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Welcome dear reader to Chrysalis!

Chrysalis is one part online journal with a spiritual focus, one part bully pulpit for my opinions and ideas and observations on Paganism and spirituality and life in general, and one part page of resources for folks in or interacting with the Pagan Movement.  Originally I focused on spirituality, but over time I am realizing that whatever your religious persuasion it interweaves with every other aspect of your life, so you never know what you might find me writing about here.

Fair warning… ;-)

Feel free to poke around the various pages(links via page titles above ~ a number of them are under going revision btw…), or to scroll along the links and quotes and link-buttons on the sidebar, or, well heck, even read some of my posts if you want!

Peace, Pax

Standing at a cross-roads on my journey.

Dear Friends,

I am standing at a cross-roads once more.

As I posted on Facebook, “There are times where doing what is the right thing is the single most painful and difficult of options.

Sometimes, life beats you down.  6 or 7 years ago  I found myself in a place where my spiritual practices became the only source of stability in my life.  I was not willing to face the changes that I needed to make, I was not ready for them, or perhaps just not yet at the right cross-roads in my journey?  I fled into dozens of different retreats…online gaming, burying myself in tv shows…running away behaviors…letting go of projects and relationships and activities that nourished my spirit, my faith.  I let go of my practices and have struggled to pick them up once more.

Sometimes love, no matter how much love there is between two people, is not enough.

The moon, the stars and planets, the dance of the seasons, the inspiration of the Holy Powers…all of these come down to timing.  Timing is important in our everyday as well as our religious and spiritual work.  Sometimes, the time just is not right.

Then too, sometimes we are not ready to do what we need too, we set up all kinds of conditions or hedges against what we SHOULD be doing…either out of fear or exhaustion, out of kilter with our highest self and True Will…

it takes two people to make a relationship work and two people for a relationship to break down.  At the same time I look and tell myself I did everything I could; I find myself wanting.  My actions, my words, my choices…my excuses, my fears and insecurities. 

All the things I saw that were bad are now being drowned by recollections of the good, the joy, the love, the simple moments of kindness and care.

So now I stand in the cross-roads once more.  Taking some time in what folklore tells us is a place of power.  Trying to just be comfortable with the storm of memories and emotions playing around and through me. 

Blessed be your journey,

Pax

Letting your Freak Flag Fly…

Hello Friends,

Being Gay, much like being Pagan, means that sometimes ones friends direct questions about the whole of Queerdom (or Pagandom) to you.  Sometimes this is of the “whats this freakishness about” school of inquiry, and sometimes like below its more of a question for clarification….

So my dear friend and sometimes co-conspirator ‘Nyx tagged me in a post on Facebook asking the following question…

Am I wrong? Is the Rainbow Flag NOT all inclusive? 

“I have a question. LGBT is supposed to be a community and the rainbow flag is supposed to represent community from what I know. Why though are there literally tons of flags for each sexuality. Some people have even told me recently that the rainbow flag just means gay because lesbians and everyone else has their own flags. So I really want to know your thoughts. Are we going to become separate communities or have we already done that? When I post a rainbow flag does it no longer represent community and the only time I’m allowed to include someone is when I post their specific flag colors? Thoughts please…” -quoted by ‘Nyx, in her question, from a link from elsewhere on the Facebook…

Here is my response…

“Hey ‘Nix,

Well, these days I would say the flag is pretty darn inclusive but even the exact design of the Freedom Flag as it is sometimes known, is a fluid thing…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_flag

The LGBT community, and LGBT rights movements have a complex history.  This Link from Wikipeida may be useful..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_social_movements

It might also help to think of the LGBT community as being a lot like the Pagan Community, or a Venn Diagram, several overlapping circles of communities.  There are branches of the LGBT, or GLBT (to give the guys some equal time in the lead of the alphabet soup), community that have their own identity issues and identification needs and their own ideas of self-hood even within the larger GLBT community.

In the 1970’s when the flag first emerged, some LGBT groups felt that they were different communities better said to be allied with the Gay community, especially as the Women’s Liberation movement gained steam and the Lesbian community started to emerge into its own… and they had some conflicts politically and philosophically with the larger GLBT movement.

Then too we are dealing with the power of a symbol.  The Pride Flag, or any form of Pride Flag, represents an act of empowerment and a claiming of self-worth.

These days I’d say that the Rainbow Flag is mighty damn inclusive, but its inclusiveness has grown grown over time and been part of a journey through history and politics and culture.”

Hope this helps,
Geoffrey / Pax

Towards some new Beginings…

Dear Friends,

I am not sure why, exactly, the Gregorian New Year has been the Turning Point in my year this year, but that’s what it has been.

My work schedule allowed me to be home to toast in the New Year with The Fabulous Jonathan and share a New Years Kiss with him.  He is working through a number of health problems and finally beginning to take steps to deal with them productively,  I have been in contact with many of my family and friends vie phone and Facebook and reweaving strands of connection with many people I care about or who have touched my life for the better.

