Categories
Fill November with Gratitude

November Is for Gratitude

Historically, I f*&#ing hate November. Daylight savings ends, the trees are bare, the weather gets frigid and rainy. Ugh!

Not to mention it is the month that my father, my papa, and two of my uncles died in past years. Plus it is the birthday month for my nana and my best friend’s mother, both of whom died. Plus there’s Veterans Day and the Marine Corp birthday, both of which remind me of my father, who, as I mentioned, died in November, in 2007.

Also right around now it so ridiculously, painfully busy at work. It might be better this year because of some developments in the way things are conducted, but it will still be busy, just maybe not as overwhelmingly so.

That’s why for November, it seems every day there’s some morose reminder of the death and decay, both with the browning leaves and the holidays and death days. Not to mention the fact that the Thanksgiving story is based on a myth that masks the genocide and systemic racism against American Indigenous peoples. Thanksgiving is a Day of Mourning for the Wampanoag.

Given all that, I have come to dread November. To just loathe the whole month. Because of this personal historic loathing of November, I’ve decided to reframe the month. And so this year, and hopefully each year going forward, I’m going to spend each day of November concentrating on things I am grateful for. I will post to Instagram and Facebook each day, and do my best to get those post onto Tumblr and this blog as well.

If you struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder and the month of November as well, feel free to join me in my effort to #FillNovemberWithGratitude

Categories
Activist Witch Modern Witchcraft

Lewiston, Maine

Photos I took of Lewiston, Maine on a random day in April of 2002.

This final photo is more recent and from the GoFundMe for Maxx Hathaway’s family. https://www.gofundme.com/…/brenda-in-this…/donations Please consider donating–his wife is expecting their 3rd child soon.

Maxx was in my very first group of students my first year as a full-time classroom teacher, when I taught high school at Lisbon High over 20 years ago. He was a great person. The news that he is one of the victims who died in the horrific mass shooting in Lewiston is so shocking and so devastating. ๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค

Spirituality and Spiritual Practice in Times of Grief

As things would have it, another former student of mine from the LHS class of ’06, is also a witch and posted this Hekate graphic on her social media. It was exactly what I needed to see in this time of deep shock and grief.

I evoke various goddesses each day at the end of my daily “Morning Pages.” — Morning Pages are a practice from the book, “The Artist’s Way.” You take 3 pages to just cogitate and expatiate AKA a “brain dump.” After I do that, though, I then take some more pages to write down the following:

  • daily affirmations
  • 3 things I’m grateful for
  • 3 things I’m looking forward to
  • what deities I wish to evoke to help guide my day

When I speak of evoking deities, I am not thinking of celestial beings in the clouds looking down upon us. Instead, I consider them as archetypes within our consciousness and subconscious, whose essence or spirit we wish to call to mind in order to have the most mindful, connected day we can live.

Every day, my list starts off with Brigid, who I am–in essence–named after, and Hekate, the goddess of witches. I call on Hekate to help me infuse my day with my spiritual practice. I consider her the goddess of self-assuredness, self-identity, self-esteem, and sense of self. I also consider her the goddess of smashing the MFing patriarchy. Her misalignment in traditional mythologies makes her the representation of this ultimate goal of my existence.

I find the more connected I am to my spirutal practice and spiritual identity as a witch, the more connected I am to the world at large and the specific day unfolding. When I don’t take the time to do these daily practices, I feel instead like a hamster on a wheel, spinning in place and merely plodding along rather than purposefullying living my life.

It’s been difficult for me to journal these past days since the shooting though. Putting everything down in words on this blog and in my journals forces me out of the shock mode I’ve been in since Wednesday night at 9pm, when I got the first news by text of what was unfolding in my former home. I have not been as regimented as I normally am. I’m still doing some writing, some meditating, some rituals of calming and reflection. But it’s hard to go into one’s mind in traumatic times like this.

I will keep at it though, because I know it is what nourishes me. I received many hugs from my fellow UU church members, after I shared my sorrow during Joys and Sorrows. Hugs are good.

