How to Start Writing ~Part 1

I tend to write a bunch. But one thing that (fatefully) I said the other day, was that I couldn’t write about writing. And now someone has asked me to do just that – and I think I can do it.

Let’s just explain something for starters here. There are two kinds of authors out there: plotters and pantsters. Plotters ‘plot’ out everything that they want to happen before they write it. Pantsters ‘fly by the seat of their pants’ and wing it.

Theoretically, plotting is the smarter way to write. But practically, it leads to stale, choked-up writing in my experience. Pantsting can lead to more of a ‘feel’, but then can need massive editing and lots of work tying in ‘loose ends’.

Ideally, therefore, you’re going to be a mixture of both. You want to be flexible, but have an idea as to where you’re going.

So let’s start with starters. What do you need to start? I’m going to put my hand down and say that you need Two Things to start. They are: 1) an idea, and 2) a ‘feel’.

Now let’s start with the first one: an idea. What counts as ‘an idea’ in the writing world? Well, basically anything that you can shape a story around. It can be either a) character-based or b) plot-based. Now, again, ideally, you’re going to want an idea that’s a bit of both, but I find that authors tend to be either one or the other in their emphasis.

So, a character-based story is all about the ‘who’, the personality of your characters, their development and their emotions. Here is where quirky characters come forth and charm the readers.

A plot-based idea will grab the readers with intrigue, suspense, and mind-bending notions. It’s all about the ‘how’ and ‘what’ behind the story.

Again, ideally, your idea will have a bit of both to it. But really, don’t be shocked if you find yourself placing emphasis on one or the other. That’s really how it goes (in my experience).

Okay, okay, but how much do you really need as far as an idea goes? Here’s the fun truth: That depends entirely on you.

The entire basis for Chaos’ novel series was a dream that was, literally, ‘teenager named Chaos gets picked up off the highway by a trucker’. One sentence, and really, honestly, nothing more. I spun a series I’m still working on from there. That’s because I don’t need much to spin a story off of. That’s just the way I am. Other people, however, may not be like that. They’re going to need a setting, a plot figured out, a character arc, and maybe even more before they even set ink to paper (so to speak).

Now here’s an essential thing to this ‘idea’. It’s got to interest you. The reason I wrote down Chaos’ story was because something about that teenager on the side of the highway intrigued me. It still does, almost a year later, after writing on it almost every day. So this idea has to really, really, interest you in a long-term kind of way.

A good test that I sometimes do, is just to wait on the whole writing out the idea. Wait a few weeks and see if the dream comes back (if it was a dream), if you still care about it, and if you still want to write about it.

If, two weeks later, you’re still captivated and have built up the idea, congrats! You’ve now got an idea. If not, then oh well. It wasn’t an idea for you.

Now, okay, we’ve covered the ‘idea’. What about this mysterious ‘feel’? What’s a ‘feel’?

The ‘feel’ is the tone of the story. It’s the setting and theme and message and style all rolled into one. Will it be narrated by a peppy, sarcastic, cheerleader? Is it grim? Is it patronizing? This ‘feel’ will dictate the metaphorical color that stains your page. If it’s a ‘dark’ story, or if it’s ‘serious’.

Why is this so important? Because it affects literally every word you write. Because it dictates where you start the story, how you start it, and how you tell it.

Consider these few sentences.

  • The knife sliced through the apple.
  • The knife made its way through the apple.
  • The blade, dangerously sharp, cut through the helpless apple’s flesh without remorse.
  • Forsooth! The blade, quickeningly sharp and ah, so vile, cut its evil way through the pure fruit, pouring forth sticky juice and raw flesh from within.

Well, not only is each sentence longer than the last, I think we can all agree that they belong to different stories entirely, due to the way they’re written, their ‘feel’.

Now, again, before even starting writing, you want to think about this mystical ‘feel’. You want to know if it’s going to be a funny read, serious, etc.

For me, personally, the ‘feel’ is not a very clinical thing. A more technical person might write out a list of pointers to help them dictate the ‘feel’ of the story, such as ‘no jokes, only sarcasm, little description, lots of dialogue’. But personally, I do no such thing. I really stick to the way the story makes me feel in my head. And perhaps I’m unique in this, but I think of what the story, or the spirits behind the story, want. Do they take this story incredibly seriously? Do they want it to be passionate? Or is it a loose, happy, and silly tale?

For me, the ‘feel’ usually comes with the ‘idea’. It comes with images, song snippets, and emotion. If a story makes me think of dark pine trees, (as Chaos’s did), but also has a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, that’s what I’ll try and bring forth.

So, to summarize! You’re going to be plotting or pantsting. You’re going to want an idea, which can be either plot or character-centric, and a ‘feel’ to start with. From there, you’re going to start the ‘writing’ process. That’s another post, however.

close up of paper over white background
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A Publishing House for the Mentally Ill?

Hey everyone! So, originally I had a very boring post set up to post about how I don’t feel like writing Chaos & Kuryo’s story today. Real thrilling, I know. BUT! Then I was asked for a guest post about publishing and wham! Not only did I write up a post about self-publishing and mental illness (two of them, actually), but I had an idea! A very interesting idea, if you ask me.

Here it is: Wouldn’t it be epic (to say the least) if I was to start a publishing company dedicated to the fiction stories of people with mental illness?

