Two things. (Three, sir!)

writy Watson
I got my copies of The Scribing Ibis today. None of the italicization in my text survived, but the book looks good, regardless. It's sweet to have yet another one on the shelf of "Stuff Erynn's Done."

Hex Magazine emailed me today with the copy for the old amanita muscaria article from "Shaman's Drum" that they're reprinting. I went over it for proof reading and corrected a few typos, then sent it back. It's apparently going to press Friday, so that was my priority project for the day. Glad that's done with. Like Circle of Stones, this is from quite some time ago. I can definitely tell which bits I wrote and which bits Timothy White wrote.

dmiley and his wife headed out for the ferry about noon. We had some pastry from the french bakery next door for breakfast and went for a walk around the lake before they took off. It was great to have them here and I wish them the best in their travels and a safe trip home.

Mom reports that Ray and Diane's house is still there but apparently some of the bank washed out, so it's very lucky the house is still there.

As to undermining bits, I went out with the DoDC+3 a little while ago only to find that there's a sinkhole in the parking lot. Apparently when the lot was paved, there was some kind of rectangular cement enclosure under it that was just capped with asphalt. I'm surprised it hadn't collapsed before. The hole isn't very big at the moment, but could get to be at least three feet long if it collapses along the whole underground structure. There's safety tape put up around it and I imagine it will be dealt with soon.

I'll be off to the AFK tonight for the steampunk meetup. Sounds like about half a dozen people will be there, so it'll be nice to catch up with folks.

Courtesy of sannion (and The Onion)

amanita
How to tell if your teen is practicing shamanism:

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Thinky thoughts on spirituality

Deduce it
dmiley tagged me with a lemming. I don't usually respond to them unless I think they're interesting. This one seemed pretty interesting. Here's the gist:

What religions do you find most interesting apart from your own? Would you pick one of the major world religions? Say Islam, or Buddhism, or Hinduism or Judaism? Or would you pick something more obscure, like Wicca or Taosim or Rastafarianism or Gnosticism? Would you pick irreligion, say Atheism or Agnosticism? Or if you're not Christian, would you say Christianity?

As most of you who have followed me for any amount of time probably know, I'm primarily a practitioner of CR filidecht. I'm also a member of the local Shinto shrine, and a mystes and luperca of the Ekklesía Antínoou. I've always been interested in world religions, large or obscure.

I do find both Taoism and some of the more Zen-leaning Buddhist paths quite interesting. I read a lot about both of them and find them very inspiring, particularly when I'm trying to work out knotty problems from a non-Western angle. They've both taught me a lot about patience and going with the flow of things. I do think that both of them influence me to some degree.

Shamanism is also a deep interest of mine, though I wouldn't say I practice it; I'm an animist but not all animism is automatically shamanism. I've studied it and worked with some of the techniques, of course. I think it offers a really good set of technologies for working in the Otherworlds. Along similar lines, I have always enjoyed reading about and seeing different aspects of the Afro-Diasporic religions. They're valuable models of survival by syncretism and adapting to some really horrifying conditions while maintaining a strong spiritual core.

Hinduism fascinates me. I find the iconography beautiful and dynamic, the rituals interesting, and the depth of polytheist culture profound. While I have something of a relationship with Sarasvati, this doesn't in any way make me a practicing Hindu. That said, Hinduism produces some great music, is the source of some extraordinary poetry, and has inspired some fabulous Bollywood media, as well as providing the world with a kick-ass cuisine. It's hard to go wrong with a combination like that!

While I read Christian theology, I'm not that interested in Christianity itself, per se. I find monotheism far too problematic on a number of levels to ever want to be a Christian again. The obsessive insistence on one-true-way in monotheism leaves no real room for organic growth and exploration of other paths; it's very hard to accept that other things can be valid if you're that deeply enmeshed in a religion that insists it has the whole and only truth. In the same category for me is Sufism which, while being a part of Islam and monotheistic, really does have some appealing aspects and has produced some profoundly beautiful mystical poetry. Dancing with Sufis is cool but having to deal with much of the rest of Islam and its baggage is difficult.