I Don’t Really Want to Go Here Right Now but I Have to Say It: I Have and Always Will Hate Guns

Our mental health services and infrastructure need a huge amount of support, funding, and promotion. People of all kinds needs to be more assuredly enabled to address and process their vulnerabilities and emotions. Having a gun, statistically speaking, makes you less safe and more likely to suffer from gun violence, either through accidents, suicide, or homicide. We are the only nation in the world with the epidemic of mass shootings, because we are the only nation with the ludicrously lax gun laws. I hate guns. I was raised to hate them, and I agree wholeheartedly with my father, a Vietnam Marine Corp veteran, who instilled in us a loathing of guns. The NRA and gun manufacturers’ stronghold on our gun laws at the state and federal level is an abomination. I attribute this all to the kyriarchy, aka the patriarchy, which fills people’s minds with the notion that we are more free and more safe with unfettered access to guns. We are not. I’m writing this on my blog, but not really on social media because I do not want to debate people in that online platform about this issue. The only thing I plan to do is work even more diligently at the local level to get better gun safety laws in place in my home state of Rhode Island.

Life in Lewiston, 2001-2004

I want to wrap up this long post with a personal story about how meaningful this city of Maine is for me.

I moved to Lewiston all by myself as a young grown up, aged 23, in September 2001–another month fraught with tragedy. The only person I knew was my college BFF, Jenny. I left in 2004 having met hundreds of people. I made dear connections with students and colleagues in education, from Freeport and Lisbon.

Like many others I have vibrant memories from early adulthood going to the recreational places like Schemengees and Spare Time, sites of the shooting. Lewiston offers these type of places to the whole surrounding area, as the second biggest city in Maine. Mostly I used the Blue Goose as my Cheers ๐Ÿ’™ but each one of these taverns and recreation spots of Lewiston have a special place in the social lives of the people in the area.

And most importantly, I found extra family and lots of lifelong friends from my 3 years in Lewiston.

One night from my apartment on Russell Street, I had a conversation with my Gramma out in San Francisco. She let me know that my father “was born in Florida but he was conceived in Lewiston, Maine.” ๐Ÿ˜† I was delighted by this TMI. It must have explained why I always felt at home–my dad was “from” there.

I love Lewiston. โฃ๏ธโฃ๏ธโฃ๏ธ

Categories
Word Witch

Boston Poetry Marathon 2023

My Reading at My Final Year as an Organizer for the Boston Poetry Marathon

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I read in the 12 o’clock hour yesterday in the 2023 Boston Poetry Marathon. My intro and reading starts at 35:35 in the Facebook video.

This year was special for a few reasons. First, my mom and my brother were there for my reading. (They were heading to Fenway for the 13-1 slaughter by Blue Jay).

And the other reason was that it was my final year as an organizer of the Boston Poetry Marathon. It is very fun to organize such a large-scale event as a poetry reading marathon featuring over 100 poets, but it is A LOT of work. I’ve called it my unpaid part-time summer job. And I am absolutely brain dead today. I probably shouldn’t even be making this post. Am I at all comprehendible? (comprehensible? see, this is what I mean.)

But it is a MAGICAL event. All ages, all geographies, all languages, all spiritualities, all heritages, all gender identities, all sexualities, all races, all ethnicities, all aesthetics, all experience levels, all poetic credentials, all poetics, all practices, all forms of poetry, all types of poets perform their work at the Boston Poetry Marathon, and everyone gets 7 minutes a-piece. It’s fortifying and nourishing on an artistic level. Once I take a couple weeks to recover all the energy it takes to put this event on, I’m left with deep appreciation and inspiration.

As the rare breed of Extroverted Poet, being an organizer of literary events the perfect type of thing for me to do–meet, welcome, engage, introduce, converse with lots of people in the purpose of connecting poets to each other, to each other’s work, and to the literary arts in general. I also have a knack for organizing chaos, and chaos it is to wrangle poets, as my friend and poet Andy Peterson called it. Meeting so many people and connecting with them in such a way is my favorite part of the whole process.

But the process does take its toll. As a Cancer-Scorpio-Scorpio, I’m an Ocean Girl. (Perhaps that’s why I’ve always felt right at home in the Ocean State, when I moved here the same summer I started organizing the BPM!) But my beach days, and a lot of other summer enjoyments, like my garden, get neglected in favor of writing email campaigns, calendaring important dates, holding planning meetings, creating the mammoth schedule, and so many other small and big things that go into making the magic happen each year.

It’s been an honor to be a part of the BPM and have this small but meaningful place in Boston poetic history. And now, I get to enjoy it as a participant in future years. And do my herb garden. And make 4x as many summer beach trips (I hope). And write more posts on Notebook Witch (finally). And help my downstairs neighbor as she gets older (that would be my mom ๐Ÿ™‚ …). And not have a big old mental load of To Do’s on my mind from April-August. And devote more of that mental load to the 3 boards and 2 committees I belong to in Rhode Island for politics and my UU church. Ha! What can I say? I’m an extrovert and like to get involved!

