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This is a community for modern gallae, and other transgendered folk who feel that their transgender experience is, above all, a spiritual thing.
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Nov. 1st, 2008 @ 12:37 am Beltaine 2008 Contemplation
Current Mood: chipperchipper

Bugger. Can't get to sleep. I have this doubt since Pegasus's death last night and it won't go away. This contemplation feels more like one for Sahmain than Beltaine. I may have posted some of the following before.

Sometimes in the last 3 years I had the most intense vision of Pegasus. In the vision...

Pegasus is on a table, looking very tired, and looking very old. I'm there too and I come up to him - he wags his tail and smiles a "dog smile" - and I say "It's OK boy dog, it's OK, we're going to make the pain go away". Then I put my arms around him and someone takes a photo of us. Then the vet comes and gives him an injection and he's gone, and I start crying and don't stop.

Sometimes I could see that image - of me posing with Pegasus for the camera, and it upset me I guess, because I knew that Pegasus will die some day. So will I of course, but I guess the big feeling has been of loss is about friendship and companionship and I'm certainly feeling that now. But of course that's not how Peggy died. After gasping for air, he died while I was across the road getting help. So was it just the fear in me that would bring the vision up?

Back in 2003, I was walking Peggy down a bush track (this following bit is reprinted from a posting I did back then).

As I was walking, like I normally do, I came to contemplation, the nearest thing to Meditation that I can get. And it just popped into my head that I'd have Pegasus for another 7 years. He's currently 6 years old [11 this year], so that would make him 13 -- not a bad lifespan for a dog. And then, unbidden came the thought "and I've got 23 to go". I did my sums and mistakenly figured 89 years (I'm 46 this year [52 in 2008]) but in fact it was more like 69.

And the first thing that comes to mind is that the figures for Peggy were wrong. And if Peggy's were wrong, mine could be too. Of course what if they were right if I hadn't fucked up and not failed to get him to the vet in the last week? That's hard to say though I know there's a part of my mind that latches on to any suggestion like that and uses it against me. Let's say for the sake of argument that there were just abstracts plucked out of the air. They still had an effect on me. I've been dreading Pegasus's death for a long long time.

I think for whatever reason I've been very wary of visiting the vets with him, in case the vet suggested that he be put down. And maybe it helped freeze me in inaction, when what was needed was some positive action. I honestly though Peggy would be ok yesterday. It was a really hot day and most of the time he was lying down asleep. In fact, when I found him it seemed rather odd, because it was cool outside like he liked it and there he was having trouble breathing. It was dramatically worse than earlier in the day.

Some years ago I wrote:

Time is:

short,
but also long,
and in a finite space of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks,
months and years,
we have both no time
and all the time
we need.

And now I have to consider if that was true or not. Did I have my time with Pegasus (or did I by neglect cut it short)? I think that on the whole I did. Can't prove it, but it feels that way. Just now before I started this contemplation I went outside and sat next to the grave and talked to Pegasus. I told him that I loved him and that if by neglect I'd killed him, I was sorry.

Writing it now, it seems really dumb, but that is what I did. I also asked him (and the the Goddess) to appear in a dream tonight and let me know either way. Maybe Pegasus will be in my dreams tonight. Maybe he won't, but I've left the way open.

And if Beltaine is about fire and life and the promise of things to come, then why is mine about death. Death and life are related of course. And Pegasus always was the Goddess's gift to me. This year is all about change and so much has happened so far. But not in evenly spaced intervals or amounts. Everything is all over the place, accelerating towards the end of the year.

When Pegasus was ill at the start of the month I thought he was going to die (my niece's dog Minty had died a few days earlier). As I held him in my arms I told him that I loved him and that if he needed to go, that was OK. I didn't want to see him in long lingering pain and decline. I saw that in my father who after a double stroke withered away in a nursing home. Then, the next day he was much recovered. I was relieved though I also committed to take him to a vet, sometime soon. That never happened, and for the last week I'd had the oddest feeling that he was ready to go.

I was going to take him to the vet next Wednesday (a pay day) but he went quickly last night. And the bottom line is, that regardless of symptoms he had in the past, I have no idea what caused it. I can agonise over why and how and if, but it won't change anything, won't bring him back to life (this is not Pet Cemetery!) . So, I think that I have to accept responsibility either way simply because I cared for him. I'm sorry if through inaction I hastened his death but I am also glad that he did not suffer long.

