I was also very diligent about spiritual studies and record keeping. I'd read something about spirituality (with a heavy focus on Odin) every day and I blogged about it. I wrote down my spiritual thoughts and kept copious notes on how x, y, and z affected me or made me feel.
My altar existed and changed with the seasons. There were fall leaves draped across the edge that got replaced with Yule garland and trees when the time was appropriate. I was working on prayers for prayer beads and trying to come up with morning prayers to say every morning.
Spiritually speaking, I was very busy and I had a decently full schedule. And...now I don't. I don't burn candles on Wednesday, I very rarely put on things for Freyja and my Runes haven't been touched since...well, since before I moved into this house about a month ago.
This makes me quite sad as my spirituality fed me and was a huge part of who I am. I feel like it's missing in my life and I want it back.
Finding time for it must be a priority for me right now. I live with four other people and have become involved in video games and weekly hangouts that I very much enjoy, but I'm sure I can fit in some spiritual studies, too. I make time for writing, after all. Surely I can do the same for spirituality.
I think I'm going to declare today a Temple Day. Even though I feel like shit (I think I'm getting a cold). Usually when I set aside days to devote to spirituality I do it in two's--one to focus on each deity. I don't know if I'll do that or not, but today at least is going to be all about rekindling my spirituality. It's going to start with reading a few blog posts about spirituality and then fixing up my (barely existent) altar. I really want to get back into journaling as well.
- Current Mood: determined
Among the many good things Mandela did, he advocated for the release of Timorese freedom-fighter Xanana Gusmão from prison:
Mandela not only called for the release of Xanana Gusmao, but also insisted on meeting with the latter – and got his way […] Soeharto at first refused Mandela’s request to meet Xanana with the question ‘Why do you want to meet him? He is only a common criminal.’ When Mandela responded by saying ‘that is exactly what they said about me for 25 years,’ Soeharto promptly and magnanimously responded by arranging for Xanana to be brought from prison to the State Guest House for an intimate dinner with Mandela.--Jamsheed Marker, East Timor: A Memoir of the Negotiations for Independence, quoted in Aboeprijadi Santoso, “Mandela, Indonesia and the liberation of Timor Leste,” Jakarta Post, 22 July 2013
1. Giveaway -- better late than never, but I'm finally announcing the winner of THE DARK BETWEEN blog tour contest. Congratulations to:
Heidi Davis -- a package of goodies will be coming your way very soon!
2. The Sound of Music -- I'm rather annoyed with myself for having missed NBC's live production last night. I've never seen the Broadway musical, and I've certainly never seen NBC do anything this risky or interesting. Seems like the reviews are mixed. What did you think? Did it put you in the Christmas spirit?
3. Speaking of Christmas -- my friend Shel has featured a stocking stuffer extravaganza on her blog all this week. Check it out! She has compiled roughly a bazillion ideas for filling your stockings.
It's not a blizzard, by any means, but it's enough to shut things down in these parts. The house is dark and quiet--even the cat is sleeping in--but I had to get out and have a tromp in the snow.
5. Death Comes to Pemberley -- here's the first trailer for the BBC adaptation:
I didn't really enjoy the book, but I'm certainly game for a TV adaptation. (Chatsworth! Anna Maxwell Martin! Cravats!) The tone seems terribly dark for Austen, but of course I'll watch whenever it makes its way across the pond. Will you?
Have a wonderful weekend!
Courtesan, actress, medium -- spy.
1805: Europe stands poised on the brink of war.
Elza is content with her life in the demi-monde, an actress and courtesan in the glittering society of France's First Empire, but when her former lover is arrested for treason, Elza is blackmailed into informing on her friends and associates. She has one alternative -- to become the secret agent of the most feared man in Europe, Napoleon Bonaparte!
France's invasion of England is imminent, but a spy in the camp of the Grand Army threatens the secret plans. Taking the Emperor's commission to catch the spy means playing the deadly game of spy versus counterspy. However, this is no ordinary espionage, but backed by the power of the witches of England determined to hold England's sea wards against invasion. Only an agent who is herself a medium can hope to unravel their magic in time -- with the life of the man Elza loves hanging in the balance.
From the theaters of Paris to the sea cliffs that guard the Channel, from ballrooms and bedrooms to battlefields corporeal and astral, Elza must rely on her wits, her courage, her beauty, and her growing talents as a medium for she must triumph -- or die!
And the last two chapters are the best thing I've ever written. Seriously.
Milo insists on drinking out of the tree stand, even though he has a perfectly nice bowl of fresh water in the kitchen.
Blueberry and Muffin wearing their Dollar Store finds!
And Cookie enjoying the lights on the top of his cage.
Happy Holidays from my house to yours!
- Current Mood: happy
I haven’t been online much this week — more running around than usual and less reading/writing time — so this week’s links are abbreviated.
That said, anyone who reads science fiction or is interested in the genre should read Paul Graham Raven‘s review of Wikiworld by Paul Di Filippo. In the first three paragraphs, Raven analyzes the state of science fiction today to contextualize his review. Brilliant stuff. Here’s a long excerpt to give you a taste, but click through for the whole thing.
“SCIENCE FICTION” is in crisis.
The sign “science fiction” is now referent to two related yet distinct signifieds, and the crisis only inheres in one of them. Sf as a literary mode, as a rhetoric, has always staunchly resisted any attempt at precise functional definition, but is easy enough to locate (albeit approximately, as one might locate a fogbank, or a region of civil unrest) in the contemporary cultural landscape. As a way of exploring the relationships between people and their technologies (and the worlds constructed by those relationships), Sf is in rude health, and busily metastasizing its way into cinema, television, music, art, theory, policy strategy, and more; as Gary K. Wolfe puts it, the genre has evaporated, diffusing into other media, other generic forms. It is an increasingly active fraction of the global cultural atmosphere; modal science fiction has conquered by transcending its original materiality.
