Friday, February 25, 2011

Reverend Billy and the Church of Life After Shopping

I wanted to share with you someone who I actually have adopted a lot of ideas from.  His name is "Reverend Billy" (note the quotes are because he's not actually a Reverend, but a performance artist who plays one), and he's been a major inspiration of mine.  He leads the "Church of Life After Shopping" (formerly the "Church of Stop Shopping") and their message is one of community, sustainability, diversity, and spirituality in all of its wonderful, many, mysterious forms.  Go look at their website, read the "about us" section, and maybe get on the mailing list or leave a comment or two.  http://www.revbilly.com/

Also watch his movie, "What Would Jesus Buy?" which was produced by Morgan Spurlock.  Netflix has it (both as a rental and instant play) and obviously Amazon carries it, although it's cheaper through Barnes and Noble.  Earth-a-lujah!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

PantheaCon Wrap-Up

This was my second year going to PantheaCon at the DoubleTree Hotel in my hometown of San Jose, California.  It's the morning after the Con, and I'm still in my "recovery" phase from all the running around and not eating or sleeping correctly for four days.  I have to admit, though, that I had a fantastic time this year, and I definitely feel that being all worn out is a small price to pay for as much as I got out of the event. 

Yesterday as I was driving home (which luckily for me is only 15 minutes or so) I was thinking to myself how after four days of such intensive energy work and near-ecstatic spiritual experience, I was naturally feeling drained and a little emotionally depleted.  And yet, the emptiness I felt was very tranquil, not in any way negative or hollow-feeling, but more like I had been through a purification that had stripped my soul bare, but had also cleansed me and made me once again a vessel ready to contain more of whatever life has to offer me.  It reminded me of a chapter in Kalihil Gibran's "The Prophet," about joy and sorrow, which states:

"...Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall."

It was this "balance" the he speaks of at the end that I was feeling in my emptiness, and let me tell you that being bipolar for most of my life, this is not an experience that I've had often.  It was foreign to me, but felt necessary and right and appropriate after all that had happened over the weekend.  I am tempted to study Buddhism and meditation techniques and whatever else I can find that might help me to feel that stillness inside more often, and more easily as well. 

So after I have some time to rest up and contemplate the beautiful, colorful, chaotic blur that was PantheaCon 2011, I will of course want to write about it.  Until then, I want to thank all the friends, both new and old, that helped make this year's Con such an amazing adventure for me (forgive me if I don't remember all of your Con names):  Talon, Terraluna, HiC, Panthera, Terry, Rowan, Ginger, Daniel, Samuel, Artemis, Amanda, Alex, James, Ella, Druwitch, Lily, Jeyn, Elysia, Rain, Amber, Serpentina, Deborah, and Dianne, who I wish I'd run into sooner!, along with all the wonderful people I met whose names I can't recall.  GOOD TIMES!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Etsy storefront is up and running!

Ok, I've FINALLY gotten around to posting some of my work on my Etsy site.  This is something else that I've been putting off for quite some time (yes, I'm a total procrastinator) but now the shop has some fun Pagan goodies in it.  There are two gorgeous wands (both of which took a chunk of time to make), a few beaded mosaic pentacles, a "Numerology Necklace," and a mixed media canvas of the Horned God emblazoned with the phrase "Proud Pagan."  That last item is by far my favorite, and I'm really happy with the way it turned out.  Go on over and see for yourself!  http://www.etsy.com/shop/AutumnDamiana

FYI, I also do artwork on commission and will gladly make custom pieces (such as wands) so contact me if you like what you see but want something more tailored to your tastes.  And if you do want one of my items on Etsy, then get it while you can, because a lot of the stuff I'm selling is original or one-of-a-kind.  Help support this Pagan artist!  Don't make me have to go get a "real" job!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chores I don't mind.

Today I cooked one of the three Cinderella pumpkins I have stashed away in my boyfriend's makeshift "root cellar" (it's actually his pool shed) and am now up to my eyeballs in pumpkin puree.  If you've never eaten one before, Cinderella pumpkins are delicious, and yield quite a bit of edible pumpkin goodness because of their enormous size.  But this means that I did spend the better part of the day hacking up, steaming, peeling, mashing, cooling, and freezing orange goo, and the kitchen looked like I'd detonated the pumpkin instead of cooking it by the time I was finished.  Two more things I accomplished today:  1.  I saved the petals from a fading bouquet of red and yellow roses, and 2.  I harvested the pine needles from the two boughs I had put aside from our Yule/Christmas tree.  Both the needles and rose petals need to dry out further, and then can be used for a variety of things, from incense or potpourri ingredients to spell components to craft supplies (such as candles or handmade paper.)

Technically all of these activities qualify as "chores."  And yet, because of their nature, I don't mind doing them one bit.  I'm big on the idea of recycling and of using every part of something, as people did in the past, and the idea of getting all this extra mileage out of stuff that would normally be thrown away is a theme that will be repeated often in this blog.  I've made arts and crafts for years out of things like packaging and worn out clothes, and I'm still discovering new ways to recycle all the time, often using other people's trash.  We are, unfortunately, very wasteful in our culture; the majority of us have not been taught how to get the most out of all the things that we consume, and this shows in the fact that we've become a "throw-away society."  I think this is (at least in part) because the economy of the U.S. is built upon capitalism, and in order for capitalism to thrive, there has to be a steady increase of consumerism.  Which is why so many things these days are considered disposable, even when they are not intended to be, like electronics.  Almost nobody gets a DVD player repaired when it's cheaper and easier to just go buy a new one.

The same goes for things like pumpkins:  we all throw out our jack-o-lanterns after Samhain/Halloween, and then buy canned pumpkin puree in the supermarket come Thanksgiving.  Seems kind of silly when you think about it.  I do realize that there is a lot of time and labor saved if you buy canned puree, but what about all the waste?  I got my Cinderella pumpkins for free because it was the first week of Novemember and they were on their way to the dumpster.  Now they are being turned into food instead!  And really just about any pumpkin is edible, including Howden pumpkins, the kind that are the most commonly used for carving.  The only bummer about cooking a jack-o-lantern is that you have to do it literally the next day.  Pumpkins will keep for months if kept whole (as I'm discovering with mine) but once you slice into one, it won't be good to eat for more than a day or two, tops.  So this is something to consider.

However, gathering the pine needles and rose petals is not just about keeping these things from going to waste.  Consider the magical connection I will have to whatever will be made from them!  As a Pagan and a Witch, this is the best reason of all to recycle:  the things we have used have been invested with our energies, and some pretty powerful magic can be made this way.  Besides, I just love the idea of knowing that the incense burning on my altar used to be my Yule tree, or that the handmade paper I'm writing a note to my boyfriend on contains bits of rose petal from the bouquet he bought for me.  This kind of transfiguration is surely magical all by itself.