erynn: Gaelic merman image (gull)
As I've noted/hinted in several places recently, the dizziness has pushed me into a situation where I have to sell the car and the condo and move. I'm going to have to be in a place where I can walk to everything for at least the foreseeable future. This may be months, or possibly years. It might conceivably be a permanent situation. Lengthy thoughts on moving and my future here below. )
erynn: Gaelic merman image (It's raining)
There was still some snow on the cars when I got out the door today. The parking lot and the roads were clear, but it was raining a lot. The drive down to Seattle and back was stressy because of the weather, and worse in the dark.

I talked with my shrink about writing and stuff, and realized that while, yes, I do need to be writing the ogam article (I got more done on it today), I am in part writing it as a way of procrastinating about the Brigid book. The Brigid book is really a huge project for me and I have such high goals for it that it's hard for me to just sit down and be objective about it and do it. I know I'll do okay, even if it takes me a long time. It can't possibly take longer than the ogam book did, can it? I mean, that took something on the order of 18 years from when I started writing about ogam to when I finally published the book, four false starts, and more angst and hair-pulling freaking out than I really needed. This is another project where I can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

I stayed at Travelers for a while and even then I had to go up over Capitol Hill to avoid a stall at a downtown exit that was making I5 north from Columbian Way a parking lot. I'm not really looking forward to tomorrow's drive down for the last group of the year. I'll be down later than usual because the queer Pagan meetup is also tomorrow night, starting at 7pm, so it'll probably be 9 or 10 before I head home again, and by then traffic should be entirely gone; it'll just be late night traffic. That'll be way less stressy.

When I got home I sat down and started digging into the ogam article. When I got into it, I had three pages, one of which was illustrations. Now it's at five and about two, so I got several paragraphs in and feel like I made reasonable progress. Right now I'm mostly trying to just get the information and concepts down. Later I'll try to refine it and make it more poetic and readable. Abraxas isn't a scholarly journal, though footnotes are certainly acceptable. I do want to be able to offer both sources and analysis, but also to show the creativity of the people working with ogam in constructing magical sigils and other modern work.

The other thing I got done today was poking at a concept and general outline for a fic I want to work on after I get the ogam article done. I spent a little time in chat online with [ profile] random_nexus, who helps me kick these things around until they take shape. She was, as usual, wonderfully helpful. I'd scribbled several pages of notes to myself in my small notebook while I was at Travelers this afternoon, between reading a book on sound and poetry and having some dinner. In chat we managed to refine some of those ideas a little more. I saved the notes in a doc file that I can pull up when I start to work on the story later.

I wish I had a little more confidence in my writing. *sigh*
erynn: Gaelic merman image (giftie)
I slept later than I had anticipated. [ profile] ogam texted me to say he won't be getting here until the 18th, apparently, as he's been sick. I had a confusion about when the Abney Park concert is (January, thought it was December) so I thought there was a schedule conflict. I'm relieved that it wasn't an issue.

This evening [ profile] gra_is_stor and I went down to Seattle to hang out with some friends at a birthday party for a couple of hours. It was nice to see everyone, and the birthday girl was thrilled we were there, so that was nice. I was out of some things that I needed (dog food, half and half) and so we stopped at Safeway on the way back. I had wanted to get out and pick things up yesterday but wasn't feeling well enough to really leave the house for it. I'm glad I was able to get out today for a little while.

I spent some time going over the two issues of Abraxas this evening and wondering whether what I want to write about ogam and magic will actually fit in with their stuff, but I suspect it's just my usual writer anti-ego speaking. That's the one that says I can't actually write and my work is crap and nobody wants to read what I have to say anyway. Which is patent bullshit, but it's what my brain churns out. I always feel this way when I'm trying to start a new project and it sucks.

I was also looking at notes and things for the Brigid book, wondering what I wanted to do with/about that. I do need to start it sometime soon, but it keeps mutating in my head and I'm not quite sure what I want to do with it beyond it being a vehicle for helping people with a flamekeeping practice. How to best accomplish that is the question. I'll probably talk about it with [ profile] mael_brigde when she gets here later this month.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Brighid's cross)
I've started what will probably be a several-weeks-long process of posting about the pilgrimage and trip to Europe over on Searching for Imbas. There are photos on the blog. Mom, you might be able to get them from there, as I know you can't really get them off here for some reason.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (writy pooped)
I spent a lot of yesterday dredging my way through Corpus Inscriptionum Insularum Celticarum looking for illustrations of several ogam inscriptions that may have had "magical" uses. It's a pretty damned huge book, and only a few were suitable, but finding them was necessary.

Finally having finished looking through the manuscript for Fireflies, I sent off my approval for the final text. Now it just needs to go through layout and cover design. I still haven't done much of anything in terms of publicity stuff. Gods, I hate having to approach people about my work. There are moments when being an introvert and having anxiety issues sucks deeply. I'm always half-terrified about saying "hey, would you like to review my book or interview me for your blog" about things like this.

Today, along with #writechat, I finished typing up the outline for my Esoteric Book Conference presentation. Jeff's supposed to come by Thursday to help me with the PowerPoint part of the thing, and I want to have as many of the illustrations available as possible. With this sort of thing, the temptation to DO ALL THE THINGS is a little difficult, as I have a whole 45 minutes for the presentation. It's going to be essential to cover things reasonably quickly while still doing a decent job of it. The outline is less than a page as it stands, but I haven't filled in the details as yet, with dates and such. And I still have to pull together a reference list of the various books and such that I'm consulting.

I tried dipping into The Poet's Ogam today and am still finding it awfully brain-breaking. I fear attempting to address his system when I'm having a hard time figuring out what he's on about with a lot of this stuff. I know a lot of it is experimental. I have no idea if he's actually done 90% of what he's writing about. I wish I was more into/versed in chaos magic, Enochian, or Thelema. I've read some about all of those things, but they're really not my thing, so it's hard for me to get into his work.

