Just a few thoughts

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Kitchen Altar

I thought I would share this with you guys so you can see how simple it is.

I'm not a big fan of clutter on my altar, and living in a small place has forced me to get creative because I don't have room for a permanent large altar. This is just a big, antique ashtray with two stones representing masculine and feminine, a candle (which sort of doubles as a sort of miniature hearth flame), a stone for air, and a pretty bottle my husband bought me with some water in it. The bottom of the ashtray has sea salt to absorb negativity.

I love altars that are set up on small tray like things. I'm working on one in the bedroom right now, and I'm thinking of setting one up beside the bathtub. A while back I saw an altar set up in what looked like a very small fish bowl. Sometimes you have to get creative and the results can be great.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Update about my V2 experience

I just wanted to post a brief update about what's been going on with my e-cig experience (click the linky to read my review of the Standard Plus Kit). I know I still need to review the pieces from the kit my husband got that differed from my kit, but more on that in a minute.

My husband's kit came with a PowerCig. Basically, it's like a USB powered battery that you plug into your computer or other USB port, attach your cartridge, and vape. No worries about dying batteries, etc. It was awesome! But, about two weeks ago it started acting funny, but at first I brushed it off as nothing. Then it stopped working unless my laptop was upside down...Yeah, that was fun, and no I'm not going to explain how I discovered that it worked when my laptop was upside down lol.

So, I contacted V2's customer service via the chat on their site and I was advised to try cleaning the threads. Tried that and using several other USB ports, no luck. A few days ago I contacted them again and explained what was going on and what I had tried, and now I'm waiting on a replacement. Just like that. Gotta love warranties :) All I have to do is send them the defective one in the envelope they're sending me (within 30 days of receiving it, I think) and it's replaced, no charge.

Really, the only things I'm not loving are these three:

  1. The Classic Menthol is a limited edition flavor and it isn't available in e-liquid.
  2. The vanilla isn't available in e-liquid, either.
  3. The free shipping is torture! It's not really V2's fault, I don't think. It's just the longest ship time of any shipping options, and I'm very impatient lol.
Tomorrow will be 42 days since I smoked my last cigarette. Yay! Absolutely in love with my V2 and, again, I highly recommend it for anyone interested in switching to an e-cig.

If you know someone who wants to try V2, you can still use the coupon code 1081278 for 15% off a starter kit.

And just in case anyone is wondering, no I'm not being paid or compensated in any way to say nice things about V2. They do have an affiliate program, but I'm not signed up for it. However, if anyone ever does use my code I supposedly get a $15 credit, so that's pretty cool. When you place your first order (this might only be for starter kits), you get some business type cards and a code to write on them, and then you can distribute them if you want to, or post your code online (like I have). So it's pretty cool, in my opinion. The person with a code gets store credit and the person using the code gets a 15% discount on a starter kit (then they get a code, and the cycle continues).

While I'd really love that $15 credit, I would post my code regardless because A) Who doesn't love discounts? and B) I really like my V2 and if someone happens upon my blog and wants to try an e-cig, if I can help them get one a little cheaper, I think that's fantastic.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Stupid Labels

After receiving a mental "bitchslap" from my best friend the other day (I requested it), I have finally, once again, made peace with myself.

I dislike labels and I always have. I understand that they have a purpose and can be very useful, but sometimes the need to label ourselves can become so frustrating that it overshadows other, more important things. I've had this problem before. I was so desperate to put a label on myself a few years ago because other Pagans or Witches would ask me about my path and I was struck dumb. They wanted to know what I was and I had no idea what to tell them. All I knew was that I started off with Wicca and eventually discovered that it wasn't quite right for me.

After I ventured off on my own little path, I had no idea what to call myself. I suppose the easiest thing would be to say that I'm an Eclectic Witch. I lean towards a more laid back, homey approach with my Craft, so I identify a lot with Cottage, Green, Hearth and Kitchen Witchery, with a bit of folk magick thrown in, I suppose. Spiritually, I'm a melting pot. I have traces of Recon elements, Buddhism, Wicca, Shamanic practices, and who knows what else, all wrapped up in this complex (yet insanely simple) web that is my spiritual path.

