Of Candles, Herkimer Diamonds, and No Coffee

How often have we mistaken really wanting (even loving) something with needing it? I’ve been there a time or three, mostly while I was too young to have experienced any better.

When I first started meditating, I couldn’t reach a state of tranquility without burning a candle. Smelling the scent and watching the flame helped me focus. Then I joined the military, and burning a candle was not always possible; so I learned to meditate without a scented flame. I did not care for it. But I got used to it. And after a while, it started not to make a difference.

A few weeks back, I convinced my doctor that I would be all right without taking beta blockers and two other medications. The beta blockers did wonders for the nerve pain and pretty much dulled out most of my chronic pain. But after a few months on the things I started turning into a zombie (of the non-rotting variety *cough*): my speech patterns suffered, I was sleeping 11+ hours every day, I gained a total of 21 pounds.

The withdrawals from the meds were a nightmare: every pain and spasm came back at once, I even felt things I hadn’t felt before (and they weren’t nice); I couldn’t stop sweating; going to the bathroom was something that happened to other people… The severe effects lasted for a few days; discomfort stayed around for a couple of weeks. At the moment, my old nerve pain, shoulder pain, and hip pains are back, but I can sleep again, I’ve reclaimed my words, and I’m losing the weight.

This is the first time in my life that I have to lose weight. It isn’t an easy thing to do, but (thank goodness!) it is not as difficult as I thought it would be. I stopped eating desserts (that wasn’t hard), I stopped eating meats (no problem), I haven’t eaten anything processed in weeks (it limits my eating choices, but I’m cool with it), today is my 9th day without coffee (that one has been a tad tougher).

I haven’t relapsed at all. I doubt I will, unless I mean to. One thing I will always thank the Marine Corps for is that it helped me gain enough discipline to turn stubbornness into an art. I’m not tempted by coffee; meat is beginning to smell a tad revolting to me; and my taste buds are starting to think (yes, I have thoughtful taste buds) that table sugar is too sweet.

I’m developing other habits (healthier ones) to replace the ones that negatively affect my health. I’m allowing myself three of the five teaspoons of raw sugar my nutritionist says I can consume safely: one in my morning steel cut oats, two in my late night ginger and blood orange leaf tea. The oats and tea replace the effects of three of my stomach meds.

I miss coffee sometimes, but that’s all right; our relationship was too long for the love to stop all at once. I’ve allowed myself one coffee fling per year; just like I’ve done with ice cream and cake: ice cream on my anniversary and cake on my birthday… I think my coffee treat will be reserved for the remembrance of my little brother’s passing. He was a full supporter of rebellion, so the new tradition might make his soul cackle with mine. 😉

Candles and Herkimer DiamondsScented candles remain one of my first witchy loves. I light one nearly every day, but rarely for meditation. The ones above (in the baggies), along with the Herkimer Diamonds, were a handfasting gift from one of my three best friends… I suspect my Piano Man and I will use them for some deep meditation *wink, wink, cackle, giggle, cough*. It’ll be a healthy treat.

If Women Were as Good as Men They’d Be Better

I’m enchanted by writing that dances wittily with language, with meaning, and with critical thinking. It is one of the reasons why my reading affair with the works of Sir Terry Pratchett began the moment I finished delighting in Equal Rites.

Consider the title of this post as an example, taken from the first of Pratchett’s Witches novels: “if women were as good as men they’d be better!” Can you see the brilliance of the phrase? Not just the social implications contained within the statement, but also Pratchett’s delicious use of punctuation and all what can be deduced from his choices.

With one sentence, Pratchett tells a story true about his Discworld and about our society. As it is, the phrase can mean several things. I asked different people to write down what they believed the words wanted to say. Some wrote “if women were as good as men (then women would) be better”; others jotted down that “if women were as good as men (then men would) be better”; a guy and a girl got into an argument about commas, intent and subject-to-object proximity, which nearly ended in blows…

When I was asked my opinion, I said that considering that someone was repeating one of Granny Weatherwax’s philosophies, only the old Bad Ass witch could ever really know. When the glares began to heat up the room, I added, “I choose to believe that Equal Rites suggests that if women and men saw each other as equally valuable, then they (both women and men) would be better.”

Doesn’t it make sense? I think it does. In fact, the whole novel is about what a horrific place the world can become when one sex (or group of people) believes biology, geography, or mythological affiliation makes them better than those different from themselves.

Equal Rites “is also a story about sex, although probably not in the athletic, tumbling, count-the-legs-and-divide-by-two sense unless the characters get totally beyond the author’s control.” Also about edges, as in… “the modern wolves were the offspring of ancestors that had survived because they had learned that human meat had sharp edges.”

So, my Wicked Luvs, what do you think the title of this post says about men and women? And what are your thoughts on evolved wolves and sharply edged humans?

Equal Ritesdetail from the cover of Equal Rites, Transworld Digital edition

Unbreakable Chain of Chosen Blood

She sat in semidarkness in the middle of her living room, rubbing columbine leaves on the back of her hands. The salt, clove and sandalwood used to cast the circle around her made her soul feel protected; the rosemary sprigs, weaved into her loose braid, infused her mind with thoughts of banishment and healing.

It was probably wrong to use this sort of magic against a man who still breathed. But she had tried everything else and nothing worked. Maybe he has been dead for the last decade and I haven’t noticed.

“You’ll learn to never lock me out, woman.” His overused tone oozed through the glass of the balcony doors, and tried to wrap tightly around her neck.

The gun in front of her looked colder and more menacing in the living room, than it had seemed when it was out in the street. She was still staring at the weapon, thinking, I might not be able to do this, when he shattered the glass that stood between them and followed the destruction into her space.

She stood up to face him, but he had turned around seeming to sense what approached from behind.

Her best friend, Ivy—uniformed and armed—plus the entire Women’s Circle, stepped slowly towards him, their hands clasped together in an unbreakable chain of chosen blood.

“I’ve never been afraid of a cunt. Or a dozen of you.” He grinned.

The Women’s Circle continued closing in, now baring their teeth.

He tried to speak again.

The Women’s Circle hissed and growled.

She took two steps towards him, ready to roar in his face like she had practiced for weeks while standing on that same spot. But before pain, rage and disappointment rumbled out of her chest, his right fist struck her left eye.

She stumbled, but didn’t fall.

He raised his fist to throw another punch, but Ivy had him on the floor, handcuffing him and reading him his rights, before he could hit again.

She stared into his startled eyes and roared before Ivy’s partner dragged him out of the room.

Once her legs and her soul stopped shaking, she and the Women’s Circle cleaned and cleansed her old apartment. They helped her put her already packed suitcases into the car she had traded for her old one, and she drove to the hotel she had booked three weeks earlier. After a night of safe rest, she would start the 1,328-mile ride towards the beginning of her life.
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Process Note: I wrote this bit of story for a friend a few weeks ago. She had been in a terrible relationship for a decade, and after a lot of help from a lot of people was able to leave safely. She gave me permission to share the tale right after I wrote it, but I just couldn’t find the right image to go with it—nothing felt right. Then, a couple of days ago, I received a parcel containing a purchase I made from Touch of the Goddess (I will show you soon). Sharon included a couple of surprises. The moment I saw the red and black “Heart Sister”, I knew it belonged with this story: a person can accomplish way more than “six impossible things before breakfast”, when she or he has an “Unbreakable Chain of Chosen Blood” standing by to offer a hand… or a heart.

linked to Prompt Nights (Guérison par la foi—Faith, healing)

Unbreakable Chain of Chosen Blood