The Morrígan Calls Warriors 2: But I’m Not Cut Out To Be a Warrior

Yeah, me either, kid

When it comes to the perceptions of the warrior path and what it means to be on it, there are quite a few misconceptions due to modern uses of the word “warrior.” Some have come up, again, since my last post. One is that if we define “warrior” as someone who fights, including physically, it must require being a fully able-bodied, superior even, “soldier” type.

This sometimes leads people to think that I match such a description…something much easier to do via the internet than it is in person, although I have apparently confused a few in real life, too. So I have often heard things along the lines of, “I’m not cut out to be a warrior, like you are.” Usually some rumor is tagged onto this about my past. I’ve had people think I am ex-military. Had one woman spend a druid gathering telling everyone I had been convicted of a violent felony. I’ve certainly been accused of being athletic. And I’m really not. Which makes this all hard to write and is’ really pushing my imposter syndrome buttons. Even if I know that it shouldn’t, because it is a very modern and imperialistic concept of “warrior” that this idea is about. (again, I have page on the warrior path which also discusses such things, but a bit less personal).

The truth is that, while I was a outdoorsy “tomboy” growing up, I was actually a scrawny, clumsy, weak and sickly one. I loved running around in the woods and fields and riding horseback, but wasn’t good at any of it. Although that likely didn’t occur to me when I was little, I was just having fun. However, as I grew up I was made well aware of it.

From the beginning of school, gym class was a constant gauntlet of humiliation. I’m pretty sure the only purpose of the class was to give means for the “teacher,” who at that time was the head coach of all the junior high and high school teams, a way to sort out those who he wanted to prepare for those future teams. The rest of us were to be humiliated and abused, and to be honest, I was always at the bottom…I don’t think there was ever a time when I wasn’t the last picked for sides, unless another loser was also injured or something.  I had no coordination. I was weak. I ran slow and was easily out of breath (turns out my lungs are not fully developed, discovered that in my 40s!). I loved riding our horses, but it took a long time to really develop my “seat” and human instruction was no help…I just eventually learned from the horses and ponies (some of which were determined to make it a challenge). I was the last of my peers to learn to ride a bike. I could only really enjoy movement on my own or in the company of animals, around peers or adults it was always a humiliation.

I am sure I did dream of being strong and heroic as a kid, but figured out I’d need to gain superpowers from somewhere to do it. Obviously, a lot of time I wasn’t in the woods I was reading. Including comics. So, yes, perhaps there was a seed of a desire to be a warrior back then…just not a belief in the possibility. I mean, it might be part of the draw of witchcraft in the beginning, as I couldn’t gain physical power…but there were also “weird things” happening that drew me into that and into discovering, via Sybil Leek, that it had apparently had to do with Goddesses, or at least a Goddess, and I had been worshipping Goddess since I was 8 or 9, mostly Artemis as Greek myths were the ones I had access to and I did dwell mostly in the woods.

And I actually was an angry child. Of course I was, I felt constantly vulnerable to… everyone. That I was seen as violent meant that I was also taught that it was something to suppress, never, ever channel. It was viewed as if I had the tools for violence I would be an aggressor, rather than seeing that my tendency towards aggression was a response to feeling utterly helpless when everyone around me was stronger than I was… and that some made sure I knew it. It was the ’60s and while my parents were hardly hippie (being “Greatest Generation” and totally dedicated to being mainstream) the trends of pacifism and non-violence that grew out of the anti-war movement held some sway over the times in general. And I took to the whole hippie aesthetic and peacenik ways as a kid and held onto to them. Growing up different (autism and ADHD weren’t diagnosed in girls at all when I was a child, my learning disabilities were not obvious enough to be diagnosed as anything, which probably would have led less to getting help and more to being labeled and shunted aside, anyway) in a very conservative small town it was a way to define my difference in a way I saw as positive.

Anyway, our high school didn’t have gym class, so we losers were now free of that torturous requirement. Perhaps it was a desire to at least try to get stronger and build endurance, seeing no magical or scientific intervention was at hand, I did get into the ’70s fitness craze despite my gym-trauma. I had actually started yoga, sort of pushed a bit as a way of managing anger, through books, in junior high. But now I found that running (or “jogging” as it was called) was still fun, as long as I was alone with my dog. I tried aerobics, but found it boring. Weight lifting for women was sort of a joke at that point I got a set of 3.3 lb “Princess Smartbells?!” and, obviously, it did so little of anything that I kept losing interest.

My relationship with fitness remained an on-again/off-again thing. I did get a little instruction on weight training from a boyfriend and moved to 10 lb. dumbbells! Eventually I added a pair of 15 lb. But I never stuck with it, often found other things to do instead. I was a bit more consistent through the years with running and cycling, although sometime I just walked. Every so often, I’d try Yoga again. I took dance lessons for awhile, but my class got cancelled and I never found another teacher and just …drifted off.

I was a photographer, photojournalist, pretty much my focus since I was 15 or 16. It put me in an observer category in all things, but I think I thought I’d change the world with my pictures. I was working in the darkroom and stringing for a paper, but burned out suddenly at about 22 or 23 (what I now know was likely an autistic burn out….but I didn’t know I was autistic so…..). For years I couldn’t stand the idea of taking another photo. I became involved in political groups, something I couldn’t do as a photojournalist. Paganism/Witchcraft was a constant.

Oh, still totally into the hippie/Boho thing. While it wasn’t exactly popular, it was at least common in the political groups I was involved in, which did have some “appropriate age” hippies as well as we young wannabees. There were also others who were interested in Witchcraft and Goddess worship, a lot had problem with the word “Pagan” though. And few were overly serious. I was looking for Wiccan training at the time, but the super conservative Wiccans I was meeting…that wasn’t a fit. Drove around in my 1975 VW Bus, listening to music mostly from the ’70s, with my dog, Gabe, and various friends and lovers…for as long as the damn bus ran (with one engine replacement). yeah…I had a fucking Bus, even… seriously, living the best ’70s witchy life in the ‘mid-80s. ;p

Eventually, a friend who I met at the open house of a hokey “Witch school,” and was also not impressed by it, offered to introduce me to the coven he had since joined. Another friend of ours, met at the same event, likewise unimpressed, and fellow hippie wannabe, took me aside and warned me that the group was reputedly “dark” and “violent”… apparently, mostly because the HPS ran a “warrior” political group, as well. But I was seeking training and, actually, the coven was a British Traditional Wiccan off-shoot, the political group was hardly what I’d call “warrior” now and really in line with groups I was in already except being run by BTW Wiccans.

I joined both groups. And, well, this could get long so let’s just say things were going along, but not without the dramas that come with any group I suppose, and then the High Priestess died about 6 months after I joined. Both groups ended up in total chaos and…yeah…I tried staying with both…the political group had a major and hostile breakup and I was among those who left. The coven, now a grove with no 3rd degree woman to run it, went through several attempts to rebuild. I was supposed to be part of that….but….

Um, yeah, I was initiated about a year after her death, so six months later than originally planned, through our HPS’s HPS via our HPS’s HP consort, who was also my partner. I started training with this HPS for second degree. But I was grabbed by the hair by the Morrígan and told I was supposed to be one of Her warriors. (Okay, maybe Wildflower was on to something with her warning…ooops LOL)

This is post is already way too long and probably boring the shit out of you already. So I’m going to get into the spiritual training issues that came up sometime later…I’ll stick to the physical side for right now

So, yeah, it was clear She meant something very different from just political action. Or some “inner battle” stuff. Or “shadow work.” Or that She was there to protect me. Or any of that. It was fucking clear. Whether I liked it or not.

I think I was running at the time, maybe lifting a bit. My partner had an on-again/off-again relationship with exercise, as well. Honestly, I can’t say if I was on or off at the time. I do know that we were taking a Tai Chi class, the only sort of martial art I had ever done at that point, but I was also returning to college and moving back north (I was off-campus, but needed to save money) so that was even just ended or ending for me. So I was totally, “whoa! wrong woman here, I am not cut out for that.”

