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oh dear   4 comments

the Lenaia were pretty deep and rich this year, but I barely touched on the Anthesteria.

bought Fiona in the middle of them, so there’s that.

forgot the Thargelia entirely. still amazed at that.

didn’t do the LEMs.

and nothing for the GEMs. i don’t think i’ve done NOTHING for them in the last decade or more.

i’ve had some amazing experiences and communications, but ritual this year has been remarkably light or absent.

keep this up and i’ll have to turn in my recon badge.

khairete

suz

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Posted October 4, 2018 by suzmuse in Uncategorized

re-grounding at Moonshadow   Leave a comment

IMG_0242it takes me about 24 hours to catch up to myself when i travel and come home.  being able to wander solo helps.

all the girls came out with me wander in the moonlight. including the kitten, who took half an hour to catch and bring in afterwards.

it’s staggeringly beautiful. the fireflies are scattered like diamonds in the grass.

when we got home (after a nail-biting drive) i ran out back to say hi to the mares. fiona was way in the back, in the woods. when i called her, her head snapped up, her ears flew forward, and she came jumping out of the underbrush, and galloped over to me.

that was a moment so full of happy i don’t have words.

and just to keep me sufficiently humble, it took no time at all to return to the rhythm of chanting 47 times in a 12 minute period, ‘delilah, quit eating poop!’ later in the evening.

ivy is purring on my lap. marley is curled up next to the keyboard, glowing spookily in the orange light of the pumpkin. delilah is pleading with me to go to bed, so she can.

home.

 

Posted September 29, 2018 by suzmuse in Uncategorized

pears in the moonlight   2 comments

the big cats came with me to make offerings to Athena, Mnemosyne and Persephone at the corner pear tree. marley sat and watched while i poured out brandied peaches among Muninn’s roots while the fat moon rose over the trees. ivy prowled close to the house.

crickets are starting to weave their song into the deep buzz of the cicadas. to my surprise the bullfrogs are also singing tonight. it created an odd, discordant music, weirdly unsettling.

the mares drifted over, lips flapping, mooching. muninn is covered with silver globes, shining in the moonlight. i fed them to the mares, sweet juice running over my fingers, greedy crunching.

the early dew is chilly. the fireflies are done, but there were odd gleams in the darkness of the trees. maybe just moonlight on the leaves.

i love late summer.

Posted August 25, 2018 by suzmuse in Uncategorized

pony therapy   8 comments

28059544_10155276503281546_3004589278357429413_ni lost my mojo with Fiona back in the spring. she tossed a friend of mine and hurt her pretty badly. it sucked that my mare hurt someone i care about, and also sucked that seeing it scared me more than i realized at the time. sucked most of all that the Face could feel my fear, of course, and she lost confidence in me. we had a few really not-fun rides.

i got help from my young Jedi master, Gabrielle, the daughter of my friend Lettie who is also my Arab guru. Gabi is a slip of a girl but has been riding the entirety of her two or so decades, as a catch rider so she can manage pretty much anything she lands on. and she and Fiona liked each right from the gitgo. Gabi has a wonderful feel and empathy for a horse. mine’s not bad, but it’s the result of decades of study and hard work. Gabi’s comes naturally AND she’s worked at it, so it’s a great deal for all of us. Gabi has unlimited access to a really nice horse, i get a Jedi master at the beginnging of her Jedi career when she’s in my price range, and Fiona gets ridden by two people who adore her.

yes, i’m long in the tooth to be a Padawan apprentice. but here i am.

it’s been a lousy summer for riding. between the bugs, torrential rain and a miserable series of blicky colds for me, i haven’t been in the saddle much.

but between lessons, Gabi’s rides on the Face and my own efforts, we’ve had a decent amount of success.

so i was optimistic when i climbed aboard on saturday, despite the heat and mugginess and bugginess, and the divine Miss Fi’s displeasure at working in tropical weather. she showed her ass pretty early. for once my paddock was JUST dry enough to work in, so we started there and then moved to the front field just to warm up. and sure enough, by the fallen tree (she’s been saying there are gremlins there since it came down, although she grazes around it quietly enough at liberty) she started hunching up her naughty little back and tucking in her naughty little nose and stutter stepping her naughty little feet and saying in no uncertain terms, ‘i can buck! just watch out! i’m gonna buck!’

so i put her to work, walking serpentines and figure 8s, pole bending around the trees, ducking under the branches, halting, backing, just keeping her brain so busy with Things that she got so interested she quit thinking about bucking. we looped and zigged and meandered back to the paddock, where she relaxed and i went right into a brisk sitting trot.