If anyone in the BPM community is reading this: thank you! I felt a lot of love this weekend and for the past 7 years as an organizer and 14 years as a participant. Looking forward to the future as this marvelous entity continues on in its various iterations. โค๏ธ๐Ÿค๐Ÿ–ค

Categories
Things To Do

Tori Amos Boston Concert Pre-Show Meetup

Tori Amos Boston Concert Pre-Show Meetup at 4pm, Sat July 1 at the Lord Hobo Patio, 2 Drydock Ave, Boston

Please RSVP at the Facebook Event Page, or email me at TheNotebookWitch@gmail.com, subject: Tori Meetup and let me know how many people are planning to come

It is a truth universally acknowledged that if one is in that rare Venn Diagram overlap of “Devout Tori Amos Fan” and “Totally an Extrovert” it is practically one’s duty to organize a pre-show EWF meetup (& I’m quite sure I’m in quoting the from the wrong fandom…) ๐Ÿ˜†

Therefore, I have organized one again for this year, starting at 4pm. The venue for meetup is the patio at Lord Hobo, 2 Drydock Ave, Boston. I have reserved the patio of Lord Hobo for 20, but they want me to call if we will be a bigger group than that, so please make sure to RSVP on the Facebook Event page or by emailing me.

I organized a pre-show meet up for Tori Amos’s Boston last year, and it was so much fun nerding out with my fellow Ears With Feet (nickname for Tori fans) ๐Ÿค“๐Ÿฅฐ๐ŸŽน

See you all soon!!! ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™

PS I’m crossposting this all around so you might see it a bunch โ˜บ๏ธ

Categories
Activist Witch

Juneteenth 2023

Meme with tumbled stones in border background, "Wouldn't it be nice if we knew what stone repelled racism? Protected you from sexist projections? I am tired of every crytal being able to "heal bad vibes and invoke your angel ancestors." Which stones invoke your pissed off ancestors and help you overthrow fascism?"
Meme from SubRosa Magick https://twitter.com/SubRosaMagick

I felt this meme would be good to post for today’s holiday, #Juneteenth ๐Ÿ–คโค๏ธ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’š

For me, the spiritual is the political, so to speak. My spiritual practice as a modern pagan Unitarian Universalist solitary eclectic witch is intrinsically tied to my firm belief in equality, equity, and justice for everyone, especially minoritized groups.

I put energy into fighting for those things through volunteer work, and at my paid job doing whatever I can to promote the equity agenda there. And I also do so in my spiritual practice, however I can.

Which brings me to this meme. For me, I don’t think of crystals as wielding power as if in a fantasy story. I think of them as tools to help evoke in oneself the capacity to do what one sets their mind to. In that case, a plain old selenite wand, or clear quartz, touched as I toil away on paid and volunteer work for those thing I mentioned working on, is a crystal for helping promote equity and justice.

Categories
Word Witch

Spring 2023 Boston Austen Book Club

Jane Austen’s Letters edited by Deirdre Le Faye, 3rd or 4th edition

Saturday, June 3 at 11am, online event

The next meeting of the Boston Austen Book Club will be Saturday, June 3 at 11am, and we will meet online. (We may try for a late Summer in-person meeting, and we can discuss that at the Spring meetingโ€ฆ)

About the Spring 2023 Book

We’ll be discussing Deirdre Le Faye’s collection of Jane Austen’s Letters. (I’m using the 3rd edition; there’s also a 4th edition but there isn’t much difference between those two.)

This will be too much to talk about the whole book, so just go through and read what compels you and when we meet, weโ€™ll each discuss those bits with the group. Some of us may have overlapping interests in the same parts, or not, but together weโ€™ll help each other get a good sense of this comprehensive work. 

If you don’t have a copy of Le Faye’s collection of Austen letters, you can read the free copy available online at https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/42078 and be sure to note the date of the letters you’ve read and want to discuss so we can refer to them during the discussion.

RSVP Information

You can RSVP at the event page on Facebook, or, if you’re not on Facebook, you can email your RSVP. Please make sure your Webex link matches your RSVP information.

All are welcome – new, returning, and regulars!

Spring BABC 2023 Details

  • Who: Boston Austen Book Club – anyone can join; all you have to do is read the book and come to the meeting (and for this season’s selection, you only have to read what you can of the book)
  • What: Deirdre Le Faye’s “Jane Austen’s Letters” -or- the back up free edition of Austen letters https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/42078
  • When: Saturday, June 3 at 11am
  • Where: Webex Link posted here the day of the event. Check back then! Make sure you RSVP by email or Facebook event page and make sure your RSVP info matches your Webex info
  • How: Read what you like of the book and we’ll discuss our interesting observations together. You don’t need to read cover-to-cover for this one!
  • Why: because it is fun to be a Janeite nerd

Keep Up with Boston Austen Book Club News

Here are the two websites for Boston Austen Book Club news:

Hope to see you on the 3rd of June!

