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.

(Re) (Self) Publication Announcements

 Summer has been busy, mostly not with writing.  Mostly with horses.  (although both photos are old…guess not much photography is happening this summer either).  Also with allergies…. ~:p   And some editing has been happening.

Actually my article in the next Air n-Aithesc is an edited piece, some chunks very rewritten, actually.  I’ll be posting when the issue is out very soon!

Meanwhile, as it’s been over a year since “By Blood, Bone and  Blade: A Tribute to the Morrígan (Nicole Bonivusto, ed, Asheville, NC: Bibliotheca Alexandrina, 2014) came out, I decided it was now time for my essay in it, “Musings on the Irish War Goddesses” to “come home.”

I started “Musings” as a short piece for the web.  But, of course, “short” wasn’t possible. So it was going to be a long piece for the web, possibly as a PDF.  Then as I was finishing it up, the call for submissions for BBB&B showed up….and I figured I should submit it. Which I did…..and eventually the anthology came  out.

I have now replaced the actual shorter piece I later made for the page (which I had started to house this essay) with an intro to link the PDF of

Musings on the Irish War Goddesses

There are a few minor changes, mostly endnotes….um, mostly shamelessly noting other articles I have further explored some things I mention in it….and the CC related posts I have made here.
 I have also put up some reworkings of my Sarah Connor Charm School fitness pots on the site as well…they are only linked through the training page at this point and I hope to rework them further soon.  But you can find them here if you are interested.

Warrior path training and more website updates

Many…..MANY…years ago I put together ideas for a training program for a warrior group within a larger organization which shall remain unnamed. I knew a lot of my ideas wouldn’t work out, discussions of them didn’t go well.  I later took the ideas, put things back in I hadn’t bothered with for a group I helped start after leaving the large organization.   Nothing really came of it, no one there really wanted to bother with it either..other than me (this was stuff I was doing or wanted to do, after all).  I later took the ideas and replaced some of the cultural stuff with general liberal arts stuff and used to to develop a theoretical Sarah Connor Charm School program. At least it was theoretical until someone actually decided to do it and is going strong with it.

Bolstered by her enthusiasm, I pulled the outline out again and reworked it back for what I wanted to do for a Gaelic Pagan warrior path and added things that have come up since then and so forth. And I have now  put it up on a warrior training page on the website. It will likely be tweaked on occasion as I realize I left Outlaw warriors on the older page.

things out, should have left things out, want to word things differently, add links and what not.  I did take some of the material from the bottom of the warrior path page to the beginning of the new page and also reworked some of the historical material on the

Meanwhile, I’ve done some poking at Teh Project along with some other writing. The second issue of Air nAithesc is scheduled for next month with my article “Muimme naFiann: Foster-mother of the heroes” among other yummy stuff from others.  And I am continuing to get my own ass in gear training wise and need to get ready to head out for a run, in fact.

An Morrígan and Sarah Connor: Pt. 4: Training

me doing chin ups

So, yeah, I had made some warning that there might be yet another installment on this theme and here it is.  Really, I’m using it mostly because this is somewhat a continuation of things touched upon in part 2 about how the Sarah Connor Charm School became an exercise in implementing some of my warrior path training ideas, with modifications. Since I’m finding my current focus on upping my own training and working on getting my business going again seems to be interfering with work on my second post about Cú Chulainn’s relationship with the Morrígan, I figured maybe writing about training on this path might help me get on track in several ways. I have to stay that thoughts about the Tara High Kings Festival competition may also be prompting this (and there may be a post in that after we see what takes place)

One thing that has been coming up for me is the idea that I “broke training” for much of this summer.  In June and July we were caring for a very sick dog. For much of that there was a heat wave here. Neither of us got much sleep for those weeks, although my mate as an EMT really seldom does, nor did we eat very well. Everything was constant stress. After our Cù died, I had started to get back with it, but became very sick myself…as often happens when getting through tremendous stress and poor self-care and then, well, the body realizes that it doesn’t have to get through anymore.

There is a lot of focus in the amateur fitness world that you work out through everything.  Illness, stress, business, what ever. As a fitness professional, I tell my clients to back off or take breaks when sick, because the body doesn’t need extra stress when trying to heal. To take breaks on a regular basis, actually, as the body needs rest and adapts to constant exercise in a negative way. I’m good about taking scheduled rest breaks, but still self-flagellate about taking breaks when it’s not “in the plan” so I get caught up in that thinking.

But, really, what are training for? For me it’s different from what many think about, even while the industry sometimes gives lip service to the idea of fitness for life, it’s largely about looks, usually about weight. So if your focus is on that, well, taking a break when things are going to shit might mean gaining weight (although this is largely a fallacy, weight isn’t as easily controlled as such ideas make it out to be, which is part of why I am a Health At Every Size™ trainer) or losing muscle (you do, but muscle rebuilds faster than it built in the first place).  That’s not what I’m training for. It’s not what those I train train for. The truth is, I’m training for being as healthy as possible. And, really, I’m raining for crisis. And when there is one I’m in it, training for it just can take away from what I need to put into the crisis at hand.

