Tag Archives: family

The things we find

7 Jun

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This is a picture of my grandparents (on the right) – a bit blurry, suffering from age and neglect. I found it while I was emptying out boxes from our last move (in 2013, mind you). I don’t know where the picture was taken, but I was glad to learn that I have something to put on to remember them by. They were married for more than sixty years, apparently happily most of the time, and they have been gone from this plane for many years. I think I was still in school when my grandmother died, and maybe had just started university when my grandfather followed her.

My grandmother, in my opinion, went out the best way a human can go. She was more than ninety years old, having coffee with several of their children on a Sunday afternoon, went into the kitchen and had a stroke. She passed swiftly, without much fuss, having been in rather good health right up until that moment.

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Another thing I found in that very same box. A tiger’s eye bracelet I must have bought way back before I became all environmental and started my crystal crusade. Honestly, I don’t remember when or why I got it. But I find it strange that it was in the same box as the family pictures.

Tiger’s eye always reminds me of my grandmother. I remember wearing a narrow tiger’s eye pendant on a gold chain most of the time. And the stone suits her well. It brings out strength, resilience and determination, helps balance your finances and gives you that push of luck you need every now and again. Just the things you need to feed your children and hold everything together while your husband is a POW in Germany. My grandmother loved to travel and spend time with her family, and she was one hell of a stubborn woman. I guess I still miss her.

(This is the Dutch side of my family tree, by the way. From what I was told, my grandfather was livid when his youngest daughter married a German, and he refused to meet my father in the beginning. After a few drinks, however, and over a game of cards, they must have become friends, for I remember them being very fond of each other.)

(And if you want to know what makes me think of my grandfather – honey. They had a fancy honey pot made from plastic that was filled with stones, and we children were allowed to play with these stones so we would not get on their nerves. Also he liked to drink a lovely honey-flavored schnapps.)

And now I am wearing the bracelet, thinking of my grandmother and hoping I may turn out as great at life as she was.

Do you have any weird family memories, heirlooms or stories you would like to share?

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Visiting the dead – an experience

29 Mar

Soem time ago a friend asked about ways to contact a dead relative, and last week we finally had the chance to try. I was a tiny bit nervous because I have never done any kind of ritual with a person not involved in witchcraft – scratch that, I have only worked with two other people, whom I have known for ages – and actively talking to the deceased is not exactly a thing I do regularly. Still I wanted to give it a try. Seeing (or rather, sensing) energies is a family talent, and in one of the houses my parents lived in before separating, when I was still a university student, I had a friendly relationship with the deceased previous owner of the house, who was living at the top of the stairs*.

Anyway, after asking for advice from a few like-minded people I decided to help said friend create a garden “in-between”, where she could go and meet her relative not only once, but regularly, if she wants to do so, and provide her with a walk-through for this journey.

First of all, I asked her to wear some kind of jewellery owned by her relative, and to prepare a meal this person would have cooked (or liked, and possibly both). We then started out by eating and talking about her family in general and this relative in particular while I decked out a simple altar (basic kit, candles, a few pictures of the person in question). While she was telling me about the individual she hoped to meet, we improvised candleholders from play-dough. The talking took a while, and I think I got a good feeling for the person we were about to meet.

When we were ready, I asked my friend to close her eyes and relax, yoga-style. I then guided her down long, winding stairs, through a door and into a garden. I wanted it to be a place with some kind of wall or fence, to keep random beings from wandering in our out, and I had her look around for a while before guiding her to a place where her relative would be waiting. I found it a bit difficult to estimate the time needed for the encounter, but after a while I guided her back to the stairs and up into everyday reality.

We wrapped everything up by consulting the tarot cards on a few things that had remained unclear to my friend, and I encouraged her to keep the candles and images in a corner of her room as an ancestral shrine, where she might want to lay down food or flower offerings for her relative. She said she would need some time to ponder her experience, but she was seemed content with the food for thought provided.

All things considered, I think it went pretty well. Tehre were a few moments where I would do something different when repeating the ritual, but I found my friend’s voyage to be calm and safe, and she returned with that mild dizziness that often sets in after astral travel. It was weird for me to concentrate outward during the ritual instead of inward, but there was a steady connection and I think this is something I may want to try again.

Have you ever tried to contact the dead, either for yourself or for someone else?

 

* I have the theory that the energy of beings disintegrates when they die. Some goes on to be reborn, some is sucked into creation to connect with all that is, and part of the essence may be left behind as a spirit or ghost, to complete lessons and watch over their family and loved ones. But that’s just that, a theory. Maybe you have a better one?

These are not my mother’s thumbs

22 Jul

Nope, definitely not. While mine are brown and able to kill almost everything, my mother has a gift with plants.

She also probably has a sadistic streak, for she sent three of her darlings to our place for torture and slow death.

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My very own avocado plant.

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A tiny orange tree.

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And wine. The picture is blurry because it is trembling with fear.

(I keep trying to explain that wine should only enter our home in bottles.)