trotted and trotted, over the poles, which she did MUCH better than last week, big circles, little circles, direction changes, leg yields, spirals, collected to working and back again. boom. not only did the physicality wear the rough edges off, she’s just so smart and curious that if i can capture her brain and not give her anything to resist, she can’t help but come along.

at the right lead canter, her bad side, she picked up the wrong lead twice and made bucking noises again although she never actually bucked during the entire ride. but i made a cool discovery- if i do the trot poles on the right rein and ask for the canter immediately after, i get the correct lead AND no drama. score!

left lead canter was awesome, quiet and stretchy on a longish rein, two full circles.

cool out back in the front field, feeling like a pair of boss bitches, but at the tree she started jiving again. i immediately hopped off, ran up the stirrups, loosened the girth, and started leading her right into and under the limbs, climbing on the big branches and bouncing on them, inviting her in to play. ‘i wanna rock and roll all night’ came on my spotify so i took the reins over her head and began to headbang ponderously. she found this alarming (to be fair, anyone would) but by the end my girl was dancing with me. we bounced and played all around the fallen tree and in and out of all the others, and then trotted laughing breathlessly back to the paddock.

my mojo’s back.

 

Posted August 19, 2018 by suzmuse in Uncategorized

Coming in last   2 comments

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In 2000, when I was 40, I ran my first 5k. My friend Martha patiently trained me for months beforehand, distracting me with her funny stories and gentle good humor while I bitched and moaned and whined and complained. The race was the Run Through History at my Antietam Battlefield (yes, it’s mine) and I came in last.

It’s kind of fun coming in last. The race crew is REALLY excited to see you. You get way more cheers than you do coming in not last but toward the end of the pack, which is where I’ve run pretty consistently ever since that first race.

I actually took a long break after that inauspicious beginning, but when I started getting close to 50 and my weight was creeping up and my energy levels were fizzling out and I realized I don’t like bicycling or pilates or yoga at home by myself but I also don’t like to drive to (or pay for) gyms and walking didn’t seem to be doing the trick, I decided to bite the bullet and get back in the game.

I did a 5k. Then I did a 10k. I did a few more. Then I got really bold (and Martha came back into my life and got me ready, bless her) and did a half marathon. That was a huge high moment for me, crossing THAT finish line. At no time did I ever lose a ton of weight or develop anything like speed. But having the tenacity to plod for 13 miles was pretty heady. I was proud of myself, and rightly so.

The ol’ man eventually jumped on the bandwagon, and he’s a natural athlete so he got really good really quickly. Before long we did our first half together, and by together I mean we were at the same race. I don’t expect anyone to keep my pace. I have had vultures circle me. No lie.

Then we got a crazy wild hair up our respective asses and decided to go for the big prize. I still can’t believe we trained all that winter of ’13-’14, not only brutal distances but brutal weather, but we did it. We ran the Gettysburg Marathon in spring of 2014. Gettysburg has a 6 1/2 hour limit which I was sure I couldn’t reach and I didn’t care. I had myself pegged for an 8 hour finish and the ‘official’ time and medal didn’t matter one little bit.

Well, until about mile 20 when, to my utter shock, I realized I had a shot of making it across the finish line in under the time. So my last 6 miles, already miserable, were even more so because I was pushing it past my comfort zone (not that there’s a comfort zone in a marathon) in order to make it.

And I did it. 2 minutes under the time, and 3rd to the last of all the finishers. Damn, that felt good. And I’m not sure anything in my life has tasted better than the carton of chocolate milk I polished off, my medal around my neck.

Survived all of that, the training and the marathon, without injury, but 6 months later in the Freedom’s Run half I ballsed up both feet, and have been coping with plantar fasciitis ever since.

It puts a crimp in your running for sure. And sets up a vicious circle of not running because your feet hurt, so you gain weight, which makes your feet hurt more, and increases the chances of re-injuring them because feet don’t like the weight/running combo, O no my precious.

I kept doing the shorter runs for a year, but the pain took a toll. I managed one more half, and then basically quit running. I’ve barely run 4 miles at a pop for the last year. I honestly can’t remember the last time I ran further than that, and mostly what I’ve done is walk, or nothing.

Lots of nothing.

So what possessed me to sign up for a 10k trail run? Trail runs are not my friend anyway. I don’t run well on trails. I trip, and sometimes fall, and for an aging fat girl falling is not fun and potentially dangerous.

I thought I’d get ready, that signing up would motivate me, but it didn’t. I got so angsty about it that I told the ol’ man I was going to switch down to a 5k, which would still be challenging. Trail runs feel like twice the distance of road runs. And that wouldn’t be bad. A 5K trail run after a year of no training would be a good start.

