On Time Management, Metaphorical TVs, and Tattoos

I miss this blog. I have got to set aside time to post in it more frequently; 5 months is too long. What I find most important about this space is the fact that I can cathartically get all my thoughts out before me; an open highway on a long-distance road trip. Having followers, comments, and likes on it aren’t so much the point, as is having the platform to express my head. Kinda like a new diary, since my old one is collecting dust on a bookshelf anyway. Of course, it’s always nice to receive attention or opening individuals’ minds more, like creating a legacy in your child. Conversations can broaden our horizons; allowing us to learn more from others and become better individuals for it. Be it me or someone else, online or in person.


So, now that the Holidays and the calendar New Year are over, mostly my thoughts these days are on tattoos, personal goals, finding a new roommate in 3 weeks, and the ever-growing distance that I’m witnessing between myself and my loved ones- lackadaisical though, like watching it happen on TV and not caring where the remote is to pause it or rewind.


But I think that’s because of a few factors: First, I’m a bachelor and childless and thus, I don’t have that daily domestic attention on family every time I come home. Secondly, my nearest direct family member is over 1100 miles away, and so, again, I don’t share frequent visits with them. And thirdly, my schedule can get so hilariously packed, that finding time to communicate with them (especially with differing time zones) can be challenging. As time continues, the emotional distance begins to grow. The gap widens as our lives continue to change without each other and suddenly there’s this uncertainty that I don’t know what to do with other than waiting to see what’s next on that TV.


“And I’m sorry for us

The dinosaurs roamed the earth

The sky turns green

Where I end and you begin”.

-Radiohead, Where I End and You Begin


So, there’s that. But like I said, tattoos are also on my mind. Due to over a year-long hiatus from my full-body tattoo project (and due to my car finally getting paid off), I’ve decided to up my monthly ink sessions to twice a month so as to compensate. My abdomen is (FINALLY) finished and Saturday we begin the ass/hips phase, and then the rib cage from there. I can’t tell you how much I’m excited to be able to begin a new phase finally; the abdomen took too long with my frequent breaks! And on the Solstice, I found out that my artist has replaced his one-and-only employee with this dude that’s got really great energy and demeanor; I have super high hopes for him! And apparently, he’s a spokesman for a tattoo cream, as well as one for a high-quality tattoo ink, goes to tattoo conventions nation-wide and wins frequent awards there, was on a TV reality show about a tattoo shop in Hollywood, and was the lead singer of a decent-budget emo band that toured with Alice Cooper. Yeah. I have high hopes for him.


See, when you get tattooed by someone, you create a bond- no matter how small. You are in a close intimate space with that artist for a chunk of time and sacrificing your blood, pain, money, and your body to a design that they are putting into you to last forever. It also requires trust, vulnerability, and exposure. Ergo, bond! Now, when you get tattooed by someone every month for years, this bond becomes a relationship. You know their wife, you’ve played with their kids and watched them grow, you’ve met their friends and become friends with them yourself, you’ve laughed with them and cried with them and gotten utterly drunk with them. Their world becomes your world and so what changes occur, radical or not, involves you and affects you. (I mean, outside of their ex-employee from years ago that you no longer talk to, but that doesn’t keep him from getting wasted all the time and texting you to see if you’d be interested in boning later that night as if that’s the recipe for flattery.) *ahem*


Yesterday, while at work, I went to ACE Hardware for a work-related errand, and was rung up by a tall, blonde, spiky-haired guy who looked like he’d been in a few too many fights over the years. I looked down, however, and realized he was sporting a huge pentacle tattoo on his forearm, with lots of vibrant foliage around it. Today, I went to the café and while my regular barista handed me my shot-in-the-dark, I noticed on the side of her middle finger was a new tattoo; a tiny triple-moon symbol that has a full moon bookended by opposing crescents. On the other side of the finger, was a double-moon symbol; a full moon connected to only one crescent. Goddess and God.


Used to, I would publicly identify Pagans by the necklaces they’d wear; pentacles and Mjölnirs. And maybe that’s still a thing, but more and more these days it seems that people are tattooing their religious identities, instead. Perhaps I’m biased, but I think that’s awesome! Talk about a beautiful commitment and the ability to make it as unique and personal as you’d like. In many historical cultures, tattooing was sometimes a religious expression. Don’t get me wrong; I love that it has become so much more to people, artistically, across the globe! I just think it’s neat to mimic the customs of our ancestors in this art form. But…history nerd here.


It’s also great to see so many people, in this decade, are not only Pagans but are also proud of it. In the 90’s, it was more popular for Pagans to pop up, no thanks to Hollywood’s obsession with “rebellious witchcraft.” But these days, it seems to be more of a personal choice and less a popular one. Thus, it’s great to see so many sporting it. I, myself, have just one bumper sticker on my Honda Fit that simply reads ‘Pagan’. Yes, I’ve gotten some angry and concerned looks in my rear-view mirror at whatever stop light, but that’s not why I have it. It’s there because being a Pagan for more than half my life has helped me make so many decisions, answered so many questions, and shaped the very identity of who I am today. It’s a passion of mine, and I have to express it. And, like the barista, I too have a double-moon symbol tattooed on me, representing the God within everyone and the wildness of Nature; be it a literal god or a symbolic one.


So, that’s mostly what’s in my head at the moment. I’ll try to write on this blog more often. Oh, and if anyone knows of someone who needs a room in Seattle in the next few weeks, hit me up!



“Wear your heart on your skin in this life.” -Sylvia Plath

Happy Lughnasadh!