TFJ and I are striving to eat healthier this year for our health, and New Years Day we had a much needed heart to heart about the ups and downs of the last couple of years.  We have faced a lot of financial challenges, and the collision of our pasts as we stumble into, over, and around each others emotional baggage.  Yet we love one another and are in love with one another and we keep finding ways to talk.

That’s the key, isn’t it, to just keep talking and to remember that you love this person even when they are driving you mad?

On the spiritual front, I have already made some offerings of Oil and Honey Wine and Herbal Tea to the Household Spirits.  This is the week I will redress and dust off the Altar and begin reweaving my connections to the Gods and Ancestors…

They are there, and I take heart in my idea that They know that sometimes other connections and other parts of our Mortal lives take us away from our times with Them…

Now I need to go make some breakfast salad for TFJ and myself,

Peace, and a Blessed New Years,

Pax / Geoffrey

Musing on breakage and repairs

Dear Friends,

A Kintsugi cup  Image Found Here

A Kintsugi cup Image Found Here

So the other day I was exploring over on Facebook and found this video about how you can cut a glass bottle to make a cup or a vase or whatever.  Kind of neat actually, a bit of history a bit of do-it-yourself-ness and answers the question of what to do with some of those really interesting bottles I seem to find and hate the idea of throwing away.   Basically you place the bottle onto a turntable, make a small scratch with a diamond tipped tool, and then apply heat (like with a butane torch lighter) around the circumference of the bottle in line with the scratch mark, add just a little pressure and Voila!
The heat causes the the crack to expand all the way around the circumference… then you just have to grind or sand down the sharp edge.

Now, later that night I found myself musing about what a perfect metaphor this was for how easy it can be to be beaten down or broken in life sometimes…  a little nick or scratch,.. a little heat… a little pressure and… SMASH… your an emotional or spiritual wreck….

Yeah, I am  a big bag of laughs sometimes aren’t I?

Then, like a ray of light through heavy clouds, I remembered about Kintsugi, which is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer work that incorporates gold dust.  The pieces are put back together, the cracks and fault-lines are filled with gold, and the broken vessel is repaired.  Many practitioners of the Japanese Tea Ceremony will incorporate Kintsugi pieces into their sets.

My mind turned to thoughts of how regular Spiritual practice can help heal us in the times we are broken.  I also thought about how in some respects, Spiritual practice, if your doing it right… helps break us.  Growth does not come without some pain or struggle… Spiritual practices… the best ones anyway… they seem to require us to face what makes us afraid… to deal with the difficulties and fears and challenges and to then move past them.

At some point in the last few years I started to set aside a lot of my practices because I was engaging in them regularly…not to reach out and up to connect to the world or the Divine… but to endure the everyday… and I felt that that was somehow wrong or profaning the practices or …disrespecting them?

I can see now that that was SO damn wrong-headed of me!

It is through practice that we can be open to the healing, to wisdom, to inspiration.  It is NOT about not getting hurt, or broken.  It’s about picking up the pieces and finding a way to make them whole again!  Day in and day out.  Even when we aren’t feeling it, or when all it seems to be doing is making us feel a bit more settled…  practice is not about some cross-roads moment spiritual experience with lights and fireworks and whatever.  That can be one of the occasional benefits yes, but that should not be why we are practicing.  Its about finding the gold dust in life and repairing the cracks in the world with it.

Peace,

Pax / Geoffrey

Baby Steps…

Dear Friends,

Upheavals and stresses at work, financial stresses at home, fear, deep depression, unexpressed thoughts and feelings and resentments left to fester.  Somewhere in the last two years or so I once again lost my way in this journey of mine.

So now I find myself taking baby steps back to myself, my truest self, and towards my hopes and my dreams and towards my relationships with the Holy Powers once more. 

I have been making semi-regular offerings to the Heart Spirits again, especially when trying to tackle one small piece of the terrible mess our apartment has become.

You may wonder.. “Why the Hearth Spirits?”

Well, they are the ones I live with and in the every-day aren’t they?  they are also the ones who have been most neglected over the last couple of years.  Also it means we have to keep the Kitchen, where Their altar is, clean…. or at least cleaner that we have been!  It is also, quite honestly the simplest and easiest of my practices to pick up again.  One of the Baby Steps of today’s title.

There are others, including admitting to myself and others that I have been in a deep depression for quite a while.

There are others…

~ Putting more effort into my appearance…

~ Putting together a page or two here of stuff that inspires me and reminds me of my best and brightest self, and reviewing it regularly..

~Reconnecting with local friends in my face-to-face community…

~Finding new ways to connect to folks in my online community.  I am thinking Skype chats, individually and in groups.

