My own posts lately have been from poorly dictated Kindle emails and so they are very unorganized. Here I want to concisely list the projects on which I’m working – and the deep changes they have caused.
Rhiannon Restoration Pagan Prison Support Project
Well, I am relieved and excited that 750 pages of handouts about Paganism and living a Value Based Life are on their way to Dublin Federal Correction Institute for women. The handouts might be four pages but the majority is around 50 going up to 100 pages. Each handout is enough information to have the cultural context, ritual practices, and thoughts from different Pagan practitioners about the same religion or topic.
I also sent all of them as attachments to the Anarchist Black Cross. Rebecca Rubin from the Earth Liberation Front was a prisoner at Dublin and put the Pagan Circle in touch with me. Whistleblower Jeremy Hammond from Anonymous was cellmates with one of the few pagans in his prison who is not an Odinist ie white supremacist gang hiding under religion. Unfortunately they are the majority of pagans in men’s prisons. Through Jeremy even though his former cellmate didn’t write me I was able to send him a copy of Raven Kaldera’s book for Northern Tradition Pagans in prison entitled “Candles in the Cave.”
Copies were also sent to Black and Pink which is an organization of LGBT prison abolitionist activists who also have a penpal program. One woman with whom I email and write who is really wonderful wants penpals so I’m hoping to connect her with Black and Pink. I really suggest volunteering to be a penpal with this organization because LGBT persons in prison have the highest rate of being raped and abused. Mail call is public and when people in the prison see that somebody on the outside cares enough to write a letter and send some postcards this results in harm reduction. You might not think that a letter could do that but it can. As in the “free world” the LGBT community in prison has a lot of Pagans who are not white supremacist scumbags. I have volunteered to send 100 pages of pagan handouts to pagans in the program. I just need their address and what are their main interests.
I’m going to share the list of handouts with everyone. They are mostly cut-and-paste from books and online. You can send 10 pages photocopies of a book to prison. By mixing that up with things found on blogs (which is very hard to credit when there’s no name so I put the name of the blog) they get a more well-rounded picture than if I just went with one pagan’s ideas. I have to say that making these handouts made me fall in love with Paganism all over again. I think because it removed all of the online bullshit and went to the actual religions – all of which are really beautiful and I remembered/learned a lot. I was having a really hard night because a friend was in solitary confinement and I was responding to his letter after reading something from British Druidry – “Truth against the World.” It made me feel home, like this is somewhere I belong even though the ceremonies and all of the Orders don’t resonate with me the basic animism which is truth this one book clearly stated had political ramifications because it’s not just about feeling good – that is New Age selfishness – and there’s no goal to be Enlightened, what there is is Serving. As a devotional polytheist to the Vanir Gods and Goddesses who is owned by Freya I felt very like I said at home. Also bringing Starhawk the Spiral Dance to one woman as a gift from my mother gave me a very inexpensive Kindle version and brought back a lot of happy memories from two decades in the Reclaiming community. Remembering going to Witch Camps, taking the Elements workshops when I was 16 in San Francisco and when I was 31 in Toronto, being part of an amazing coven of activists, organizing a coven with some of my best friends, civil disobedience training with Starhawk, being legal telephone contact during demonstrations that I could not attend back before there were cell phones – it was pretty awesome.