I love Lughnasadh. I’ve written about it before, and I’m always the one who is the first to emphatically explain the mythological meaning behind this holiday at Lammas gatherings or amongst curious friends. And it’s not just because of the delicious traditional food served on this day (BREAD, glorious bread!!), but because of who Lugh was/is and what he represented as a namesake; the strength he saw in his people and so led them to victories. And yes, the funeral games as well.


Lugh (Lug, Lugus/Lugos (Gaulish), Lugh Lámhfhada (Irish), Lleu Llaw Gyffes (Welsh), Lugaid/Lugaidh, Lonnansclech) was the son of Cian from the Tuatha Dé Danann, and Ethniu, daughter of Balor of the Fomorians. Balor (of the Evil Eye) learned one day that a grandson of his would someday kill him. He tried to sequester his daughter away to prevent any man to impregnate her, except that Cian rescued her and so Ethniu gave birth to three children, of which Balor drowned two, and the third accidentally survived the attempt. His name was Lugh, and he was sent to be fostered by a mortal woman named Tailtiu, in protection from Balor.

Lugh is known as the modern Jack-of-All-Trades; master to every craft and every skill known to man. He is talented with magic, poetry, history, and music. Lugh is a scholar, a craftsman, a hero and a warrior, and a great champion. Having the combination of all these skills allowed him entry into the Tuatha Dé Danann, who he then led against the corruption of the Fomorians in the Second Battle of Mag Tuireadh and with the help of his enchanted tools, was able to defeat Balor. Prophecies are a bitch sometimes. Lugh was also the reason the Irish learned when to plough, sow, and reap.
Now I’m not a Jack-of-All-Trades like Lugh. But I love the story of this god, raised by a humble mortal woman, and who led a race of oppressed people against their enemies and won. And when his foster mother died, whom he loved dearly, he commemorated her by creating Lughnasadh, a type of Olympic funeral games so the Irish could use their skills and talents to become champions in their right. And when Ireland felt oppressed, once again in the 1920’s, the Tailteann Games were resurrected to overcome the darkness of the Irish Civil War.

Lugh understood the value of physically challenging yourself, exerting yourself. And the benefits of teamwork and camaraderie; the bonds you can create when you mutually jump through Hell’s hoops together, which is why I love Lughnasadh so much; it represents my dreams and goals for the Pagan community. It stands out so much from how we commonly practice and involve ourselves. I read that traditionally, the prayers of Lugh were only heard when spoken high on hilltops and mountains; you have to challenge yourself to speak to The Challenger (Duh). So an old friend of mine and I decided to summit Mount Si with homemade mead in our packs on Sunday the 30th. 3900 feet gained in 4 miles (and we thought we were in shape….fuck)! But after our knees almost gave out, our water almost was gone, our asses and calves throbbing, and I don’t even know how many gallons of sweat lost- we finally reached the very top. It was so beautiful, we were silent for a long time. But after cracking open the mead and some snacks, we were laughing again and totally high, drained of endorphins. After we poured some mead into the rocks in appreciation and readied ourselves for our descent, I realized we had become even closer friends than I thought possible.

And that right there symbolized my prayers to Lugh. To bring Pagans back outside and into the dangerous wilderness again, exerting ourselves completely. And through that, become even closer to each other.


View from the top of Mount Si: Mailbox peak (left), Mount Washin

(From the top of Mount Si)

The Horses of Epona

On the way to my buddy’s house near Rainier last week, I followed a long road through some country fields that were surrounded by fencing. Not caring of how long of a drive it was, I took advantage of the beautiful summer day and rolled down my windows. From there, I noticed two strong horses galloping together with their manes dancing up like fire, running parallel to me. The sun lit up their golden coats with sweat glistening, as their hooves moved in perfect unison with each other. I could see their sheer delight and contentment running in this green field shadowed by rugged foothills and dense trees. As I slowed my speed and innocently watched them through my open window, a broad smile stretched across my face. Every time I see these powerful and beautiful creatures, I am reminded of my childhood. My earliest nostalgic memories of my grandfather were on his Quarter Horse ranches in Oklahoma. My grandfather is one of the few remaining “original cowboys” left, and he never leaves the house without wearing his cowboy hat and boots. After growing up a cotton farmer, my grandfather decided to enlist in the military and go to war as many American men did at that age. After the horrors of battle, he came home and worked on the oil rigs and married his first wife; my late grandmother. He made enough from his job, and a strange pattern of luck from betting at the horse races, that he was able to buy some ranch property to raise Quarter Horses on. I was taught how to ride horses before my feet could even reach the stirrups. I fell in love with these beasts; they were large and powerful, yet gentle. They could also speak so many emotions through the pools of their eyes and can express more humanity than their riders. I dream of a day I can own some property of my own with a horse or two. I think if and when I do, I will build a small wooden stable and carve a prayer to Epona over its doorway.


(This photo, called ‘Black Stallion’, I have printed on metal with a satin finish, hanging in my bedroom. The photographer is J.R. Robinson)

Epona is a Gallic deity that was worshiped to and revered so much that she continued throughout the Roman Empire between the first and third centuries CE. She’s a goddess of horses, wheat and, in some depictions, the sun. A birth-and-death mother goddess, she’s believed to aid in fertility and carry the souls of the dead on the backs of her horses. And she is the patron deity and guardian of horsemen. With my interest in the myth of Lancelot of the Lake, I also like to imagine that because he was raised by the Lady of the Lake in Avalon and was well known for his horse whispering abilities, that Lancelot probably paid homage to Epona in his life or at least prayed to her in times of need. On a musical side of it, the Swiss folk metal band, Eluveitie, just released their first song and music video from their upcoming album, ‘Evocation II – Pantheon’ (said to be released August 18th), called Epona.

