Who is this person?

November 22, 2008

Cairril Adaire is my performance and pen name, devised while doing numerology during physics class many moons ago. I did not get class credit.

My central passion is {ahem} to create transformative experiences through the performing arts. This intertwines the two strands of Cairril-ness, music and spirituality, into an endless dance like the ribbons of DNA.

But it’s not all about priestessing someone through a mind-blowing experience that initiates them into a new kind of awareness, though that happens sometimes. “Transformative experiences” include laughter, nostalgia, silliness, and the ever-popular “things that make you go ‘hm.'”

I sing, I act, I dance like a spaz, I write (music, scenes, and non-fiction), I lead, I priestess, and I collaborate. I am forever in search of what I experienced in my formative years: a community of peers where we challenge each other to greater creative excellence and have fun while doing so.

Why is this blog here?

I want to acknowledge my creative self, have something to refer people to for the Cairril Adaire me, and also have a place where I can blather freely and not have to worry about my day job.

A fond farewell

July 10, 2020

if you are reading this, i’ve gone shining/am dead by my own hand. in the movie captain fantastic when the mom commits suicide one of the characters responds, “she finally did it.” some of you who’ve known me for a long time may have a similar response. initially. 

knowing the anguish suicide can leave behind, i’ve written this (extensive) note to try to explain the “why” so that if you are affected by this passing you will find peace more quickly. i apologize for the all-lower-case letters—it’s easier on my hands.

my story begins with mental illness. it’s entwined with mental illness. i have a variety of serious disorders that few people have seen because i have an almost otherworldly ability to present myself as in command at all times. depression started at age 14, anxiety at 15. it’s had its ups and downs over the decades but it wasn’t until 2003 in a mental hospital that i was first diagnosed properly and put on meds. it took years to get to a more precise set of diagnoses (see below). the meds sometimes provided a safety net but there were countless mornings when i thrashed around in bed screaming and then went catatonic for hours. countless weekday mornings where i would start screaming in my office and then would run out of the room, unable to gain control of my brain for the rest of the day. and sometimes the kaiasistahs were witnesses to my convulsions and screaming psychotic episodes. bless them for taking care of me. a lot of this seemed manageable at first because i had my own business and my time was my own. i thought that if left my desk at 9am i could always go back at 3 once my turmoil had subsided. but i became less and less capable of returning and my work suffered as my mind deteriorated.

the various diagnoses:

generalized anxiety disorder 

major depression 


obsessive compulsive disorder 

post-traumatic stress disorder 

dissociative identity disorder 

developmental trauma disorder 


it’s always been a race against the clock for me: will i get well first or will it be suicide? i’ve been wrestling with this illness since i was 14 years old. and now we know: i could not get well in time. 

i am a mentally ill person. i have a brain disease. it is inherited, chronic, and life-threatening, just like diabetes or other physical illnesses. i am the strongest person you’ll ever meet, and i am terribly, terribly fragile. i am ill. please understand this: no matter how capable i’ve seemed all this time, there has been one long scream behind it. i am mentally ill. 

i had a very successful business for almost a decade but i got hit hard by the recession. by the time the recovery hit, the whole design industry had changed and bloomington was positively crawling with low-priced competition. i spent years freaking out at the shame of pending bankruptcy as i watched all my IRAs and rainy day funds and savings disappear. like so many others in the new economy, i felt like a complete, utter failure. i had no worth. i was despondent with the burden of shame and blame. for YEARS. my mental state, always precarious, deteriorated as i frantically tried to find a way to stay afloat.

starting in the recession, i had terrifying nightmares every weekday morning. constant paralyzing flashbacks. a lot of blackouts. i couldn’t keep a train of thought. i got anorexia (which business colleagues congratulated me on, since the skinnier you are, the more successful you must be). i started cutting after a 25-year hiatus. i would freeze when presented with simple things, like when a truck blocked the sidewalk and I just stood there paralyzed, quivering and whimpering, not knowing what to do. i was institutionalized again. i was obsessed with thoughts of suicide every day. i was plagued by panic and that most awful of words: “failure.” i got worse and worse, all the time trying trying trying new things to turn my career path around and staunch the financial outflow. but eventually it was clear that i was no longer capable of work. my therapist and psychiatrist and GP concurred that i needed to be on disability. it took a long time for me to see that this was an ongoing problem and i indeed was no longer able to work.

i applied for disability and was rejected three times (which is typical). a friend who advised me said the government hopes you’ll die waiting. i ran out of money before i got my day for an appeal. but even then i doubt if i’d win, based on the skepticism i met with in my dealings with the social security administration. beyond that i highly doubt that i’d have enough money to live on, based on the stories i’ve heard from people who were successful in their disability claims. a monthly check would’ve covered my mortgage, nothing more. so it would have been a great deal of suffering and psychotic episodes for nothing. 

what underlies my decision to kill myself is a deep commitment i made to myself when i was psychotic and getting ready to go into a mental hospital. i swore that “i am in this only as long as i want to be in this. as soon as i don’t want to be in this, i’m done.” that is a deep promise and i have held it sacred. and i no longer want to be in this. the financial struggle which leads to mental anguish is just too much.

what i need you to understand is if i went backwards, if i gave up my house and moved into a small apartment, if i went to work for The Man in a company i didn’t fully support, i would risk that sanity i have struggled so hard to achieve. right now if i get distressed i can merely step outside and ground myself in my Land. just the feel of my house soothes me. i have had fewer depressive and psychotic episodes since i’ve moved into my house. it has made living possible. why in the world would i give that up? why would i go backwards, knowing for a fact that i would lose my sanity again and again? no. i will never do that. i would literally rather be dead. i go to my grave gladly, knowing i have saved myself from a soul-killing fate. by dying, i save my life. i keep myself safe. and i make good on that vow. there is deep honor in that. 

I’ve had a good life, sometimes a wonderful life, but it was also an extremely difficult struggle. almost all the good things that enriched my life were possible because i had money. i wasn’t willing to live on less money because then i would lose all that made life worth living. it’s never been enough for me just to keep breathing—i have always wanted more. i’m not interested in surviving: simply placing one foot in front of the other. the only life that makes sense to me is thriving, truly engaging with all the things life has to offer. i have lived my life on my own terms and for the most part answered to no one. i fought hard for that privilege—gave every scrap of skin—and i have zero interest in going backwards. there is a difference of light years in quality of life between my life since i got my house in 2006 and the previous 20 years in cramped, concrete, soulless, madness-inducing apartments. to go backwards would destroy my sanity.

there have really only been three options for me: have a thriving business to support myself in health, live in poverty or at a job i hate in serious mental degradation, or be dead. since i can’t have the first and refuse the second, that leaves me with the last. some of you have gotten glimpses of the madness i experience, but no one but my therapists really knows the extent of my disability. trust me on this: it’s not something anyone should have to live with. 

it’s suicide now or suicide later. later it would be at absolute rock bottom, impoverished, frantic, psychotic, full of despair and crazed suffering with a soul full of rage and terror. suicide now means going out on a high note, living my life to the fullest. which would you choose?

i had a million ideas for ways to get out of this morass. i first tried pursuing journalism at the university of massachusetts–amherst and later information science at IU. i had to drop out of iu because my illnesses exploded. as much as i loved the idea of school, it was no longer mentally possible. that was a huge blow. i tried two new businesses. i tried part-time work. one of my jobs was supposed to lead to a client pipeline but after a while the boss replaced me with someone who’d be available “24/7”— for a part-time job (this was when i still had cairril.com work). so i lost the job and i lost the pipeline. i applied for full-time work. i tried selling plasma but i was on too many meds to be accepted. i underwent career counseling. i tried freelance writing. i tried subcontracting. using lynda.com, i learned 7 software programs in 6 months to help me get ahead but then had no use for them. i seriously considered going back to school to become a translator/interpreter but realized i was simply too old to get going. the small business development center, staffed by fantastic people who champion me, made referrals to me and set up a meeting with a contact who could’ve changed the whole direction of my business—nothing came of it. i met with five long-time colleagues who are movers and shakers in the bloomington and indianapolis business communities. they gave me kickass advice, i followed it—but nothing happened. 

i longed for a reference librarianship job at the monroe county public library but was told by everyone on the planet that i would never get the job because positions rarely open up and, when they do, competition is freakishly fierce. i worked out a whole exciting plan for how i could become a history professor before i learned from working professors that the process would kill my love of history. i tried working with a yoruban priest to approach my problems from a tribal spirituality angle and just as i was ready to really dig in she backed out. i was finally making progress with an excellent therapist when she moved away. 

i finally invested in a top-to-bottom website redesign for my business only to have a high-profile prospect tell me it had been a close call but they’d decided they liked my competitor’s website better. kaia had grand plans for touring that would’ve allowed us to keep some money for ourselves, but after i spent a whole summer researching, emailing, and talking on the phone we only got two gigs. i considered becoming an event planner, but besides having face blindness, i realized event planning actually triggers massive anxiety. i looked into getting a marketing degree to work at a specific bloomington company but found out their pay is low and they don’t give raises. i applied for scores of jobs on guru.com, a worldwide freelancing site, but i was constantly underbid by people in asia. the one gig i did get disappeared as soon as i produced a contract. i went through the arduous process of being certified to sell to the government only to find that buyers didn’t even HAVE a category for web design. i looked into substitute teaching but it only paid $8/hr. i looked into becoming a grant writer but it’s a blue ton of boring work for not much pay. i considered becoming a chain store franchisee but, apart from its being totally opposed to my values, i would be risking a very large chunk of someone else’s money. no way.

i planned a singing class for kids but couldn’t find a place to rent that wouldn’t wipe out all my profit.  i thought about going back to school to become a university choral director but it was impossible for me to work. i asked my best clients for referrals but no referrals came through. one of my friends needed design work done and even they went to one of my competitors. it was just one more sign: “this is the end of the road.”

i tried to get a home equity loan, but even with a credit score of 843, i got turned down. (this was the part of the recession when banks took government bailouts and converted them to big bonuses for the C-suite instead of making small loans.) i swallowed my pride and asked well-off people for subsidies but they couldn’t help. i have done innumerable money spells but was blocked at every turn. i considered getting a roommate but the house is just too small. i considered letting the house and moving into a small apartment, but rents are so high plus storage and a handyman would all actually cost me more. late in the game, i considered going back to school to learn how to direct music videos but i just was so ill i couldn’t do it. 

i did not lose my money for lack of trying. to the contrary, i tried every single thing i could think of. and i thought of a lot. but i was no longer mentally capable of either going to school or holding down a job. how could i possibly survive? all the evidence screamed, “the world is not your friend” and “i am fortune’s fool!” (romeo and juliet). i seemed destined to fail no matter what. everywhere i went i felt a door slamming shut in my face.

