Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Member Spotlight - Me!

The member spotlight is a new feature that will pop up on the blog from time to time so that readers can get a chance to meet everyone involved in Ancient Oaks.  Since this was a spur of the moment decision and I haven't gotten any victims, I mean volunteers, to participate yet, I'll start by interviewing myself!

Basics - Who are you?

Hi!  I'm Diane!  I am a 29-year-old gal and I live in Boise with my Scottish husband, four cats, two dogs, and a big old garden.

Where are you from?

I was born in Seattle and lived there until I was 10.  I am a seafood addict and beach lover as a result.  Our family then moved to Livingston, Montana where I enjoyed the wilderness and the small-town life.  When I was 15 our family moved again to Boise.  I took a while to warm up to it, but now it's definitely my forever home.  I went to University of Oregon in Eugene, and loved living there too.  As part of that I spent a year living in Aberdeen, Scotland, where I met my husband and studied at Aberdeen University.  Aberdeen's a lot like Boise in some ways, and I'd love to go back.

What do you do?

I work in the Student Financials office at Boise State University.  That means I'm a great resource if you are going to college or thinking about it.  I used to do social work and I also love volunteering.

Do you have a magick/ritual name?  Why or why not?

I've never felt it necessary to have a magick or ritual name.  My name, Diane, is the French rendering of the Roman goddess Diana.  I love that, and I can't think of a better name I'd choose. :)

What is your star sign?  Do you think it describes you?

I am a Capricorn.  Capricorn is both an earth and a water sign, and I definitely feel strong connections to both elements.  Capricorns are ambitious, stubborn, hard-working, practical, efficient, detail-oriented, conventional, patient, independent (sometimes to a fault), intellectual, disciplined, sensible, dignified, reserved, polite, competitive, and friendly.  They sometimes seem not to have very deep feelings, but this is usually because they are very sensitive underneath, and don't always feel comfortable sharing these feelings with others.  I think that sums me up very well indeed. :)

How would you define your path?

That's a difficult question for me!  I would describe myself as a green/kitchen witch.  I find powerful energy in cultivating plants and through the transformation of plants and animals into nourishing food.  I also love learning about the history of different crafts and integrating them into my magical practice - especially textile arts - processing raw wool, dyeing it, spinning it, and knitting or weaving it, into garments to clothe my loved ones.  I have also loved to dance and move for my entire life.  Dancing is a very powerful act to me, as is hiking and communing with nature.  I am a bit of a skeptic, and haven't had much religion in my life, even before becoming Pagan.  Most of my rituals are small, quiet, and solitary.  My work with Grove of the Ancient Oaks has been a good learning experience for me in suspending disbelief, opening up and being vulnerable, and sharing these deep things with other people without fear of rejection or mockery.  My chosen deities are mostly from the Celtic and Norse pantheons, as my heritage is predominantly Danish, Cornish, Welsh, and Scottish.  That said, I love learning about deities, myths, and folktales from other cultures and looking for syncretism and parallels between them.  I believe that each deity is a lens through which we understand a small portion of the Divine, which is too enormous for us to ever comprehend in its entirety.  I am a bit of a reconstructionist in my path, a bit eclectic, a bit solitary.  If there's a name for all that, I'd love to know what it is!

How did you get interested in your path?

I am the child of a couple of hippies who I would describe as tree-hugging dirt worshippers.  When I was a kid our lives were very chaotic, and at a lonely and difficult time in my early teens a friend started bringing me to the LDS church she attended.  I found companionship and stability there, and a truly normal way of life.  There were rules I could understand and follow.  There were lots of happy whole families.  There were lots of people who loved and welcomed me.  I decided to convert when I was 14, and spent about a year in the church.  A move to a new state followed shortly after by the suicide of one of my new LDS friends was enough to start me questioning my path, and at the age of 15 I made a list of all the other religions I could think of and started researching.  I read the Koran just after 9/11 while my schoolmates were spewing hate about Islam.  I read sacred texts from Buddhism, Hinduism, various translations of the Old and New Testaments.  As soon as I read the first Pagan book to cross my path I knew Paganism was for me.  It was like someone wrote down what I already believed.  I was 18 when I officially dedicated myself to this path, and I haven't looked back since.

