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Endurance in practice

N.B. This draft is four years old. FOUR. I’m both appalled that time has vanished, and kind of proud that these sentiments still hold true. I’m going to post it below, unedited and unfinished, as a time capsule unaffected by my experiences since – which are hopefully the subject of a future post.

Endurance is one of the primary Mysteries of Sigyn, the Lady of Compassion.  It’s one of those things that sounds so simple in theory, yet can be so difficult to actually accomplish in practice.

It’s worth noting that there are various layers of this virtue.  At its most basic, it is the Nyd-fire instinct to simply survive; that hanging-on-by-the-fingernails because Letting Go is something that one simply Can or Will Not Do.  Above that is what I call the “Screw You” level – basic survival with a side dish of awareness, because the sun may not rise again tomorrow but by golly it’s going to not-rise to find you Still Hanging On.

Further layers are, I think, somewhat more fluid and personal.  Some endure out of duty or obligation, some out of optimism, some out of spite or a wish for revenge.  Some even endure out of fear, or a sense of fatalism, or a feeling of powerlessness.  It’s interesting to note, here, that it seems rare for any one of these lower-to-middling levels to sustain one for any length of time – or, at least, not without causing some sort of psychological problem.  Even though endurance is generally regarded as a positive virtue, to mindlessly engage with it for an extended period of time, without examining oneself and one’s assumptions, reactions, and motivations, and thinking of how to move on to something better, can still cause a great many problems (the least of which would be an inability to consider change or progress, if the reliance on one’s own form of endurance has become too ingrained, and the worst of which could be the emergence of some form of long-term problem such as an Anxiety or Dissociative Disorder, or PTSD).

The higher level, the point at which we move from virtue to Virtue, if you will, is the sort of endurance that is, at its pinnacle, the stuff of myth and legend, of hero and martyr, the endurance that happens because it’s the Right thing to do, and to step back from that Right-Doing would be a greater personal suffering than whatever pain or misery one is required to endure.  It is, above all, a conscious choice to stay one’s course, and it is  this mindfulness that makes the difference between endurance as an instinct, as a coping mechanism, as an obligation, or as an ideal, and endurance as a Mystery and a Virtue.

I say “the higher level”, but the Virtue of endurance isn’t simply heroic, the sort of thing one does under dire threat and in moments of crisis.  One of the most profound lessons one can learn from both Sigyn and Holda is that Small Things Matter.  As above, so below – or, as within, so without, and vice versa.

Sometimes the big, dramatic demonstrations of endurance are the easier ones – having something to fight or defend against can be a catalyst for strength one didn’t know one had, even in a long, draining, exhausting situation.  Most of us a more likely to encounter the endurance of day-to-day living, of holding together a household and a family (biological or otherwise) – the endurance of repetition, of routine, of the slow march of desired improvement and security for oneself and those one cares for.  What rewards there are in that are slow, and quiet, and often quite impersonal.  It  can be hard to know that one is on the right track, let alone able to continue so, when the evidence that one’s endurance is actually worth something is usually so unspoken and incremental.

I’ve done my share of lower-to-middling level endurance.  I’ve made mistakes with it; hung on when I ought to have let go and taken some rest and healing, failed to move on when the opportunity arose (because in the survival/fear mindset, opportunity = risk, and risk is too dangerous to be trifled with).  On the other hand, I’ve maintained my obligations and some degree of independence when (apparently) many others would have thrown in the towel and abrogated all responsibility.  I’ve always thought it was because no matter how bad things were today, they could always get better tomorrow, or next week.  Things could always be changed.

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This is what happens when you find a device in which your WordPress site is still logged in, long after you have forgotten your password and lost that e-mail address – a post. ^.^

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“We is Crazy”

“You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”

Paganarch

WordPress displays search terms which led people to your blog.  These are always fascinating.  My favorite thus far has been “Rhyd Wildermuth Food Stamps.”

Today I noted someone found my blog by searching “Is Sannion and Gallina crazy?”  If this is you, hello!  Thought I’d answer your question for you. By the way, it’s one “l” in her name, not two (I made that same mistake for months!) and also, two people make a plural together, so “are” is more appropriate than “is.”   But…

Yup.  They’re out of their fucking heads.  Anyone who sees the gods as real and worships them and does stuff for them is utterly unstable and very bad for society.  They should be locked up and medicated and kept out of swimming pools and nice restaurants and prevented from drinking good tea.

Me too.  And pretty much every brilliant, amazing, wonderful and…

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Timing

Whoops. Turns out that entheogenic work is not always the best way to cross the Divine Divide in hope of working through an enforced God-silence during a “pull you apart and put you back together again” phase.

‘Cause DAMN that hurt. :p

Take it from your Aunt Lusi, boys and girls and peoples, timing is everything…

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ANZAC Day 2014

Being seasonally adrift from the traditional Solstice/Equinox calendar, I don’t follow a “Wheel of the Year” type celebration pattern. One of the few Holidays I do observe annually is ANZAC Day.

ANZAC – Australia & New Zealand Army Corps – Day is a trans-Tasman remembrance of Service Veterans and acknowledgement of Active Service Personnel. Arising in the years after WWI and gaining more prominence after WWII, it also served as something of a contributor to the emerging national identities of the two South Pacific colonial nations. The observance date is based on the first day of the Gallipoli Campaign in WWI, and the Holiday is a bigger observance in Australia/NZ than Armistice Day (November 11th). Nowadays it serves as a Service of Thanks for those who sacrificed so that we might live our lives as we choose, for those who lost their lives or peace-of-mind in conflicts that brought nothing but a mourning conviction that soldiers are not politicians’ playthings, and those who served and continue to serve in peacekeeping missions around the world.