the american dream is a lie. you hear it from politicians and others constantly: “if you work hard and play by the rules, you’ll get ahead.” i did work hard and i did play by the rules, but globalization and the great recession were bigger than i was. americans are so obsessed with the individual, as if one’s destiny rises or falls according to one’s own industry. but race and class and gender and ability and geographic location and so much more—even luck!—play into how much money you make. i had a lot of privilege on my side and a lot of help in my career. it wasn’t enough to save me.

the best thing about giving up trying trying trying is my mental health is the best it’s been since the late ‘90s. i still deal with anxiety and depression and psychosis but that was much worse when i was trying to work. seeing that i was going to die, i passed my clients on to other providers and have spent the last few months just livin’ the life. i’m relaxed for the most part and singing and praying and just doing my thing. for the first time in 20 years i feel like i’m really living my life instead of constantly being gripped in the jaws of hell. 

the worst part, the absolute worst part of all this was the lying about work and suicide (i told the truth about everything else). i had to lie to people because if they knew the truth they’d ring the cops to stop me. so i’ve been living with this black, oily poison of lies and misdirections and keeping my mouth shut when all i wanted to do was tell everyone everything. i don’t have secrets. i live my life very much in the open. and honor is one of my most prized values. it has tortured me to lie. and i think it will make it harder for you left behind to forgive me. i’m sorry. i am so, so sorry. i’m crying as i type this. if there were any other way, i would’ve told you everything. i just couldn’t take the risk. i’m desperately sorry. 

i’m also deeply sorry for the obvious stuff—the pain i will continue to cause as my kith and kin feel the hole in their lives which i should be occupying. i’m sorry i couldn’t get well. many, many people have helped me over my lifetime but i’m just too damaged. i’m sorry for all the love and support i’ll never be able to give. i’m sorry that some of you will never forgive me. if it helps, think of me as having a severely debilitating terminal illness. which, in fact, i have. 

i have made the decision to end this endless suffering. And i got out in relief and peace. there are plenty of people who choose to end their lives while they still have all their faculties and go out on a high note. that’s what i’m doing. i end my life to save my life. i choose quality over quantity. 

i have thought about and researched suicide for most of my life. this is not a spur-of-the-moment decision. this is a conscious choice. and it is not a product of depression or something that could’ve been avoided if i’d just had someone to talk to. frankly, it comes down to money. i did not have the money to maintain a lifestyle worth living and designed to maintain my mental stability, and if i narrowed my lifestyle i would have experienced far more intense symptoms of my brain diseases and would certainly have lost my mind. again and again. by the Gods, i will not let that happen. if i could solve my money problems, i would still be alive. it’s as simple as that. 

to those who say suicide is “selfish,” i say a resounding “screw you.” i should have to live with the blackest despair and cutting and hallucinations and the complete overthrow of reason so that you don’t have to feel bad for a while? who’s the selfish one?

my grave plot is in the green burial section (yay!) of white oak cemetery, which is my favorite graveyard in bloomington. when my eldest goddessdaughter was three i began taking her there to teach her how to climb trees, learn letters and dates from gravestones, and be at peace among the beloved dead and not fear them. she called it the “grave garden,” a name which has stuck to this day. i can’t express the comfort i have felt just knowing where i’m going to be planted. my headstone is already there so when i wanted to know where i’ll be in a hundred years or just wanted to feel my roots, i went and curled up on my grave and communed with the lovely tree over it and generally felt great. 

i know that my Land at home is where i’m planted in life, and plot number 13 in the grave garden is where i’ll be buried in death. i feel so good about that. i know non-Pagans may find it macabre, but Pagans don’t fear death — we see it as part of the natural life cycle. i am thrilled that my body will return to the Mother quickly and sustain new life. this is peace. 

a lot of people think that life is a line with a start at birth and an end at death. but before birth come the natural processes that convert energy into matter. and death is not the end. no, i’m going home to Mother Earth, planted deep, and i will fuel the lives of hundreds of creatures. no immortal soul, no heaven, no Summerlands where my personality lives on, but a sacred dance of lifeanddeath for my energy until the Sun goes nova. then i return to starstuff. this brings me comfort. this brings me delight. i’m glad to go into my next iteration. 

i don’t believe in an afterlife, so for me my death is the end of my personality. i have no qualms about that—it is a comfort. at the same time, i know from my genealogy research that the more we learn about the dead, the more they come back to life for us. and i have personally felt the presence of “ghosts” and have also facilitated the transition of beings from one realm to another. one of my four cornerstone beliefs is that there are more things going on in this sphere than our five senses can explain, so who knows? feel free to call upon my spirit. 

i have so enjoyed my semi-retirement since october 2016 and my full retirement since Spring. once i released all feelings of grasping after money, i focused on quality of life. and what quality! the books i’ve read, the songs i’ve created and sung, the traveling i’ve done, the volunteering, the watching of documentaries, the learning, the fun!, the shakespeare i’ve done, the increasing political activism, the deepening of my spirituality, the deepening of my relationships, the expansion of my self! this is what i’ve wanted my life to be. and it’s this i’ve chosen for myself—a life fully lived before i die. going out on a high note. no suffering, no fear, just juicy living. it took the ending of all my ambitions for me to have a shot at a full, enriching life. it is exactly what i wanted my whole life to be. and even though it’s only been a few years instead of decades, it’s been a glorious retirement. i have no regrets about this choice. there are many things i love about the life i’ve created for myself, but i surrender them to the Goddess willingly and gratefully. i go to the grave in peace and in joy that i can finally, finally lay my burden down. i have always been a fighter; this is my last fight. it is a fight to end my life as i have lived it: on my own terms. 

if you would remember me, sing. sing LOUD with a big smile on your face. enjoy the thrill of singing and being alive. take part in democracy. build community. speak truth to power. never give up. 

i thank all those who have loved me and given me so much help. i thank all my kith and kin who have contributed to making my life so interesting and full of fun. i thank the Goddess for this peace at the end of a long, difficult road. i thank myself for having the courage to end my life before i lose it. 

i love you. 

resting in peace. resting in power.


Broadway dream

July 4, 2019

I was born singing. From as far back as I can remember I was aimed for a career on Broadway. Things obviously didn’t work out that way.

Over Winter break this year I went to NYC to pay homage to Lady Liberty and to go to a Broadway show. All those years, all those trips to New York, and I’d never even walked on Broadway. I decided it was long overdue. So I went to see Kinky Boots, which is about a northern England industrial town with a shoemaker going out of business but who has a brainwave and starts making great boots for drag queens. I saw the movie years ago and it was pretty plodding but I figured by now it would’ve been dusted off and turned sparkly.

On 25 December I was able to do honor to Lady Liberty and just soak in the vibes of New York, a city I adore. I did some wandering around and read a great book in the evening. The next day I went to a natural history museum until my hips were screaming in pain and I returned to my AirBnB. I started to get nervous. Why was I really here? I thought I was coming to just have some fun over break and have my creativity recharged but I realized most importantly, I was on a pilgrimage to see if I could’ve made it.

I sang in every possible outlet from age five. I started in community theatre at age 11. The directors put on shows that were better than Cardinal’s, but it was free theatre. When we did Brigadoon in Main Square we had 5,000 people come to each show. I sang there, I sang in church, and I sang in three or four different ensembles at school. I started singing professionally for weddings and other events at age 11. I was the youngest supporting actress in the school’s history when I was in ninth grade and the youngest lead in 10th grade. Do you get the picture I’m painting? I had shooting star written all over me. I was going to Broadway and nothing was going to stop me.

Everyone wanted a piece of me, of successful me. I can’t tell you the number of autographs I gave away, the number of times I heard my mom’s voice in my head “Be gracious” as I said thank you to some 100th fan. Everybody wanted to say, I knew her when.

I was an arrow from a bow. My parents briefly tried to convince me to minor in journalism in high school as a back-up but I wouldn’t hear of it. This train had only one stop, and it was on the Great White Way. I was born with an iron will and all my ambition went towards manifesting my dream.



Things start getting hazy for me around the start of senior year. My parents and I were arguing more. Something was wrong with me but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I was depressed a lot and writing reams of bad poetry. But then I decided that hey, this was my senior year, I was unlikely ever to see these people again, so I will just bury my feelings deep and stay present in the moment and drink every drop of enjoyment I could squeeze out of it.

It seemed to work at first but then I started having wild mood swings. My depression came screaming back but I swallowed it. I was anxious and insomniac but still the life of the party. Things got worse at home so I spent a lot of time in the school theatre and hanging out with theatre friends. Worse worse worse. I was having this bifurcated life where on the outside I was in love with life and my friends and all my activities but inside I just wanted to die. On Easter morning my first soulmate boyfriend broke up with me and as I dried dishes in our kitchen looking out the window, tears streamed down my face as I talked to my mom and sisters behind me, modulating my voice so they wouldn’t know anything was wrong.

School got whacked and I was getting death threats in the hallways. When I left my house for a weekend Speech & Debate competition I had friends on patrol guarding it. It wasn’t enough.

By then the hallucinations had come. My mental health was crashing into a total psychotic breakdown while I still managed to go to school and do my chores and hide, hide, hide this nightmare that I still didn’t understand. I faltered in my Broadway dreams but I’d been accepted into IU’s Music School so I figured everything would go back to normal once I got out of the death-dealing Calumet Region.

I lasted a year at college. I was just too mentally ill to continue. Plus I wanted to become financially independent to remove that source of tension between me and my folks. The government determined I was too poor for financial aid (yes, you read that right) so I was out of school for three years, absolutely dirt poor and completely mentally unstable. When I went back to school it was for graphic design because I figured that would bring in the money and I could sing in my free time. Boy was that naive.

So that’s a chronological view. Here I was, in New York, over 30 years later, wondering: Could I have made it?

The show was great, lots of fun, perfectly executed by perfect professionals. The music had been composed by Cyndi Lauper of ’80s fame and was really fun. The theatre was old and really beautiful and everything was just wonderful. I looked through my copy of Playbill to see the artists’ bios and see what other shows were on. Something pinged in the back of my head and I knew I would want to review this more closely back at the apartment.

I finally made my way back and settled down with chocolate and milk and Playbill. And as I read through it I felt a great wave of grief. I could’ve made it. I doubt if I would’ve been a star but I have no doubt I would’ve gotten small roles with the occasional supporting actress gig. I would’ve worked onstage but also learned offstage how to use a MIDI and compose my own music (which I had already started to do in the Music Scool). When I got too old for the roles, I could’ve devoted myself to smaller productions and writing music for friends who were writing shows. I could see it all spread before me. I could feel it in my gut. I could’ve made a life out of the performing arts and had a helluva good time doing it. And worked hard, which I always loved. Pushed myself.

What happened? Why hadn’t I done it? I would’ve needed acting and especially dance classes but I would’ve gotten those in school. Why did I give up this all-consuming dream???

Somewhere, somewhere in that three-year period of being poor and insane I let it go. I decided making money was the most important thing because I had gone to bed hungry enough for one lifetime, thankyouverymuch. But is that real? Did I set myself down and do a pros and cons list? Did I even think rationally at all? Did I just become hard and greedy and use that iron will to find a good job in Bloomington and agitate for higher wages, always higher wages?