I mean, hear me out. I know there are a bunch of writing collectives out there like ‘the mighty’ and ‘the bipolar writer’ blog. But where do we, the mentally ill, publish our fiction? Well, probably indie, you see. But that’s a space wherein there’s already a TON of neurotypicals out there, publishing stuff that neurotypicals want to read. So where is the space dedicated to the mentally ill people’s fiction?

I don’t think we have one, simply put. We’re just starting to have spaces to talk about getting better and expressing our experiences. Our fiction, as of yet, is still mixed in with everyone else’s.

But, here’s another thing. I’m quite sure that people with mental illness have pretty bizarre and interesting ideas, which would make for very unique and interesting stories that step out of the ordinary. I think this could really be a fun initiative!

Sad fact: I have no idea how to go about making this happen. Anyone, any ideas? How would one go about doing this? Is this something that anyone would be interested in participating in? Give me your thoughts!

close up photo of open book
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COVID – 19 and Spiritual Change for the Environment

I’ve heard lots of talk about how we can use this pandemic as a turning point for the ecology and ourselves. So why don’t we? Instead of just sitting around and saying ‘yeah, we could change’ why don’t we sit around and come up with actual ways to make that change? I’d like to challenge all my blogger friends, indeed, anyone who reads this, to start thinking up ways that they can use this pandemic as a springing board for more change in their lives.

Now, there are two ways we can move forward: as individuals and as a group.

Of course, if everyone individually does enact change, then that will have the same result as a group doing it. However, there’s higher chance of the change being long-term and permanent if the change is done as a group with encouragement and group goals and maybe even group rewards.

Because of that, I’d like to challenge people to come up with both individual and group goals and ideas. I’ll show you what I mean by going first.

So, group goals:

It would be awesome if we created groups for spiritual and conscious change where we motivated each other to drive less, stay at home more, and opt for more eco-friendly options in our lives. And I meant it when I said ‘rewards’. I love rewards. I love crafting. I love getting goodies. I think it would be epic if, in these groups, people would hand out gifts to each other for markers of success.

Say the group came up with the idea of making their towns more garden-friendly. They could start a letter campaign for these groups and individuals could send ‘gifts’ to those who wrote letters for the campaign. It could be miniature incense bundles. It could be coupons for their etsy stores (see? Promotion and gifts at the same time!). Or maybe the group could make deals with gardeners to hand out samples of, say, cherry tomatoes to anyone who shows up and shows their letter on a specific day at an event. Personally, getting positive rewards for doing conscious change would really motivate me. Yeah, maybe it’s materialistic, but I love gifts and goodies. Plus, it really could be paired up with small businesses for promotions. Just saying.

So suppose, in this ideal world, that there are people who want to enact change. What sort of things can these groups mobilize for?

  • Native issues.
    • I’mma say this only once, so listen up. Native issues are human rights and we ought to be respecting them. For us pagans, they ought to be like our fellow spiritual siblings. There’s tons of pagans who believe in or borrow from native practices. We live on stolen land. So come on, people! Listen to them and respect them a bit. Help them out.
  • Letter writing campaigns.
    • Okay, this is super easy and disabled-person friendly. It just takes some time and a pen and paper, and often costs no postage (at least here in Canada).
    • The ideal would be if one person writes a letter model and then the rest of the group fills it in with their concern. Even easier!
  • Planning, Accountability and encouragement.
    • Suppose that, as a group, people could set up a step by step ‘becoming eco friendly’ plan that people can follow one step at a time. Say, step one: bringing your own silverware or reusable coffee mug around. I think this would help people out because it would give them a direct path on how to enact change, and due to the group setting, would allow them to feel validated and encouraged by their efforts. Again, people could reward each other!
  • Online seed-swaps
    • I’m pretty surprised I haven’t stumbled across such a thing already. I mean, seeds must be cheap to ship locally, or even within the same country. It would just require some sort of online group setting. A blog party mayhaps?
  • Prayer/ritual circles for environmental issues
    • the idea here would be to start a chain of prayers or rituals for, say, 24 hours or for a specific period of change. A great thing would be to pair these up with actual physical effort, such as a letter writing campaign, or social media campaign.
  • Social media campaign
    • Suppose people want to encourage each other and people beyond the group to, say, bring reusable coffee mugs wherever they go. They could set up a virtual photo challenge to do this.

 

Alright, that’s all great and dandy. Suppose however, that no one wants to form groups. What then?

Well, individually there’s still lots we can do. Let’s delve into that.

  • Start a garden
    • hey, I’m a terrible gardener and I can tell you that, even with my not so green thumb, lettuce can grow indoors. Plants can be pretty determined to survive, you know.
  • Support a farmer. Say you’re disabled and cannot grow anything at all. Then pick a local farmer and pay them instead of a big corporation.
  • Work less, especially outside of home.
  • Try and use social commuting.
  • Use Divacups and eco friendly hygienic products.
  • Use reusable mugs.
  • Pray for change for the environment.
  • Commune with your spirits on how you can bring about change for the environment.
  • Make it a part of your spiritual practice to perform rituals/prayer sessions for the environment.
  • Do land healing work, if you can (there’s some great ones out there!).
  • Write letters to your local government about environmental issues.

So that’s that, folks. I’m not a guru, I’m not a genius, but I think that if enough of us put our brains to this, we could get some sort of a ball rolling. And really, even just starting to talk about how to change is a great start. We need to start somewhere. So really, I’m throwing this challenge out there. Let’s start a conversation on how we can move forward from this pandemic, stronger, more united, and more environmentally healthy!