I love this song! Not only is it lyrically about the great goddess, Epona, sung in a modernized version of Gaulish, but the music itself is designed to simulate a horse running; dashing ahead with speed and power and slowing to a light gallop. “Benoulati epon ueidonti marcacon, gutus nertomaros tuos radit” (from the song, Epona, by Eluveitie). Or in English: “Mistress of horses, leader of horsemen, your strong voice speaks.” The video shows a battle in the woods, and when one of the men die, he sees Epona with her horses, ready to take his spirit home. It was filmed in the city of Avenches, Switzerland home to the Gallic king, Divico who once led his people back to Gaul, but whose passage was denied by Caesar because of the Roman relative of Caesar’s that Divico killed 49 years prior. Anyway, if you have the chance, check out that music video! I am also intrigued by this upcoming album of theirs, branching away from horses for a minute, its album cover has the Celtic pantheon’s initials on it, surrounding an indigenous-looking illustration of the Irish god, Lugh. Given the title of it as well, I’m lead to assume this album could be entirely about the Celtic gods or the belief of the Celtic gods. Kinda rad! Kinda intrigued.

Anyway, it’s probably my love for horses that favor the people of Rohan in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings over all the other groups of men or otherwise. Or my love for the song, ‘Two White Horses’ by Beck or ‘Four Rusted Horses’ by Marilyn Manson (huh. Never realized how similar those song titles are…weird). I think the last time I rode a horse was in the small mountain town of Ruidoso, New Mexico about five years ago with my brothers. Long ass time ago- I definitely need to change that! I always feel so sad for people when I hear they have a fear of horses. Riding a horse is so much of an experience all on its own, and so much so, they even use horse riding as a form of rehabilitation therapy and animal therapy for children with disabilities. Think about it; you’re on this large and powerful animal that doesn’t speak English (except Mr. Ed). It’s a state of vulnerability of having to trust that it won’t kick you off and hurt you, or even kill you. The animal, sensing your fear and agitation, has to trust you won’t hurt it or lead it into harm’s way. It’s a bond of faith and overcoming your fears of the unknown. Other than with environmental degradation, I think we lost so much opportunity to develop and learn as humans when we chose the car over the animal.

“I frequently dream of being on these horses’ backs and running across a field. And the horse and I are one”. -William Shatner


The Best Thing for a Guy to Own

Before I get into this next blog post, I’d like to remind you that my blog- is a Pagan blog, yes- but it is also a blog about my Pagan life. And since I am a cisgender man, I think it’s fair to say that my blog is synonymous with it being about a Pagan man’s life. Being a Pagan is defined for me not only by my practice and what’s on my altar but also by just being a man and living my mundane life; it’s in everything I do and who I am. In other words, DISCLAIMER: This blog post is about men’s underwear. So, if you’re quite happy with your current undergarment or you’d rather not read about this subject, or it doesn’t even pertain to you for whatever reason, then by all means…hit the back arrow. If, however, you’re genuinely curious about what I have to say about this subject and, more specifically, the love I have for the brand I use, then my friend, read on. I apologize in advance if I get a little graphic for you, I tend not to have a filter (or so many of my embarrassed friends remind me at certain times when I’m talking in public).


Like most guys, I’ve tried various forms of underwear throughout my development, and NONE OF THEM worked for me. That is, until now.

It started as a child. Because my father wore them, my mother bought me briefs, or whitey tighties as they’re called. I soon noticed these showed too many stains and though I could get a colored one to hide that better, I also felt incredibly uncomfortable with how tight they were down there because I noticed it caused me shrinkage which would then catch and pull on hairs. Very, very uncomfortable. In fact, I think “uncomfortable” is an understatement. Briefs are oppressive (there we go). So, trying the day and finding it lacking in comfort and freedom, I naturally tested the night. Boxers. Mini man-shorts with open fly. Ultimate comfort and freedom, right? Wrong. You would think logistically this should be great, but god forbid I wear jeans or pants that are a little snugger than “baggy.” I have to fight them to keep the boxers down as I’m pulling the pants up in the morning. And once I finally am victorious over this early battle, I realize that outside my pants, you can still see the imprisoned bunched up boxers underneath because of the creases on my thighs that transfer through. But I try to ignore this and go about my day. However, after I walk for a bit, I can feel the boxers sloooowly riding up until it feels like I’m wearing a thong (um… no thank you). So, I enter a bathroom stall and recreate the morning battle of pushing them back down as I pull my pants back up and this continues to replay throughout my day. Frustrating, to say the least.

Then, I try boxer briefs and trunks. Best of both worlds. Longer like boxers, but more form-fitting like briefs. Plus, the fitness ones include mesh areas to help that warmer area to breath and are sometimes moisture wicking. For several years I wore this type of underwear every day, and every day they would compress the boys into me, causing me to frequently have to readjust myself or taking bathroom breaks so I could let them breathe and be loose for a bit before putting the underwear back on. Boxer briefs and trunks aren’t as bad as briefs, but the subtle irritation daily was starting to take a toll. Like a Chinese water torture, I’d had enough and was ready to move on. Next, I tried fashion underwear. A little pricier, but most of these included built-in bulges. Allowances for room. During this period, I also tried fashion jockstraps and soon realized both styles just weren’t for me. True, fashion underwear felt more comfortable so far, but neon colored plaid and bright, baby blue really isn’t my style. The jock straps…confused me ‘cause like I was bare but I wasn’t. However, they did give me an idea I had not yet considered: Commando. Free balling it saved cash, frustration, and discomfort (aside from that time when I accidentally zipped up my foreskin). I went commando for about a good three years of my life. Some pants and jeans this worked fine with; the fly and material are thick enough, no one can tell. However, a lot of my pants, especially my slacks and gym shorts, not so much. I tend to have little shame and a healthy dose of self-confidence, but no one else needs to see that shit; some may be okay with it, but not everyone is, and above all, I try to be respectful. Unlike some of my friends, I don’t wear Utilikilts, so I needed more versatility.