And there's irony here. My aunty Glennis died late last year. My friend Jenny goes into a nursing home and get her dog. II may have employment as the night shift at a retirement village. Really, this is watching out for humans in similar conditions like Pegasus - elderly, in decline and in need of medication and attention. Only I'll be there to give first aid if necessary and call the ambulance if it's bad. And maybe they'll die (we all do, but you know what I mean) or maybe they won't. But I can make a difference maybe, even if seemed I could at the very end of Peggy's life.

I finally applied and got my masters in fine arts, which I'll start next year. But before that I'm going home to Perth to see family and friends. I need to see my family, especially my mother, before any more die off. I need to see the good friends I left behind in Perth too. I need to touch ground again and reaffirm certain things in myself, even though I can't seem to define those things exactly.

It seems to me that next year is going to be entirely different from what I expect. I have no idea if that's good or not, but rather than dither over it, I'll just go forward one day at a time. When I try it any faster, I fuck up, so best to go at my own speed (whatever that is). Anyway. this ends here. I want to sleep and maybe meet my dog in dreams for a play with the ball I buried with him. :)

 

About this Entry
gallae, ritual, pagan
laura_seabrook:
May. 2nd, 2008 @ 06:13 pm Sahmain 2008 Contemplation
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

Don't need to read any references for this to know that in my life it's all about death and change. Death and change, death and change. Feel sick of it. The last few weeks have just been tense. Not only have I been on two training courses (room attendant and 1st aid) but the suicide of an online friend and the collapse of a real life friend, have impacted on me.

To be fair, I didn't know that online friend that well, just met them a few times within the virtual world of Second Life. But that wasn't the point. That which we had in common - both being trans - is. It made me think about a lot of things. My reaction to this was not good and I got "triggered" by some comments in an in-world chat room and panicked. Something odd happened. Someone I didn't seem to know, but knew me, confronted me about my reaction.

It felt like a "kick in the pants" from the Goddess. But since then I've only been in Second Life for very brief periods, and seldom as that avatar. And I think perhaps that one reason for this was that the nature of play within a virtual reality world had changed. The big appeal of such a thing (at least for me) was "play without risk" but it's clear now that such is an illusion.

There's always risk in such things - it's just now obvious what that is. In this case, it's investing (or over committing) emotionally in an an online involvement and then having that "investment" disappear from under myself. OK, in general I'm controlling an "avatar" that interacts with with other "avatars", but there's a real person behind each avatar. And the death, by suicide or other means, was a real death in real life.

It brought to the surface just how hard sometimes that it can be to be transgendered, and the way in which the everyday grind can and everyday difficulties can bring one down. I resolved the issues around that, and you can read the six page comic I did to explore these at http://lauraseabrook.comicgenesis.com/d/20080418.html .

My real life friend, who is also trans, has MS and has been housebound for some years is another matter. Her collapse signalled the death of her independence which she cherished and attempted to maintain as long as possible. For the last three years, I've seen her health decline at a steady rate. Last year I looked after her cat and dog while she was in hospital with pneumonia, and when she came out the cat (Ebony) stayed. This time around I have her dog Bobby here - probably for good.

Two days ago - Sahmain in the Southern Hemisphere - I was with her at her flat and watched while she desperately tried to transfer from her wheelchair to her sofa. She couldn't do it, and that simple failure meant that practically, she was unable to look after her self, or her dog. And that means going to a nursing home, winding up the flat and placing Bobby somewhere (mostly likely here).

It was the most dispiriting thing to see my friend just give up. I couldn't fix things, couldn't save her from this. Yesterday I "ran away" from home for a bit, going down to Sydney for some time out. I needed it. I saw two counsellors in two days (the first was directly after being with my friend) because I needed to talk things through. And it seemed that I was meant to see the second counsellor - their booked appointment had cancelled just before I showed up.

The question that both raised in me was "Why bother? Why go on?" And the thing is that I don't exactly have an answer.

We all decay, we all die. But the manner in which we do is different for each one of us. I couldn't help my online friend after the event. I couldn't help my real life friend to transfer, and couldn't be what she hoped for (a 24 hour live-in carer). But at least with my real life friend there is hope. I can still be there for her to talk to and help in other ways, and maybe nursing home life won't be such a living death as she fears.