I’m tagging these brilliant bloggers in no particular order because, really, I’d love to read their thoughts on how we can move forward. There’s plenty more I’d love to hear from, but I can’t remember everyone’s names off the top of my head nor find everyone in the search bar. Grump. So please, if you read this, comment and share your ideas! Do your own post!

IMorgana

Wrycrow

Nimue Brown.

Dana

Atheopaganism

 

And I’m sticking sprout pictures here to motivate people to ‘sprout’/start new ideas!

Depression Tips for Covid 19, Spiritually Speaking

 

Depression sucks. I’ve had bouts of it and gah. It literally felt like the world was grey and bleeding black around me. It was awful. My heart goes out to anyone experiencing depression right now due to the confinement situation, or from their work overload. So, today, while firing up my blog, I thought ‘hey, why not talk about tips for that?’.

I tend to focus on anxiety, because that’s what affects me the most, and I’m under the impression that it’s more common than depression. It’s also the general feeling I’ve been seeing people expressing online about this pandemic.

Yet, anxiety and depression tend to go together for me. Like, if I become very very anxious, depression can kick in. Yes, they can be separate, but as my mood swings are often anxiety based, so then can be my depression. My point is that they can be ‘co-morbid’, that they can go together as a package deal.

I sincerely hope that you, dearest reader, don’t suffer from chronic depression. If you do, I really suggest getting it checked out as soon as possible and get both medication and therapy as much as possible.

But what do you do if it’s ‘just’ the pandemic affecting you? If staying at home is just getting you ‘down’? Well, thankfully, that’s where our spirituality can kick in. We can use our spiritual practices to care for our inner wounds, and to boost us up.

That’s great and all, but how? How exactly can we use our spirituality to boost ourselves?  Well, I’ve compiled a list below. As usual, do what feels best for you and respect yourself and your limits. Also remember that there are hotlines that you can call if the depression gets too bad.

Ideas to combat Depression in the Pandemic:

  • Host a spirit party! You can’t have living people over, but what about the dead? What about the spirits? They certainly can’t give or catch ‘the virus’, so have them over!
    • you can make this a solemn affair as in Samhain, if that suits you, but I personally suggest making it more of a party. Throw confetti around, bake a cake, have some alcohol if you drink, and have all your guiding spirits over and eat with them! Read aloud some jokes, fairytales, and do some spirit communication however you feel (tarot, rune castings, trance work, etc).
    • Pro Tip: don’t forget to thank and ‘dismiss’ when you start feeling tired. As any party, don’t exhaust yourself energetically. Respect your limits!
    • Extra Pro Tip: use napkins or disposable plates to serve, to make as little mess/clean up as possible!
  • Do divination on a topic that’s not pandemic related. It could be on your garden’s future, your personal development, your psychic powers, what your talents are, and how grandma is doing on the other side. Just anything that’s not pandemic related. The point of this is to see/focus on all the life you still have, on all the projects that will continue beyond the reach of this pandemic.
  • Host a dumb supper/silent grieving period for those dying from the pandemic. The point behind this is to express our collective grief due to the pandemic. It’s normal to be upset by what’s happening, and (I think) it’s healthy to express it. This will not only give you a period within which to mourn, but it will also signal an ‘end’ to the mourning, at least for that day.
    • You can make this a daily ritual, depending on how much grief you feel. Say that every day you check the death tolls then find yourself crying. Then, instead of beating yourself up for being upset, make it part of a mourning ritual where you give yourself permission and space and a set amount of time to feel your grief. Then, when the time is over, try your best to move on and change your mind.
    • If you choose a dumb supper, you can lay out plates for the dead of specific regions, or do a specific region per day. Say, you grieve for Italy one day, Iran another, etc.
    • If you don’t have a lot of energy or want something simpler, you can simply burn a candle with the intention that it will guide the dead peacefully along their way to the otherworld.  an example of what one might say is, as lighting the candle “I light this candle, consecrating it to shine its light for those deceased of the COVID-19 pandemic. As this candle burns, a gate between the worlds is open, taking in all the wandering dead due to the pandemic and guiding them home by the light of this candle.”
    • You could also recite prayers for these dead, asking your presiding spirits/ whoever you feel like to take care of the spirits of the deceased due to the pandemic.
      • An example of such a prayer is “I pray to Anubis, Lord of the Dead. Please take those who have died of the plague in your arms. Be gentle with them. Ease their griefs and suffering and that of their loved ones. Weight their hearts gently and ease their passing into the other worlds.”
  • Pray to a solar deity to bring light into your life and banish depression. A prayer of this sort could go like: “I pray to Ra, Great God of the Sun. Please shine your light within my mind, within my heart and soul. Chase away the darkness of depression from my mind, heart and soul. Purify and invigorate me!”
    • Pro Tip: leave an offering to your preferred solar deity and engage in not only prayer, but also a deepening of your relationship with them. It can be as simple as putting up a sun picture, or baking them a cake and eating it with them. Just engage with them, and you will probably feel them in your life more!
  • Do exercise! Now, exercise is great for boosting the mind, but why not use that energy you’re creating to spread happiness in your home? A way to do this would be to visualize a rune such as Wunjo and imagine it radiating out from you as you exercise, spreading its energy out from you.
  • Cleanse and consecrate/charge your crystals to boost your mood. Simply laying them for a few hours in the sunlight, on a piece of paper on which you wrote ‘banish depression!’, can do the trick.
  • Obviously, you can burn invigorating incenses (like cinnamon!) or boil potpourri.
  • Ring bells to cleanse the air as well.
  • Do magical crafts! Ideas include:
    • Overhaul your altar!
    • Sew yourself a ritual robe, or embellish one you already have!
    • Practice a psychic skill.
    • Practice your basic ritual structure, such as circle casting, invoking, evoking, etc.
    • Write in your grimoire or BOS

