strange fire

books. poetry. paganism. feminism. queerness. blog.

Andygrrrl, kung-fu computerized exam master! October 9, 2007

Filed under: holistic medicine,life — andygrrrl @ 2:35 pm

I just passed my national boards. I am, officially, a licensed massage therapist. I can put L.M.T. behind my name!

I’m going to sound incredibly cocky when I say this, but the exam has been the least of my worries. I’m that asshole who can sleep through class, cram for 15 minutes the day before and ace the final–a proper, essay exam. So a 160 multiple choice questions on a computer? Please. That’s almost insulting.

Which only means that I’m really good at taking tests. Always have been. Don’t get nerves, for the most part, and for whatever reason, my brain thrives on the typical exam environment (silent, prolonged concentration). It’s mostly a matter of logic, when it comes to standardized test, and an excellent vocabulary combined with a brazen bullshitting ability, for essays. Doesn’t necessarily mean I know shit. I can just fake it for the required couple of hours.

But I took that test, and I totally did know it all, so I didn’t even have to half-ass it.

Finding the testing center, now that was a challenge. I’m directionally impaired; I almost flunked the spatial ability pop quiz. 10 minutes before the exam started I was driving around in the wrong direction.

So now I’m here in Medium Sized College Town, drinking a latte at the bohemian student coffee shop, enjoying the sense of accomplishment and feeling oddly nostalgic around all the expensively rebellious undergrads.

I’m done with school (for the immediate future anyway). It’s sooooo nice.


Sunday zombie blogging September 16, 2007

Filed under: dyke,life — andygrrrl @ 2:04 pm


Yep, I’m back, and alive, but feeling quite undead. Jet lag is a bulldog puppy and I am its chew toy. I keep waking up at 4 AM having strange dreams that I’m getting married to a Christian preacher and I have to keep explaining to him why it’s a majorly bad idea. Also, I am so totally moping around the house.

So I’m going to go home, eat some comfort food (tomato soup), read, and pray to Goddess it rains.

But, stay tuned, because in the next day or so I will be bringing you further evidence of the global catspiracy!


life as the hanged man August 22, 2007

Filed under: holistic medicine,life,the body electric,witchiness — andygrrrl @ 2:46 pm


I’ve been focusing on my breath lately: inhaling slowly, fully, from the stomach. Most of us breathe shallowly, from the chest, which keeps your body in sympathetic mode, the flight-or-fight stress response. Listening to my breath, feeling how it flows through my body, feeling how it affects my mind and spirit.

This whole desert experience is, I’m realizing, about me learning to be embodied fully. Airy-fairy cerebral me has to learn to move, to listen, to ground myself. To breathe, rather than let my mind always spin its wheels endlessly. To keep my feet on the earth even if my head is in the clouds. It’s hard. Being in your body, really knowing it, means dealing with a lot of stuff you thought you’d forgot about, stuff you just want to ignore (the examined life ain’t a walk in the park, that’s for sure). Emotions and memories don’t just evaporate if you ignore them. They hang out in your body, because your body is your mind. You can comprehend intellectually the idea that the body/mind/spirit are all one, that your body is so very much more than a sophisticated biological machine designed to carry around your consciousness. The intellect can grasp that, but knowing it, experiencing it, is something else altogther. Gnosis. It’s intense. It’s supposed to be. The desert is a crucible, in my life.

Having the moon in Scorpio in my natal chart can be a real bitch. I’m learning to accept that as a Libra, balance is the focus of my life. I’m learning that balance is a dance, a dynamic relationship, not stagnation. I’m learning to have emotions, rather than letting emotions have me. I’m taking flower essences and St. John’s Wort to help me out; not to mute or numb emotions, but to give me the ability to see and understand them instead of drown in them. It’s the difference between, “Huh, I’m feeling kind of down today” and “OMIGOD EVERYTHING’S AWFUL WAAAAAAHHH!!!”

 Yoga is a big part of this, and tai chi as well. It’s incredibly freeing to find myself focused on nothing but my body, my breath, and movement. I’m learning to see opportunity instead of obstacles. Yeah, I’m unemployed, and flat broke, what a stroke of luck! Now I can meditate for 30 minutes a day if I want. I can build strength and stamina at the same time that I calm my mind and balance my energies. I’ve learned simplicity. I’m learning gratitude. I’m eliminating the words “ought” and “should” from my vocabulary, as well as their synonyms. I’m trying to practice patience, as I wait for my circumstances to adjust. I’m learning trust, and confidence, and the maturity to distinguish needs from wants. So when I do finish my schooling, and get a job, and start doing all the things I think I need to be doing, that I don’t have the money for at the moment, I’ll be stronger, centered. I feel capable. I’ve never felt capable before.  It’s nice.

Image from The Gaian Tarot


The Sunday Smooch July 15, 2007

Filed under: dyke,life,Sunday Smooch,witchiness — andygrrrl @ 9:15 am

Okay, so everybody “knows” now. (did I mention that my mother has 10 siblings? And that I have 38 cousins, all of whom I know relatively well?) It’s been a long weekend.

I think this calls for some Willow and Tara.


It’s kind of ironic that I owe the only depiction of witchy lesbians to a Straight White Male (not even the L Word, as far as I know, has decided to incorporate some cruncy Goddess-worshippers).


musings July 11, 2007

Filed under: life,witchiness — andygrrrl @ 5:50 pm

My necklace broke the other day; the simple wooden crescent moon strung on a piece of twine. I’m feeling bereft without it around my neck. My pentacle has long since absconded (in a long, not very interesting story involving a 19-year-old baby dyke who hasn’t realized she has a ginormous crush on me).

