Catpaws Cafe

Random musings from my virtual fountain pen

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

Blessed Samhain to you all

”ONCE, we commemorated the dead, left out offerings to feed them and lamps to guide them home. These days, Halloween has drifted far from its roots in pagan and Catholic festivals, and the spirits we appease are no longer those of the dead: needy ghosts have been replaced by costumed children demanding treats.”  (Bess Lovejoy)

 

Samhain is the name of the pagan celebration marking the beginning of winter. Samhain was seen as a time when the veil separating our world from the Otherworlds opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings, to to pass through. Feasts were had where the souls of dead kinsfolk were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them.

In much of the once Gaelic world, bonfires (or bone-fires) were lit and there were rituals where people and their livestock would often walk between two bonfires as a cleansing ritual, and the bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames.

People also took steps to protect themselves from harmful spirits, which included the custom of wearing costumes and masks as a way to confuse and ward-off (or possibly represent) the harmful spirits. This being particularly appropriate on a night upon which supernatural beings were said to be afoot.

Over the last century or so Europeans and North Americans have (rather successfully) pushed death and dying away from everyday life. Not so in Mexico. I’ve been here for some 6 years now and lately I’ve become fascinated with Mexico’s Grand Dame of Death, La Catrina or La Calavera Catrina.

It could quite possibly have something to do with a friend introducing me to The Order of the Good Death and that I find Caitlin Doughtys enthusiasm contagious (and the fact that I share her rather morbid sense of humor), but it’s more than that. Maybe it’s the right time, the end of one era and the beckoning of a new one. A symbolic gesture small enough to grasp though representing something infinitely much larger.

Here in Mexico, as opposed to every other place I’ve lived, death is part of life. It can be tragedy but it’s rarely grand drama. Although there are undertakers and funeral homes etc here too, the family is very much part of the process of dying. People nurse their sick and elderly at home (or sometimes in hospital), they wash and dress them.

At the wake, often held at home with an open coffin, family and friends come to spend time with the deceased and support the family members (and each other). You talk, cry, comfort and support one another, sharing memories and food, keeping the deceased company through the night, until the funeral ceremony and burial/cremation the following day.

Mexicans honor their dead all year round, which is probably the reason why I encounter far fewer ”ghosts” here (than for example in the UK). Dia de los Muertos is one of the biggest holidays in Mexico, where families and friends celebrate and honor those that have passed. Most visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried and clean and decorate their graves with offerings to the dead which often include orange Mexican Marigolds, sometimes called flower of the dead, thought to attract the souls of the dead to the offerings. Toys are brought for dead children.

In Pre-hispanic times the dead were buried close to family homes and there was great emphasis on maintaining ties with deceased ancestors, who were believed to continue to exist on a different plane. With the arrival of the Spaniards and Catholicism, All Souls’ and All Saints’ Day practices were incorporated into Pre-hispanic beliefs and customs and Day of the Dead came to be celebrated.

The belief behind Dia de los Muertos/Dia de los Angelitos (or Inocentes)/Dia de los Difuntos practices is that spirits return to the Earth for one day of the year to be with their families. It is said that the spirits of babies and children who have died (called angelitos, “little angels”) arrive on October 31st at midnight, spend an entire day (Nov 1st) with their families and then leave. Adults come the following day (2nd Nov).

Earth is the region of the fleeting moment. (Pre-hispanic Nahuatl saying)

Growing up, we just went to church, then cleaned the graves of grandparents and great grandparents before decorating them with candle cans or lanterns that then burned through the night (and sometimes the weekend).

There are many other stories I’ve heard over the years talking about this time of year, one of my favorites being one told by my grandpa. He said noone was to hunt on this day (and night) because the spirits of the dead protected the animals and would play tricks on those who didn’t refrain from doing so. Depending on their degree of disrespect and intent there would be either just a fright, a taunt or really sending them over the edge and the ”nut-house”. A keen hunter himself he’d never known anyone who disregarded this advice to shoot anything apart from on a couple of occasions an other hunter…

Grandpa was a great storyteller and you never quite knew how much was added in for the benefit of his young audience, but my gut-feeling tells me most of it did indeed have it’s roots in reality. He had lived quite a life and had many a story to tell on a rainy day.