I’ll do my best to keep the plant babies alive, but their chances are… well, surprisingly neither apple nor currant nor blueberry have died so far. Maybe I can help breed resilien and strong post-zombie-apocalypse (flesh-eating) plants…

 

 

Ringfingers and reproductive organs, the seven-year-anniversary rant

15 Jul

Today is our seven-year anniversary. And originally I was going to make you nauseous by once again swooning about my perfect guy and how we are disgustingly romantic together, and sometimes plain disgusting. Last night I licked his elbow, and that is no euphimism.

Instead I thought I’d amuse everyone with a quick rant.

Last Saturday we went out in pursuit of a fancy dinner. We tried a new Indian restaurant in Cologne. It was nice – not as good as our go-to place, but that’s still not bad. We stuffed ourselves with a four-course meal complete with vanilla icecream and mango sauce. And then, because I love sharing our boring everyday adventures, I posted this picture to FB:

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“Celebrating seven years of disgusting romance with Indian food. And while we were staring into each other’s eyes, the Duck stole our dessert. ^^ “

Not too creative, nothing exotic. You all know the Duck, right?

Then the annoying comments started pouring in.
“Has he finally proposed to you?”
“I bet you were testing wedding venues.”
” When are you getting married?”

I told them to stop asking, to no avail.

To make things clear, I followed up with this:
“For the records: For f***’s sake, stop asking us whether we have “finally made it official”. First, it’s none of your business. Second, don’t you think we’d let you know? And third, we have had seven great years. We plan on having at least seventy more. And we really don’t have to get married in order to love and cherish each other. Should we ever decide to tie the knot, we’ll tell you when (and if) we think you have to know. Just back off and smell the flowers and stuff.”

To which a friend said, “You sound as if they really struck a nerve.”

I was tempted to strangle her on the spot. But they did, kind of.

Because, honestly, the whole their-nose-deeply-buried-in-my-business attitude offends me.

I am not secretly pining for him to “ask the question” and to finally get married (because, after all, women get married, the same way that furniture gets bought).

I have not chosen a white dress or spent sleepless nights planning floral arrangements.

There are no baby clothes hidden in the back of our wardrobe, “just in case”.

To me – and this is important, I am not judging anyone else’s decision – marriage is mostly an organizational issue. I know some women are different. Some of my best friends have had amazing weddings, which they spent months planning and preparing, and glowed as if it really was the best day of their lives (so far – it is supposed to be even better after that, right?).

I have seen others move in together or marry in a hurry, only to have devastating fights and break-ups not even a year later.

But I don’t see myself worrying about dresses or shoes or cake – okay, maybe cake – or spending days handpainting invites and nametags. Should we get married (not saying we will, we could spent the next seventy years in unmatrimonial bliss!), there will be cake. And probably real food as well. And of course we will tell the world immediately – as if I could ever keep a proper secret! But it simply is not our focus, and I don’t see how our ringfingers or reproductive organs are anyone else’s business.

For seven years I have been swooning (and at times complaining) about Richard. Many of you have been there with me, probably gagging at all the sticky candy love. For four and a half years I have been cooking most of his meals without ever being tempted to poison him. We have shared everyday life, from sore feet to hangovers to shitty days at the office to terrible moods, including shouting and tears. And we still don’t want to kill each other. When he is home in the evening, instead of getting shit done we spend time together on the sofa cuddling – every single night. (At this rate I’ll never finish the next novel. )

What will change if we get married? First there are the tax breaks. And I’ll get to pull the plug if he ends up in hospital as a human vegetable.

Yes, I am that romantic.

What is my stance on all those nosy, hopefully wellmeaning people? Quite simple: No, they don’t get to interfere with our personal decisions. They don’t get to imply that we are getting too old to marry, or have kids. (We haven’t even decided whether we want any.) We still have tons of stuff to do – see the world, take the pictures, write the stories. Getting married and changing diapers has not even made it to my top ten to-do list for the next years. Doodling dirty jokes, on the other hand… So, there’s plenty of stuff they can ask about if they want to know more about our lives.

“Where are you travelling next?”
“Has he bought a new camera?”
“How long do I have to wait for the next short story?”
“Are you really into dirty doodles?”
“What about your plan to make the ultimate orange and cream cheese cakepops?”

I will gladly share the answers to these and many more questions with everyone (somewhere sunny; we’re still negotiating; almost done; maybe; I’ll share the recipe if I ever make it back to the kitchen).

(Now they have to come up with their own questions, bummer.)

But if people continue to pester us about our personal stuff, I’ll retaliate by asking wildly inappropriate questions about their own personal lives:
“Have you pooped today?”
“I bet you haven’t slept with your girlfriend in ages.”
“Does your husband like your new wrinkles?”
And if they even think about touching my belly – I am fat, not pregnant – I may try to break their favorite finger.

More changes

26 Sep

Last night saw me sitting in front of Skype, wearing nothing but a gold necklace and a confused expression and trying to figure out how to get our new satnav to do what I want.