Okay, it might not be as romantic and exciting as the idea that I’m training for the Zombie Apocalypse, er, Revenant Cataclysm, but in reality training for any crisis is training for any other. It’s about making the body stronger so it better adapts to stress. What ever form that stress may take. So that the body doesn’t break down, at least not completely.  A bad summer cold is nothing compared to other possible stress related health problems, after all. And even a crisis which might not seem overly physically taxing does still mean physical work needs to be done, especially when homesteading. Keeping up with things that needed done here like caring for our other animals often took a toll just due to the exhaustion. I hadn’t been training before, I’d likely not have been able to do any of that at all.

It’s true that certain stressful periods can be aided by exercise, it can alleviate anxiety. I won’t say I didn’t exercise at all while taking care of Cù, there were times when my husband was there to watch after him that I’d escape to the gym or the trail for awhile. But the work out was light, exhaustion catching up with me. And not as frequent.  Therefore not within my usual training perimeters.

Of course, training on this path isn’t just about fitness. But I do believe that it is the base of all the rest of training. This is obvious for martial arts training but for some it may not be for the less obviously physical. However, I find warrior trance to be very physically challenging, it is often movement based and even when not puts a great deal of stress on the body. When it comes to research, I also find I am more focused when I am engaging in regular physical training. All these things fell behind too during that time. The only thing that didn’t, obviously, were the parts about connecting with my animals, especially my dogs, especially this one, and the Otherworld. Because those things were at the center of everything. And all these things are aspects of the path.

I have been playing with the outline for a training program, you know for this War Goddesss cult I’m not starting.  A look at what I feel is needed to serve Her/Them. As I noted before, I had started such an outline for organizations I was in but they never panned out. I was often told they were too much, yet I know someone doing the version I redid, changing out the cultural and mystical bits, for the Sarah Connor Charm School.  There’s also endless modification…so…

I am hoping to be posting a new outline on the website soon. It will take some thought. I see as a three fold path, after all, warrior-seer-poet. Some of us ares strong in one of these than the others and that may change. I am weakest in the poetry, but as I age I might increase my focus and learn more to strengthen it. Never know.  This combination is based on what we see among the warriors of the Fianna as well as the Scáthach’s training of Cú Chulainn and is coming up a lot in my writing.

But right at this moment, I’m focused on the fitness part of the physical training an starting to get back to the martial part, as well as working on Sight, research and writing. Well, this is somewhat a restart of the writing. LOL

As I am so focused, I thought I’d leave you with links for posts I did for the Sarah Connor Charm School Blog. As, really, this is one element of the training programs which wouldn’t change. We have no real concrete information on fitness training, other than there was lots of running, of the early Irish warriors, so we go with what we know works. Even if I had details, I’d modify it for reasons of science and, especially, safety.

EDIT: I have revised this specifically for the Shadow of the Hooded Crow Fitness Files

SCCS Fitness Training Intro: This Fitness Program will make you look just like Sarah Connor a Stronger You!
SCCS Fitness Training Part 1: The Activity Triad
SCCS Fitness Training Part 2: Flexibility
SCCS Fitness Training Part 3: Cardiovascular/Endurance/Aerobics
SCCS Fitness Training Part 4: Strength Training

Copyright © 2013 Saigh Kym Lambert

An Morrígan and Sarah Connor: Pt. 2 Warrior Cults and Charm Schools

As I noted in An Morrígan and Sarah Connor: Pt. 1 Deities and Icons I had been planning before the blogosphere explosion to write a bit about how the Sarah Connor Charm School and  Hooded Crow relate for me. About why I am doing both, where they meet and where they don’t. To do so was actually probably sparked when I was told that someone had proclaimed the Charm School as a Gaelic Heathen warrior group. As it was at a time I was trying to get more attention out about my Hooded Crow project, I think it was especially annoying. Of course, it would come as a big surprise to all those Christian women I work with in the Charm School, and probably Pagans of other cultural involvements.

So having reiterated that the SCCS is not a Pagan group, I shall now admit that it actually started out as a Pagan joke. And now may be responsible for this Pagan project. In fact, I’m starting to reconsider what I said that They never used Sarah Connor’s image, because I think They did quite a bit to kick me in the ass….even if none have ever copied her appearance. Because right when I needed it, there it was.

Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor in Termintor 2
It was probably this one

Never having seen The Terminator, I didn’t pay much attention when a friend, a mentor on the warrior path, and his roommate were talking about the second movie about to come out. I seem to remember them focused on Arnie and machines. *yawn* Later that day, I was a bit surprised when I visited other friends (at the time) who were not, AFAIK, Arnie fans anymore than I was, to find that they were all excited about Terminator 2 as well. Then they showed me her photo in a magazine (remember those things? ah, yes, tell me the machines aren’t taking over, after all). Linda Hamilton, dressed in black and with all that muscle.

You know how you don’t know you were looking for something until you find it? Yeah, one of those moments. Or rather it built, I sought out the first movie, got to the new one the first chance I got. The first moment when Sarah is on the screen doing chin ups was probably when it really hit. This was something I was looking for, I just hadn’t known it.

There are people who probably do great without story and imagery to motivate and drive them. I’m not one of those people. I am very driven by story and image, I need to put things in my head to work towards.  While I had found enough to get me into martial arts and physical training to be on this path I found myself on, much was rather anachronistic and much was unformed in many ways. Especially as a woman on the path, with a male mentor who had a world of images and stories through the ages he could go on but which tended to make those like me feel marginalized.