That said, I'd love to learn more about pretty much every religion I've ever heard of, with the exception of Scientology and Mormonism. I have too many ex-Mormon friends to want to get anywhere near it, and the Mormon church's deep involvement in current anti-queer politics makes them pretty much radioactive as far as I'm concerned. I have some very deep problems with any religion that wants to make or keep me a second-class citizen in my own country. Scientology is just plain too fucked up to poke with a ten meter cattle prod.

Seattle tomorrow

foggy coast
I crashed early tonight -- about 6:30 -- and got up again about 11pm or so because the DoDC+3 was nibbling on my nose. He had to go out, of course. I'm feeling vaguely like I might be coming down with something, which is inconvenient because I've got a pretty full week ahead of me.

Tomorrow the spirituality group at the VA starts again, and I'll be seeing brannen for a bit afterwards over at Travelers. He's in town for a brief visit. Unfortunately, alfrecht is up to his ears in deadlines before the end of the month so he won't be able to join us.

I did make myself a really yummy hot ginger tea with key lime, starting with a packet of ginger tea mix (usually too sweet for me) then adding a goodly chunk of fresh chopped ginger and a dollop of key lime juice. It was hot and spicy and a little tart and just barely sweet. A real improvement over the hyper-sweetness of the usual powdered ginger tea. And I feel considerably better afterwards as well. I nibbled on some of the tiny cubes of ginger root as the tea got sipped. We watched a Wild Wild West involving a kelp-obsessed environmentalist (the bad guy, of course) for some amusement before I hop into bed again.

I finished The Catalpa Bow last night, which was an interesting study of Japanese shamanistic practices in Shinto and Buddhism. It was originally written in the 60s and updated somewhat in the 80s. Even now, many of the practices described have almost entirely vanished. The asceticism required of mediums, exorcists, and other practitioners is really extreme, so I'm not all that surprised really. Most modern people aren't interested practices that are so difficult and uncomfortable, even in a culture that supported these practices until the last few decades. It's well worth a read, and even more interesting now that I know a lot more about Shinto for having attended the shrine and read a bunch of books on the topic in the last few years. If you're interested in esoteric and shamanistic practices in Japan, I'd highly recommend this one.

And now, back to bed.

Lovely day, lovely company

two ravens
I got up this morning and got myself a spot of tea, after which alfrecht arrived back home from visiting his dad and their family. When I took the DoDC+3 out for his walk, there were guys plowing the remainder of the snow out of the parking lot. There are still some big piles in a few places, but at least now the lot is clear and safe for the most part.

Early in the afternoon we proceeded down to Seattle and hung out for a while at Travelers, where we talked to Alan, Leon, and Amy for a bit. I had some genmaicha and a slice of shortbread. alfrecht and I talked about the additional essay that lupagreenwolf asked me to write for the animism anthology, about filidecht and "Celtic shamanism". Essentially we talked about how, while it can be constructed in modern terms as neo-shamanism, filidecht wasn't conceived as being like shamanism when it was originally being written about in the middle ages. One of the differences is that the filidh were not actually making Otherworld journeys, but were rather seeking visions (active vs. passive Otherworld interactions, if you will), which is an important distinction. How power is conceived of and discussed is different as well. Anyway, I scribbled down a page of notes while we talked and will be thinking about it more later when I sit down to outline the essay.

thewronghands met alfrecht and me for dinner at a little after 5pm this evening at Queen of Sheba, one of the Ethiopian places up on the Hill. I wasn't certain we were going to be able to carve out any time together this time around because she's been so busy seeing everyone now that the snow has melted. She's been a social whirlwind -- one of her friends walked down to drop her off with us after having tea with her, and after dinner we dropped in briefly at Half Price Books before she was to meet another friend at the B&O for dessert.

We caught up a bit on projects we're all doing with work, writing, spiritual stuff, and in the community. It was great to see her again and I'm delighted that we got to spend some time with her alone, as the last couple of times have involved crowds. Social time is nice, but having a little private time is wonderful as well, so I'm quite grateful. She's flying out at OMG:30 on New Years morning, so slán abhaile, thewronghands -- may your flight be as uneventful as humanly possible!

I find it kind of ironic that thewronghands, queen of constantly on the move, feels like she's slacking compared to what alfrecht and I are doing, but she says that it's in different categories. Me, I'm not sure where she finds time to breathe! I can't see her ever being a slacker by any definition of the word. We're all busy, just with different things.