At least with Ian's work, it's not really my style, but I was there for and participated in one of his rituals and can see the mechanics of it and where he intends to go with it, even if he's not really got there yet. That part I can comment on reasonably easily, being more familiar with the thought processes and the techniques. Most of John-Paul's stuff just leaves me scratching my head. I'm going to have to drag myself through at least some of the book without the brain cells leaking out my ears if I'm going to speak about it with any clarity at all.

In both cases, I can at least pull illustrations and say "here's some stuff, it looks interesting and is based on things that many of you will be familiar with," and hope that will cover a lot of my own shortcomings in understanding. I'll be mentioning ogam "gematria" as well, or at least ogam as a basis for numerology. I'll mention in passing that there was a guy spamming my FB page with his alleged "Gaelic" gematria system and that he's not the only one who has played with the idea. I don't remember the guy's name and am not going to bother trying to remember because I still have no intention of promoting his work or letting him use my space as a springboard for his own agenda.

I'll talk a little about divination and show examples of some of the various types of decks and other ogam divination systems out there, as I do have a fair collection of them at this point. I need to remember to drag out the boxes later this evening before I go to bed. Photos will need to be taken.

Tomorrow morning I have a VA appointment and have to remember to take a stack of papers in with me. I have to schedule a tit squish, which requires referral from the Women's Clinic, and dental wants me in for x-rays, so I need to go up to the dental clinic and schedule something. I am not thrilled with a 10:30am medical appointment, but podiatry only does morning clinics. Suckage. We hates it we does my preciousss.

My brain, it is currently barely functional.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (tree of life)
I remember July 21st, 1969.

We all sat in the living room, late at night, glued to the television. In that moment, it felt like every set on the planet was tuned in to the same thing -- Neil Armstrong, stepping on the surface of the moon, the first human in history to set foot on another celestial body. I watched with so much wonder, wanting to do that myself when I grew up. I still get tears in my eyes when I think of that night, of what I saw, and I suspect I'm not alone. It was an indelible moment of my childhood.

Neil Armstrong died today, at the age of 82.

What is remembered, lives.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Illya "Missed it by this much")
Another thing I did yesterday was update the Searching for Imbas blog with a post with some preliminary thoughts on my pilgrimage. If you don't follow the blog (I don't update it as often as I ought), please drop by and have a look.

erynn: Gaelic merman image (Airmed)
Today's task was doing research and work on outlining the Airmed ritual for our visit to Heapstown Cairn. I reviewed several texts and looked at different websites where people talk about their particular takes on her, including a couple of rituals to/for her from different groups. So much hating on Dian Cécht over the whole thing, but it helps to remember that the incident with Miach replacing Nuadha's hand in the text of Second Battle of Mag Tuired occurs before the battle, and before Dian Cécht, Miach, Airmed and Octriuil are chanting around the Well of Sláine. Miach, though a surgeon, is a plant-god from whom all the healing herbs grow and so rises anew on a pretty frequent basis if one looks at it properly.

All the healing herbs of Ireland were brought to Lus Mag (the Plain of Herbs) by Dian Cécht and put into the Well of Sláine, so presumably they came from Miach's cairn and needed to be taken from there before the healing work could even begin. Time in myths is not nearly so linear, and deities die and reappear alive without any referent to actual human lifespans and life cycles. Is it so hard to believe that the story of Dian Cécht's "jealousy" might really be a setup for the creation of needed healing materials that could later be used by all of them? Or that it was unreasonable for Dian Cécht to keep the secrets of healing all ills from humans by scattering the herbs on Airmed's cloak? She, after all, did keep the secrets of these herbs. Though the text of the story says "the Holy Spirit" knows them, we can be certain it was Airmed -- who sorted through them in the first place -- who knows what they do.

Anyway, research was done and an outline produced and sent off to Jhenah and [ profile] vyviane. I also spent a few minutes doing a drabble for the weekly fic challenge in one of the communities I read, which was fun.

Tomorrow is a trip down to Seattle to do some clothes shopping for the pilgrimage with [ profile] joyful_storm, and to meet for a bit with [ profile] alfrecht and [ profile] neo_lux. If I have any spoons when I get home, I'll probably work on the incubation rituals. [ profile] vyviane tells me we are way ahead of schedule, which helps slightly, but so much of my stuff really kind of has to be done before I leave. I'm glad her end of things is working so very smoothly! It gives me hope for the rest of the pilgrimage as well.

Sunday I'm doing a Skype chat with Jhenah to discuss ritual and other stuff. Things are proceeding apace.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Breakin' Ur Geasa)
I was contacted a week or so ago by [ profile] druid_medb about the article I'd written on geilta and warrior stuff. She's a vet herself and has been working as a veterans advocate for people working their way through the VA system. As seems to be a thing at the moment, there's a lot of interest in the more mainstream spiritual and counseling communities in rituals and approaches to dealing with PTSD for returning veterans, and the work our group has been doing, and a fair bit of my own work and writing falls within that area. I sent her off the geilt article and she was very interested in the whole thing. She asked the other day if we could talk while we're at Eight Winds this June, and I suggested maybe we could do an impromptu discussion of the material with interested folks who might be in attendance.

She said that there would probably be a number of vets/military there, and some folks on the treatment/services side as well, who would undoubtedly be interested in such a discussion. So we're looking at how to put this together, when we might do it, and what we'll want to do about distributing the article and other potential material when we're there. I may end up hauling copies of a few things depending on how many people would consider joining the discussion.

In line with this, A is going back to the middle east soon and asked if we would do the warrior blessing ritual again in May, before he leaves. The local group is in planning for that. We have a couple of potential dates and the organizing committee is looking for a place to do it. Last time, we did it out at my place, also using the tiny park across the street at the lake. We're doing a much shorter version of the ritual this time, as he's already been through it once, so it won't be an overnight vigil but a more condensed version to only take about 3 to 4 hours.