~Trying to add some small bit of exercise to my day..walking to  the mailbox (apt dweller here), going for a short swim/float in the complex pool, even a short stroll around the apartment complex…something small tor connect me with my body and with the world around me.

~writing here and working on this site on a MORE than semi-annual basis!

So that is where I am in my journey right now.

Before I close though since this post touches upon the topic of depression, I figured I should include some resources on the topic… So here is an informative article from the New York Times, information from The National Institutes of Mental Health, and information from The Mayo Clinic…

Peace, and Blessed Be your journey,

Pax / Geoffrey Stewart

“The next month or so…” OR, Never second guess your journey!

Hello again Dear Friends,

So… I kid of fell down a rabbit hole.  In my case the rabbit hole was the virtual reality of Second Life.

I Could disassemble and delay focusing on the key point by talking about the wonders and creativity and my misadventures in the fairly amazing and sometimes quite amusing environment of Second Life…  but the key points are that over the last 2 years I had a roller-coaster of ups and downs in my personal and professional lives.  Sometime over the last 2 years I was writing less and less, and my spiritual practices became more about enduring my daily life rather than embracing The Holy Powers and my relationships with them, and with my fellow human beings.

I would spend my every spare moment diving into Facebook and watching t.v. shows on line and playing video games.  Creating less and less.

I was too tired.  On a bone-deep level.

I was burning out.  For some reason though, I refused to admit it.  That would be too much like a defeat somehow, and I have had a LOT of defeats the last several years.

I told myself.. “Well, I will try to write something tomorrow.. ”  and tomorrow would become the next day.  I would tell myself.. “I will do my prayers and meditations and spiritual Work tomorrow.”  and tomorrow would become the next day or the next week.  I would tell myself… “I just need to relax a little.. slack off a bit.”  and then I needed to relax more and more.  Sitting and reading or watching, rather than writing.  More and more time immersed in the Web, more and more time hiding from the World…and from myself.

I have been unhappy for a long time.  Not depressed exactly… exhausted…dissatisfied and feeling trapped in some bad situations.

Finally sometime in April… I admitted to myself that I was burnt out.  I just let myself hide in the virtual world of Second Life for a while…

In late May I contacted the Pagan Values group on Facebook, and sent out a call for someone to take over the Pagan Values Event for this year… cause I was burnt out.

It went wonderfully this year and I was impressed and touched by how many people were willing to help and contribute.

In that same time, some strange synchronicity started happening.  I would run into folks in Second Life, or news stories on the radio, or have small conversations with people around me… and there would be some element of healing or wisdom that I had been needing to hear.   I couldn’t start any real renewal or healing until I had admitted I was bunt out.  Once I did though.. things started flowing, and creativity and practice have crept back into my life and heart.

I am not sure where the next step in my journey is… but over the last couple of years… I started questioning whether my spiritual journey had reached some sort of dead end.  It was more of a rad block..that I couldn’t get around until I admitted to myself that I had broken down and was broken down on the side of the metaphorical road in my Journey.

I figured I was running away from the world in Second Life, but I now believe that the Holy Powers are everywhere.. even in the aether of the Internet…

Peace,

Pax

An inspiring Image for the next month or so…

(So this post will be ‘stuck’ at the top of the blog front page for a while as part of my continuing journey and Work, and features a music video that is NSFW…)

Dear Friends,

So I am working and Working on myself.

Part of this is going through Kissing The Limitless again to reconnect with my self and Work.  Remembering to breathe, remembering to actually ~engage~ in my practices, etc…

The other night as I was writing in my journal I wrote…

“I have neglected/punished myself and neglected my Practices and Spirit and Spirits out of fear and unhappiness:”

Which could really encapsulate so much of my path the last several years… up the hill and backsliding back down.  Although some part of me wonders if this is more like sledding… are there some lessons or experiences I need to learn, or reward I am getting, related to my ‘backsliding’?

Anyhow after I wrote the above quote I picked up KTL and came to page 16, Moving Past Preconceptions…

“Doing the Work

What in you holds an unattainable image of perfection that you run from or flog yourself for not having?  What causes you to give up?  Can you look for what emotion might be be beneath this?  As you do your other practices, take time to notice when these feelings arise.

Find an image that inspires you and use that as a touchstone in your work for the next month.  Everytime you notice yourself not measuring up, take a breath and try to notice the story beneath the story.  Then remember the inspiring image and move on for the moment.”                 (C) T. Thorn Coyle 2009, Kissing The Limitless

And then I thought of that song “Perfect” by Pink…

This song is going to be my touchstone, or one of them, for a while…thus it’s prominence here on the blog for a bit..

So what images, songs, quotes, etc… nourish your spirit and speak to your life and soul and Work?  What inspires you on your Journey?

Blessings on your Journey,

Pax

PS- Pink is just kind of awesome by the by…