Yes, there were other strong women fictional roles before then, including Ripley of the Alien franchise. But Sarah was different, because there was a multitude of layers about here which were meaningful for me. Okay, maybe I wasn’t that paranoid about machines and I never had a kid, the latter being a strong connect for some of my friends, but pretty much everything else. Despite a fantastical story line, she was very real, very everyday. Just one of us.

The key thing was her character arch, which might be one of the best ever created in movies. Yeah, I might be bias. She was just like most of us have been at some point, directionless, working a dead end job we hated and felt inept at, not exactly winning at love. She wasn’t a warrior, she didn’t start out with knowledge of how to fight, she wasn’t granted super powers. In the first movie she is totally a Final Girl, with two notable exceptions. One is that she survived having sex, but then she does have to have this kid as it’s sort of the point. But the main one is that when the monster is finally dead, rather than sighing with relief and trying to return to a “normal life” despite the trauma, she heads south of the border pregnant, with a gun and a dog and looking for training. When she appears again she’s crazy, trained, physically strong. To the point that she, herself, may be more machine, but you can see her arch continue as her relationship with her son begins to heal in T2.

The combination of physical strength, fight training and preparedness were things I realized where intricate to making a civilian warrior. A bit of craziness might not hurt either. Because this was where I felt directionless at the time this movie came out. Obviously, I wasn’t going to be transported back to the Iron Age. I also had health issues which made being a professional warrior of any type, law enforcement, military or firefighter (which  had at one time wished to do), impossible. Um, okay, I also have an issue with authority which might have gotten in the way. It helped to see the survivalist presented. And a woman at that.

Of course, there was the muscle. I was struggling with fitness, in part due to health issues (some of which got worse in the year or so before the movie came out) as well as being a scrawny hard-gainer. I was studying a martial art, which included some fitness (although probably shouldn’t…I have several issues with that now), was lifting, running. I was having problems with figuring out what to do and how to do it. I had long ditched the standard fitness advice to women, for it was (and is) about diminishing, getting smaller and weaker, not about strength. Therefore I was reading bodybuilding magazines and books, but that often left me frustrated, because of being a hard-gainer (but I did learn the term “hard-gainer”).  Sarah offered  more realistic physique than the bodybuilders did. Oh, still very different than I could and Linda Hamilton was not a hard-gainer, having obtained that look in a very short time. But still more real. At some point along the line I did decide to figure it out by become a personal trainer…which is it’s own twisted tale.

This was the practical side, which I don’t feel I was at all grounded in before. And which is vital to the warrior path. Which also needs to be grounded in the present day, even if the reasons we do it are in the future (and, no, probably not Skynet or Revenants, so it’s best to be ready for anything).

So I was pretty obsessed, using this story and imagery to motivate me as I continued with my growing physical training and with continuing research on Gaelic culture and religion. And now, back to how the Charm School started as a Pagan joke.

The same people who first showed me Linda/Sarah’s photo were working on a parody Pagan newsletter not long after the movie came out (or maybe even had started before, time slides). It was going to satirize various excesses of the Pagan community. I was at first trying to come up with something mocking some other folks I knew, but, well, sometimes it’s more fun to joke about yourself. And so, “Sarah Connor Charm School” and an “ad campaign” for this “warrior training program” bloomed. The parody ‘zine never happened, but the Sarah Connor Charm School remained a running joke.  Which spread among many of my other friends from various circles.

As I got online, I kept referencing the joke with real life friends who already were in on it and it grew to those I “met” online. Indeed, many women had been inspired by the character in similar ways.  We made up a batch of T-shirts, we discussed fitness, martial arts and self-defense, a bit of prepping..I started a LiveJournal page for it.

Meanwhile, I kept worshiping the War Goddesses, yet felt forbidden to speak Their names or talk or write much about Them, which often became uncomfortable (especially as others were not so forbidden and, well, some of the information spread was…well….). I worked within or Outside a variety of groups, started a warrior group within an organization which has fortunately written me out their history from what I understand and so will remain nameless here, tried to start up some other things which got too distracting and off my path…..  I returned to the wilderness, with the internet my primary way of keeping involved in things Celtic Reconstructionist. I kept trying to build what that was, continuing my own studies and training.

In the mid-aughts, there was a big strive to get CR well defined and a group of people I was friendly with got together on that. Including the two people who first showed me “Sarah’s” photo. It was over all a stressful time in my life, my Mum died during it being at the center of my own chaos and hell. Within this group of people, there was a lot of ego clashing and underhanded ploys for control which I unfortunately got too caught up in. It was just a real clusterfuck. Then something happened among these people that was sort of “off-topic” but a major ethical and spiritual deal breaker for me, regarding oaths I had taken….and then was abused and mocked for taking a stand on. I was already sick of the ego plays, power grabs and fighting. I said “fuck it” and walked away.