Picked up a book of the sayings of the Buddha today and randomly selected a page. It said:

Through perseverance, vigilance
self-restraint, a wise person creates a
safe harbour for herself that no
storm can overwhelm.

So I need to find that calm in me, because without I'll never help others find the calm in themselves. I can at least make the effort, but I also have to be practical and know my limits. I need to know when to say 'yes', and when to say 'no'. And I think I really should be serious about my masters project, get my application in and start producing my graphic novels about what gender transition means, and about biographical episodes from my life.

Because maybe together I stand a chance of finding answers, or at least beginning to search to look for some.

About this Entry
gallae, ritual, pagan
laura_seabrook:
Mar. 27th, 2008 @ 11:35 pm Lavatio
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

Lavatio (27 March) is the last of a series of celebrations held in Roman times related to Cybele and Attis, representing a cycle of death and rebirth.

A long and magnificent procession took
place along the Appian Way, during which the Phrygian priests and priestesses carried her image in procession through the city, begging
alms in her name...striking their timbrels, while their followers play tunes upon their flutes in honour of the Mother of the Gods.

Then the idol would be dipped into the Almo river, rubbed with ash and then washed, and showered with flowers. Other religious artefacts were also washed. The Goddess was asked if she would return to Rome, and then taken back the way She came (so we assume the answer was YES).

There's a mix of symbols and allegories here, and reasons for the ritual. Firstly, it exposed the image of Cybele to public adoration. Secondly, it allowed for a form of "spring cleaning" representing a final part of the cycle of renewal. Also, the asking of, and return of the idol echoes the story of how Cybele came to Rome - a delegation was sent Pergamun to invite the Goddess to Rome, after which the statue and black meteorite that represented Her was transported across the Mediterranean to Rome. So what's it all about?

In the previous days of the the cycle, we have initiated a period of reflection and contemplation (Canna Intrat); we have grieved and mourned what we discarded and left behind (Arbor intrat); we have sacrificed what is necessary obtain our goals, and committed to them (Dies Sanguinis); we have reached or changed our goals, and in the process changed ourselves (Hilaria); and we have rested from all of that (Requietio).

But within all of this, live goes on - life is a cycle of cycles.

Before enlightenment, we chop wood and carry water. And after enlightenment we still chop wood and carry water (though indeed we may well appreciate these more). The small things we do that sustain life are as important as our larger goals and dreams. So, we might well perceive the meaning of the universe, achieve that dream or reach that lofty goal, but we still need to put out the garbage, still polish up the silver and spring clean our homes.

About this Entry
gallae, ritual, pagan
laura_seabrook:
Mar. 26th, 2008 @ 08:27 pm Requietio
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

In Roman times, this was part of series of celebrations related to Cybele and Attis, representing a cycle of death and rebirth.

Requietio (26 March) was a day of rest. People probably needed it after the previous day (Hilaria).

Sometimes, it's just as important to know when to stop and rest, as it is to make an effort. Take the time to rest and recuperate, and you might notice things, and enjoy things, that you missed before. And even if you don't, isn't it nice to take a break?

 

 

About this Entry
gallae, ritual, pagan
laura_seabrook:
Mar. 25th, 2008 @ 10:51 pm Hilaria
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

Hilaria (25 March) was a day of rejoicing.

In Roman times, this was part of series of celebrations related to Cybele and Attis, representing a cycle of death and rebirth.

On the day following Dies Sanguinis the resurrection of Attis was proclaimed. This was the day of "Hilaria" or rejoicing. The first day when day is longer then night. It was a festival of Spring and life rediscovered.

There was a triumphal procession which would feature Cybele's idol; borrowed works of art; knights and senators; freedmen; flute players; trumpeters; drummers and chanters. This was followed by a lavish feasting.

Sources vary about the nature of Attis's resurrection. Some say that he was reborn as the evergreen pine; others that the body of Attis was preserved; and other more recent sources that Attis was reborn as a woman. Ultimately, the exact details don't matter that much - what matters is the idea of death and rebirth.

This was a theme in Mediterranean religions long before the spread of Christianity popularised the idea. Tammuz, Adonis, Osiris and Attis are all consorts of a Goddess, who die and yet are resurrected rather than remain dead. Some interpretations of resurrection are physical and involve an afterlife, or reincarnation. Others are emotional or spiritual, such as ego death and reconstruction, or of being "born again". Resurrections are not just simple restorations - they always involve change and alteration from what was, to what is.