Also of significance, a bit closer to home, is my family’s remembrance of my maternal Grandmother, a remarkable lady of broad mind and strong will who withstood many challenges and much turmoil to raise a little sister and three children of her own. She died before I was born, sadly, when my mother was about 17, but I can see her legacy of discipline and fairness in those she left behind.

I woke at the awful hour (even for me) of 4am. Usually I would have readied myself for a cold, foggy trudge to the War Memorial, but my child had had such a long day and a hard night yesterday, and we have a busy weekend ahead of us, that it seemed a bit mean to drag her out to the Dawn Service. (She’s usually asleep enough that she doesn’t take it in anyway.) So I’d already decided to go to the 10am Service instead, but decided, since I was up, to do a little quiet Offering by myself.

Tea is the traditional offering for most of my Ancestors, so I made a pot and poured one for my Military Dead (milk and sugar, two things that are hard to get in the field) and one for my Grandmother (black Lady Grey with a touch of sugar). I set out an ANZAC poppy (an annual fundraiser by the Returned Services Association) and the few badges and medals I have on one side, and my Grandmother’s silver thimble (about the only thing I have of hers) on the other, and lit a candle in the middle.

I sat for a bit and gave thanks to my Military Dead, and was rather surprised at how much I still miss my Grandads, even after 15 plus years. Their presence was palpable and comforting. Then I did a prayer of remembrance for my Grandmother, and could rather sense her as well. I have only a little to go on, but had had the privilege of speaking to my Great Aunt earlier in the week and that gave me a lot to think about. There was 14 years between my Grandmother and my Great Aunt, so my Grandmother was both a sister and a mother-figure to her younger sister. The bond between them is still visible today. I do hope to spend more time with my Aunt; our family isn’t very talkative where history is concerned, and I would like to learn more before even more knowledge disappears from us.

It was wonderful to get such a strong sense of my Ancestors this morning; a reminder that ritual and offerings should not be kept only for Holy Days.

anzac 14

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Pricing vs. Worth

I’m somewhat stuck right now, on the difference between pricing something according to “what the market expects/will bear”, and charging what I believe it’s worth.

On the one hand, there is a tendency among crafters and spiritworkers to undervalue their work – society as a whole doesn’t put a high price on cottage industry, spiritual work, or service professions. As I am often reminded, if you price your work well below others’ the customer or client will assume there’s some drawback or fault with it. They’ll be suspicious, and suspicious people don’t buy. They’ll think you’re shoddy or dodgy, compared to people charging “normal” prices.

Even if those “normal” prices are 200, 300, 500% higher than cost price.

I’ve always been told to add costs (time, materials, labour) and overheads (shipping, marketing, rent, packaging, etc.) and add 100%. And yet there’s a school of thought that says we should charge higher prices simply to compete. That to not add what amounts to a “luxury image surcharge” means you’re pricing yourself away from success.

This is tricky for me – raised both poor and somewhat left-of-centre, the idea of making people pay more for something that will help them just because you can seems, well, cruel. Don’t get me wrong, altruistically charging so little that your business can’t grow is just dumb, and charging most people Real Prices can give you space to offer pro bono where it’s really needed. But when I know that for most of my peers, it’s a case of “pay rent, pay utilities, buy food, see if there’s anything left”, deliberately pricing what is supposed to be a service/devotional exercise up by more than Fair Cost + 100% (or whatever percentage is appropriate) seems counterproductive and in some cases almost blasphemous. And yet, because there is a crowd of upper-middle-class, mostly white, spiritual seekers who will not only happily pay your 300% mark-up, but perceive your goods/service as better because of it, there are many Spiritual Providers who feel obliged or entitled to do just that.

With services, there is a degree of trust involved – the client trusts you to provide value for money, and you trust yourself to provide it. With goods, however (value-added, consumables, or raw on-sold product), we have to face the fact that many people are accustomed to paying earth-raping, slave-labour, mechanised, mass-produced, chemical-soaked,  economy-of-scale prices, not true-cost prices. Conventional wisdom states then that you should create Points of Difference to show that your “artisanal” product is worth the extra cost. But at what point does that become artificial, and where does Devotional or Spiritual Service intersect with that?

For example, I recently went on a wholesaling expedition, and managed to pick up a Nifty Thing I’ve been ogling for years, but couldn’t really afford/justify at $40 retail. The wholesale price? $4. That’s right. Knock that zero right off.

While I was thrilled to finally have my Nifty Thing and take it home and put it to Work, I was a little sobered and disappointed. The wholesaler from whom I purchased was just a wholesaler. He was just selling stock, no personal investment or mission involved. But the retailers? The ones whose 1,000% mark-up had kept me from a Nifty Thing for three or four years? They bill themselves as “spiritual folk”, specifically the non-materialistic hippy-ish type. I know they need to make a living, but are their overheads really so high that such an enormous mark-up is justified? It really made me think about perceptions of worth and value – that 1,000% is accepted as perfectly reasonable by their customers, but I can guarantee none of them know about the wholesale price. Would they still be as eager if they did know? What if knowledge of the Nifty Thing’s true cost (environmental, social, and financial) and worth (magical, powerful, personal) were thrown into the mix? What would it be worth then?

To be honest, I’m running around in circles a bit. Thoughts and advice are welcome. 🙂

(I have found a bit of common sense, although it lacks a spiritual Gebo type perspective.)

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On genius and inspiration

I wish everyone would watch this. Creativity and inspiration can be a maddening gift, and one of the costs of rational humanism (*patooey!*) is the shouldering of painful responsibility for something that isn’t always entirely our own burden. As mentioned in the video, we need to accept that it’s often less a case of “being a genius”, and more “having a genius”.

Creativity is a precious, Gods-given thing, but like many divine gifts, it has the power to tear us apart if we’re not careful. Our artists and makers and creators deserve more support than society currently allows them.

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