But She was insistent.  So…

This is when I got real serious about working out, no more on-again/off-again…except when physically I’d be forced off. I started to read what I could find about weight training, trying to sort out the bullshit fed to women to not train like men. Most of what I found was bodybuilding focused and I tended to follow training “designed for men”…. because so much “fitness” shit was about training women to be smaller and weaker. Okay, so much still is, but at least there is more that is refuting that. I got a barbell/dumbbell set, a bench. I ran. A lot. After moving back home, I found a dojo about an hour away. I trained. I trained hard. When I could. (just an aside as I mention it as a “obviously this shows I’m not a warrior” in regards to how I used to dress, I will note my aesthetic changed after this, especially as most of my favorite clothing got stolen from my car when I returned from a trip either just before or just after my initiation….but, really, you don’t need to change your look for the path, even if you dress like a hippie ;p )

This is also when I found what I think I had always been looking for in movement, but was too caught up in the “normal” (and often completely bogus and harmful) messages of what fitness was about. Oh, yeah, not so much an aside…fitness shouldn’t be about changing how you look, either! But that is the primary thing that fitness is packaged as, even though it usually doesn’t work and people become frustrated and are then are themselves blamed (by instructors, trainers, doctors, books, videos, family, friends, themselves) for not living up to the false promise they are sold. Even before I realized this, well, fraud, even when I still wanted to look like a bodybuilder (and then Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor…who I eventually decided I wanted to to want to be like, in some ways, instead) I realized that the key thing in fitness isn’t any goal, not even of becoming stronger, but of the joy of actually doing it. That’s what I knew as a kid, but was too caught up in society’s messages and, yeah, the trauma of from gym class to remember. Even though I started looking as a teenager.

In movement I found the connection I had instead been seeking through meditation, because all spiritual training I got was “sit and meditate,” “sit and journey,” ….sit. Now certainly some folks can both find a connection in movement and in sitting meditations, but I’m not really one. I can do some deep trance work lying down (never sitting) and still, but it only works if I am able to exercise at the time. If I’ve not moved recently, I can not be still. But the movement itself also became the meditation for me and also allowed me to find my, well, wolf self again. In running I find my canine nature again, which I eventually (something that is actually very evident but missed by many) was the very nature of the ancient warriors. In lifting I could feel my body forging strength to serve Her. In fight training, I danced the Morrígan’s dance. And even before I realized it, I think this is also why when I graduated I became a personal trainer, to share the joy not the awful messages that sometimes drove me out of the industry. Whether a fully realized spiritual path or just because it feels good.

Still, I’d love to say I got super strong, my lungs were fixed and I’m now all some seem to think I am despite starting in my late 20s. Uh, yeah. No. I mean, I am a hella lot stronger. My lungs are still limited but I take up oxygen really well considering. But it’s all compared to where I was, not something that would stand out as particularly athletic or strong. Certainly not fast. I will never be a really fast runner.

But fitness improvement is individual. That’s what the mainstream fitness industry doesn’t want you to know, because it thrives on you “failing” to meet a false promise it sells and then making you pay to try again. And it’s not always consistent, because it can’t be. Not for anyone, because things happen (a lot of people have learned this this year, especially as we learn more about the effects of Long-COVID).

I got strong, but then got sick again and had a long lay off. I got strong again then developed a shoulder injury, was misdiagnosed, tried to get strong but wasn’t getting there, initial issue caused two more secondary injuries, finally got diagnosed/operated on/PT, started getting strong again, got wrist issue on same arm and got set back….now finally starting to get strong (broken ankle at least did not set back this issue…and I’m me goofing off in my gym: I’m a gray (some purple and blue tones) haired middle-aged woman with tattoos wearing a “Training to Serve The Morrígan” tank toppretty much recovered from that now, too). I’m also questioning some things going on with the other shoulder, which I hope to get looked at before it gets as bad as the other…insurance companies don’t like that though, so we’ll see. I mean, I got sick a few times during the eight years it took to get my shoulder fixed, as well.

The facts are that I have chronic physical disabilities, some of which are getting worse as I age…some getting better due to getting treatment. I have extreme anxiety, currently overwhelming social anxiety, and severe bouts of situational depression. Much of this, including many of my physical issues, are due to autism. Although, many, of the mental disabilities, like the social anxiety, are probably far more related to how society treats autistic people, especially undiagnosed women, because we do communicate and respond differently… or, as we’re told our entire lives, “wrong.” Being fit doesn’t change that, sometimes this keeps me from being as fit as I might be. I do know that when I can workout I feel better when I do….and that sometimes the fact I can’t due to something “flaring” makes the issue worse. There are simply times when I just ….can’t…… And…right now I just can’t with talking about this more.

So, and I feel I am repeating myself here but I also feel like it just isn’t getting said enough. Yes, at the heart of the warrior path is the physical. Because harm is often caused physically in one way or another, harm must often be battled physically. By those who can. Sometime with the aid of those who can fight in other ways.

And fighting harm to others who can’t fight back is what a warrior does. This is ultimately a path of service. That’s why “inner battles,” “shadow work” and so forth are never enough if you are claiming the warrior path. They may be things that help you help others, but if they are only for your “personal spiritual development” then they are not about being a warrior. And, I’ve never known the Morrígan much concerned with helping me in such things. Our inner battles are our own, in my experience they are not what She is concerned with.

So physical training is not something I consider one can just choose to not do. That doesn’t mean everyone needs to “go all out” …for some the physical part might be limited, might be interspersed with periods of no physical training due to health reasons.  However, there are certainly people that cannot physically train at all, because their bodies just do not allow for it. That’s 100% legit. And that doesn’t mean that they are not on the path if their focus is on building a warrior community, on learning the mind set and the parts that they can do.

Because that’s what we need to build (oh, we can get into how my extreme introvert anti-social nature is not geared to community building, but not even sure I’ll do an upcoming post on that). Not a modern, imperial-style military, but a warband, which was a sub-culture community. This is why the Fíanna do serve well as an example. There is the idea of developing our strengths and overcoming each other‘s weaknesses.

The idea that Cú Chulainn was a big muscular man, rather than a small and rather femininely pretty boy is base on our modern perception of a strong hero, not how he was described (aside from his ríastrad) in the texts. Likewise, images of all the members of Fionn Mac Cumhaill’s fían looking like Conan the Barbarian (whether you are looking at the pulp novels or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s or Jason Momoa’s movies). While Cú Chulainn’s looks simply belied his actual exceptional strength and skills, the warbands consisted of people who excelled at varying skills (although Fionn often is noted as having all these and besting his best).

So CN: some ableist language ahead in noting critique of storytelling and “overcoming disability as a superpower” thing:
The following passage indicates that perhaps disabled warriors were part of Fionn’s Fíanna, but like storytelling tends to still to this day do,  it was spun to show that disabled  warriors were “wonders” who are the best at the things they are disabled as. This is often referred to by disabled commentators as “supercrip.” (I also want to note that not all of this is about disability, but includes what might be an attempted description of gender fluidity, which is also offering a related “wonder”).

[Finn is speaking: One of the wonders is] a deaf warrior (óclach)
who is in the fían-the poem or song has not been composed
that he has not learned well and committed to memory completely.
Another wonder that is in the fían: a man with a
wooden leg who surpasses all of the fían in running -dog,
horse, and man. Another wonder that is in it: a blind man
who never throws a missing cast day or night. Another wonder
that is in it: my own paramour, who is dead by night and
alive by day; no other paramour that I have ever had, has been
dearer to me. Another wonder that is in it: a warrior (óclach)
who is a woman one year and a man the next; he bears
children when he is a woman, and he sires children when he
is a man. Another wonder of the fían is my spear, the spear
of Fiacha mac Croinghind: if it is thrown with the butt end in
front, it wreaks hurt, injury, and destruction upon the person
or animal against which it is. thrown; when it is cast with the
point first, it does not damage or do destruction to the man
or animal against whom it is thrown. And so these are the
greatest wonders in my fían.
(Maud Joynt ed., Feis Tighe Chonain: Mediaeval and modern Irish series, v. 7,  Dublin: The Stationary Office, 1936, lines 449-469, pg. 14; trans. by Joseph Falaky Nagy, The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in Gaelic Narrative Tradition, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985, pg. 51)

While this is, as noted, problematic, it should be considered as a possible hint that disability (and gender fluidity!) did exist in the bands, just that those who wrote the tales, and those who told them in the first place, spun it to be wonderous because making the tales wonderous was kind of the point of the stories. This is still a huge part of story telling, common in comic books and science fiction, with this same spin. On the flip side, both early Irish and modern pop culture stories often use disability as a shortcut to say someone as evil. We can create better stories….and I mean that as we live our own stories as well as in story telling.

