Archive for November, 2010

an answer to prayer

November 28, 2010

I was talking to my mom on the phone yesterday, telling her about my new job (YAY).  The whole thing happened so quickly– there was less than a week between applying and accepting the job offer– and my [Christian] mom made this observation: “I know you probably don’t see it this way, but it seems like an answer to prayer, doesn’t it?”

And since I absolutely avoid all types of religious debates with my mom, and since I am not in the habit of being in any way rude to her, I didn’t say, “It can’t be an answer to prayer if I didn’t actually pray.” Instead I went on to tell her why it happened so quickly (both the reason I was sure of and the reason I suspected).

But that’s not the whole story. 

I only had a day to prepare for the interview and I spent the whole day doing it.  And that night as I went to sleep I thought, “Boy, I sure hope I get this job.”  And where a few years ago I would have prayed, you know what I did, last week, as an atheist?

Said a prayer.  To Persephone.  It went a little something like this.

Dear Queen of the Underworld,

I hope your winter is going well.  We miss you up here.  I would be very happy to send you a nice photo of California springtime, to encourage you during these cold months, especially if you would be so kind as to help me get this job.

All the best,

Alice.

And since I got the job, I was gonna hit a Friends of the Library Bookstore for a nice photo to send Her way.  I guess I’ll burn it?

Yeah.  Probably best not to tell my mom about this one.  She’ll think I’m totally off my rocks.  Which I might be.  But this amuses me.

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cause and chaos

November 19, 2010

I thought that I had enough chaos in my life these past few years.  Between a big move, losing my religion, divorcing my husband, quitting my job, and taking care of my grandma while she died of cancer (seven months of watching TV with her has made me stupider!  I can tell!)… that’s enough, right?  From 2007 onwards, it’s just been a storm of chaos.  And losing my religion really meant I lost 99 percent of my ability to cope with life: all my stress-management techniques were lost, an instant community wherever I went was lost, even my ideas about reality were lost.

If that wasn’t bad enough [and I apologize if this is TMI]… a few years ago, I switched from the Pill to a non-hormonal IUD, and now I have some pretty serious PMS.  How the fuck do women handle this?  The week before my period, I start losing sleep and feeling a detached urge to get drunk for no reason, no reason I am aware of, anyway.  Wierd!  So practically a quarter of my life now is dealing with a personality change and all these uncomfortable urges that I have to work around.

Add that to the things I’ve actively done to myself– the events I’ve more-or-less chosen, though technically I did choose to get the IUD– and now my own body is working against me.

If that wasn’t bad enough, this morning I’ve had regular coffee and then let someone infuriate me on a forum.  Yeah, a stranger on the internet is affecting my morning.  I love living in the future.

At least I’ve made the other party angry as well.  I enjoy feeling angry, actually.  It’s nice to feel.

I am not a witch

November 15, 2010

Anyone who knows anything about Evangelical teachings knows that witchcraft is bad.  So bad.  I was raised to be wary of fortune-telling, palm reading, Ouija boards, magic tricks (even though they were tricks), any stories with wizards, wizards, or spells in them (never saw “The Wizard of Oz,” though “The Little Mermaid” was warily permitted despite the witch Ursula).  We were not allowed to make-believe or play anything even remotely related to the occult.

And even though the Bible teaches that witchcraft is real in 1 Samuel 28, as a child, I wasn’t really clear on whether witchcraft is bad because it works— i.e., there are real powers there that we shouldn’t use as Christians– or because it was rebellion against God to try to get something without Him.  I imagine that’s a difficult theology point for parents, since you don’t want to be saying that shit actually works, but if it doesn’t, then why is it such a big deal to forbid it?  This could also get awkward if kids start wondering why prayer is supposed to work but casting a spell isn’t.  Either way, it’s irrelevant, since I don’t believe in gods or magical powers anymore.

So I did something a little weird.  I bought a pack of Tarot cards.

