Concepts of Home

First off, I apologize for leaving the last post at the top for so long.  I got involved in life, and its been putting me through a grinder as of late.  The stress is hitting me a tiny bit – only this morning, mind you – as I face a meeting with my professor that will either make or break our relationship.  No worries 🙂

So, this morning is the first time I’ve felt homesick, ish, the entire time I’ve been here in sunny Florida.  I think part of it is the weather – it has to be in the fifties here, and its reminding me of the spring at home.  Late spring, but spring.  And then I get to thinking.  Summer is the only time – that height of summer – where we don’t say goodbye.  In the spring there is high school or college graduation, in the autumn there is the start of the school year or college…Christmas is all about seeing those people you see once a year (my family celebrates Christmas culturally, not religiously) – and Easter is much the same.  So, the weather I’ve been feeling up until this point – summer – has not caused me to reflect at all on being away from home.

The other part of it is my dreams.  I had one of those dreams where you wake up and think you’re somewhere else – I thought I was home.  Then I realized I wasn’t.

But what is home, exactly?  This is a question which has plagued me most of my life.  I had a wonderful childhood, wonderful school, wonderful everything.  I’ve had a stable family and home all of my life.  But as a college student, I struggle with the concept of home.  When I am at college, I consider the place where my parents live “home” – but I refer to college as “home” when I am at the place where my parents live.  I feel most at peace and at home in the midst of a ritual or a moment of awareness where I realize that the Gods, the Ancestors – they’re all near.

If you don’t have a religion or a path that makes you feel at home – you should find one.  The feeling of being there – at peace – nirvana – is something most unconsciously strive for, for most of their lives.

I am a bit homesick, yes.  Homesick for my dogs and my cats, perhaps my parents (but I do talk to them) – for the northern woods and the northern snow, and the sights and the wind and the water.  But, it too shall pass 😉

Hanging On

Ever feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do?  I’m a college student – that’s about as close to ‘the rest of your life’ as you can get.  With an inordinate amount of expectations and tests, its easy to see how we get lost in the sands of time.  Although I do not consume alcohol personally, there are a lot of people around me who stress during the week, and then party to the point of sickness on the weekend.

The good thing about being pagan is that we get a little extra in terms of stress relief.  Not only do we get the usual breathing or exercise techniques…we also retain the ability to focus, center, meditate, visualize, and otherwise calm ourselves.

In addition, I believe learning, at least, becomes easier for me when I remember that I am a witch.  Because we have such a broad view of the world, it is easy to connect what we are doing in class (most times) with those things which exist in the real world.  The trouble comes when professors want you to attempt something in their fashion and method, without understanding the broader concepts presented.

I’ve always held that college should be about getting the big picture – and the little picture – and piecing it together.  High school was when I learned about the war of 1812.  College is when I examine why it occurred – from societal, psychological, economic and  technological standpoints.

I have several tests upcoming this week, and into next week.  In these, I am asked to express my knowledge.  My issue with standard college is this:

We are in class to learn.  Learning lends itself to mistakes.  It is the teacher’s responsibility to introduce a concept to us.  It is our responsibility to understand it – however, we cannot fully understand it if the teacher either gives no work or an unreasonable amount of work to do relating to the concepts learned.

We get grades for our expression of knowledge.  However, if these are the only grades that we receive, how are we expected to show that we can improve and increase our understanding?

You know the teachers I am talking about – the three test, all lecture teachers.  But life isn’t like that, really.  When you’re at a job, most times, you don’t get just one chance to do something right.  Everything is taken in steps.

As a programmer, I take the following steps:

1.  Create a plan of action

2.  Create a prototype

3.  Review and receive feedback on prototype

4.  Make changes – receive approval or feedback (Repeat until approved)

5.  Move onto next stage…

Its a never ending process of going back and forth between the consumer and myself.  There are some instances, yes, where an expression of knowledge is needed – but it is the constant feedback that makes a job or project successful.  Something that we, as college students, sometimes never get.

Happier post tomorrow when I stop being angry 🙂

The Spirit of Education

If you’re a parent, or a teacher, or a student, like myself, you can often find yourself entangled in that messy world of ‘assignments’.  You may find that your head becomes more engrossed in the ability to memorize or otherwise complete assignments, and you lose sight of the big picture.  Why are you in the classroom?  Or, why is your student in the classroom?

