Monday, January 20, 2014

On St. Sebastian's Day

So today is the feast day of my absolute favorite saint, the amazingly resilient St. Sebastian. In fact, he is the saint I eventually decided to choose as my patron saint and personal guardian, so I didn't want to let this day pass without saying a word or two about him and what he means to me.

For those unfamiliar with St. Sebastian and his story, he was a Roman soldier that served during the time of Diocletian's persecution of Christians (during the late 200's or thereabouts). He himself was a Christian and was also responsible for numerous conversions and good works.

Considering the nature of the times, Diocletian was none too pleased with him after a while, so he condemned him to death. To be more specific, he ordered that he be tied to a stake (or a tree or a post) and shot to death with arrows. So that happened. And Sebastian didn't die. The widow who came to fetch his body actually found him alive, brought him home, and nursed him back to health.

The whole thing with the arrows did not discourage him in continuing to preach what he believed in though. Eventually, Diocletian decided to have him beaten to death and also ordered that his body be thrown into what was basically an open toilet. Supposedly, Sebastian then appeared in a vision to a Christian widow and told her where his body could be found. At that time, it was cleaned and given a proper burial.

Because of the two death sentences -- the one that failed and the one that eventually worked -- St. Sebastian is often referred to as the saint that was martyred twice. His physical resiliency is also why he is the patron saint of athletes and soldiers.

Yeah, yeah... I know what you're thinking. Why is your patron saint the guy in charge of protecting physically active people. That's totally not you. And you'd be right. That's not me at all. However, I do consider myself to be strong, persistent, and difficult to destroy, just like St. Sebastian. I also never give up on what I believe in or on what I think is right, even in the face of strong opposition. Sebastian is a daily reminder to me every day of the kind of person I really want to be, now and always.

I also like to think that maybe Sebastian chose me long before I ever chose him. When I was a little girl, I used to dream of a man from ancient days getting shot by arrows. The dreams were hyper-realistic as my dreams tend to be and often they took place from the man's point of view, so I could feel all the arrows entering my body in the dream. For a long time, I even wondered if this was evidence of some past life I might have led. That's how realistic these dreams used to be. Other times, the dreams would simply feature this man. He was always just "the man with the arrows".

I wasn't raised on the stories of the saints or anything, so I'd never even heard of St. Sebastian at the time I had these dreams. I discovered him once I got older after developing a stronger interest in theology and spiritual studies though. Today, I sometimes wonder if those dreams might have been his way of communicating with me and letting me know he was up there looking out for me. His story is certainly one that touches me and it's hard to picture having chosen anyone else at this point. I'm definitely comforted by the idea of this particular saint being on my side.

So, happy feast day, St. Sebastian. I appreciate the protection and the presence in my life. I'm sure I don't make it easy for you to look after me sometimes, but I definitely do my best to make you proud. At the very least, I hope I don't exasperate you too badly.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

On Cancerian Moons and Lenten Preparations

The moon is going full in Cancer today. Every so often, I tend to feel a bit off in a way that doesn't seem to be connected to anything in particular. It's at times like those that I tend to wonder what's going on astrologically and really... more often than not, the moon turns out to be in Cancer when I check. 

There's just something about that placement that my psyche doesn't seem to like very much. I tend to get spacey and find myself feeling weirdly insecure for no particular reason. The last thing I want to do at times like those is be productive, but unfortunately I don't always have a choice in the matter.

I suppose it also doesn't help that it's unseasonably warm this week. The weather spirits in charge of Monterey right now seem to have forgotten that it's January and it's 80 degrees out today as a result. That's a near perfect temperature to just about everybody else, but for me, it's too warm. I want my chilly, grey skies and my rainstorms. Those conditions are wonderful fruit for my creativity and my drive to "get shit done".

This past year went by so quickly, so it's hard for me to believe that we're already halfway through January. This means that I've been relatively immersed in some of my Catholic studies for about a year now. Seth and I are thinking we want to partake in a Lenten sacrifice this year when the time comes. We had a hard time thinking of something to sacrifice, as we really don't have many extras in our life as it is. However, we eventually decided that pizza might be a good choice for us. It's relatively doable, which we thought was important for our first Lent, but it's also truly a sacrifice since it's one of our favorite foods and something we enjoy together as a couple often. We're going to go nuts with one of our pizza sleepovers on Mardi Gras to give it a proper send-off. 