Handouts: Animism; Druidry (British, OBOD, ADF); Celtic polytheism; Kemetic Orthodoxy and Kemetic polytheism; Norse/Germanic/Anglo-Saxon polytheism; Hellenistic Greek polytheism; Traditional Wicca; African Diaspora Religions; Reclaiming Witchcraft; energy healing; basics of astrology; magic; elementals; self compassion meditations; centering grounding and shielding meditations; ancestor reverence; nine pages from Galina Krasskova’s “Devotional Polytheism”; Patron deities; history of modern Wicca/Paganism; Ian Corrigan’s “Discussing Pagan Theology” talk that someone recorded; creating sacred ceremonies DIY; the Pagan 12 steps (which are so different and so much better – but also if a prison restricts times when pagans can come together this is a way they might be able to get the prison to approve another pagan gathering where they can apply their religion to real life which is really important); communication skills from one of the most helpful books for anyone but especially activists entitled “Crucial Conversations”; value-based living with mindfulness, radical acceptance, distress tolerance; Group Skills (from “the Empowerment Manual” by Starhawk and “People and Permaculture” by Looby McNamara); and my own suggestions for the three most important things to do the first year – center ground shield every day, the values based living work and a daily devotional practice. Those would be a bedrock foundation for everything else and also can help with the transition out of prison which can be really rough. Also included are my own examples of rituals that would meet the needs of animists, polytheists and duotheist Wiccans. I’m actually really proud of those because it seems impossible but with at least three books a day making handouts 12 hours a day (in extreme pain of course) for at least nine or 10 days, at the end it was actually quite simple – I was in the zone.
Having ink intolerance where I cannot be around pens or books or forms I email it an hour away to a local inexpensive photocopy shop. I also was able to make handouts with different images of gods and goddesses. They don’t have so many things that we take for granted like the images we see online all of the time. To ship them first class the company wanted $31 which would have been impossible for me to do. I was really blessed with help – with a lot of things lately – by asking a friend with MCS whose husband works at the food co-op there if he could pick them up and take them to the post office and mail them the cheapest way. He said yes! Those women are probably the only people who will ever have all of the handouts LOL.
Because one of the women asked me “How do I do devotional polytheism when I don’t know what Gods or Goddesses are mine?” I sent an email to Galina Krasskova. She and I don’t know each other aside from a few emails but she wrote a wonderful piece for these women. That is definitely serving the deities – which is serving humanity, the environment, everything good and wholesome including the ambiguous chaos and tricksters which are needed to keep life changing. People who dis devotional polytheism obviously never have read her book. Speaking out of ignorance is something all Pagan religions advise against. The deities have immense investments in helping humans live in harmony with everything so when you devote yourself to a deity (or a few) you automatically become their hands and eyes in the world. There’s no way to escape that. Of course it brings up lots of inner stuff that requires being really committed to self truths no matter how painful because the deities want to heal us and that often means questioning your most sacred beliefs (all of the time in my case) and destroying whatever is harming you even if it’s comfortable. Self-care is serving the deities.
Galina then asked for the address for the contact woman at the prison so she could send some of her own books! Like I said I don’t know Galina. I know from what I’ve read she and I have different temperaments and are on different paths for the Great Change because of being called by different deities. A lot of people tell me they have trouble with her strict belief system – I am very grateful that she is not phased by what humans want from her and keeps the purity of what the Gods tell her. Because if you actually read her books the love shines through so brightly that will be a legacy far stronger than the current pagan ridiculous hate wars. After almost 33 years in Paganism there have been stupid hate wars after hate wars – remember when LGBT people were not allowed to practice Wicca? Or solitaries could not practice Wicca? Everybody have their panties about that now?
Anyway I wish that more Pagan writers were that generous. You can make a zine photocopying your best poetry, artwork and/ or essays and send those to someone in prison who is pagan. It will be far more meaningful to them than if you had 1000 followers on Facebook. I promise. Parts of some essays from the anthology edited by Nimue Brown “Pagan Planet: being, believing, belonging in the 21st Century” are included in some of the handouts as examples of living from your values. I told Nimue about this and she said that if people had questions about that topic to let her know because she would be happy to “pay it forward.”
So big shout out to Galina Krasskova and Nimue Brown! The women were so amazed that professional Pagan writers would make themselves available like this, it was a big deal.
Safe Canary Nest.org
That is my Multiple Chemical Sensitivity website which is the largest Resource for people living with MCS. I started building it when we were diagnosed but my living conditions were terrible and then I was living in the field freezing. I didn’t believe that I would live but with all of the research I did (ask any of my friends and they will tell you how much I love researching and organizing information) I didn’t want someone else to have to reinvent the wheel. For that reason I created the Safe Canary Nest.