I know I stopped singing. For about five years. Then the Goddess gave me my voice back so I could glorify Her when I was in England in ’92. I joined a chorus. I started writing songs again, this time for women’s voices. I helped start an informal singing group called Friday Sing because, oddly enough, we came together on Fridays to sing. Then of course there was 14 years of glorious Kaia and now Pandora’s Box.

But in my mind I hold that Playbill in my hand and look at aaaaaall the shows playing and there in the middle is My Fair Lady, which I played the lead in junior year. When I was in high school the one niggling fear I had about Broadway was that every show would be Fosse Fosse Fosse and overly sexualized. But of course some of these older shows get revived. Not that I would’ve played the lead in such a high-profile show in my 20s or 30s (I wasn’t that good), but it would’ve been a show I could’ve auditioned for with confidence and maybe been in the chorus.

Gods above and below, what has happened to me???? My life revolves around mental illness more than anything else. I’m so fragile. And I used to be unstoppable. And I don’t know why things changed — I don’t even know precisely when things changed. I just suddenly find myself in a life I didn’t sign up for with a past I can’t remember.

I lost my way a long time ago. My brain chemistry derailed my life. And I’ve gotten worse over the years overall, not better. Would I be more functional if I had achieved that childhood goal? I’ll never know. I just know now I carry this anguish inside, this grief, for a path I turned away from and I don’t know why.

Invoking contemporary goddesses, guardians, and guides

February 20, 2018

In my goddess circle on Hermione Granger I talked about how to work with contemporary manifestations of the goddess like Princess Leia, Xena, and Buffy. As part of that I introduced my circlesisters to a Craft invocation I came across in Bringing Race to the Table: Exploring Racism in the Pagan Community.

Bringing the Ancestors to the Table
By Heaven Walker

In the East, place of new beginnings, knowledge, and the sunrise, we call upon you, Maya Angelou. We invoke your wise words, your eloquence, your wisdom, your creativity. Guide our speech as we communicate our hearts and minds and engage in this sacred dialog.

In the South, place of passion, will, manifestation, and transformation, we call you, Rosa Parks. We invoke your strength to bravely stand up for what is right in the face of adversity, to insist on being  heard, and to insist on the affirmation of our humanity.

In the West, place of magic, healing, and daring, we call upon you, Martin Luther King, Jr. We invoke your powers of peaceful protest, of raising awareness, of steadfast vision and bravery.

In the North, place of integration, strength, and grounded action, we call you, Harriet Tubman, who led so many to freedom through the Underground Railroad. Guide us as we seek the freedom from prejudice as we attempt to forge new paths together peacefully.

And in the Center, the place of the Akasha where all Elements combine, the Place Between the Worlds, that changes all worlds, we join hands, breathe deeply, open our hearts, and embark on this sacred journey together in perfect love and perfect trust. And so it is!


I love that this calls on African Americans instead of the steady drip-drip of European Americans. It invites us all to deepen our relationships with these goddesses, guardians, and guides.


January 22, 2018

Without any warning, Brad shoved his camera under my nose, displaying a photo of two of my friends and an older man I didn’t know. “Who’s this old guy?” I asked. “That’s Barry,” he answered. Barry, the man I was going to marry. Barry, the man I hadn’t seen since he walked out my door nearly 21 years ago. Now a total stranger.

I searched his face but saw no clues. He has a goatee but it’s sheer white now. His hair looked short. “He doesn’t have any hair,” Brad and Kate said. My heart sank. That incredibly gorgeous mane of thick, glinting, copper hair — all gone.

I didn’t know what to feel. I felt detached. I suppose I was stunned. The image keeps popping up in my head at weird times, as if to say, “And what do you feel now? And now?”

Part of me is glad I saw it in such a shocking way (another part wants to kill Brad for taking the choice away from me) so I can make it clear to my PTSD-ravaged self that “my” Barry is in the past. Way in the past. So long ago I don’t know that self of mine anymore. This Barry is a stranger, with his own ways. He stopped being mine a long time ago.

Next to my bed and on my fridge is an affirmation I wrote to help with my PTSD, declaring that I live NOW. “NOW is free of the agony of the past.” And many times that’s true. But in therapy we decided to start my grief work over not having children and Barry came up first. Oh, how I wept. An agony of the past. And a still-held grief for what might have been. The family I never had. The life I never had.

I don’t cry anymore for longer than 5 minutes unless I’m watching a movie or in ritual. I’ve been that way since the Terrible Thing happened almost exactly 18 years ago. But on Tuesday, I cried. I really cried.

Barry was 85% of what I wanted. But he also brought so much to the table that I didn’t know I needed. We kept ourselves to ourselves for the most part. None of our friends understood our devotion to each other. I still remember when Chris wailed, “But Cairril, he owns GUNS!” He was so much more than that.

Some nights as we lay cuddled in bed I’d ask him for a story. After bitching for a while he’d settle into a serial about a soldier and an enchantress on a deserted island. That was we. But we were so much more.

There came a time when I realized that my everyday love for him was flutes and piccolos but the TRUE love, the love underpinning it all, was deep, deep, bass, like the Scottish mountains looming up from immeasurable depths. And I realized that there was no part of me that did not love him.

He had a dream a few nights before he left me where he was floating outside his grade school and looking in the windows. In one room was his party friends. I waited in the other. And in the dream, he chose me. His true self chose me. But in the waking world he was very frightened of change, and living with me would bring change on a tectonic scale. And his fear was greater than his love.

I have had three soulmates in my life. He was number two. And he was perhaps the most consequential on the positive side of the scale. He asked me to stretch and I stretched, not because he wanted me to but because he was articulating a person I wanted to be. I became amazing with him. My life grew rich and textured like I’d so long imagined. And the night came, after the wretched James Bond movie, where we wrapped our arms around each other’s waists and I yelled, “Goddammit, marry me!” which is about what you’d expect from me. We laughed and laughed, exquisitely aware that if he said yes in that moment it meant yes for good. But we just laughed and postponed the final commitment.

Barry was incredibly passionate and romantic. Also extremely patient, beyond anything I’d experienced before. What a fabulous combination for me. He was loyal to the nth degree. He is the only intimate I’ve had who truly believed that we were a team. When there was a problem, it was OUR problem. That meant we put the problem on the table before us and the two of us set side-by-side working through it — teammates. Everyone else I’ve known has approached it like a worker/manager negotiation, where each party picks the opposite side of the table to be on and negotiates for the best possible deal for them.

Only a handful of you have ever known me in a romantic relationship. Almost all my Facebook friends have only known me since I’ve been single. And sometimes I want to grab you all by the shoulders and shake you and cry, “I was loved once!” Someone wanted to MARRY ME once!” There’s more to me than what you see. He saw it in me and encouraged it to come out. I grew wings. But that was long ago and far away. Since 2000 my wings have crumpled and rotted away. I search my self for that long-ago me but she’s hidden.

On my altar I have a card that says, “I am trying to find the way back to myself. I am listening.”

Barry-of-my-youth, bless you for giving me the stage and the encouragement to become whole. Barry-of-today, I don’t know you. All I can do is wish you well. I will tend to the old you in my heart but not beg you to return to that incarnation. It was all so long ago.

Once I was loved. Once I wept. Once I flew. I am listening.

#MeToo and me, too

December 1, 2017

I made a brief Facebook post at the start of the #MeToo campaign but want to flesh it out more and talk about the feedback I got.

I was raped repeatedly by my best friend’s father when I was around 9 years old. I didn’t even have words for the body parts that were being violated, so, like many victims, I blacked out the experience. I didn’t remember it until I was around 15 — the day’s sermon was on sexual abuse. “That happened to me,” I thought calmly. Little did I know I would spend over 20 years recovering from that to the point where I could consider myself a survivor. My sister found my rapist’s home address as well as news stories saying he’d been busted for abusing other children (he served 10 weekends in jail — obscenely epic fail, “justice” system!). I wrote a letter to his local newspaper with as many verifiable facts as I could, knowing they wouldn’t publish anything but knowing they are the most plugged-in people in the community. I also sent a letter to him starting, “Dear Thing” and ending with “I SEE YOU.” I signed it “Persephone.”

When I was 13 and 14 all the kids would get to school early and walk the halls. The boys would go one way, the girls another. As we passed the boys would grab our crotches. I had already started being violent after I was raped, but now I systematically beat up every boy who violated us until they left us alone. My last fight was with a guy named Steve who had grabbed my friend Sue. “If you want to get to her, you’ll have to go through me first!” while shoving his shoulders. He took a little bit before crying uncle.

In my twenties I can’t tell you the number of guys who showed up from my past or present and who assaulted me. I never should’ve opened the door to anyone. It was crazed. By that time I just froze or tried to weasel my way out of their grabby hands.

In my thirties men tried to dominate me in the business world. I have my own business and can’t count the number of meetings I was in where the men tried to take up all the space and downplay my contributions. Little did they know who they were dealing with! I have been known to take over whiteboards. I am grateful this is as bad as it got — my getting the job and retaining it has never been tied to sexual favors or harassment as it has been for so many other women.

In my forties I consciously limited my time with men but I still couldn’t escape. One day in the library I was just totally engrossed in this fantastic book about Richard III when I felt some pressure on my foot. Ignored it. Felt it again. Vaguely aware someone was pushing on my foot. Ignored it (I really dug this book). AGAIN. Finally I moved my foot. Still the pressure keeps coming. Finally I am wrenched out of my haze and see a man across from me masturbating. He asked me if I wanted to suck his dick. “Uh, no.” Tried to go back to my book. He leans in and says, “Are you sure?” So I unleashed my wicked tongue and in my best Region vowels said, “Fuck off, pal.” I was furious because I had been having such a lovely time with my book. And now here’s this totally self-involved guy who thinks that simply because I’m female he will be irresistible to me. Oh, I could go on, but suffice it to say I was more infuriated than traumatized, thank the Goddess.

And of course, there are the countless times I’ve been walking down the street like anyone else and some asshole starts out with, “Hey, baby—” That’s usually enough for me to whip around and get right in his face and say through gritted teeth, “I am not your property.” Or if I’m in a hurry I flip him off. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened.

I have been raped, sexually assaulted, or sexually harassed in every decade of my life. I am about to turn 50. Will men finally leave me alone??

That’s a brief rundown. I packaged up these experiences into a few sentences and posted it on Facebook with the #MeToo tag. Got lots of sympathetic responses and offers to pray for me. Pray for me? For me? I’m fine! Pissed but fine. Pray for the fuckers who can’t keep their hands to themselves or their dicks in their pants. Pray for the assholes who invade my space. Better yet, call them out. Hold them responsible. I am not the victim here, I am the survivor. And I’m tired of men getting away with what they’re doing. Yes, men are rape and harassment survivors too, but the vast majority of the problem is men. Sometimes they’re sick and twisted but mostly I think they just feel entitled. Entitled because no one every told them not to do it. That there would be consequences. That we simply don’t behave that way in a civilized society. That they should stop being assholes.