Learning to think of the year in terms of the liturgical seasons, as opposed to just the standard wheel of the year, has made me realize that my birthday almost always falls during Lent and this year is no exception. It also falls on a Friday. I'm still trying to decide whether or not I want to partake in the "fast and abstain" requirements of Lent -- minimal food intake and no meat or poultry on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and each of the Fridays during Lent. However, I'm leaning toward "yes" at the moment, so perhaps I'll request a fish-based meal for my birthday dinner. We'll see.

Only about a month and a half until all that begins. I'm oddly, oddly excited. It's like some of these new ways of communing with the powers that be are giving me something to do with my natural penchant toward self-deprivation. Odd as I'm sure it all sounds to people on the outskirts of my life, it's helping certain aspects of my life and my identity as a person come together for me in a way they never quite have before.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

On Using Astrology as a Social Tool

I have what a lot of people might consider a horrible confession to make. I tend to judge people based on what their astrological signs are. Kind of, anyway.

Let's just say that when someone makes a really strong impression on me (either positive or negative), my inner investigator immediately wants to know why and I find that knowing what a person's sun sign is tends to at least give me a leg up when it comes to figuring out what they're all about underneath. From there, I can get to know them better (or not) and see if my initial assumptions were correct. I've been doing this for many years, mostly in an attempt to further my education as an astrologer by running my own "field tests", and I can assure you that astrological signs, elements, and energies absolutely share traits and tendencies in common.

Luckily for me, social media kind of makes this easy, since most people will at least have the month and year of their birth listed on their various profiles. I've learned that from the point of view of a watery Pisces with a Leo moon and a fiery Sagittarius ascendant, I really do get along fantastically with Virgos, especially if they turn out to have a splash of water in their charts as well. I can form casual friendships with air signs like Libra or Gemini, but find them impossible to have deeper, more authentic relationships with. I won't refuse to get to know someone based on their sign, but I will tend to be more reserved for a while if I know I'm dealing with a sign I don't normally see eye to eye with. You get the picture.

That said, I can guarantee that if you and I have ever become friends, had a major disagreement, worked together, or even considered dating one another over the years and there is any possible way I might also know your astrological sign, you can pretty much rest assured in the knowledge that I've applied what I know about your sign to you as a person. I've also done so into the future if we continued to interact. If you're the type of person that tends to air a lot of your relationship drama online and we know each other, I've probably scoped out your partner's sign to see what your issues probably are as well. If you're someone I know really well and have had in-depth dealings with, it's even likely that I've run an entire birth chart on you so I can know what other energies you have going on.

And then I generally keep what I learn to myself beyond maybe sharing my findings with my fiancĂ© (who has been studying astrology and the nuances of the zodiac almost as long as I have). As to why, it's because I feel like something of an anomaly when it comes to matters like astrology. To begin with, I don't feel like I fit in with many other astrologers, because I really don't have that "magical" approach to life and mystical world view that a lot of them seem to. It also goes without saying that all you have to do is say the word "astrology" in front of a more pragmatic person to be written off as a kook or a crazy right away, so I don't have much luck being understood there either.

People who have known me for awhile before finding out I'm "into" astrology or tarot are usually surprised to find out that I use tools like those. They say things like: "But you seem so sensible and realistic. You have a good head on your shoulders and you always tell it like it is." As if someone can't be sensible, but find astrology useful at the same time.

I also have a lot of people tell me that I give really good advice and that I'm really good at making them feel understood. I'm telling you that my use of astrology as a social tool is one of the biggest parts of that. If you're a Taurus wanting to talk to someone about your marital issues with a Gemini, I already know where your personalities clash. I also know what each of you is going to have to do to make things work. If you're a Cancer with a lunar North node in Virgo and you don't understand why you can't seem to get your shit together in life, guess who does understand it and why?

I guess what I'm saying is that literally nothing on this planet has done more to help me understand myself and others around me than astrology has. It's helped me form better relationships. It's even helped me figure out what to do with my life and assisted me when it comes to getting along with clients. Really, I'm super open-minded, but I'm also a big cynic. I'm skeptical and suspicious of just about everything at first, so you know if you see me sticking with something, then I'm sticking with it because it really works. Just saying.