But then spring happened. I was so euphoric at having warm sun and cool breezes on my winter-shriveled skin that I threw caution to the wind and stayed in the 10k.

The farm where the run took place was an hour away, up in the mountains of West By Gods Virginia on a spectacular farm with naturally raised sheep and chickens,  lovely fields and woods. It was once around the course for the 5k and a simple second loop for the 10. Fairly small field, which was nice because the woods required single file, and there weren’t a lot of port-a-potties.

I started out walking at the back of the pack, got stuck behind people walking even more slowly than I (imagine that!) through the woods, then walked all the grassy bits and bumped up to my slooooow distance jog only where the well-surfaced dirt road was wide and safe. And downhill. It was challenging, but even out of shape it was a sensible plan that I could maintain.

By the time I looped around the 5k-ers, even the slow ones like me, were finishing up, and the 10k-ers were well on their way around the second loop. So I had the rather unique experience of having the entire course to myself, which was really kind of wonderful.

By then the sun was getting pretty hot, but it coaxed out the sacred intoxicating fragrance of fresh-cut hay, one of my favorite smells in the world, one that tells me the Mother is right there, immanent, present and manifest in my world. There were streams and ponds with peepers and bullfrogs. Most of the trees were only just waking up, so still traced lacework fingers against the blue blue sky. It was just me, and the mountains and fields, and some really sweet volunteers who didn’t guilt trip me for keeping them waiting.

As I topped the last hill the ol’ man was waiting for me, to cheer me across the finish line. As it came into view the announcer called my name and everyone there broke into applause. And as if that weren’t wonderful enough, a big bald eagle came soaring right overhead. Himself, giving me an attagirl.

I didn’t get a picture of him. The fellow up there is a stock photo (thank you, WordPress!) But he was every bit that spectacular. Especially since the run is to benefit the wild bird population of WV.

Heh. I am a rambler. I didn’t really start this bloggy post to talk about my run, but about the way my attitude has changed about running. I’ve never had any ambitions to win or even to be fast. But I had some sensible goals along the line- to improve my time, to work on intervals and hills, get my wind up, my heart rate down, lose some weight, get better at distance and trails. I even achieved some of them.

It seems funny to think about now, but during the marathon training David and our brother-in-law Michael, who did the marathon with us, were doing a long run, somewhere in the 20 mile range, but it was my short week. I did a sweet 7 miler around Sharpsburg, and every step was happy. It felt SO good do ‘only’ 7 miles after the increasingly long ones I’d been doing. I remember thinking ‘7 miles will never seem long again.’

Well, I was wrong about that. Also about one of those silly parameters I set for myself that I’d never do a mile slower than 15 minutes, and do at least one half marathon a year.

Goals are great. I don’t know how one improves without ’em. But I’m not in a goalie place right now. My run today was the run I needed to do today, and it might not be the run that’s right for me next week. I’d still like to work back up to halfies again. But at a weight that’s a top end for me and hinky feet, who knows?

Today’s time was 16 minutes and 44 seconds per mile. I came in last. And I loved it. I’m no longer in a place where I beat myself up for it. While I’d love to be slim and fit and fast, what I am is someone who at 58 with a big round belly and bad feet can still lump along for 6 miles. Today that’s plenty good enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted April 15, 2018 by suzmuse in Uncategorized

Friday 13th, Spring ’18 edition   Leave a comment

Late in Elaphebolion, and the first day it’s actually felt like spring.

Freya’s been wearing her spring pinafore for several days now, but it sure stands out beautifully against the sky, doesn’t it?

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I got up early so Fiona and I could meet my friend Patricia and her son on the canal to take some Pretty Pony Pics for a project they’re working on promoting the C&O and towpath. I was shocked to see the flies clustered all over the mares, after a full day spent snowing just earlier this week. And of course my white horse was grass and mud-stained to the point where only a bath will do, which wasn’t an option, so funky patches and all we set off for the towpath.

After Stephen was finished taking pics of her we went for a nice by-the-river ride. The bluebells are up, the grass is screaming green and the trees are starting to fill in. Hawks and crows soared along with us. Fiona was being so good that I decided not to take the towpath back, but to dare the little windy road down by Taylor’s Landing that eventually leads back home.

It was a good call. Not much traffic on a weekday, and the ones we met were courteous and gave us a wide berth. It was just so sweet. Daffodils and tulips in front of the houses, blessed golden sunshine with just enough of a cool breeze to frustrate the flies, tender little violets in the green, courting birds, lots of new calves and lambies, and a good horse underneath me.