A lot of the national American MCS organizations have died. One was hacked and their information gone. (This can show you how radically dangerous putting out information about MCS is. Remember the tobacco industry lobbyists and the government in the 1970s saying there was no link between smoking and cancer? Imagine every company that manufactures any sort of chemical product including plastics with their lobbyists and the government saying there is no link between chemicals that have never been tested on humans because they were grandfathered in, yet most are on the EPA hazardous waste or carcinogenic list, and no one has certainly ever thought about what happens when you combine thousands of chemicals at “low safe levels” and make that what people eat drink and breathe. MCS is a subversive illness. Recognized by every government agency but not by the American Medical Association which makes it almost impossible to have your Americans with Disabilities Act rights – which are almost as useless as Civil Rights are for most people of color.)
Two other organizations went broke during 2008 – 2009 and have realized they can’t continue while others are run by one person with MCS. Most of the organizations are run by a few people with MCS if not one person so if they get sick from housing or lack of it or develop EHS, which is much more recognized in Europe (Sweden will give you disability for EHS), making using a computer impossible, that organization and everything they have researched or put together – gone.
Safe Canary Nest mostly serves as Vermont’s only MCS information clearinghouse. If people want to know about doctors, government programs, companies who were respectfully accommodating when working with people with MCS, etc. it’s the only game in town. However with the other sites closing there’s more pressure to keep Safe Canary Nest updated.
One thing is downloading PDFs or cutting and pasting pages and saving them if they are really vital information – like a list of medical peer reviewed journal articles about MCS being a neurological, liver, many other organs and systems physical illness. All of the focus about it being an immune illness led to nothing which led to many people thinking MCS didn’t exist. But with the research based on the blood brain barrier, liver detoxification pathways, deficiencies in rare enzymes (also found with people who have fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue immune deficiency syndrome, health problems because of silicone implants, health problems because of metal dental fillings, and Lyme disease) and much more suddenly MCS is real. Having that list and adding to it is part of protecting people with MCS. Losing information is losing power.
Checking for dead links is part of the job but I have so much trouble using a mouse it can be difficult. A friend of mine with MCS just as a favor check the whole bunch of the links, finding dead ones, new ones to add, and ones that are now at different URLs! That really is a great weight removed from my shoulders. He said he would be happy to do more so I gave him the password.
I’ve been much more honest about what I need and how I feel lately with my friends and being open to help from somewhere. Like having somebody I’ve never met take the Rhiannon Restoration pages to the post office for me, another person has volunteered to take over some of the Safe Canary Nest responsibilities which are really hard to meet recovering from Lyme disease/babesiosis (a parasite much like malaria). So a big shout out to them!
Related to this I am the official endorser of the new MCS line of eco-jot notebooks! The vegetable ink lines make it the only paper my mother and I can tolerate. The paper itself is all recycled using no chlorine bleach in a mill that is totally off the grid which is totally righteous! The covers are the same and the metal binders are 100% recycled as well.
I was having trouble finding them to buy and also sometimes the beautiful covers which have made them famous make us sick. So far there’s just no color red that we can tolerate. I emailed the owner Mark asking if he could make me some with blank covers. That led to a really beautiful telephone conversation where I explained MCS along with my Lyme disease/babesiosis recovery, but focusing on MCS and the importance of his notebooks in our lives. They are the address books, day planners, grocery lists, to do lists, stationary, along with the daily journals I have to keep about when I take what medications, what I ate, when I slept, symptoms I had, you name it plus there is a checklist I have to make regularly of the 20 things that have to be done for my health every day. Without the notebook I wouldn’t be able to make correlations like changes in the humidity make me sick or I have insomnia when ovulating and I feel terrible during the full moons (that’s always been horrible). After ovulation the Lyme disease usually gets much more active and I can work around knowing that. This is the kind of stuff you just have to do when you have MCS or other chronic illnesses because the medical system doesn’t have time. It’s a very exhausting job being ill.