As I was starting to get to his point of his post, this article come across my feed and I think it’s a good analysis of way disabled warriors are featured in The Bad Batch (and somewhat in the Star Wars franchise, in general) which includes the idea that disability does disable us from some activities rather than make us “wonders,” but working together creates the over all strength. It truly explains, using this franchise as a model, what I am getting at here. That we don’t have to be “perfect soldiers” in order for us to have strong contributions that enhance what others contribute. Again, CN for ableist terminology, discussions of eugenics, gene manipulation, behavioral analysis, torture….and spoilers for the first season of The Bad Batch: Supercrips, Solidarity, and Crip Families in The Bad Batch Dr. Johnathan Flowers 

And that really fits what I’m trying to say here. That this path is built on a wide spectrum of needs and abilities. While the physical fighting part is going to be a thing, because violence is around us and that’s probably going to get worse, it is just a part of it. But the other parts are more than just “inner battles” and personal spiritual work. It has to be about coming together to fight. With various skills. Even when we have various weaknesses. Fighting on various fronts. And I don’t feel we’ve done this, which is the source of my frustration that. And of guilt, because perhaps I should have been doing more.

If we believe the Morrígan is calling us to do something why more people not training to do it? Why are we so not prepared? Because She’s not calling warriors because something is coming in some vaguely distant future…that something is already here!

 

(Part one of what looks like a series is The Morrígan Calls Warriors, Too….)

The Morrígan Calls Warriors, Too….

….at least I think She does

I mean, there don’t seem to be many, not seriously focused, at least. So it has been a long running annoyance for me that I keep seeing so many “The Morrígan calls more than warriors” blogs and so many people stating “unlike most of Her followers I’m not a warrior.” Because, seriously, where are all of these “most followers” who are warriors that you speak of? Because they seem rather scarce to me. Oh, I know a few seriously walking a warrior pat, but very few. Some, of course, may  not be heavy social media users, but that still means there are very few if the ratio is the same for all. So, I hate to break it to you non-warriors, but you appear to be the actual majority not the exception. And I am not saying you have to be, but please stop talking about how many warriors there are because it’s making me feel extra lonely when I know otherwise. ;p

Of course, some fledgling warriors may have gotten lost on another path because everyone jumped up to tell them they didn’t have to be a warrior? Because it seems that that that response is common. That the first time anyone tells others they feel called, the first thing everyone says is “you don’t have to be a warrior.” Never, “well, let’s explore the options” and then include warrior as one. Even if someone asks what warrior might mean in Her service, they get a lot of “but you don’t have to be a warrior!” (DISCLAIMER: I Just some geese to break up the wall of textknow I have to stop here as someone is probably getting upset and note that I am not saying you have to be….I’m trying to remind folks it is an option. AND that if you are going to talk about the warrior path, maybe do learn something about the warrior path because otherwise you sound like a damn willfully ignorant fool, and, yes, go off and get steamed about that if you don’t want to maybe rethink anything, but I’m not going to spend time arguing about it)

Or they are told that they can only be a warrior by joining the military or becoming a cop, as if these modern imperial institutions remotely resemble the warrior bands who served Her in the past at any time. Some try to define “warrior” as only those who fight for what ever they consider a “good cause” when, well, there’d be nothing to fight for if that were the case and that is again a completely modern Western concept to begin with. Meanwhile others will immediately say that “there are different ways to be a warrior, it doesn’t mean fighting, it can mean anything you want it to”… which amounts to it having no meaning at all. Which then makes it mean nothing. So either the word “warrior” means one modern concept or another or it means nothing at all. But none of these responses is accurate… but I feel I covered that quite a lot on this page, so if you’ve not read it, please do (it’s sort of the crux of this whole project, along with this page) I might rehash some here in the future but probably not in this post.

I will have to say that the frequent phrasing of “She calls more than just warriors” or “She is more than just a Warrior Goddess” is especially insulting. Oh, I know, you’re going to say that you don’t mean it “that way,” you mean there are “more options of paths, that warrior isn’t the only one” or something like that. Except often the phrasing is often very precisely saying that warriors are “just” warriors and others paths are “more.” This is also usually marked with things like, “She not just a Warrior Goddesss She’s also a Goddess of prophecy, cattle, sovereignty, victory, protection, strategy….” Now those last two should really make anyone laugh, because who does not get that things like “victory,” “protection” and “strategy” are fucking part of warriorship?  Well, I can think of at least three or four people and, apparently, all their readers. I get “sovereignty” because they seem to think it’s about modern “personal sovereignty” rather than “kingship” which, btw, is questionable anyway. But I have, after all, already written an entire rather lengthy essay noting how everything “else” The Morrígan and Her Sisters are comes right back to them being War Goddesses. (that would be “Musings on the Irish War Goddesses” in  By Blood, Bone and  Blade: A Tribute to the Morrígan btw) There is more to being a warrior than fighting.

This relates to another phrase I find problematic, when someone notes that “as a warrior I make a good ____.”  But, because they are shunning the path, they are not making a great ____ as a warrior. They are maybe making a great _____ in and of itself, I couldn’t tell you, but they are not making a great warrior _____. They are useless to warriors, because they are not warriors, they do not understand or want to understand the path. They are  often demonstrating this by their lack of understanding what warriorship is (with their modern, narrow minded definitions) or understanding warrior stories by interpreting them without considering what warriorship meant or understanding.

So, I will say, as a warrior, I make a good researcher and, hopefully, at least an okay writer. I’m kind of a crappy personal trainer by industry standards, but that’s because I hate the industry standards and I want to be a trainer for those who also hate them. But my understanding of what I am researching and writing about has grown only because I have pursued a warrior path. The way I train myself, and others who are on this path, physically is also because of learning what it takes on this path (I do train others, but I need them to help me understand what they need). To say “as a warrior” here really has to mean you are a warrior and that that other thing is a part of being a warrior. Because it is. Especially when it comes to rebuilding the sort of warrior cultus that was part of Early Irish culture and, essentially, not part of the culture but a subculture in itself. If you’ve seen my outline for a training program, then you actually already knew there were many ways to be a warrior. No one is going to be great at all these things, no one is going to spend a lot of time on every one of them (although a taste of each is recommended). But warriors are a lot of things, it’s required to create a fían (I prefer to use cúanairt “pack” for a modern group, as it was less frequently used and has fewer alternate later definitions…and I like anything that brings us back to the wolfishness) that members would have different strengths and weaknesses. It’s not an army, it’s a pack.

Again, this isn’t saying anyone has to be a warrior. This is about trying to 1) address is the lack of warrior voices when it comes to modern service to the Morrígan. And 2) to try to counter the very negative, even if the negativity is unintentional, voices that may actually hamper someone feeling called to this path. And to try to correct the fact I’ve been rather silent myself for too long. I’ve enjoyed the quiet, but it always eventually leads to me being beaten about the head because quiet is not what I signed up with the Morrígan for.

So, yes, She may be calling more non-warriors than She is warriors, great do your thing. I just know that when I was called this was very specifically what I was to do. But, you know, nearly 35 years ago now, I certainly had no place to truly turn to find out what the fuck the warrior path was. I have stumbled a lot. I have gone down wrong paths (like many female and female-presenting undiagnosed autistic kids, I was raised to be a people pleaser, so I would often get into group situations where I felt expected to wear many hats, so many that the “warrior”… for that matter the “me” one…. often got buried, but I am getting better about that).  It’s taken me a long ass time to really get what this is about, really only through the past 10 or 15 years. But it’s funny, at nearly 60 I still feel like a fledgling and it’s hard to see me in the teacher role. But my onw issues with that role should not mean that those being called to be warriors no available guidance. I hope there will be more voices, though.

There is so much more I could put here. But I am hoping instead to use this as a jumping off point for future posts. I hope to “see” you soon.

 

See also: The Morrígan Calls Warriors 2: But I’m Not Cut Out To Be a Warrior

Oh, No! This Blog Got all Dusty Again!

This past year has been….yeah, well, you all know. Hard things have often been harder. Good things are often not as visible. I’m tired. Everyone is tired.

I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like, I do have a more topical less housekeeping type post I want to get to. But I have been working on other stuff that is related (because all my obsessions end up kind of related, anyway, it’s how my brain works). I finished a new personal trainer certification (having decided after nearly 30 years that it was time to leave the organization that had already abandoned its personal trainers). I am hoping to start taking a couple online clients once I have more reliable internet which may be sometime mid-April. I was supposed to be sometime mid-March, so….

I may also be including more fitness stuff on social media and/or here again, related to this project. One of the two reasons I picked the organization I did is that they do have a tactical fitness specialty which looks like it might be relevant and might be my next CEUs. The other is that while it allows for CEUs from an “Autism Exercise” organization that uses ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis), it is not heavily invested in it with tons of blog posts about the “poor misunderstood children with the autism” stuff. ALL the others seem to be heavily invested and it’s …awful. And none are listening to autistic adults about what they are doing. If you want to understand the issue with ABA you can go to The Great Big ABA Opposition Resource List here.