It was the longest ride I’ve taken on her yet, and she was tired, but still bright and willing and curious at the end. I sure lucked out with this little mare.

Enjoying her doesn’t stop the ache where Nik lives in my heart. That long red neck stretching out in front of me and huge power stride and and firedust gleam of her coat are imprinted in my soul story now. But oh, oh, it’s awfully good to ride again, and with love and longing for my old girl, it’s nice at my age to have an easier ride. Fiona has some pepper to her and we’ve had words, and a few bratty teenage meltdowns, but overall she simply doesn’t have a lot of issues.

When we got home Jasmine called to her from the barn, and she called back. It’s the first friendly exchange I’ve seen them have.

Put on Fiona’s (adorable) new fly mask and turned her out, let Jazzie out, turned on the hose and peeked out at them- she already had the mask off. Sigh.

It being simply too magnificent to do Inside Things, I grabbed a wheelbarrow and a shovel and my dog and spent a wonderful couple of hours digging the first trench which will define the pathways of the fairy gardens I’m putting in. Couldn’t have had a better start. Worship is rituals and libations and offerings and prayers, but for a Demetrian it’s always and forever digging in the dirt as well. The good chunk of the shovel going in, the rich smell of earth, the bright stripe of red Maryland clay against the fresh green grass. Some big rocks surrendered to my shovel and got added to the herms on either side of the driveway. A vengeful multiflora fairy snagged my arm but good, blood spattered all over my shorts (got to wear SHORTS!) and dripping down my arm, which made the fat flies love me. Spent a little time with my old Trampie dawg at his guardian spot. Spent a little time in the Dark Faery Realm. Spent a little time at the Persephone shrine. Spent a lot of time blissing on the sun and clouds and trees and horses and dog.

Once the trench was dug I took a handful of small coins and scattered them along the bottom, offerings for the fae and the Mother. And then I danced and danced. In my old sweat shorts and construction boots, with headphones and flies and happy dog and interested mares.

I can’t be held responsible. Spotify was dialing up the disco.

I rarely do stuff like dance and worship and twirl and bliss out in the open these days, except at night. But sometimes a priestess just has to dance. That open and for-now empty trench is brimming with happy springtime energy, and I think whatever I plant there will show it.

It’s a fine thing to be a Pagan, and attuned to the seasonal changes and moon phases, and to have Friday 13ths be a thing of joy instead of superstitious fear.

Between the fag end of winter and the cold and the grey and the wet and the sucking mud and being tired and foggy and depressed about the state of the world I was starting to wonder if I was losing my mojo. All it took was a day of sun on my skin and wind on my face and horses and dirt.

 

Posted April 13, 2018 by suzmuse in Uncategorized

A News Fast, the Anthesteria and Other Random Things   2 comments

I’ve quit watching the news. It was turning into an obsession. So was reading it and arguing about it on Facebook. The sheer awfulness and grotesquerie had me riveted.

So I quit, for the term of the Anthesteria. It’s been almost two weeks now since I’ve read an article on Trump or turned on a news station, and it was only hard for the first day. Now I’m so much happier watching Friends or Scrubs while I do household chores, and scroll past all the shouting on Facebook.

I get all the arguments about staying informed. I do. But sometimes lowering your combustion point is more important.

I think for me that when millions of Americans decided that the appropriate way to treat teenagers who had survived a massacre at their school and were turning their grief and terror and outrage into action is to smear, demean and threaten them, I decided to check out of the America-That-Is-Becoming. It’s not about Trump, ghastly though he is. It’s the demise of the shining ideals I thought were the country I’ve always loved. It’s about Americans, who are to a great extent far more foul, hateful and worst of all, abysmally stupid than I ever dreamed. Proudly, loudly ignorant, and viciously committed to anti-intellectualism.

But this isn’t a post about politics, or the alt-right, or the other atrocities going on in the world. I’ve pulled in the boundaries to right outside my fingertips for the time being, and that was just to explain why. Hopefully I’ll rebalance at some point soon and find a way to be involved and au courant without feeling dipped in a sewer, but until then I’ll remain in my bubble.

What I really want to do is get down my thoughts about the Anthesteria while it’s still fresh in my head. Another of the posts that’s far more for the future Me than anyone else. Sucks to be Future Me, as my stuff is scattered through social media, three blogs, a couple of diaries, a couple of sacred journals, and a stack of spiral notebooks. It’s a wonder I ever find any notes when I need ’em.

