Update: March 1st, 2017

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My Imbolc Altar

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a personal update post, or written at all really. This first part of the winter semester has been rough, and I’ve been unable to create as much content for the blog as I would have liked to. My classes are interesting, and I’m very fond of all of the professors that I have this time around, but I think that the academic burnout and senioritis has really started to sink in, as well as a string of sort of rotten luck (more on that in a moment). It’s felt like an uphill struggle; now, with only a few more weeks left, it’s feeling a bit like careening down the other side of that hill in a rollercoaster cart. For the next month and a half or so, I’ll be much less active online, as I’ve a fifteen and a twenty page paper to do for my major history courses along with coursework for the other two classes I’m taking. The monthly tarot readings are also going to be left for the time being and will resume in May once I’ve graduated.

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The Feb. Full Moon, Seen From Campus

The biggest struggle this semester, aside from academics though, has been my own battle with depression and anxiety. Due to a number of conflicts, circumstances that couldn’t be prevented, etc. my friend group has gotten dramatically smaller here. On top of that, money has been a real struggle, and the limited budget means weird diet shifts every couple of weeks- all really typical college student stuff, but sort of exacerbated by the aforementioned academic stress and dramatic decrease in social circle. I finally went “This is a problem, and I need some help,” after having a bit of a mental breakdown over a splinter of all frigging things a few weeks back. I’ve been going to the campus counseling center, using some essential oils, and spending more time with the few friends I DO have left around. I think, for the most part, I’ve really pulled myself out of that pit for the time being, and am starting to come back round the bend to a better place.

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Little things have really been the cause of several shifts, good and bad, over the past few weeks. I’ve been able, with the exception of this past week or so, to post a YouTube video to my channel for the YouTube Pagan Challenge each week. I was visited by my soul-brother and best friend, Mark, and we got to talk several times on spirituality, plans for the summer, goals, etc. and make a video with one of our close friends, Shelby, on the experience of being a pagan and a millennial. You can find that on YouTube here. I also, during his visit, acquired a new tarot deck: After Tarot. I’m hoping to do an actual review of the deck later on, but in the past few weeks of having it, I can honestly say that I love it to pieces. The creators of the deck seemed to be aiming, from what I read in the book that accompanied the deck, to be looking for more of a predictive tarot style: really reaching into the future past what the cards traditionally depict and represent, but I’ve gotten a different feel from it (more on that later, I promise!).

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The 4 of Wands, 10 of Swords and 5 of Swords from After Tarot

The other major change / update in my life is that I am no longer moving to Florida in May. Due to a number of circumstances, most of them financial, it will not be possible for my boyfriend and I to afford our own place for a while. At first, I was really upset about this. I’d spent months planning this, and was so close to its fruition now when I found out that it wasn’t going to work. As I’ve stewed over the situation though, I’ve realized it might honestly be for the better anyway. For one, it makes a lot of financial sense to move back in with my parents and just dump all of my money from a job into paying back student loans, and do things like learn to drive, take up my parents’ offer to help me get a car, etc. But, beyond that, it also perfectly plays out in favor of some of the goals I’d already set for myself spiritually speaking. I’d been planning on taking a year between graduation and going into school for funeral services to pay loans and devote a good deal of time to spiritual study. Needing to live with my parents also keeps me from being close enough to a program to even contemplate more school; essentially all I can do is work, pay loans, and work on really developing and revitalizing my spiritual path. I also had a plan for a small tattoo in devotion to the Wylde Hunt that I will now more feasibly be able to afford without having to pay a bunch of money to move all the way from Florida to Michigan. It really sucks that my seeing my boyfriend again is postponed, and that I’m stuck moving back home, but I’m starting to think that it might not be so bad- and even for the best, really.

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The Hierophant from After Tarot

I’ve a number of plans for spiritual / witchy stuff in the works for the coming months. I’m currently participating in the #tarotnerdschallenge on Instagram throughout the month of March, and the YouTube Pagan Challenge videos, and hopefully some posts correlating to those videos, will be continuing throughout the remaining weeks of this semester. My parents have graciously given me permission to through a Beltane bash just after my graduation with my witchy friends from school and my home town, and I’m very much looking forward to that. Beltane will also mark the beginning of a year devoted to spiritual study, as I’ve mentioned. I’m really looking to pick up my old project of trying to create a fleshed out path centered around the Wylde Hunt again, and am hoping to compile it and maybe even publish it as a book; this time I’m looking at it more holistically- trying to include a healthier diet / exercise portion in it, myth/history, interpreting the Hunt as psychopomp and ferrier of the soul from one place of being to another, etc. etc. etc. More of this will probably come in blog posts as I work on the research and practice required for it to be ‘completed’.