Ergo my current preferred underwear. After researching out the ass, I finally found a company that makes a unique style unto them (though since then, I’ve noticed other companies starting to replicate their version to follow suit). The company’s called MyPakage and is designed for (you’ll never guess) …your package. They’re form-fitting underwear with a separate pouch that the whole family goes into, twig and berries, through a smaller access opening they call, “the keyhole.” Think modern day codpiece. This clever design cradles my boys and keeps everything away from my thighs so I can move throughout my day, however I want to. The fact that I forget I’m even wearing anything down there proves to me this is the most freedom and comfort I have ever felt in any of the previous styles of underwear I’ve tried. When I put on a pair of their underwear in the morning, it’s like slipping on a tiny warm cloud, complete with harp-playing cherubs, that no one knows but me. They’re a little pricey for underwear but seriously guys, you get what you pay for. ALL of my underwear is made by MyPakage. As of this writing, I own 16 of their boxer briefs, 8 of their fitness boxer briefs, one pair of their briefs, and one pair of their long underwear. I also own three pairs of their compression leggings, one pair of their 2-in-1 gym shorts, and I even own two of their T-shirts (also, I’m on their loyalty program to earn points for every purchase)!

If that doesn’t say a happy customer, I don’t know what does. I’ve even gotten pairs for several of my guy friends who also now swear by them. So there you have it! My blogging recommendation, and a personal ode, to the first and last garment of clothing that touches my body and lets me concentrate on my Pagan life in all that time in between. Cheers.

“From the cradle to the coffin, underwear comes first”. -Bertolt Brecht


A New Kind of Retreat

Imagine waking up at dawn every morning to hike up a mountain, nonstop, to pray to your god or goddess on an altar that you built out of stone and wood. Or running around a giant stone circle as a form of raising energy and then releasing for sacred ritual. Imagine competitive archery, knife throwing, martial arts, and sword fighting in the woods. Building bonfires with wood you chopped, identifying edible plants and practicing agriculture, climbing trees older than anyone you will ever meet, sleeping under the stars. Imagine hunting game with nothing but a bow and an arrow, and preparing its meat for food, fur for blankets, and bones for tools- giving gratitude for its sacrifice. Imagine tapping into the consciousness of plants, stones, trees and carrying full on conversations and relationships with them. Kayaking to the deepest of waters to swim below and retrieve that which the water spirit has hidden for you. Climbing the face of a cliff to see what the goats see and hear what the birds hear. Sacrificing your blood, your sweat, and your tears to the soil in your nails. Imagine a bonding brotherhood that learns how to treat women as equals, as humans, and with respect. Imagine a bonding sisterhood that learns how to push their limits beyond any they’ve ever known and overcome every obstacle.

Imagine a pagan retreat where you don’t just camp, sing songs, and cast Circle amidst all the creatures. You become the creature. You go to the call of the god, not the other way around. Sacrifice. Appreciation. Religion. Love. Trust. And the reality of Nature. Part boot camp, part spiritual retreat, part obstacle course, and part campsite. This is my dream for the Pagan community. This is what I feel the future of our religion needs to sustain itself in our modern world, with temporary reminders and rehabilitation. Today, sacred knowledge isn’t learned by listening to the trees; it’s found on the printed pages made from their wood waiting to be shipped from an Amazon distribution center. Sabbat rituals are held in the temperature controlled confinements of a carpeted living room with scented candles and gas fireplaces. We wear our beliefs by buying jewelry of our symbols made by countries we’re politically against trading with, so we can have an identity. The ironic marriage of indigenous capitalism. Herbs to be used for spellwork are delivered with already picked, cleaned, and labeled produce at your door. You bought a soapstone statue of Kali for your altar at the New Age shop that came from India in boxes of Styrofoam (that’ll end up in the ocean forever), but have you ever gone to India? Have you backpacked through the country and walked through the slums of Mumbai where her name is still whispered in devotion?

I am a practicing Neo-Pagan after all so obviously my modern religion can be very fulfilling at times, but there are times I am enveloped within my community with all that it has to offer and I still feel like it’s lacking, diluted, and anticlimactic. As though we emphasize our attention more on appearance, books, and historical accuracy, than we do on the relationships we have with our deities, ourselves, and our craft. We concentrate more on what’s behind us and at our feet than looking to where we’re going. So newsflash my community, our planet’s falling apart. Human habitual dependency on a lack of responsibility is destroying our oceans, our land, and all the balance found within. Global warming is rapidly the new fear of the Devil. Alternative energy is being ignored while finite fossil fuels are extracted in strengthening numbers. Organic farms are being forced to spray pesticides on their crops by companies that pay the counties to do it, and then charging the farms afterward. Our women are still drastically underpaid and disrespected in the workforce, and many of them expect it and take it because they’re taught to do so. We eat dramatically huge, unnecessary portions of food in this country like it’s your last meal on Earth. And many of that is pumped full of chemicals and artificial flavorings because the manufacturers can get more bang for their buck that way.

When was the last time you bit into the sweetest tomato you ever tasted right after you picked it from its vine? When was the last time you summited a mountain, in pain and exhausted, and watched the sunset with tears in your eyes? Have you ever carved the face of your god out of wood or clay, carefully and respectfully widdling away every shaving to reveal that face you see every day in your heart? In the song, Silvera by Gojira, Joe Duplantier sings, “When you change yourself, you change the world”. I am a big believer in this concept. I believe a pagan boot camp retreat could help change people in our community for themselves and for the planet. I hope someday I can make this dream come to fruition, because not only do I believe the future of our religion could benefit from it for its survival, but also for our democracy.


