Monday, January 31, 2011

i am {not} a creative person

Do you tell yourself this? Cause I know some days I do.

I'm not a great artist. I'll never be the next Rembrandt or Dali. Nor am I a great writer. I don't have the self discipline to write those novels that are percolating in my brain, no matter how great the ideas might be. My list of things and ideas to create will always be longer than my actual creations.

And because of this, I often let myself feel as though my creativity has no real worth.

And because of this, I watch my amazingly talented, creative friends, dismiss their creations as mediocre, not good enough, or a frivolous hobby.

Here's the thing though. I think we live in a society that teaches us that we have to excel at something in order for it to have worth. That effort and merit are not enough. Earnest art, albeit touching, can never be true art. And if we don't have those skills right away, we dismiss our efforts as lacking talent, always conveniently forgetting that a grand pianist doesn't get to be grand without years of practice. Why are we so hard on our creative selves? Why do we internalize such harmful narratives?



Here's the thing: not only do I think these narratives are toxic to our fragile creative selves, I think they're BIG FAT LIES! Yup. That's right. I might not be the next Monet. But why would I want to be? I'm not Monet. I'm me. And maybe my art will never be accoladed like Van Gogh's, but then again, I still have both ears and receive about as much recognition in my daily life as he did in his!

We are all familiar with the idea that it's the journey, not the destination, that truly matters. So why doesn't the same hold true for our creative endeavours? Every time that I pick up the paint brush, start typing in this blog space, journal, cut, clip, photograph, it is an expression of the divine. The goddess is afoot in all of the art that I create, because it serves a greater purpose than just "art for art's sake;" it is a meditation of the human process and by extension a representation of the divine within us.

So every time "imposter complex" rears it's ugly head, I remind myself that I am a creative person. That my creativity is good enough. And that creativity is a celebration of the divine.

So celebrate damn it!

CELEBRATE your sweet, soul searching, goddess loving CREATIVE self!!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

tips follow up

For those of you new to art journaling, or unsure about how to break things up into more manageable chunks, today's post from Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, over at Balzer Designs, might be reallly useful to get you started.

Just thought I'd share some food for thought!

Gratitude


First of all, I’d like to say thank you to all the lovely readers out there who have joined me here over the past week. I’m a little awed by how generous your responses have been. As someone who struggled to find my voice on my other, mundane crafty blog & to draw readers in to that space, I can’t help but be a bit shocked by how quickly this space, albeit still small, is growing in contrast.
In the New Year I signed up for Ali Edward’s One Little Word project over at Big Picture Classes and chose the word nurture as my theme word of the year.
There are a lot of things I want to nurture in my life this year, ranging in topics as broad as creativity to my marriage.  But one of my largest goals in the year ahead is really to nurture a sense of community.
In my life I have always been someone with a large circle of acquaintances and a small circle of close friends, and as I enter my mid 30s and settle into a calmer, more sedate yet creative phase of my life, including marriage and future family building, I find these circles shifting and changing, and for myself, the need to redefine how each of those circles interacts and manifests in my life.
Don’t get me wrong, I am blessed with lovely friends and an amazingly blessed life, for which I experience a gratitude that I cannot even begin to adequately express in words.  But my life has shifted and with it, my connections and need for a larger community of connection has grown. Perhaps as I age, I find myself simply wanting to have a better sense of who my acquaintances are in life? I’m not sure and honestly, it’s not something I’m particularly stressed about analyzing.
But that said, I find myself reaching out, wanting to get to know others on this path. So I’m searching for other bloggers. And I’m responding to them. In fact, I feel like I’m commenting up a storm out there, which is so unlike me. But it’s been an enriching experience and a form of nurturing community that I never anticipated when I chose this word as something to bring into my life this year.
So thank you. Amongst the mass web that is the Internet, I have felt welcomed in the most unexpected of ways and it has given me a piece of hope and a sense of connection that was a pleasant surprise. People, I love your comments. They brighten my day and remind me of the links that I am forging in the world around me.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

52 weeks of pagan art journaling {getting ready}



Whenever I think of joining up on big year long projects, I find my biggest deterrent is the idea that there's no way I'll be able to complete such a big task. It's like the fear of the New Year resolution that I'll never really keep.