Then, we have some basic pointers that are less spiritual

  • Let in sunlight
  • Call friends/relatives
  • Read books (especially books on spirituality!)
  • Paint/do crafts
  • Listen to uplifting music!

 

I hope this was helpful! Please take care of yourself and yours and have a great day! Lots of love to you all! ❤

lavender and massage oils
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Step 5 ~ Gather Your Resources

Now that you’ve chosen your path of healing, you’re going to do some research. Consider it like a nature walk. Do you just up and randomly drive up to the side of a forest and begin slugging away at it, trying to walk through the thick and thin of it? Of course not (or at least I hope you don’t- it could be private property!). No. As a good pagan, you will first check our where you’re allowed to go and find some nice nature parks. Then you’ll maybe get a copy of a local flora and fauna book to better understand what you’ll be seeing. Then you get proper walking boots and socks and a hat and maybe pick out a crystal to guide you. All this to say -> you get prepared. Pagans are really big on intuition and ‘winging it’, but there’s nothing wrong or un-spiritual about planning. For those of us with mental illness, it can really help and make sure we don’t miss something obvious.

So, first things first. Get a hold of your trusty list of treatment options that you made last step. Grab a new sheet of paper and write them down in the order you want to do them, leaving plenty of space all around to write in your research. I suggest sticking the worst/most stressful thing in the middle, that way you end on a less stressful note.

Now, going down your list, research each option one at a time. Truth be told, this could take a few hours, even a few days. You want to be exhaustive.

But how do you do this? It’s easy to say ‘research’, but for me, that’s overwhelming. So let’s break it down.

Suppose you have are willing to see a doctor. Research on the local doctors. Do you have options with your insurance, or are you tied to a family doctor? If you already have a doctor, and you just have to make an appointment with them, then congrats, you’re done! If not, keep researching on which doctor you feel would best suit your needs.

Suppose you want to try only alternative medicines. Research which ones you want to take. Research what accredited people are near you, such as ayurvedic healers, naturopaths, etc. Write down their coordinates, availabilities, and approximate costs.

If you want to try group talks or similar therapies, research if there is any happening in your area, and consider calling a mental health clinic in order to know more about them.

Here’s a thing: don’t be afraid to call to get more information. If that’s too terrifying, get a friend to do it for you, or try emailing them. Whichever way, get as much pertinent information as you can.

A phone call, or email, could go like this:

“Hi, my name is ___ and I have ___ problems (such as anxiety or obsessions). I am currently researching on treatment options such as ___ (aromatherapy, reiki, etc) that you currently provide. I am wondering if you could tell me more about your services and how you could help me heal.”

One thing to consider, especially for alternative therapies and ‘spiritual’ practices such as reiki, is to ask them if they have any previous experience healing people with your condition. A simple way to phrase this is to say/write something along the lines of “I was wondering if you have any previous experience healing people with my condition, and if you could tell me how those experiences went.”

Again, you don’t need the nitty gritty details. But you do need to know whether they’ve dealt with anxiety/schizophrenia before, or whether they have no clue what to do with you.

Once you’re done with one point, move on to the next. In order for a point to be ‘done’, you should have gathered extra information specifically in regards to your condition (i.e., does the local health clinic offer schizophrenic talk meetings, does the reiki healer accept patients with your condition, etc) (except for a doctor, whose treatment plan will largely depend upon your meeting), gotten their contact method, and know where they are located. Once you’ve done this for your whole list, congratulations, you’re done for this step!

Again, take a breather. This may have been very stressful for you, and acknowledge that. It may also be confusing to have all this information. Acknowledge that as well. For now, don’t try and begin picking out who you want to see first or anything of the sort. Set it aside and forget about it until the next step.

I suggest you change your mind, cleanse your energy, and do a joyful spiritual practice. Offer thanks for the resources you’ve found!

 

Step 4 – Pick a Treatment Method

Now is when you refer back to your self-research you did on how you believe in treating mental illness. Now is the time to figure out how you want to treat yourself.

Start by clearing your mind of things such as fears and anxieties. Don’t let fear make your decisions for you, but rather what you truly believe in. You can do a small meditation, cleanse the air with incense, ring a bell a few times, and ground yourself.

Then, once you feel ready emotionally and your mind is clear, set yourself to this particular task.

Don’t get bogged down in the details of treating your symptoms, such as ‘how do I manage to take the bus?’. Think of the bigger picture here, and of your values.  Answer these questions.

