Pagan Blog Project: Keltoi; Misconceptions About The Ancient Celts

This was supposed to be quick as I’m trying to do a worrying amount of revision in about three days… but then I stumbled across the fact that the Roman’s word for the Celts was Keltoi and this post was born.

For those of you who don’t know me well I should preface this by explaining that as a Pagan I follow and have always followed the Celtic pantheon, am currently studying Druidry and am generally obsessed with all things Celtic- I even did half a GCSE on the Ancient Celts, their mythology and how they related to their Gods.

So this may not be a short post…

There are a hell of a lot of misconceptions about the Ancient Celts floating around, and I’m going to attempt to get rid of them.

This stems from the fact that I’ve been to a couple of Celtic museum places (okay, one) on holiday and they (it) annoyed me so much as it was covered with false information. I’d give it a link of shame but I can’t for the life of me even remember where it was I was on holiday (which is worrying when you take into account the fact that the holiday in question took place about ten months ago…)

So, without further ado:

MYTH: Human sacrifice

FACT: there’s really no archeological evidence for this one, so we’ll confine it to the ‘myth’ bucket, not that I really think there’s anything wrong with the whole human sacrifice thing… but that’s for another post.

MYTH: Head hunting of enemies

FACT: The Ancient Celts believed that the head was the most important part of the body- that I’ll put money on, and it’s therefore highly probable that they collected heads of slain enemies, we know (I think) that they displayed these heads around their homes and settlements but I think (I wouldn’t put much money on this claim, I forget where I heard it and can’t find any evidence supporting this claim with my quick google-ing) they seem to have put heads of their respected leaders on display too… but please don’t quote me on that one!

MYTH: Dirty savages

FACT: Bullshit… the Celts invented soap. They were a lot cleaner than the Romans!

MYTH: Uncivilised

FACT: The Celts had a system of social security that didn’t exist in our society until the late 1940s… actually, possibly the 1980s…

MYTH: Poor technological advancement

FACT: Really? You really think this?? Oh, for the sake of the Gods… the Ancient Celts invented and developed *takes deep breath* soap, social security, roads, trousers (I don’t know about that last one but they certainly wore them a lot) chain mail, iron working, horses bits, Celtic harp, horse shoes, whiskey, the jig… I could keep going but I actually need to do other stuff tonight.

MYTH: They feared their Gods

FACT: This is just rubbish, the Celts highly respected their Gods and you can tell from even a quick glance at their mythology that they had a very amiable relationship with their Gods. This thing comes from the whole non-Pagans not understanding Pagan Gods.

Some general other notes about the Ancient Celts would be that they didn’t invent Celtic knot-work, that came later; women could be equal or of higher status than men, but it wasn’t a rule; the Druids didn’t build Stonehenge, but they did use it for their own purposes and that the Celts were not a solid group of people but rather a load of interconnected tribes… can’t think of many more at the moment so I’ll leave it there.

Blessed be,

Wren x

A Heatwave In Yorkshire and Other Improbable Things…

About a week ago I went into town with some friends after an exam and it was bloody freezing… Callum said that it was going to snow, and I believed him.

Fast forward to the present and I’m pleased to announce that after many false starts, hiccups and general screw ups:

SUMMER HAS ARRIVED!

I have gleefully broken out my summer wardrobe, for me the ultimate sign of summer comes in the form of tights… nude tights to be precise. I’m very temperature sensitive, in the winter I wear black leggings, move into black tights for Autumn/Spring and then into nude (or tight-less) in the summer.

I’ve also invested in a pair of very snazzy sunglasses as modeled by my stylish self below:

… my face making it’s internet debut… note the history revision stage right 😉

I had a day off today and so decided to do some baking and assorted random shit, for some reason when I got dressed today I turned into an Edwardian…

Not sure what happened there.

Anyway, I went on a baking spree and created these lovely things:

I have revision, sewing and shopping to do in the next few days- been listening to this:

And lamenting that it’s now being released on the 4th of June, when I will be on holiday!