For those who don’t know, I am undiagnosed but not only “self-realized” but also “community-recognized” autistic. Like many people raised as a girl (I am cis, but not all who are in this situations are), such a diagnosis was not even a thing. Getting diagnosed now is nearly impossible, I don’t have the resources. Adult diagnosis is a privilege, you need to have some way to fund the testing yourself, you need a good enough mental health infrastructure to get you qualified for testing. Depending on how things go as far as the pandemic, I might try. Largely because I feel that more autistic fitness professionals need to be advocates and being diagnosed will help me as it appears I may be becoming such an advocate.  There’s a lot to this story, I’m not going into it here, not now. But as we head into April, please note that I support #RedInstead and listening to #ActualyAutistic folks.

Cimarron and Iceman
Cimarron and Iceman -Là Fhéill Macha 2018

The major news at the homestead is the the deaths of our 32 year-old Mini horses. We knew it was going to be soon and were making plans for them.  But it happened unexpectedly soon and not at all as planned. In the very early morning of Jan. 22 Iceman died. Cimarron obviously panicked and managed to escape from the barn. He was hit by (or probably hit) a truck and was killed instantly.  We knew that after 30 years together they’d need to go together, but this wasn’t how we’d thought it would happen. Iceman was declining, but he didn’t seem to have declined that much. Or so we thought, but were wrong.

This has left poor Saorsa alone, which isn’t good for a horse. I try and will continue to try to occupy her time and attention. But we do need to see about finding another horse soon. Of course, it’s not an easy time for that for many reasons.

So, here we are, at the start of the second year of the pandemic, still trying to sort out what it means. We now have our first vaccines, scheduled for our second and ….I’m still not likely to leave my swamp all that much.

I hope all reading this are managing to stay well, as are your loved ones. And I extend wishes for healing for those who have not been able to in this awful time.

 

Shaking Off the Dust

So  had started this in March and, well, somehow never got back to finish. This was the post COVID-19 ate.

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Wow, it has been a long time. The last “state of Teh Project post was now over a years and a half ago (ETA: now almost two years exactly). And….not a lot progressed on that front.

In fact, regressed. My computer crashed and I lost a lot of my writing, the most recent stuff but then it turned out what I had backed up ….was screwed up. Of course, a lot can be rehashed from the already published material, which was safely in my email. Techphobe me didn’t use cloud back up for other stuff. I’ve learned too late on that.

There is some hope we can find someone to retrieve the files ….we just need enough money to pay them. That the animals aren’t eating.

But the animals have been centering themselves in my life more than the work has. Although they, especially the dogs, are always part of the work on this path, of course. We adopted another Greyhound in October 2018, Ruadhan (the Little Red One in the photo). We wanted another hound as Gleann‘s (the black ball of fuzz lying down) age caught up with him, neurologically, and he developed Canine Cognitive Disorder and physical neurological problems we knew he wasn’t going to be with us too much longer at that point. We wanted him to have a female hound around, as he always bonded with the girls more, and we wanted Cairbre (the big blond dude with the white face) to have another packmate so he’d not be alone when we lost Gleann.  Which happened one year and nine days later. The photo here is of the pack at his last ritual in August. He was tired, he lied down for much of it, he wanted to go out to the border offering but I had to carry him (fortunately my shoulder has healed).  I still can’t grok that he’s really gone from this body.

Our goat Elína developed an infection in her joints during the summer, which we thought we were getting under control with antibiotics but it went to her lungs and she died of pneumonia. Unfortunately, I think the extreme humidity that we now have here was just too much. I keep feeling we could have done something better than we did and save her.

(that’s where I got to….yeah, needed a pause after writing about death and then….pandemic hit…..)

 

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I spent a lot of time last year just being with Gleann. And also obsessing over the upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate and most of my writing was blogging and creating new pages for The Sarah Connor Charm School. My plans to get my business started again were on hold, but I had decided to study for the American College of Sports Medicine personal trainer certification as the organization I am certified with got bought out by another organization and has abandoned the CPTs. It took me a few years to finally call it quits as I had been with them since 1992.

Ironically, I had decided during the winter that I would focus on online training, for various reasons I just don’t want to train much around here.  Of course, I didn’t get this started and I’m still not ready to, while the pandemic has had many trainers turning to online training. I could have been ahead of the game. Now I’m behind.  It doesn’t help that I’m debating with myself about bothering with the ACSM certification, I am considering not getting back into the field. There are various reasons for this, which I won’t go into here, at least right now. One, of course, being hating to spend the money when I am in debate about it, which is sort of a circular thing.  They do now have a proctored online test, which would require a somewhat more reliable computer than I have now. And some work to have a room that will meet their requirement….this place is like a series of open concepts parts, I basically will need to do it in a bedroom or bathroom to have closed doors and all. ?

In most ways the COVID-19 pandemic has made things more the same than they might have been, rather than actually change things. That is, I had intended to make an effort to get down off our mountain at least once a week just before it hit. And that isn’t happening. Nor will it for awhile. The only people I have seen in months are my husband, Aaron, and a few drivers who have insisted on stopping to tell me my dogs are beautiful or that there’s a bear where I’m not even heading (as if I haven’t met up with a bear twice this summer, that I know of …as they usually try not to be seen, much closer to home).   I really do wish people would stop stopping to try to talk to me when I’m out running or walking the hounds. Therefore we’re working on cleaning up our trails enough for the delicate-skinned beasts as well as make new trails.  I’d much rather just have Aaron the only person I deal with in person right now.

I’m not sure how much this helps me stay safe as a person with multiple risk factors, as Aaron currently works at a store. This might even, at least right now, be more dangerous than when he was an EMT, as he’s more likely to come in contact with tourists who don’t know they have symptoms. He’s doing all the “clean up” he can when home, avoiding people especially if they don’t wear masks (and many do not) at work unless he’s at the cash behind the plastic shield. And, while this is a relatively safe place as far as recorded infection rates go, we don’t really know how many non-residents have been here because it’s recorded where people live. Folk up here are not taking this seriously, which I know is true for most of the country, and we have neighbors who have been traveling, including some who are as I write this on their way back from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, It’s unlikely we’ll be as “safe” as we have been, we’ve never been as safe as many here think.
Aaron did take one, very careful (limited stops and avoiding contact with anyone, including at the kennel), trip to Dover to pick up our newest Greyhound. We had planned to adopt this summer, the pandemic meant that the planned closing of Florida tracks was early so that dogs expected this summer landed there in March, but at the same time getting dogs vetted was sparsed out longer. So after seeing posts about him on the Greyhound Placement Service, NH FB group for weeks, we technically adopted Trúghadh (the brindle on the left) the first week of May but brought him home the end of June, two weeks after his first birthday. He is a spooky boy, very shy of strangers, who needed a home with other Greyhounds.  He’s doing great! Still working things out. He has gotten bold enough to be in the “asshole” stage of settling in, where he’s testing boundaries and establishing himself in the pack. This is a good thing, btw, it’s part of the process. He’s a sweet, lovable boy. The youngest hound we’ve ever adopted.

Aside from hanging out with the dogs, horses and cats, I’ve been very focused on exercise. Okay, I guess while hanging out with the dogs (when running) and cats (they hang out in our home gym almost a the time I’m in there) and the horses create a lot of additional physical activity even when I’m not hanging out with them (although, now that I think about it, they all seem to like to keep getting in the way while we clean up after them).

My strength recovery from my shoulder surgery got slowed down when I developed a very painful case of De Quervan’s tenosynovitis in the same wrist last summer, just as I started to catch up my strength again. PT helped a lot, although not really until I decided to take a couple of months off from lifting, because it just hurt too much. While it’s going to be a sort of constant battle the wrist is functional and relatively pain free. I still keep up my PT exercises, now doing both writs as I have noticed symptoms in my left one as well. But then, I am also noticing issues with my left shoulder that are similar to what started in my right back in the winter of 2009/2010 that go misdiagnosed. However, at this point my strength has improved greatly.  It might help that for the past five months I haven’t had a single cold or stomach bug or anything that might take me out for a few days. The COVID-19 protocols are at least helping with that. I just hope it will be enough to help prevent us getting this virus.

So, Teh Project. Lost files are still not recovered and I’m not sure if we can ever find someone. Especially as they’d have to be close enough to hand the bricked hard-drive off ourselves as we don’t want to physically lose it, too! And we were paranoid about any shipping long before Trump’s full-blown attack on the USPS.  And currently not likely to travel very far or want to be close enough to someone to hand it to. So I am poking away at the previously published stuff, to try to expand it for the manuscript, still hoping to retrieve and work in what I had already for that that wasn’t published. We’ll see.