I don’t celebrate Halloween, it is not something I grew up with. (My most memorable introduction to Halloween was watching the movie The E.T.) I’m far to introverted to enjoy donning a fancy costume that will draw the kind of attention I generally avoid and head out among large groups of people making merry… I do however celebrate Samhain in my own way.

But I’ll admire the often lavish decorations of the downtown restaurants and the costumes of their staff when I drop Mario off at work. Then I’ll go back home, lock the door, place a few white roses on my altar, light candles and incense and later put the old year to rest like the pagan I am. I will remember and honor those no longer among us in physical form, raise a mug of steaming coffee in a well met. Recite the Druids Prayer and play with the cat/s as a celebration of life.

 

Grant us O God thy protection and

in protection strength and

in strength understanding and

in understanding knowledge and

in knowledge the knowledge of justice

and in the knowledge of justice

the love of it

and in that love the love of all existences

and in the love of all existences

Love of God

The Love of the Goddess

and all goodness.

So mote it be.

(as taught to me by Septimus Bron)

Blessed be

as blessed is

and blessed

may we all be.

All pictures from Google, without any information to give credits.

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Despair. Migraine.

This post is not particularly spiritual. It is however honest and truthful. Does that make up for it?

 

Today is day three of a migraine, this week. I’ve noticed I spend as much money on migraine tablets as I do on everything else (if you exclude food, rent and bills). It feels like having a hole in my pocket. It just goes on and on in a never ending story I am so done with you have no idea. I don’t know why, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to learn from this. It makes me want to kill myself. There. I said it. Truth.

Headaches and migraines have been the bane of my life, so I thought that I’d once more try and put down on paper, migraine from the inside, just in case someone still is under the illusion that it’s ”just a headache, take a couple of asprin and stop fussing and get on with it”.

 

I hate and dread the feeling when a migraine starts, be that when you’re doing something you enjoy or when it hits you like a sledge hammer when you open your eyes. (The mental picture I sometimes get is that of myself being dragged off by one leg, with the other limbs flailing, kicking and screaming…)  I rub my neck and shoulders, lymphs-nodes and face in a desperate but ultimately pointless attempt to alleviate, delay the inevitable, the point of no return. Here comes the steamroller again…

I detest the confusion, the unnamed dread, the pounding pain and the waves of nausea. Sometimes being unable to speak. The feeling of being sucked under, the walls closing in on me and the only thing I can do is just… wait. Try not to cry. Out of anger, despair, the perceived unfairness of it all and yes, the feeling like a victim. The trying not to even move an eyeball behind my closed eyelids as it will aggravate the pain.

I lay down, not because it makes me feel any better, but because it is all I can do in between retching sessions. I must not cry in my despair coz it makes it worse, the pain creating tunnel-vision (in the event I have to open my eyes to not miss the bucket) in the gloom. My eyemask is getting damp with perspiration.

Again try not to cry when feeling so utterly helpless.  There is nothing I can do that I haven’t already tried .

 

I’ve tried going with it, talking to it, reasoning and bargaining, embracing it, accepting it, relaxing into it, to not fight it, not judge it, looking at it as neutrally as I can. Still they keep on coming.

 

I do everything I can to stall the occurrence of migraines and headaches, including wear glasses, wear sunglasses, try not to squint, watch how I sit, that I don’t sit for long in the same position, watch how I sleep, use good supportive pillows, constantly on tense-alert, avoid msg and foods containing nitrates, avoid cinnamon and chocolate, avoit eating in places that serve Mole in case of cross contamination, even the smell of chocolate can set it off. Also strong smells like petrol and chemical cleaners are best avoided, as well as loud noise especially involving a heavy baseline.