  • Do I want to take medication?
  • Do I want to be followed by a doctor?
  • Do I want to check into a mental health ward?
  • Do I want to do therapy, see a psychologist, attend support groups, etc?
  • Do I want to try by altering my nutrition intake/diet?
  • Do I want to try ‘alternative’ treatments, such as naturopaths, aromatherapy, etc?
  • Do I want to heal only via ‘spiritual’ techniques, like aura cleansing, rituals, etc?
  • What do I have the means to do?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you should have a better picture of how you want to treat yourself. Now that you’ve made a list of what kind of treatment you want, the time has come to consult your tarot/spirits/inner archetypes.

First, do whatever rituals you feel necessary to dispel any negative energy/miasma that this activity may have caused you, and try and achieve a positive space for your readings. Then, when you feel ready and all your crystals are in place, do readings on your preferred treatment options. Ask them (whoever that is for you, be it deities or your inner selves) what they think about your treatment options.

Again, be honest. Write down without judgement or fear what comes to you. They may very well contradict what you want. Avoid questions fueled from fear and focus on ones that pinpoint which treatment options are best for you and lead to your healing. Questions may be ‘will checking in to the local psychiatric ward help heal me?’ if you are using a yes or no option or a two situation outcome reading, or ‘what is the most plausible outcome on my mental health if I was to check into the psychiatric ward?’.

The important thing is to face the situations here head on. Don’t be afraid of what answers your divination will bring you. Let it flow, and let them say what they have to say, without you judging them.

Then, when you’ve asked about all your possible treatment options, even the ones you’re not fond of, close the divination session. This is important. You want to be the one to make your decisions, not them. You are the responsible one here, and you don’t want a million voices clouding your judgement.

Close your ritual/seance/reading, and take a moment to ground yourself. Close your eyes and relax into a small meditation, or take a brisk walk out of doors if you are able. Whatever method you choose, reground into yourself and who you are. Then, move on to the next step.

Now you will take your choices and compare it to the reading/divination results. Now is the time to acknowledge what terrifies you (you can take a sheet of paper for that as well) but also to compare your thoughts with the wisdom you’ve been offered.

An IMPORTANT NOTE HERE: If your reading feels wonky/inconsistent/unreliable, and unusual to you, -> CHUCK IT. The point being, if it’s not something you’re willing to stick beside and that you really feel is right according to your spirits, don’t use it. Do another reading on another day or get someone else to do the reading for you.

Sometimes we’re too close to the matter to do a reading for ourselves and it gets all jumbled. That’s okay. Sometimes our fears are so strong they cloud the reading and that’s okay too. The important thing it to take a moment and use our discernment here. Is this a reading we are willing to stick by? If no, and it feels weird to you, chuck it. If yes, and it feels like painful truths, then continue.

Now, drawing upon the wisdom of your divinations and your own desires that you wrote down at the beginning of this exercise, make a new sheet. Be fair and take into consideration both what you want, but also what the spirits/inner self thinks is best for you. Really, only you can choose between the two, but you have to make a choice. Lucky you if what you and the spirits wants aligns! But if not, then you’ve got decisions to make.

Once you’ve made the decisions, write them down one by one. Then, stick that to your fridge or somewhere visible. Bring it to your doctor if you want. These are the kinds of treatments you’re willing to try, and that’s your decision for the time being. You’ve chosen your path.

If you’ve gotten this far, good job. If not, good job for trying, take a deep breath, and try again on a better day.

I strongly suggest that you take some time to rest and cleanse yourself emotionally after this. Dealing with treatment options can be terrifying and stressful, so cleanse yourself, shower, go for a nature walk, or nap to resource yourself. Don’t forget to congratulate yourself as well for taking your health into your hands. Good job!

Chaos & Kuryo (novel 3) Chapter 7 Part 1

//// Trigger warning for violence!

Aaliyah

It had been several days, and things almost felt normal. Except they weren’t. There were three of us sitting in the living room and frankly, one of us was an evil twin.

Kuryo wasn’t just angry. He was menacing. Something about the way he moved just made everyone shrink away. It was probably the murderous intent in his eyes. So now we’d sat him down and neither me nor Jade knew how to say this but – “You’ve got to go,” I said sharply, glaring at him all while remembering that there was a baseball bat behind the couch. Kuryo was on the floor on the other side of the coffee table. Something angry was in his eyes.

“I agree,” he said icily. “There’s no use sitting around here and waiting. We have to make our own solutions.”

Something about that gave me the chills. I nodded. “We can give you some clothes and food, and point you to the local homeless shelter.”

The corners of his lips twitched in amusement. A bad sign. Jade jiggled beside me. “Look, you can’t stay here-”

Kuryo rose to his feet. “Want a coffee?” and he strolled into the kitchen.

“Uh,” said Jade, her voice almost covering the sound of a knife being drawn from the wooden block. Shit. I was on my feet and had pulled out the baseball bat as Kuryo’s evil twin reappeared with a knife in hand. Jade was also up, but I seriously wondered what good we would be.

Kuryo pulled off his overshirt and laid it aside, as if making sure it wouldn’t get dirty. Not once did he put down the knife, or leave us with his eyes. “Don’t try and change my mind,” he said flatly. “It’s not going to work.”

“Why are you- what are you thinking?” burst Jade, stepping to the other side of the coffee table.

Kuryo’s eyes flicked from her to me. “Easy. I have to save Charr,” he said, so cold and calculated. “And that’s not going to happen if I stay here. Your idiot friend took my transporter, and now I’ve got no choice but to use other means.”

“Black magic?” hissed Jade between staccato breaths. “You’d do that?”

