“What is it with damned ravens….”

This comment was made earlier today and I commented back with some amount of whimsy and didn’t take it very seriously. Afterwards, though, whatever the actual intent of the comment (which I took as whimsy itself), it occurred to me that ravens do make an inordinate amount of appearances in what I write here, and I don’t think I made it clear how the pen name I had came about, or the significance of the raven.

It all really started about the time I was eighteen years old, maybe nineteen. I’d decided I was done pretending to be a Catholic — I had no respect for the Church and had the whole Dear God thing going on in my head. I’d always had a torrid relationship with the Church when I was asked to not come back for a while to Sunday school for asking difficult questions, and I was appalled at the hypocrisy I observed when someone in my family had their future spouse bought their way into the faith to marry them, and then she had to pay extra for an annulment when it turned out he was a scam artist, draining her bank account as fast as she could fill it and had the authorities after him for doing it to other women in the past.

So I started looking elsewhere. Buddhism (which was unfortunately presented to me in a very unhelpful manner and turned me off completely at the time) was first. Then I researched others and stumbled across Mists of Avalon at the same time as the Mission’s Carved in Sand came out. As a result, I stumbled on Starhawk and her flavor of Wicca. I immediately gravitated towards it because of the familiar ritualism. The Arthurian influence of Mists also drew me towards British Isles myth; at first welsh and British, and eventually dropping me off in Irish myth. Throughout this, the figure of the Morrigan kept cropping up and I adopted her as the archetype resembling the Goddess in my practice.

Continue reading

Life and Death

How do I know that loving life is not a delusion? How do I know that in hating death I am not like a man who, having left home in his youth, has forgotten the way back?

How do I know that the dead do not wonder why they ever longed for life?

Zhuangzi, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu

Autumn ghosts

Only he who has no use for the empire is fit to be entrusted with it.


As I occasionally do, always with delusions of grandeur and abandon, I am considering dedicating some time in October to internal alchemy.

That’s my fancy way of saying that I might start attending to “getting my head screwed on right” via refreshing my mind of the words of old dead guys (and a few yet living) and setting aside a chunk of time to meditate and/or practice some tai chi, qi gong, walking long distances in reflection, etc.

Though it might prove hard to do, I think setting aside current events reads might be better than keeping abreast of the chaos and idiocy running rampant out there. By paying so much attention to things out of my control, I am like the preying mantis waving his arms in front of an oncoming wagon in another of Zhuangzi’s reflections. It is ultimately a useless exercise and only spreads the cancerous rot of the current environment to my soul.

While the thought of running off to somewhere like Canada, Iceland or Finland* to escape the turmoil in the States sounds appealing to “my friend”, it probably isn’t workable and probably wouldn’t solve much. I mean, he only has 20-40 years (on the outside range) left to deal with it, right? And there is little guarantee that his family would thank him for uprooting them (his own parents would be livid).

So, I’ll stay put and exorcise a few ghosts and demons by pretending I can be some Taoist or Zen sage if I only try hard enough at not trying — and then close my eyes and try not to wince when early November comes around.

Maybe I’ll have found enough center after my efforts in October to observe and not try to put value judgments on what occurs. Oh, there I go again with those delusions.

* [Edit 07:28 am local: This assumes any of those places would even want me.]


there is nothing
so soothing as
hot green tea on a cold
rainy day

I don’t know why it seems that coffee is an anytime drink and green (or oolong) tea seems best reserved for autumn and spring mornings. It is probably just a weird bias on my part, but I tend to avoid it in both the hottest part of summer and the coldest part of winter. It just doesn’t feel “right”. I occasionally drink black tea but, given the choice between black tea and coffee, I’ll always go with the latter.

I’ve been enjoying my tea the past few days, especially after the first steep. Most people don’t know the multiple steeping opens up the flavor as long as you’re using whole leaf and not bagged tea. I usually use my teaspoon of leaves upwards of 3-10 times before chucking them, depending on the variety.

Tea is very much a Zen thing for me, hence the title of the post.

Continue reading