juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
A few nights ago, I had two consecutive dreams (in between waking up and forcing myself back to sleep) involving goats. In the first, I was myself a goat but incredibly uncomfortable in that skin, constantly sitting and standing in postures that didn't suit my form. In the second, I was in a barnyard and a goat spoke to me, aiding me on a quest for something that was hidden below the floorboards. Both dreams were wrapped within the nonsense of dreamland: in the first, I was wearing a goat avatar in Second Life; in the second there was some long, rather comical story of a barnyard mystery.

I don't put much faith into the import and meaning of dreams precisely because they are so often rich with nonsense, and because the topics that I do care about (religious or otherwise) rarely appear within them. Nonetheless, I'm curious about this goat thing. I've been reading up a bit on the symbolism of the goat, and tying it back to therianthropy, totem animals, and Celtic Reconstruction; meanwhile I've been reading the personal journals of a few totemists and animists and shamans which have been thought-provoking and inspiring. It's all begins rather unconnected, but things have been coming together in an interesting way. I'm thinking of therianthopy into my religious beliefs, but I have to do more reading on human-animal shapeshifters in Celtic myth. I'm also thinking about animal "totems" and CR—perhaps better said, about animal spiritual guides within Celtic spiritual practice. This goat thing intrigues me, and I don't want it to pass unexplored. Furthermore, if I can build a framework for working with spiritual guides, I can also apply it to the bear.

I don't hold with archetypes. In my recent active exploration of my therianthropy I've actually found the cat archetype largely useless. As a cat, some of my behaviors coincide with cat stereotypes, but others are the result of cat aspects which defy popular knowledge, and some are simply the result of my personality, as a cat and otherwise. Celtic Reconstruction also discards archetypes, and I've moved consistently in that same direction. I was never able to bond with the the Wiccan/eclectic pagan concept of a universal God and Goddess, nor did I understand the inclination to see deities as archetypes. By contrast, Celtic deities are not archetypes, they are identities. They may be linked to some natural forces, social elements, or animals/plants, there is no "Sun God" or "Fertility Goddess" in any Celtic pantheon, at least not as recognized by CR. (I also believe that I need to attach myself to a specific Celtic deity to help realize my religious practices, but that's another thought and post.)

Archetypes can convey some overarching trends, but they obscure individual detail and some underlying truths. Therefore, I'm trying to approach the goat without its the preexisting archetype. I recognize that stereotypes may have a seed of truth, so I've skimmed summaries of the goat as totem; I'm more interested now in reading about goats in Scotland, where they were originally brought over as livestock but have since been abandoned and gone feral. I figure that by learning how the goat lives and why will give me a basis to determine for myself what the goat "means."

I've also been doing some brief mediation simply to approach and interact with goats. Brief because I'm still a poor hand at slipping into trance, though I'm getting a bit better at it with the practice of my therianthropic work.* I've been beginning in my field, moving further out and towards a group of grazing goats. I had some early frustration—I think because I was trying to force the goats closer, into domestic animals in the field; today I had quite a bit more luck: a journey with a goat. )

In that experience, the goat for me was: Leaving my comfort zone. Journeying further afield. Walking difficult terrain. Lacking immediate, personal support. Emotional distance, but also the opportunity to follow and learn. Journeying to new territories, moving upward, overlooking hitherto unknown potential. The invitation to go, do, achieve new places and things. Feral independence, contrasted against my domestic identity. It fits within what I would expect from what I know so far of the goat within a Scottish context, and some aspects from, say, [livejournal.com profile] moonvoice's essay on goat. It was a wonderful experience, although intimidating—I'm keep encountering urgings to explore new territory, explore my potential, and take action, and frankly that makes me want to turn tail and run. However, since that seems to be such a strong current theme—well, I suppose it makes sense that the goat would enter my life.

The goat showed me territory that I had not seen before; territory that I can explore, but I must take the steps to do so. I could follow the goat up the hill, but I don't have a guide back down and into those fields.