I had a short text exchange with Vyviane about scheduling a discussion regarding the upcoming chat with the Sisterhood of Avalon about the pilgrimage and my work. We'll be talking on Tuesday afternoon (my time). She's been out of town and very busy and won't have time until after Monday, and I need to catch up with her and make sure everything I'm working on is what needs to be done. As I've said many a time before, not having ever done this previously, I don't necessarily know if what I'm spending time on is actually what needs to be done, so I'm feeling a little tentative. She's done this for years now and knows what all is expected and what works and what needs to be done, but I feel rather like I'm groping in the dark. Getting a reassuring word now and again helps me feel like I'm on the right track and doing what I should be working on.

A trip to the grocery store netted some rhubarb and some early strawberries (a two-for-one package sale). I may end up doing a cobbler, though I haven't decided if I want it to be strawberry-rhubarb or just rhubarb. With strawberries, I often feel it's too sweet, but these are probably not the ripest strawberries on the planet and therefore not necessarily overly sweet. It might work out well. If [ profile] gra_is_stor is feeling better soon, I might do the cobbler with a gluten-free crust so that she can have some, too. The strawberries, regardless, would go very nicely with my honey yogurt anyway. I froze the remainder of my pseudo-posole this afternoon so that I can have it later instead of having to eat it all right away. Yay freezers!

Tomorrow, #writechat, #poetparty, and laundry, along with whatever note-making and writing I can get together toward the trip again. I opened up the notebook I'll be using for the pilgrimage and trip to Europe and wrote that in the first page, slipping one of the pilgrimage postcards into the little pocket in the back. I'll add all the contact stuff, a list of folks I'm tying ribbons onto the clootie trees for, and travel information to it in the next few days. I got one with blank rather than lined pages, and will be sticking in bits of maps, making notes, and stuffing it with postcards as I go along, as well as various meditations and journal entries. I'll use it as my writing notebook for our ritual and creative writing/poetry prompts work as well. I may or may not have it full up when I get home, but I'm intending it to be a record of my journey.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (hazels)
The quote below is from the introduction of Of Demolition and Reconstruction: a Comparative Reading of Manx Cultural Revivals by Breesha Maddrell

From Macpherson's Ossian to the present, much of the discourse surrounding issues of the revival of popular culture, particularly that relating to 'traditional' music and dance, focuses on a need for authenticity (Harker 1985). Evidence is demanded in the form of ancient documents or the implied ancientness of the oral tradition. 'Fakelore' is to be exposed and the truth somehow accessed. An awareness of the fragility of Manx cultural survival means that the Isle of Man cannot hope to escape this debate. It is part of the tension between continuity and revival. By focusing so strongly on authenticity, however, commentators remove themselves from attitudes of acceptance and adaptation present in the community itself. Such a focus also brings with it a sense that development is unwelcome, that change is a sign of impurity. If a culture is a living one, however, there is an inherent tension between conservatism and innovation–a tension that offers creativity and dynamism whilst maintaining a sense of cohesion. Meanings tend to change over time, after all; values do not remain fixed indefinitely.

In many respects, commentators on the authenticity debate fall into the same patterns established by the nineteenth and twentieth century antiquarians and revivalists they seek to assess and deconstruct in that they imagine a mythical and 'true' beginning to the culture being studied. In doing so, however, they blinker their own vision to the equally valid creative contribution of individuals occupying more recent twists of the road.

The tensions in the CR community surrounding these issues are pretty much exactly reflected in what Dr. Maddrell describes here regarding the tensions of language and cultural reconstruction and revival in the Manx community. It is a discussion, or at times an argument, that arises at frequent intervals in our various online communities. In the middle of all this (as usual), I have always been an advocate of both approaches, of archaeology and aisling, history and vision. We need both, and cannot afford to shut either out. We need the historical understanding and background, but we also strive for a living set of traditions, ways that grow out of what is known of the past, fed by streams of influence and understanding of other, similar cultures and practices, and brought to fruition in ways that are appropriate for us here and now.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Join the Illuminati!)
The wind was up today and the power got knocked out for maybe half an hour. It wasn't gone long, but it was slightly disconcerting. Given that my wireless is currently battery operated, this meant I could remain online even through the outage - not a thing I could do when I had a cable modem and a wireless router. It's the one advantage to the system I currently use.

I got first draft sample cover art for the Circle of Stones reprint today. The idea is okay, but the execution leaves rather a bit to be desired, as one might expect from a first draft. Comments were sent back and forth between myself, Taylor, and Storm, and we'll have Andy do another draft and see how that goes. I was kind of "yeah, it's okay. meh." It didn't grab me, but it didn't give me a visceral Oh Fuck No the way the first draft cover for the ogam book did, so I figure we're headed in the right direction.

I had fun at the Irish class today, wherein songs were sung and key phrases like "I don't understand" and "maybe" were practiced. ;)

After Irish class, [ profile] gra_is_stor and I went over to Caffe Vita for the queer Pagan meetup, where I caught up with folks I haven't seen in quite some time. Greg, Black Cat, Craigula, Jimbo, and Jay were all there. Also in attendance (though I didn't really get a chance to talk to her) was Nancy, whom I hadn't seen since around the time I was dating my third husband, so that's probably been nearly since dinosaurs roamed the earth. I introduced [ profile] gra_is_stor around to everyone I knew and we chatted and I squeed about Ireland and Europe and upcoming publications and all that.

Once the group started to break up, half a dozen of us went up the street to a little bar and snacks place, which was okay if a bit hipster for my tastes. We hung out and talked for probably another hour before I had to get on the road to get home to Everett.