I’ve also played a little with video, although I really need a new computer if not a camcoder instead of using the webcam if I want to put together my seriously delayed workshops together that way. Given that any chance of live presentations is going to likely mean delay is just so much worse…. So that’s kind of a “watch this space.”

Oh, speaking of which, I do have half a mind to move this blog to the website, possibly because there is so much fixing needed (at least in my experience with the SCCS blog) when exporting a blog from Blogger to WP that it would be a huge way to keep me from writing. ? So….it might not be the space to watch? *ETA: Obviously, if you are reading this, you know I did go through with this threat. Well, threat only to me, exporting/importing a blog from Blogspot to WP was rather time consuming. And some links and picture might still not work and there are some posts which formatting got funny and I can’t seem to straighten it out)
We’ll see.

Excerpt from: The Hounds Betwixt and Between: Cú Chulainn and Finn as Liminal Heroes

Published in Air n-Aithesc,Volume  4, Issue 2 Lugnasadh 2017. An earlier version, titled The Hero Betwixt and Between, appeared in Keltria Journal #43,”Heroes & Heroines,” 2013. 


Cú Chulainn of the Ulster Cycle and Finn Mac Cumhail of the Fenian Cycle are the two early Irish warriors that are most familiar, who have the greatest number of stories told. Many other warriors in the literature boast heroic quests of their own, including the warrior-kings; however, these make up a smaller amount of known literature. There are other warriors known only for their relationships with Cú Chulainn or Finn, as fighting beside them or dying at their hands, while many warriors are only names in long lists. There are also many villains and semi-villains and a, sadly, small number of warrior-women, either protagonist or antagonist.[1]These two heroes have large bodies of material focused on them and what makes them such important heroes compared to the others is of interest. 
When they are brought up together, it is often to describe Cú Chulainn and Finn as very different, even opposites. This may have originated from Marie Louise Sjoestedt’s declaration that Cú Chulainn was a “Hero of the Tribe”[2]while Finn was a “Hero Outside the Tribe.”[3]The distinctions Sjoestedt noted may be useful in exploring each of these heroes individually,[4]  and they certainly are individuals; however, her designation of Cú Chulainn as a “tribal” insider and assertion that the two warriors’ stories were “irreconcilable” are questionable. [5]Both of these heroes were liminal and quite dangerous to the culture they defended, but were outsiders of. In the different times their tales were recorded, they represent views of those warriors who stood between society and the wilderness, being never fully part of either. 
It is difficult in a casual study such as this to sort out what might be similarities due to the nature of the tales and what might be influences of the earlier stories.  Cú Chulainn’s tales were written centuries before Finn’s. We do not have evidence that Cú Chulainn’s stories truly come from oral traditions or whether they were told orally after they were written. Both seem likely, at least to some extent. Finn’s stories continued in oral tradition, which gives us even more variations. While knowledge of Cú Chulainn’s stories may have influenced the tellers and writers of Finn’s, the latter are clearly not reproductions. This may be influences of the time, but also may be a hint that they were seen as warriors of a certain nature and place, similar but not identical. Therefore, I believe the comparisons where we find the similarities yet note the differences help us understand the archetype of the Outlaw Warrior in this literature, without losing sight of the individual nature of both Cú Chulainn and Finn.
To read more you can purchase a copy of Air n-Aithesc,Volume  4, Issue 2 Lugnasadh 2017 or a PDF from me via the website 


[1] I have written about some of these female warriors  in “‘By Force in the Battlefield’: Finding the Irish Female Hero,” Air n-Aithesc Volume 1 Issue 1 Imbolc 2014; “Muimmecha naFiann: Foster-mothers of the heroes,” Air n-Aithesc Volume 1 Issue 2 Lughnasadh 2014; “The War Goddess’s Bitch,” Air n-Aithesc Volume 3 Issue 1 Imbolc/Beltaine 2016;  “There Was Not Found a Man to Withstand Her,” Air n-Aithesc Volume 3 Issue 2 Lughnasadh/Samhain 2016.
[2]Marie-Louise Sjoestedt, Celtic Gods and Heroes, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola 2000, pg. 57-80.
[3]Sjoestedt, Celtic Gods and Heroes, pg. 81-91.
[4]As is noted by Joseph Falaky Nagy. The Wisdom of the Outlaw: The Boyhood Deeds of Finn in Gaelic Narrative Tradition,Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985, pg. 10.
[5]Kim McCone, “Werewolves, Cyclopes, Díberga and Fíanna: Juvenile Delinquency in Early Ireland” Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies, issue 12, 1986, pg. 8.

Oh, look, another year

I realize how little I got done last year, two blog posts here, one about trying to save our hound Gráinne, which we failed at, and a post about Wonder Woman which I never followed up with the review I intended on (it’s a good movie that could have been much better on many levels, I still feel the lead was miscast, I hate that my favorite character who was only on briefly was actually a white-wash and, wow, they really could have had more women present in the entire thing). Other writing was a rewrite/reedit of an old article for the Lughnasadh issue of Air nAithesc and a few posts at The Sarah Connor Charm School about the reboot and Linda Hamilton’s announced return, as well as James Cameron hating Wonder Woman for all the wrong reasons. I also moved/redesigned the SCCS site, my work site (such as it is at this point) and started to with Dùn Sgàthan and Hooded Crow but that got to be a bit too much. I’m still finding things that need fixing on the SCCS site, after all. So that was somewhat productive, at least. Just not a lot of writing.

The year was seriously distracting for me, after spending so much energy in 2016 towards saving both Gleann and Gráinne, we entered 2017 with my mate breaking his leg, failing to save Gráinne and then having one of our mare’s, Misty, suddenly die and one of our Minis nearly die on the same day (possibly an emotional response to losing a herdmate). A couple of months later, my mare Saorsa, who had been devastated by the loss of her beloved boss mare, went lame. Then she went lame in another foot. She ended up with abscessing in all four feet, about the time one would open and start draining another would show up. Oh, we also nearly lost our house, due to the toll trying to save our dogs took on our finances….yes, even with the fundraising and auction and all. And there was some political stuff happening in the world as well, which some of you may have noticed, that has been damn horrific. :/

I also “pulled something in my shoulder” working on Saorsa’s feet in the late spring. Which refused to get better. I continued to try to stay in shape and do what I could to take care of her, the other animals and things here. It would just go away, right? First practitioner (a PA-C, seeing doctors here is usually a long wait), indeed wrote it off as nothing…she also “joked” that I should just sell my horse so I didn’t have to use my arm anymore which probably means it’s best for her I was in too much pain to do what would come naturally to that sort of crack. I spent the summer pretending it would just heal up. Meanwhile, my plan to get my fitness business reestablished, as all work there went south taking care of my dogs the year before, was impossible. I was now taking care of a horse in between being in too much pain to even train myself. Oh, I kept trying. And, at least, I could run.

While doctors might be hard to find up here, sometimes you do luck out. I went back and saw a nurse practitioner at the clinic, who actually gave me the referral I hoped to get from the PA-C months before to the local orthopedist. He, in turn, referred me to a shoulder specialist down in Franconia….who turns out to be a top shoulder specialist in the country, working with the US Alpine ski team.  I am at the moment recovering from having bone spurs and a cyst caused by them removed. Tomorrow I start PT….hopefully it will not be long before I can actually start lifting. Gods, I’m dying to start lifting.

Not knowing how limited I’d be for work, we also began plans for a festival, Là Fhéill Macha, that I had felt nudged to do a couple of years before, despite the fact we now no longer had Misty to be the “central mare” of it. I had hoped to find a few others up here who might be willing to actually help with some of the work involved, but that hasn’t happened. And due to the shoulder I haven’t been able to do much of it myself. Chances are that this year anything we do will be small, friends-only…we’ll see how things progress. I do feel this is something that needs to happen, it’s just a matter of whose timetable that is on.

We’ve had some healing to our pack, although it started rather, uh, “pridefully” I guess you could say. To back track, we adopted a black cat who was named Merlin a year after we adopted our dog Sachairi, who left us two years ago now, from the same woman. She had moved out of the country, but returned for a visit to find the cat was not in as good a situation as she hoped and we decided to take him. We tried renaming him in Gaelic but it never really worked. We never intended to get a cat, as we often have hounds who are not cat safe, and we certainly didn’t intend on ever getting another. But I happened to find out an acquaintance was looking to rehome her elderly black cat as she was moving out of the country. As this was the 1) the same situation as the previous, 2) something I came across right at the right time and 3) the cat’s name is Nimue….I figured it was fate. Despite the fact that neither cat was well socialized with other cats, we took her.