As I sent Mark information about MCS but also where he could advertise and what stores I think would carry MCS specific audience notebooks, he realized that like 30% of the population he has mild MCS himself. They had been looking for a different niche for the product and had no idea about this demographic. It’s important to have somebody credible say that you can trust this product, so Mark asked if I would write an endorsement which I very happily did, stating that I am a universal reactor and my name goes with the Safe Canary Nest.org website.
Mark emailed to ask if he could use it on Facebook. I said use it wherever for a year no problem and then check with me in a year. The reason I said that is because so many small companies like Tom’s of Maine or Burt’s Bees which were eco-friendly and often safe were bought by multinational corporations although not a lot of people know these things and the quality went down and they are no longer safe. I don’t want to accidentally be endorsing something for Procter & Gamble.
What didn’t occur to me was that this would bring traffic to safecanarynest.org. Which it has.
I like to joke that I am a spokes model. But seriously I actually bought these notebooks before I knew I had MCS. (In going through my life history of mental and physical health it’s very obvious that I had more than mild MCS since birth.) The jumbo journal just can’t be beat. It’s the perfect size. As a lifelong journaling person who usually would go through one notebook a month these were my ideal as soon as I found them. Mark’s sister is the artist who does these really great covers. I highly recommend checking them out whether or not you have MCS.
People don’t know this but I actually work with a few companies – for free – whose products are important for the MCS community. When quality drops I am there. When a product is great I am there. If something does not exist that we need I’m there working for free consulting so what we need does exist. For me it is survival based but every once in a while I look up and realize I have changed the world again. That’s key to MCS survival at least for me – to be changing the world so I can stay alive and then realizing things are different for everyone and this affected more than me.
Love, Sex & Spirituality (Where these two activities come together in Psyche Alchemy)
For several years I have been unwittingly doing what Raven Kaldera told me to do because of a curse from fairies on my mother’s side. That was when I first met him – the only time I’ve ever seen him in person – and it was a once-in-a-lifetime reading. I thought it was all bullshit. However everything was brilliantly accurate. It keeps unfolding. If you are ever lucky enough definitely get a reading from him because I’ve had hundreds of readings and his was the only one that mattered.
I had done what he said the fairies wanted without thinking about the fairies which was a lot of writing about ecology and Paganism – if you are in a nature religion why are you destroying nature? Why do you not understand you are nature? Why are you so human centric? Things like that which were a big part of a former blog Adventures in Animism which quickly had 100,000 hits.
When doing my year of ancestor introductions because once I stopped focusing on being Irish my genealogy fell into place so quickly that I had about 2500 names some of them on my mother’s side going back to the fifth or sixth century of what is now northern Wales and on my father side Germanic tribes to the same period. However the main Scottish clan of my mother has a story which I find everywhere now that I know about it and yet I never found it before –
At the headwaters of the Tweed River a woman in the year 1000 was impregnated by the male fairy of that place.
Raven had said that the curse was because a pregnant woman did not hold her side of the deal with fairies – and we know that fairies are pretty notorious about cursing people who don’t follow through. One thing he had said in the reading years ago was I would have to do something for the fairies/environment where the original fairies live. I donated $20 to an organization that maintains the Tweed River which is doing beautifully and is from where 40% of today’s salmon come. I include the Tweed River in my devotions. I really don’t like the “special snowflakes” things that people make their identities but I did accidentally find writing in a few different places by people who have “fairy blood” – and the medical conditions that come with it. It was me. It’s not really healthy to have fairies or other Otherworldly species interbreeding. When I accepted that I am on a DNA level of the child of the very that is the guardian of the headwaters of the river Tweed, making my offerings, collecting photographs of the town my family created and learning the long history of cattle raiding, constant arrests that were ignored, court demanded holy pilgrimages that were ignored and not baptizing the right hand so you are better at killing – things suddenly started changing for the better in my mother’s family. Wounds that have never not existed which created separation between members and the family and the entire world are now healed. Everybody’s mental health has stabilized. There’s communication about real things and a lot of healing and support between members. I wonder how far it stretches. I mean does Jeff Tweedy from Wilco have it rippling through his own family?