I realized, while meditating this morning, that my issue lately with the Norse Gods was my fascination and pull towards Norse recon groups. I'm not a Recon of any sort, and to try to adopt the practices altogether would feel forced and fake for me. I have a lot of respect for the various Recon groups out there, though, and I've found bits of personal truth and "rightness" within those groups. I think that all the bad things I've heard about Asatru, Odinism, etc. made me second guess myself. I was feeling like I couldn't incorporate anything from Asatru and the like because I wasn't actually a part of any of those religions. I had the same problem with Wicca back in the day because while I identified with some aspects of Wicca, I was not a Wiccan. I took a lot of heat from some Wiccans for that because I would talk about aspects of Wicca and they would go off about how I was disrespecting their religion by incorporating parts of it in my practice, without actually being Wiccan.

I've never really believed that one has to declare oneself a member of a particular religion or spirituality to find beauty and truth in it. For example, I've known Christians and Atheists who found beauty and truth in Buddhist teachings, and incorporated those things into their life. So, while I identify with certain things from Asatru, Celtic Recons, Wicca, Buddhism, etc., I'm not any of those things. And the truest beauty of Paganism, in my opinion, is being able to form your own spiritual path and make it unique for you. You can find truth in any religion, philosophy, etc. and add it into your practices. I know there are people out there who think this is horrible and should not be done, but I'm not one of those people.

It took a mental bitchslap from my friend and a brief meditation on something totally unrelated to snap me out of the daze I was in, but I've finally regained my senses and see things clearly again. I never believed that I had to be a card carrying member of any religion to incorporate the parts that felt true for me into my own path, but faced with change, I panicked and started looking for an excuse to not go with my gut and try to figure out where the Gods are leading me next.

Religion, Mythology and Hollywood

First it was Wicca and Witchcraft, now the Norse Gods... When I first started learning about Paganism (specifically Wicca), it was gaining  popularity in the entertainment industry. The Craft, Harry Potter, Buffy, Charmed, etc. were "all the rage," and I was accused of being drawn to it only because it was becoming so prominent in  movies, TV and books. Sure, all those movies and shows and books were tons of fun (I'm still a self-proclaimed PotterHead), but let's face it, they're not realistic. We saw snippets of truth in some of them, but we real Pagans and Witches know we're not going to twitch our hands and freeze time, or wave a wand and float someone ten feet off the ground.

Even when I was a kid I knew that wasn't anywhere near reality. I had a fantastic imagination and spent tons of time pretending just like other kids do, but I took my studies seriously and that included my religious studies. When I sat down with a book about Wicca, I was ready to learn about real Witches and an alternative belief system that felt right for me. Eventually I "outgrew" Wicca (which isn't to say that it isn't a legitimate religion, but for me it was just a stepping stone to finding my own path) now here I am today, feeling pulled towards a new path yet again. And now I'm facing the same issues I faced when I started learning about Witchcraft and Wicca.

A little more back story before I dive into this any more:

When other kids were oohing and ahing over Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythology (not that I didn't, so some degree), I was drawn in by Celtic and Norse myths. Maybe it's an ancestral thing, who knows? Anyway, I remember being around  10/11ish years old, still very new to the Pagan/Wiccan ways, and realizing that how I had always pictured God was more along the lines of Odin, Thor, Cernunnos, etc. Not just the picture I conjured in my head, but attributes as well. These Deities felt right to me, particularly Thor and Odin. When I prayed (yes, some Pagan pray), I prayed to Odin and Thor, usually without realizing it was Them I was talking to. When I started learning about the Norse Gods, things "clicked" for me, much the same way they clicked when I first discovered Paganism. It just felt right.

Then I went through that awful teenage stage of "Who am I?" "What do I believe?" "I should try to be a Christian like my family wants me to be, even if it feels wrong...right?" and somewhere during that phase, I lost a part of myself. I lost my connection to the Divine and I began to develop weird fears about things that had always been natural for me. I stopped being able to sense things as easily, and I just felt totally disconnected from everything. It was rough and it really only started getting better recently, but that's another story that's sort of covered in other posts.