You might be asking now, why the hell is this on a Pagan website?  I’m not a pagan parent.  But I am a pagan college student.  And, every school year, or at the start of every semester, I look in the mirror, and remember why I am here: to learn.

As a Witch, that holds special significance to me.  Our religion deals with occult knowledge – that is, knowledge that is generally not accepted as true by a majority of cultures.  Therefore, we must take every opportunity we can to increase this spiritual knowledge through practical means.

When I am in Chemistry, and my professor is speaking about the way that atoms bond, it matters to me.  I may be bored in considering the methodology of that bonding, but I always try to apply what my professor says to how I practice magic and celebrate my existence.  In the case of bonding, we could apply it to humans.  I’ll leave the technicalities out for now, and instead take another example.

In my genocide class, we have moved on to studying the Holocaust.  This is important in a historical sense for me, not only because humans decided to methodically torture, starve and kill each other in the millions, but also because there is mention by Gerald Gardner and Aleister Crowley of a ritual performed to turn away the Nazis from Britain.  Knowing more about the Holocaust aids me inc oming to (or not coming to) a conclusion about the validity of these claims.

In my physics class, we are currently talking about Force.  How can that not be relevant?  Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  Need I say more in relation to the mechanics of magic, karma, and the cycles of the world?

At work, I am currently working with things that are not necessarily new – data entry and the like.  But, I am also constructing a search function that will help me in customizing just about anything.  Because I work as a php/sql programmer, I am able to apply these concepts to other projects I am working on – including an auto tarot card generator.  Therefore, my job helps me study methodology and patterns – another important aspect of magic and the cycles of life.

If you’re bored at work, or in school, step back and start adding a little depth.  It shouldn’t just be a nine to five thing.  So what if you have a degree already?  Learning and the spirit of education should never die.

Til tomorrow!

Race in Our Day

I’m going to take a step off of the ‘pagan’ platform for now, and instead focus on my age and peer group, along with that super special imaginary line that divides North and South.

I hate all things to do with race.  I am not racist – and I’m not so set on equality that I fail to see the gaps in the wealth and socioeconomic status by race.  But I absolutely hate race arguments.  I hate Affirmative Action, and I hate that weird thing colleges are trying to do account for race in applications.  I hate the idea of any segregation – legal or other non-legal methods of doing so (“All of these people in this neighborhood can go to this school only…”) .

A mixture of incidents and situations within my own life has made the need for me to address this apparent issue.  With discussions of the “Jena Six” in one of my classes, as well as discussions about race and poverty itself in two of my classes, concluding with the reading of My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass, it seems like the only thing I have been thinking about is race!

It’s absurd.  And it’s all your fault.  It is not MY generation’s fault that there is a socioeconomic gap between races or genders.  I’m 19 years old.  I wasn’t even considered a person until May of last year, when I turned 18.  You guys have had since 1964 to fix these problems!  Come on, now.

I was fortunate to grow up in a very good school system.  There were no local prejudices about blacks.  Or Asians.  Or Native Americans.   Or even those of Arab descent.  We were a primary white school – until high school, I doubt there was more than 20 or 25 blacks within our class of 400.  There was no mention or perception of Native American or Asian racism.  And, when September 11 happened, we didn’t look at the people around us, in our schools and on our work force, and go, “Terrorist!”  I guess there are some benefits to living in a little town in Western NY.

That aside, I recognize now, at college, that many people come from different backgrounds.  And those people who didn’t grow up on the ‘everyone is equal’ bandwagon, have their racism almost built in.  I also recognize that the majority of my audience will not be those people.

I think your generations are going to be surprised when my generation takes over.  I’m pretty sure we have a liberal majority.  And, party lines aside: we’re sick of this crap.  The media is what is making the Jena Six thing blow up.  The media is still in your generation’s control. So, if you’re in that generation, don’t screw things up for us.  Don’t teach our children that race matters at all – just teach them that they should use a different crayon.  Stop using the media as a tool to incite the masses – the blacks against the whites, and the whites against the black.  Ignore the Klan…or throw them in jail, already.  Be fair – race should never, ever be an issue.  And if you have to make it in an issue, then let’s face the issue right now:

Color of skin has never mattered.  It is instead the culture of the people in question that is causing the tensions.  If you don’t understand or you can’t connect with someone coming from a different cultural background, of course you’re going to react badly.  I’ll be honest – I’m just as frightened by the white people with the pants halfway down their legs(referring to Georgia decency laws) as I am by the black people with their pants halfway down.  It has nothing to do with race.