I feel deep compassion for the women who are putting their reputations and careers on the line by calling out the gazillions of men who have crossed the line. Thankfully, I don’t have to deal with that. But I’ve had to deal with enough. Men, can you please step up?

Demeter, Kore/Persephone, and mental illness

June 16, 2017

Crystal and I facilitated a Circle on the Goddess and mental health at The Hive a month ago or so and I tackled some of the deep stuff with this investigation of one of the greatest myths of all humankind.

Note: The Greek pronunciation is as follows: “Deh-MEE-ter,” “KAW-ree,” “per-SEH-fo-nee,” and “HEK-uh-tee.” Contemporary Pagans often mispronounce these names. IMO, if you’re going to be working with these goddesses, the least you can do is learn how to pronounce their names correctly.


This is one of the oldest Greek myths and one of the most continually told. My summary below is a way simplified version focusing only on the goddesses in the story for purposes of the Circle.

Demeter is the goddess of agriculture and spent her days teaching its arts and tending to the grain. Kore, her daughter, loved to play with the nymphs nearby and collect flowers. One day while playing she saw a narcissus and was captivated — she had to have it! She plucked the flower — and suddenly a great rent opened in the earth and everything shook. In a flash a golden chariot led by four black horses came bounding up from out of the earth. There was a man in the chariot and he seized Kore and took her back underground with him. The earth healed; there was no trace of her passing. All that remained was the echo of her screams as she was taken.

Demeter was working in the fields when she heard Kore scream. She ran, calling out Kore’s name, asking everyone she met if they’d seen her daughter, but to no avail. With mounting terror she began to try to find Kore, despair eating away at her heart. At night she burned torches and kept searching. For nine days and nights she searched for Kore, dressed in black, torches burning, but to no avail. She sat on a stone in silence.

On the tenth day Hecate, goddess of the crossroads and witchcraft, came to her and told her that Kore had been seized by Hades and taken to his kingdom in the Underworld and was now prisoner. Demeter knew then that all was lost. She fell into even deeper despair and began to wander aimlessly.

One hot day she rested on the side of a well, where she was approached by a young woman who got her a position taking care of queen Metaneira’s son in the palace at Eleusis. Demeter shook off her despair and took the boy to her heart. She decided to give him immortality and fed him ambrosia and nectar. At night, she placed him in the fire to burn his mortality away. But one night the queen came in while Demeter watched over the baby in the fire and began shrieking that Demeter was trying to murder her child.

Demeter was PISSED. She threw off her rags and revealed herself in all her splendor, and was recognized as a goddess. She demanded that the people of Eleusis build her a temple, which they did in short order. She took up a seat in the temple and then went into a deep catatonic state. As she did this, all the food on the earth began to die. The grain dried up in the fields, the fruit would not ripen, gardens went dead.

As this went on, the Olympian gods grew anxious and tried to get Demeter to snap out of it. When they realized nothing was working, Zeus sent Hermes to the Underworld to get Kore. Mother and daughter were united and the earth flowered again. All was well.

That’s Demeter’s part. Let’s look back at what happened to Kore.

When Hades seized her and took her to the Underworld, Kore lost it. In most of the written accounts, Hades raped Kore. This is really endemic to the Greek patriarchy and it’s up to you whether you want to go with that account or with the older one where Kore was simply abducted. There are things to learn from both accounts.

Kore had never known a hard day in her life. Every day had been filled with her mother’s love and guidance, with sunshine, with flowers, with laughter, with play. Now she was ripped from everything she knew and held captive in a room in the dark and creepy Underworld. She screamed and thrashed for a long, long time. And after that came a time of stillness, similar to catatonia. She was just—gone.

Time passed. Hades brought her food and drink every day but she did not respond. Then he left her door unlocked. Then he left it open. No change.

This went on for some time. Then one day, she moved. Just a little. She blinked. She moved her toes. She stretched her fingers. She began to come back to herself. But she felt numb inside.

After a few days she got up and started looking around, taking in the different sacred sites of the Underworld and seeing how it operated. After some time Hades came to her and told her he loved her and wanted her to be queen at his side. She turned away and walked off silently.

More time passed. Kore grew more restless in her wanderings. Against her will traitorous thoughts of what she could do as queen entered her mind. And could she love Hades, both the god and the realm? She knew she wanted nothing more than to see her mother again, but what if she were trapped here forever?

As the days passed her mind grew more active and she thought more and more. And then she planted a garden of hellabore and other plants of the Underworld. She used shining gems to line the edges of her plots. As she buried her hands in the earth, she felt life coming back to her. And with life, came clarity. She would choose.

At the appropriate time Hades brought her food and drink as he always did. “Wait,” she said, and he stood silently. Very deliberately she cut a pomegranate in half and ate six seeds. “You may call me Persephone now,” she told Hades. “I will marry you, and I will be queen of this realm.” As she tasted the pomegranate seeds and claimed her new name, she felt a sureness come over her. And with that sureness, life. She had made it through. She claimed her life.

Some time later a messenger from Zeus arrived and told her she was free to come back to her mother. Persephone leapt into the chariot, called Hades to her side, and rode up to the surface. Mother and daughter fled to each other and held each other tight, sobbing. It felt so good to see the sun again. And how she had missed her mother! But strangely, she felt different now. Her mother kept repeating her old name until Persephone said “You must call me Persephone now.” Demeter drew back and for the first time saw her child, no more a child but now a woman.

Persephone told her she had eaten six pomegranate seeds. While Demeter was horrified, since she knew what this meant, Persephone was calm as she said, “I ate six seeds of the Underworld, which means I will spend six months of each year in the Underworld with my husband as queen. And the other six months I will spend here with you.”

At first Demeter was aghast but after the other gods and goddesses chimed in and she grew more used to the idea, she accepted it. She gave the people of Eleusis the Eleusinian Mysteries, a set of religious rites that promised joy in life and no fear of death. These rites were the primary religious ritual in Greece for two thousand years.


The story of Demeter and Persephone is very famous, has been re-imagined countless times, and can be used as a metaphor for just about anything. For me, I have used it as a way to understand my mental illnesses. You may also feel so called. So let’s deconstruct the story and figure what’s going on.

The story starts with Demeter and Kore. Demeter is a mother goddess and Kore is practically a nymph, filled with the joy of living moment to moment. She doesn’t have a job or work the way Demeter does. When she sees the narcissus flower, she is entranced by narcissism, which is a condition whereby you are extremely self-involved. You are fascinated by yourself and don’t really care about anyone else. She plucks the narcissus, choosing narcissism, and all hell breaks loose — literally. She is ripped from her known way of being. Being simply abducted is a gross violation, but if you tell the story that she was raped, it’s even more horrific when you consider the carefree girl she was.

So let’s leave her there are go back to Demeter. Demeter first acts like any parent — she searches for her daughter. This is the search we as adults all go on for our innocence. We yearn for simpler times when we had fewer cares and responsibilities. In the waking world, this may mean that we take a day off work which then becomes several days and then becomes weeks until we’re fired. We just drop everything and go searching for something else.

At the end of the ninth night, Demeter has given up hope. She thinks she’s hit rock-bottom. But no, here’s Hecate with the awful truth — her daughter will never be returned to her again. This is where we realize that we can’t get in touch with that inner innocence. We fall into the pit of depression and begin, like Demeter did, to wander the earth so to speak. This can be a mild depressive episode where all color leaches out of the world. We can’t seem to hold onto anything. We stop sleeping, we either stop eating or start bingeing, we lose our sex drive.

But then Demeter gets a job. And it’s taking care of a baby to whom she decides to give immortality. What is she doing? She’s trying to make another immortal Kore. She is going to force the issue and make reality conform to her demands. She is refusing to accept her life and believes that through sheer force of will she will feel better again. In my own life, some of my most damaging behavior comes about when I am whipping myself to get better, get better, get better. This is what Demeter’s doing — she’s trying to force things into place.

But then she’s discovered and she gets PISSED. For me, this is that moment where I say, “GodDAMmit!” We’re just so frustrated that we can’t make anything happen. We’ve tried as hard as we can but we can’t get anywhere. We may not demand a temple be built for us, but we find a place of stone and we go in it for good. We become catatonic. We are in a severe depression, bordering on a psychotic state. It may be a complete dissociative state. What we know is that everything is bleak, there is no purpose in life, and everything we encounter is dust in our mouths. Or maybe it’s bad enough that we are no longer there at all — we have entered what in the vernacular is called madness. In the waking world, we may be hospitalized and given medication.

After she’s reunited with Persephone, Demeter bestows the Mysteries on Eleusis, “that which gives joy to life and takes away the fear of death.” She has gone through the depths and come out with wisdom to share. She has become the “wounded healer.”

So let’s leave that there and go back to Kore. She is locked in a dark room in the creepy Underworld and as far as she knows she’s there forever. Whether she’s been abducted or both abducted and raped, her life will never be the same. Many of us are survivors of some form of sexual or physical assault and we all have our own ways of coming through that. But regardless of the trigger for Kore’s experience, she is now thrashing and screaming, completely out of her old way of being. She protests and rages against everything that has so suddenly and cruelly been taken away from her. But it’s more than just a rage — it’s savagery. It’s animalistic. It goes beyond just being pissed off. It’s chthonic. Primal.

But at the end of it she’s spent. And she, like Demeter, falls into an extreme depressive and even mad state. I have always felt that Kore had it tougher than Demeter. Perhaps that’s because I identify with her so closely. Your experience may differ. But both these goddesses experience being outside consensual reality.

It takes a long time for Kore to come out of it. In the Sumerian myth of Inanna’s Descent, when Inanna comes back to life in the Underworld, it’s because water and food are brought to her by demigods. But the Greek myths are pretty silent on Kore’s processes, so I have imagined what they are based on my own experience.

As anyone coming out of a severe depression knows, it’s often a slow process of awakening. Yes, there are times when one day we can’t get out of bed and the next we are up in the morning and going about our business, but in Kore’s case she’s been severely traumatized so her healing is a process.

She wanders, as we so often wander in our healing process. Unlike Kore, we often work with therapists, medications, and Goddess, Goddess, Goddess to find our way. But for Kore, it’s when she puts her hands into the earth that her soul is really touched. She wakes up to the possibilities around her. For Kore, it’s time to move into the next phase of her being. In the strictest terms, she’s changing from a child into a woman, but for us it’s more likely to be our next stage of development.

So. The pomegranate. The Greeks are very vague on this. And conflicting — I’ve read she eats three, four, or six seeds. You know now that she spends a month in the Underworld for every seed, so on the surface this is a story of how long winter lasts, when Persephone is withdrawn from the earth. I chose six not for historical accuracy but to reflect my own spiritual path. Anyway. The big question, the question that none of the Greeks answer, is: why did Persephone eat those seeds? She’s a goddess — she eats ambrosia and drinks nectar. She doesn’t eat human food. So why does she eat them? Does she do it unconsciously or consciously?

