Veil

Today is Samhain; the day when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest (well, apart from Beltane) and spirits can pass through.

I love Samhain, it’s the part of the year that I feel most at home with. I love the darkness and the way that it can creep and consume us if we’re not careful. At this time of year we become more and more aware of the power of nature and how, even now, we’re controlled by it.

I just switched the lights on. I’ve been trying to fight the darkness all day, I don’t think it really got light today. I went out for a bit and have come back to find the flat in darkness. So the lights are on, I’m typing this up and then I’ll be heading to the store to pick up something for tea and some apples for my rituals.

It’s been a long time since I performed a Pagan ritual. I feel kind of bad about that- however, I think it was necessary. I have some time set aside tonight to go all out and do what I used to do on Samhain.

So, what finally kicked me out of the lazy rut I’ve been in for the past year or so?

The Gods.

I felt strange on Tuesday, I can’t really put it onto words, there was just something off. I lit some candles- candles that I’ve only actually used a few times- and one went out.

Okay, I’ll elaborate a little.

I have two identical pillar candles that I keep on my altar. The represent the Lord and the Lady. They’re almost identical in every way and have only been lit a handful of times. They were burning for about half an hour or so before one of them started to fizz loudly, it crackled and spluttered before going out completely.

I tried everything to relight it, I checked the wick and scraped away some of the wax, I tried moving it and making sure that it wasn’t being affected by the open window… eventually I called it a day and just left it.

A couple of hours later I tried again, and it lit with no problems.

For me this was like a wake-up call. I read my tarot cards, they gave me an insight into a few personal things that I need to think about, and sat for a while looking out at the sky and thinking about my Gods.

I was reminded strongly that whilst the Gods are always with me, they are powerful- more powerful than I could ever be or ever imagine. I love my faith, if I were to walk away from the Gods they would let me go, but I feel that they were offering me a gentle reminder of their power and how close the other-world is.

Have a blessed Samhain,

Wren x

An Explanation + Scarborough

Lately I’ve been missing out on doing posts on Wednesdays, this is due to a combination of factors such as crap internet, crap wordpress and crap mental state.

To be perfectly honest I just haven’t really been very inspired to write about anything on Wednesdays. I left this day as a day where I could post about anything that I wanted… and it ended up turning into a day where I posted about serious things. I was putting a bit of pressure on myself to write three big articles a week. I’ll be clear, writing them wasn’t the problem, thinking of what to write about was.

I felt like I was putting out half-arsed content. So from now on I’m going to relax and try to write something more light-hearted and casual on Wednesdays.

To entertain you whilst I work out what exactly I will be writing on Wednesdays I give you a selection of pictures from Scarborough that I took over the weekend:

Lament for Teenage Wren

If you’ve looked back through this blog or been reading it for a while you’ll be aware that I suffered from mental health problems from the age of fourteen. My teenage years were overshadowed by mental health problems.

Sometimes I look back and I feel regret and longing. I wish that I could go back and live those years of my life like everyone else. I think about how amazing it would be to live without having to think about working or making money or the big, scary, adult world.

I see teenagers portrayed everywhere and I feel an incredible longing to be one of them again, (technically I still am but we’ll gloss over that) I feel regret for the person who I was.

I can understand that the feelings that I’m having aren’t logical.

I know that puberty was nasty- seriously, it was nasty. It involved spots, rough periods, unnatural amounts of sweat and constantly sore boobs… not to mention the mood swings.

I don’t want to go through that again.

But I still feel like I wasted years of my life.

I have to remind myself that those years made me who I am now, that they taught me invaluable lessons and at the end of the day I couldn’t have changed what happened to me. I had depression, it wasn’t a choice.

However that doesn’t mean that I don’t wonder if there was anything I could have done differently. I wish that they’d given me medication. Maybe if they had then I’d be writing about the evils of giving medication to teenagers with mental health problems… but maybe I’d have been given the chance to be normal.

We don’t know what we would have done, or who we would have become if things in our pasts had turned out differently. We can only live the lives that we’ve been given… but that won’t ever stop us from wondering.

I think that the wondering is the thing that makes us human. The treatment that I received was having an appointment every week where I would talk about my week to a counsellor. That was it- there was no specific, therapeutic approach- nobody diagnosed me, nobody talked about treatments options.

I went through my teenage years with undiagnosed depression. Years and years of my life were spent in a living hell, it felt like every minute physically hurt.