Oh, some CR-types stuck with me as friends and were as disgusted as I was, of course, but I wasn’t all that active in “the movement” any longer. I even stopped at all using the term CR, although I, of course, continued to use that methodology. I kept doing my own thing, “labeled” for the syncretic tendencies of being Scottish focused and married to a Heathen, kept working with Badb, Macha and the Morrígan……but for online connections and networking I threw myself more into The Sarah Connor Charm School. It was, after all, a hell of a lot more fun than what I’d been dealing with. At a time when my life was continuing to be less fun. My Dad and several dogs and horses all died during this time period, too (all for natural causes related to age).

I started a website which I eventually got a domain for, started a Facebook page, met more and more people, especially women, who were inspired by her. Many who were not Pagan, who I probably wouldn’t have worked with on such things if I had done something Pagan focused…but also Pagans who are dedicated to other Gods or are not dedicated to particular Gods or are more ….well, there’s a lot of variety.  And we talked more about fitness and training and prepping…and we developed the Honorary Degree thing where we celebrate real strong women and girls (and now boys with the John Connor Award and heroic
A kiss form Linda Hamilton after I present her with "award" for the inspiration she givesanimals with Max’s First Line of Defense Heroes). I even took my ideas developed for a Pagan warrior group and removed the religious and cultural material, replacing it with basic charm school type liberal arts and with Sarah related languages (as she had trained in Central and/or South America) for the curriculum. The physical, prepping and even arts stuff was already in there. (and for all those mighty, mostly male, Pagan “warriors” who complained my ideas were too tough…we now have someone systematically using it, thank you very much!).

And, of course, I got to go meet Linda Hamilton and give a token of all of our appreciation.

I also cracked down on some training I hadn’t gotten to yet, having a job where I could afford it and perhaps more time and energy due to less drama. You can, of course, read about some of that here, here and here. And wrote stuff *wavesingeneraldirectionatblog*  I had already included research in pop culture female action heroes, physical feminism and related topics in my studies long ago, but I got a deep focus on that during this time.

And then it happened. Writing I had put on a back burner, or really the freezer, and didn’t know what to do with I took out, heated up and started working on. Making several changes, including writing about the War Goddesses. Suddenly, it was vital that I write and talk about Them. A lot. I then put that on the back burner, but only that far, because I felt the need to work on an extensive but shorter piece. Which, when finished I suddenly found a place to submit it to. Then more possible places and more things are out in editors’ hands. And all to one degree or another related to the War Goddesses. And then I realized I needed to make the “online shrine” and change the name of this blog to match.  And, of course, a FaceBook page for it and two related groups Clann na Morrígna and Ban-gaiscedach na Morrígna (I fear LJ is becoming a thing of the past, but I have an older group there just called Hooded Crow which you need to message me to join and really isn’t used as much). And two related At some point I’ll probably put a page outlining the training program up, but if someone is already doing the cultural-religious stuff, then that’s already posted.

And in doing so, I have become more involved in doing things within the Pagan/Polytheist communities, but choosing where I hang out and who I do them with. Sometimes, now that I’ve been away from certain prejudices, with some association with folks I wouldn’t once have. Finding common ground where They want me to.

I think that stepping way from the drama and focusing on the Sarah Connor Charm School stuff helped clear away a lot of bullshit. It also led me to meet and learn from some really wonderful women who I might not have had the time and energy to get to know. It’s helped me move along my own path more than the work I had been doing trying to build a general CR focused “movement” which did often leave me with little energy for the warrior stuff.

So, this is exactly how these two things tie together for me. Of course, they are, I’m not big on separating parts of my life all that much.  I figure Hooded Crow will always be smaller than the Charm School, given that the focus on CR methodology and one group of Goddesses combines for a less interest. Even though it’s less gender specific (SCCS has a lot of male supporters, but the “school” itself is for women…it should be realized, as I have said before, men have a lot more stories than we do already).  Right now it’s mostly just my thing, anyway, while the Charm School has become a lot of women’s thing.

And if you missed it please see  An Morrígan and Sarah Connor: Pt. 1 Deities and Icons part 3 is on it’s way (EDIT is now up Our Gods and Heroes in Pop Culture), I’ll be less focused on Sarah Connor (although Linda Hamilton will get a mention) and instead discuss Gaelic Gods and Heroes in pop culture, especially the Morrígan (although in general that should be “sort of”).  (EDIT: also now have An Morrígan and SC: Pt. 4: Training)

copyright © Saigh Kym Lambert

Fat and the Pagan Community

The first real blog post I wrote here was The Abuse of Thin=Fat. Some readers may know I am again a Personal Fitness Trainer and I work from a Health At Every Size paradigm. My concern in fitness is about helping people find their strength, not reduce their size. This is in part because I don’t like to lie to people and the idea of permanent weight loss is a total lie for 95% of all who lose weight. And this is when they are maintaining the actions that worked for them to lose weight, although everyone from fitness instructors to doctors love to make accusations of “cheating” or “being unable to comprehend how much they are eating.” There is also, in fact, no actual evidence that being “obese” is itself a health hazard (there are just too many studies listed here for me to pick one). But another reason, coupled with these, is that I simply believe that being strong and powerful is more important than being tiny, and you really can not get smaller and not lose strength (without abusing dangerous drugs and totally screwing your health for life, so let’s leave it at you can’t do it).