In the past few days I'd been hearing about yet another eyerolling kerfuffle in the online CR community, where some folks are apparently claiming anyone who isn't Reading Books and Being A Scholar ZOMG isn't really practicing CR, which is patent bullshit as far as I'm concerned. The whole idea behind this was that eventually people wouldn't have to be scholars and build it all themselves. Eventually there would come a time when there would be rituals and communities and people could just come and participate and be a part of the CR movement, no matter what their level of "academic" involvement. I think that it was put pretty well on the Mo Thearmann blog, though she did say one thing that I would take at least slight issue with:

You can't attend a gathering and then shut CR off for the remainder of the year. Also, if you are CR on Monday, Ásatrú on Tuesday, Wiccan on Wednesday, Hellenic on Thursday ad nauseam, then you are not fully CR because you are setting aside the CR worldview to practice— or dabble, really— in others.

I'm someone who practices multiple traditions. My primary spiritual identity is as a fili within a CR tradition, but I am also a Shinto practitioner, a mystes and luperca in the Ekklesía Antínoou, and a number of other things that I don't mysteriously stop being when I am practicing a CR path. Nor do I suddenly stop being a member of the Shinto shrine or lose my affiliation with Antinous and his community when I am teaching or doing ritual within the CR community. I understand why "dabbling" would be problematic, but I also know that many people operating in a genuinely polytheist paradigm are capable of working within a number of traditions at the same time. How long does one have to practice something for it to no longer be "dabbling"? Whose criteria do we use? What determines how many spiritual practices a person can have and still legitimately be considered a member of the CR movement?

I've already been declared a heretic by some, I know. That said, I'm writing books and publishing essays and teaching at festivals, and people associate my name with the CR movement. I don't accept the idea that I might somehow not be legitimate because I also choose to worship other deities and practice other paths along with my primary practice. My life is broader, richer, and more complex than that. I take all of it seriously, even if I would never consider myself, for instance, an expert on Shinto. I don't have to be in order to be a shrine member and to go to the seasonal festivals.

Anyway, that's my rant for the evening. Let's not dismiss people just because we may not practice in the same way they do. Yes, there are boundaries. No, CR is not an exclusive path that people must practice while forsaking all others. No, you do not have to have a degree in Celtic Studies to practice a CR spirituality.

Thank you and good night.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (ow. Robertson Davies)
Today was the CR schmooze down in Seattle. I headed down early and got two packets printed up for the Ireland pilgrimage, and five sheets of the postcards done so that I could leave info at Edge of the Circle. I left one of the packets there, and will probably leave the other at East West if I can get there sometime soon. During the schmooze, Patrick did some work on my arms; this helped but I'm still aching a lot.

Spent some time at Kaladi Brothers today pre-schmooze so that I could do a little work on the pilgrimage material and still have internet access. I worked through some ideas for the opening ritual at Brigid's well in Kildare, though there's obviously still quite a bit to do. [ profile] vyviane kindly got an itinerary together in a format I can work with, which I printed out and will be hauling around with me while I scribble ideas. I've also got some of the material I want to do the day we visit Newgrange, Knowth, and Tara. I'm thinking we'll work on prompts dealing with sacred time and space, so the story of Oengus and the Daghda, and the Settling of the Manor of Tara would be the texts for that day. I want to look at how we see ourselves in landscape/time/space, but also to consider what we consider our sacred center.

Due to scheduling, Heapstone Cairn got added back into the itinerary, which means I can do some devotional work with Airmed while I'm in Ireland as well, which is an unexpected but very happy surprise. Local legend has it that the Well of Sláine is buried beneath the cairn, and that Lough Arrow is the site of the Second Battle of Mag Tuired, so there's a lot going on, mythologically, in the landscape. In regards to Brigid as the center of the pilgrimage, it might also be a place where we can talk about the origins of keening and do work surrounding grief and loss for our writing.

There is just SO MUCH STUFF that can potentially be covered in all this. It's hard to know how to condense it all into manageable amounts. Though I suppose it's better to have way more than I need than to try to stretch a thin membrane of information to the breaking point. I need to figure out where in each day a class/workshop might fit. *ponders schedule*
erynn: Gaelic merman image (totem orca)
I was able to reschedule shrinkage until the 14th, which was the first opening Tracy had. She was very understanding about my needing to cancel for the day. I was glad for a little breathing space, honestly. I didn't stay home all day, as I had to deal with Things, but I'll get to that in a bit.

I'm having a hard time finding someone to take my Medieval Women's Choir concert ticket. I know it's short notice, but I had no idea it would be this much of a challenge. I wish I could go, but that's just not going to happen.

Progress was made on Ireland pilgrimage stuff today. I put together a tentative 3-book reading list for the folks going along, and have sent it off to [ profile] vyviane and the others to see if that's what they were thinking of for this sort of thing. I also made a short list of things to start looking for and putting together, in concert with the To Do list they posted elsenet for reference.

Got word from my editor that he would likely be done with the layout for Circle of Stones today and send it off. We're definitely on track for May.

I went out and picked up cheap (like on sale at Freddie's) hiking boots, so that they'll be reasonably broken in by the time I have to actually go hiking in them. I got a new belt so that I could toss the old, falling apart ones. Generally that's about the only time I actually shop for clothes, when my old ones are falling apart. I really do hate to shop, unless it's for books.

Cut for clothes TMI, body stuff, gender stuff. )
erynn: Gaelic merman image (foggy coast)
Today, thankfully, was nicely quiet, though I did go out for a bit. I hung out with #writechat for a while today, catching up with everyone after being away for a couple of weeks. It was nice to talk to some of my fellow writers again.