The problems that I had as a teenager came back last winter. As I was now an adult I went to see my GP, he diagnosed me with depression and offered me medication which I accepted. I blogged about my experiences with medication and came to the conclusion that medication did help me, but the side affects that I experienced eventually led me to stop taking it.

I think that if I’d have been given medication to get me out of the mental trap that I was in and then been offered therapy I would have improved a great deal. I would have had the chance to escape years of mental health problems.

Instead I got an hour a week with an incompetent counsellor who made me talk about my week.

The older I get and the more perspective I gain the angrier I become about CAMHS and my treatment. Studying psychology and talking to other health professionals has helped to open my eyes even more.

’til next time,

Wren x

Virgin

This is one of those posts that will bring a flood of people to my blog who were originally searching for porn.

Sorry guys, try somewhere else- no ‘naked pagan sex’ happening here.

#

Virginity is overrated.

And I, for one, am absolutely sick of it.

When you’re a teenager it’s all you think about. I remember the pressure of losing my virginity being almost unbearable as I was growing up… and I’m a woman… so stereotypes dictate that I shouldn’t really be feeling that pressure.

I feel sorry for all of the men out there who are sweating under the pressure of having to have sex before a certain age to be ‘normal’ and to have social status.

For those virgins reading this post I want to make something very, very clear:

Losing your virginity will be one of the most anti-climactic moments of your life.

You won’t feel different, you won’t look different… you probably won’t even get much pleasure out of the experience at all. Your social status will not change; you won’t become cooler or more popular just by losing your virginity. If you do then I’m sorry, but your friends are idiots.

It’s kind of baffling that people care about whether you’re a virgin or not in our society. We’re supposed to have moved on from the Christian idea of virginity being sacred… and we have, but it’s changed into something else.

Personally, I think that women still can’t win when it comes to sex- you’re either a whore or a prude and it’s rare that we manage to gain some kind of middle ground.

Opinions about sex are very varied. I’m sure we all have a number in our heads that we wan to hear when we ask our partner how many sexual partners they’ve had.

I think that both when you lost your virginity and how many people you’ve slept with in your life are unimportant. I think that they say things about you, (not good or bad things) but they do give an indication of your personality.

I don’t like the way that I lost my virginity. I’m not really going to talk about it here because it’s something that I still don’t like to think about. Maybe someday I’ll write about it on this blog, but that day is not today.

Sometimes I wish I’d waited until I’d met my current partner… other times I’m glad that I didn’t.

My advice would be to wait. Don’t run before you can walk, I don’t care what age you lose your virginity- or how you do it- but please, please just wait until you are ready. You’ll know when that moment comes, trust me. There’s no shame in waiting, and anyone who makes you feel ashamed is someone you should feel sorry for, they have no courage to stand up for themselves against the ridiculous expectations of society.

Sex is sacred, it’s the most private and intimate act- it’s an act of love and pleasure. Enjoy sex, because when it’s good, it’s incredible… but when it’s bad, it’s bloody horrible.

Take your time; some people will be ready at sixteen, others will be ready at thirty. There’s no rush.

Blessings,

Wren x

 

Emotional Memory: The Out-Dated Acting Technique

Talk to anyone who has studied drama or acting and they will almost definitely know who ‘Stanislavski’ was.

For those not in the know he is widely regarded as the father of modern, ‘realistic’ acting. One of the most widely known and famous of his techniques is something called ‘emotional memory’.

Emotional memory is the technique of recalling a personal memory to evoke emotions needed to play a part- to put it simply, if you’re playing someone who has been bereaved, you think of when you were bereaved and use those memories and emotions.

On paper this sounds like an innocuous and probably affective method to use when acting, however it can produce unwanted results. In fact, Stanislavski and later practitioners moved away from it after noticing a lot of actors having serious emotional breakdowns and mental health problems after using it.

I think that emotional memory can be upsetting at best, and dangerous at worst.

It’s archaic- even its creator decided that it wasn’t great in the end… so why is one of the first techniques that we teach actors? Surely it should be amongst the last, only given to actors who have enough experience and mental understanding to deal with it.

My experiences with emotional memory aren’t great, I’ve used it in the past when I’ve been struggling to grasp an emotion. I keep a tight reign on how I feel- maybe that’s why I’ve found acting to be so hard. A couple of times it’s gone badly wrong for me.