We came home from picking her up to find out that the Greyhound kennel was expecting several dogs in and just had a return, as well. I was asked if we might want the boy who was returned, but he tested as not cat safe. It turned out that he is also Gráinne’s half-brother, about half a year younger than her. I also remember him as having been previously adopted around the same time I first heard that she had been returned and was feeling sort of “called” to consider her ….it was a few months before I did, however. So despite our reservations at having a hound who is not cat safe, we now have this 80 lb blond snuggly goofball named Cairbre (one of the legendary Gráinne’s brothers and close enough that we can let those unwilling to try saying it continue to call him “Copper” as he had been known).

It will, of course, be longer before our little herd grows again. Horses are a bigger investment, also harder to integrate than dogs. Easier to integrate than the cats have been, we certainly will not have a photo of them like the one of the dogs here, but bigger and more problematic while they do. Saorsa has bonded well with the little guys. The worry, of course, is that the little guys turn 30 this year and their health is not great.

Now that we are healing, now that my shoulder is healing, I am hoping to get back to rebuilding my fitness business and taking clients once I am back in training and feeling I have something to offer others. I am also looking at online training options, to expand outside this area. I am also considering doing a Patreon for the Hooded Crow project if I can figure out what to actually offer which means getting back in the swing of writing, mostly, I guess, but hopefully will include options to do fitness training focused for this path as well. I have a couple of workshops I need to finish prepping and figure a way to do from up here in the sticks…again, probably online.

I am, however, considering that in my writing, I need to put focus back on the book. I may still get out some articles again, I do hope to blog more both here and at the SCCS.

 

Wonder Woman Rant Redux – muscle, space and physical feminism

Six years ago I wrote the post Wonder Woman—a rant from Goddesses to costumes to Goddesses which remains my most popular post ever. *sigh* (because while I’ll always throw in pop culture material regarding physical feminism and all, that’s not the precise focus of my blog even if story is and these are our stories) And as it started getting hits again recently, likely due to people looking for things regarding the new movie, I figured I should add a review to the movie.  But  as I had not made any commentary regarding Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman when Batman v. Superman came out, have been pretty actively avoiding doing so, really, I realized I really need to get the physical feminism issues of this out of the way so I can review Wonder Woman without discussing this aspect.

But first, please let me note that I am really excited about Wonder Woman, it’s way past time to finally have a stand-alone superhero movie for a female character!   To boot, it’s also important that it is being directed by a woman!  Be nice if there were more women in the background, it sucks to “take what we get” but hopefully it’s a step. IF it succeeds. And there is evidence that it is not meant to, that it is being under promoted and it is being released at a bad time in regards to established competition.  

If we want more this movie must succeed strongly!  Pleas go see it, multiple times if you can!  Yeah, use capitalism to our advantage, by the Dr. Pepper! (don’t like Dr. Pepper…yeah, me either, but the cans are what might be worth the purchase)  Buy T-shirts!  Uh, but we have to have our limits, please, PLEASE do NOT buy the fucking diet bars!  Talk and post about the movie!

Let’s make this a huge success and at the same time demand more!  More! More female superhero stand-alone movies!  More female led superhero TV shows! More female directors of both! More female writers of both! More female producers of both! More female show runners!   Also more diversity over all…. women of color, trans-women!

And yes…..More muscle!  

Can someone point me to the original source?!  I found this tons of places via Google but have failed to find the origin.

Part of not writing about this for the past three or four years is just other things going on, but also not wanting to get into the accusations of body-shaming Gal Gadot.  So let’s get a few things clear here:

  1. I in no way wish to body-shame Gadot. This isn’t about her really, she just landed in the middle of an ongoing issue, especially as she never sought out the role. It is about the choice by Zack Snyder, and anyone else involved in casting, to actually pursue her for the role for it despite the fact it was for a character currently shown as largely muscled. This is on the casting not her. I am sorry if her feelings have been hurt, but also see #3 here.I am also sorry she got attacked for her breast size, which is in no way an issue for me. (however, in her defending that someone should inform her that the cutting off a breast thing was likely propaganda created by forcing the Iranian *ha-maz-an “one fighting together” into similar sounding Greek term which conveniently made it sound horrid to Greek women who might want to become one. Certainly, there is no way it would help women draw a bow, quite the opposite, and certainly no evidence that the Sauro-Sarmatian female warriors who probably were sometimes called this did so, especially as they were expected to marry and have children when they gained adulthood [sound familiar?  yes, Amazons were likely among the war bands I am studying, of course] 2,500 year-old Alt-Facts are no more true than modern ones) Yes, perhaps WW is often shown with outrageously large breasts but as they are irrelevant to her ability as a fighter I really do not consider it important. Muscles matter, however.
  2. Discussion of the bodies of actors playing superheroes is not focused only on women, but has
    long been going on with men. The attacks on both Michael Keaton and George Clooney when they were cast as Batman were really before the internet took off and may be forgotten by many and since overshadowed by the, not unrelated, snarking on the rubber batsuits. This is a rather extensive post exploring Batman’s physique, including the actors from Adam West up through Christian Bale from Gotham Alleys. Ben Affleck’s and Henry Cavill’s muscle mass has been up for discussion on the interwebs as well, never mind that they got more upgraded muscle suits to help them out (difficult with bare harms and shoulders of WW’s costume, of course).
  3. Despite the usual cries (from privileged people regardless of the issue) that there should be no “oppression Olympics” oppression is not equal. Some forms of oppression are worse than others. And within particular form of oppression there is definitely a difference, that’s actually the very nature of oppression.  Yes, being “skinny-shamed” or even “societal-ideal-body-shamed” might hurt the individual’s feelings and that is real for them, it is not the same as a largely muscled woman who is
    shamed for “looking like a man” and who is (as is relevant to this issue) unable to get a job in film or TV because they are too muscular, which happens, and that is, honestly, not the same as someone being fat-shamed by being denied all sorts of jobs, being forced to buy an extra seat or not be able to fly at all to not being able to get appropriate healthcare and sometimes dying from that.As thin actresses are favored and get jobs all the time, bitching that muscular actress are left out of a role essentially designed for them is not thin-shaming, it is discussing muscle-shaming. On the other hand, almost all the defensiveness about “thin-shaming”in this situation is really thinly (no pun intended) disguised fat- or muscle-shaming the latter of which is displayed here.In a nutshell, it is simply not thin-shaming to demand that other types of women’s bodies be seen in movies especially when the character is already established as having a body that does not meet the societal ideal.
  4. As a continuation of the above, there is more going on here than one woman’s body shape. It’s the whole damn message that, again, the Women’s Health piece drives home, that women are supposed to be thin and only thin. There is a very narrow (yeah, pun is intended here) range of acceptable body types in the media, especially in any sort of leading role. There is a constant message that women must take up as little space as possible.This was notable to me in watching Batman v. Superman, right down to the first encounter between Affleck’s Bruce Wayne and Gadot’s Diana Prince when he towered over her intimidatingly (while Affleck is 6’4″ and Gadot is 5’10”, canon Batman is 6’2″ and the modern canon (we’ll get to this) WW is 6’0″ which is not as notable a difference, and height is easily managed in film so this could

    have played far differently. Again, while already very muscular, both Affleck and Cavill are made almost absurdly large with their suits and in the way they are featured, while Gadot appears diminutive, even while doing “large things.”

    This size disparity is, of course, also found in the comic at times, but is, frighteningly, perhaps mostly geared towards kids as in  Justice League Action.  The message given to girls by always portraying female heroes as a always being able to be strong but thin remains a message to not take up space, to fit a societal ideal that most of us do not and which girls and women harm themselves daily to try to achieve. While also being strong? Can this message be denied here at all when there is a damn tie-in to a weight loss product?

  5. This has been one of a long line of very thin women being cast into muscular roles, a role that is now known for being muscular just as (even more so, really…far more so) Sarah Connor was, where the actress was put into a position of proving she was gaining enough muscle to do so and we are told repeatedly that she did despite all evidence that she doesn’t. Now, again, this seems to get close to thin-shaming, but again it’s about the spin that is put on the issue by the promoters and puts the actress, who surely would rather not be there, into the spotlight to try to prove a point about what women’s bodies are “supposed” to look like.I also can sympathize, I do not put on a lot of muscle even though I work out specifically to attempt to.  So if it’s a matter of not having a mesomorph-dominant  body I get it. I’m totally an endomorph/ectomorph cross.  So why not cast an actress who already does?  Because not all women have difficulty putting on muscle, just as not all men can put muscle on easily!But there is another factor. Are these women actually getting the sort of fitness training that builds muscle.  The Women’s Health piece (I’m not giving them yet another link) claims Gadot said “that she’s been doing “a thousand and one things” to gain body mass in preparation for the role, including kung fu, kickboxing, and jujutsu.”   So, you know, fighting arts is great for preparing for such a role but they do not exactly put on mass. I can only assume those thousand and one things included weight training but, of course, that also has to be done right even for someone genetically inclined to put on muscle.And, here’s the kicker, there’s a long term gas-lighting (no, really, that is what it is) technique in the fitness biz of telling women that “women do not bulk up like men but you must work out to make sure you do not bulk up like a man.” Or even the ever growing popularity of “lift like a man but don’t look like one, just starve yourself.” (no, I am not linking to any of this shit, it’s too easy to find as it is).  It’s so fucking common.  And this little game of “oh, she’s really muscular for a woman, this is is what a proper muscular woman looks like” is a growing part of that gas-lighting.