This morning it came to my attention that much loved Pagan media personality (who I admit that I never heard of but there is a lot going on in Paganism I don’t pay attention to and the whole podcast thing somehow I just don’t get) David Grega died apparently from cardiac arrest at the young age of 27. Grega was also fat,* this prompted a blogger to write a post A Pagan Taboo, Obesity which gives a great deal of common misinformation regarding the correlation of fat and health. For every single one of his unsubstantiated claims at the end there are links disproving them at Truth Behind Fat: References.

This got a lot of other Pagans going, some of which is brought up in A Tragedy Creates Potential for a National Pagan Discussion on Health. This involves a lot more misinformation, a lot of “we should discuss other health matters but, of course, obesity is a major health issue” type of stuff. Well, no, not in the way they mean.

As is brought up at the beginning of Jane Raeburn’s post Pagans Discover Fat Hate, she points out that we really do not know what caused Grega’s heart failure. As far as I can tell we don’t know. It is just assumed that it was because he was fat. However, the post on Patheos points out that Grega had started a group known as Pagans promoting Healthy Active Tendencies (PHAT) and there it appears that he had actually lost 100 lbs. It would be just as easy for me, as a HAES advocate, to say that his death was caused by that weight loss, by his dieting, by over exercising, by emotional distress from self-shaming. But I’m not actually saying that, because I don’t know what caused his death and it would be just as wrong to assume that the weight loss had anything to do with it as it is for those claiming it was because he was fat. Either way, it’s 1) victim blaming and 2) based on absolute ignorance of the facts.

Keep in mind that several years ago a guy only about 10 years older than Grega, which is still young for heart disease, who was a very physically active outdoorsman also died of cardiac arrest. This probably surprised everyone, due to the fact he wasn’t fat. It turned out he had an undiagnosed heart defect. People of all sizes and all over the apparent health spectrum do, in fact, just drop dead from their heart stopping. A lot of things can stop the heart. It’s consider shocking news when a marathon runner does so, although some will blame overexercising for that (the same overexercising the same might demand fat people do, btw), most are just shocked.

This is, like all victim blaming, in part because people want a magic formula to keep it from happening to them. “Well, she was just asking to be raped, look at that dress!” really means “I’ll be safe, because I don’t dress like that.” “He died because he was fat” means “I won’t die because I’m thin” or “I won’t die because I”m going to lose the weight, I am.”  It’s not really an excuse for doing it, it’s not the whole reason everyone does it, but it is a big part of why people think this way.

But it doesn’t work. Remember one very important thing. We all die. And thin people get all the diseases that are considered “obesity related.” I know this, I’m thin and I was pre-diabetic…and getting diagnosed was almost impossible. Lifestyle can affect health, but lifestyle does not always affect size. There are skinny people who eat crap and don’t exercise, there are fat people who eat healthy food and exercise regularly. And even “lifestyle” related illnesses are not always linked to unhealthy lifestyles. Again, I ate what standard diet guidelines would claim was a healthy diet, but for my own needs it was too high in carbs and too low so it was spiking and dropping my blood sugar, I was not as active at the time this came up because of another illness which prevented me from exercising at the level I had been use to.

The truth is, we just never know. There are ways most of us can be healthy. However, this has to be separate from thoughts of weight.

Let me say that I do not believe anyone owes anyone to be healthy. If you do not want to eat a certain way or exercise or what ever, that’s your right. You do not owe me, the Pagan community or society at large any commitment to change your health or fitness levels. And, as Jane said, the path to health is a personal choice. If you feel that involves dieting, then I’m probably not going to change your mind anyway, but it’s also just your choice. Now, however, I’m going to talk as a HAES personal trainer. If you listen to me, it’s your choice, but I am going to be opinionated here.

Fitness is not about size, it’s about what you can do. We all differ in both size and capability, but except in extreme cases, most people can build their fitness levels up. They can become stronger, more flexible and gain more endurance than they had before exercising. They can improve their chances of getting certain diseases, through exercise and diet, although there are many illnesses that are not remotely affected. But all this comes regardless of weight loss.

In fact, striving to lose weight can be greatly detrimental to health for several reasons. Dieting can have adverse affects on health. Then there is simply the fact that self-hatred is just not healthy. And the weight-loss paradigm does not and cannot build self-esteem.

I believe in promoting health for those who want it. I want to see the Pagan community do more to promote real health. I do not want to see fat shaming and hatred and common lies to be a part of it. We should be healthy because, IMNSHO, it’s funner to have our bodies at their best. Fitness should be fun , not punishment and not torture. And what is fun for one Pagan isn’t going to be fun for another. The way I  train on the warrior path is likely going to seem horrible to someone who might be a priest/ess or a filidh. If health is the path we choose it should be a celebration without shame, without blame.

Here are some links for those interested in the HAES approach:
Health At Every Size Community
Dances with Fat so many great posts, you might want to start with 11 Reasons to Stop Focusing on Weight
The HAES Files
Big Liberty home of Truth Behind Fat: References

*note as a HAES trainer and Size Diversity advocate I use the preferred reclaiemd term “fat” rather than the misguided medical term “obese” or the common term “overweight” which falsely indicates that there is a particular weight one should be and to “over” that means something.

 copyright © Saigh Kym Lambert

A wee update on my dedication prayer

In the year or so since I first published this about what you might call my offerings of sweat, the prayer has altered for me. I realized I had left out two of the banfennidi, Síona and Cámha, connected to the Fionn tales. I also became uncomfortable including Bec and Lithben who are known only for their conversion, both into Christianity and away from being warriors and causing the conversion of their fathers’ and their fathers’ kingdoms, to Christianity. (The Lives of Saints from the Book of Lismore). I realize I have no problem with the fact that several are known primarily for dying, it is where many of our stories come from after all, at least the place names. I just realized I did feel uncomfortable including figures who really did exist in order to sell conversion. We’ll see if this changes again for me but this is what I use now.

I serve the War Goddesses
Badb and Macha and An Morrigan, whose name is Anann
Fea and Nemain, Bé Néit

I follow in the footsteps of the banfénnidi
Macha Mongruadh
Ness ingen Echach Sálbuidi
Medb ingen Echach Feidlig
Creidne
Scáthaig Buanand ingen Ardgeimme
Aifi ingen Ardgeimme
Étsine
Bréfne
 Símha ingen Chorrluirgnig
Bodbmall
Líath Lúachra
Luas Lurgann
Siona
Cámha
Truth in our Hearts, Strength in our Arms, Fulfillment in our Tongues

Copyright © 2012 Saigh Kym Lambert

Weighing things out

It’s been a long time since I blogged here, and I hate starting a post with what is essentially an apology for not blogging. So consider it just an acknowledgement. It’s not that I’ve not been bloggin. I’ve got a series of fitness posts going up at The Sarah Connor Charm School Blog, some horse related political stuff at Our Stories are Written in the Language of Equus and a painful lament for our goat Randvér as well as the Old Clucker and some local political stuff at the homesteading blog Dùn Sgàthan Notes.

Things have been busy and a bit heavy, not just the loss of animals at the Dùn, but I’ve also recently got my AFAA Personal Fitness Trainer certification reinstated. This is a good step which does not come without some tribulations. There is a reason I left the fitness business several years ago and a reason why when I first went to get reinstated I lost interest.

I’ve always had a certain issue with the industry. My focus in fitness was about strength and health. A scrawny weak kid, I always wanted to be bigger and stronger. I sort of was aware that there was a stronger focus, for women, in the industry on thinness than I had, but it wasn’t until I got the lovely mixed messages within the industry that how horrible it is really hit home. After all, I got training when I was first certified to recognize eating disorders with the message we were to try to counter them. But the reality when you start working in the industry is that the message is Weight Loss, Weight Loss, Weight Loss.

This not only doesn’t interest me, it offends me. This is not what fitness is, it’s an illusion of health and fitness put in place of real health and fitness. When you find that many training programs for women are designed to diminish the body, make it smaller. Not only in weight loss, but, especially with leg work, by over training muscle. All those multitudes of reps, that does not strengthen. It might build endurance, up until you start getting injuries, but only for those pointless moves not for, you know, running or walking. The message that “women can’t get bulky, but you better do lots and lots of reps to make sure you don’t” just is, well, aggravating.

The “weight loss” message might be a great selling point for some. I am finding difficult come up with language for my fitness website that informs that I don’t want to focus on weight loss with clients that doesn’t also drive people to those who promise weight loss. I know some will seek those promises out. I also know that some people feel abused by the constant focus on weight loss, as I wrote about in my first real post here. I have found a great community, Health At Every Size which is focused on this concept. In a better economy and a heavier populated area, I think such a focus can work out well…as it is, no matter what I promise, I’m probably not going to make a great living up here.

But my real purpose for getting certified again was for writing. There is a chapter in Teh Project about fitness training and I figured it would be good to have that certification again. Oh, and then as I mentioned, this now makes me “fitness director” or some shit at The Sarah Connor Charm School. ~;p However, there are more changes. So, while I might not have a lucrative business here, I might be in a position to soon take a few clients. Hence having started a website.

Yes, there are changes coming. Perhaps. We’ll see. I’m waiting.

Meanwhile, I write off- and on-line. If not so much here at this blog lately. As I had been working to expand this blog, as much of it is about sort of practicing or thinking “out loud” on issues around Teh Project, I had been working on a post about some of my mystical practices. No, really, it all relates for me even if it seems a divergence to others; and that’s sort of my point. I realized that with A Place Where Things Come Together it might seem that my spiritual practice is all about praying while working out or something, but while it all ties together, there is this whole mystical practice that includes, well, shapeshifting. Or at least consciousness shifting which manifests in a very physical way, although not in the true “turning into a wolf or something” sort of way. “Ríastrad” (warp spasm) or fáelad” (wolfing); which for me are about focus and transformation, of a sort. Yeah, even my ecstatic stuff is physical. What can I say. (There are other transformative practices in a Gaelic context, I recommend A Wolf-Man, Not A Wolf In Man’s Clothing who does good research and is able to discuss various lycanthrophy practices in a Celtic and related cultures, for those wishing to explore these sorts of things more.)

While the attempt to write something for this blog has been tossed at this point, the exercise worked as far as breaking the block I had for Teh Project and That Article. Hopefully, rather soon, the latter will be shown to the first readers and then published online. It still won’t have a lot of details, that will take longer. But it’ll be a start in me sharing something that is very difficult for me to share.

