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Musical Album "Chosen"

Musical Album "Chosen"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Review of Finding Eleusis by Paul B. Rucker

On October 22, 2010, Terra Mysterium's Finding Eleusis was given a thoughtful review by Paul B. Rucker on The Juggler Blog. I have posted my own version of it, but it may be easier to read the original HERE. I am honored to learn that something I found so meaningful was enjoyed, appreciated and understood by others.

Milwaukee Pagan Pride

I wanted to share with you some of the photographs and videos from Milwaukee Pagan Pride which happened in October of 2010. These photos on the first page were sent to me by Dragon's Eye Artistry. I have featured this work before and would like to say again how humbled I am that Sue Borremans captured what a true love I have for singing.

My son really enjoyed the Pumpkin Painting. I thought that Milwaukee Pagan Pride did a lovely job of organizing activities, discussions and the vendors were really quite amazing.

Gypsy Moon Dance also performed. My son fell head over heals for one of the dancers.

I hope I will have the honor of returning next year. I am currently working on some new material.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pagan Parenting

I continue to be disappointed by the lack of interest in spiritual education for the children of the Pagan community. In response to my queries to Pagan parenting, I am most often given the same responses:

I do not wish to force religion upon my child as I feel that it was forced on me.


Children do not have the capacity to understand religion.

I feel compelled to counter those statements with my own experience. While it is true, children are not adults and their life experience is much more limited than an adults, I know that children are capable of understanding a multitude of concepts. Just yesterday my own son made an interesting observation that helped me in my own spiritual journey. He said, "If there is more than one planet, then there must be more than one god." I am reminded of the expression, "out of the mouths of babes..." My son has added to the richness of my life in many ways but he has taught me about spiritually. He has introduced me to fairies and has discussed with me reincarnation. He is not John Micheal Greer or Ghandi to be sure, but his simplitic communication does not make his contributions any less pleasureable or profound. Many people assume that paganism and witchcraft are synomous, as one that rarely practices magic or divination I would disagree. My son, however has taught me much of magic, he sees it everywhere. He reminds me that indeed life itself is innately magical...or miraculous should you prefer the term.

Now the possiblity for children to misunderstand their religion, or rather to see it in black and white terms is rather probable. I absolutely refused to send my child to a Catholic school despite the declining educational standards of the public venues. It is not because I am against the Christian religion. I feel that it has beauty and truth within it. I would not under any circumstances submit my child to the bullying of a unexperienced child who would at some point say to my child "you're mommy worships the devil and she's going to hell!" Actually, I will most likely end up in the relm called Hades and despite the Christian mingling of the mythos of that place, it isn't even remotely like the hell associated with Christianity. Incidentally, the word hell comes from the name of a Norse Goddess, Hel. Her kingdom is similar to Hades and once again nothing like the Christian hell relm. But, I digress. What is interesting though that it is only a fear of mine that another child will bully my child in this manner; the truth is that this has already been said to me by adults.

Ironically, my son came home one day rather shocked that one of his friends thought all witches were ugly and evil. He then explained that he and his mommy were witches. His friends were impressed to learn that not all witches were in fact ugly (they think I'm pretty, how sweet) and that witches could be boys! Then they rationalize that since my son, who is their friend, and decidedly not evil, and is a witch then all witches were in fact not evil. Cool lesson, on to legos. Incidentally, I do not refer to myself as a witch and Harry Potter is a wizard, so I have no idea where my son got that terminology. I have simply accepted that it is a label that currently has meaning to my son.

My son has spiritual questions and he does need guidance concerning his interaction with people and concepts of ethics and morality. My religion gives me a way to put into words thes rather undefinable concepts. Additionally religion as a whole brings its followers a sense of peace, hope and inspiration. Why on earth would deprive my child of something that brings me so much joy? It just seems cruel. I am baffled by Pagan parents who deny their children the benefits of their religion. Even more bizzare, after someone has finished telling me that they came to Paganism after a damaging childhood experience in another, they then in the next breath proceed to tell me that their own children go to religious services with their parents...because they as parents do not want to "force religion upon their children as it was forced upon them." your answer is to subject your child to the same religion that hurt you so, with the very same people who forced you to submit to it?

I don't buy it.

In my opinion, these people fear their own Pagan religion and do not accept it as a viable religious path.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Vow of Chastity

I went to the wedding of my friend April last night and I must say that it was the best wedding I have ever attended! The service was entertaining and downright funny; very true to the personality of my spritely and quick-witted friend. I hope that they will enjoy a lifetime of that humor and affection. I was so happy I was invited to witness their union.

My invitation was addressed to me, plus one. There was an empty seat at table four because I attended minus a plus one. Yes, I sat alone at table four as the DJ played the slow romantic tunes for the couples and I happily watched them dance. I so enjoyed watching the joy that the couples shared with each other. When a handsome young man asked me to dance you might be surprised to learn that my answer was, “No thank you. Thank you for asking.” I am not a couple, I am simply me. I have committed myself to a solitary life. I have taken a vow of chastity.