What brought you to the group?

I was a solitary practitioner for most of my practice.  When I met my husband I was thrilled to learn he was a  Pagan too.  I really enjoyed having that connection.  However, my husband discovered a few years ago that he has Jewish roots in his maternal ancestry and began exploring reform Judaism.  He officially converted about a year ago.  During the conversion process I went through a very deep mourning.  It was hard for me to be happy for him even though he was pursuing what made him feel truly whole and happy.  I decided then that I needed to look for other Pagans to share my journey.  I looked at a lot of groups, but none seemed right for me.  When I found Ancient Oaks online, something about it just felt right.  Though I'm often uncomfortable meeting new people and I'm a total introverted homebody, my need to step back from my husband's new faith and reconnect with my own path forced me to be brave, and the nice people in the group certainly made it easier.  I should add that after some time to process I really support my husband's path.  He is very happy, and his congregation is welcoming and kind.  I enjoy worshipping with them, and find that it fits nicely into my belief system too.

What is your preferred way to worship?

Much of my worship is performed silently, and alone.  I am a member of a flame keepers group to honor Brigid, my matron goddess.  We each have one day of each month in which we tend a sacred flame for her.  I occasionally read tarot.  I have an altar that is sometimes set up in my house, sometimes stored under my bed so that I can absorb its energies and it can absorb mine.  I love rocks and often find and carry them with me when the mood strikes.  I also love plants and the magic contained in a single seed.  Planting and tending to green things is a wonderful way to feel my spirituality and connection to the earth.  Often my worship involves making food or fiber items in a meditative and intention-filled way.  I also participate in circles with Ancient Oaks, and I've really enjoyed getting out of my comfort zone and learning how others practice their faith.

What is your role in the group?

I am a member of the council of elders in the Ancient Oaks group.  My role is Guardian of the Air.  I feel a real connection with the Air element, even though I'm a water/earth sign.  Air is the element of movement, of vitality.  It pervades every part of the earth and connects all of us to each other.  I consider Air to be a lighthearted element that is not concerned with what is "supposed to be."  It is a constant effort for a serious neurotic person like myself to pursue that lightness and joy.  It's been very good for me. :)  I also, of course, maintain this blog.  I'm an internet junkie and a longtime blogger (started my first one in 1998) so it's a good fit.

Random fact about yourself?

When I learned that DaVinci could write upside down and mirror image I decided I should learn to do the same, and I'm proud to say I can!  I can also write with both hands at the same time, with the writing mirroring what the other hand has done (backwards with one hand, forwards with the other).

What do you do to relax?

I love reading books.  I am also a bit of a British culture junkie, especially since my husband's from Scotland.  I love Dr. Who, playing tabletop games, and occasionally participating in pub trivia nights with my knitting group.  I also teach and perform Scottish Country Dance with the Thistle and Ghillies.  We'd love to have you join us!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Well, I'd love to go back to Scotland.  I haven't been since 2007, and haven't seen any of my husband's family since we got married.  I think if I had to choose somewhere I've never been I'd choose Scandinavia.  I'd love to take a pony trek through Iceland or tour the historical sites in Denmark, where some of my ancestors lived.  I'd also really like to see the east coast of Canada - Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island... it's lovely there and the history is really fascinating to me.  Also, lots of good music and dancing happens there, and there are more Gaelic speakers in Nova Scotia than there are in Scotland!

Any suggestions for the group or anything else you'd like to say?

Not much!  If you'd like to be featured for the Member Spotlight, leave me a comment!  I'm happy to sit down and record your answers if you don't feel like typing them out, or you can feel free to copy these questions and type out an email with your responses.  I'd love to feature all our members here eventually!

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