I make sure I check (and if necessary close) the Ileocecal valve every night, go over acupressure points associated with migraine relief whenever I remember (usually in the bathroom) in a prophylactic way. I detox regularly. I cook almost everything we eat from scratch.

I try to keep my blood-sugars level, eat enough protein and keep carbs complex. My blood-pressure is low as is my cholesterol. I do my best to get enough sleep. I have good pillows. I drink copious amounts of water to keep hydrated as I know dehydration is the express lane. I avoid being too much in the sun and exerting myself in the heat. I stretch and breathe. It is my second reason for not drinking alcohol. Why risk giving your self an extra day of it if it can be avoided?

 

Growing up I had braces on my teeth for nearly 5 yrs coz everyone agreed that would sort out the problem. It didn’t. I’ve had hundreds of chiropractic adjustments and naprapath treatments, and as many acupuncture sessions by 10 different practitioners in different countries. I’ve taken Chinese herbs, tons of supplements, been on any diet that even hinted of the possibility of relief, balancing and eliminating, and of course spent thousands on pharmaceuticals. I have no fillings in my teeth.

It’s one of the reasons for learning near 20 healing modalities, and sampling many many more from others including series of homeopathy, osteopathy, naturopathy, cupping, flower and other remedies, aromatherapy, Zero balancing, Cranio-sacral therapy, and other’s I’ve forgotten the names of.

 

For a couple of days ensueing each episode, my forehead feels sore to the touch, from rubbing or at times banging my head against something in sheer despair, sobbing I can’t fuckin’ stand this any longer, which inevitably makes me retch because the crying makes it worse, intensifying it to just below fainting. I actually did faint a couple of times during the last episode last week, momentary relief, all too brief.

The only good thing is I’m slowly overcoming my phobia of vomitting.

I’m becoming scared to be by myself these days, because the migraines makes me want to kill myself. There soul: take That. I’m the body and I’m in charge and you better keep that in mind if you want this experience of ensouling the body and sort this shit out. That or I might just exercise that ”right” and end this ”game” at any point – do you hear me? Are you listening? Got that? NO MORE! EVER!

I’m not scared of dying. I’m scarred of this continuing.

 

So you’ve made it this far reading, congratulations (read: thank you). Also, if you have any triptans hanging around that you’re not using, feel free to donate them to me (rizatriptan, sumatriptan, zolmitriptan). And take a minute to be deeply grateful if you do not experience migraines.

A perfectly timed demonstration of boundaries

 

I’d been writing and debating boundaries with myself most of the afternoon, and at the same time had a lovely day with Miao Cat.

On cue she climbed over quietly from the other chair where she had been snoozing just as I was beginning to flag and despair, laid down in my lap and purred away for well over 10 minutes!

She then proceeded to move onto the table so that I couldn’t write – not that I wanted to right then, being quite blissy just spending cuddle time with her.

This is how you do it (set boundaries) she said, and her whole emanation totally changed. She was still an inch away but everything about her told me just to be still and do not touch!

About 10 minutes passed before she said –ok, you can touch me again.  So I did and she purred.

-But KitKit, extroverts don’t seem to get subtleties like that, they seem to think the world is all about them.

-That’s not your problem. Snooze.

And then we just stayed like that, until my leg got numb about half’n’hour later. Companionable silence, very intimate. Me observing everything about her, counting her whiskers, adoring the pretty paws…..

 

21 September, 2012.

A different insight into multidimensionality

I was sitting at the table trying to make sense of the feeling curled up tight in the pit of my stomach. It had been there last night and returned this morning after I had a shower and breakfast. There was discernable dread, and fear, and anger/defensiveness, all for no apparent reason, plus an other one I had yet to pin to understand and make some sense of. I let the words flow onto the paper unsensored in the hope that at some point this purge would expulge the feeling of suck…

I felt upset, but completely out of proportion. I felt a sting of not good enough, but that was not it. I felt like I’d been labelled by someone else – wrongly – and now being judged because what it said on the label was not what was in the package… My hands were actually shaking at this point, and a part of me could not wait to find out wtf is really going on here… I felt fear and criticism somehow saturate my whole life experience all at once, expressed and withheld, imagined and experienced. My life condensed into an accordion-like tubular shape the size of a large soup-can, which I was looking at and feeling at the same time. A heavy dose of you’re not enough washed over me, and… I feel… PERSECUTED! That’s the feeling!  Persecuted!  Hounded.  BREATHE.  Just breathe. And again.