The Wild Man of the Woods

Beltane always makes my mind dwell on one of my oldest obsessions; the Wild Man. The wodewose, meaning “woodland” or “of the wood,” was first mentioned as the character Enkidu in the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh. But it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the first Wild Man popped up in writing, as several cultures convey hairy, leafy men existing in the forests. Without going into the mythos of the Green Man and all the fertility and vegetation gods and creatures that exist and have existed, I’m strictly speaking of Medieval Europe’s fear of the Wild Man and the woods he belongs to.

“…the Wild Man figure, considered an amoral beast, was a warning to Christians of what spiritual neglect could lead one into becoming. The drives, instincts, and passions were therefore viewed with suspicion by the church because it jeopardized the belief in man being ontologically distinct from animals. It followed that the primordial urges, a vestige of our animality, should be dominated lest one regress into a chaotic, insane, and ungodly existence” -Rory Alan MacLean

Throughout the 15th and 16th century, there was this primal fear of a forest (okay, there’s always been a fear of a dark forest and horror films don’t help with that). The belief of evil and darkness and uncontrollable chaos of Nature exists within those groves. Home to the monsters of God. Several writings of old literature state that when a man loses his sanity, gone mad, he grows hair all over his body and runs from society; exiled to the woods. Merlin did this in Arthurian myth: “…a strange madness came upon him. He crept away and fled to the woods, unwilling that any should see his going. Into the forest he went, glad to lie hidden beneath the ash trees. He watched the wild creatures grazing on the pasture of the glades. Sometimes he would follow them, sometimes pass them in his course. He made use of the roots of plants and of grasses, of fruit from trees and of the blackberries in the thicket. He became a Man of the Woods, as if dedicated to the woods” –Vita Merlini by Geoffrey Monmouth (1150 AD). And speaking of Arthurian myth, the same happened to Lancelot of the Lake when Guinevere chose Arthur over him. Also, there was mention of hairy men in the woods who did not understand human language in Norway in 1250, recorded in the Speculum Regale. This concept of fleeing the sanity and controlled structures of healthy societal mind and entering the thick forest was familiar and almost expected.

“There is something inherently disturbing in these images of the Wildman who simultaneously displays both human and nonhuman qualities. Our species tends to marginalize what it fears, and during the Middle Ages and earlier the Wildman was treated as an object of fear. At the heart of this treatment of the archetype lies a tension between two distinct portraits of the Wildman- on the one hand, as a potentially friendly being, and, on the other, as a savage creature” –The Quest for the Green Man by John Matthews

Why is this a thing? Before therapists who take off the month of August and benzodiazepines, people just ran to the nearest group of trees, arms flailing. A forest hides that which is within and keeps the sunlight out. What one cannot see, one fears. It is why so many of our fairy tales take place in the Black Forest of Germany (which btw, I explored during a foggy night a few years ago but did not meet any wolves that walked on their hind legs. Lame.) and why children fear the dark. It is where the beasts and supernatural beings live and dwell. So when everything in life turns its back on a man, even God, he knows this is the one place where he can belong. The mind is no longer structured and sensible; it has gone wild. And so, like attracts like, the woods comprise of wilderness and unsubdued Nature so ergo his retreat. Being such a widespread fear, the Wild Man popped up everywhere throughout the Renaissance in artwork, poetry, and architecture. Mummers and children dressed in leaves and cloth to mimic shaggy hair and danced and teased like a Fool. It’s possible this could be the origin of Sasquatch of the Pacific Northwest or even werewolves, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote about Wild Men (known as Dunlendings) as did other medieval warfare and sci-fi writers, and they were even included as circus attractions for a time.

I love the idea of going mad, growing hair everywhere, and fleeing to the woodland to live with the beasts; forfeiting all rationality. It’s both horrific and beautiful; to just give it all up and go. I do not fear the Wild Man; I envy him. And why can’t forests be a source of mental healing? Maybe that’s why crazy people ran to the woods of medieval times. If forest therapy is practiced in Japan, and a rejuvenating hike resets my perspective and feels refreshing for me; then maybe the wodewose had it right all along. Maybe we’re not meant to be cultured and societal, living behind brick and mortar; but intended to live in the darkest, thickest, and wildest of woods. What society calls “the crazies,” exiled and ostracized. Maybe there’s something there that we can learn from the Wild Man.

Going Wodwo

By Neil Gaiman

Shedding my shirt, my book, my coat, my life

Leaving them, empty husks and fallen leaves

Going in search of food and for a spring

Of sweet water.

I’ll find a tree as wide as ten fat men

Clear water rilling over its gray roots

Berries I’ll find, and crab apples and nuts,

And call it home.

I’ll tell the wind my name, and no one else.

True madness takes or leaves us in the wood

halfway through all our lives. My skin will be

my face now.

I must be nuts. Sense left with shoes and house,

my guts are cramped. I’ll stumble through the green

back to my roots, and leaves and thorns and buds,

and shiver.

I’ll leave the way of words to walk the wood

I’ll be the forest’s man, and greet the sun,

And feel the silence blossom on my tongue

like language.

Discrimination found in Heavy Metal

I’m standing toward the back of the crowd on the bottom floor of Studio Seven in SoDo with my roommate, Danessa and my friend, Roxanne; trying to listen to a shitty opening band patiently. My feet are killing me. A small price to pay, however, for a great black metal band that was to come next! My roommate had bought us tickets for my birthday as soon as she had heard they were coming to town, knowing I’ve been dying to see them again since I went to their concert last summer in Europe; it was such a good show, I even wrote about it in my diary. And here I was, about to see them again for the second time in one year (pumped!).