After she departed to B&O, we stayed a little longer at Half Price to browse. We each found a couple of things we were interested in, so that was nice. After we arrived home, we watched The Last Vampyre with Jeremy Brett, a story I wasn't particularly familiar with. But I was fairly certain they'd mixed in some character bits from another story in order to flesh this one out. I know that the Granada episodes did that from time to time, and didn't always follow canon too closely. I'll forgive them their excesses because Brett was such a fantastic Holmes, and the series is just so much fun to watch.

Tomorrow night alfrecht and I will be heading up to the Shinto shrine for the New Years ceremony, as we did last year. It's possible I'll be joining yiaya on New Years day to cheer for her when she does her polar bear dunk in the lake. For now, I'm going to curl up and read a little bit, maybe have a snack. I'll likely be heading to bed sometime soonish.
Erynn SteamIcon
First the updating, though it will be a brief update considering the hour. jcalanthe and his sweetie came to see me Monday. We had a fabulous time, as reported in alfrecht's LJ. I've known JC for some time now through fandom and IRC chat, and we met face to face for the first time this February at PantheaCon -- that was a fun experience as well, and I was thrilled to see them both again.

More stuff hereCollapse )

A short book review

Erynn SteamIcon
While I was having the sinus head cold of d0000m, I managed to finish up at least a little reading when I didn't have energy for anything else. One of the items so finished was Shamanism and the Psychology of C.G. Jung: The Great Circle by Robert E. Ryan.

I've read quite a few academic texts in my time. This book suffered terribly from an inflamed case of academese and repetititis. The man desperately needed an editor, and the typography was just horrible. The main text was in a sans-serif bold font, and the in text quotations were in the plain. I would honestly have expected the other way around, or plain with italics. This made the book very visually annoying to read.

The author's premise is (of course) that all shamanism takes place entirely inside one's head and that none of it could possibly be real, though it has real effects. He picks and chooses his examples and models to agree with his conjectures, ignoring cases that vary or disagree. Like so many Jungians, he universalizes and chips off all the distinguishing features of any given ritual or mythology and squeezes things to fit his preconceptions. There was actually very little about the genuine practice of shamanism and a lot about how an ideal of universal shamanism fit into Jungian psychological models.

The author seemed utterly unable to use plain English. If he had a fifty dollar word for something, he'd use that (repeatedly) rather than anything in simpler language. There were some useful and interesting source quotes, so that was a mitigating factor. I think the most interesting thing for me was the final chapter, on the life of Carl Jung himself, and how the author felt it reflected a shamanic pattern. I'm sure that for people familiar with Jung's biography there would not be much new here, but while I've read some of Jung's works, I've read very little about his personal life. I do feel that after wading through the excess verbiage, I have a somewhat better idea of what Jung actually meant by archetypes than I've had from most other sources, but it took a while to get at it -- not to mention the pickaxe and shovel.

All in all, this one was only worth about one and a half generalizing psychologists out of five. Poke around in the bibliography and make notes if you want to, but don't bother buying this one.

Yesterday...

Erynn SteamIcon
I was out walking the DoDC+3 before heading out for gaming when I saw a pair of ospreys over the parking lot being mobbed by a crow. Haven't seen ospreys here before, but I'm pleased to know there's a pair around locally. At first I thought it might be the eagles, but they definitely weren't -- not even immatures -- as they had lighter, somewhat mottled undersides. The mature eagles here are bald eagles, and very distinctive.

I finished reading Ecoshamanism: Sacred Practices of Unity, Power & Earth Healing by James Endredy on Thursday while I was waiting to get a needle jammed into my armpit. It's been spoken of quite highly by lupagreenwolf. Even with her recommendation, I tend to be highly sceptical of non-anthropological books on shamanism and came to this one fully ready to be disappointed. Endredy claims that what he practices ("Ecoshamanism") is different from both traditional shamanism (it has no specific tribal lineage) and so-called "core" shamanism derived from the Harner style methods. To a certain extent I'd agree with him, and some of his material is actually fairly good. Unfortunately, he does indulge in some fairly New Agey doublespeak, and his continual use of "MBESA" (mind/body/environment/spirit awareness) throughout the book rather than just saying "awareness" came off as jarring and annoyingly jargony.