    This gas-lighting is so pervasive and has been going on so long that women truly believe they can’t bulk up and that they must also avoid bulking up as much as possible. They also believe that a “toned” look, one of the most horrific jokes in fitness, on a woman is comparable to a body-building physique on a man. This is not just cis-women who believe all this (and I do apologize for how cis-centric this all is, the subject makes it difficult to be more diverse at this point) so most people do believe that Gadot (and other actresses put through this), for a woman, has “really bulked up.”

    (Want some great reading on how how sports media plays into this gas-lighting check out Body Panic: Gender, Health and the Selling of Fitness by Shari L Dworkin and Faye Linda Wachs and Built to Win: the Female Athlete as Cultural Icon by Leslie Heywood and Dworkin)

  6. This movie is tied in with a fucking weight loss product!
  7. Sorry Women’s Health (no, not linking again), but while you can be strong and thin bigger strong people will still be stronger!  Simple physics!   “Oh, but she’s super-powered.”  Yeah, so is Superman and if there is any superhero who doesn’t need size on his side it’s Superman…yet he keeps getting bigger so….  STFU!  You’re just espousing sexist sizism that dictates women must strive to be as small as possible with this sort of shit. (I’d also be interested in whether under the circumstances of Superman’s superpowers, the yellow sun, which makes virtually nothing a real resistance for him, if such a creature would have much muscle mass at all. Anyone? ….and make it something more than an opinion because I don’t care so much to give that time, thanks).We know the Amazons trained. I expect muscle. It appears there will be in some of the Amazons, although I have yet to see boxer Anne Wolfe or MMA fighter Madeleine Vall in costume yet.
  8. A fucking weight loss product!
  9. Wonder Woman is certainly not about weight loss, she has instead, happily gained both height and weight. The Golden Age WW was, indeed, a rather tiny 122 lbs at 5’8″.   The New 52 WW is 165 lbs at 6’0″ -but honestly she often looks more muscular than that likely would.
  10.  So this movie, which should be about showing women are strong and powerful as superheroes, who can take on men, monsters and armies, is still giving us a message that this better be done while avoiding taking up too much space. Brought fully home by the fact that, they tied it into a fucking weight loss product!
  11. We have a legitimate expectation to see more varied feminine bodies on screen and that does include ones which are muscular especially when the character is already know to be and is supposed to be physically powerful!
  12. We have a legitimate expectation to see women taking up space in movies! And everywhere!  We have a legitimate right to take up space!
  13. We don’t want your fucking weight loss products!

Again, the take away is that this might annoy many of us ,but it is vital, especially if we want to see female superhero muscle to support this movie!  Which looks like it might be very good, despite this. Which is why I wanted this out of the way before I saw and reviewed it.

But also success means more female-led superhero films, more female directed superhero films, hopefully more female produces superhero films. And other such action films, maybe too!  Because right now the myth that women’s action movies do not bring in money, something which they seem to want to prove by not promoting WW as much as they already are Justice League. We have the promise of a Captain Marvel, which will be the first female-lead stand-alone Marvel offering in 2019.  Can we hope for others to follow? Only if we make this big!

In fact, this doe not need to be the last Wonder Woman of our times. Superman and Batman have had too many actors to count (well, okay, I’m too lazy) playing them since Kirk Alyn (who preceded George Reeves) and  Lewis Wilson (who preceded Robert Lowery who preceded Adam West), respectively.  Meanwhile, actually making it to screen Gadot is only the third live action actress, following the well known Linda Carter TV series run in the 1970 and the Cathy Lee Crosby pilot movie that ran the year before Carter’s series was picked up instead. There’s a lot of room there for more women playing Wonder Woman. And TV is another option.

And as Supergirl is slated early for a third season on CW, which is picking up more DC titles and which has already been established is a different Earth than the DC movies with different actors playing the Flash, I think it is now the time for them to finally do a workable Wonder Woman with a different and buff actress playing her.  And without resorting to the dreck of the previous series attempt and remember that even bits that might work for raised-since-a-young-age-as-a-“regular-girl” Supergirl is not going to work with raised-to-be-a-warrior-since-birth Amazon  Oh, she might love sharing ice cream with her bestie but not to cry over her “lost love.”  While we’re at it, let’s make sure her best friend is Etta Candy (or if they met way back, Etta’s granddaughter or something) and make sure she is fat and athletic and a fucking badass as she should be and never actually the joke she could have been (and I’m waiting to see how the movie does with her)…and never, ever have her mention wanting to lose weight because Etta does not give a fuck about your fat-shaming standard!  Oh, yeah, Diana should be bi too, because finally what was really quite obvious has been officially acknowledged. And also she must fight Nazis. I’ll discuss the taking her story back to WWI instead of WWII when I have actually seen the movie, but the original Wonder Woman came to the Man’s World during the World War II to battle the threat of Nazis. She has had to battle Nazis cropping up at various times. We have a real Nazi problem right now, we need her fighting Nazis now!

So we need to make this move HUGE and then voice our desires to see such a show come up soon.

Go to the movie, take friends, go lots of times if you can, take more friends! Post and promote, if they won’t we have to!  Buy products, but not the fucking diet bars!  Let’s remind them that women bring an audience!

ETA: I just had this go through my feed!  I guess they were just waiting to promote it (or something), so another way make this big and get more WW and more of other female superheroes is participate he shit out Wonder Woman Day

 

Wonder Woman, with muscle, punching Trump mural in Pilidelpha

Save a Celtic hound

**UPDATE: I realized I should update that we were unable to save our Gráinne. The lymphoma was just too aggressive, she went down hill very quickly and had some sort of episode involving either a lesion or a blood-clot to the brain. She regained her ability to walk after the first one, but the vet was clear that nothing could be done. We planned to take her for her last trip a few days later, but she had another similar episode and we took her to an emergency vet in the middle of the night. We probably do not have to mention that we are devastated as is Gleann. **

It been a hell of a year. We lost Sachairi just over a year ago, then found out both Gleann and Gráinne had serious health problems.  Gráinne was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) but her blood count numbers were real low, so during the summer it was a matter of just keeping track while we concentrated on saving Gleann who had a tumor in his parathyroid.  We were able to get surgery for Gleann thanks to fund raising, auctioning off some Sarah Connor related stuff, some eBay auctions, help from a dear friend and totally maxing out CareCredit.  And then Gráinne’s numbers got higher, not OMG start chemo NOW higher, but high enough we were starting to get her evaluated the first of this year.

And then two things happened. First she developed skin lesions, upping our worry even with the current blood counts.  And then my husband Aaron broke his leg. Oh, on top of that at New Years just 12 days before his accident, he had also had his status changed at work from covering stations to only being on-call for transfers, so no disability benefits at all. This leaves us with no real income at all, except for a bit here and there from eBay sales.

Just days before we finally got her to the oncologist for another examination and for more testing, her nose became hugely swollen. It turns out that as well as the CLL she has cutaneous lymphoma, which is the more aggressive of the two.

This means that the chemotherapy we were looking at, Prednisone and Leukeran, is not going to be effective. Instead we need a more expensive chemo, CCNU. She would get this every three weeks at $695 each time and require blood work at her regular vet in the weeks in between.  AND this needs to start immediately, before the very quick changing lymphoma has a chance to get to the point of no return!

We could see managing if Aaron were working and getting a lot of shifts….but not until then.  Which is April! And we have to stat this week!  We have raised not quite as much as we have spent in getting her tested and we are struggling to also feed her and the other animals, so we have almost nothing left to our names at all, let alone enough to start this! We really need help!

She could have years more with this, it is devastating that we may have to lose her just because Aaron broke his leg!

Gráinne is our sixth Greyhound, adopted from Greyhound Placement Services, NH as a special needs dog due to having epilepsy.  She is beautiful, as you can see, but also quirky and comical. She is not always the easiest hound to deal with, her previous owner has returned her due to her singing in her crate. Honestly, it really is singing, it’s like having a coywolf in your living room.  She can be very vocal at anytime she feels she’s not being understood. Not everyone appreciates that as much as we do.