Thankfully one of the books I ordered from Amazon arrived today, just waiting on the other three. This is the only fiction one and will be the first piece of fiction I’ve read in bloody ages. Am crossing my fingers that my flag will arrive tomorrow or I’ll be sneaking up to school in the dead of night… but more on flag-gate to come.

It’s 24 degrees over here- okay, I know it gets hotter than that in most places around the world but this is Yorkshire, I’m built for icy winds and hill farming, give me a break!

I’m going to have to go now, my poor laptop’s wheezing on and getting very hot, so if you’re somewhere warm enjoy it whilst it lasts!

’til next time,

Wren x

Wren’s Week of Kindness Challenge

So, tomorrow marks the start of Mental Illness Awareness week here in the UK, this year the theme is altruism and good deeds.

Based on a lot of things that have happened to me and around me recently I’ve decided to do something for MIAW 2012, I’ve thought a lot about the terms and what I should do and I’ve finally decided on my challenge- it’s not particularly impressive but it’s a challenge nonetheless.

Between midnight tonight and midnight on the 27th I’m going to try and perform as many random acts of kindness as possible.

They’ll be anything from smiling at someone, to picking up litter to opening doors and much more- I’m going to carry a pen around with me and try a keep a tally so that I have an objective measure and then write about some of the bigger and more interesting acts on here.

I have no idea how this is going to go so bear with me, but I’m basically going to try and be the nicest person in the world for the next week…

Wish me luck!

Wren x

Pagan Blog Project: Jealousy

It’s that time of the week when I stop bleating about my daily life (did I mention that in a fit of girly despair I spent last night sat in front of the telly watching rom coms and eating cereal from the packet?… No?… Oh, forget that…)

Anyway, this week we’re finishing with the letter J and moving onto easier planes, but for now I’m going to ramble on about jealousy and maybe learn how to spell the bloody word by the end of this post.

I’m a jealous person, I’m not even going to pretend to lie- I mean, I could sit here and talk about how I’m above all that and that the only thing I care about is that I pray to my Gods… but that’s bullshit, I’m human, I’m allowed my flaws.

I’m naturally a very jealous person, I don’t know why, it’s just that there have always been people markedly better than me and so it’s natural that I’m jealous of them.

My stance is that jealousy’s perfectly natural, so long as you don’t let it get to you too much… it’s a normal thing so long as you’re able to brush it off at the end of the day. Don’t become fixated with people or things that you’re jealous of, it’ll only end in tears or you coming across as a bitch.

I’ve been jealous of a lot of things in my life, of other people’s success, of how many friends they have, of how pretty they are or how nice their clothes are. I’ve been jealous that my friends are all in relationships when I’m left single and alone.

I’m jealous of people who don’t have the past that I have, of normal people; but I think that’s something that’s understandable to a degree and so I let myself off on that.

I went through a phase of being incredibly jealous quite recently, it stemmed from the fact that I tend to be part of a group of five which is made up of me and two couples. I was insanely jealous of my two best (girl) friends who now have boyfriends (who happen to be my two best (boy) friends) it left me feeling cut off and alone and I’d constantly be left sitting alone. It stung a lot, but after a while I realised that the situation wasn’t going to change, I didn’t want a boyfriend just so I wouldn’t feel alone, I took a step away from my friends, met new people and got out into the world. At the end of the day I had to let go of all the jealousy I felt and move on, because it was starting to drag me down and make everything hurt. It wasn’t easy, not at all, but at the end of the day it was the best thing to do in the long term.

It’s okay to be jealous so long as you realise that you’re not the only one, for all the jealousy that you feel towards everyone someone somewhere in your life will feel that towards you- jealousy doesn’t mean anything, it’s like sneezing or smiling, everyone does it without even thinking, it’s not important.

Don’t become fixated, it’s an unimportant feeling, it makes you feel bad and accomplishes nothing. Next time you feel jealous just take a step back, let the feeling wash over you and drift away- don’t let it get under your skin.