Previously, we may have grieved for what should have been but wasn't, or for what has been lost and mattered. We may have also committed to a goal and sacrificed smaller desires for that goal. But there comes a time when either that goal is reached or abandoned. Either way a "death" is involved - because either way what was the goal ceases to be so any more. But it is rare that things then become static for us, that there remains a vacuum of desire in our lives - rather they change and become resurrected in new goals, ideas and ways of being. We move on and embrace further change, one way or another.

And that surely, is cause for celebration. 

About this Entry
gallae, ritual, pagan
laura_seabrook:
Mar. 24th, 2008 @ 11:52 pm Dies Sanguinis
Current Mood: blankblank

Dies Sanguinis (24 March) was the "day of blood".

In Roman times, this was part of series of celebrations related to Cybele and Attis, representing a cycle of death and rebirth.

The high priest (Battakes) and the galli did a wild dance around the sacred pine tree. The Battakes flagellated themselves and the galli with a whip hung with knucklebones. Clarinets and cymbals were played, and timbrels beaten furiously. People would also beat their breasts with pine cones and cut their arms and shoulders with knives. The blood from this was spilled on the pine tree or altars, with screams and yells that were echoed by the crowd. Some spectators entered the frenzied dances themselves and even participated in the next step. This was ritual castration of initiates, performed with broken pottery, sharp flint, and glass. The pine was then buried. The high priest said prayers for the protection of the emperor and Empire.

For modern eyes this ritual may look more than just a little extreme. People whipping themselves into a frenzy (literally) and cutting themselves? Voluntary castration - whatever for? The galli were a gender variant group, eunuchs, and keepers of the temples of the Great Mother. The ritual of castration formed part of their initiation into the Mystery cult of Cybele. Whatever else the castration did, it was also a sacrifice and commitment to a new life within the cult.

In modern times many people want quick and easy change. Advertisements and infomercials make many promises of simple solutions to problems - such as weight control, or monetary rewards - but few really work, or last. This is because lasting change or improvement requires effort, sacrifice and commitment.

In ancient times you gave something of value to the gods to indicate the worth of the endeavour that you wanted protected or blessed - the more sacrificed the more it was hoped that the deity would protect or bless that endeavour. In truth though, it also upped the stakes for those involved, and increased their commitment to success.

Sacrifice is all about deciding where to put one's focus and effort. In simplest terms, we focus on what we seek to achieve and sacrifice our time to those ends. Our lifetimes are finite and deciding which activities to pursue, and which ones are worth pursuing, can make all the difference. Commitment - making sure that that we maintain our priorities, is what makes the difference.

There are no guarantees of success in this life, but focus and commitment can help make the journey to our goals more rewarding, even if we never get there.

About this Entry
gallae, ritual, pagan
laura_seabrook:
Mar. 22nd, 2008 @ 09:35 am Arbor Intrat
Current Mood: indescribable
It's Arbor Intrat today (March 22nd).

In Roman times, this was part of series of celebrations related to Cybele and Attis, representing a cycle of death and rebirth.
The seven following days the Canna Intrat (15th March) were famous as Castus Matris ("Fast of the Mother"). On March 22nd the procession of the Arbor Intrat took place.  Before sunrise, a pine tree was felled in a sacred grove of Cybele. An effigy of Attis was attached to it and decorated in violets and ribbons. It was then carried in procession through Rome by the dendophori (to the weeping of the gallae) to the sanctuary, where it was exposed to the adoration of the crowd before being laid in state.

The following day was a "day or mourning" and lamentation. The Salli (who were priest dancers of Mars) went in procession sounding their trumpets and beating their shields.

In our life we undergo many transformations and transitions, not just ones that we focus on. They are not always wanted and often we defer them (if we can) through fear and insecurity. Sometimes we embrace and initiate these changes, making them the centres of our lives for better or worse. And with change (even change we desire) there often comes grief and mourning. Grief can come over lost relationships, or expectations and ideas of ourselves that have proven either false or unbearable.

One can deny such grief, pretend it's not there or that it doesn't matter, but by doing so we also depreciate the worth of what we grieve for, and deny our history. Rather, it is often better to mourn for things lost, because this is ourselves owning our pain. In doing so we can acknowledge the role that such relationships and expectations played in our lives, and in doing so can also accept the good that came from them.