All of the information about the Vanir and their history has been uncovered, matching DNA migrations with archaeology along with linguistics and the UPG of people I’ve never met. Freya is very pleased because that was my assigned job. Now she is more focused on today and the values of the Vanir being lived by people who identify as Vanatru. Again that is devotional polytheism. Where the Gods and Goddesses care the most is here and now. If your religion is based in the past trying to gather virtues from old cultures (I saw a lot of almost insulting romanticizing of the Celtic people with some of the British Druidry books just like so many Heathenry books ignore the reality that almost everyone was a farmer) you are missing the point. The deities are alive and with us right now and they want to be helpful right now with the actual community problems right now. Knowing history is very important for context and having understandings about different deities, mythology and cosmology as interpreted by several sources including modern practitioners who are interacting with these deities is foundational but at the same time in the last 2000 years the world has changed drastically in many ways. The feudalism system is still in place but at a level that is global and the clearcutting of forests that the Bronze and especially Iron age Pagans did has grown into such massive destruction if the temperature goes up 6°C 96% of all life on the planet dies. It’s not a matter of stopping climate change because it is inevitably happening; it is a matter of creating bioregional decentralized flexible self-sustaining infrastructures as we see the natural results of forgetting we are nature.
I found a new art form thanks to my friend Northern Tamarisk who makes beautiful Pagan prayer beads that actually change people’s lives. When her store reopens on etsy (bookmark it now) I will be sure to announce that because they are done so lovingly and reverently it’s like an honor to have them. I don’t have them because of MCS making anything suspect. However as she has fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue immune deficiency disorder with a lot of migraines she will hold the prayer beads and it gives her a connection to those deities. That sounded really wonderful but not for me because I am not good at beading. I have glass and metal beads because they are something I can actually make art with using wire along with broken jewelry, feathers and bones I found, metal “stuff”, shells I found, sea glass, a lot of which is sent to me by friends. Using metal wire instead of that plastic jewelry thread is a lot easier for me. Now I am hooked! Physically I have only been able to make two of them – one for Freya and one for Arawn. But they work! Being sick in bed a lot of days I can’t do devotions but by holding these I feel their presence. At the ends I put pendants or charms that are connected to the deity’s essence.
After breaking up with someone I’ve been friends with since I was 18 but very close friends with for at least eight years who was in love with me and the only consistent person during the entire Lyme disease process of not knowing, after staying numb and working nonstop on the handouts so I wouldn’t get pulled back by missing him or worrying about him like I have in the past, it really hit me – for somebody who is a connector (antenna doesn’t really explain the core of who I am and what my gifts are) to feel this absence where once I could plug into love, it was – well, how breakups feel. I knew that Northern Tamarisk and my mother would be proud of me when I ordered some beads. I’ve never done something like that but this is part of Freya who now is focusing on me having the good things of her family. Beauty is one of them. The beads I get are fair trade glass handmade. I wanted to get recycled glass fair trade handmade but I can’t afford that. However the company has a page about their fair trade connections and another about environmental company projects. They are not radical but they are better than most places.
I hadn’t even held hands or been on a date (knowingly) for eight years when this relationship started. I thought that part of my life was over because of having MCS. Also Lyme disease steals your libido. Many of the abuses suffered throughout the eight or 10 years before we said I love you and there was sexuality added were healed through this relationship. He redeemed humanity and I joke I am now a born again humanist because of him. My body (and astrological chart) has very deep sexual connections with his and the kundalini blast was mind blowing in the beginning. I had an orgasm the entire day I was awake once and there were three weeks where all I felt like was we were making love on a raft in the middle of the ocean – Freya brought all of this in two days after I had some beeswax candles burning for her for Walpurga’s night 2015. You can’t really be part of Freya without sexuality that makes you feel really really happy and good about yourself and loved. He had been obsessed with my body since he was a teenager so this was the perfect reentry into bodies. The currents of sexual energy are so important for staying healthy and sane, this counts as medical treatment.