I choose consciously. I like to see her as an agent of change in her own life. She chooses to eat the seeds because she knows what the consequences are. And she wants those consequences. She doesn’t just want to frolic and play anymore. She wants a vocation, she wants a path of her own, and she wants to seek the ways of justice and mercy as a queen. Oh, and she wants a groovy husband. You can skip that bit if that’s too Hearst syndrome for you.

So she eats the seeds and she takes on a new name. “Kore” means “the maiden” but “Persephone” means “to destroy” and “wise.” Quite a combination. For me, choosing a new name and a whole new life means Persephone is stepping into her power. I call on this myth when I’m going through a life change and I need the courage and the clarity of mind to release my overwhelming anxiety and depression and step into my power. It is only then that we see Persephone moving into adult life. For me, I want that agency. And the thing that touches me the most about this story is that Kore is violated in the most fundamental ways we can imagine, and yet from that place of violation she CREATES. That, to me, is women’s power. We can dig down within us, deeper than any pain, and find that deep core of inner knowing and create.

There are a few stories of Persephone in her role as queen but for me, the takeaway of Persephone’s life is that she now moves between the upper world and the Underworld effortlessly. She takes the newly dead by the hand and shows them to their place. She provides justice and mercy. And she knows days of sunshine and flowers, too. She moves through all the aspects of life smoothly, gently. She may have deeply disturbing days but she moves through them. She isn’t untouched by them, it’s not like she’ll never be depressed again, but she is now part of a cycle. For those of us who live with chronic mental illness, Persephone is a model of how to balance our moods and minds-bodies-spirits. She is a walker between the worlds, able to deal with all states of being. Persephone’s transformation in the underworld prepares her for ecstatic spirituality and shifting states of consciousness, as well as development of psychic abilities. Persephone becomes the wounded healer.

Me, me, me, and a little bit of me

June 5, 2017

sometimes i feel like i’m disappearing. so over the last 9 months or so i’ve been writing this on my phone (please excuse the lack of caps). it’s completely self-indulgent, probably boring, and just an attempt to state who i am to the universe. i will update it with more fascinating details as i think of them!


i was born and raised in a white, middle class suburb of chicago. in “chicagoland.” which, if you’ve grown up near that glorious city, you know sounds a lot better than it actually is. while there were latinos in my class, there was only one african american, and he was deaf. i didn’t know any jews and certainly no muslims or any other minority faiths. i was raised catholic and everyone i knew was christian or (a few) “no religion.” i was not raised for a diverse world.

i am white. being privileged, i often don’t think about it. then i see a POC and i’m unthinkingly thinking, “a black person!” and then i’m tearing my carefully coiffed hair out in despair that i will never be able to root out my inherited racism. since black lives matter came on the scene, i’ve been reading books regularly on race, class, and gender to try to change my consciousness. it’s slow going. institutionalized isms suck.

i am either 5’5” or 5’6”. no one seems to know. perhaps it’s the hair. i have an eating disorder which makes my weight swing by 50 pounds depending on whether i’m starving or bingeing. my lowest weight was 109, but i’ve been bingeing over the last six months. it’s a big challenge.

i am a singer. i am a Witch. you can strip all else away and find these two things at my core, two strands of DNA. i didn’t know about the Craft until 1989 but it was a homecoming. i have never doubted my path. i have sung since i was born. went professional at 11. got into IU’s music school when it was number one in the country. it tore up all love of music i had and i stopped singing for five years. getting my voice back is entwined with my spirituality and now it’s in its rightful place.

i am pansexual, though i usually just say bisexual because it’s easier. i used to be hetero but when i was in england on my internship when i was 23 i started falling for the glorious liz, goth grrrl of my dreams. i sat in my room one night and investigated these feelings, feeling the old arguments against same-sex relations come up and then…i saw clearly that those were all based in a religion i no longer believed in and they just floated away. my darling liz leaned towards me but fell for a boy before i could gather the nerve to ask her out.

these are some of my heroines.

my mom wanted to name me amy but her mother (grandma mclaughlin) lobbied hard for “carol.” i was born on 23 december, so i became a “christmas carol.” a remarkably appropriate name. “to carol” means to sing and dance in a circle. very me. then i had a nervous breakdown at 18 (a real one; psychosis) and in the midst of it the spelling “cairril” came to me. i would say it was given to me by the Goddess but i didn’t know about Her then. i just knew i had a new name. i legally changed it the following year. it’s very close to an irish spelling so i just tell people it’s irish, but it’s actually unique. as far as i can tell, there’s no other person on Earth with that spelling.

i was an empath until 2000. it wasn’t just that i felt intense sympathy. it was more the sci-fi meaning, where i could actually feel what other people were feeling, usually people i had a close relationship with. i would get hit with something out of the blue and have to start making phone calls to friends to see who’d just gotten bad or good news. since a trauma in january of 2000, i don’t feel much of anything anymore.

following on that, i do still have what i call physical empathy. when i look at someone, i involuntarily feel what their body feels like. or i guess, what my brain imagines they feel like. so i hate watching westerns. everyone is so filthy and sweaty i end up feeling skanktastic. i don’t know of a name for this condition and i’ve never seen it described anywhere else.

i experience multiple realities at once. one of my least favorite questions is, “what’s real?” i call your reality “consensual reality.” we agree that a table is a table, a door is a door. but color? sound? intent? i experience these things in multiple ways and consensual reality often comes up short.

following on that, i have synesthesia, which is a condition where more than one sense gets triggered by a single phenomenon. so i hear what i see and i see what i hear. that makes for a very noisy head. i am super-sensitive to noise but the type of noise determines whether i go into complete meltdown or dance like a loon. a live auction sent me running from the room once.

i am of primarily german stock from the great 19th century migration, with a healthy dose of irish from the famine and lots of english and some polish thrown in. and i somehow ended up with 2% north african ancestry from the 18th century! i love surprises. i have four ancestors who came over on the mayflower so i feel “ethnically” “american” too. i am way into genealogy and have traced several lines back to the 15th century. one ancestor, nicholas wylder, was a german mercenary who fought with henry tudor against richard iii. no, nicholas! we needed you on the other side! i have slaveholders among my ancestors (i want to do more research there) as well as heretics and an accused witch. we are a rambunctious lot with a LOT of strong women.

i am the spinster aunt of eleven nieces and nephews, some of whom i’m close to. i am goddessmother to two incredible girls i’d be proud to call my own. friday afternoons are ours.

i am not a fan of fine art. art museums bore the hell out of me. the impressionists and modernists are the worst. i love ancient egyptian and celtic art because of the religious component. i am intrigued by a lot of early 20th century european art (vienna secessionists particularly) but the only “real” artist that gets me is kathe kollwitz. i like art that makes me FEEL. i want a reaction. i want intensity. landscapes just don’t cut it. speak to me, transform me!

the core of my spiritual belief is tiocfaidth an samhradh: “summer will come.”

i am a capricorn near the cusp with sagittarius with five planets in virgo, which basically means i will organize your ass off. i am very capricorny, focused on work and money and tenaciousness, yet i have the sagittarius streak of passion. i also think of this as my german and irish sides. mostly i think of myself as goaty grrrl.

i am proud to identify as a feminist. in the last few years i have worked on my understanding of intersectionality and believe that’s where the real juice is.

i love love LOVE to dance. back in the day when the drovers would come to second story i would be practically on the stage, thrashing all over the place, dancing with every part of my body. i used to be able to be really physical. you can see on the video for ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ‘round from an MLK Day performance kaia did. but then my psychiatrist put me on a new med to help untangle my thoughts in the morning so i could be more functional. now i can’t dance anymore the way i used to — i stay very confined and uncreative. i also have a harder time conducting. don’t get me wrong, i like being able to get out of bed in the morning, but i do so miss that utter abandonment unto the music.

i graduated from IU phi beta kappa. this has had zero practical impact on my life.

tarot me

these are from robin wood’s tarot deck. the High Priestess is an aspect of me i am always striving to grow. she has knowledge and vision. she is of the Moon, not harsh like the Sun, and she is halfway between light and dark. she easily draws on intuition and balances mind and spirit. she is confident, curious, powerful. Queen of Swords helps me with my social anxiety. she shows me how to extend the hand of friendship while having the sword there to protect me should i feel threatened or too scared. and Nine of Pentacles describes much of my life: me tending to my beautiful garden, with a falcon to send out and bring back news of the day.

i love being with women. at least in bloomington, and with my sister’s kith, there’s an automatic goodwill there that allows us to talk about real things in an authentic way. i’m generally leery of men because of the abuse and harassment i’ve survived. but once they prove themselves safe, i can bond with them. it’s just that they have so many grabby brothers…

i consider girls girls until they’re 16, when they become young women. around age 21 they are women. i deTEST calling women “girls.” it always makes me think of those black men on the picket lines in the civil rights movement with signs saying, “i am a man.” we are women. we are free to make sexual choices. we are free to make all kinds of choices. infantilizing women is patriarchy at its worst.

i have had three soulmates, but the most important of my handfastings was with my self.

i find the Pagan categorization system of “maiden, mother, crone” extremely tiresome. inspired by goddesses in older women i’m experimenting with the system “child, young woman, mature woman, wise woman.” though i hate fours so i’m exploring a fifth dimension, a sort of meta-female, but that may end up too binary. i was inspired by jailbreaking the goddess and believe it’s a watershed for the next generation of Paganism but why the hell did she have to use latin names for the Goddess, the most patriarchal language ever?? my concepts are a work in progress. stay tuned. i was inspired by a nietzsche quote i read recently about approaching existence with “ecstatic honesty” so that, at the end of your days, you will want to live all your days over and over throughout eternity. it ends up being similar to mindfulness but really, how excited can you get about “SEE the raisin, FEEL the raisin, TASTE the raisin”?? so i am experimenting with total honesty for now, with hints of ecstaticnaciousnous (more will come later) and have had some really good results. i love truth anyway, so it’s about being completely truthful about where i am in the moment. promising.

i am terribly self-conscious about my teeth. on the other hand, i love to tell the story about how i got hit in the mouth with a softball which permanently knocked one of my front teeth back. and i love that the unladylike gap between my front teeth comes from my paternal grandfather. when i look at that gap, i smell his pipe and see him doing crosswords and hear him yelling, “babe!” to my grandmother. that little gap says, “hi, granddaughter! i see you!”

when eating at home, i try to keep each meal’s cost under one dollar.

my earliest memory is pre-verbal. i was in an automatic swing chair in the kitchen of our house. my mom and another female relative (aunt dolores?) were moving around me, working and talking, not paying attention. i wanted out. i stretched my legs as far as they would go but my toes couldn’t reach the ground. i wrestled with the strappings. nothing worked. i wanted out, out, OUT! it is still a recurring theme in my life — “i don’t want to be here. take me anywhere but here.” it’s not healthy.

i blush easily.

i am a priestess of brighid and lifeanddeath. i was initiated by them during a deep healing ritual on may 15, 1997. brighid is the irish goddess of poetry, smithcraft, and healing. i also think of her as a professional woman, not defined as maiden-mother-crone. the lifeanddeath initiation was not one i wanted but it wasn’t up to me. it means facing death and all darkness and weaving it all into the shadow and light of the world. it has a lot of consequences.

my middle name comes from my maternal grandfather, a second-generation irish-american who was a prince among men, according to all the stories. he didn’t talk a lot but had a great sense of humor, worked very hard, and loved children dearly. he never had a lot of money, so he would take my cousin tom on a bus ride around hammond every now and again to be able to do something special together. grandpa mclaughlin died before i was born but i call on him all the time in my relationships with the ancestors. what i would give for a bus ride with him…. i was named after him (he was leo; my middle name is lee).

i am a Walker Between the Worlds. i shift states of consciousness very easily. this is not always helpful. like when i’m driving.

i have two secrets. i think. i don’t tell every single person every single thing about me, but i live my life OUT LOUD.

when i was in eighth grade my friends and i dressed up in blackface for halloween. i was kunta kinte and my bestie was kizzy. we laughed and laughed. oh, those hilarious black people with their crazy hair and outlandish names! to this day it infuriates me that no one in that soulless white middle class hateful town responded with anything other than laughter.

if i were in hogwarts, i would be in either ravenclaw or gryffindor. if i were reincarnated (i won’t be; i don’t believe in it), i want to be an otter because i’d get to swim all the time and be clever with tools and play all day and hold hands with my friends while i sleep. if i were in the hunger games, i would kill kill kill in order to survive.

i am the youngest of six children. so there were 8 of us in the family crammed into a 3-BR house (my dad fixed up space in the basement for my brothers), always making noise and getting into each other’s faces. now i live alone and work for myself, which means everything is quiet and in its place and no one gets in my space. it’s lonely. and other times not.

i would love to go to berlin, vienna, prague, anywhere having to do with ancient egypt, rome, crete, anatolia, more into wales, and all over ireland/eire. i would love to return to wiesbaden, germany, and i can of course never get enough of england and scotland. lacking independent wealth, i’ll never get to most of these places. sadness.

i am driven by incredible willpower. seriously, you’ve never met anyone with a greater sense of will than i have. somewhere inside of me is a toddler with her little hands balled up on her little hips yelling, “I AM!” when i was growing up people used to call me a mack truck and they should throw themselves out of the way. i go after what i want.

my guilty pleasure is majesty, “the quality royal magazine.”

sometimes when i’m just puttering about the house i’ll suddenly yell “LA!”

i think THE quote for the 21st century is from rodney king: “can we all get along?” i think the boomers had it all wrong when they said, “all you need is love.” we’re not all going to love each other. not gonna happen. but we can, if we try, just get along. be civil. that to me is a more realistic goal. and one, i fear, we will not reach.

i identify with salieri in the movie “amadeus.” i have a deep, deep, demanding desire to do Great Things yet i do not have the tools. i HATE it when people say, “you have so much potential!” it’s SO maddening. what good is potential when no one wants what you have to give???

i want to learn how to execute the perfect curtsey.

i have a variety of brain diseases: generalized anxiety disorder, depression, PTSD, psychosis NOS, dissociative identity disorder, developmental trauma disorder. i have blogged about these things at length. i have 13 posts under “mental illness” in the right column of this page (see the link??). “shakespeare and depression” is on of my faves. my mental illness is inherited and a product of my upbringing and traumas, both developmental and acute. my brain diseases are a constant focus of my thinking. maybe because it’s my brain talking???

i am an intense person. i live in baz luhrman’s moulin rouge. that’s how intense life is to me.  i’d much rather scream my head off at a rally than set politely in a church listening to someone prettily preach about justice. i am uppity. i am rude. i interrupt. i listen intently. i work hard. i laugh hard. i trance hard. i dissociate hard. i drive fast or stop suddenly. i crank the jams. i love fiercely. i am prone to violence in the privacy of my home. i believe you’ve got to stand up and TAKE the power. MAKE it happen. i dream big. i plan intensely. I LIVE OUT LOUD.

on a ferry from rotterdam to england i pressed myself to the prow, wind skinning my head, grin splitting my face. in whitby, england (the setting for stoker’s dracula), i walked the one-mile pier into the north sea and screeched, “i’m here!!” into the screaming wilds of wind and sea. on a scottish mountain i reached the summit in the night and leaned into a wind so strong it blew my eyelids back upon themselves. i LIVE for this shit. it’s so completely luhrman, so huge, a stage big enough for my towering passions. it’s LIFE, in shrieking technicolor.

i hate wind chimes and drum solos.

my fave books are pride and prejudice by austen, kabuki: circle of blood by david mack, gone with the wind (so feminist though so, so racist) by margaret mitchell, peter the great by robert massie, gloriana by mary luke, barbarians by terry jones, the little house books (i’m related to almanzo wilder), mrs mike by benedict and nancy freedman, traitor by matthew stover, ordeal: the story of my life by queen marie of roumania, the highland clearances by john prebble, the house at pooh corner by a. a. milne, leaving mother lake by yang erche namu and christine mathieu, and on and on and on. i read at least one non-fiction, one fiction, and one Pagan book at once so i have a book for every mood.

i am a huge star wars fan. princess leia changed my life. the best extended universe books are the new jedi order series.

my parents taught me responsibility, thrift, hard work, excellent manners, and to think for myself. they have had reason to regret the last.

i want to be a Pagan nun: live in community where intense faith is put into transformative action by working with the less privileged. i want a constant, joyous, tangible celebration of faith.

i’ve been to europe six times, three times by myself. on my first trip my best friend and i stumbled upon avebury, a then-unknown tiny village in the middle of an ancient stone circle. it’s part of a vast complex, from the wooden “sanctuary” circle that was built on a hill 4000 BCE to silbury hill, the largest human-made mound in europe, to the west kennet long barrow, a five-chambered burial mound, to “the avenue,” a mile of monoliths tracing a path back to the circle. i felt incredible power in the long barrow. i got “graveyard hands”: placing one hand on a stone in the “head” chamber, i saw all the flesh blow away till only bone remained. from that moment on the area in general and the barrow in particular have been the center of my spiritual universe, and my most important life commitments have been sealed there. i live for the day when i can return.

when i don’t like what’s happening around me i will often dissociate. i go into a detached state where i lose time and “come to” later having no idea what i was doing or how the time passed. this is DID. people on the extreme end of the spectrum have distinct personalities that don’t know of each others’ existences but i’m not that bad. i just go into this grey space. it used to be a lot worse – since my semi-retirement i’ve had so many things to enjoy that i’m not nearly in as much psycho-spiritual pain as i used to be. the grey is also a product of depression, which i’ve had since i was 14. but as i said, i’m doing much better these days and am making good progress in therapy.

i take 19 pills a day to maintain mental and (less so) physical health. i am a slave to my meds; if i forget to take them i am a complete basket case. i HATE feeling so vulnerable.

i wanted two daughters. i gave up living in england to come here and have them close to family. my best male friend and i promised we’d have kids if we were still single at 30 but he wasn’t. i tried to sell my eggs as a desperate last attempt but i missed the deadline by three weeks (i blogged about that (a little) here). now i have no daughters, unwanted eggs, and a really strict immigration policy in england. not all capricorns get to execute their plans. there are no words to describe the constant ache of childlessness. it is an ocean of grief i can never get across.

i hate to cook. i love to bake, especially while singing along to the smiths at the top of my lungs.

i don’t remember names and faces. if i’m being introduced to someone, the first letters of their name fly out of my head even before the rest if their name is said. i’ve even forgotten the names of people i’ve had to dinner at my house. mytherapistlynn attributed it to PTSD. it’s hardest with normal looking people. you all look alike. i eventually recognize faces after a LOT of exposure in close succession but names can escape me for years. so i live in this hell where people CONSTANTLY say hi to me and i have no idea who they are, if we’re casual acquaintances or have shared soul-bearing confidences. my default is to look Impressively Busy, give them a big smile and a “hey!” and sometimes a “how are you?” as i breeze past them. i HATE it. i feel like i am not respecting others. i feel so ashamed. and i’m so easily recognizable…. it’s hell.

my favorite disney villain is maleficent (the original). such a badass.

my favorite disney heroine is belle, because she’s smart and strong and brave and learns to love.

i love playing charades. i am really, really good at charades. i also love canasta, bullshit, spoons, cards against humanity, and any game where everyone can have a good time. highly competitive or strategy games are not for me.

i don’t eat any vegetables. any.

i have a number of invisible maladies that keep me in constant pain. bad knees, bad hips. i broke my lower back when i was 15. i have carpal tunnel syndrome (which is why i so frequently write lower case — fewer finger movements). several car accidents have ruined my lower and upper back and given me permanent whiplash. no one knows how much pain i’m in – i have a high pain tolerance and i think like an 8-year-old and believe i’m invincible. but beyond that, i have a deep-seated need to look completely competent and in control at all times. a lesson learned young and never forgotten.

my sense of humor and sarcasm are deeply indebted to bugs bunny. the later “sophistication” of my humor (if you can call it that) is pure python.

i am introspective and a terrible introvert. every night i write the day’s doings and my thoughts and feelings in my journal along with 1) a positive facet of myself on display that day, 2) the answer to the question “do i know who i am today?, 3) a positive memory, and 4) a prayer. takes me an hour but it calms me down, empties my mind, opens my psycho-spiritual self, and helps anchor me to my own life. spending so much time alone and dissociating means i can get lost in the blur of my days. at special anniversaries and holidays i go back and read chunks of my journal to see who i was in that snapshot of time. i try to see patterns and learn so i can grow.

in the 90s when i was a Very Important Pagan i was interviewed by the new york times for their religion section. the reporter was super easy to talk to, which made me relax. this is unfortunate, because when he asked me how many Pagans were in the US, i said something like, “my guess is around 100,00, though some of my comrades wish it were a lot more.” comrades! comrades! now everyone thinks we’re communists! brill move, cairril adaire.

i’m terrified of flying. i try to be the last one on and the first one off. i know you’re more likely to die in a car accident but at least it would be quick. you wouldn’t have 30,000 feet to think about it. turbulence terrifies me no matter how many xanax i pop. on the takeoff from phoenix there was so much turbulence i clutched andrew’s hand ’til his bones ground together and i was literally a hair’s breadth from screaming at the top of my lungs get me the hell off this plane!!!! traumatizing. trying to land during a thunderstorm over LAX there was this huge BANG and the whole plane dropped enough that i slammed into my safety belt. there was complete silence in the cabin for a Very Long Time (classic example of the mammalian freeze response) until the captain rather laconically said, “you may have noticed we had some static discharge.” uh, yeah. the truth which he neglected to tell us was we’d been hit by lightning. these things happen and i say never again and i looooong for bullet trains across the country but alas, alack, and alaska, i find myself getting frisked by the TSA once again.