Richard was watching from the screen, grinning. Which might have to do with the fact that he had the best view of my marvellous boobs, or with the fact that I am cute with new technology. I may or may not have threatened to switch the damn thing to girly mode, with pink streets and “You have reached another shoe shop!”

This was the only way he could have participated in the excitement new technology means for him. Because tonight, before he returns from work, I will set out to visit my motehr and her husband, and we got the satnav so I would know where I am going. A 600km trip – that would be a tiny bit more than 370 miles – on my own is quite an exciting adventure, especially since I get to drive our still-almost-new car and blast my music as loud as I want. Or listen to weird audiobooks. Or sing.

Why am I setting out on such an adventure on a work day, you ask? Well, the reason is somewhat sad. My stepfather’s mother died. She made it to 101 years, so it is probably safe to say she had a full life with children and grandchildren and stepgrandchildren and a stepgreatgrandson – but for those left behind it is never easy. And this is why I am going, to support my mother and her husband. Richard would have come as well if his work load had allowed, but alas – tide and deadlines wait for no man, I have heard.

Anyway, I finally beat the satnav into submission, figured out how to attach it to our windshield and promised to return safely and not too late on Sunday, so Richard could still try it out. He sounded genuinely excited. And they say I am cute with technology?

PBP: Children and religion

23 Aug

Link

“Children and religion can be a touchy and sensitive topic. Some people believe in raising their kids in their own personal faiths since birth…others think waiting until the children are old enough to decide for themselves is best. This topic doesn’t have to specifically be about Paganism or Wicca…it could be about Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, etc.
Do you believe children should be raised in the faith of their parents or allowed to wait and decide on their own? Were you raised in a religion that you are no longer part of? Has that changed or shaped the path you’re on today?”

Actually this topic has been on my mind quite a lot these past few days. See, a colleague is bringing her daughter to work because she simply has no one to take care of her during the day. A sweet six-year-old girl who loves spending time at the translators’ office because we are so coooool. (And probably because we have chocolate and a doll where you can remove the internal organs.) Anyway, this girl is from a rather conservative Muslim family. I like her mother, we have occasionally met outside of work as well. But of course every now and then the daughter asks questions or tells something where I have to take my own convictions out of the equation because she is not my child to parent. So instead of doing hour-long age-appropriate rants on tolerance, feminism, religion and general stupidity, I find myself saying things such as, “I bet you know Christian children who are nice, and Muslim children who are mean, right?” or (as reply to her leafing through a medical dictionary and going, “Ewwwww, that woman is naked, how gross!”), “But I bet you are naked as well when you change your clothes, and that is not gross at all, right?”

(And all the things I could say instead! I feared my head might explode.)

I think it is next to impossible not to raise your child according to your spiritual and ethic believes, but I also think you should not force it into a religion it does not want. If your son or daughter wants to participate, that’s fine, and especially for the everyday flavors of Paganism it should be impossible to seperate family and religion/spiritiality, but I think they should also learn more about other religions, besides, “They are different, so they must be mean!”

FYI, I was raised by holiday Christians, my first book was a children’s bible, and look what good that did me. ^^

(Oh, and if you were wondering, we were in Prague, Czech Republic. And this weekend another friend and I are heading to Luxembourg! Yeehaw!)

Inter-religious meetings and family obligations

2 Jun

We have just come home from my niece’s baptism.

The child is going to be raised Catholic.

I try very hard not to bitch about other religions – every path is valid as long as it leads to harmony and happiness. Just becase I am not at home in the Christian faith does not mean it cannot be the right path for other people. One of my best friends is a devout Catholic, and it has never been a problem for us.

Having said this, I think the Christian faith – and the Catholics especially – are a rather morbid bunch. I mean, the first thing a child hears as new member is that it is sinful and Jesus had to die for its sins. How do you explain that to a kid? The niece in question is young enough to not care – although she clearly did not care about the cold water – but there were other children of ages where they keep asking questions, and I have to remind myself that it is not my job to answer them (at least not with my Pagan views).

Some time ago said Catholic friend wanted me to become Godmother to her firstborn. And although it was an honor for me to be asked this, I had to refuse, pointing out that the church owuld not accept me since I am officially an atheist (German laws do not yet recognize Pagan religions), and that I would not feel up to the task to raise her child in the Catholic faith, as Godparents promise. Instead I promised to just spoil him rotten without official job title. ^^

Today’s baptism was interesting because one of the families was from Iraq, so part of the service was held in Arab and Aramaic, and because the priest really tried to emphasize the positive and make it a good experience for the mixed group of people. Still with some parts of the service it was tough to keep my mouth shut and eyes cast down so no one could see me seething, “WHAT SINS DO YOU THINK THESE CHILDREN HAVE COMMITTED SO FAR – HERETIC POOPING?”

Oh, it is going to be interesting having everyone gather when we decide to present our children to the world in a few years… ^^