My necklaces were the only outer sign of my pagan identity; aside from a handful of friends, I am, as they say, in the broom closet. Even in Hippietown, most people are vaguely New Age, of The Secret and Law of Attraction variety, which means they seem to believe in everything and nothing. Or they’re Buddhists. Now a crescent moon or a pentacle won’t scream “WICCAN” the way a cross or a star of David represent their respective affiliations. But they have deep significance to me, and that was the important thing. Even staying with my parents, four houses down from the Catholic church that three generations of my family have attended, I felt comforted knowing I had these personal symbols with me.

But losing them seems reflective of  where I’m at right now, spiritually speaking: I don’t know. I’m feeling at a loss, and have for some time now. I’ve been trying, and failing, to create a meaningful daily practice for myself, some little ritual or prayer, anything to help me integrate my spirituality with my every day life. Because it’s not separate, I can’t separate my spirituality from my sexuality (it’s not a coincidence that I discovered Goddess and came out at the same time), my current career path of holistic medicine, my politics. But I feel fragmented anyway. At the same time that Goddess and Wicca has led me to places literal and figurative that I’d never imagined, I feel like I haven’t progressed much at all from my early days of clandestine ritual-making in my dorm room.

I’m tired of Wicca–even my half-assed, wildly eclectic fiercely queer Goddess-centric version of it–being something I read about. As Chesterton put it, I want my religion to be less of a theory and more of a love affair.

I think I need to stop being a solitary. I don’t know how that’s feasible, given my circumstances, but dammit, I’m lonely. It’s fucking hard, crafting a religious practice out of whole cloth all by your lonesome. I want a coven, or a least a circle, of people to celebrate and explore and meditate and pray with. I need some elders and teachers and crones to help me out (ever try to guide yourself through trance? Good luck).

Which is a bit of risk. Being a solitary practioner can be a cover story for safety. Honestly, deity scares the holy shit out of me. That’s why I fought so long against the idea of being a pagan. And every single time Goddess grabbed me by my hair and dragged me, kicking and screaming, back into the circle. I long to have an ecstatic experience of Goddess and I’m terrified of it at the same time. So I want some friends to join me when I go exploring the crazy rave that is earth-based spirituality. So I’m putting it out there, officially: listen up, Universe. I don’t how, or where, or when, but send me a circle to study and dance and ritual and play with, or send me to them, or however it works. It’s kinda boring, all by myself. If I wanted a boring spirituality, I would have stayed Christian. 


quotes and more quotes July 4, 2007

Filed under: feminism,life,Neil Gaiman — andygrrrl @ 9:45 am

There are definitely people who look at the entirety of what’s going on the world today as a couple of people fighting over whose imaginary friend likes them better. And then you’ve got people who say, “No, no, this isn’t an imaginary friend, he’s actually the real thing. But that guy over there, he’s an imaginary friend.” And it’s huge and it’s responsible for an enormous amount of worry and difficulty and it’s why I’m not allowed to travel with eight ounces of shampoo. I’m allowed four ounces. I’m going to have to pour away half of my shampoo before I can put it in my quart bag and put it in my carryon. Which is really bizarre. And that’s because of people arguing over things that many people regard as imaginary. Chiefly, gods, religions, and national boundaries, which are absolutely imaginary. They’re completely notional. They don’t tend to exist. As soon as you pull back half a mile and look down at the Earth there are no national boundaries. There aren’t even any national boundaries when you get down and walk around. They’re just imaginary lines we draw on maps.

Neil Gaiman, Bookslut Interview, October 2006

I went out to my car this morning, to run and get some breakfast, and I had a flyer stuck to my windshield: “Celebrate Independence Day! History shows that the Founding Fathers were Christians, and that America was founded as a Christian nation! History shows that the Bible is the literal word of God!”

I tore it up in to several tiny pieces, with all the venom and intention of destroying such garbage as I could muster up. It’s probably the most patriotic thing I’ll do all day; I’m going home for two weeks, and I’ll spend most of today packing and driving to the airport.

As Virginia Woolf said (and talk of “patriotism” always makes me think of this), as a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.


Further postcards from Hippietown June 26, 2007

Filed under: hippietown,life — andygrrrl @ 10:50 am
  • “Yams have a higher vibrational frequency than potatoes.” I’m entirely not sure what that means, but my roommate Elrond assures me that’s why he’d rather use yams when making raw vegan mashed potatoes.
  • Elrond also had his friends and family back home (in the South) drumming at a party in an effort to literally teleport him there. Something to do with South African drumming rhythms and the earth’s rotation…it didn’t work. But he could hear the drums and feel the heat of the fire. Apparently.
  • We’re friends with a chocolatier who makes raw vegan truffles (death by chocolate, dear readers, but oh what a happy way to go!); he has a daughter, Lyra. She’s the only three year old I know who would rather eat dulce than candy, and who has a t-shirt of the Hindu elephant god Ganesha.
  • She also has dreams about aliens. Her parents believe this means she astral-travels when she sleeps.
  • People don’t go on diets here, they do “Master Cleanses” and drink apple juice for three weeks.
  • I think I officially qualify as HippieFreak because I’ve done an authentic sweatlodge. There’s a guy in town who has it all set up in his backyard, and it’s invitation-only; “you have to be a friend of a friend” kind of situation. He could make a fortune if he was willing to sell his culture to tourists. It was intense. I don’t recommend doing one “just for the hell of it”, because you won’t be able to handle the effects.
  • Of course, every day feels like a fucking sweat lodge now. I wish we had a swamp cooler (like air conditioning, but environmentally friendly. Something to do with blowing air over water to cool it off).