Now, I'm feeling the pull towards the Norse Gods stronger than I have since my childhood. I've felt it for years, but I ignored it (think I mentioned that before). But, of course, this pull became most noticeable after Thor and The Avengers came out, so now I have people going on about how I'm just doing it because it's "cool," and how the stories from the movies weren't accurate. No! Really? You mean the spin that Hollywood put on the Norse Gods wasn't perfectly accurate and true?! (Sarcasm)

When I saw Thor, I was that annoying person sitting there critiquing everything about it and how it was such BS. I've lost count of the number of times my husband has had to shush me and remind me things like that are just movies, meant solely for entertainment. I know they're just for fun, but I still couldn't stop myself from going off about it and even feeling like the movies were disrespectful to the Norse Gods to some degree. No other show or movie has gotten to me quite that badly before lol. Usually I rant for a minute, then I'm good and can enjoy the movie.

Basically this has been a totally pointless post, and I just really wanted to say that just because something is popular and people become drawn to the concept, do not automatically assume they're doing it JUST because it's something new and fun. Sometimes it takes a work of fiction that piques someone's interest to get them on the path to finding their own truth. Of course there will be people who do it just to be "cool," but remember that everyone has to be introduced to their spiritual path somehow, and sometimes that begins with fiction.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pagan Blog Project- B is for Books

I'm not really sure if I'm going about this the right  way, but I'm giving the Pagan Blog Project 2013 a shot. I'm a little late, but I just found out it was happening this year, so here we go.

My name is Wyllow, and I have a serious book problem. I'm surrounded by books and it's like I can't stop myself from acquiring more all the time. I am a total bibliophile, a book junkie, and I wouldn't know what to do if I didn't have them.

I have a decent selection of books concerning Wicca, Witchcraft, Paganism, and other topics like astrology and divination. For years I turned to my books when I felt stuck and needed some guidance, and for the most part they were invaluable. I built my path on what I learned from them. Even if I didn't find an answer within their pages, something about flipping through them would get my brain working and my creative juices flowing (so to speak), and eventually something would come to me. But, as with so many things in life, books can only take you so far before you have to actually do something.

We can learn about so much by reading about the experiences of others, but at some point, we have to put aside the books and put what we've learned to use. Only by doing can we figure out what is really true for us and what works best for us. You can read about ten circle casting methods, but until you try some, you won't know what works for you. You could read about countless traditions and never find one that is right for you because maybe, just maybe, you need to create your own path/tradition. I know how comforting it is to stick to just learning, but I also know how rewarding it is to venture out of the comfort zone  and begin discovering things about myself, growing in my spirituality and getting creative with my Craft.

Sometimes it's hard to move past the learning and into the doing, and boy do I know it! I normally am not opposed to change, but when it's my spiritual path that's changing, I cling to what I know and burrow into my books in a pathetic attempt to avoid the change. I search for answers I already know, I flip through book after book looking for explanations, and so on. I know the books can't help me, but still I can't stop myself from turning to them time and time again. I've spent a lot of time worrying about how to label my path and what I can or cannot do, based on what others have said, and a lot of that came from my books. But, my books also helped me realize that it's ok to create my own path, it's ok to not label my path, it's ok to venture off into unkown territory and forge my own path forward.

My books are my friends, my teachers, and my mile-markers. As I look back at my time spent with them, or flip through notes I've take while reading them, I see how much I've grown. Not just because of the things they've taught me, but because of what they couldn't teach me, that I had to learn for myself.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Witching Pen books by Dianna Hardy

I'm not going to do a big, long and detailed review of each of the books, but I had to blog about them! (Click the titles to go to the Amazon page for each if you're interested.) I don't really do book reviews because, well, I really suck at them lol. But I wanted to talk about these some because I'm totally in love with Dianna Hardy's writing. No books have captivated me as much as these since the Harry Potter books. No, I'm not comparing the two in content, just in the way they held my attention and made me fall in love with the characters, etc.

I started with the short story Wilted, which is a prequel to the rest of the series and after reading it, I had to read the rest of the books. Basically, this short story gives us a glimpse of Elena & Karl (the main characters for the first novella), who are best friends,  when they were teenagers, and it gives some background about why certain things happen the way they do later on. Because it's a short story, I won't say more lest I give something away.

