Goodnight 2014

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The wind has released itself from its chambers and spreads its body over the earth. A blanket of hammers slamming low temperatures into the atmosphere, it carries the clouds; full and dark with storms they are coddled into position. The sun has set and is nestled inside the crook of fire in the west wing of the heavens until it is time to renew itself again. The trees expose its private parts except the fourteen or so that do not lose its leaves to the whistling death sentence of winter. In less than a week from now, when the stars loiter on top the sky amidst the backdrop of midnight, people will decorate themselves with the image of change and resolutions, and make intoxicated promises they will never keep. Maybe it is just the warmth of liquor wrapping its arms around their spines, cooling their blood, and pulling at their heart strings. Suddenly it will happen, that moment when the bullet is separated from its shell, the parties burst into confetti, and this moment hushed into a lullaby. Right here, in the middle of a dead winter; everything cold and stiff and silent and yet loud inside a lowering orb of momentary bliss. This is the excited murmur of a new era and it is the canvas to which they will usher in a new year.

Be careful out there.

No Thank You

In case you’re wondering where the Christmas lights are, why I did not decorate my blog with carved Turkeys this weekend or why I have yet to regurgitate from the bowels of Neo Paganism some exciting holiday cheer, I just thought I’d warn you not to send me a holiday greeting or to send your cute little devil friends, I’m sorry elves, to come beating down my door with laughing hatred…no thank you to it all. I actually don’t celebrate holidays. There I said it. You may now refer to me as your crazy blogger friend who hates Jesus, I’m used to it.

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New Month, New Goals

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My, how this year has passed; a lot has changed, and a lot has come and gone. I’ve ended a blog and began one. All in all the experience has been worth both the good and bad. What are experiences for anyway if we can’t learn from them? Today I just want to speak briefly on blogging goals. I know I know who am I right? Why does this small blog of barely 300 followers write like she’s got 30,000? Who am I to give advice with all these splinters in my eyes? Well I’m glad you asked; I’m no one actually. Just another writer thriving on nothing but a bowl full of passion; I do not desire you to know my name or pity my story, I just wanna right, is that alright? I think so.

Have Fun

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So here we are. Since we’ve come to the end of the year, I just want to spew a couple of words of inspiration for all the new bloggers who will be joining us next year as well as old bloggers who are still struggling to drive their blogs in the direction intended for them. I don’t know what your goals are but the word today is Goal. What we really want to do is have both a Primary Goal and Sub Goals. There are two parts to the Primary Goal. The first part is just to have fun. Remember that this is your blog after all and your happiness will determine the level of passion you put into your posts. Do not over think this blogging thing, just blog and have fun doing it. And that my friends, having fun, is what keeps me writing. I do not desire a spot next to the red carpet. Yes, it will be nice to kiss the sky and tread on the clouds below me but there’s a time for that and it is not now. Right now I’m just taking it a step at a time and enjoying the moment, being ecstatic about the little things like those who join this blog, who like this blog, who interacts with this blog, and who view this blog. That’s why I can give advice and share poetry and write stories because I actually enjoy what I’m doing so I have no fear that I have not reached the level of “professionalism” some may deem necessary.

Primary Goal

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The next part of your Primary Goal is to actually have one, the objective for your entire blogging presence, the thing that brought you here. For some of you, maybe it’s just an outlet, for others perhaps it is business oriented but no matter the reason there must be one. The funny thing is though, you really just have to know what you want to do next. You don’t have to over-complicate it, just outline what you want to do next. It doesn’t matter the kind of information you seek to push, whether you are a descriptive writer, or a poet, whether you are here to persuade or to inform, no matter the reason remember that you are interacting with people. Do not let the massive World Wide Web fool you into thinking you’ve become a microchip inside a computer, and that you are not made up of flesh and bone. You are a person, and as such you are interacting with people. For this reason it doesn’t matter that you are just here to spread truth or push agendas or religious doctrine or whatever it is. Even so you must still realize that blogging is an online platform from which you are interacting and networking with others. Remember that no one likes to be preached to. You must use this opportunity to instead inform in ways that will attract people. Do not get so far on the high horse that you cannot relate to those of us still on the ground. It’s ok to laugh and to share some of your life experiences, your joys, your woes, or the new puppy you got yesterday and at the same time tie it into whatever message you have to give to the people. Never compromise your identity, never change who you are, and never let others change who you are, but in the midst of simply having fun make sure you keep the primary goal at the forefront and tie it into your blog identity.

Sub Goals

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I also think it’s important to have Sub Goals. Sub Goals are like Sub Titles; those small messages under the bigger message. They are those short term goals you wish to achieve to ultimately achieve that primary goal. For example: If your Primary Goal is to drive book sells, maybe your Sub Goal is to publish at least two short stories a day. What this will do for your blog is help to begin an organization of it so that you have something to offer to the people. You may want to include those features your Blogging 101 just talked about. I have something called Recipe Sunday for example. It is not a name I actually created a category for, but it is a feature I include on my blog every Sunday under the Audience Participation tab. In this feature, I feature recipes for various foods and snacks that can help those of us who are not chefs to better whip up some delicious meals. I love recipes and using them when I cook so this also gives you a taste of who I am as a person so your not talking to fingers on a keyboard with no hands attached. Does this mean I want to become a chef now? Does it mean I have compromised my identity as a servant? Does it mean I no longer want to write poetry? Of course not. It’s just another avenue to which I can engage and interact with my audience. This helps me to build because I will then get subscriptions from those people who are into food, who do like to cook, and who are actually chefs while simultaneously putting my message into a physical manifestation of being. It’s not just about telling people stuff, it’s about showing them and organizing your posts can help you to be that example and organization starts with Sub Goals. Decide on how many posts you want to publish a day depending on your schedule. Keep it fun so if that’s one post a week so let it be. The plan is not to stress out about it. Stressing out about it means worrying which means no writing for you and that’s not what we want. What we want is for your message or goal or whatever to get out there so no pulling your hair out. Just think carefully about how often you want to post and stick to that schedule as closely as you can. Then decide on what kind of special feature to include. This can be something as elaborate as a picture or as fancy as a list, your blog, your prerogative. Then put everything in its own folder, we call these categories in the blogosphere, so put everything in a category. This is just the basics though because you want to also scan the community a little bit too. The best way to drive traffic to your blog is be what you want others to be. If you want someone to treat you with respect do the same for them. So get on out of the corner and walk around the neighborhood. Participate in blogging challenges, follow some blogs, comment on some blogs, and like some blog posts. Incorporate this into your schedule as well; give the people some variety, something to look forward to. So you may decide: I will publish one post a day, like 5 blog post by someone else, and follow 10. That’s a schedule and sticking to this schedule as closely as possible will help to increase traffic to your blog and increase the chances of you accomplishing your goal. Like I said, if you think your too good to get involved because the content on your blog is so great then keep doing what your doing and bringing your goal to nothingness. If I have a computer I cannot use why do I have it? If I have something that cannot produce fruit, why do I have it? If you created a blog to reach people, why are you still blogging if you don’t want to reach people? The truth is that your content may just be great, in fact, it may be salvation itself, but even when you’re spreading the truth you still have to be able to reach people. You can’t just throw a ball into the air and hope that someone catches it; you have to get out there and be the change you want to see in others.

Complaining Announcements

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The last thing I want to speak briefly about is complaining announcements. I’m not talking about a blog post of you complaining, that’s your thing and if you want to complain be my guest, that’s your business. What I am talking about is this: If for whatever reason you could not publish the one post you dedicated yourself to, don’t announce it. No one cares until you announce it. You have a life, we get it, we understand. If I spit a piece you’ve never heard before and I mess up the poem no one will know unless I make it known that I have erred. So relax people. You don’t have to come back and apologize for not writing yesterday. Instead, take that energy and write twice as much today to catch up. If your goal was one post published a day and you missed a day, publish two posts the next day. The content can actually be about what held you up, was it your sons’ baseball game? Did he win? Was there a fat guy whose head was too big for you to see the fields? How was this experience? Tell us about that instead. Hold yourself accountable for staying true to the schedule so that you can achieve those little goals. It is not big steps that get us to the finish line faster, it’s the energy and dedication we put into those tiny steps we take every day. Remember:  slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.

Halloween: An Obvious Evil

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October is here. Parents are stocking the closets with the best goodies. Others are hanging skeleton bones in bushes, hiding pretend mice behind counters, and preparing pumpkin pie recipes. On the other side of the coin, children are deciding which of their favorite hero to honor this year, how long should the witches nose be, how much paint are clowns supposed to wear, and if their tooth fairy costume will really make them fly. Sounds innocent enough, after all, it’s just about candy, kids, and costumes…right?

Solstice

solstice-topSamhain (pronounced Sow-en), dates back to the ancient Celts who lived 2,000 years ago. It is a Celtic word meaning “summer’s end.” The Celts believed that summer came to an end on October 31st and the New Year began on November 1st with the start of winter. They based this on the Solstice. A solstice is an astronomical event that occurs twice each year as the Sun reaches its highest or lowest point. The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the Sun stands still coming to a complete stop before reversing direction. The solstices, together with the equinoxes, are connected with the seasons. In many cultures the solstices mark either the beginning or the midpoint of winter and summer. The summer solstice occurs when the tilt of a planet’s semi-axis, in either the northern or the southern hemisphere, is most inclined toward the sun. The Celts believed the end of the summer solstice was the end of the year, which they believed began on November 1st. But the Celts celebrations began at sunset the night before (10/31).

Gateways, Doorways, and Portals

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But the Origin of Halloween is deeper than a Celtic celebration of a new year. It wasn’t that November 1st marked a New Year; it was that it marked the opening of the door for the open worship of the Gods, Goddess, and sacrifices (Suicide rates during the Holiday season is no coincidence). At sunset on October 31, clans or local villages began the ceremonies of Samhain (Halloween’s government name) by lighting a giant bonfire. The people would gather around the fire to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic Gods. It was a method of giving the Gods and Goddesses their share of the previous year’s herd or crops.

Costumes

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The Celts wore costumes first to honor the dead who were allowed to rise from the spirit world. The Celts believed that souls were set free from the land of the dead during the eve of Samhain. Those that had been trapped in the bodies of animals were released by the Lord of the Dead and sent to their new incarnations. The wearing of these costumes signified the release of these souls into the physical world. Scripturally, when someone dies their breath goes back to the creator and their body back to the dirt. A person’s soul is just their physical self, their body, and their spirit is the breath of life which animates or makes alive that soul, or body. But many consider a person’s soul to be some tiny piece of them that is set free to go to heaven after they die. This comes from the time when Giants walked the Earth; the  offspring of human and angelic relations, they were a combination of flesh and spirit. When they died, their flesh returned to the Earth, but their spirit lived on. Mankind does not have a spirit living inside of him. The only spirit mankind has is his breath of life, but there is no tiny you inside of you. Though this is a belief of many, it is not a biblical fact, thus, when the Celts mention the souls of the dead rising, they are not speaking of actual people rising from the dead. They are speaking of an increase in demonic activity. It was believed for example, that a thin veil between the physical world and the spiritual world provided extra energy for communications between the living and the dead. Again, they’re not talking about dead people because dead people do not speak. Dead people’s bodies have been returned to the earth and their spirit, which composes all of their intellect and consciousness, has returned to the father until a later time. So when this communication takes place it is actually extra energy for communications with demons.

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Moving on, the Celts believed not all of these souls were honored and respected. Some they said were also feared as they would return to the physical world and destroy crops, hide livestock or ‘haunt‘ the living that may have done them wrong. Again, what is being described here is the activity of demons, invoked by the massive energy bestowed upon them by those participating in this celebration. The second reason for these traditional costumes has to do with the first reason, to hide from these demonic spirits, and to escape their trickery.

Samhain to Halloween

With the coming of Christianity, the early Church in England tried to Christianize the old Celtic festivals. In other words, since Christianity was filled with Paganism itself, they had to hide the true meaning behind Halloween if they were going to appease the pagan priesthood and continue to include it in their doctrine. So Pope Boniface IV designated the 1st of November as “All Saints Day,” and October 31st as “All Hallows Eve“, that eventually became Hallow’een. Scholars today widely accept that the Pope was attempting to replace the earlier Celtic pagan festival with a church-sanctioned holiday. As this Christian holiday spread, the name evolved as well; also called All-hallows Eve or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day). Later, the church made November 2nd  All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It is celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, The eve of All Saints’, All Saints’, and All Souls Day, are called Hallowmas. Halloween was also given another title, “Harvest Festival”, (this is supposed to make it sound less evil though it’s the same celebration).

The Evolution Of Halloween

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Trick-or-treating” is a modern tradition that probably finds its roots in the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.

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“Dressing up” for Halloween gets it roots from dressing up around the sacred bonfire during the original Celtic festival. Some suggest this practice originates from England, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world on Halloween. People thought that they would encounter ghosts (FYI: what people call ghost are actually demonic spirits) if they left their homes, so to avoid being recognized people would wear masks after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. In addition, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter or cause harm to their homes; a tradition obviously taken from the ancient Celtic pagans.

Despite its name change and a few switches around of the celebrations, it is still the same celebration. Participants are still giving their energy over to the Gods and are still communicating with demons. Remember, you can choose not to agree, but it won’t make it any less true.