Blessed be,

Wren x

Mental Health Month Blog Party 2012: How My Depression Started and Why I Blog About Mental Illness

Out of everything I’ve ever written on this blog I think this may be the most candid and one of the ones that I’m most proud of, it’s something that I’ve never talked about before and although it’s different to what I intended to write it’s no less relevant.

Today I’m going to be writing a post about how my depression first started and also why I choose to blog about mental illness. I’m writing this as part of the Mental Health Month Blog Party 2012, which is part of Mental Health Awareness Month (which is May in the US- yeah, I’m hopping across the pond to join in the party) and as a little warm up to Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK which is running from 21st-27th May.

***

I have a strong memory of being about ten or eleven and watching a documentary on depression with my Ma, I remember how angry I was at the woman on the TV, how I wanted to smack her around the face and tell her to suck it up and get on with her life. I’ve aways felt a little like what’s happened to me in the last three years has been some sort of karma for that.

Looking back I’d say that I had my first bout of depression a couple of months after my thirteenth birthday. It was triggered when two boys at my school began to bully me. I’ve always struggled in defining what they did as ‘bullying’ and although I’ve spoken a little about it on this blog before I’ll recap for the purposes of this post.

They sat either side of me in a couple of my lessons and began to touch me, they would stroke my face and hair and down my back. I didn’t know what to do or how to respond the more I tried to get away from them the more persistent they became. Eventually they started putting their hands under the table and pushing up the insides of my legs.

I started to become numb, I blocked off all emotion and wandered around like a statue, all I could feel was this horrible pain in the middle of my chest, it sort of felt like an ache that just wouldn’t stop hurting. It hurt more and more, I had problems sleeping, I had nightmares, I was exhausted all the time. I cried and cried when no-one was watching but otherwise wandered around like I was in a dream. Every night I would cry and beg whatever God there was to kill me. I prayed that I’d get hit by a bus or die in my sleep. All I wanted to do was go to sleep and never wake up.

Eventually I took about four or five paracetamol (or something like it- I can’t remember the exact medication) and ended up being a little sick. I deliberately stopped at the fifth one, I realised that if I died my parents would find my body and for me that thought overrode everything else.

Things moved on, the school year ended and the boys got bored of me- I had a chance to move on with my life and I tried to forget about it all.

The story really starts a few months before I turned fifteen (about three years ago now) my life went well and truly tits up on the Autumn Equinox 2009. I’d been really down for about a month, I was sleeping too much, crying all the time, the ache in my chest was there to stay and all I could think about was how much I wanted to die.

I’ve lost a lot of family members (Grandpa, Great Uncle and two Uncles) to cancer, and a few days before the Equinox I found out that my Uncle had just been diagnosed, it kind of felt like my world was crumbling.

At the time I was with my first boyfriend, we’d been together for about six months at this point and I’d honestly just really started to fall in love with him. I was fighting against the depression and trying to shield him from it, on the Equinox we walked out of our last lesson together and down to the end of the hall- I’d been feeling a little better lately and so pulled him to one-side to try and explain about why I’d been so distant and down. I was going to tell him that I was falling in love with him but that I was going through a tough time- I needed his support.

Instead he got in first- he told me that he didn’t feel anything for me anymore and that he was dumping me.

I felt like I couldn’t breathe. The only thing going through my head was my mantra of don’t cry, don’t show weakness so I bit down on my lip, nodded, and walked away to the ladies where I sat and sobbed for ten minutes.

I have a really clear memory of wiping my eyes after my massive crying jag and saying ‘and that’s all I’m ever going to cry over that boy’ to myself before leaving the toilets. I then bumped into my friend Callum, he knew what’d happened and we had a chat about stuff. I was emotional at the time and told him that I was worried about my mental health, I said that I thought I might have something like depression.

