of the essays is that of language and respect when approaching cultures, spiritualities, and practices that are not ours by cultural inheritance. Another theme is addressing claims of "blood" on different practices and how this so often intersects with racism. Several essays address reconstructions of no longer extant religious or cultural practices and how or whether "appropriation" can even be used in those cases. Regardless of your position on cultural appropriation, you're likely to find something here to challenge your ideas and assumptions. It's good to get our thoughts shaken up every so often.

One minor note of a personal sort -- my bio got left out of the list of authors at the end. Lupa doesn't love me anymore! *weeps* Four big ivory tusks of five.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (two ravens)
Still feeling pretty crappy. The GERD meds seem to be helping already, contrary to the doc's statement that it might take a couple of weeks to kick in. Breathing and coughing is still problematic. Taking a shower today left me feeling really exhausted so I'll probably be heading back to bed sometime soon. Inhalers, of course, make me feel rather shaky.

Last night I read Eccentrics: A Study of Sanity and Strangeness by David Weeks and Jamie James. Interesting and by turns fun and annoying. It was brain candy rather than any kind of serious reading, but that can be distracting and when I'm not feeling well, distraction is sometimes better than attempting anything resembling deep thought. The basic premise is that just because you're weird doesn't mean you're unhappy or have some clinical psychiatric diagnosis. The authors did take a rather patronizing tone toward a lot of the folks they talked about but were careful to point out that before their work, nobody had ever made any kind of formal study of eccentrics and eccentricity. Then again, according to their standards, pretty much everyone I know is eccentric... Two mad hatters out of five.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (all your books!)
Several people have asked if I'd let them know what I thought of Neil Gaiman's American Gods when I finished the book. I got that done last night and I have to say I guess I'm just not that much of a fiction person anymore. I did enjoy the book and certainly don't by any means feel like it was wasted time. Yet, from all that my friends have said about the book since its publication, I guess I was sort of expecting all that and a bag of chips -- and for me, it wasn't. Thoughts beneath the cut. )
erynn: Gaelic merman image (writy typewriter)
I'm taking a break from Celtic stuff today and reading [livejournal.com profile] erl_queen's Kharis: Hellenic Polytheism Explored (2nd ed.). It's a short book but one that's well-written and packed with good stuff that I think applies widely to polytheistic paths, with great good sense and a good understanding of both relationships with deity and of mystical practices. Definitely worth picking up, even if you're not a Hellenic Pagan. There's much excellent advice in this book for anyone on a polytheistic path. Her exercises and advice on developing ritual are well thought out and would be helpful for anyone interested in developing relationships with deity, particularly within a Hellenic context, but so much of this is just a good idea for any reconstructionist-oriented path. Five wine libations of five!

Also, [livejournal.com profile] lupabitch has put up a review of The Phillupic Hymns, which she rates with a resounding five paws out of five. If you've been contemplating picking up a book of ritual poetry, drop by her review and give this book some thought.

I'm always pleased to see good books coming out in the Pagan community, especially when the authors are friends of mine. I'm proud that so many of my friends are such talented people and so devoted to their work and their deities.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Steamy time travel)
Got your attention?

Good.

I love the whole steampunk aesthetic, but I'm not one of those frilly gals who wants to wear long skirts and lace. When I was in Half Price Books today I picked up a gem of a visual treat for those of us who are of the more butch persuasion:

Women in Pants: Manly Maidens, Cowgirls and Other Renegades by Catherine Smith and Cynthia Greig. The book covers women in pants and men's clothing, including the "clothing reform" movement of the Victorian era, from about 1850 to the late 1920s. There are women at work in mines and on farms, frontier women, Native women and women of color, performers, military women, women dressed as men (complete with fake facial hair) and women in sports from boxing and rodeo riders to bicycling and baseball. Almost every page has a photograph.

From Calamity Jane and Sarah Bernhardt to anonymous railroad workers, there are women from every station and walk of life. What unites them is their rejection of the common women's clothing of the day. Photos range in format from albumen prints to tintype, and stereoview to postcards. This is a fantastic reference book for anyone who wants to play with gender bending or with an adventurer character.