So with that in mind I thought I'd try to break down the idea of 52 weeks of art journaling into something that seems more manageable, more easily accomplished, something that you can customized to your own needs and level of time, desire, and commitment.

Tip One:

Don't do the entire page in one day! Do 10 minutes a day. Or 10 minutes every 2nd or 3rd day. And then, if you  do it 2 or 3 times a week, give yourself a pat on the back. If I drag my ass to the gym 3x a week, that's a good week for me. So call it a good week in art journaling if this is the route you take!

Tip Two:

Stagger the task. One day, do the background; another add doodles/art/collage; and after meditating on the word/idea for a few days, write the journaling.

Tip Three:

Go with what works for you. You don't have to be Dali, or Picasso, or even Pollack [insert anything other artist name you'd like here]. If you like flowers, cover your pages with flowers. Or try something new. Steal my ideas/prompts or do something completely different.

Tip Four:

Don't be intimidated by others' art. Don't think you can't do this because you're not an artist. This is for you. It's about having fun. I'm not your mother or your teacher. You're not allowed to be your own worst critique. Just let it be and enjoy playing with paint!

Tip Five:

Think size. Size matters. I'm going with 12x12 scrapbook pages. They're huge. That's what I want. I want place to doodle and draw. I want to layer and stagger things. You may not want the same thing. You might prefer to stagger on a smaller scale. My first art journal was 4x6 and I dragged it around with me in my purse and art journaled on my lunch break for 10 minutes every few days. In fact, art journaling during my lunch break was one of my favourite things to do in the park near work in the warmer months.

Techniques you can use to create a page

  • Pencil, crayons, paint, collage, pastel oils. 
  • Doodles. Things you like to draw (I like Indian motifs and leaves... you'll probably see a lot of them!)
  • Collage. Take images from magazines you love. Or scrapbook supplies. Or google searches. Or vintage postcards. Or books. I am quite partial to using old book pages (and since our library tossed a bunch of old books a while ago, I have a guilt free supply).
  • Stickers. Words. Stamps
Other ideas/suggestions? Leave a comment and share your advice!

Friday, January 21, 2011

embracing the faces of the goddess

How do you make peace with gender roles in your practice/identity?

In the past few years, I have become far more “domestic” than I ever thought I would be. I knit, I crochet, I can, I make candles, I sew and I work in education. In a nutshell, I embody a fair amount of stereotypical gender roles ascribed to my sex, which is particularly ironic given that I refused to learn all those “girly” skills from my mother because there was no way in bloody hell that I was going to be a “good wife”. Oh, did I mention that I also got married just over a year ago?

Life really does have a way of humbling us when we least expect it!
Anyways, back to the topic at hand…

One of the things that draws many people to this path is that it revalorizes the female and puts it in a position of balance with the male. But that balance seems to get a bit muddled for me as I delve into some of the stories that we tell in the “wicca” path, for example, the idea of the stag king and the goddess. I’ve heard of events where the men compete for the role of the stag king and I find myself cringing at the gender based division of this activity.

By the same token, often activities assigned to women (all voluntary for both genders) tend to valorize their domestic role and rarely try to create a role for woman outside of her assigned gender role. Is this because women don’t ask for it, or because experience has shown that they don’t tend to participate, or is there a darker, more sinister reason behind this absence of the female quest in our society?

And what do I personally make of this when I myself embody those female roles, even though the feminist in me is somewhat ill at ease with the fact that I am happier knitting in a circle than chopping wood?

As a female I don’t always identify with the virgin queen or the mother goddess, especially since I am neither in my everyday life! I don’t want to be the virginal huntress (Diana) or the goddess of prostitution (Inanna). I’m not just a healer (Brighid), not am I solely an analytical thinker (Athena). And yet, I am all these things and more. And I do find myself identifying and valorizing the “female” arts quite a bit in my own life.

I find myself often wondering where is the fine line between being proud of being a woman and all the things ascribed to my role as “woman” and renouncing the stereotypes and reclaiming my other roles.