Categories
Word Witch

Blazing in Gold and Quenching in Purple

Emily Dickinson’s Poem Illustrated by Bridget Eileen

An Illustrated Version of Emily Dickinson’s Poem ‘Blazing in Gold,’ as Part of a Close Reading Project

Before I polished and primped my critical thesis for my MFA in Creative Writing, I blogged the content of the project. In fact, those posts were the origin of my arts and culture blog. Below is one part of my third semester critical thesis project on the concept of “a close reading of poetry” and what it entails.

In honor of the author India Holton’s latest novel, “The Secret Service of Tea and Treason” I posted some of my illustrations of this poem by Emily Dickinson’s to my Instagram, and I said I posted the whole thing to Notebooke Witch. The poem is quoted during an EXCELLENT scene in the newly released book ๐Ÿคญ (IYKYK)

Blazing in Gold and quenching in Purple
Leaping like Leopards to the Sky
Then at the feet of the old Horizon
Laying her spotted Face to die
Stooping as low as the Otter’s Window
Touching the Roof and tinting the Barn
Kissing her Bonnet to the Meadow
And the Juggler of Day is gone

~Emily Dickinson




blazing in gold an quneching in purple
Blazing in gold and quenching in Purple
Leaping like leopards across the sky
Leaping like Leopards across the Sky

Then at the feet of the oldhorizon, laying her spotted face to die
Then at the feet of the old Horizon
Laying her Spotted Face to die
Stooping as low as the Otter's Window
Stooping as low as the Otter’s Window

Touching the roof and tinting the Barn
Touching the Roof and tinting the Barn

Kissing her Bonnet to the MeadowKissing her Bonnet to the Meadow

And the Juggler of Day is gone
And the Juggler of Day is gone


View the Close Reading of “Blazing in Gold” that Goes with These Illustrations

These illustrations were created in part to help with an exercise in close reading, that I did as part of my third semester critical thesis project in graduate school. The accompanying close reading can be viewed at:

Categories
Activist Witch Modern Witchcraft

Unitarian Universalist Pagan

On Joining Bell Street Chapel Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Providence, Rhode Island and the Convenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS)

As of Beltane 2023, I am officially a member of the Bell Street Chapel Unitarian Universalist Church of Federal Hill, Providence (my old neighborhood). And I am now an official member of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS).

This is the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans Vision Statement:

CUUPS is an organization dedicated to networking Pagan-identified Unitarian Universalists (UUs), educating people about Paganism, promoting interfaith dialogue, developing Pagan liturgies and theologies, and supporting Pagan-identified UU religious professionals.

https://cuups.org/about-cuups/

Bell Street Chapel is a small church but it’s full of wonderful people ๐Ÿฅฐ Every Sunday, I drop my mother off at her church on the East Side of Providence, the Church of the Redeemer. It is also a small church, and Episcopalian, and also full of wonderful people. (A very LGBTQ+ friendly, social justice oriented congregation, which is important to my mother.) Then I drive back to my old neighborhood and go to the UU service.

For this past Sunday, we danced around a May Pole and had readings dedicated to the Spring season and nature. And I signed the church membership book and took part of a new member ceremony.

I like the music, the people, the space, and I really like unplugging for an hour and having some deep contemplative time. I also love that modern pagan holidays are incorporated into the services throughout the year, along with services about social justice issues.

To turn a phrase, the spiritual has always been the political for me. That’s why I renounced the Catholic church a long time ago. But upon renouncing Catholicism, I have always missed the fellowship, the education, and the spiritual congregational aspects of the Sunday ritual of going to church. This is exactly why being a modern pagan witch, a Unitarian Universalist, and a member of CUUPS fits so well with my spiritual identity and practice.

Happy Beltane to those who celebrate! Happy middle of Spring/middle of Autumn, depending on your hemisphere. This has been a momentous one for me and I’m really happy to have a spiritual home.

Categories
Sabbats, etc.

Ostara 2023

Ostara sabbat graphic for Facebook cover, Twitter post, and other social media. Feel free to use on your social media as well! Please credit NotebookWitch.com.

Spring Is Here

Happy Spring Equinox, northern hemisphere friends! Hope you’re having a lovely early autumn, southern hemisphere folks.

