In The Land of Graves

So, I’m a little weird. I enjoy visiting cemeteries even if I don’t know someone buried there. Even when it’s not October and the haunting month. Not sure what it is that draws me to them, but every so often I find myself traversing the grounds of a cemetery for a moment of quiet alone time. This is even more true in October, and because I’ve had a small problem with making time for things that actually bring me a bit of happiness I made “photoshoot in a cemetery” one of my October goals. Well, this post is here to tell you that that goal has been accomplished!

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One reason why I love visiting cemeteries, especially around New Jersey, is because these cemeteries are very old. I was able to find gravestones from both the Civil War and WWII!

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As a writer, visiting cemeteries also helps in coming up with last names. Gravestones are a gold mine for such a thing. This particular visit also helped because my NaNoWriMo project will have at least one scene in a cemetery.  So this visit served for research in two different ways, as well as just being a fun photoshoot time.

 

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This wasn’t taken at the cemetery, but was taken a few weeks ago when I went apple picking, and I really like how it came out. So I decided to take this photo sharing opportunity to share it.

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Information on my NaNoWriMo project coming soon!

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Tarot for Writing

This post is part of my series “Pagan Infused NaNo”. Basically, how-to’s of how elements of Pagan spirituality can aid in the creative process. Note these aren’t all just for writers. Many of them can apply to any form of creativity–photography, drawing, etc.

Have you ever started working on a story and then not known where to go with it? You have your outline, you had a clear vision of what was supposed to happen, how the ending is supposed to go. But somewhere down the line you got stuck or your characters just didn’t want to do what you needed them to, and before you know it your story is not what you thought it would be?

Or maybe you’re stuck in the outlining process. Maybe even further back then that. Maybe you’re just fleshing out ideas. It’s so easy to get stuck and not know what to do next. Believe me, I’ve been there far more times than I care to ever admit.

“So, then, Raven,” you ask me, “what should I do?”

Honestly? Grab your tarot cards!

I can’t remember where I read this method, but I can’t take credit for coming up with it. However I can get testimonials based on personal experience with it. I’ve used it more times than I can count, and it’s usually spot on. I like to have a candle lit when I do this (then again I always like having a candle lit. There’s one flickering beside my laptop as I write this~), but it’s not strictly necessary.

When I do this, I work with the major arcana only. The major arcana deals with big picture things, and often when I’m stuck those are the kinds of things I need.

I also like to have my manuscript or my notes nearby, just as an added thing to help with focus.

So now that you’re all set up, close your eyes and shuffle your cards until you feel they are shuffled. Draw a card. That’s your next move in your story.

I tend to draw one card at a time, incorporate what the card suggests into my next scenes, and see if that clears it up. Usually it does. Only if I’m still not sure what to do after writing those scenes do I go back and draw more cards.

I’ve used this method for years and it has very rarely let me down. You can use whatever deck you feel most connected to. My go to deck is the Shadowscapes deck when I read cards (though in all other ventures I’m more of a Rune girl. The Runes just don’t work quite the same for this sort of thing). If you decide to try it let me know if it helped you down in the comments.

Happy Writing!

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Words Hold The Magic

          “…There aren’t any magical words, really. The words just hold the magic. They give it a shape and a form, they make it useful, describe the images within.
          I’ll say this, though: Some words have a power that has nothing to do with supernatural forces. They are sound in the heart and mind, they live long after the sounds of them have died away, they echo in the heart and the soul. They have power, and that power is very real.”

–Grave Peril, by Jim Butcher (page 398)

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Happy National Coming Out Day; Or, The Issue With This Day

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Happy National Coming Out Day! Last year I shared my story of coming out. It was a hard one to live through, though I acknowledge that in the grand spectrum of the way parental reactions go to news that their only child is queer, I had is fairly easy. I simply went back into the closet after saying I was bisexual and nothing further was ever mentioned until I, of my own volition years later, moved out on my own. And even then it wasn’t talked about. Still isn’t to this day, though I no longer try to hide anything of who I am–queer or Pagan.

However, I want to talk today about why days like this can be a little…touchy. Not to me, but in general.

If you can come out, that’s great. I encourage you to do it if you feel safe to, and if you need an ear while you’re going through or advice on how to, my inbox is always open.