Impatiently, Danessa left to check out the bands’ merch tables located just behind us. As she was scanning the shirts and hoodies that belong to the upcoming headliner we were there to see, she noticed something strange printed on one of them: 503. On the back, was an image of army tanks. The 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion was Hitler’s most prized tank battalion used for Nazi Germany in WW2. Being a history buff, and having Jewish in her family, she brought it up to Roxanne between sets. I brushed it off as empty shock-rock that didn’t mean anything. Roxanne, however, knew of the band’s notorious racism. Apparently, they’re very open about it and were kicked out of several venues for their proclamations against Muslims and Jews. Being Polish herself, she just chooses to separate the music from the artist mentally. Danessa was visibly sickened from this information, but not because of their beliefs. But because she financially supported them expressing this to their fans, verbally and through their merchandise, supporting their cause by purchasing two tickets to their show. However, knowing it was my birthday, she pretended not to be bothered as they came on. The crowd cheered and hollered when they began their first song. I tried to be like Roxanne, and segregate my personal thoughts from the music, but I was having a hard time; my stomach was turning. As someone in front of me raised their arm forward with the sign of the horns, I thought, ‘That’s just a few fingers off from an entirely different gesture’. And that was it I was done. I hugged Roxanne goodbye as my roommate, and I left.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for racism, homophobia, and misogyny to occur in the world of heavy metal. There have been several bands over the years who have shown up in the news, Rolling Stone, and social media for exclaiming their views on white supremacy and screaming discriminatory comments toward the crowd about gays and women. And there’s been a ton of articles and similar blog posts within our metal community discussing this subject. And I’m not trying to prove a point here or to place blame. I’m only sharing my views on this matter. If you haven’t noticed, I have chosen not to mention any band or artist’s names in this blog post because it’s not about finger pointing to anyone specific, but about an issue as a whole. Plus, I don’t feel the need to bring any more attention to these bands, even negative attention because I feel they don’t even deserve that.

I got to talking to my black metal-loving friend Gemma, who also saw that band with me last summer in Europe, about the subject of racism and Nazism found in black metal, and other subgenres. She had said to me, “…art – especially performance art like music – is a relationship between the artist and the audience. I guess in that sense, it’s not even a political statement to boycott hateful bands, it’s just relationship incompatibility. Because art is important to me, I continually fall prey to “beauty is truth” trope, and, finding “truth” in the art that appeals to me, I attribute some sort of wisdom to the people who create it. I can’t get how someone can create expressions of the highest human ideals while being a total dick in regular life (I guess I’m typically American in my distaste for complexity that way). Especially when it comes to black metal. That art actually is ugly, so we shouldn’t be surprised when it comes from an ugly place, like a heart filled with hatred. I mean, [that band] has been around since the early days, they used to hang with sick fuckers who killed each other and burned churches. And I think that’s why hate’s more common in black metal than other genres. Probably there’s an elevated level of stupid in any genre that sounds aggressive and celebrates ugly, but black metal was literally invented by psychopaths, so of course they’ll attract more of the same”.

Who has the time to research every….single…metal band to determine their political stance on minority ethnicities? Many of the lyrics are so hard to understand, being pronounced with screams, most of the time I have no idea what they’re saying. Maybe the black metal I blare into my headphones while I’m doing my school studies is some really hanus shit. Or maybe it’s about buttermilk biscuits; I don’t know! I just like how it makes me feel. And so the majority of progressively minded metalheads are a Polish Roxanne; choosing to look the other way and concentrate only on the way they feel when they hear this music. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame Roxanne, and I don’t blame metalheads who choose to do that; it’s hard to let that feeling go. But for me, if I learn this about them, I can’t not let that go. This “don’t ask, don’t tell” copout may work for some people, but not me. As a child, I was raised by discrimination at home and taught by prejudice in school. I’m done with it; I’m too old and too impatient for that anymore. I just don’t get the point of being racist, especially in today’s world of international business and social media. And how do you expect to do business out of your art when you act like that? Because it is an Art of Hate, and that’s the excusable point. As soon as they get offensive, their managers may shake their fingers at them when the reporters make it viral, but then they’re touring again and back on the charts.

Hate does not have to exist against each other. The reason I love metalheads is that of how loving and accepting they are toward each other. If this comes from a place of understanding what it is like to be ostracized as metalheads, then why can’t it be that way toward others who have felt the same? And what of the metalheads that are not Caucasian or heterosexual or male or all the above? Are they not equipped to be as metal as you? Why waste this on minorities and not direct it toward disagreements of your government? Be constructive and make a difference by calling out the politicians, the injustices of the privileged, and those that dress to the nines in corruption and genocide. What do you plan to accomplish with public degradation, because it ain’t gonna progress in this world; sorry to be a newsflash. It’s 2017, not 1939, move with the times or get off the stage.

(Good lord, two heavy posts in a row. Maybe my next one should be about tofu or underwear.)

Pagan Cultural Appropriation

The gong echoes across the land and immediately silences the anticipation of the public gathered in their seats. Only a distant songbird is heard somewhere in the low, morning fog. The hot breath of the nearby hounds is captured in the wet, cold air as they search the grounds for scent. No breath can be seen from the audience however, for they hold it to better focus on the voices that can now be heard. It begins low, barely audible and ubiquitous. And then they appear, as though from the Otherworld. They are clad in ambient white as they walk slowly to the center of the field, the center of the audience. Their chanting grows louder as the burning herbs and branches they clutch release great pillars of smoke and mix with the fog. The crowd, respectfully reticent, simply observe them walking in a circle, as a single row, and then exit the field from where they entered. The gong is heard again and the crowd pierces the silence with cheers, for the Tailteann games have begun.