Mourning takes - however long it takes. And when mourning finishes, if we've paid attention  to ourselves, often we can be refreshed and ready to move on.

About this Entry
cockatoo, bird, white
laura_seabrook:
Oct. 7th, 2007 @ 09:55 pm FYI: New WitchVox Article
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
The Worship of Cybele by  Cybele's Lion at Witchvox.
About this Entry
cockatoo, bird, white
laura_seabrook:
Aug. 14th, 2007 @ 09:19 am Prayers
Current Location: Barnsley, New South Wales
Current Mood: surprisedsurprised

I just had a request to reprint some writings of mine, they are:

Prayer to Artemis:

Artemis, huntress of the moon, make my aim true. Give me goals to seek and the constant determination to achieve them.

Grant me communion with nature, allow me to live surrounded by plants and animals that I can grow, protect and nurture.

Allow me the strength and wisdom to be my own mistress, not defined by the expectations of others.

And sustain my sexuality to be as yours -- wild and free as nature itself.

and

Prayer to Cybele

Great Goddess of women, protectress from one's enemies, healer of grave illness, guardian of the dead, and mistress of prophecy and the future.

Aid me in my quest of spiritual fulfilment, and like Attis (who was your son and was resurrected as your daughter), transform me as adopted daughter and gallae to fulfil myself as I know myself to be -- whole and woman. Grant me safe passage in my physical transition, as directed from within or without.

Grant me leave to discern and discover the future, for myself and for others in constructive ways.

I'm just checking before I give permission, because I received a similar request earlier this year, but it turned out that the poem referred to wasn't on my website, and not written by me (huh?)!

The person requesting such permission, is running the 2008 Anatolian Goddess Pilgrimage! Um, I wanna go!

About this Entry
cockatoo, bird, white
laura_seabrook:
Aug. 1st, 2007 @ 07:09 am (no subject)
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful

Copied from The Star NEWS:

Devotees from Malaysia and Singapore fulfil vows to deity for transsexuals

By WANI MUTHIAH

KLANG: The five-day celebrations dedicated to Goddess Bahuchara Mataji, the Hindu presiding deity for transsexuals, ended yesterday in a ceremony that saw some 400 participants from Malaysia and Singapore at a temple in Pandamaran near here. 

The temple, dedicated to the deity whose main temple is in Shankhalpoor in Gujarat, India, is owned and managed by the local Hindu transgender community. 

The celebrations began last Thursday with the highlight on the third day when devotees fulfilled vows by carrying pal kudam (milk pots) and thee chatti (earthen pots with fire). 

Dressed in green sarees, the official colour for Bahuchara Mataji, the entourage, led by the community’s matriarch M. Asha Devi, 63, carried the pal kudam and thee chatti to the temple. 

Two devotees balancing milk pots as they enter the temple at Pandamaran last Saturday.
This was followed by a chariot procession in the evening with Pandamaran assemblyman Datuk Dr The Kim Poo as the event’s special guest. 

Asha Devi said preparations for the celebrations began several months ago, as arrangements had to be made to accommodate the devotees. 

“Devotees also prepare themselves by fasting for at least three months before carrying the pal kudam and thee chatti,” said Asha Devi, who runs a food outlet in Kuala Lumpur. 

According to her, a flag bearing the Goddess’ emblem was raised on the first day followed by an ubayam (special prayers) on the second day. 

“The fourth day was also observed with prayers for Mataji. On the final day, which is today, we have special prayers for a male deity known as Veera Vetai Karar Muniandy followed by anathanam (feeding of the masses),” she added. 

Meanwhile, S. Komathi, 50, who cooked for the devotees, said this year’s event was special as they were praying hard to obtain a piece of land from the state government to build a proper temple. 

“The temple is currently situated in the home of one of our members’ grandmothers. Due to space constraints we cannot do any renovation,” said Komathi who owns a flower shop in Klang. 

Komathi said the community badly needed a bigger temple to accommodate the crowd. 

“In the past, it was only our community which prayed here but now others are also coming to the temple.” 

For K. Janani, 27, who came all the way from Singapore to carry the pal kudam, the event was both fun and colourful. 

“I like the festive atmosphere. I have been coming here for the past two years to offer prayers as our community does not have a dedicated temple in Singapore,” Janani added.

Hurray! All praise Cybele, all praise Bahuchara Mataji!

About this Entry
cockatoo, bird, white
laura_seabrook: