Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tea and Rhythm

My days begin and end in steam. The dark winter mornings are slow - after long nights nursing the stove I pour a blue and white ‘willow’ cup full of coffee and watch the cream swirl in to the thick darkness. The ritual opens my day, before sunrise, before food and music, and morning prayer. There is something sacred in the quiet moment, a tiny retreat before stepping out into the day; a chance to greet the dawn from my own interior cloister. That lonely cup is my cell, and in it I learn everything there is to know about the new day.

When the day truly begins, with morning prayer and the early meal, we fall into a pattern for our hours - ora et labora - clean, tea, wood, tea, play, lunch, read, tea… the itinerary changes. This week I clean, split-wood, write, read all about Wilma’s fat cat and pet rat as they argue over a mat, tend the stove, and sew. The consistency is in the breaking, in the moments of tea and quiet, or tea and chatter, in the time spent at our little table - or on chairs before the roaring fire - refreshing our tiny community.

Evening tea is reflective. After supper-time, after evening prayers there is often, but not always, a later cup. For it I leave my willow-ware resting on shelves and hold one of my own again. The softness of my own small creation sleeping gently against my hand is soothing to the ever-shifting palm-lines; I can feel each moment of it’s creation - as though there ought to be a mark for this, and every other pot I’ve birthed, and perhaps there are, so tiny they stay hidden. Secret remembrances to each and every earthen-child. My daughter sleeps while I sip memories - “Before I formed you..” The coyotes howl together in the distance, and I think of all the ways to know the not-yet-born.

Harry Potter Book Club: Book 3, Chapters 8-9

In our trip though Harry’s third year at Hogwarts we’re full in the middle of all sorts of internal drama at the school. Sirius Black has broken in, done nothing, and broken out again while everyone is conveniently out of the way (good thinking for someone hunting information, not so good for snatching Harry) - but Snape is hinting (carelessly within-earshot of Harry & Co.) that someone on staff is helping, and since Lupin and Hagrid are the only new-appointees, it’s obviously Lupin he’s referring to (so you’re not SPOILED, right?). But why do teachers at Hogwarts never have important conversations in private?

I sort of love Snape’s chance at Defense Against the Dark Arts..finally he’s teaching his subject and it must have been so frustrating for him! (Honestly, if I were subbing for a class like that, I’d be kind of crabby too..how hard is it to just

* * * * * *

In her post last week, Jenna brings out the problematic ambiguity of Lupin’s encouragement to Harry in chapter 8, Harry tells Lupin that he expects the boggart would turn into a dementor for him, and Lupin gives this bit of empty encouragement:

“I’m impressed…That suggests that what you fear most of all is - fear. Very wise, Harry.”

Does it? Is it? I'm doubtful on both counts. Jenna writes:

I'm not sure what to make of this statement; to me, it sounds a little bit like "Seize the day" and other bits of popular aphoristic wisdom: helpful enough for certain people under certain circumstances, but not necessarily true in the transcendental sense.

And like her, I find it hard to feel the truth of Lupin’s little affirmation. For a few reasons:

  • I thought Rowling said the Dementors represented depression, not fear. Two very different emotional experiences. So if Harry feared the dementors themselves, wouldn't he be more afraid of despair than fear?

  • Harry’s response to the Dementors seems less based on fear and more on the horror of being helpless at his parents death, horror at his own overwhelming reaction compared to his peers, and a sort of all-encompassing sorrow for his parent’s death and all the opportunities for a loving, joy-filled childhood that died with his parents.

  • Fearing fear doesn’t seem particularly wise - it seems instinctual, something paralyzing, and something courage can overcome once Harry begins to see it as a weakness and not a strength.

I don’t see anything wrong with Harry’s fear of the Dementors - I actually love that he thought of the Dementors and not Voldemort (sometime more immediate, more directly threatening to him right now) - it makes sense that Harry would fear something that is a current threat.  I appreciate Lupin in this scene - he’s open, honest, caring, and respectful..he doesn’t shift his eyes and avoid the question; he just answers Harry’s question and it’s a wonderful indication of the character Rowling seems to be building in Lupin. But the comfort offered is weak and meaningless. 

Snape understands that hard truths have to be said..Harry should have come to him and said, "I'm most afraid of dementors." Snape would have given Harry something real to fear - Cedric Diggory goes on to become a whiny, emo, puddle of self-loathing and body-glitter. Now, work up a spell against that.

Thanks Jenna! Sorry about the Edward-hate ;)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Meditations on the Tarot: The Empress - Magic and the Theotokos

There are three kinds of magic: magic where the magician is the instrument of divine power..sacred magic;magic where the magician is the source of magical operation..personal magic;lastly, magic where the magician is the instrument of elemental..or other forces - sorcery. [The Empress] refers to sacred or divine magic.”

“Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your word.” (Luke 1:38)

The question in this letter is whether or not there is a legitimate form of magic - a magic divinely authorized; and I, believing in a God who gives martyrs their heads to carry and who comes as a Child to instruct the arrogant or to nestle in the arms of the humble, a God who comes into my own life to be devoured, I can only agree with the author. There is such a magic, and the Virgin is it's Queen. She who became the truest instrument of divine magic, and whom we are to imitate as we, too, allow God’s magic to make all things new - even if we wonder, as the She must have, at the strange and unlooked for paths He makes for us.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Meditations on the Tarot II: La Popesse (the priestess)

"Wisdom has built her house. 
She has set up her seven pillars."
             (Proverbs 9:1)

I have a friend named for Wisdom, and in my mind she is forever dancing in the light of a new-born sun. In the priestess card, we see God collected, put on a page, and studied - intimately, like a very rich dream.  A reflective card, it offers creativity, in its deepest sense, to understanding. The author links the card to Wisdom, to study, and to the Word made flesh:

"The second arcanum ..shows us how Fire and Wind become
Science and Book. Or, in other words, how "Wisdom builds her house."

I think mostly of my friend, building her own house on the western coast. Foundations to last long beyond the life of a building - pillars to walk with her on her path to the Son. I see her studying God as He writes Himself on each page of life; and then I think of the Word as He was - small and tender, delighting in his own tangible self, in the textures of his skin. Saying to Himself, as children do: "I have two hands, I have my eyes, my mouth; I have my body..See - this is my body!"

Saturday, January 11, 2014


The new year is a whole 11 days in, and I've been on vacation for most of it. But now I'm falling back into reality and regaining a bit of my motivation, so now is probably a good time to set some goals in writing. 

Here are a few things you can look forward to on this Blog in the coming weeks:

  • I'm finally getting around to writing up my reflections from Meditations on the Tarot - chapter by chapter..which will take up all the Mondays of 2014 - if I manage to stay committed.
  •  The Harry Potter Book Club will live forever! Thanks Jenna and Christie for keeping me committed, and this year I'm hoping to do a few more fun side projects relating to the Club, as well as putting down some of my many thoughts on the spirituality I see reflected in the books - with some happy arguments in the combox, right Jenna?
  • A few posts on beauty as a physical trait - and how all the talk of 'inner beauty' is often directed towards killing the joy in looking beautiful. I'm not completely sure how I should go about writing it, but it's something I've been thinking about a lot recently.
  • Photos of projects, tea-time, and the beauty of home.
  • Drafts of poems. I have a few that need work, and I'm really looking forward to reading your suggestions!
  • Book reviews not limited to Meditations and Harry..and at some point, a review/reflections on Pan's Labyrinth, which I now own!
What else should I write on??? Any thoughts?


Friday, January 10, 2014

Harry Potter: Book 3, Chapter 7


reading tea leaves - here is the art deco version

 Harry is moving past his 'bad reading' with Trelawney, beginning to settle in again, despite incompetent teachers (Hagrid should be fired, Malfoy is right) and very competent, very negative teachers (Snape just needs sensitivity training, I think). Lupin's class is a nice change: active, productive, enjoyable, and Neville's shining moment..I don't know what my boggart would be..there are so many, but like Jenna, I know exactly what it would have been: demons. A box that opens up to spew demons into air around me. I would imagine the box opening and then snapping shut again just in time to squish sad little demon fingers..It would be so empowering, I think, I would laugh and laugh at their pathetic attempts to escape.

Neville's fear is more active..I may have dreamed my demons every night, but at least I could wake up and hide under the covers while they cleared out in the morning..Neville has Snape haunting his days and (I'm sure) his dreams as well..but now at least the dream Snape will look a bit less Emo and a lot less threatening.


Jenna's right, Snape never should have become a teacher..people who hate people are the worst teachers in the world. But at least his students learn, I mean, once they get past the emotional trauma.. Lupin (in this book) is ideal! He's capable, kind, knowledgeable..a real teacher. I like him..I wish they'd cast someone who didn't look like a grungy drunk in the movie, but in my mind, Lupin is 'shabby' without being gross. I liked the idea of the boggart, but I know nothing about the mythology behind it, so I'll just accept Rowling's interpretation. It's a fun one, especially for this book - which seems to be playing with darkness. It's less childlike that the first two, but less dark as well..more about people and relationships than either of the books we've read, but in a careless sort of way. And I'm not sure how much is intentional.

Lupin and Snape are a fun pairing..in the sense that Lupin is so kind and gentle and humane, while Snape is so very much the dark, brooding, and dangerous one..if I didn't know all the spoilers to come, I'd guess away at the twist Rowling has planned for these two. But I do know, and that takes all the fun out of guessing.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Away from Home....

 We've moved for a while..While the weather was bitter.

It's still bitter, but better..and we're still not home. It's just so easy here.
Radiators for heat. Hot water. Gas oven. Indoor bathroom.
Plugs everywhere! And wifi..the kind that doesn't limit access to videos.
Yes. We're having so much fun.

I'm just being lazy..resting, sleeping, doing a bit of a cleanse..and baking in the big
gas oven. And now, I'm excited about bringing my refreshed self 
back home again..when this cold snap truly breaks. 

 Until then, I guess we'll just eat..and write..and draw..and watch videos online - because that's fun too. And it's fun to have fun!

Hope you all are as cozy through the winter chill as we are!