I wonder if learning to navigate this paradox is what really shapes and defines us as people. Some women (or men) will lean more towards their ascribed roles than others, and some will lean towards their gender role while also defying it, and some will defy it completely. I hover somewhere in the middle, fluctuating between acceptance and defiance, and I suppose that knowing loopholes and not blindly accepting my gender role, is what makes me a stronger woman. (Or at least, I like to think of myself as a strong woman). But perhaps I need to remind myself to get out of my comfort zone from time to time, and explore the faces of the goddess that I’m sometimes less comfortable with (Kali, Hecate), as well as be less dismissive of the faces of the goddess that I want to kick in the ass for being so seemingly meek (Persephone, Tara).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Aradia's Cauldron - the podcast - Intro Episode


52 weeks of pagan art journaling

Introducing:


Starting in February, with Brighid's celebration of Imbolc, I'm starting 52 weeks of pagan art journaling project. So join me if you like as I post weekly prompts to get you thinking about what your path means to you, in words and art!

What is an art journal, you ask? The concept is simple really (even though it may seem a little daunting sometimes). An art journal is a journal that you use words and art (sometimes more art, sometimes more words) to record your thoughts, ideas, and feelings in.

The journal can be as fancy and as simple as you would like it to be! Some people draw amazing pictures, while others, like me, create simpler pages. They can be colours, sketches, collages, or anything else you'd like. Sometimes a page can be image based, other times it can be more text based. Art journals let you play and explore.

So if you're interested, join me and let me know. Drop me a line and I'll link to you so that others can watch your progress! And coming up soon, a podcast series to go with it!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

dragon

every now and again I like those internet quizzes. you know the ones...

who is my inner goddess?
what was I born to do?
what is my tarot card?

and what is my totem animal:


















You Scored as Dragon
You are the Dragon. You store a lot of knowledge about everything. You are generally one who is good with personal growth and can regenerate yourself after a bad experience.


Dragon
83%

Eagle
75%
Bear
75%
Horse
75%
Stag
67%
Crow
67%
Fox
50%
Bull
50%
Dog
50%
Salmon
50%
Ram
42%
Deer
25% Wolf
25%
Snake
25%



The irony behind this of course, is that I was born in the year of the dragon!

tarot: art, scrapbooking & storytelling as a way to learn the cards

I'm trying to learn the tarot. Don't get me wrong. I know my tarot already, but I don't trust myself to read my cards without my book and I want to transition beyond the book.

So I'm working on a little project to help me remember all the cards. And being the artsy girl that I am, it involves pictures, scrapbooking, and storytelling:

the Haindl tarot

The deck I use, the Haindl tarot, draws on elements from Native American, Hebrew, Western, Norse, I Ching, Celtic, Egyptian, and Indian myths & traditions. Which makes the cards amazingly complex and rich, but also a bit hard to always catch everything in them. So I'm working on creating stories based on things I know (songs, historical references, etc) to help me remember all the elements, which I will then put into a scrapbook full of the the crafty things I've learned along the way!

Monday, January 10, 2011

crafty pagan blogs? are you out there?


Brighid's Cross (source)

Ok, so I read a fair amount of blogs but surpringsly few of them are actually pagan related. No, most of the blogs I follow are craft (as in arts & crafts) related.

So here's the thing, one of the things that I've started really noticing and wondering about it the predominance of Christian crafty bloggers out there. Seriously. Are there no pagan crafters? No pagan scrapbookers? Show me a damn sabbat themed scrapbook page already! Seriously!

And what I wonder about even more is the fact that all these crafty Christian blogs are making me see the USA in a completely different light. Once upon a time I thought the states was just a lot like us here in Canada, but I'm starting to wonder more and more if this is true. Or rather, now that I've moved around a bit in Canada, I wonder if maybe life on the west coast (Canada and the U.S.), is just generally more new agey, spiritual, and by extension, liberal, whereas other parts of both countries are more tradition and/or Christian?

Anyways, for all that, I just wonder about the paucity of pagan crafty bloggers out there (or perhaps my poor search skills!). For all the artsy pagans out there, I can't seem to find that many interesting creative pagan blogs.