This sporting event began as funeral games in ancient Ireland when Lugh’s mortal foster-mother, Tailtiu died. She was buried in a mound in an area that eventually became Teltown. The god, Lugh, started the Aonach to honor her and commemorate her life and people from all over Ireland would gather to watch or participate in this cultural and religious ceremony. The games would include boxing, spear throwing, horse racing, swimming, archery, sword fighting, chariot racing, arranged marriages, singing, and craft competitions, as well as many others. Eventually the games died out, with a temporary revival in the early 1920’s in a time when Ireland needed a reminder of who they are and where they came from. “It’s the elite of the free state of demonstrating that even if they’re not a republic, they are culturally independent. …With much more than a sporting event, it was part of this process of nation building of a certain Irish nationhood.” -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5FKzyvzNco

I have always wanted to create my own Tailteann games for the pagans of Seattle. Held on Lughnasadh, it would be in a rented arena or soccer field where we would open and close with a small ceremony by the local Druids. The games would vary from mud wrestling and obstacle courses, to racing and children’s performances. Most of all, however, it would be a chance to reintroduce sports and exercise, as well as teamwork and camaraderie, to our ceremonies and rituals. So why haven’t I? Simply put: Because I’m not Irish. The Tailteann games were more than just honoring Lugh and the Irish-Celtic pantheon; it was a symbolic representation of culture, history, and the political obstacles of a people over ages that I have no blood ties or connections with whatsoever. It was the very essence of the free spirit of Ireland. So if I did this, it would feel to me as though I were appropriating them. And not just because there are full-blood Irish in Seattle today, but also because it’s not my place or my right.

Which brings me to cultural appropriation. Is the Wiccan Indo-European man who decides to host a public ritual in his basement to perform a Native American coming-of-age ceremony appropriating or simply honoring? What if it was strictly a Wiccan ritual instead, but casts his Circle by burning white sage and sweetgrass? It’s smaller, but does that make a difference?


White Americans lack a cultural identity and history that we can call our own, and we thirst for it. So we have a tendency to take others’ and claim them as ours. This can be done with our hair styles, our clothes, food, conversation, make-up, and even our religions. I can’t help but be hesitant when I hear someone is performing a ritual the exact same way it was done in ancient Rome, and using the exact same language. Do they really have that right or are they simply honoring? And is it really all that important and effective if something so old was itself at one time, new? I struggle with this constantly. The problem I have with many Pagans is that they tend to “pick and choose” from various cultures and religions to better suit their needs. They want the prize, but not the sacrifice. Now, religion is the language of the soul. It is not skin or blood deep. If an Iranian wants to practice Santerian and go through all the devotions, prayers, and sacrifices to become this, then who am I to say they’re appropriating? If Kali tells a white woman to give everything up and devote themselves completely to her, why can’t she? If I want to get a tattoo of a Nordic rune on my shoulder, even though I’m not Norwegian or a Heathen, but because it symbolizes something very deeply personal to me, should I be able to? And when does cultural appropriation start to bleed into racism?

My friend attended a wonderful panel at Pantheacon 2015 about appropriation versus honoring. If you get the chance, I recommend hearing the podcast here:

I don’t know the answers to these questions I’m presenting and I may never. But I do know that I will constantly question everything I do in my practice to be sure I am not appropriating a culture or a deity or an idea by choosing something, stripping its identity, and making it mine. My own identity deserves better and so does theirs. So should I recreate the Tailteann games or should I create something alternative altogether? If we question our beliefs and practices and work toward honoring instead of appropriating, I believe we can grow as better individuals, as a better country, and as better Pagans. I challenge you to look at your own beings and dissect yourself. Start these conversations with your friends and get their opinions, and start talking about it. If we keep our mouths and our minds shut, we won’t grow and develop as humans.




A Questionable Love

I have a deep secret. One that which contradicts modern society’s social and legal ethics, and may cause you to question my mental stability. A hundred years ago, I would have been institutionalized or exiled. Three hundred, I might have been stoned. But I don’t care what you may think or your judgements; I need to get it off my chest.

I am infatuated and in love with my pocket knife. I don’t mean I think it’s kinda cool and handy. I mean cherry-blossoms-falling-on-a-warmly-lit-Spring-morning-with-a-visually-fuzzy-parameter-and-puppies-wrapped-in-fresh-white-linens kind of love. I fucking love my knife and everything about it. From the feel of it perfectly fitting in the grip of my hand, to the quick spring of the blade’s erection with just a slight pressure of my thumb. With a 3 1/2 inch blade, it can penetrate or slice anything. It is light as a feather, strong as a bull, and every centimeter of its long shaft and tip is black. (I told you.)

“There never was a good knife made of bad steel” -Benjamin Franklin

When I had decided that I would like to start carrying a pocket knife for little every day uses like slicing vegetables, trimming my nails, cutting string and cords, and helping me open Amazon boxes; I did a little online surfing to find a good, light, multi-purpose blade. Outside Magazine rated a Kershaw knife to be the best for the modern Jack-of-all-trades and so I furthered my research until I found the perfect one. Like chips with guac, the partially serrated Kershaw Black Blur Glassbreaker was a match made in heaven. It doesn’t matter if I’m wearing business slacks or jeans, it fits in every pocket so comfortably it’s as though it were stitched in. I love the SpeedSafe opening mechanism that pops open the blade so quickly it’s almost a switchblade! The handle is made of anodized aluminum to keep it lightweight, durable, and scratch resistant. The handle even has a carbide tip that can break a windshield in case of emergencies. And of course being all black, it matches every outfit of mine. Seriously, this guy is my other half. Like a tiny Ninja warrior in my pocket who always has my back.