It’s not that I don’t believe these things should be SOOPER SEKRET, really, I think they should be shared. In fact, in light of the issue that many think that warp spasm is just, well, losing ones temper, freaking out, going out of control while on the other hand being seen as a substitution for physical training, I think it’s important to discuss this more. Because the practice is anything but these things. My problem is that it’s something that I just have trouble putting into words, especially written words. But words are happening. They’re just going to take a lot of work getting into an order that is sharable.

Now, of course, while I still plug at that, the fitness chapter is also a focal point. Because, you know, I got this shiny new certification. And if things work out, I might be getting a whole other one because, well, there are reason I might wish to affiliate with another organization as well as if not instead of. But that will require workshops which would require travel and until I’m out of the night watch gig, that’s not really possible.

I admit that I hate night watch now with a passion. I liked it a lot at first. I liked how working a job like this at a camp for troubled boys correlated in a way to the whole Fianna thing. Trying to do all else I need to do on a nocturnal schedule, however, is not so good. Time to move to another stage.

And then I’ll have more training stuff to write about here. More time to hit the range (or build one here…that isn’t happening like I had hoped, but I guess I’ll have to do that myself). Perhaps a chance to return to MA training which is out of the question on this schedule as the nearest place is too far away. That is, of course, if there is money to do so. It’s all being weighed out. And it may weigh out on the side of me staying as night watch, that remains to be seen.

So, mostly this is me writing on why I’m not writing here. Again. But maybe I will be more.

Copyright © 2011 Kym Lambert

A place where things come together

My gym, with photo shopped wolf picture someone never did make me for itAs I wasn’t writing much about Gaelic spirituality at the time I started this blog, having started at a time of conflict, flux and burn out in the community and taking things more private for awhile, I have realized it might seem a sudden switch to some of my readers. While the intent of this was always to be about various aspects of the warrior path in my life and how they came together, the focus had been on fitness, self-defense and popular culture. That itself might seem quite a mix to some. But it really is in my interest in the warrior ways of ancient Ireland and Scotland that all those things come together, the physical training and the importance of story.

I’m not good at compartmentalizing. Somethings need to be, however, and therefore when I wanted a space to blog about homesteading and to share with my husband, I made another blog Dùn Sgàthan Notes, I also joined a blog for horse advocacy although between three of us we seem a bit too overwhelmed by it all to post much. Then, in order to share space for writing about things related to The Sarah Connor Charm School, I created a blog for the group. This last is the most likely to have cross-posting. (What am I saying? The only thing I’ve posted there so far has been reposts of things from here. I hope this doesn’t annoy those who might read both.)

But this blog is for all things related to women on the warrior path, however diverse that may be for me. It’s a place where things come together for me in my practice. Now I also have a real space location that brings things together, as well.

For years now I’ve had limited space for exercise equipment. Usually a small room, which usually means that things overflowed into the rest of the house.It lead to some bad habits, like making a stop by the computer in between sets, removing my focus.

When I was planning to build my own house, it was actually pretty much centered around the idea of having a gym. A gym/temple, really. But I never built my house. A decade ago we moved into the “in-law apartment” of my parents’ home. Since their deaths, we now own the house…and we still live in the apartment. I wasn’t ready to use the rest, the apartment is smaller and easier to care for and heat and it just doesn’t “flow” into the rest easily. But we decided to find ways to expand into the rest. And, it of course, started with a gym.

Moving the living room Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor doing chin-ups in Terminator 2furniture out of the way (come spring most of it will be moved completely out), we put down padded flooring, moved in the weights, benches, heavy bag. We added a pull-up and dip tower, as I have given up, for now, on finding the perfect bed frame to turn on it’s side. When things are moved out more we’ll have more open space, especially to work the bag, and probably get more equipment over time.

And in the far corner is a shrine. I may be the only Polytheist, especially the only HARD Polytheist, out there who has a shrine in her gym with a statue of An Morrígan and a figure of Sarah Connor. I hope these are joined by a figure or picture of Scáthach or other literary Irish warrior woman, or many, but I’m not finding the right one(s). I’m looking for well done and muscular, tattooed would be nice but muscle is more important. I have some great ideas in my head but a lifetime frustration of never being able to get such images out onto paper (my sister got that talent). I do have a list, a sort of prayer, instead:

I serve the War Goddesses
Badb and Macha and An Morrigan, whose name is Anand
Fea and Nemain, Bé Néit
I follow in the footsteps of the banfénnidi
Macha Mongruadh
Ness ingen Echach Sálbuidi
Medb ingen Echach Feidlig
Creidne
Scáthaig Buanand ingen Ardgeimme
Aifi ingen Ardgeimme
Bodbmall
Líath Lúachra
Luas Lurgann
Étsine
Bréfne
Símha ingen Chorrluirgnig
Bec ingen Conchoraig
Lithben ingen Aitreabhthaigh
Truth in our Hearts, Strength in our Arms, Fulfillment in our Tongues

(ETA April 2012: I have changed this over this time period, please read this post on why and how it reads now)

There are photos all around of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor. Some, now collected in a frame, are worn, faded, damaged, having gone from apartment to apartment with me for years, the first for 20 years this year, taped to the walls of various “workout rooms.” Likewise, there are similar pictures of Kathy Long. Later these were joined by Demi Moore doing one-armed push-ups as Lt. Jordan O’Neal in G.I. Jane (this also includes the statement “Failure Is Not An Option” at top and D.H. Lawrence’s poem “Self-Pity” at the bottom) and Sigourney Weaver as Ripley 8. But now I have more pristine photos of Linda, with autographs, including one of us together. I’ll be printing more from ComicCon to go up, too.