The first book is The Witching Pen which is a novella (it's about 170 pages). This story kept me turning pages (well, pushing the buttons on my Kindle to turn the pages) til the very end and then it left me craving me. The story was captivating, exciting, and kind of sexy. Ok, it was a lot sexy, without crossing into erotica territory. Elena and Karl, still best friends as adults, are in for a crazy ride in this novella.

Elena can't have sex or she'll lose her witchy powers. That sucks on so many levels, not the least of which being that she and her buddy Karl have the hots for each other (and have since they were teens) and they're room mates. Things are further complicated when Elena starts having super seductive dreams about a demon and a magical pen comes into her possession-- a pen that makes reality anything that's written with it. Before long, Elena has to face some serious revelations about her entire life when she discovers that she's been lied to about some pretty important things.

Next up is The Sands of Time which isn't so much about Elena and Karl, though they're still major players, as it is about their friend Amy. Amy went missing at the end of The Witching Pen and the rest of the group is working on a way to find her. Meanwhile, we meet Paul and Elizabeth May, a married couple. Elizabeth May tried to kill herself and was found by her husband, Paul. Now, Elizabeth has no memory and she's been dreaming about a mysterious panther and a leopard.

The most recent edition to the series is The Demon Bride. This story centers around an apocalyptic prophecy, Mary, and Gwain. Gwain is an angel that we met in the first book and he seems to feel a connection to Mary. Mary has been whisked away to hell and Gwain is out for blood to find her. While Mary is in hell, she begins to learn about who she really is and she and Gwain discover how their lives and destinies are intertwined.

This series made me like angels lol. I've read paranormal books that featured angels before, and I really didn't like them. This series changed my mind about them. Anyway, that point aside, I highly, highly recommend these books! Dianna has a few others out or in the works that are worth checking out as well (I just finished Releasing the Wolf, the first in a werewolf series, also very good).

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Twists and Turns With the Gods

As I may have mentioned in the past, for a very long time I felt Hekate's presence in my life. I always knew, in the back of my mind, that she was a guide and probably wouldn't be a huge presence in my life forever. However, I didn't expect things to end so suddenly. A few months ago (well, almost a year ago, really), I started to feel like she was withdrawing from my life a bit. It wasn't like, "Oh, you've pissed me off, screw you, you're on your own now kid!" It was more like, "Ah, finally you've seen where your new journey begins," with a smile attached.

Basically, everything started when I was a kid. I was completely fascinated with Norse and Celtic mythology and the Gods and other entities from those pantheons. I know I have a lot of Irish and Scotts-Irish blood, with a smidge of English, Native American and who knows what else, but I didn't really learn that until later, after the infatuation began.

For years I avoided all things Norse because of the awful things I'd heard about not only the Gods, but Asatru and the like as well. Eventually I began to discard the horror stories about the Gods because I'd come to know and love Hekate, and people had also told me how terrifying and horrible She is. But still, for some reason after reaching adulthood I didn't think the Norse Gods would be as approachable as Gods from other pantheons. No idea why, that's just how it was for some reason.

Then came the first dream that's had me puzzled for months.

 I was in a library, which I think represents a search for knowledge. It was a really, really messy library. Some bookshelves, but mostly the books were everywhere, floor to ceiling, in stacks or scattered across desks and chairs. The whole place was kind of old fashioned and I think I might have lived there, or at least owned it because I was alone with my husband (I think) and all the lights were off (or didn't exist). I was frantically searching through the books by candlelight, while my husband casually ignored my frustration as he read a book off to the side. I think the candlelight represents a search for knowledge, enlightenment, or something spiritual. Finally, in the dream, I had an "Ah ha!" moment as I came across a portion of a handwritten note (my handwriting) that only said "Woden." The rest of the piece of paper was gone and the paper was torn around the edges, but I could see traces of other words around "Woden," like I had been taking notes at some point while reading.

I rarely remember my dreams for more than two seconds after I wake up, but  this dream occurred months ago and I can still see it perfectly, and it's still a mystery to me. Others have suggested that it was Odin's way of catching my attention and testing me to see if I would try to work out the puzzle. If anyone has read this and has any thoughts to add, please do.

Since that dream, Freya, Frigg and Odin have been popping up everywhere, from other dreams to books and everything in between. It's just like when Hekate appeared in my life, only I've never experienced this with more than one Deity before. Hell, I've never felt a connection at all to more than one Deity at a time ever before, and I've only felt a connection between more than one Deity within the same pantheon once or twice (Hekate/Hestia is the only example I can think of).