We talked and then I went home, I was now determined to talk to my Ma about it and try and get a Doctor’s appointment. I went into the kitchen and started to talk to her, telling her that I couldn’t feel anything apart from this pain anymore, that I wanted it to stop more than anything and that I needed her help.

She completely lost her temper- I remember her standing up and telling me that if I wanted to die I should go and kill myself and stop being such a bloody coward. She listed off ways that I could kill myself; stepping in front of a bus, overdosing, etc. She then went quiet, asked me what I wanted for my tea and told me that a hot meal would fix everything.

I can’t put into words what I felt at that moment, it was like my entire world had just broken in front of my eyes and I was left with one solution. It was the most sickening feeling, like something cold was trickling down my throat and filling my stomach. I knew that there was only one solution.

I went up into the study, which is three storeys up looking down onto the front of our house which was paved. I stepped up onto the windowsill, unlatched the window and stepped out. I remember that it was raining so the paving slabs looked shiny, I thought that if I fell head-first it might kill me quicker.

I was about to jump, I’d taken a few deep breaths to calm myself and was counting down when my Ma hammered on the door to the study and called out that my tea was ready… it was such a stupid, mundane thing that I paused and looked up. In doing that I looked into the kitchen across the street where my neighbours were having tea, the rain running down the window and softening the scene (sorry about the language; I write fiction novels as a trade… it shows :P) I watched them talking to each other and laughing and I didn’t know what to do, all I could think about was how they would react if they looked across and saw me at that moment.

My Ma opened the door to the study and I stepped back inside, not turning to look at her. She told me again that my tea was ready and I followed her down to the kitchen.

As you can tell I didn’t kill myself that night- not physically- but I did die. The person that I used to be left that night, looking back I can tell that more than anything- in the months that followed things got worse and worse, I started self-harming and became confused and delusional… but I also got help. I got to a point where I knew that if I didn’t get help I was going to kill myself, not necessarily on purpose, but more likely through my self harm getting out of hand.

About eighteen months after this I started hallucinating and having delusions, I’ve been dealing with those ever since.

I haven’t got better, things aren’t brighter for me, especially at the moment- but I am stronger and more capable. It doesn’t matter how shit things get, just so long as you can cope with them. I’m tough as old boots and I get through, I’m fiercely independent and if mental illness has taught me anything it’s that I am an incredibly strong person, it doesn’t matter how dark or difficult things get for me I have this little thing inside that makes me keep going.

I choose to blog about mental illness because I strongly believe that it’s a subject that needs to be talked about I believe this because of my own life experiences but also from the comments that I’ve received on my posts. We’re not living in the dark ages, we’ve gotten rid of asylums and lobotomies but we haven’t gotten rid of the stigma that surrounds mental illness. It seems like the general public are stuck firmly in the past and that’s something that annoys me beyond belief.

I don’t broadcast the fact that I’m mentally ill. In real life I never tell anyone, only a handful of people know that I even have slight mental health problems, but that doesn’t mean that I’m ashamed of it, it just means that I don’t want people to judge me on something that’s only a small part of my life.

I wouldn’t be the person that I am today if I wasn’t mentally ill or lived through the things that I’ve lived through, as horrible as it’s been I wouldn’t go back and change things. They made me who I am now and I’m happy with myself.

I said earlier on in this post that I eventually got help because I knew that if I didn’t I would die- the thing that stopped me from getting help before it got to this point was quite simply that no-one talked about mental illness. There were no lessons on depression or self harm, it was never mentioned anywhere- it was like the whole concept of ‘mental illness’ didn’t exits.

The real reason why I blog about mental health is that I don’t want anyone to be in the position that I was in, alone, desperate and facing their own death. No-one should ever have to be in that place- least of all a fourteen year old.

Thank you for reading, feel free to comment or email me at wrensaille@gmail.com

Wren x

 

Pagan Blog Project: Judgement

Judgement is something that I struggle with- I don’t feel like it’s my place to judge anyone else, but at the same time I’m still human and therefore still do it.