He's a big advocate of a burial ritual as an initiation. I suspect it probably works fairly well, though it seems there's lots of touchy-feely psychoanalysis involved with the ritual as he presents it. He has some very good things to say about hunting in a sacred way, and I think his attitude about working with animal spirits balances out a lot of what otherwise puts me off about the book. I have to say the man's not afraid of blood in his work, and for someone claiming to be practicing shamanism, this is an honest approach that strikes me as far more realistic and effective than approaching animals solely through guided imagery, tv shows, zoos, and divinatory animal spirit decks.

I liked and agreed with his approach of discussing his personal ritual and why and how he does things, but not giving cookbook rituals for his readers to follow. That seems much more genuine than the "stand here and say these words" approach that most books seem to take these days. On the other hand, he would say things like "ancient European cultures like the Druids, Celts and Vikings" -- as though the druids and the Celts were separate cultures. WTF? You lose on history.

Overall, it seems like a somewhat deeper approach than Harner core shamanism, but it still has that creebling underlying feeling of New Age market analysis and cultural lumping to it that makes me twitch.

Three shaman's drums out of five.

Creaky Tuesday

Erynn SteamIcon
I overdid at tai chi tonight and my legs are all creaky and over-stressed. I'm tired, my legs hurt, and the tylenol isn't really doing that much for it. I have an email interview to do tomorrow along with some writing, so I need to give some thought to that. I also need to do more work on the filidecht workshop outline and reading list.

lwood -- is there any way to arrange with you to have, say, 30 copies of Not Your Mama's Tree Ogam printed up when I get there and I can give you cash for them then? I want to have some on hand for PCon.

Finished up reading Miranda Green's The Quest for the Shaman: Shape-shifters, Sorcerers and Spirit-healers of Ancient Europe today. Here be muttering and book reviewing.Collapse )

Another day, another book

Erynn SteamIcon
So I did my grocery shopping for the month yesterday, relying on my credit cards. At least I'm not going to starve or anything. This is a cosmic good. I've got black beans simmering and beets in the oven to make borscht, and I'll freeze some of both for later. Cabbage for galobkes. Chicken in the freezer. It's a start in the right direction, at least. I'm glad I've got energy to cook today, though mostly I'm just feeling kind of sluggish mentally and don't have the wherewithal to write.

I finished up Shamanism: A Reader edited by Graham Harvey this afternoon. More here.Collapse )
Erynn SteamIcon
First, the fangirl squee:

Vancouver FilmhauntCollapse )

Critters thinking

Erynn SteamIcon
I finished reading lupagreenwolf's book, Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic today. Unlike pretty much everything else out there on animals and magic today, it's not a "totem dictionary" in any sense of the word. Instead, Lupa presents a variety of approaches and techniques ranging from a guided meditation suggested for finding a totem to a chapter on the legalities and practices of animal sacrifice. There's a lot of very good information packed into this small book, and it's quite well written. Lupa tackles things from a very practical and experiential point of view, and talks about her own practices and experiences, giving a strong grounding to what could have otherwise been a book largely on theory. She makes no claims to be doing work from any particular tribal tradition, but instead discusses a variety of practices and techniques from many different cultures and from her own intuitional discoveries. Well worth the money spent. Good job, Lupa!

Books, La Push, and life

Erynn SteamIcon
As some of you are aware, I was out at La Push for several days this week. I got a lot done, including several pages on the ogam book. I finished reading two books I've been working through, and recieved a lovely one in the mail as well. Also, the schedule for PantheaCon is apparently finalized and up. I'm scheduled for Friday at 9pm for my Ogam workshop and Monday at 9am for the CR 101 discussion. If you're going to be at the con, please look me up!

Ramblings under here: no photos this visitCollapse )
Erynn SteamIcon
The Woman in the Shaman's Body: Reclaiming the Feminine in Religion and Medicine by Barbara Tedlock, Ph.D.

This was part of my airplane reading when I was back east this month. caitriona_nnc had expressed some trepidation about it when I showed it to her while visiting her. I'd bought the book online, sight unseen, on a rec from a friend of a friend, and the blurb looked decent.

cut for the impatientCollapse )

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