She has had a stressful year, losing Sach was a blow to her, I know. She was stressed as we took care of Gleann’s situation. I feel like we had just gotten to the point where we could all relax and enjoy time together when she got really sick.  I don’t want this to have been her last year! I want her to get better, which she has a very good chance of if we start treatment this week, and have a couple of relatively happy years. She just turned 7, she needs more time!

And Gleann needs more time with her. He adores her, he’s lost so many packmates in his lifetime.

Please share the campaign and please help with what ever you can! 

My articles and workshop vouchers are available as perks.

The Celtic Hound reference is….because they are!

 

Saving Ritual Dog Gleann! and some stuff on future workshops

 In my last post I asked for help getting Gleann’s high calcium issue diagnosed. We got the diagnosis and it is primary hyperparathyroidism caused by a nodule in one of his parathyroid glands. So now we need to get the surgery as soon as we can! So we have another fundraiser to get his surgery. It was supposed to end this past weekend, we had hoped to be scheduling the surgery yesterday, aiming for the 14th.  But we are still far short of the $3,500 we need.

 

Just before heading out for Samhuinn 2015

Gleann is by far our Chief Ritual Dog. I have written about canines in ritual  and all our dogs have participated with us. The Greyhounds have been happy to do so, there is food after all, dear little Sachairi I think found it kind of odd as he came to live with us when hew as set in his ways from a probably more Zen background than our wild Heathen ways and he would often lie a little way from us …until the shortbread started being distributed.  But Gleann loves ritual!

He was just weeks old when he came to live with us, all teeth and growls and unruliness, and a few weeks later we did our Lùnasdal/Là Fhéill Mhacha.  Almost as soon as we got there Gleann started running as fast as his little legs could take him deiseal around the fire pit.  We would get him to stop, but as soon as let go he’d just start running again. Through the whole ritual. With a break for shortbread.

By Samhuinn that year he was a bit calmer, and he began to figure out his role. We go up to the site, he patrols the area for any problems. He then hangs nearby, and keeps a look out around. When we make our treaty offerings to those we do not worship, he goes out near the edge of the land with me (he did at first venture to the neighbors but we convinced him that was too much and he no longer does. When the ritual is done and the other dogs and stuff has been packed up and mostly taken home, he and I usually sit alone to vigil with the fire to be sure it is safely out.  He had always done this lying right against my back, but as we lost more of the pack and they are buried there he now divides his time lying by their graves and at my back.

I have written a lot about the importance of canines on my path; the history of dogs in Celtic, especially Gaelic, cultures and a growing body of work on fénnidecht and the connection between warriors and canines. This is also my life.  This is my pack. Those who have left their bodies are still in my life.

But I am not ready for Gleann to leave his and he shows no sign of being ready either.  With this surgery he will not develop the kidney damage that awaits him without it.  He can remain as bouncy as he is now for a few more years…..and many rituals.  He is supposed to have surgery later this month. If all goes well he should be able to happily resume his ritual duties by Samhuinn (which is about mid November for us).

And so, we fundraise and I’m auctioning off some Sarah Connor/Linda Hamilton items with the help of another fan. And we eBay and we apply to funds and we have maxed out CareCredit and we are trying to figure out how to put a business together with no real funds to do so and I have my fitness business on permanent hold due to what it would cost to get insurance again and to get my CEUs in time (which will mean it will cost much more to start all over again if I don’t manage after a very short period after my certification is up).

And the fénnidecht related workshops planned for this winter are on hold mostly due to my absolute lack of concentration..  The syllabi are only partially finished and I have done none of the more daunting work of figuring out how to present online, given that I live in a geographically isolated area and those interested are so spread out.

However, I intend to have these started by this time next year and therefore am offering vouchers for cost off of future workshops on the fundraiser.

These workshops are, after all, directly related to the sort of connections that my relationship with Gleann and my other dogs represent.  I have one that is very basic for those just starting out and that might be of interest to those not on the Outlaw warrior path to help understand where it can fit in modern Gaelic Reconstructionist Paganism and maybe open their own traditions to those on this one. I have varying degrees of exploration for those on the path, including a deeper look at being wolf. I also have a broader look at animals in the cultures that goes beyond the usual symbolic focus most resort to into where practicality, actually living and relying on these animals, led to the symbolism and how it can lead back to real relationships with living animals. And a fitness one (provided I am able to renew my certification in time).

So if you are interested in these worshops, please consider making a donation and taking a voucher!  And if you are not but just want to see a beautiful dog have a few more happy years, please just donate. And there are some pieces of jewelry and a bag for perks…and more things may be added.

 

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Trying to heal the pack

Crossposted in Dùn Sgàthan blog

So, I’ve not been blogging. I’ve not been writing much, although four days before deadline I decided to whip something together for Air n-Aithesc coming out next week. I’ve not done a lot of the things I hoped to do this summer, including writing and getting my business put back together. Mostly I have hung out with my dogs, either hiding from the heat inside or wandering around or running outside.Sure, I could write while I hide from the burning daystar, but what I’m also not doing is sleeping so concentration isn’t there. It’s been a tough year so far.

Sachairi
Sachairi

Last February we lost our 15 year-old boy Sachairi. We had a good two year stretch, after losing our hounds Cù and Òrlaith close together.  Sach had liver failure, we tried to stem it with meds but we were told there wasn’t anything else we could do. As he lost interest in life, we let him go. Free of his body, he visits often but can also visit his beloved first human who now lives on an island where dogs cannot be brought in.  No physical body, no laws.  But it was a rough loss, even if we had adopted him as a senior knowing he would never be with us very long. He made himself very central to our lives, making sure we all were doing what was supposed to be done. He was the dog that when you were upset he’d come over and pat your shoulder and then go get a toy to shove at you to make you feel better. When I needed that this time, well…..

Just a few weeks later – with all of us, pup, human and, yes, the cat still devastated- we took our remaining dogs, Gleann and Gráinne for their yearly shots and checkups. The vet suggested a “wellness” blood work for Gleann as he was about to turn 12. And one for Gráinne as she had displayed symptoms months earlier that indicated a possible autoimmune issue.  And…

Me with Gleann and Gráinne heading to vet

Gleann has hypercalcemia, high blood calcium of unknown origin, possibly cancer somewhere, but even if not can cause kidney failure.  Gráinne has leukemia. Which seemed scarier at first, but really is less of an issue right now, as it is chronic lymphocytic leukemia and currently asymptomatic.   The regular vet put her right on Prednisone, which the oncologist (much to the regular vet’s chagrin) had us wean her right off….for some reason our regular vet is insisting she was symptomatic when we brought her in although that had been months before…if she has no symptoms she should not be under treatment for levels she has. We’ll be monitoring her lymphocyte levels monthly and watching her for symptoms.

With Gleann, the oncologist (we should have been referred to an intern, although it probably is cancer) also noted he has a neurological disorder (then the regular vet later taking blood and lymph node samples for test the oncologist ordered, as the regular vet was cheaper and closer for them, also insisted he did not have said eye symptom of it,while then admitting that his head muscles are atrophied from the same disorder.  At this, point we have no idea what is causing either of these conditions or how they may relate.

So, those tests were inconclusive, at least according to the regular vet. We need to do ultrasounds and x-rays the regular vet can’t do at the referral vet and to get a consultation from someone there for both sets of tests.  We’re broke. Especially after the vet bills for Sach and the horse ones added up last year (and we need to get a vet here for the horses soon too).  So we have been fundraising at the page hopefully linked at this widget. I am hoping readers might be willing to help as they can (lots of small donations do add up) and will share this around. If my work has had meaning to you, please consider that this is work and I do not get regular pay for it, so now might be a good time to compensate (an important factor in Gaelic culture, after all) a bit.  We need to get answers, we need to treat the cause of theses issues as we can. Chances are, with the possible causes, it is treatable...if we can figure it out in time, but time may be running out fast.

I am hoping that we can get these answers and get Gleann treated. I am hoping to be able to refocus on my writing and get back to taking fitness clients as well as get out to teach some workshops again.  (I will likely give a discount to anyone who donates should they wish to do a future workshop or hire me as a trainer…and I am looking at long-distance options).  Right now, I’m spending as much time as I can with my pups.  Looking forward to our next ritual, as Gleann is our star ritual dog, having participated since he was a couple of months old and absolutely loving it.

 

 

Me with Gráinne, Gleann and Sach just before going out to the hill las Samhuinn