Expand your wardrobe -- and your mind -- to the possibilities for women in steampunk!
erynn: Gaelic merman image (chai)
I was up late last night watching some Lone Gunmen eps with [livejournal.com profile] alfrecht, who headed out before I got up today to see his dad; it's his dad's birthday. First thing I did was head downtown to Everett to pay a tax bill -- my garage isn't on the one paid with my mortgage, so I have to deal with it separately. It was easier to go down there than to get a money order or fiddle with setting up an electronic payment. The rest of my day here below. )
erynn: Gaelic merman image (all your books!)
Yesterday was spent down in Seattle with [livejournal.com profile] alfrecht, first at Travelers having a chai and some chole then over at Edge for Christopher Penzack's talk. It was on rock-bottom basic qabala from a Wiccan perspective and, for me at least, a little boring. It's not my paradigm, but he's quite correct in saying that most modern Paganism (anything Wiccan-derived in the least) has a ceremonial magick/qabalistic undertone in it somewhere.

The turnout was large -- the man has many groupies and he's very pleasant, so that's unsurprising. We went over to Jimbo and Black Cat's afterwards for a little reception/party. I passed along [livejournal.com profile] lupabitch and [livejournal.com profile] teriel's greetings to him and we conversed a little on publishing and publishers. I talked with several other folks there as well.

We got home around 1am or so and today I was too achy to do much of anything except lay around on the couch. I did, however, read the entirety of The Bisexual's Guide to the Universe: Quips, Tips and Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways by Nicole Kristal and Mike Szymanski. As you might surmise from my comment, it was a quick read. It arrived in the mail today from Mr. Szymanski, who had been asking if reviewers were interested in receiving a copy.

Overall, I thought it was a fun book. If you know nothing about bisexuality or its various label-less labels (fluidity, hetero/homo-flexibility, etc, ad nauseum), you will know at least a little by the time you finish the book. Some of its attitude annoyed me -- "bisexuals are more evolved than other people" in particular is an attitude I just want to smack out of people. No, bisexuals are at the same evolutionary level as every other human being on the planet, even if it pains us to say so.

There are silly quizzes, pop culture trivia bits, guides to various "types" of bisexuals, notes on dating and sex, coming out to various types of people, a quick intro to other alternative cultures like polyamory and kink, and dealing with monosexuals (heterosexual and homosexual individuals -- you know, those unevolved folks). There are some lists of bi-themed movies and bi celebrities. I am apparently hopeless at bi pop culture, but raise your hand if you're actually surprised by this. There's a decent if somewhat truncated resource section at the end.

This book, while more or less a fun read, isn't by any means a guide to the universe at large. It's mostly geared toward those 20-somethings who are exploring, with a few nods to us older folks here and there. There are some attitudes in it that I find ethically questionable, but it's pretty up front about that. It's patently obvious neither author is a sci fi geek -- it's HarKness, folks, not Harness... It wouldn't be a horrible place to start, but I really did feel that Bi Any Other Name was a much better introductory book, and one that appealed much more to me, as a middle-aged intellectual type.

As a middle-of-the-road bi book, I'll give it three omnisexual orgies of five. Worth a look if you're a newbie to the idea, more in the short afternoon's giggle category if you're anything else.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (all your books!)
This will be a short review, given that I wasn't too impressed. Poetry as a Spiritual Practice: Reading, Writing, and Using Poetry in Your Daily Rituals, Aspirations and Intentions by Robert McDowell is really a pretty basic book on poetic form with a few added thoughts on applying poetry to spirituality in a very simplistic way. He advocates reading and writing poems as meditations, but I don't think he spoke more than a couple of sentences about ritual in the entire book. His exercises are generally aimed toward poetry groups, which is fair enough, but I tend to approach poetry as a practice in solitary spirituality unless it's in the context of public ritual. This probably just speaks to the differences in our spiritualities.

He's got a lot of stuff that's meant to appeal to a mainstream Christian audience, with biblical quotes and verses from hymns. Though he is apparently a Tibetan Buddhist of some sort, he has very little Eastern material as food for thought beyond his haiku chapter (and not much there) and I found that quite curious. I questioned a couple of his inclusions as being really inappropriate -- in his chapter on epigram and limerick as humor, he includes as a "humorous" limerick a selection about a butcher who murders his wife because she won't put out. Excuse me? This is spiritual how? I don't see it as funny either.

A lot of this book just rubbed me the wrong way. If you're looking for an introduction to different basic poetic forms, it's fine, but aside from treating writing exercises as potential inroads to spiritual practice (which they can be), I didn't find that much about the book that was really spiritual in focus. There are better introductory poetry books. There are, unfortunately, not that many about poetry as spiritual work. I need to help remedy that.

If you want a good book on writing and spirituality, go with Deena Metzger's Writing for Your Life instead. It's not specifically about poetry, but it all applies, it's beautifully written, and it's much more inspiring.

Two quill pens out of five.

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