However, not everyone is safe to. There are people–kids (yes, it’s possible to know you aren’t straight when you’re still in single digit ages), teenagers, and even adults–who don’t feel safe enough to come out. They fear the loss of their homes and loved ones, even their jobs in some portions of the country.

To all of those people who must remain closeted: you are not forgotten. I see you. You are still a part of our community, even if you cannot be visible. We love you and you are not alone.

You see, the problem with days like today are that not only do they make people who can’t come out feel even more invisible (even in their own community), but it gives off the false idea that coming out is a one time thing. That isn’t even remotely true. Every day of a queer person’s life is Coming Out Day. Are you a girl who wants to hold your girlfriend’s hand at dinner? Guess you’re coming out to the whole restaurant. Are you a guy who wants to kiss his husband goodbye before he leaves on a flight? Time to come out to the entire airport.

I don’t begrudge anyone celebrating the fact that they have come out. Not even a little. I just also don’t want those who can’t to not feel like they don’t belong. They do, just as much as any of the rest of us.

Thought I would offer some food for thought on this National Coming Out Day.

(Out or closeted, if you ever need a safe space to talk or vent or even just to cry, my inbox is always open. ravensong9@gmail.com. Don’t hesitate to email anytime~)

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All Hallows Write Tag!

I found this fun little survey on Sam Kasse’s Tumblr and thought it would fun and festive to fill this out for my characters in SOMEONE LIKE YOU! I might do this again in November for my characters in my NaNoWriMo project (which I’ll talk about once I hammer out some details…and decide on a project). We’ll see.

The Rules:

#1 – Provide a BRIEF description of your novel before starting.

#2 – Don’t use the same character for more than 3 answers.

Brief Description:

Leslie and Matt, both fresh out of college, move to a new town together. Leslie should be happy with Matt–he’s everything her parents said she should want. But then why does she feel empty? And why, when enigmatic Hailey waltzes into her life and they go on a quest together to save Hailey’s dog, does she suddenly feel alive?

The Questions:

1. It’s Halloween night! What is your protagonist dressed up as?

Leslie is the one who would show up at a party in a very simple, understated costume. Something common. An angel, probably, because they are safe and viewed as good. Though she would wish she could dress as something more wild.

2. Who in your cast refuses to dress up and shows up at the Halloween party without a costume?

Hailey’s dad. He tends to think that Halloween, and any holiday for that matter, is ridiculous and does nothing to even acknowledge their existence save for scoff at them.

3. Which character wears the most outrageous costume, and what would it be?

Hailey, hands down. She’s very flashy to begin with and given the chance to go all out she will. She would probably dress up as a bellydancing fairy, or take the chance to create a costume that makes an artistic statement on politics.

4. On Halloween, werewolves, vampires, and zombies are on the prowl. Which of your characters gets caught in their clutches, and which creature do they subsequently turn into?

Leslie would likely be the one to get caught. She would either be turned into a vampire or werewolf, depending on which reached her first. She already is a little bit of zombie (in the way that she goes through life the way she’s supposed to, but not with passion). In the end, I think it’d be more likely that she would become a vampire. She’d be drawn to the power and independence and control they would come with.

5. Who wins the contest for best costume?

Either Matt (Leslie’s boyfriend) or Hailey. Both would dress is well thought out and put together costumes.

6. Who hands out toothbrushes to the trick and treaters?

None of my cast would do this, actually. All enjoy candy and Halloween too much (save for Hailey’s dad, who wouldn’t even acknowledge trick or treaters).

7. Which two of your characters decide to pair up and do an angel/devil costume together?

Hilariously enough, Leslie and Matt. Though they wouldn’t do it as a couple costume per se.

8. Someone is too scared to even attend the Halloween party. Who is it?

Hailey’s dad would refuse to go because he doesn’t do holidays, but none of my cast would be scared of it. In fact, 99% of my cast would be super enthusiastic about it!

9. Who overdoses on Halloween candy and ends up sick?

Hailey. Full stop. If she weren’t sick from candy, she’d be hung over from drinking too much.

10. Which character is most likely to place a curse/hex on someone and who would they curse?

Hailey, again. Her father.

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Crystals for Creativity Part 2!

A few years ago I shared a post talking all about crystals that aid with creativity. With NaNoWriMo in a few short weeks, I thought I’d do a part two of it. This will be the first post in a series of 3-4 of “Pagan Infused NaNo”. Basically, how-to’s of how elements of Pagan spirituality can aid in the creative process. Note these aren’t all just for writers. Many of them can apply to any form of creativity–photography, drawing, etc.