Well, I think I’m out of time for the day.  But, to wrap it up with a pagan note…we don’t discriminate either (13 Principles):

In seeking to exclude those whose ways are contradictory to ours, we do not want to deny participation with us to any who are sincerely interested in our knowledge and beliefs, regardless of race, color, sex, age, national or cultural origins or sexual preference

Til next time!

Procrastination in Three Realms

I’ve been noticing as of late that my mind and subconscious have slowly been forming ways to ease me into not feeling guilty about doing things that I should. One immediately comes to mind: I feel fatigued whenever I even think about doing something that I don’t want to do. I think this morning may be an exception – I’m just tired, but last night, mid day, and most other ‘free’ periods of my life, I immediately feel like I want a nap whenever I *should* be doing something else.

So, it made me wonder on my walk back, if I am procrastinating within the simpler realms of the physical and mental activities I must pursue, what am I taking shortcuts on spiritually? Turns out my life is like one of those casino machines where you send a coin flying and it goes through a maze to get to the bottom to try to push the other coins out. Sometimes you hit big and lots of coins fall to the floor, but other times, you just keep feeding in the coins and they start adding up. Isn’t it so frustrating when you keep trying and nothing comes of it?

We are, by nature, external beings. We want to see results for whatever we do. Especially with the emergence of the internet as an everyday tool, we are so expectant to see immediate results, that sometimes, when I check my email after an hour, I’m expecting a reply. I’m finding its important to tune that urge out. The tiredness though, is such a physical manifestation of my reluctance, that its hard to overcome. I shouldn’t have to overcome it. If I’m overcoming it, then my mind isn’t benefiting. All I’m doing is forcing myself.

So, instead, let’s turn to the three realms of the self and motivate them individually. I know, for example, that within the physical realm of my life, I have a hard time keeping a consistent diet and exercise plan to train for the upcoming biking season. But, I also know that when I exercise and eat properly:

  • My digestion runs smoothly
  • My energy levels remain consistent throughout the day
  • I am stressed less easily
  • I have a happier outlook on life

Within the mental realm of my life, I have trouble focusing for long periods of time on projects which don’t necessarily interest me as much as I’d like them to. My classes are interesting – the lectures are very comprehensive and engage my mind. However, the idea that I need to create lab reports and other repetitions of already acquired data is boring to me. However, I know that when I buckle down and do my work,

  • I have more time to pursue what I want – even if its sleep
  • I have less stress in my life
  • I tend to be more creative
  • I am happier and more secure

Within the spiritual realm of my life, I often find myself starting new projects in an attempt to get a new look on spiritual data. I have restarted my ‘herbs’ project at least 3 times now, each time, learning a little bit more, but not ever getting past a few entries or portions. This is not to say I can’t complete projects – I did successfully complete an entire project dedicated to Tarot, as well as an entire project dedicated to the energies of the Wheel of the Year. I do these in my own time, but such things as meditation, astral exploration…I tend to procrastinate. Its not that I don’t want to do these things, and they are often very rewarding. My mind and focus just seem to be in two different places. Projects in my spiritual realm have all sorts of benefits:

  • I feel more confident along my path
  • I am more focused
  • I am less stressed
  • I learn

So why, then, do we procrastinate? If anyone reading this has done a similar dissection of their lives, I think they’ll find that they have similar results – positive things come out of working hard. I think, for me, my procrastination stems from a mixture of boredom and fear of doing things incorrectly. In the physical realm – pushing myself too hard, to the point of exhaustion or injury. In the mental realm – burning myself out. And in the spiritual realm – falling so deep within ‘me’ that I can’t be focused on anything else.

I guess we have to walk the line in all things. After all, we are all about balance. I live my life methodically. That isn’t to say without passion, but much of what I find passion in, are things that others do not understand, or find boring. Likewise, I find the normal college activities like communal drinking, clubbing, and partying – boring. They are, in my mind, a useless social construct.

Well, I’ve written quite a bit now, so I think I’ll leave it at that. I’m at 800 words, so that’s about 300 more than I wanted to do.

Til tomorrow!