One of the eight or so monologues that I used to do when I was acting was of ‘Annie’ from the play ‘The Gut Girls’ by Sarah Daniels. Annie talks about being sexually abused… I never used emotional memory for this. For one, because it would be far too much- that’s not something I’m comfortable exploring at all, let alone exploring it on a stage. Secondly, I found that even starting to think about it was of no help to me- I don’t know why, I just couldn’t feel anything. Instead I tried to harness the feeling of nervousness, that emotion worked for me and helped me to give a good performance.

Emotional memory is good on a small scale- little emotions- a little nervous, a little happy- those are okay. We can all conjure up harmless, every day memories that give us those emotions with little to no emotional repercussions. What worries me is how emotional memory is touted as the way to deal with anything. It’s not.

Please don’t use it unless you know what you’re doing, unless you have a good grasp of your own mental health and know really clearly how far you can push yourself. If you do then good for you… I don’t.

’til next time,

Wren x

Undead

The Undead: beings defined in mythology as creatures who were at one time alive, but now continue to display sings of life after their physical passing.

There are many forms of ‘undead’ creature, and they are seen in many different cultures. There are two basic categories of ‘undead’ creature, the living corpses and the spirits.

LIVING CORPSES:

DRAUGR

Norse/German, these are animated corpses who live in their graves and are said to protect treasure. They are swollen, blackened corpses who crush and feast on those who disturb them and drive away livestock. They can visit people in their dreams and often leave behind a token as proof of the visit. They have magical abilities such as shape-shifting and seeing into the future. To kill one you should behead it, burn the body and then scatter the ashes in the sea.

They are generally ‘mean or nasty’ people in life who have been buried in a standing or sitting position, you can become one by being infected by another Draugr. To prevent a corpse coming back as a Draugr there were many methods; open scissors were placed on the chest, their feet were nailed to the floor of the coffin and twigs were placed amongst their clothes.

JIANGSHI

Chinese, stiff, animated corpses dressed in garments from the Qing Dynasty that hop around with their arms outstretched. They seek to kill other creatures to absorb their ‘qi’ (life force) they move around during the night and then during the day they hide in coffins.

They are created by a variety of things; the person having not been ready to die, the corpse absorbing enough ‘qi’ to come back to life, spirit possession or the use of magick.

They can be defeated by a hand bell, the blood of a black dog and a broom (along with a whole variety of other things.)

REVENANT

English, an animated corpse returned from the dead to terrorise the living. These are creatures who returned from the dead for a specific purpose, they were often ‘wrong do-ers’ in life and returned to terrorise people who they had once known and to make life difficult for their neighbours and friends.

Some stories have them down as bloodsuckers, and sometimes they come to spread disease amongst the living. The appropriate response was to exhume the body, cut of the head and burn /remove the heart.

SPIRITS

GHOST

A ghost is an apparition of someone who has physically passed away. They are said to generally be people who have unfinished business and come back in order to sort their affairs out.

The belief in ghosts has lasted many centuries and is something seen in most cultures. Generally the methods of dealing with them vary from culture to culture,. in Europeans cultures the best way of dealing with them is either to look to the Church for a blessing (or exorcism in a more extreme case.) Or to turn to cleansing the affected property with sage.

POLTERGEIST

These are said to be troublesome  spirits who cause physical disturbance, moving of objects, loud noises etc. They are seen throughout European culture. Stories of poltergeists have spread to South America and Japan. There is speculation that poltergeist like activity can be caused by psychokinesis.

 

PostSecret

PostSecret is a community art project started in 2005 by Frank Warren. People are encouraged to create their own postcard containing a secret that they have never shared before and then send it in. The secrets are displayed on the PostSecret blog every Sunday.

I first came across PostSecret a few years ago when watching the film ‘In Search of a Midnight Kiss’  (which is amazing and you should definitely go and watch if you haven’t already.) I was absolutely mesmerised by it, the idea of sharing something that you can’t say and being totally anonymous is incredible.

When I first heard of PostSecret I was at a time in my life where I felt like I was going to explode from all of the things that I was holding inside. I spent a lot of time watching videos, reading past secrets and immersing myself in the feeling of freedom that this created. It made me realise how many people were in my position, and stopped me from feeling as isolated.

Secrets range from humorous to serious, they come in all shapes and sizes. Everyone has secrets, things that weight down on them and affect what they do. I think that PostSecret is brilliant, it lets people get things off their chests and shows everyone else that they are normal. It shows us all that we’re human, we’re flawed, and we have nothing to be ashamed of.

’til next time,

Wren x