They are beautiful cards.  I got the Rider-Waite Tarot, since that’s kindof the traditional standard– the King James Version of Tarot, if you will– and I think I’m going to have some fun with them.  I am interested in symbols and mythology, so after I figure out what everything means (I got a book from the library), I’m really gonna start practicing and playing with them.

What I’m really looking forward to is using them for my writing.  One of the ways I write is to just make characters and start telling stories: no planning the plot, no story arc, no character development… not really anything, just telling little stories for fun.  Of course the downside to this is that I get stuck when I don’t know what happens next.  So what I’ll do is read the character’s cards and get an idea for the lesson or event or person that should be happening next.

Fun idea, yeah?

As for using them for myself: reading my cards, or for someone else… I’m not sure how I want to do this.  I want them to be for fun, but I also want to be cautious and work out some sort of rules for myself because I can see how this could get addicting.  Side note: a friend (who is an atheist) divorced her husband in part because he was obsessed with reading Tarot and really starting to creep her out.  Thing is, even if I don’t believe there is anything magic about them (and I don’t), and the person whose cards I’m reading believes the same, there’s still a strange pull of the attention, a drawing of curiosity… and that weird feeling when the cards say something useful or dead-on-accurate is a powerful feeling.  I’m going to assume it’s simply a human phenomenon.  Otherwise there’d be no religion, right?

And you know how if you read your horoscope, it’s basically just advice, like, “watch out for pride,” or maybe, “today is a good day to ask for a raise.”  Harmless advice, and probably even good advice.  I’m thinking I’ll use the cards like that if someone ever says, “do me, do me!”  There are general meanings of each card, and of course ways to interpret the cards for relationship or financial questions. 

Seems to me that this will end up being a lot of self-fulfilling prophecy.  I remember playing with “Chinese fortune sticks” (no idea) with a friend, and we took turns telling each other’s fortunes by pulling out a stick from the jar and looking up the number in the book.  On one of his fortunes, I zinged him– because I knew him pretty well and I linked the fortune to his personality.  But his eyes got really big and he got nervous and put them away, saying he’d never play with them again.  (Superstitious Catholic?)  But it was me who knew him, not the fortune sticks, they were just a tool.  But what I said really scared him.

So this has the potential to be at least somewhat useful, a little fun, and a little scary… and I can see how I’d have been burned at the stake for seeing into someone’s soul or “knowing” something I have no business knowing.  Fortune-tellers obviously don’t have magic: they have insight into human nature and psychology, and they know enough about their clients to make meaningful statements.  I just hope I can give reasonable advice if it ever comes up, and maybe get some good insight into myself using the cards as a sort of mirror.

Looking back over what I’ve written, I think I get it, now.  Tarot and other divination and occult practices give power to individuals, not to gods.  Practicing Tarot might seem like accessing the beyond, or tapping into some spirit world, but really it’s simple human insight and making it mysterious– or perhaps it is the reverse: it takes the mystery of humanity and sorts it into symbols and myths and stories so that we can understand ourselves.

I’ll let you know how it goes.  I’m kindof excited.

not a good person

November 2, 2010

I have a really big problem.  I am not a good person.

If I was still a Christian– if I’d have died a Christian– I would have gone the rest of my life without even knowing I am not a good person.  Why, you ask?

Because Christians are automatically good people.

How?  Why??  Listen to Auntie Alice and I will tell you.

When I was a young girl, I was taught to love Jesus.  I was taught that if I loved Jesus, He would make me loving and patient and kind.  He would make me a good daughter and a good wife.

If I put God first, I would do well in school.  I would be healthy and successful.

If I trusted God, He would bring me a good husband.  I would have happy, Christian children.

So did my parents actually teach me much about how to be a good person?  No, they taught me how to love God.

Did they teach me about how to find and choose a good mate?  No, they taught me how to trust Jesus.

I have a lifetime of growing up to do.  And I need to start now.