I had a text exchange with [ profile] ogam and he said he'd contact [ profile] vyviane about the pilgrimage. Apparently, at least three people are signed up now, with promised checks heading to the Sisterhood for their places. This thing may fill up fast. (I hope it does, as that will relieve some of my remaining anxiety about whether or not it will all happen. We need a minimum of six people, I think.) I also finished reading A Journey of One's Own by Thalia Zepatos, which is about women traveling solo; there was a lot of interesting and useful stuff in it, but even the second edition is from pre-internet/pre-TSA days, so a lot of what she had to say isn't actually useful anymore. Advice on what to pack is a little odd, considering how much stuff you're not allowed to carry anymore, and the kinds of things she suggests (a skirt or two, a dress) just aren't my style at all, but there's still some excellent material about the art of traveling and staying safe when one is alone in foreign lands.

Copies of the two warrior rituals were sent off to Macha NightMare, who is working on some of those same issues with a variety of people, and who had a meeting with a group coming up on Monday. I still need to send them off to Michael, a Marine I met at PantheaCon with whom I had a lengthy and fascinating conversation over dinner one night. He's had much more direct experience with a lot of the things in question, and our discussion seemed useful to him in his ongoing work.

There was a little fiddling about with last minute things from the old computer, which had its memory excised and is now getting the "no, we're scrambling your brains now" treatment as well, in the hope that it will deal with at least a little of the squirreliness of the system's problems when OS 10.6 is reinstalled. I'll deal with the reinstall of the bare OS tomorrow sometime and [ profile] ingvisson can deal with the updates himself, as he has better bandwidth at his place than I do here.

Later in the afternoon, I went over to REI to pick up a couple of things for my Manx camping trip. The backpacking tent needed a little "footprint" to put under it to protect the bottom from tears (it was on sale) and a couple of extra tent pegs just in case. I also got a really light day pack that can be rolled into almost nothing and stuffed into the corner of my main bag, for carrying things like my camera, binoculars, the iPad and keyboard, a sweater, and such while I'm away from the heavier luggage. Pretty inexpensive, considering. I also got a money belt so that I can carry my money, cards, and passport, etc, safely and out of sight without needing to carry an obvious wallet while I'm overseas.

I do need to look into getting some new hiking boots before I leave, as the ones I have are old and worn out, and I probably shouldn't just wear my Docs over there, as they're more suited to city living and are a little large on me anyway. I adore them, but they'd be problematic for actual hiking, and I'm hoping to do at least a little bit of the Raad ny Foillan (Way of the Gull), the coastal path, that circles the island. The path itself is 95 miles long and obviously I won't be doing the whole thing, but I'd love to at least take in a little of it while I'm there. I know there's a guidebook for the trail, but I'm not sure if it's still in print.

I'm also considering a new and much better sleeping pad for putting my sleeping bag on, which will be of immediate use when I go to California again in June for the Eight Winds festival. I need to go over to REI again and ask if I can check out some of the lightweight backpacking pads to see if I'd be able to sleep on them at all. The little pad I have is just too thin and cold to really be much use to me. The air mattress I carry most of the time when I'm car camping is way too big and heavy to even consider taking anywhere overseas. The backpacking pads can be somewhat expensive, but from the reviews I've read, they're really far superior and we're maybe talking 20 ounces for a good one. There is also the possibility that I'll consider getting an actual lightweight down sleeping bag, given that I do go camping a couple of times a year, and the synthetic fiber ones aren't always the warmest things going. I get cold too easily, and sleeping warm is so important when you're trying to sleep in a tent on the ground.

Serendipitously, I thought to pull out my collapsible chopsticks while I was at REI (they were originally purchased there) and ask if they knew how I could get one of the little brass end caps to replace the one I'd lost on Anderson Island a couple of years back. The gal at customer service said she'd look into it for me and took my information, but she also gave me contact info for the manufacturer. Their website lists the little caps for $5 each, so I just ordered two of them, so I'll have an extra if I lose one again! Those chopsticks are the best present I have ever received from anybody, I think. I use them at least once a week and carry them everywhere. I was so delighted to find that I could replace the missing bit!

Speaking of which, I stopped at Blue C Sushi for an early dinner after I got done at REI and used the chopsticks for that, too. ;) Conveyor-belt sushi is not particularly my thing, but it wasn't bad for being that, and I rather needed some time just to sit and think and not have to worry about cooking dinner.

At the moment, I'm sipping the last of Lucinda's blueberry liqueur, to which I added a dose of rosewater. The combination is exquisite. The stuff my sib made while he was here isn't as sweet, so I may end up adding some sugar to it to compensate; a berry liqueur should be sweet, not tasting harsh and alcoholic. Anyway, I'll be poking around with the sib's experiment and seeing if I can get it to be a little more palatable. It has, after all, aged a bit since he left. We'll see what happens.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Whitman: not all who wander)
Dishes: done
Laundry: done
M picked up: done
[ profile] gra_is_stor picked up: done
Packing: done (except meds & stuff like that, which I have to do tomorrow anyway)

Went down to Seattle today for the schmooze and we had a really intense discussion about religion, sacrifice, building relationships with land/deity/ancestors, offerings, and meaning in ritual. Arlen is going to be going back to Kandahar for a year around the end of May and requested a warrior sending out ritual. Rather than doing the overnight vigil, we'll probably compress it down into a four-hour rite composed of most of the same things from the original sending out rite.

Given that my year is going to be so filled with writing and travel, I've handed off responsibility for the schmooze's money box to someone else, and returned the key to the gear box to [ profile] anthea7 so that I don't have to worry about anyone not having access while I'm away. I've been needing to back away from more administrative responsibility for a while because of both being busy and dealing with anxiety issues. These actions were a couple of good steps toward that release of responsibility. I'm certainly still going to be hanging out with people and coming to the schmooze, but I think I need to step back from admin meetings and more of the ritual writing, given that I've been doing the majority of it over the years we've been together.