I felt like making a sabbat banner with a vintage vibe this year, for no particular reason.

It was a relatively mild winter in southeast New England. How about you? What things are you excited for, for Spring?

My Spring Plans

I’m looking forward to planting a stellar, burgeoning herb garden this year.

I’ve got ideas in mind for my container garden: LOTS of lemon balm, since Sweet Melissa is good for so many things but can really overtake a garden, trustly old chive and scallion since they’re first to arrive to the party and one of the last to leave, and low maintenance.

And then I hope to do a raised bed in the side yard, with a lot of different varieties of herbal plants. I was looking at past photos from my patio garden in Federal Hill Providence, and it was so abundant! I want that again.

We shall see! Happy planting and planning, gardeners! Spring is here!

Categories
Modern Witchcraft

Strawberry Moon Declaration

I Am a Solitary Eclectic Pantheist Modern Pagan Witch and I wholly and fully repudiate the religion I was originally baptized under

Reposted for the 50th anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision.

Note: this post was first published in 2018 (at my arts and culture blog), when former Justice Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court. Though he was a reputed centrist, he knowlingly retired when the political powers in place in the Legistlative and Executive branches who would nominate his replacement were hardline conservatives, intent on seeing Roe v Wade overturned. His replacement was Brett Kavanaugh. I knew in my bones what was to come, though I had hoped I would be wrong. This spiritual declaration was one of many ways I did and continue to do what I can against the threat of liberty and bodily autonomy, which the overturning of Roe v Wade signifies with the Dobbs decision.

The Catholic Church Has No Claim to Me as a Member Despite My Baptism and I Declare Myself an Apostate Who Wholly Repudiates the Catholic Church

For today’s Strawberry Moon ๐Ÿ“๐ŸŒโค๏ธ I declared my un-baptism from the Catholic Church, on the website notme.ie ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช Joining and declaring your apostatehood on that website is only symbolic. Canon Law makes it really difficult to remove yourself from the official tally from the Catholic rolls. But on this day especially, with the announcement of Justice Kennedy’s retirement, I want it shouted from the mountaintops, or at least all over social media: I am not Catholic. 

I do not believe in the tenets of the Catholic Church. I am not Christian. I do not believe in monotheism as conceived in the Abrahamic religions. I do not believe in sin, nor in the devil as conceived in the Abrahamic religions. I believe you should do right by yourself and others based on your own inherent morality and not for or on behalf of a religious entity. Further, I do not believe that sex and sexuality have any inherent morality in absolute form. I believe that to assert actions regarding sex and sexuality have inherent morality has lead to much of what is wrong in this world, and it needs to stop. 

I am a pantheist: I believe there is a spirit in all living things. I am a modern pagan, and I observe the Celtic earth-based holidays. I don’t think magic is a hocus-pocus imaginary thing; I think it’s often science intuited and not yet proven. “The myth is proof of fact.” Further, and most importantly, I believe that if you harm none, you can do as you will. 

I am pro-choice. I am pro-women’s rights. I am pro-women as dynamic, whole, wholly capable beings who need not feel shame for their body, or feel any inferiority to men, or feel they are only vessels for children, or feel that taking pleasure from their body and in their bodies is wrong.

To my mind, and to my spirit, I feel that any of the good that comes social justice work done by factions within Catholicism is, unfortunately, moot. While I will always have an affinity, admiration, and love for the legacies of certain figures within Catholicism who have informed much of our current notions of justice, equality, and love, such as St Francis of Assisi and the spiritual figure I was named after, St Brigid of Kildaire, they and their likenesses have always been outliers of the institution of the Catholic Church. The church itself chose to focus more on hate: for women and pregnant people by being anti-choice, for children by enabling predatory priests, for the LGBTQ+ community by focusing on Augustinian & Thomistic notions of sexual activity sanctioned solely for procreation, and for all those stances taking precedence in Church doctrine and politics over, “Love thy neighbor.” 

I am not Catholic, and I denounce the Catholic Church, and all anti-choice entities–religious or otherwise–for focusing vehemently on the politics of a pregnant person and/or woman’s right to choose what to do with their bodies, over all other concerns; for bringing the very real impending threat of the end to this democracy that has brought–along with the bad–so much of the good we have in this world. 

Consider this a schism. Consider me a heretic. Consider me an apostate, wholly and fiercely repudiating such a loathsome, hateful, destructive institution. 

I love this earth. I love justice, equality, and freedom. I am a pantheistic solitary eclectic modern pagan witch. That is my declared spiritual practice. 

It is so ordered โญ๏ธ