Crinkles appeared around his eyes in a fake smile. “I’ve been studying for years, so just shut up and roll over. It won’t hurt much.”

I threw the baseball bat at him. He ducked, lunging forward as I was mid-transformation into my dragon form. His eyes went wide Just before he reached me. Apparently he hadn’t realized that we were dragons, much less that I was a golden dragon.

But he was too fast. Crows are very agile, and his wings were out. Sharp pain sliced my torso, again and again. I was done for before I even hit my true form.

I crashed to the floor as Jade snatched him up in her jaws. Bad idea. I heard her shrieks as the world faded from me.

And then, sharply, everything was too clear. My golden body lying there in a puddle of blood. Jade writhing, blinded, as blood gushed from her wounds. Kuryo scraping himself up amongst the wreckage, one wing broken and limp and bloodied.

But he was victorious. His wounds were not enough to stop him from landing a final blow to poor Jade.

Then, there was only the sound of his breathing. He dropped to his knees between us, breathing heavily. He was splattered with blood, but when he lifted his head I saw he was determined. He didn’t regret a thing.

Anger burned in me as he positioned our bodies, cut out our hearts, and set fire to our manes in the middle of a circle of blood. As our manes turned to ash, flames erupted around him. He yelled in surprise, then gritted his teeth at the pain as slowly, bit by bit, he vanished away to another dimension.

Little bitch, I thought, you wait and see.

With a running jump I smashed through his circle and landed in the last of twirl of smoke from the ashes – tagging along on his stupid spell and vanishing along with him.

Step 3 – Identify the ‘Problems’

What is wrong? What is not right in your life? What’s bothering you – or others?

Here is the part where you sit down with a sense of responsibility and rake in all the evidence from trusted sources. Too often we think we’re “fine”, but others can clearly see differently. Trusted friends and family are key here. Take their advice, the advice of professionals, and make wise decisions.

But suppose you have no one you can trust? What do you do? How does one gauge if things such as anxiety is ‘really’ a problem or not?

Here’s what I suggest to do, in this order.

  1. Well, like with most situations, I suggest heartfelt prayer first.
    • Don’t get caught in trappings of frivolous prayers.
    • Ask for discernment, illumination on the path to healing, and advice.
    • You don’t have to repeat. If you say it with heart once, the gods will have heard you, I’m sure.
  2. Once you’ve prayed, do some divination (or better yet, have it done for you so there is less pressure on your shoulders in the interpretation). The idea here is that you’ve asked for stuff to be sent to you (help in discernment, etc), now you’re trying to receive their advice.
    • use your tarot, runes, oracle cards, etc, asking questions such as “what is hindering me mentally?” “What should I focus on healing now?”
    • Remain open to all options. Write down what you receive or intuit, and set that aside.
  3. Make a list of what you struggle with or avoid doing daily or even weekly -> in an independent or solitary way. Say you can’t imagine taking the bus alone, but you’re not really hindered because you always have friends to go with you -> you’re still hindered because you can’t do it independently. Choose concrete things, such as taking the bus, going to the grocery store, leaving doors unlocked, etc.
  4. Now make a list of what you struggle with mentally. Write down all the niggly things. Anything you think ‘might’ be a problem. Write down even the things that you don’t think are worth taking into consideration, that aren’t ‘such a big deal’.
  5. Now compare the two lists. The point here is to realize which mental health problem/symptoms is crippling your daily activity, and to what extent. Look at each thing that’s giving you a hard time in your life (such as taking the bus) and honestly ask yourself what’s the symptom behind that. Is it anxiety? Paranoia? Chances are, if it’s impacting your daily life, it’s a problem that’s worth tackling. Highlight, circle, or make an entirely new list of the problems that affect your daily functioning.
  6. Now, compare this list with your divination. Here is where you make a final list of what appears in at least two of these lists. These are your target problems.
  7. Rank your problems from most to least incapacitating. Then, also rank them from easiest to hardest to ‘fix’. These will help you make your ‘game plan’ (which is the next post).

But for now, take a moment, have a deep breath, and pat yourself on the back. You’ve discovered what problems you have, and that’s a big step.

Now, these two lists that you’ve finished with are far from a diagnosis. They’re just you targeting things that are problematic for you. I strongly suggest that you take a moment here, with your lists, and try and make sure that you’ve targeted as much the ‘root’ of everything.

Say, for example, taking the bus is difficult for you. Finding the root would be to localize the anxiety, paranoia, or obsession behind this problem. Always look for what is the root.

Mental health problems are like bad weeds -> the roots can be three feet deep, going on and on through different levels of your psyche. But unless you dig up that root, they’ll just keep coming back in different plants/disguises. So, say you’ve managed to conquer the bus but you didn’t treat  your anxiety per se, so instead of worrying about the bus, you worry about taxis instead.

Mental health problems are complex, and there are many layers and complexities to each unique problem. Think again of trees and weeds (because we are pagans and that’s what we do, haha). In a book called ‘the secret life of trees’, Peter Wohlleben shows that trees actually support each other through their root systems, trading nutrition and water (I think that’s what he said anyways, I read the book a while ago). So my point here is that one problem can do just that, feeding off and supporting another (which is called ‘co-morbid’ in psychiatrist speech). So maybe instead of just digging up one problem at a time, it feels like you’re digging them all up at once. This is because they are probably entwined at the root. But just like digging up a nest of weeds, you have to start with one at a time, and dig up the whole plot of messy roots.