After missing the Anthesteria last year to the flu, it was terrific to dive back in this year, even though I’m weirdly and aggravatingly busy to the point where it’s making me a little mad (in all senses.) I didn’t get immerse myself totally in the unsettling festival that is the Anthesteria, but I did perform the rites, participate in the cyclical events that occur when the Dead of Dionysos flood out of the Underworld, and a have a few precious moments of ekstasis.

I flew in and out of the festival, having to work, and do mundane shit like get the photos uploaded and prints ordered for the upcoming show, and most of all bliss on the unexpected blessing of getting a new pony two days before the festival started. It was a disjointed focus. But it’s a disjointed festival. So there’s that.

28059544_10155276503281546_3004589278357429413_nFiona is a pretty wonderful distraction, eh? But never fear, priestessing comes before ponies, even when they’re pretty little Arab ponies with angel faces. And I didn’t let her get in the way of the rites, although I did take a couple of glorious hours on Khoes and go gallivanting on her.

I had really meant to start the festival on the Eve Of, as is traditional, but I was so behind going into it that I really needed the Eve Of to study, get a ritual plan written out, and pull the stuff for the festival together. I’ve gone into Dionysian ritual before by the seat of my pants, and it has bitten me in the ass. He’s a God of wildness and spontaneity, for sure, but having flowers and grapes and wine and chocolate are important ritual elements. If you don’t believe me, go find wherever it is I wrote up the Anthesteria a few years ago and forgot to buy wine and offered Him vodka instead. Thought it would be no biggie. Won’t think that again.

I had moments of this festival being deeply, personally meaningful, and stretches where the World maddeningly yanked me out of it. The main lesson I take from it, I think, is that sometimes priestessing is just about performing the rites. NOT getting anything personally out of it. Being there for my Gods, the spirits of place and time and necessity, my ancestors, and the nymphs. Pouring the libations, saying the prayers, making the offerings, purifying the space, arranging the flowers, reciting the hymns and epithets, bringing into the physical world the sounds and gestures and scents and actions that They require. If I get awesome messages and dunked in waterfalls of Love and story ideas and admonishments and direction changes and moments of awe or ecstasy or holy terror, that’s great. But I’m not the most important being in these interactions by a long shot, something we all pay lip service to but don’t always keep front and center.

The days ran together weirdly too. I had the festival broken into the traditional three days of Various Focuses, but they all bled and ran together in a way they never have before. Pithogia began after a rare night of insomnia followed by both jobs and a busy night, so I was flat out exhausted. Nonetheless I put together a beautiful altar if I do say so myself, with Linganore Indulgence (a sweet red local dessert wine, with chocolate) for Pithogia, 19 Crimes ‘The Banished’ for Orestes on Khoes, and Dark Horse merlot for Khutroi.

Anthesteria shrine

It wasn’t until I was out in a beautiful dusk that the World fell away, and I finally clicked into Priestess mode. It was just wonderful to reconnect, and re-member what my true purpose is. Didn’t last, mind you. I spent the whole three days seesawing wildly between joy, frustration, despair and calm resolution.

On Khoes it felt important to do a full lustration, really work to get the miasma out, but I don’t know that it was entirely successful. I made my Erigone girls, but they didn’t tug my heart the way they have in prior years. Because of time constraints I almost just printed them off the computer, but it feels important to make them, trace them, cut them out and color them, so I did. Although somehow despite being sure I had made the sacred nine, when I went out to hang them I only  had seven. So seven was it this year.

I performed the rites, the prayers, the actions.

Once again I found the silent portions of the day almost impossible, not because of any proscription about it, I’m just so dialed into reading the hymns aloud, using breath and voice, that I forget not to. I did spend a good portion of the day in silence, but not really the deep eerie silence of Orestes. However we did share the last bit of his wine together, he and I, on the deck under the moon, and what we said to each other shall remain between us. It was a good conversation, and really the only part of the day that went to traditional plan.

Khoes

On Khutroi I made the panspermia and dispersed it to the various shrines outside along with the moody dark creepy Dark Horse wine. The Basilanna energy, which had been notably absent on its traditional Khoes, roared in and overtook most of the day, which was disconcerting because it was another very busy day in which Dio and His Bride were jarring and overwhelming.

Not that I’m complaining. One thing I’ve learned about the Anthesteria is that the unexpected is all you can expect, and they weren’t anything like I expected this year, which is just what I expected.

And I did get some thrilling touches from Mnemosyne and Hermes, Working on me in tandem.

Wow.

khutroi

Another Anthesteria in the books! Time to go out the barn and play with my pony.

Anthesteria blessings to you all, dears.

Khairete

Suz

 

 

Posted March 3, 2018 by suzmuse in Uncategorized