But you can’t live in limbo with an ocean between you. Eventually it’s too painful.
That’s when I realized that relationships are like walking toward somebody – that’s the attraction. You feel happy but also apprehensive. Eventually if all goes well you realize that you have started walking together in a new direction. However as the body’s “get pregnant” chemicals wear off (that “in love” time when you are actually blinded to the differences between the two of you so you will actually take the life-threatening risk of procreation) you start to have arguments and how well you work through them together is the indicator of your future. There is usually some time in denial thinking that it can work when it really can’t because the two of you have such different needs. The crossroad appears on the horizon and you take a deep breath and get on another path.
For me I have to stay zoned out busy so I can keep walking this new direction. When I sit down I look around the path and it’s frightening. The person’s hand I was holding is gone and this is all new terrain. Sometimes you can run back to the crossroads and maybe the person is waiting or maybe they have kept walking and you chase them down and sometimes it works. Most of the time it doesn’t. I couldn’t live with knowing at any time he might have a girlfriend and then the rug is pulled out from under me. There is no way to pretend we are “just friends” because that’s never really been his feelings towards me or mine towards him since we were housemates and I kissed him at a party when I had a boyfriend, the only time I’ve ever cheated. There’s something there between us really deep and with my growing abilities with empathy/telepathy combined with the Sight of there was a real sense of the other being with the other. Especially waking up or falling asleep and early on he found it problematic saying “I feel like I’m living in two worlds.”
I’m so used to that it didn’t really occur to me that someone else would find that unsettling.
He was the only person I ever talked to. Literally. One day I had one of the greatest experiences with him which was over five hours hanging out on Skype. The weather in Ireland was on our side. What did we do? He was watching rugby, I was cutting my toenails, nobody had to talk. With the telephone or email you have to talk. But this was normal hanging out – something that I haven’t had any experience with it so long that I forgot what it’s like and remembering was so cool. That was the great thing – he really doesn’t have any connections about what I spiritually or politically or anything else am doing. It was an escape to just being there and it felt like a level of relaxing I haven’t had in years. However that was also a problem because how can you be with somebody who doesn’t pay attention to the things that are important to you? Or knows what you need because you clearly communicated it and they won’t do it, really simple things like answering the question “Are you happier with me in your life?” The day we broke up I got the answer yes.
Months before this – when we were “just friends” which I was terrible at internally although he thought everything was fine and I realized that for us to get along there were a lot of topics I couldn’t bring up including my illness. He would suddenly talk about not being able to be a martyr and disappear saying it’s making him too miserable. He just wants me to be happy. So I was censoring myself from then on like in my second marriage which is soul death. His last actual words speaking not writing to me were yelled “Why is everything about trauma and oppression with you? Can’t things just be nice?” And I knew even if we were physically together I would be unhappy and so would he because I was talking about healing which was good news, the triumph of the human spirit, and he was having his breakfast ruined –
I asked Freya for somebody where I was intellectually and very deeply understood. Where I was intellectually appreciated and stimulated. My intellectual equal about what I value so much I would defend with my life, who really had the same often very misunderstood optimistic values, so I could have conversations where I would grow and also feel validated at a really core level that other people can’t provide.
For somebody with multiple chemical sensitivity who cannot leave this room I’m amazed at how Freya figures it out. She told me that MCS actually makes it much simpler for her because it immediately weeds out a lot of people. Once I realized that the guy that I had so much intense sexual/emotional stuff with was never going to stop smoking or change his lifestyle at all in spite of knowing me I didn’t feel as loved.