So now that you’ve made your lists, I suggest taking a break. Let it go, forget about it. One step is enough per day, in my opinion. Take a cleansing bath, purify and cleanse the area you made your lists in, and change your mind (garden, watch a show, read a book, etc). Focus on other things in your life, such as things that you can still comfortably perform without running up against your mental health problems.

Chaos & Kuryo (Novel 3) Chapter 5 Part 1

Kuryo’s POV

“So?” the silver being that was the Academy was still before me, tentacles wrapped about my waist and elbow propped painfully on my shoulder. I didn’t notice the pain too much though. I was more worried about how well I was getting along with this Academy.

“What are you thinking?” It whined, cocking its head to the side to peer at me.

I grinned half-heartedly. “Can’t you tell?” I wasn’t sure what I was thinking, myself. It was a confused jumble of emotions.

“I want a friend,” announced the Academy petulantly. “I’ve never had one. Will you be my friend?” But there was a flutter in the matter above us. It didn’t just like me, it ‘liked’ me. It had a crush on me.

Uhhhh – that revelation was weird. The Academy? Me? Wha-at?

“Well?” the academy insisted.

I avoided the question by stating the obvious. “You like me.”

A ridiculous blush came over the translucent skin, burning bright red over it. In answer, the Academy jumped off of me and up, crawling up the umbilical chord and swinging away into the darkness.

It was so fast that I just hung there and gaped. “Did I – say something?” I asked out into the darkness as I began to collect my wits. But there was no answer. Wow. Geez. Talk about childish.

“I am not childish!” shrieked down a pitched voice. I cringed, expecting it to throw something. But nothing. Nothing moved, nothing spoke.

“Sorry?” I ventured. But this time there was no answer. So I waited. I waited so long that my thoughts drifted to other things. Then my thoughts drifted, drifted, until I was thinking in the mind of the Academy, watching myself from above. Thinking of how cute I was. How strange and powerful – but caught now! There to play with-

I jolted back into myself, realizing where I had been.

“Oups,” chuckled the voice above me. I looked up, and that pale face was grinning down at me.

“How did I get up there?” I asked. But I knew, if I stopped to think about it. We were merging. Slowly, like molasses in cold water, but eventually the result would be homogenous –

“You just came on up,” said the Academy cheerfully. “Maybe you missed me.”

Was that their version of flirting? An idea struck me – but I refused to actually think it. I let the idea pass away so that it wouldn’t be loud in my mind.

“Am I going to die?” I asked, trying to keep my voice cheerful.

The Academy tilted their head to the side. Long strands of their hair tickled my face. “You’re going to become part of me. We’re going to be the same.”

“Then you’ll be all alone again,” I said, not even sure myself where I was going with this. My thought had been so brief that it wasn’t a wholly formed idea yet.

The face froze, crumbled, then vanished up into the darkness. Through the umbilical chord, I could feel that it was crying. I felt it because part of me was up inside there and crying too. The merging had begun.

I ducked my head and tried to be cheerful. “You know,” I said. “i think you’re cute too.” And with all my nerve, I summoned the feelings I felt for Chaos. They were cute to me. Clumsy, adorable, warm in my heart – I directed those emotions to the being up above me.

The crying stopped. It was probing my feelings. The face reappeared from the darkness, poking down at me. “You like me!” it crowed, holding out a fistful of silver strands at me.

Nausea rose in me. Were those my emotions there? I – okay? I forced down my panic at having my emotions held out before me. My literal heartstrings in someone else’s grip. In the Academy’s grip.

The being swung down, sliding down the chord to flip down so it was again perched on me. The tentacles hugged my stomach just a bit too tightly and the face was just a bit too close to mine – but I pushed the discomfort away, pretending I hadn’t felt it. I loved this being, I told myself, forcing myself to feel that emotion rising up within my chest.

Because the Academy was probing in me, grinning but checking me out from the inside.

“You do like me!” it squealed, bouncing up and down. “You do!”

“Yes,” I said it so truthfully it felt real. “I do.”

We kissed. There really wasn’t much I could do about it. The Academy was hugging me, squishing my head in its tiny little hands. I punched down revulsion and drew up happiness at the blink of an eye, made myself feel warm and loving –

“No one’s ever kissed me before!”

I chuckled, saying the first kind thing that came to mind. “You are very alone.”

The Academy pouted. “She never lets me meet anyone.”

Ah. “Who is she?” and then, the real question “And, who are you?” I kept my mind curious, playful, and warm towards the being before me.

It propped its’ elbows on my shoulders, pouting with its bottom lip out. “She’s the one who goes around and tells me to shut up all the time! She’s – well you saw her. She takes the bodies. She came here to laugh at you.” Tears suddenly welled in the beings’ eyes. “Do you think she’s going to forbid us?” The bottom lip wobbled dangerously.

“Maybe,” I said, feeling my plan tickle the back of my mind. I ignored it, following my instinct instead. “She doesn’t seem very nice.”

A large tear rolled down the Academy’s cheek. They sniffled loudly. “She tells me to shut up.”

I drew up on pity- and instantly saw the smile as my feelings were grasped at from somewhere within me. “You understand me,” the being crowed.

I nodded. “I think I do. There’s two of you?”