What I find in abundance however, are blogs written by crafty Christians or Mormons. What about the artsy Muslims? Hindus? Or Atheists? I know they're out there! They have to be. So what gives?

Are we just not blogging about our crafts? Or are they, like mine, hidden away from the pagan blogosphere because I keep my pagan life anonymous and my crafty life public? And if that's the case, what are the consequences of that given that I personally don't ever talk about my faith on my public blog? I don't do this in an effort to respect my in-laws and in an effort to not offend my readers (many of whom are not pagan and may be uncomfortable with my pagan practices).

But I have to admit that recently, this division of self has started to make me fairly uncomfortable.

After all, how does it affect my values? How does it impact my practice?

I consider myself as being someone who lives her life with a great deal of integrity, yet this division of private/public often puts my sense of integrity into question and makes me ill at ease with the compromises I've made for my in-laws (which I do out of love for my husband), my job (because I work in education and I believe that it is very important to be a neutral educator - or at least as neutral as one can be), and my privacy (because one never knows how your life will be construed online and I've heard enough horror stories from fellow bloggers to know to play it safe).

While I know that following a mystery tradition can sometimes get complicated in the modern world, as I age I see the ways in which my younger self would have be navigated (and did navigate) this path so very differently than I do today (not that I'm particularly old, mind you).

All in all, I am more cautious and discrete than I used to be, which is odd given that I am far more comfortable with who I am now than I was at 20. But I can't help but wonder sometimes, am I the norm or the exception? And if I'm a norm, than what impact does that have on the larger pagan community if I retreat behind the safe veil of online anonymity?  Be it on our artistic development or otherwise?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

podcasting?

Around Samhain (yes, I still pronounce it Sam Hain in my head, even after all these years!), I started contemplating the idea of podcasting. I love listening to podcasts on my daily commute, like the idea of talking my ideas out instead of writing it all down (partially due to laziness, partially due to the fact that I like to talk, partially due to the fact that I spend a great deal of my day writing).

But there's a catch.

I've shuffled everything from the old version of this site onto this new blog in order to keep my life and identity private. Oh, don't get me wrong, if you ask, I'll tell you I'm pagan in my real life (for the most part I'm pretty out of the broom closet in muggle land), but there are several reasons that it's very important to me to keep my identity private in this space.


  • My catholic in-laws
  • My extended in-law family and the very gossipy community they are members of (ironically anonymity allows for greater disclosure than I would otherwise have)
  • I work in education,which requires a certain amount of non-denominational discretion
  • I'm following a mystery tradition and as such, have made vows of secrecy (which I adhere to, even here, in the anonymous, unknown realm blogland)

So would I end up risking my anonymous identity by putting my voice on the air, presuming that my ramblings would be listened to of course? Would I be biting off too much? Do I really have anything new to add to the dialog?

These are just some of the questions I end up asking myself as I contemplate the idea of taking up podcasting.

Others include:


  • What would I talk about? 
  • How would I organize the content?
  • Do I need to get equipment or can I wing it with my iPhone/laptop?
  • I'm far from being an expert and given my vows of secrecy, will I run out of topics that are open for discussion?
  • Will I always be able to discern between what is part of my training and what is general knowledge?
  • Would it be overly presumptive of me to think that I can put my knowledge out there when I am still so young on the path (in terms of knowledge, not so much age.... though I am still on the younger side)

For the most part, I think that my questions really stem from insecurities about voicing my ideas/thoughts/opinions when I know that I am far from being an authority on anything craft related. My intentions are to discuss, not to teach, yet teaching is my nature and I worry about blurring the line or being misconstrued as a pagan teacher when all I'm really looking for is to extend my community and discussions beyond my small group with others who share my interests.

Obviously I still have a fair amount of contemplation to do before setting my mind to either path.

astrology & driving

funniest thing I've read in a long time:

worst to best drivers, according to Suncorp Metway (2002, Australian Insurance Company):

  1. gemini - worst
  2. taurus
  3. pisces
  4. virgo
  5. cancer
  6. aquarius
  7. aries
  8. libra
  9. leo
  10. sagittarius
  11. scorpio
  12. capricorn - best
apparently, i'm an awesome driver! who knew? i can't wait to go home and tell my husband!