But while An Morrígan and Sarah Connor grace my shrine, it is not to say that the two images are the same. One is a representation of my Goddess, the other is a representation of a role model. As a hard Polytheist I do not believe that the Goddesses and Gods are archetypes. They are real and They are many. Even a Goddess I worship of the same name as a Goddess you worship might not even be the same Goddess. We are limited, They are not so much, we do not always know who They are, only Who They tell us and They may tell us to meet our always limited understanding.

And while I might be limited, I’m not completely simple either. I have no problem with both worshiping Goddesses I believe are very real and alive and being inspired by stories both ancient and modern. For me Sarah Connor and other modern role models are as potent as the ancient ones of Ness and Scáthach and other literary figures who I also do not believe are degraded* Goddesses but humans in the tales.

So this space, this very sacred space to me, is filled with images that represent the warrior path for me. It allows me to stay far more focused and mindful, more reverent than I have been for some time when working out with weights. I meditate, usually sitting on the balance ball, before the shrine between sets. I focus on what I am doing, what I am offering. Because working out is worship for me, a practice that deteriorated by bad habits, which now I am breaking.

There are no offering plates on this shrine as there are on my others. The offering is my blood, sweat and tears. If something else is demanded there, it will be given, but the focus here is on the work of the body. And where that meets the spirit.

 

*Yes, I know even some Celtic scholars these days use “euhermerized” but this word actually means the opposite; it actually means that the historical becomes mythological, that humans become Deities, not the other way around.

———
Text and top photo copyright ©2011 Kym Lambert, wolf picture is currently photoshopped but a similar one will go there Drawing copyright © 2002 Aaron Miller
Photo of Linda Hamilton from Terminator 2 copyright © 1991 Carolco, currently owned by Pacificor LLC

Still living, still training and meeting an idol

So I’ve never managed to get into the swing of regular blogging since taking up Teh Project again. I’m still training, but I’ve not done a lot that is worth writing about in that respect. We’re hoping to get back to actual shooting classes come fall and winter, so look for reviews of those in the coming months. But writing offline has taken up a lot of my writing energy and while I do have something I plan to put on the web, it’s gotten a bit cumbersome for a blog post so I’ll be doing an actual old-fashion webpage for it…then blogging a bit about it here. That will be soon.

In the meantime, I’m preparing to meet a couple of my idols, my current biggest one, Linda Hamilton, and my teen years biggest one who I still adore, Lindsay Wagner. Yeah, Jaime Sommmers of the Bionic Woman may seem a bit pacifistic compared to my current stance, but she was an inspiration for strength and as I knew no one would make me bionic even if the technology was developed like that, the idea that being strong was something that could mean you didn’t have to fight actually inspired me to first pick up weights and start running. Um, okay, those “weights” seem pretty silly now, but it was a start.

Both are going to be at Chicago ComicCon this coming week and so am I. I’m beyond words excited to meet them and I will probably share some of that on this blog. However, the most immediate updates will be in the Sarah Connor Charm School Facebook page and LiveJournal Community.

What will likely get reviewed here, especially as I wish to put more of my interest in Celtic cultures and ancient women warriors into this blog as well as the contemporary and pop culture material that makes up much of it, will be Neil Marshall’s new movie Centurion that he’ll be screening and doing a public interview and question and answer session on (sadly the screening comes after, you get tickets at the Q&A as there might be more questions after the screening). Marshall is the man who gave us Rhona Mitra kicking ass in Doomsday so that this film includes “Pictish” women warriors may not end up badly. But I find anything that does go into Things Celtic tends to go real bad. And “Pictish” even more so…such as King Arthur featuring the “Woads.”

I am a bit picky about this stuff, as can be noted by two articles I have had up (and which could use some updating I’m sure) for awhile now. One on The Picts and the other on The Problem of the Woad itself. Oh, you might have also caught on about this interest when you saw the tattoos, huh?

When it comes to the on going debate about women warriors among the Picts or other Celtic (and as the article notes, I’m persuaded to refer to them as a Celtic speaking people) I’ve got the Outsider view; I’m neither on the side of those who say they were a common fixture of the cultures nor the side of those who say they were purely fiction. What we can prove is another matter. And so far I’ve found this exploration filling an introduction (mostly on the non-Celtic evidence) and two chapters.

So I expect this will be an all around interesting four days for me and that it will give me a lot of food for thought. And, of course, a way to combine the subjects here…which, of course, they always sort of do come together for me. As, should I ever finish this book I refer to as Teh Project and get it published, you’ll see someday. Or you’ll just have to see what future posts here offer.

Sadly, no one else from the Sarah Connor Charm School is going. I am hoping to meet more women so inspired though. I hope I’m not the only one who is preparing for this con by upping her weight training.