Just when I started to feel like I was really getting to know Hekate, all this happened. It's so confusing and frustrating, but I knew something big like this was coming for a long time. I guess I'll just have to keep moving forward and see where this new path leads.

2013 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge

I joined this challenge (hosted by Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf) last year and now I'm doing it again. Last year I picked "Maiden," but I ended up reading 19 or 20 books, so this year I'm going with "Mother."

The challenge sign up post can be found by clicking the button below. Here are the rules, paraphrased:

1. Sign up!
2. Grab the button and link back to Melissa's blog.
3. Any full length book, fiction or non-fiction, with a main Witchy character or Witchy themes count for the challenge, just not reference books.
4. Any format is ok (ebook, hard copy, etc.)
5. Re-reads, etc. are ok.
6. List your book ahead of time, or as you go, or all at the end.
7. When you sign up, link your post about the challenge.
8. You can achieve a higher level, but not lower.
9. Sign up is open til December 15, 2013.
10. Have fun!

The levels are as follows:

Initiate: Read 1-5 Witchy Books
Maiden: Read 6-10 Witchy Books
Mother: Read 11-15 Witchy Books
Crone: Read 16-20 Witchy Books

Click the button below to check out the original post! Happy Witchy reading, everyone!


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Busy, busy! And Thoughts on V2 Flavors

I've had a tiring, busy month, but a lot of good has come from it so far. It's been four weeks since my last cigarette (to be honest, I did try to take a puff from a friend's regular cig not too long ago, to see how awful it was, but I couldn't even inhale it it was so nasty to me). I'm really, really happy with my V2. Here's a quick overview of the flavors I've tried and what I thought.

Menthol (the standard kind they have): I liked it at first, but now, out of 5 stars, I would probably only give it 2.5.  It's not all that smooth (actually, it's pretty harsh) and it's not a true menthol flavor, in my opinion.

Sahara: This is a really nice, smooth, caramelly flavor. It's supposed to be a Turkish tobacco flavor, comparable to Camel and America Spirit, etc. if I remember correctly. I was never much of a "regular" tobacco smoker, always preferring menthol, but this flavor is great and my husband adores it, also. 4/5 stars.

Mint Tea: This is a slightly crisp, refreshing flavor. To me, it tastes like green tea and mint tea mixed together. 4.5/5 stars.

Peppermint: I loved the peppermint at first, but now I find it bland and not very enjoyable. It's really light in flavor and a bit harsh (in my opinion). 1.5/5 stars.

Cherry: I like the cherry, but I'm not in love with it. I'm glad  I tried it and the flavor is alright, but it isn't something  I would vape regularly. 3.5/5 stars.

Coffee: I fell in love with it when I first tried it, but then the new wore off and now I think it's just "meh." It's not bad, really, but if I vape it very frequently I find it's kind of harsh.  At first the flavor was pretty smooth and a lot like a cappuccino, but once I got about a third to half-way through the cartridges, they started tasting off and then bad. Overall, 3/5 stars.

Vanilla: I really like the vanilla! It surprised me that I did because I'm normally not a fan of vanilla anything, from ice cream to lipgloss and everything in between. My favorite time to vape the vanilla is while sipping a cup of coffee. So yummy and gives me the illusion of a hint of flavor in my coffee (on the rare occasion I want that, I usually drink my coffee black), and the two flavors go sooo well together. It's also nice as a sort of "vaping dessert" lol. Overall, 5/5 stars.

Classic Menthol (limited edition flavor): This is tied with vanilla as my favorite V2 flavor. I absolutelyl love the Classic Menthol. It's not too harsh or too mild and actually tastes like menthol to me. I'm stocking up on this stuff in case they do away with it again. I wish they would make it a permanent edition flavor because I'm in love with it and a lot of other people seem to feel the same way. 5/5 stars.

I'm looking into e-liquids from other venders because we've started filling cartridges, but I haven't decided on anything for sure yet. When I do, I'll be sure to post about those. If you know someone who might be ordering a starter kit from V2, you can use the following code for 15% off the kit: 1081278