People will tell me they care or are there for me but they’re not. Unless they make actual changes in the house, clothing, skin and hair cleaning products they use so it’s safer for other people with MCS where they are, they haven’t shown any allegiance, any understanding, any awareness that they have this power to end of the oppression of my people. It basically boils down to what all of you decide to do. If you still clean your house with things that can kill you if you drink them or could hurt your eyes if it was sprayed into them and you put things on your hair that you would not feel safe eating, then my life really doesn’t matter to you. The reason why you might feel sad or worried about me is because I am cut off from everything and yet where is the connection made to how you are part of the barriers of access to the world for me? Because there’s a me in the same situation you could also love and worry about in your town, there are probably a lot of them, so by stopping your oppression of them you are really showing me love. And that is strangely something a lot of people don’t understand or don’t want to understand.
Freya was very adamant about this man because I thought it was totally off base. But then I am writing 100 pages by hand (and having two days of severe pain recovering) asking things about how is he actually my comrade with MCS? But then writing about what is our end goal as little c communist anarchists where for obvious survival reasons ecology is firmly in the center of all of our decisions. And then writing about the most taboo subject of all:
what I miss.
Each letter brings me closer to truths that I don’t let myself think about. The last letter I realized what I needed more than anything was eye contact. The dehumanizing experience of solitude means that there are no other human eyes looking at me with me looking back with that simple knowledge of “you are a person.”
I don’t know if anyone ever can fully understand what that is like to lose. The three or four times a year when I go two hours to my doctor I am wearing my mask. People see that and look away so quickly I don’t get the acknowledgment of eye contact or sometimes they make a joke and it hurts. A lot. Because they have no idea how removed from the world I am.
Also this ache from deep below in my abdomen of not remembering skin contact at all. This frightens me. When interviewing potential home health aides at first I would shake their hands but even though they had showered at the apartment were still emitting chemicals through their pores. I associate touch with chemical exposure/danger. I’ve read about how when people leave prison more than sex most of them just want to spoon with someone. I can understand that on one level and on another level, the survival level, there’s amazing fear of having a chemical exposure injure me. I fear something that is necessary for survival: human touch.
The next one I told him was hearing birds sing. It’s not something I ever thought about before but now it matters, oh my Gods, it matters.
I want my feet to have contact with the earth. We already know the health benefits. It’s naturally grounding and physiologically makes positive changes. As someone who grew up barefoot a lot and even in my 20s could be barefoot in snow I know how important the soles of the feet are. They connect us to the heartbeat of the land no matter where we are and I need that – I so desperately need that. But the benefits are destroyed when you are in pain because standing is hard due to Lyme disease inflammations, and your eyes and ears are scanning constantly – is that a lawnmower? Is that a diesel truck? Is somebody logging? Is that smoke? Did somebody spill oil near here? The clothing hanging on a line – is the fragrance wafting towards me? It’s nothing but survival surveillance.
Crying and scribbling all of this out to somebody who might understand due to their own circumstances has been really emotionally liberating but also it’s hard to bring up these feelings when I don’t know how to meet these needs. Four things: eye contact, handshake, bird song, bare feet on the ground. Four things.
This was supposed to be a fun escape, this game I invented since neither of us are where we want to be. I thought since sexuality really helped me and we care for each other somehow that that could be part of the relationship. I was completely confused when he wrote back talking about how we are politically and spiritually the same and that’s really important to him. Was that yes or no about sex? It’s funny how confused I was. I was so worried he was a manarchist, and when I found out he wasn’t I realized I don’t really know how to communicate with men who treat me like their equal for real. Who are human. Who do not minimize my experience, my feelings, my needs. Who don’t automatically assume that everything revolves around them. I really don’t know how to communicate with men who know how to communicate properly.
So that changed the nature of this escapist game of creating a temporary autonomous zone that nobody can ruin because it’s just in our own psyches. Writing little glimpses into parts of history like being with the Ranters in the forest. Or this dystopian present in which we live becoming transformed into something else, something better, something we want. Or complete science fiction fantasy. Out of time even.
Because in between the paragraphs about how are you doing and support for whatever activism we’ve done there sneaks in Vision.