i drink 3-4 gallons of milk/wk and 4-6 liters of water/day.

my two biggest character flaws are impatience and insensitivity to others’ feelings. i get enRAGED when i have to go at a slower pace. voice-prompt tech support lines leave me yelling into the phone. waiting to be picked up or for phone calls causes massive anxiety attacks. i am not about the journey; i am all about the destination. as for others, i am practical and painfully blunt. not surprisingly considering i spend literally 99% of my time with no one but my cat, i say things that hurt people’s feelings. it’s agony. i make the best apology i can, come up with a plan for how i can meet their needs better in future, and then wallow in the feeling of churning stomach and veins on fire and i am damaged goods and a horrible human being and i should never talk to anyone because all i do is hurt people. i hate myself.

possibly my best characteristics are i am brave, loyal, honest, compassionate, and deep. maybe.

we had five rules to follow before we could do anything when we were growing up: teeth brushed, hair combed, bed made, breakfast over with, and get dressed. on saturday mornings i got up before everyone else to watch bugs bunny and ate breakfast while i watched. i couldn’t POSSibly brush my teeth until after i finished breakfast, and i wouldn’t DARE wake my sister (with whom i shared a room) by getting dressed or making my bed, so i pretty much ignored the rules whenever i wanted to.

i have over 23 days worth of music in itunes of almost every variety. i move between maria callas, the cure, billie holliday, rasputina, ricky martin, little cow, alexander rybak, voco, everclear, patsy cline, the gap band, cake, javiera y los imposibles, the black keys, music of the baroque, karolina cicha, the clash, clarence gatemouth brown, cab calloway, trio mandila, flogging molly, portishead, and more easily.

when you tickle the inside of my arm, the side of my tongue itches.

i have the world’s most sweet-tempered cat: sasha. she is the perfect companion for me. she never tries to run outside, she’s patient and loving and CUTE and just the right amount of playful and never pees on the furniture. i love loving her.

when i want to remember something and i don’t have my phone, i “write” a keyword on my left palm with my right index finger, underline it three times and then punch in three exclamation points. works like a charm. grandpa mills taught that to mom and she passed it on to me.

i quick-tempered and tempestuous, possibly the same as my great-grandmother jenny mullane mclaughlin, who was know for her irish temper. i’m not afraid to yell when frustrated. working with technology is maddening. i get so angry and frustrated i can’t think straight. it doesn’t take much to set me off. usually comes down to my not being able to do what i want.

i will hold onto the oxford comma to my dying day.

i am single. that makes me a ms. not a miss. not ever a miss. and not ever a mrs. if in the highly unlikely event i got married, i would still be a ms. that’s the whole point of it. why should women have a prefix that denotes their marital status? it’s a holdover from women as property. i’m no one’s property. i belong to me. and the Goddess. i am ms.

i can flare my nostrils at will.

i am celibate. i blogged about that here.

i am a lover of shakespeare’s plays. not sonnets, only plays. i inhale them. the language! once i read so much i started dreaming in shakesperean english. i watched all the BBC versions from that series they did in the ‘80s and fell in love with the winter’s tale. my fave movies are the richard III with ian mckellan, branagh’s much ado about nothing and his breathtaking hamlet, david tennant’s hamlet except i hate the security cameras and patrick stewart’s shrug, and baz luhrman’s romeo + juliet, which makes me SOB every time i watch it even though the traditional play bores me to a coma. i want to play volumnia in coriolanus, gertrude in hamlet, rosalind in as you like it, the goth queen in titus andronicus, lady capulet and mercutio in romeo and juliet, paulina in the winter’s tale, and especially margaret of anjou in henry VI parts 1-3 and richard III!

even though i wear almost nothing but black (with a splash of white now and again), my favorite colors are actually jewel tones. they make beautiful sounds in my head.

apart from hello and thank you with store clerks, usually i spend just over 6.5 hours a week interacting with other humans face to face. the rest of the time i’m on my own.

i haven’t felt emotions besides things like loneliness and anguish since 3 jan 2000, when The Bad Thing happened. mostly i live in a grey zone. sometimes i feel the physical effects of a positive emotion such as increased energy and a lightness to my body, but the actual emotion isn’t there. i do sometimes feel love when it’s very strong but it’s like there’s a filter that keeps me from experiencing the fullness of the emotion. that’s dissociation and depression. i do laugh a lot. loudly.

i think leonard cohen’s hallelujah is one of the stupidest, most boring songs i’ve ever heard. i realize this is blasphemy.

i am an atheist. i don’t believe in an afterlife. i suspect there’s a part of our selves that for lack of a better term we call soul, but it transforms into different energy at death. we just decay at death — return to the Mother.

i detest alcohol. i have seen it destroy too many lives of people i’ve loved. i cringe at the sight of it. the smell makes me physically ill. if i had my way, all alcohol would disappear from the planet, never to be seen again.

i am a survivor of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment, in every decade of my life. men have not always been kind to me.

i am a politics junkie, mostly national, then state, then international, then local. i know very little about local affairs, which is ridiculous considering my belief in grassroots organizing. but Big Issues fascinate me and i like to understand those mass currents. i have always been more interested in fiction that includes politics (like the hunger games) than that which doesn’t. i suppose it goes to my favorite question for life: “why?” this is followed closely by: “how?” everything else falls far behind.

i have a violent past but am committed to nonviolent civil resistance.

i adore movies from the ‘30s and ‘40s. so many strong women. so much snappy dialogue. and towering passions that last through years of troubles rather than today’s romances which start at the very end of the movie or book. my faves are it happened one night, now voyager, gone with the wind, little women (june allyson), the thin man, to have and have not, the philadelphia story, the big sleep, random harvest, the adventures of robin hood, and oh, so many more.

i love british cuisine. fish-n-chips under a heat lamp for too long and chocolate hobnobs (one nibble and you’re nobbled) — yum!!

i began my business with a prayer in 2001: “let me put my talents and skills in the service of the greater good.” and i have done that. i have chosen to work with organizations and businesses that in some way make life better. i don’t do any work for the military. and my motto has always been, “if the world goes to hell, i want bloomington to be the last place standing.” in my small way, i help my clients make a little more money so they could help bloomington thrive. if i work with a client whose business i’m not completely in favor of (but not so much that i won’t work with them), i donate a percentage of my profits from their job to a charity in direct opposition to what they’re doing. so my work is still in the service of the greater good.

i love bed. i love being all toasty warm and comfortable, my back finally not hurting so much, curled up with a great book with a candle lit on my altar. and on sunday mornings reading the paper in bed. and every morning that i can wallow in pain-free comfort for half an hour or so before getting up. and lying down for a 40-minute cat nap in the afternoons. and writing in my journal. and spending such lovely time with my friends on facebook via my laptop. i love staring off into space vaguely centered around one of my altars, cocooned in warmth. there’s no other place i’m so pain-free except for when i’m on my land or in a hot tub. oh, and when i took lovers i adored spending hours in bed talking, laughing, and reading to each other. sigh. i love bed.

i believe judy garland was the greatest entertainer of the 20th century. there were those who exceeded her in technical ability but she was not only a triple threat (dance, act, SING), she knew how to put on a GREAT show.

a regret from k-12 education: i never had a food fight.

i believe in agitating and protesting and speaking out because it is the right thing to do. i also believe it has the potential to bring about social change from the grassroots up. but i speak because i will not remain silent in the face of injustice. i have blogged about that here.

i reject the terms masculine and feminine. they are outmoded and heterosexist. i was constantly pressured to be more “ladylike” when i was growing up. that meant feminine. that means passive, receptive, nurturing. well, guess what, i’m a loud-mouthed, sarcastic, bull-in-a-china-shop full-on woman and i call that feminine. if we’re going to equate femininity with being female, here’s your new definition of feminine. i am all woman, all the time. don’t try to water me down.

kaia, kaia, kaia. world vocals and percussion from the raucous to the sublime. seven women taking you on a dizzying ride through life, death, politics, sex, seasonal rounds, and more more more. i started it in 2004. at times it has been the only thing keeping me alive. if the stars would align correctly, i would be singing this incredible music with these incredible women all. the. time.

i have four foundational beliefs:

  1. there is no immortal or supreme being of any kind. we have one life and when we die, we’re dead. there is no afterlife.
  2. humans are capable of profound change.
  3. there is more going on than our five senses comprehend and NO ONE has the bead on that reality.
  4. love is the best thing.

i am impassioned, completely impatient, angry, deeply spiritual, anxious, driven, depressed, curious, brave, dynamic, compassionate, sarcastic, funny, i have a big laugh and a sharp mind and tongue, i’m self-reliant, smart.

i love to learn. the sound of synapses firing is a total rush to me.

i green eyes and brown hair with red and gold highlights, dyed natural blue black since age 19, now streaked with grey.

i have thought about suicide every day for the last five years.

i inhale books on history, particularly those about powerful women in turbulent times and the relations between church and state. my heras are elizabeth i of england and pharaoh hatshepsut of egypt. i have read extensively on western europe 10,000 BCE-1604, 1890-1945, and early 20th century america.

in this life, i fear only rape and losing my mind, maybe because i’ve experienced both. after my death, i fear only being forgotten.

i get my news from PBS, BBC, CNN, al jazeera, the guardian, wtfjusthappenedtoday, facebook, the daily show, and last week tonight.

i have voted for every political party.

on my birthday i scream along and dance to everclear’s santa monica. it used to be directed at my ex-fiancé but now it’s just fun.

i still cry over princess diana’s death.

independence day is my favorite secular holiday. i read the declaration of independence, the bill of rights, FDR’s Four Freedoms speech, and other civic-minded inspirational works. i love the parade, which is this total cross-section of bloomington and a place to crush small children while fighting over tootsie rolls.

the lotus world music and arts festival is the high point of my year. all that fabulous new music! it lights me on fire. my delight is doubled because my sister and her daughters come down for it and we’ve developed all these traditions to make every moment fun. Goddess, how i love these women. kaia has also been mainstage performers there twice, which is a total honor and high. i am a rock stah!

i walk super fast. even when i was among the milling throngs on campus, no one ever passed me unless they were jogging. likewise, i love to drive fast. when i can get away with it, i drive 100 mph on I65. i rarely even notice speed limits. i drive fast because the longer i drive, the more pain i’m in, i love the feel of speed, and i’m so bloody impatient i hate the downtime between starting point and destination.

my largest audience for singing a cappella solo was over 22,000 people at comiskey park, home of the white sox. i was 17.

i left my parent’s house when i was 18 and never moved back. it pains me to visit that town, where my sisters still live. i hate hate hate it. flat, asphalt everywhere, chain stores, constant driving (in bloomington i walk almost everywhere and drive only two days a week). absolutely nothing to do but go shopping (ugh). all the worst of america. the opposite of my beloved bloomington, the home i moved to in 1986.