“Science fiction”, then – the science fiction that is in crisis – is the residue left behind by that evaporative process. That residue comprises the generic-ness from which the label genre stems: in this case, the outdated stylistic tics and aesthetics of a marginal pulp-modernist medium, the clichés, the well-worn assumptions and comfortable call-backs, and the outdated institutional values in which they were nurtured and framed.
The night before last, A and I were discussing his PhD thesis. He spent the past eight months coding and doing installations, and now he’s at the point of synthesis — pulling his ideas together, outlining them, identifying any holes, and making plans for writing. As he’s been working through his specific ideas, he also posted a larger question about artistic research, which is a phrase we first encountered in Switzerland. How widespread is this idea?
His questions about artistic research reminded me a little of the new PhD programs in Writing. Before, an MFA was the terminal degree for writers, and it’s a degree focused on practice. PhD programs have a theoretical or scholarly component. I strongly believe that good writers have to be good readers, but I also wonder about the balance between theory and practice.
And for a final link, another fun video. After Amazon.com trolled the world with its proposed drone delivery program, Waterstones bookstore trolled them right back:
My characters, as always, are in deep, deep trouble. In this case, I can't really imagine it ending well for them... but you never know...
Here's the meme:
"The challenge is to list 15 books you've loved and been transformed by, right off the top of your head."
So, off the top of my head (no fiddling, deep thought, attempts at cleverness or editing allowed!)
1. The Faraway Tree books, Enid Blyton
2. My Second Big Story Book (a collection of fairytales from all around the world in their non-sanitised form).
3. Charmed Life, Diana Wynne Jones
4. Memory and Dream, Charles de Lint
5. Cloven Hooves, Megan Lindholm
6. The Go-between, L.P. Hartley
7. The Castle of the Dark, Tanith Lee
8. The Dark is Rising, Susan Cooper
9. Dragonquest, Anne McCaffrey
10. The Book of Atrix Wolfe, Patricia McKillip
11. Medea, Miranda Seymour
12. Faeries, Brian Froud and Alan Lee
13. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
14. The Wood Wife, Terri Windling
15. Kushiel's Dart, Jacqueline Carey
Hmmm. Which is all very interesting, as an 'off-the-top-of-my-head' list. The meme says, 'books you've been transformed by', and the books that were truly transformative for me were primarily those I read in my childhood and formative years. In fact, there are only five books on the list which I read after I left my teens.
What also strikes me is that, while I don't think of myself as purely a fantasy reader or writer, those books I adored during my formative years, and which have shaped me as a reader and writer are largely from the broad fantasy stable. Everything from high fantasy with the McCaffrey to early urban fantasy with the de Lint, to mythology-inspired fantasy with the Zimmer Bradley, Cooper and Seymour. I've cheated a bit with 'Faeries', as it's primarily an art book. That said, it is a book I've loved since I was seven years old, and which has certainly been transformative for my imagination.
Also, while all of the books on the list remain treasured members of my library, there are many of them I won't read again. They were important for me at particular stages of my life, but they're not novels I feel any desire to read again now.
Looking back over the list, I can see that most of the books were ones that not only shaped my imagination, but which also taught me lessons in the art of writing; what is possible, and how it can be achieved.
Who'd have thought a quick meme could end up revealing so much about me?
Anybody else want to play?
Due to bringing carloads of Stuff here from my Dad's bungalow, our house is a mess and it has reached the point where I can no longer ignore it. Also, now Dad's post is being re-directed here, Stuff (in the form of begging letters from charities) drops daily through the letterbox, adding to the clutter that's already here. I decided it had got to stop. I am therefore busily writing letters and emails requesting that Dad be removed from their mailing lists.
Charities are like seagulls on the promenade at the seaside. If you make the mistake of feeding one, before you know it you are being mobbed by hordes of birds, demanding more and more! I do worry that they put elderly people under pressure to donate when they may not be able to afford to. I also dislike the waste of all the "freebies" like pens and Christmas cards and address stickers that they send. The most bizarre was a small brown stone sent by Farm Africa, who claimed that mothers boil up stones to give the children the illusion that they are cooking dinner. I know they are trying to guilt me into donating, but all that happens is that I get cross and want nothing more to do with them. Anyway, I hope that today's purge will at least reduce the flood to a more manageable trickle.
Then, over the weekend, I need to sort and wash all the items that I brought home in order to donate to our local Red Cross charity shop.
The other thing I've done this morning is to email Amazon to inform them that someone has set up an account using one of my email addresses. Obviously it's not the address that is linked to my own Amazon account and it's not one I really use at the moment, but I might want to start using it next year, so it needs sorting out. For a while I thought that my near-namesake would realise that she wasn't getting email receipts for all the trashy Kindle romances she was buying, but it seems that she hasn't. So I've emailed Amazon using that address and asking for it to be disconnected from the account that isn't mine. I will let you know what transpires!
- Current Mood: efficient
"Nelson Mandela was a freeman of our capital city and of the world. The name Mandela stirred our conscience and our hearts. It became synonymous with the pursuit of dignity and freedom across the globe. Today, a great light has been extinguished. The boy from the Transkei has finished his long walk. His journey transformed not just South Africa, but humanity itself. As we mark his passing, we give thanks for the gift of Nelson Mandela. We ask that his spirit continues to inspire, guide and enlighten us as we strive to bring freedom and dignity to the family of man, our brothers and sisters, across the world.
"I offer my deepest sympathies, on behalf of the Irish Government and people, to his family, to his friends and supporters, and to the Government and the people of South Africa."