Suddenly it’s poetry, it’s prose with the words broken up and no nouns or no verbs, it’s the pure writing of my Spirit which hasn’t been captured since before I became a professional writer. When words equaled money. It’s handwritten even with all the pain and the paper is tear stained and the words are barely legible but they are real. This game of fantasy is real. I’m learning who I am and what I want beyond the confines of MCS and Lyme disease recovery. I am seeing my soul as if all the words were on different broken shards of the mirror that didn’t fall apart. Everything is whole including me in this place, in the situations, in the world. And it’s a wonderful gift.
Each time I hear from him my life falls apart for a week digesting new information and there’s a lot of worrying. Worrying about these challenges to my own beliefs that make me have to refine and define what they are which is a good anxiety because there’s a formal ending. The overwhelming worrying is about how he is. He’s not in any position to fall apart emotionally – that would be deadly. So naturally I worried and I would write about how I didn’t want to open any emotions even good ones because then they all would have to be real. Although people’s vulnerability is where their beauty lies, he cannot risk vulnerability especially writing it down. Emotions are hidden under anger and support. Wishing he had my photograph with him but unfortunately they won’t allow it. In that line something is said but I worry about misunderstanding statements like “You are very pretty! :-)” And wondering if he actually wants to hear from me, isn’t he flooded with letters all the time? Am I just another anonymous supporter?
Then I remember he stood in line for a very long time spending a lot of money to call me when he was allowed to do that and it was awkward because I never talk on the phone which I told him, I actually said “I only talk to doctors so i might just list symptoms.” He spoke very fast. There were a couple of times when I could hear what he normally sounds like, when we were talking about music or when he was trying to figure out a tactful way to ask if I could recover from Lyme disease and I finally said “I’m not going to die.” And it made me really happy to talk on the phone with someone – that somebody would go through all of that trouble to call me. It made me feel like I mattered, something I haven’t felt – I don’t know if I ever felt that way because the pre-severe MCS world has faded so much, I don’t live in the same place as other people anymore. That world is dead to me.
And that’s what I write about a lot as well – there’s no way I can go back to the World. I’m in exile and nowhere is offering me amnesty. That’s the reality of MCS. Understanding deeper and deeper the political oppression that goes with MCS. Unfortunately most people think about the individual or the personal without connecting it to the political and I know it’s a cliché but maybe it’s a cliché people have forgotten:
the personal is political.
So these letters are filled with truth, my truth and what I hope this truth can heal just by being. Most of the time it feels like the truth just causes more separation from others as my truth is so different from theirs because they don’t have MCS. With so many other horrible things in the world that good people are trying to adapt to and make safe space I know that MCS is overwhelming – I live with it. But when he describes anarchist community where he’s from and the focus on safe space and also on the inner decolonization work of the psyche, I want to be there!!! When I don’t hear from him and don’t know what’s going on I want to be there with others who know him and not be worried alone. I want friends to understand our language, our values, our standards of conduct, our communication, our living so I’m not all alone in it, having a safe space community that includes MCS – community is empowering but I haven’t had community on that level, these real deep meaningful levels since Reclaiming Witchcraft. That’s the last community where I knew what was going on.
With these letters I have a connection to a part of who I really am that doesn’t have anywhere to exist aside with my mother. (She’s very radical and I just learned proud of me.) As a connector high empath how I experience the world is very contingent upon the people in my life – they can drag me down or they can elevate me. The isolation helps me understand that better. Here is a case where something primal and essential in me is elevated by the interaction.
Freya knows what she’s doing. She elevated my body and now supports my worldview which is something I haven’t had again since being in Reclaiming community. It’s not my religion, just like Truth against the World Druidry is not my religion. But I can feel at home there. There’s a basic understanding of how things work with which I agree. All of the details – I have my own Paganism. It’s mine and it works for me. And I love it – I can’t imagine life without it. It’s mine. I belong to it just as much as it belongs to me.