Tomorrow morning we're getting up about 8am with an eye to being on the road by about 10am. I'm projecting arrival for lunch with [ profile] martianmooncrab around 2pm, if traffic cooperates. I'll have to stuff the remains of the packing into the car in the morning. I've only got a couple of bags, one of which is mostly the books I'm taking down with me.

I heard back from the tent rental people on the Isle of Man. The smallest tents they have are way way too big for what I need, and I don't need that kind of expense. For what they're asking, I might as well rent a hotel room, and I'd really rather not spend that much. I've decided that I can take along my backpacking half-dome tent (which would actually fit into my carry-on if that sort of thing is permitted) and buy a cheap air mattress and sleeping bag when I get to Ireland. That would be less of an expense than renting the tent and things. I just have to look into TSA regulations and such about carrying camping gear, specifically tents, on planes and whether I can do it as carryon in my bag or whether I'll need to check the tent through.

The campsite folks said I can just check in and pay when I get there, rather than making arrangements in advance, which is apparently how they usually handle people from the UK, given that they're much more local. This was a weight off my mind.

My tentative schedule for PantheaCon:

Friday 3:30 - The World on a String ([ profile] ogam and prayer beads)
Friday 11:00 - CR Rituals: A Look at the Nuts and Bolts (ME)

Saturday 3:30 - Sisters of Seshat Moon Ritual (ME)
Saturday 9:00 - Pagans, Culture War, and the Modern Crisis (Gus diZerega)

Sunday 7:00 - Brigid and Sarasvati: Goddesses of Poetry and Inspiration (ME)
Sunday 9:00 - Queer Celtic Mythology

Monday 1:30 - Echtrai, Immrama, Aisling ([ profile] finnchuill)

Everything but the stuff I'm actually in is subject to being shuffled off somewhere else or being snagged into Faerie.

I'll see a lot of you this weekend!
erynn: Gaelic merman image (lynx seek)
In thinking about what I've been posting lately, and in the last couple of years, I realized that I've slowly been letting a little more of my past seep into this than I had before. I've written about my past before, though not a lot in public places. I have talked about some very personal stuff here, I know, but I think it's been fairly rare. In publishing my poetry collection, there is a fair bit of my personal history to be found, and I think I'm mostly okay with that.

Rambling, a photo, and a few questions below. )
erynn: Gaelic merman image (tea club!)
Today was given over to the steampunk New Years recovery tea, and what a lovely tea it was! I took [ profile] gra_is_stor out to a very nice, roomy place in Snohomish replete with llamas, pwnies, and other various and sundry wildlife. And that was just outside the place...

There was quite a good crowd there, and some wonderful conversation was had by all. Tea and snackies occurred, along with a white elephant gift exchange, at which I got a very nice Chinese style teacup for loose leaf oolongs. I was also given a nice bag of jasmine green by someone who'd bought Way Too Much of the stuff and was never going to drink it before it died of exposure. I was happy to bring it home.

We met some lovely new people there, guests from Portland, who were the cousin and cousin's spouse of one of the local steampunks. Fantastic geekdom conversation was had by all. [ profile] gra_is_stor and I cuted at everyone again.

Once we got back here, I checked the email then sat her down in front of the TV for a shot of Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, which she'd not only never seen before, but never even heard of. I told her that they'd stolen a character from it and stuffed him in, almost unchanged, as a villain in The Tick animated series. Of course, Strangelove is also the source of a huge number of tropes in subsequent movies and TV shows, so it's always interesting to look at the effect it's had on American popular culture.

I noted on twitter that I was showing it to her, and got a variety of responses from some of my friends there. I had a conversation with one of my fandom friends, who said she'd been born in 86 and just didn't quite get the zeitgeist of the movie, having no experience with Cold War mentality. I told her I was extremely glad that was the case, but she certainly saw it for the brilliant farce it was. It's the sort of movie that, if you lived through the whole mess, is so dark you have to laugh so as not to go a little bit nuts with the memory of it all. It kind of speaks to my own nuclear nightmares, particularly given that, as a communications person, I was always worried that any of a certain particular class of messages I sent out frequently would end up being That Message, and the world as we knew it would end. It's a hard one.

After all that, I dived into a beta project for another fangirl friend of mine, which I'd promised to do but didn't do thoroughly enough the other day. She took it down and let me finish cleaning it up, so that she can re-post and it will look much better. I had done a really quick job and had missed an embarrassing number of things. I really hate it when that happens.

Anyway. Tea. Steampunks. Strangelove. Quite a day.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Everything Hurts)
Today's VA visit was accompanied by a migraine. It wasn't an awful one, but it was enough to be very annoying. When I went down to the travel office, it was the land of clusterfuck. I did collect for several different trips this week and last, but when I tried to collect for yesterday, I was told that I was in the system as a no-show and the guy behind the window wouldn't even look at the chit the group coordinator had given me yesterday for the travel office so I could collect my funds. Needless to say, I'll be phoning the woman tomorrow to ask her why the fuck I was in the system as a no-show and demanding to be entered into the system properly. If you get enough no-shows on your record, they stop providing you with medical services, so this isn't just a matter of $18 for gas money. Naturally, the headache didn't make it any more pleasant, and I got out of the travel office rather later than usual because of the clusterfuckery.

I had been planning on stopping at Travelers this afternoon, but [ profile] gra_is_stor was in the midst of making herself some dinner, so I went up there instead and stayed until about 7pm, when the traffic had calmed sufficiently. When I got home, I took a tramadol and the migraine has eased up somewhat. I'll take another when I go to bed and hope that it will help.

Tomorrow I have to pop down into Everett to pick up my Docs.