bernie sanders is the only politician i’ve ever believed in. i liked paul tsongas for a while until the stupid “pander bear” crap he pulled. i believe in bernie sanders. he fights for what i want.

i am lucy van pelt.

i wrote a book in the ‘90s called of death, the universe, and hanging men: suggestions for change but no one picked it up. then gloria steinem came out with a similar theme that was much better so i gave up. my focus was on change from the personal to the societal. i have long wanted to write history: the interesting bits, a book comparing the relationship between thomas beckett and henry I with thomas more and henry VIII, and another putting the scholarship and theories about richard III side by side so you could come to your own conclusions about whether he was a good guy or bad guy (i lean towards good).

proudest moments of my life:

  • don: in the late 1980s i worked at mcdonald’s as a crew chief. one day i saw a new man in the back, about 65 years old, being “trained” by some young huffy grrrl. she kept yelling and flouncing. i finally swapped places with her and just slooooowed everything down. every single step of the process is carefully thought out at mcdonald’s so it was just a question of helping him learn the individual steps and then seeing the gestalt. he learned right away. and he told me connee boswell was disabled, something i never would’ve known otherwise. it’s one of the few times in my life i can remember being patient and i patently improved his quality of life. i love that i was able to do that.
  • Pagan freedom: i founded the Pagan Educational Network in 1993 to “educate the public about Paganism and build community.” it kicked ass. i worked with national organizations (more on that later) but our members were all grassroots activists with triumphs great and small. i worked with the officials for state prisons to come up with the guide for Pagan religious practices in the system. one july 4th i went down to the post office box and found a letter from the head of a smalltown prison saying, “i wanted to let you know that Prisoner X now has the freedom to worship as he chooses.” one of the proudest moments of my life. religious freedom for my people. and on independence day, at that.
  • pallbearer: at the last minute my mom asked me if i wanted to be a pallbearer for my paternal grandmother. it was incredibly moving to undertake such a sacred task. and there have been so many funerals where i’ve been barred from this because i’m female. it was humbling and loving.
  • person X: i saved the life of someone close to me, someone i love very much. they were at a total low point, ready to kill themselves, and i offered them safe harbor and support until they could get back on their feet. the four most important days of my life.
  • the summit: in march 2001 i hosted the first-ever summit of the leaders of almost all the major national Pagan organizations in the united states. this is a HUGE deal. it had been attempted off and on since the 60s but no one had been successful. isaac bonewits broke the damn with a personal letter to the invitees telling them how he believed in this summit and was making the commitment to come. we were together from friday night to sunday night in a frenzy of activity and communion, focusing not on beliefs but on the structural problems facing our organizations and how to overcome them. it was an incredible success. it spawned regional summits across the country for at least ten years afterwards. i believe it would’ve changed the course of the Pagan movement if three planes filled with 19 hijackers hadn’t changed everyone’s focus to interfaith work in september of that year. it was incredibly significant and i am so proud of it.
  • my first political rebellion: in 1984 famine was sweeping africa and i was swept up by bob geldof. i felt the cause incredibly deeply (as only a teenager can) and proposed that we end our school christmas concert with feed the world. the older, fuddy-duddy choir director forbade it (“we always end with the same song, it’s TRADITION”), while my new fabulous choir director (aided and abetted by the auditorium director) gave it a go. so on the down-low we organized people from both choirs and at the end of the planned program swarmed the stage and sang along with feed the world blaring from the speakers. mr Old was apoplectic but i was on a huge high, victorious with a good cause. i had never rebelled against authority so openly before and am proud of my high school self for doing it. the only downside is we raised a paltry $250 for CARE. fucking highland, indiana. i hate that place.
  • my first priestessing gig: i was asked by a co-worker to priestess a stealth Pagan handfasting/wedding. no one in the couple’s families knew they were Pagan, so they were holding the ceremony in beck chapel on campus and had written the whole ritual themselves with little code words in it so it would just seem like a standard beautiful ceremony. i remember standing on the dais looking down the aisle to the bride as she began her entrance and i was just swept with power and pride that my spiritual ancestors would have been tortured and burned at the stake for daring what i was doing (standing in the place of a man and exercising spiritual power), and Here I Was. such a feeling of history and gratitude that our people had made it. and feeling so blessed that i had the opportunity.

i swear. a lot. and i like it.

this is my life’s purpose: to bring fire.

i used to have a deep, commanding speaking voice. now it’s higher, thinner, and impossible to hear at parties.

i have a green burial plot at white oak cemetery on 7th street with my headstone already made. in nice weather i love to go down there and lie on my grave. i find it so comforting to know that, even after all living memory of me has passed from this earth, there will be this curious gravestone in the “grave garden” (as goddessdaughter #1 calls it) that lasts for hundreds of years. i love lying down and imagining pulling the sod over me like a blanket and going to sleep forever. just lay all the burdens down and REST. return to the Mother in the physical sense. so, so comforting. what is remembered, lives [this phrase originated with my tribesister Angie Buchanan and has traveled far beyond the Pagan movement. thank you, love].

all my nicknames growing up were male (tarzan, rhett, james bond, etc)

i have the perfect house. it looks like a monopoly house only it’s blue-grey. it’s a little grandma and grandpa house with everything comfy, lots of big open spaces in 960 sf, lots and lots of light, incredible hardwood floors, a curve on top of the entry to the hallway, a big kitchen, whole-house sound, a wonderful paint kaleidoscope, and the world’s most kickass couch. everywhere i look in my house i see something Pagan – a figurine, an altar, a poster – everything fills me with connection to Spirit. AND! in addition to all this, i have an aMAZing temple set up in my bedroom with absolutely everything i need for absolutely every type of ritual. i love love luuuurve it!!! my house sets on the best-kept secret in downtown bloomington: The Land. 150’-deep lot with a high white PVC fence around it and all native plants inside — lots of trees and about twelve million virginia sweetspire shrubs because those are my favorites. there’s a big open spot close to the house perfect for a wading pool for the goddessdaughters and a firepit for my sister and nieces, and the back half is dedicated as a nature sanctuary. each tree was dedicated to a particular ancestor and i threw in a dead fish when it was planted in honor of squanto, the native american who helped save the lives of my pilgrim ancestors. my sister says my Land is like a park. it’s very restful. when i have any sort of emotional turmoil (pos, neg, in between), i throw myself down on sweet Mama Earth and she just takes it all away and gives me equilibrium. i love to feel the different trunks and leaves of all the different trees. i have cloth ribbons tied to my big ancestor ash and i leave incense offerings. Gods above and below, i have it good.

i’m self-conscious about eating in front of people i don’t know very well.

i love being a woman. i grew up contemptuous of women because of family dynamics but after reading my mother, my self and taking a women’s studies course i came to fall madly in love with my womanness. i love the community that can quickly be established by women. i love how we support each other. and in some ways, as a female Witch, i enjoy being largely invisible to the dominant culture because it gives me the greatest freedom to be myself. patriarchy sucks for women but at least we privileged ones can carve out little enclaves of cackling sisterhood. men under patriarchy – hoo! i feel sorry for them. so much pressure to conform. only one way to be. your only freedom is the color of your tie. i celebrate Pagan men, who so often examine and reject patriarchy and consciously create safe spaces for women and men alike. but i will always instinctively trust women at first glance over men. maybe if men would stop assaulting me that would change. but for now i am perfectly thrilled with my wimmin tribes.

i am an amateur genealogist and family historian. i can never get enough of learning about my ancestors. in ritual i feel them at my back, supporting me as i lean over some chasm. in therapy they are always present to lend a hand to wounded parts. i love my people.

i am a puppy when it comes to touch. while in reality touch is limited to hello-and-goodbye hugs, i thrive on holding hands, having my back petted, my feet massaged, spooning!, my legs stroked. i love piling up with people i love, putting my head in someone’s lap, holding someone’s feet in mine. i feel more real. more rooted in physical reality. but in consensual reality i live almost entirely in my head, my body too pained to bear.

when i first learned about christopher columbus i was disgusted. we call the indigenous people of this country “indians” because he was an idiot and thought he was in india?!?!? it was infuriating. this was what, fourth grade? and i’ve never gotten over it. i recognize some tribes embrace the term but i am just too angry and frustrated to respect that. what if some white guy stumbled upon me and called me argentinian? ridiculous!

princess leia changed my life. raised catholic, i was no virgin mary, meek and mild. princess leia showed me i could be fully myself and fully female instead of having to choose “whether she’s going to be a boy or a girl.” i wrote about that a little here. as an adult, xena exploded on my consciousness and her whole world is one i draw on frequently in therapy and spirituality. when i need courage i sing her theme song. when i need wisdom i watch “the debt” or “the bitter suite” or any of a number of other episodes. i identify with xena as a flawed fighter seeking to redeem herself and i set at the feet of gabrielle to train myself how to act from compassion. search on “xena” at irishsparks.com and you’ll see what i’m going on about.

i adore the olympics. not so much the sports (women’s gymnastics and figure skating are the only things i watch), but the opening and closing ceremonies, the background pieces on the host country’s culture, and seeing excellence. it is such a creative jolt for one thing but it’s also the closest we’ll ever see to “dancin’ in the street” — everyone coming together from around the world to celebrate diversity and unity. love it!

emma thompson is the best actor/actress alive, hands-down. she is absolutely brilliant and chooses great vehicles. you will never convince me otherwise. viva, emma!!!

i take up space. physically, psychically. there is no getting away from me.

i’ve picked up colloquialisms from everywhere i’ve lived. everyone makes fun of me for saying, “aboat” instead of “about” but i picked it up in england and never lost it. likewise “ring me” (“to call” means someone stopped by), come round, postbox, post, whinge, crisps instead of potato chips, icing sugar instead of powdered sugar, brolly instead of umbrella, etc. from southern indiana i have picked up “you all,” the dropping of “to be,” as in “she needs dropped off” rather than “she needs to be dropped off,” pitch-in instead of potluck, and setting instead of sitting. while i’ve lost most of my region rat extremes, i do occasionally cringe at the flat, piercing, obnoxious vowels that come out of my mouth. i can still pronounce like julie andrews when singing broadway songs but sadly lost my much-loved ability to do any accent when i started taking saphris. and half my lexicon comes from the georgia nicolson books by louise rennison. i luuurve them.

i love diversity. i was reading the first chapter of trans bodies, trans selves and got totally stoked at all the different terms that people use to define their sexual orientation and gender identity. what a complex, exciting world! and i love the darkening complexion of america. by 2044 whites will be a minority in the US. i get really excited about living in a truly multiethnic society. just think of how much we will learn! how we will grow as our prejudices get challenged! absolutely thrilling.

this is the post where i named the man who raped me when i was a child.

someone once loved me enough to want to marry me. i blogged about that here.

i could go on (believe me, there are enough people in my self that to describe all my facets would take the rest of my life), but this is already going to be a total bitch to scroll through. so enough. i leave you with a list of some of my most-played music. i am a singer. i am a Witch.

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