“But we’re one,” she moaned, flopping her head to the side. “When she sleeps, we, sort of.” and that was where they left it, word-wise. But in their mind, I felt something. The meshing of two minds, the respite of sleep –

“You’re the subconscious,” I said, realization snapping into place in my mind. “And she’s the conscious.”

“Mmmh, yeah,” she mumbled.

“So she’s logical, and you’re the suppressed emotions,” I said softly, again willing myself to feel pity for this creature. It nodded, teary eyes staring starrily at me. Again, I felt it was collecting – or maybe feasting – off of my feelings. It was drawing such satisfaction from being pitied.

I bit my lower lip. Something hung in the balance but I couldn’t let myself think about it. I just plunged ahead, thoughtless and on instinct so that I was unreadable.

“I feel myself in you,” I blurted. “We’re alike, you know.”

The Subconscious grinned at that. I forged on, licking my lips hesitantly. “I don’t want to die. And I don’t think you want me to die either. You’ll be all alone again!”

“You won’t die, you’ll just,” it left its words trail away.

“Losing who you are is a kind of death,” I whispered.

“But she wants you to be digested. She’ll be much stronger with you, we both will be. The world will crumble and they – they won’t be able to resist us any longer.”

I didn’t wonder who ‘they’ were. I assumed it was the Rebellion. Why they’d be causing the Academy a headache was beyond me. They’d never been that good at much.

“But I love you,” I whispered. I drew a sharp breath, watching the stars burst happily, feeling the joy in the subconscious before me. I echoed that feeling in myself as best I could. “And we haven’t had any time together. It’s not fair.”

The subconscious hung her head, lip wobbling dangerously. I leaned forward to press my cheek against theirs. “Let’s run away together,” I whispered.

“What?” the subconscious gasped. But I didn’t draw back, keeping our faces together. They liked that.

“Not for long,” I said. “Let’s just have a honeymoon. A few months- lets say three. That’s a nice time. We can travel, we can-” I faltered. I felt dismay, hurt, and pain straight through my heart. It was the pain of the being before me. We were so close that we were feeling each other as if we were already one.

I wasn’t sure who was the confused one and who was the sad one anymore. But, somehow, I knew we both wanted out. “Let’s just go,” I pleaded. “We can come back after. We’ll be one then, and we can reintegrate with the Academy then.”

“You promise?” it pleaded, looping its arms around my neck and holding tight. “You’re not trying to manipulate me?”

“I promise,” I whispered. “We’ll be good. We’ll come back.”

The subconscious gulped, then nodded. “Okay,” they whispered tearily. Then, in a fit of giggles they added. “I’ve never traveled before.”

“You’ll be in me,” I murmured. “You’ll be safe.”

“Okay,” it whispered, voice trembling. It was unsure, frail in this new path. “How do we do this?”

“You set me free,” I murmured, looking into those clear blue eyes that seemed white. “Then we run.”

They giggled nervously. “Okay.”

“Okay?” I said.

“Okay!” They nodded. They scrambled up me, up the chord, and into the darkness. With no warning the umbilical chord suddenly snapped loose. I tumbled down, shifting into crow shape instinctively. I floated down, fluttering into the darkness to feel a cool floor tile.

With a graceless thud the subconscious landed beside me on its side. They blinked and rattled themselves, then looked at me with a huge grin. “Let’s go!” It squealed.

And for a second, I hesitated. I could have just flown off and left them. But I didn’t so much think that as I echoed the thought from them.

Their face crushed as they saw my hesitation, feeling the thought take full form in their mind. Had I tricked them?

I shifted back into human form, crouching beside the form. They were really tiny. Fragile. Like a child. I took their shoulder gently, feeling the throbbing pain within them. A wordless pain sat between us.

If it wasn’t for that, the pain of betrayal, I would have left. But I had given my word. So things went differently.

“Climb onto my shoulders,” I said gently. “Let’s go. Together.”

Holocaust Memorial Day~ My Tiny Story

Here in Canada, it is Holocaust Memorial Day. This day hurts me, and I think it should hurt everyone. Not only is this a day of remembrance towards racism and ableism but it is also a day to mourn and be aware, to share our stories.

As some of you know, I live with mental illness. Schizophrenia runs in my family but I have mercifully not been touched by it. I do, however, dissociate into near-psychosis due to my stress disorders (a situation that is now much better than it was before!). I am what you could call a ‘compliant’ patient. I try my best and show positive results. My Grandmother on my maternal side was not. She was schizophrenic, and seen as dangerous. When it came out that she was schizophrenic, she was forcefully institutionalized and given electroshock therapy, among other things. Her newborn child was taken from her for a decade to be raised by relatives. Worse, she was forcefully sterilized. Now, this may not seem like a big thing to us nowadays, but she was a devout Catholic who wanted more children. For her being sterilized was a grand sin.

I know much worse things have happened to others, yet the suffering of my grandmother reaches me intensely. This woman suffered inside and out, being abused physically while being tortured by her own mind. I know much worse would have happened to her if she were in another country, yet it simultaneously blows my mind that there was forced sterilization happening in Canada, who is always portrayed as being on the ‘good side’ of history.

So, while we pray and think of all the Jews and those of ‘less desirable’ ethnicities who were murdered, I would like us to also remember those disabled folks who were murdered and sterilized as well. Myself, I will be praying for their souls to find peace today, and hope you will be too.