Other things accomplished today include my fic going up to 40,900 words, and having put together a short bit for the Occupy Writers website, based on a comment I'd posted to Jason's Wild Hunt editorial on the Occupy movement. It may take a few days to get posted to the site, but they are asking for contributions from writers to talk about their experiences with the movement, in prose or poetry, comic strips or vignettes. They say What kind of writing is up to you, but we’re especially interested in hearing accounts, in any form, of your experiences at Occupy camps and protests around the world. It has pieces by writers like Ursula LeGuin (a paragraph about Occupy Portland), Anne Waldman (a series of poems about Occupy Wall Street), Judith Butler (the text of what she said at Occupy Wall Street), and Lemony Snickett (13 Observations). Over 2,000 writers are signatories on the website. Not bad company, really.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (Mercurius from Harmonia Macrocosmica)
The Call for Presentations went out from the EBC last week, which I posted here. I've previously noted the sometimes disturbing lack of women presenters at the conference and, in accordance with suggestions over the years from [ profile] brandywilliams, have decided that I'll propose a session.

I talked a little bit with [ profile] gra_is_stor about it, as we met for a while at Travelers after my VA appointment today. The spirituality group is back up and running and it was wonderful to see my friends there again. We have two new chaplain interns along with Wendy, the psychologist who coordinates the group. I'm excited to be involved with it again. Sadly, I thought the group was at 2 rather than 3, so I was there over an hour early. I am dumb.

Jeff came into Travelers for a while as well, before his yoga class, and he sat and talked with the two of us. He's interested in presenting something to the schmooze on Celtic coinage. I'm figuring that discussing iconography on coins would be pretty cool, particularly if it was aimed at dealing with use of coin iconography in exploring how the various Celtic peoples viewed their deities.

I ran my idea for the EBC past them, and they thought it would be an interesting one. I've considered for several years that it might be cool to present on ogam. Since the focus of the conference is on books and magical traditions related to them (primarily, though not exclusively), I thought I could do a presentation tentatively titled "Ogam: From Medieval Manuscripts to Modern Magicians," dealing with things like the use of ogam as cryptography and mnemonic device, and abbreviations and ogam glyphs in the manuscripts as an inspiration for sigilization, then examine the practices of several modern writers and magicians, like Ian Corrigan, myself, and a few others, who are using ogam as a part of a magical practice as well as a spiritual one.

Someone over in [ profile] cr_r a while back asked about an ogam book published through The description of the book included stuff about the qabala and the I Ching, which made me raise an eyebrow or two. I've been calling the qabala the Procrustean bed of occultism since the late 80s and haven't really changed my opinion on that, but the author also talks about ogam and sigil magic, so if I'm going to be talking about modern approaches to ogam and sigil magic, it sort of behooves me to actually read the text of someone else who's doing that kind of work. I can decide after reading it whether or not the material is worth addressing. Thankfully, there's a Veterans Day coupon code, and the book is already somewhat discounted, so I can get it fairly inexpensively. The author is also someone that [ profile] gra_is_stor met while she was in Ireland, and she has some notes from him that she said I could look at. Still, notes versus an over-500 page book is a substantial difference in terms of being able to see what he's actually on about.

I need to look over the call for presentations and determine what I need to do for this, then do a more firm outline. I don't have to really worry about doing the bulk of the work until after PantheaCon, given that EBC isn't until autumn of next year, but I do need to pull together enough material to do the proposal and a rough outline so I'll know where to go with it when I get home from California next February. I also have to decide whether I'll speak from an outline or write a paper. I'm obviously going to have to work up a PowerPoint presentation to go with the presentation so that people can see what I'm talking about for several of the points I need to make.

I haven't heard back regarding the volunteer gig tomorrow, so I'm assuming that they're not interested in anyone showing up after 10am. Their loss. I have better things to do with my time than try to be somewhere at that hour, thereby guaranteeing my next three days are going to be nearly unlivable. I realize that a lot of people think of 10am as not only no problem, but as sleeping in, but when you have insomnia and sleep disturbance issues, 10am means I might have gotten two hours of more-or-less uninterrupted sleep, even if I went to bed at 10pm (which is usually ungodly early for me anyway). If I try to be anywhere by that hour, I'm guaranteeing that I'm going to be pretty much non-functional for the day, and it will take me a couple of days to get through it to the point where I can sort of function again.

This is why I am very insistent that I not be scheduled for morning sessions at conferences and why I refuse to make any sort of appointment, medical or otherwise, before noon if I can possibly avoid it. I hate the fact that I am in pain and can't focus if I am up too early, and that I can't just have a cup of tea and be fine, like most people. I can't really even just go home afterwards and go to bed, because it's almost impossible for me to sleep in the afternoon. I often feel worse after an afternoon nap that I would if I just stayed awake until my "normal" bedtime of somewhere between 2am and 5am. Bedtime means I go and lie down, not that I go to sleep.

And on that note, it's probably time I try to retire for the night.
erynn: Gaelic merman image (all your books!)
This evening I went with [ profile] gra_is_stor to the Seattle Asian Art Museum for a reading by two Chinese poets and the release of the anthology Push Open the Window: Contemporary Poetry from China. I headed down early because it was a warm, sunny day, and spent an hour or so sitting at a picnic table in the park while reading essays from Heroic Poets and Poetic Heroes and taking copious research notes. About 6:30, [ profile] gra_is_stor met me in Volunteer Park and we headed into the museum for the reading. We were actually the first people seated and one of the guys from Copper Canyon Press came over to talk with us. I told him that I'd been looking forward to the reading and that I'd heard about it through Copper Canyon and Elliott Bay's email. He expressed appreciation for poetry readers and I said that I ought to like reading poetry, given that I was a poet and had a wall full of poetry books at home. I noted I would have loved to purchase the anthology, but was flat broke at the end of the month. He said he'd give me a copy -- and he actually did! I was quite delighted, so thank you Joseph Bednarik of Copper Canyon for your kindness! I was able to get the book signed by the two poets at the end of the evening as well.