I will try and return to the goat, and I'm curious about more mundane features of that goat's identity. Is the goat a specific animal? I'm curious also to gender; I know nothing about gender differences within goats, and have been thinking a lot on the (lack of) gender differences in domestic cats and what my self-as-cat's precise identity, sex, and appearance may be. But that is thought for later and certainly content for a different post; this one is long enough. I hope it's vaguely interesting to someone and I'm happy to talk about it all, but I took the time to write it largely because I want to focus more on specific moments, practices, and steps forward. I want to actively practicing these things, rather than being caught up just in the thought of them.

* For my own purposes, and for anyone that is curious, my meditation is pretty low key, but useful. I sit or lie comfortably and concentrate on something to slow and focus my thought: frequently deep breathing or heartbeat counting, sometimes repetitive movement, infrequently repetitive music. When I've calmed and centered, I envision my usual starting place, which is a field broken by a single large tree. This setting arose from my first experience with a cat transformation hypnotism tape, and its details and surrounding vary depending upon what I require. My mental images are patchy at best (see comments), sometimes I float in and out of trance, sometimes the image disintegrates, sometimes I wander off focus, sometimes time moves out of joint. I allow all of that, use my breathing or movement to hold the trance as best I can, and give up if it just won't work. By forcing myself to allow imperfections and avoid frustration, I've actually been able to make progress. When I'm done, I take a few moments to continue my deep breathing and recenter, then I move and stretch to reconnect with my physical body, give thanks, and then go on with my day.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
I went by my parents's house yesterday—Papa and my sister are away in New York, checking out schools and watching the Yankees, so I thought I'd take the dog out from under Mum's feet for a while. Jamie and I went on a walk in the woods, she got brushed, and I watered the garden; it was beautiful out, overcast with a soft breeze, and the trail was littered with the first few fallen leaves. Autumn is upon us, and thank goodness. I also saw my mother, who was working on a large wall hanging, and two episodes of Law & Order—I swear, I'd almost forgotten what a television was.Crumb Bear by Skybell Arts

When I was there, I also picked up packages and presents—you know, for my long distant birthday. [livejournal.com profile] sisterite, your package arrived! She sent smellies, most importantly an imp of Ivanushka (yay), and a copy of Sharp Teeth, that verse novel about werewolves which I loved and wanted to own and reread. Thank you, lovely! I'm waiting for the imps to settle out after shipping, and then I'll test and write reviews. I much look forward to checking out the sniffie of Candy Butcher, because I've been curious about that scent for a long time.

I also picked up the package of Hod and October—I am so looking forward to Hod, but I'm giving the oils a chance to settle first. It's a long, hard wait.

And I picked up my mother's birthday gift—Crumb Bear, that quilt over to the left. You should certainly click through and see it in greater detail. Mum is a fabric artist; she started Crumb Bear when she was cleaning out her huge stash of fabric and fabric scraps. I fell in love with it because of the color and the bear imagery.* There's some progress shots and more information over at her arts blog: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

I think it turned out beautifully, and it looks wonderful hung on the wall. I have a couple of my mum's pieces—a triskele runner and an entirely handstiched, handquilted piece which I love—but this is my new favorite. Thank you, mum. So, yes. All in all a successful day and a successful visit.

* On bear imagery: I attended a Montessori school from preschool through sixth grade; on three occasions during that time, most notably on my graduation from school, I was given the bear as a totem animal. (I've since narrowed it down to the black bear, which is native to where I live.) To me, the bear is nature, solitariness, hibernation, wisdom, vegetarianism (although bears eat insects, fish, and some carrion), and protection. The bear rises up to protect me; the bear is a silent companion, content to stand at a distance but willing also to lead me to knowledge. I don't work with my bear totem as often as I should, but its presence comforts me nonetheless. I still have the stone bears that were given me on those occasions as well as a few other necklaces, and I was drawn to this piece of the same bear imagery.


juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)

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