We judge people all the time internally, we can’t help that- it’s when we step out of that little box and do it externally that problems seem to arise.

Personally I believe that only the Gods have the knowledge and wisdom needed to provide judgement- but even that’s a little sketchy. I live in a world where there is no right or wrong, I don’t think we can classify actions into either of those camps (rape is the only thing I believe to be unanimously wrong, but I’m prepared to let other things into that camp too, so don’t hold me to it) I don’t have the experience or the wisdom to be able to pass judgement. I can try if I have to, and I like to think that when I do I’m fair and just in my ruling, but I generally shrink back from that.

On the flip side I don’t like people passing judgement on me- even in their minds- I used to get tetchy when I felt they were doing that but now I’ve relaxed a lot more, the Gods are the only ones I need to judge me favourably, their judgement is the one that matters the most and they can see into my heart. I honour them with my actions, my thoughts, my words and my feelings.

I don’t believe in any sort of judgement after death- so why am I moral?

The short answer is that I want to honour the Gods, and because I believe that being a caring, amiable and just plain nice person is the best way to get around in the world. I don’t want to make people angry or upset, I don’t want to offend them even when they’re doing something wrong.

I’m someone who holds strong views and has a defined sense of self, I know who I am and being what I am comes with a burden. As a Pagan I represent not only myself but everyone else of my faith- I need to come across as pleasant, reasonable, amiable and intellegent- when people find out that I’ve practised Witchcraft the response is either fear or mockery. I can counter mockery quite easily, I’m quite comfortable taking the mick out of myself which generally puts people at ease very quickly and (for some reason) makes them see that I’m not some ditzy fluffy bunny. Fear can be countered with familiarity, people who know me know that I’m relaxed and friendly and that seems to make them a lot less afraid.

So, judgement should be left to a higher power- we all judge and assume things about other people in our minds whether we know them or not, but when it comes down to actions we should try and remain unbiased, we as human beings can’t take into account the complexities of life.

Blessed be,

Wren x

In Which My Nightmares Come Back To Haunt Me and I Cry (A Lot)…

I can’t put into to words the week I’ve had- it’s been kind of hellish. I’ve literally been at school rehearsing and working from 8am – 5:30pm each day this week. On thursday I was there until half nine at night doing my performance evening, urgh. Not only was it mentally and emotionally exhausting trying to pull together an A-level drama performance in under a week it was also one of the most physically painful experiences of my life.

Yes, it looks ‘amazing’ and ‘really effective’ when they wrap me up in elastic, throw me around the studio and then let go, letting the elastic snap back across my body and the momentum propel me halfway across the room before slamming me face first onto the wooden floor… but it fucking hurts!

And that’s not even taking into account the amount of times we practised it and the amount of times that it went wrong and I fell badly. I look like someone’s kicked the shit out of me, I’ve got a ring of bruises all around my ribcage, covering my arse and hips and my poor little knees.

Got my Romeo and Juliet script- at the moment it’s my light at the end of the tunnel, it’s really the only thing dragging me out of this quagmire. Michael finds it hilarious that I have to kiss Romeo four times- and Paris once. Unfortunately for me the guy playing Paris will be fifteen when we do the play… I feel like a massive paedophile right now- although he is about twice as tall as me.

The performance evening also happened to be the time that everything really fell apart for me. During the day my (lovely) head of year called me into her office for a word- she said that CAMHS had been in touch to say that my psych nurse would have to cancel our appointment on friday (yesterday) and that they would reassign me somebody.

For those of you who haven’t read my previous posts I should just explain that I’m supposed to see someone once a week but haven’t seen my psych nurse since the start of February as she keeps cancelling appointments due to illness. I’ve been at the end of my tether about it all.

