Serpent dreams

I have an essay up this week on the Humanistic Paganism blog; it’s about myth, deity, naturalism, and snakes (sort of).

I never thought much about snakes, symbolically or literally, until I started reading about Brigid. Three years ago I came back to mythology and religion after nearly a decade of default atheism. I’d been reading some ancient philosophy, which bled into ancient religious culture, which brought up old interests in the occult and Paganism. My studies weren’t initially driven by a desire to reject atheism. The fascination was emerging from a part of me where atheism—or more specifically, materialism—was just beside the point.

This is the part of me responsible for weird dreams that feel true, for thoughts more accurately captured by symbols than by sentences. It’s the part of me that thrives on the fertile tension between what can be experienced and what can be proven.

The full essay is here.

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14 chemo doses to a better you

Last week, I had another cancer scare.

I’ve been in remission from breast cancer for about two years now. Every six months, I get a scan to make sure there aren’t any new shenanigans going on at my cellular level. Of course, “sure” is a relative term; I have what’s medically referred to as dense breast tissue, which is a technical way of saying my boobs are fibrous as fuck.

After this most recent scan, my oncologist called. The images showed a suspicious area the size of a grain of rice. I needed to go back in for an MRI-guided biopsy. She reassured me that sometimes these tiny spots don’t even appear on the follow-up scan – they can be just imaging blips, or regular hormonal changes.

This is the general reality of being a cancer survivor: everything could be fine, or some minute part of you could be decidedly not fine, and you just won’t know until you know.

For two days, I practiced the art of acknowledging fear without actually freaking out. Chances were decent it was all nothing, but I was also looking ahead to how another round of cancer might feel. What would be the same, and what would be new? What decisions would I have to make? What would it be like to exist in the liminal space of illness for a second time?

When you get diagnosed with cancer, you find yourself the potential protagonist of a whole slew of pop culture narratives, from Livestrong hashtags to Christian religious awakenings. Most of these stories have been easy for me to shrug off; I don’t own any rubber bracelets, and I haven’t been to church in years.

There’s one story, though, that did worm its way firmly into my brain, so seamlessly I didn’t realize it was just as artificial as all the others.

That first night after I got the news, I lay in bed looking at the ceiling, as one does when one’s hypothetical mortality suddenly becomes a calendar full of real chemotherapy appointments. Most of my thoughts were cloudy and distant, but one was completely clear. Whatever happened next, I was going to become a different person than I’d been before.

Continue reading “14 chemo doses to a better you”

It’s another dark moon and I’m cranky as fuck

Last month I wrote about dark moons, witchy culture, and awkward feelings over on the Little Red Tarot blog.

Lately, whenever the moon is dark, I don’t feel like doing ritual or reading cards or making magic.

Mostly I just feel cranky as fuck…

Here’s what I’ve decided, from the tidal depths of my crankiness: I’m not cutting cords anymore. I’m not holding strips of paper to the flame, hoping to turn my anxieties into ash.

Take in the full curmudgeonly glory here, no cleansing spell required.