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Blue Goldstone. It also comes in green, red, and orange varieties!

Malachite–Helps open up the imagination and enhances your intution. Not sure where to take a story, but have a gut feeling where you should go? That might be malachite giving you a boost. Also soaks up several negative energies (so be sure to cleanse regularly!)

Carnelian–Also a very cleansing stone (good to use in conjunction with Malachite for this reason!), it’s also known for enhancing creativity. Is also known for encouraging courage and confidence. If a particular project is nagging you to be written, but you’re hesitant to for whatever reason, this stone can help you out!

Goldstone–A stone of ambition, it can help keep you motivated to finish that project. Promotes optimism and confidence while aiding in persistence and determination. A perfect thing to keep on your desk during the month of November!

Kornerupine–This a rarer stone, so don’t be surprised if it’s harder to find and/or a little more expensive. This stone aids with communication as been known to help people articulate and condense their thoughts, thus leaving out what isn’t necessary.

Fluorite–A personal favorite. This stone is known to expand your consciousness and stir your creativity, leading you down new pathways you may not have thought to try before.

If you’re stuck in any part of the writing or planning process, these crystals will help you on your journey. What are your favorite crystals for creativity?

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Why THE CRAFT Is Problematic

(This post comes with trigger warnings for talk of self harm, suicide, and sexual assault. They don’t pertain to me, but to the movie I’m discussing.)

It’s October, one of my favorite months of the entire year (if not my absolute favorite). There is a ton of stuff I want to do this month, and a bunch of movies that I want to watch. I’ve made a list of them in my journal and things like Corpse Bride, Practical Magic, and Sleepy Hollow are on that list with Hocus Pocus being at the very top. However, there is one move that didn’t make the list this year that has in the past. That movie is The Craft.

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When I was a teenager The Craft was one of my absolute favorite movies. High school witches that could punish their bullies? Yes, please! As a person who was bullied a lot I desperately wanted to have that magical ability. But, the years past and adulthood came calling and before I knew it, it had been years since I watched it. Then, a few months back when there was talk of a remake, I went back and watched it again.

I was horrified.

Racism was more than prevalent. There’s rape, and obvious sexism despite the protagonists being powerful women. And there was more manipulation and coercion than any one movie ever needs. What I found the most horrific though was the ending after Sarah decides to leave Nancy’s circle.

Nancy, Rachelle, and Bonnie try to convince Sarah to commit suicide. Sarah and her family had moved after Sarah had been cutting her wrists, and if I’m not mistaken had already attempted suicide. Nancy, having gotten the ability to invade Sarah’s mind, discovered this and used it against her. She took someone who was already dealing with a very delicate mental state and tried to push her further into it.

I have people who are close to me who have been on that ledge. I’ve had to talk them away from it, and I’m happy I was able to do so. Before I rewatched this movie earlier this year I would have recommended it to any person who had any interest in the occult (in the same way I’d recommend Harry Potter–not for any actual learning, but for entertainment). Now I warn everyone away from it. Especially those who I know have a history of self harm and/or suicidal ideation.

Why, you may ask? Because this kind of thing can be very triggering. I didn’t recognize how problematic The Craft was when I was a teenager because I was…well…a teenager. I wasn’t educated on these things. I didn’t understand anything about mental illness beyond the fact that a person could have clinical depression. Now that I’m a lot more “woke” I can’t ever recommend this movie to anyone.

I don’t even recommend it to people I know don’t have mental illness because putting something like encouraging suicide in a movie is just fucked up.

I know Nancy wasn’t in her right mind when she did it. It’s still not right. And Bonnie and Rachelle are just as guilty and were in their right mind (save for maybe being afraid of incurring Nancy’s wrath if they upset her). This movie needs to hit every trash pile, and it most certainly does not need a remake. (Also, can I make a small detour here and complain for a second about the number of remakes in the works? Can we not create new things instead of going back to the old?)

No one needs to watch this movie. If someone is suggesting you watch it, I encourage you to explain the above to them. Link them to this post if it’s easier.

Let me know your thoughts on The Craft, and if you have any horror (or just Halloween) movie suggestions for me leave them in the comments. I’d love to hear your favorites!

Happy Haunting!

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