That reminds me. Those who followed my old blog, The Raven & The Oak, will find that it has now been taken down. I went through the process of saving all of the posts on it to a Microsoft Word file for my own record and memory. It felt as though it was time. Many of the posts were from my high school and early college days; my path has changed, my ways of writing and thinking about different topics have changed. I noticed that my younger self was particularly problematic about sourcing information and images used in posts, too. It was time to let it go, and to move forward with current projects instead. Hopefully, The Patchwork Crow will be a bit more sophisticated than my previous blog had been.

Many blessings to you all,
Rachel

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A Self-Love Journey: My Teeth

For the month of September, Kelly-Ann Maddox is hosting Self-Love September on her blog and YouTube channel as well as in exclusive sounds and sessions material (if you can purchase it, I highly recommend it; alas, I cannot this year, but Kelly-Ann is a total inspiration).

But, in participating with the free bits of Self-Love September, and in continuing some of the work I’ve already been up to over the past couple of months, I thought I’d talk about an aspect of self-love that’s really affected me greatly as of late.

My teeth.

I’ve had anxiety and depression that I’ve struggled with for quite some time, and it really only increased once I left home and went away to college. My first year was rough: I had head lice that seemed to have spawned from Satan himself, I lost a dog _and_ my grandfather, I didn’t break out of my introvert shell and make a ton of friends, so I spent a lot of time in my teeny tiny fourth floor dorm sort of hiding out from the rest of the world. Somewhere in that year, I quit caring about a lot of things, and a lot of them were to do with my personal health. There were plenty of times where I just wasn’t properly taking care of myself, and the worst thing of all was my teeth. I just wasn’t taking the time to brush them a lot of the time (I know, gross, right?).

By about mid-way through my junior year, I was not only not taking care of my teeth? But the crippling fear about “How bad are they? What if they abscess and I die? What if I need them pulled- what if they just fall out?” was literally enough to keep me up for hours in the middle of the night if I hadn’t talked myself to exhaustion on Skype with someone first. Having a real, on-campus job that got me out of the house, and having a serious boyfriend, sort of helped me start taking a little bit better care. It got me moving, motivated. I felt like I was accomplishing something finally- I got complimented on my hard work, and had someone who was there sort of cheerleading for me from the sidelines.

That was a year and a half ago. And while I’d come a long way in working on things and starting to feel a lot better? I wasn’t done. This summer, after the mess of a school year last year was, I decided I wanted to make some major improvements: to my self-care regimen, to my spirituality that wasn’t feeding my soul and helping me through hard times like it ought to, to my physical living situations. No sooner had I said that, and I broke a filling on M&M’s. I wanted to be sick. All of the fears I’d had about my teeth, and about the dentist came flooding back. It was easy to sort of repress them until the wee hours of the night until there was a gap in my teeth and a piece of metal wedged in there and broken. It was a total wake-up call, and you can bet your ass I was obssessively keeping them clean after that.

I genuinely think I was panicking when I first went to the only dentist in town that my insurance would completely cover: like, sort of shaking, has to blink back a tear or two every couple of minutes, heart-racing, panic attack in this dentist office by myself. Their complete lack of professionalism didn’t help. I waited for an extra 20 minutes in the x-ray room because the hygienist was busy chatting with someone, and spent 2 hours there overall. All that, only to be scared with the possibility of a root canal that day (the way they made it sound made me think they were just gonna get it done because it was serious- and I was freaking out), made to test out an electric toothbrush, have absolutely nothing actually done to my teeth or the broken filling, and given an extensive payment plan for the work I’d need done- which would take a trip to an oral surgeon for a root canal and several trips to get everything done. What? What ended up happening, thankfully, was that my mum took me back to our old family dentist. It was going to cost more, but at least care was actually being taken. All of the plaque and crap on my teeth? Blasted off in one cleaning- and they even got the bit of broken filling that had been hanging out in my mouth for weeks out. I didn’t need a root canal; my cavities weren’t all that bad- or numerous thankfully. The best part of that experience was that they asked to make sure I was okay when I explained the why I hadn’t been taking care of my teeth. They made me feel comfortable sharing that with them, and then wanted to make sure that I was okay. That, to me, was really cool.

And I was nervous when I went in to get my broken filling fixed? But my anxiety about my teeth has been lessened, I’m not afraid of the dentist- at least not as afraid as I was, and through all that’s happened, I’ve started feeling better about myself and really wanting to take care of myself better than I have been- I’ve actually smiled, like teeth-showing really smiling, in photos and real life because I’m not ashamed of them anymore. And I think that feeling will only get better as I continue on my journey.

-Rachel