The reading itself was fascinating and I learned quite a bit about Chinese poetry, particularly from Xi Chuan's introductions to some of the poems he read by other poets in the anthology. He has quite a sense of humor and some of his work was very amusing; he read one from the anthology and two other pieces from one of his other works. His answer to Nietzsche was particularly funny, I thought. Zhou Zan is an advocate of women's poetry in China and has been the editor of the women's poetry journal Wings for many years, as well as being a poet and the translator of some of the poetry of Margaret Atwood. She read her own poems and several poems from the anthology by other women poets.

I talked briefly to the poets when I got my copy of the anthology signed. They were asking for people's names so that they could personalize them and I wrote mine down briefly because it's an unusual spelling. They asked what kind of a name it was and I said it was Irish but spelled funny. They said that it could actually be construed as a Chinese name with a rough translation of something like "your plough," which I thought was pretty funny. Perhaps I cultivate the fields of memory.

My contract from Hiraeth arrived today. I just need to make sure they use my whole name in the contract (if they send me an editable pdf I can correct it myself) and sign and date the thing and we are go for a 2012 publication! The date is yet to be determined, but definitely next year. We'd been discussing autumn, but that decision will be up to the press when they have next year's schedule together. It's early yet to tell.

I got into a lengthy conversation/rant in twitter today with one of my friends about ebooks. He was complaining that he'd spent $50 on a book and wanted the ebook of it for free. His argument was that he'd already paid for the book so why should he have to pay for a second format?

My answer was that if he wanted a hardbound and a paperback, he'd have to pay for both of those formats. If he wanted an audiobook, he'd end up paying for that, too. He argued that an audiobook required people to actually read the book, and therefore it was worth something. Apparently he believes that there is either no work or no intrinsic value in an ebook, and therefore he shouldn't have to pay for it. He did accuse me of being greedy and wanting people to pay multiple times for the same material.

If an author wants to package a print and ebook copy as the same sale, more power to them. If they want to give things away for free, I'm fine with that. On the other hand, an author's work is worth something, no matter what format it's in.

He pulled someone else into the discussion and then asked me if I wanted to do away with used bookshops, too. I said that, in the end analysis, someone had actually paid for the books in the used bookshop at one point, unless the books were remaindered. Of course, with the rise of print on demand publishing, remainders may soon be a thing of the past, so any book in a used bookshop would of necessity have been previously paid for. Yet nobody walks into a used bookshop and walks out with a bag full of free books -- you do pay for them used.

What about libraries? I was asked. They're stealing a ton of revenue from authors, too. Isn't it really just the same if you buy a cd and upload the sound file to a website where anyone can download it? Aren't you just sharing it the same way you would a library book?

No, not really. A library pays for the copy and loans it out, but it always comes back. If you keep the library book, they charge you late fees and, eventually, a replacement fee if you don't return it. Regardless of what happens, there is only one copy -- paid for -- running around. The author still got paid for it. If you buy a cd and rip it, then upload it so all your friends can have it, it's no longer one copy of something, it's a dozen copies or a thousand copies, or ten thousand copies, and the artist never sees a penny of any of those. He felt that making copies was not an ethical problem at all because it's not a copy of something physical, it's just bits in the aether. But it's still someone's hard work and they deserve to be compensated, no matter how many copies we're talking about.

He then went on to say that just because the publishers are screwing the authors, does that mean the readers should get screwed too? I asked him why the authors and readers couldn't get together to change the way that major publishers do things, and he had no answer for that. Major publishers are making money at the expense of both authors and readers; small presses and independent authors are barely scraping by most of the time. But apparently I'm tilting at windmills for caring about the people who are actually writing.

He said if writing paid so badly, nobody should try to make a living at it. Authors should negotiate better contracts -- yet the publisher holds almost all the power in those situations, and a writer isn't necessarily going to get a better deal at some other publisher. Self-publishing is still very poorly regarded because so much of it is crap. Being able to be published by an actual press is still a meaningful thing, even if the technology is enabling individuals to publish their own work. If they're able to do a professional job without a publisher, more power to them. I've self-published before. I prefer to let somebody else do the bulk of the publishing work, so I do my best to have material that is good enough for someone else to want to publish it.

All that said, I don't think that's the point -- my point is that if nobody pays the authors, authors are going to have to stop writing for publication because they're going to have to be earning their living some other way. They won't have the time or the energy to write at all anymore, or they will write far less than they already do. Writers, musicians, and artists still have to pay rent and pay the bills, they still have to eat and maybe occasionally get some medical care. They have to buy clothes and put gas in the car if they have one. The work of artists and musicians and writers isn't worthless or valueless and there is no reason they should be expected to work for free. The vast majority of writers I know either work at other jobs as well as writing, or they have some other means of income. Most of them don't make a living writing. I certainly don't, but I have a pension that means I'm able to write and not worry about starving to death.

I don't think that copyright should extend beyond an author's death. That serves only the publishing house or the corporation that owns it, not the author.

I don't have nearly as much of an issue with, for instance, a homeless kid who is desperate for music or for something to read downloading a copy of something for free. They don't have anything to spend, and I would just as soon give somebody like that a copy with the hope that it will make their lives a little more comfortable, or at least tolerable.

I do have a problem with a person who has a job and can afford what he needs (including a $50 book) complaining about having to spend a few more dollars for another copy of the same material. Just because you have an entire library of paper books and want to replace them doesn't entitle you to free electronic copies any more than having a collection of VHS tapes entitled you to free DVDs when they came out.

I was told that the world disagreed and was voting with their feet, that I was tilting at windmills. (When have I ever not been tilting at windmills?) I was told that I was really just supporting a model created by publishers that didn't serve readers or authors. Laws don't matter, he said.

Maybe, maybe not. I still advocate paying authors for the work they do. Nobody should be forced to work for free.


erynn: Gaelic merman image (Default)

September 2013



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