I tried to say something but had to take a minute to control myself, I felt so stupid but I could feel tears prickling in my eyes, I was stood there blinking like mad and biting down on my lip before I swallowed and managed to choke out that I hadn’t seen anyone since February, at which point she told me I could and should come and have a chat to her whenever I wanted, and she said that she’d make it clear to CAMHS that they needed to get me someone fast. Even yesterday was too late- I’ve needed help desperately for months and now it’s going to be even longer before they can get me someone.

Later that evening I was sat in the make-shift audience watching another group rehearsing and doing a tech run through whilst the rest of my lot had something to eat in the back room. It got to a part in their piece where they all had to scream- and not a short scream, a proper long scream- anyway, they screamed and it just flipped a switch in my head, I went from sitting there calmly to sobbing hysterically. I got up and slipped out of the studio, thankfully we were in blackout at this point so no-one saw me.

I stumbled down the corridor and sat on some stairs out of the way, I couldn’t stop crying- I don’t know what was wrong with me, I was just sat there with my head in my hands sobbing. It had reminded me so sharply of a nightmare that I had a while ago where I screamed whilst the man raped me, it was the first ever one I’ve had where I screamed, and that alone meant so much.

The screaming wasn’t to try and get help, in the dream my psych nurse and social worker were stood calmly watching him, the scream was a protest, it was saying this is wrong, I don’t deserve this. That was such an incredibly powerful thing for me to think, it’s something that I’ve never recognised before. In all the other dreams I’ve just lain down and let it happen. Both times I was molested in real life I turned into a cold statue, I just did everything that they asked me to do- it’s taken me a long time to even start forgiving myself for that, and it’ll take me an even longer time to trust that I won’t just act that way again should I find myself in that place again.

Eventually someone found me- Megan came to sit with me once I’d calmed myself down and we had a chat, she said that she was so surprised to see me upset because I was always happy and cheerful. We just talked casually about crying and shit and it was really nice that she didn’t pry or fuss, she just normalised the situation.

After a while Miss P came walking down the corridor and sat with me, Megan went off to rehearse, I didn’t really know how she’d react to me being so clearly upset- actually, I think ‘distressed’ is probably a more accurate word- but she was lovely. She said something really sweet to me; she said Wren, it’s what makes you such a good actress- the fact that you empathise so deeply with people, you really get how they must feel. Which made me feel a bit better about blubbing on a staircase- she told me that I should talk to people more and that if I couldn’t do that then I should write it down, because I like writing- so you have her to thank for this post.

I went and performed, it went fine (though there was some hasty improvisation at one point) and Miss P and Miss H let me duck out for the other two groups performances (the other one had a naturalistic rape scene in it which I’d made clear to Miss P that I couldn’t watch.) I spent that time wandering about the empty school sitting in classrooms and listening to someone playing piano in the main hall.

Last night me, Jess and Claire went around to Callum’s shiny new house, we felt a bit out of place walking up the posh driveway and had to text him to let him know we were outside as there wasn’t a doorbell.

We generally had a good night except I drank a bit too much coke- yeah, everyone was off their heads on vodka and beer and I went squiffy on coca cola. It’s because I don’t drink fizzy drinks at all apart from the odd glass of coke/pepsi which I’m fine with, it was because I was really thirsty so I drank loads, which was a bit stupid cos I started hallucinating, I heard an alarm wailing for about fifteen minutes which was very annoying. My friends got all panicky once they realised that I’d been drinking coke and seemed very giggly, they started desperately asking if I was okay- I didn’t have the heart to tell them that it was too late. I don’t know why coke does that to me- I think it’s probably the caffeine content.

Spent this morning driving around the lovely Yorkshire countryside taking out cyclists and yelling at the stupid cu-idiots who come hurtling around blind corners in their stupid 4x4s and force me to swerve into the verge to avoid crashing into them.

At the moment things are on the verge of falling apart, I don’t know how I’m going to do this, I’ll be going into town tomorrow or Monday to take my book back to the library, do some window shopping and stock up on razors and first aid equipment in preparation for the exams. It’s not brilliant but I’m trying to be realistic here.

’til next time,

Wren x