Also, I noticed something changed when I began to wear my knife in public. It’s like I was suddenly placed into this social club of knife-carrying men. A deep understanding and unsaid acknowledgement toward me by other guys who would see my knife’s clip, point to theirs, and then telepathically say, “You are a Knife-bearer, Frodo. To bear a Knife of Power is to be alone”. Apparently a clip is a tiny metal, secret societal emblem. Motorcyclists belong to something similar. Every time they encounter another, they acknowledge each other with a slight hand gesture of their first two fingers together, as though they’re invoking Baphomet. But who doesn’t like to feel like they belong to something they share with other peers? Maybe it’s derived from our evolution when we realized it was easier to survive in a tribe than without. Regardless, it’s comforting to know there are others out there who understand the extremely questionable fondness we have for our pocket knives.

Now, some individuals equate carrying a pocket knife to carrying a gun. A small knife is very different than a firearm. You have to know how to throw a knife just right for it to land blade first into your enemy at the distance they are, as well as where to aim for it be lethal. A gun can kill by pointing and pulling a trigger. How many young children have accidentally died or killed others by playing with a gun versus playing with a knife? Knives are dangerous and can kill, yes. But so is a brick or a bat if you know how to aim just right. According to the FBI, more than 8,500 deaths in 2011 was caused by a firearm, whereas over 1,000 was from a knife (https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-8). Guns are made for one purpose, knives are made for many. “Someone once told me that religion is like a knife: You can stab someone with it, or you can slice bread with it.” -Vera Farmiga

It all has to do with intention and I have gone everywhere with this guy. I backpacked across Iceland with it. I’ve worn it to meetings, concerts, games, restaurants, you name it! One time I took it along on a road trip across the country, mailed it to myself, and flew back. When a bouncer at a nightclub asks to temporarily confiscate my knife, I refuse and leave because I’m the jealous kind. I remember when I once couldn’t find it for two days. TWO DAYS! All the happiness had left the world and I was a beast ready to rip out chunks of drywall and smash furniture to dust in order to find my precious! I felt so vulnerable and incomplete. Come to find out, it was simply misplaced within the dark abyss that is my closet. But that’s when I learned that it had become more than just a tool or a weapon, it was a security blanket. I’m not sure if I’m okay with this or not but I suppose we all have little security blankets in our lives. And what better form of one to be had then if it were to be a handy pocket knife.





Know Thyself

What a winter. I haven’t posted here for three and a half months with lots of reasons for this, of course. Going to Christmas parties, Solstice parties, and hosting my own and first-ever Yule party. Work always gets busier this time of year and the class I was taking at the time was the hardest one for me yet (woe to the Algebra student). I drank and ate a ton and never went to the gym and so I developed my annual “winter belly”. And then of course the new president of the United States was elected and inaugurated, shocked the country and the world, and created a butterfly effect everywhere.

For some people, when life gets very real and very crazy like this, they lash out in anger and protests. Emphatically going through the motions. However, I tend to close up. I’m a rabbit after all, and so I burrow myself deep into the Earth until I feel it is time to emerge again. You could accuse me of hiding and retreating and not doing my part to fight or participate, sure. But that’s not true, either. I am fighting, everyday. See, I am in school not to better my education, my income, and change careers because I’m sick of the art community. Those are added bonuses, whipped cream on a mocha. I am getting my Bachelor’s in Environmental Science so that I can make a difference. So that I can be one of the many who will help to recover this planet from our destruction. Every single day I log onto my student website, I am fighting. Those who are marching for women’s rights and for the rights of every minority; they are fighting and representing their freedom of voice. And so am I.

My original plan when I graduated was to go onto grad school and earn my MBA or MS in Environmental Policy and Management. Very vague degrees that allows me to find a career in a multitude of options, which was kind of the point since I’m still very new to this field in a professional sense. Then the inauguration occurred. The impossible was just made possible and every small seed of hope I had for it to be annulled-due to Russia’s involvement, Jill Stein fixing everything with a recount, someone leaking vital and criminal information, or Ashton Kutcher telling us we’ve been Punk’d-dissolved. That shitty morning after feeling sank in with the world’s biggest hangover headache. And I suddenly remembered Obama’s challenge from his farewell speech: “If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life. If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clip board, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.”

Challenge accepted.

I changed my grad school plans and decided right then and there, that I was going to law school and earn my Juris Doctor in Environmental Law. With a shit ton of dedication, time and money, internships, and experience; I will shoot to work for the federal involvement of environmental quality and laws of protection. I will help oversee and care for the National Parks and reserves, recommend actions and decisions to the White House, remove or enact legal implications, and help to make a major international difference. And if this doesn’t end up becoming my career with this education, then worst case scenario I will work for a local courthouse with a job title of Nature’s Lawyer. Which is still pretty badass and effective in my book! If Trump is going to push for more finite resource industries like coal and oil and ignore climate change, then I need to step up my game so as to compensate. It is why I’m here and what my god asks of me.

It’s a high, let me tell you; finally knowing your purpose and what you want to be when you grow up. Your path laid right out with no other trails. I understand things can change and shift and I am open to allow this. But I know without a doubt, since I was 12 years old, that environmental advocacy is who I am. I encourage each of you, if you feel stuck or depressed with your career or with the current state of America, to ask yourself, ‘Is this me?’ And if it’s not, then it doesn’t matter how old you are or how much debt you have or will have if you changed, make it happen. We may have multiple lives, but this is the only one you get as this person in this body on this planet. You owe it to yourself to not waste a moment more of it not living it to your full potential of happiness and change.

“Most people in this world have no idea why they’re here or what they want to do. You do. You have a mission, a reason for being here. You’re not here by chance.” -Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 7, episode 12)