I closed my eyes. My high heart is fluttering. Like I’ve been fleeing on foot for miles. Keep a low profile. Live a quiet life. But the bastards will still find you and use you, and the would be protectors will never spot ya… I write the sentences down as I hear them in my head, without judgement, without demanding it make sense to my mind.

My solar plexus is aching.

I have all these good ideas and all for nothing? I feel hopeless. Held down, held back. I don’t even know what it is that I fear. It’s just that nondescript, indistinct fear permeating my torso, making my limbs jittery. Wtf?

Stones are being thrown. Mock spears of wood. I can’t flee. My feet are bound to this big boulder. The mob has made up it’s mind and nothing I can say will or can make it change it’s group mind. A stone the size of a mango hits my right temple. A bigger one my left shoulder-blade.

I try to reassure the frightened and bewildered me that I love her and I got her.

But if you love me why can’t you do something? Very good question for which I have no answer.

Now we’re both crying, my body heaving with the sobbing that knows nothing else at this point, no up down forward or past. I do not care who sees or hears me. My tears are her tears too, and if I’ve ever been in the moment, now is one of those times. There is no past, there is no future, there is only now.

She is almost unconscious by now and we’re both silently praying for it to be over soon.

The mob is turning away. It’s going to be a slow death process. Just little children left throwing little stones and gravel as hard as they can, the boys daring each other to kick the ”witch”.

So many wounds, so many broken bones.

Slow, cruel, painful, death.

(And you ask me why I do not like people, why I stay away from mobs and crowds. Are we all born barbarians to become whatever we’re taught to be?)

There’s a little girl still around when the others have got bored and left. She is hiding behind a tree and some scrubs and when she’s certain noone is watching she steals close and in her grubby little hand brings a few small forest flowers which she places near my face. She pushes my hair out of my eyes before she leaves.

Witch material for sure my current me observes. She is scarred, she’s only 5 or 6, she is horrified, but in her heart she knows what’s been done is wrong. I do not recognize her energy signature, nor am I aware of any relationship between me then and the girl.

 

I don’t know what the message here is. Maybe it just is. I don’t know what to do, to stay or go. There’s no etiquette book for these things and tho I would like to stay (because I think I would want that), this woman is too traumatized to care. There is nothing I can do for her, and nothing I can undo.

What is different to all the other times I’ve watched other incarnations of my soul or been downloaded with another life is that this one is somehow real-time… I just know this.  I feel it as it unfolds and there’s no fast forward. It’s painful and uncomfortable because I want to end it for me/ her/ us? And I can’t. There’s nothing I can do. I could sit here in a state and wait and keep vigil of sorts, but I feel that would serve no purpose. Still anchored to the dying body but no longer conscious and not aware of our connection, I choose to bring my attention back to the kitchen and the cat and my coffee. There’s nothing I can do that would make the darnedest bit of difference to body or soul anyway, and that’s hard to swallow.

The thought that at some point in time I could have been part of one of these mobs – willingly or just to save my own neck – revolts me. I don’t want to think about it, but nor am I denying the possibility of it.

Where else in my modern day life do I feel persecuted? I’m fed up living with fears, unspecified or specific. For what kind of a life does that make for? We made the connection for a reason – and I will try find a way to clear this within me.

I check back with her a few hours later and by then she is dead. I don’t know whether to be relieved or grieve, and I feel a bit of both.

 

Catpaw on Huxday, September 2012

[I did go looking for more back ground a few days later and I found some. For now I’ll just add that to me she is Sally, not entirely correct but close enough.]

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