I have observed that my vow has disturbed many people. The most common response is, “But you’re so pretty!” Does that imply that if I were ugly, my vow would be more acceptable? Ironically, I receive the same response when people learn that I am a police officer. That to me seems to imply that a pretty woman is somehow incapable and inferior.

I have struggled with being inferior my entire life. I craved acceptance in a world that judged me on my appearance and demanded certain things from me. At twenty-one I was still a virgin and after too much teasing from my friends, I chose a man in a bar to “de-flower” me. In college I was focused on my studies, I had no interest in dating. But unwritten society rules dictated that there was something wrong with me if I didn’t have a boyfriend. I chose an abusive partner that alienated me from my friends. Then, like all women, I got married. I had a baby. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do? My husband told me I wasn’t friendly enough, that I dressed terribly, and that I was lousy in bed. Thankfully, he divorced me. Unfortunately, I spent the first four years after my divorce trying to convince myself that what my ex-husband said wasn’t true…particularly that last part. Ironically, my desperate attempts to prove my self-worth made my self-esteem plummet further than before. I chose men that did not take care of their finances or their bodies. I chose them because they “loved me” and I thought I was supposed to be grateful. I did not love them. I wanted to; because I thought it was what pretty women were supposed to do. It was unacceptable for me to be alone. At least that was the message society was conveying. I wonder now if I even loved my husband. He often told me that I “didn’t seem to need him.” I do know that I never felt for him what I feel for the son he gave me.

Mother and Child

Motherhood has been the most profound experience of my life. The love I feel for my child has inspired me to be a complete person. I chose to give up writing and singing in an attempt to please my husband. My child, my lovely son has coaxed me to tell him “stories from my head” and he must have me sing to him every night. Now I perform regularly in public with an album on the way. Dragon’s Eye Artistry snapped a picture of me during a performance and I was amazed by the photograph; because just like the pictures of my son and me, I could see love on my face.


Apparently, I needed my husband to teach me that I really didn’t need him. I now know what love really is and I am no longer afraid of being alone because despite what these unwritten society rules may say, I am not alone. My voice instantly connects me, when I sing I have confirmation that I am a part of the universe. I am so grateful to my son for helping me to learn this. I am not a couple, I am simply me. I have committed myself to a solitary life. I have taken a vow of chastity.

I have learned that I cannot choose to give up part of myself in attempt to please a partner. That is not love. I have learned that I must choose my own path. I am not inferior just because I make a different choice from the common society standard.

If I could go back in time, I would go back twenty-nine years to that bar with my so-called friends and I would tell that younger version of myself, “You don’t need that man Amy and you don’t need these people who say they are your friends. You are worth more. If you keep singing, I can promise you a lifetime of profound love.”

The only problem with that is that my son would have never been born. This is why everyone learns different truths at different times. I do not believe that our fates are predestined. I do not believe that everything happens for a reason…but I do believe that everything does have purpose. I cannot change my past and I know that I wouldn’t want to. But I would like to teach young people that they don’t have to get married just because it is common in society. I would like to teach young people that real love is not about sacrifice. Real love should inspire. I would like to teach that no one is inferior, no matter what they look like. I would like everyone to know, you are not alone.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Finding Eleusis

Art is powerful. It has the power to direct our thinking. It is simultaneously, an inspiration and inspiring. Before being cast as Persephone in Finding Eleusis by Terra Mysterium, I thought I had my world well figured. What I hadn't perceived, was that were still figures to ponder and the simple truth is, I may never have all the answers.

The Goddess Persephone is regarded by many feminist spiritualists as a weak mythological character created by a paternal driven society. While I was immensely honored that they talented of people of Terra Mysterium wanted me to play Persephone, I was one of those feminist spiritualists; and I cringed at the thought of playing this wispy divinity that marries Her own rapist.

Persephone's most notable story is translated as "The Rape of Persephone." At the time of the story's first circulation, "rape" was not necessarily synonymous with criminal sexual assault, but meant "abduction." It is my belief that the artistic telling of the trials and tribulations of the Gods are to assist mortals in the life journey. The abduction of Persephone by Hades serves as metaphor for the end of virginity, when a woman leaves her mother to marry and become a mother herself. In Persephone's case, Demeter was so over-protective of Her that had not Hades kidnapped Her, She would have been arrested in Her development. It was the one act that forced a change.

Persephone’s story also illustrates that even the all-powerful Demeter could not keep Her daughter as an eternal child; and so if this is beyond even a Goddess' power, then it is certainly beyond mortal scope. Interestingly enough "losing one's virginity" is sometimes posed as a kind of death and it is the King of the Dead himself that comes for Persephone. Once again, we must remember that at the time of this story's first circulation, death and change were somewhat synonymous and were regarded as a part of the cycle of life and not necessarily a bad thing.

The erotic overtones of the story cannot be denied and the pomegranate makes for a sultry symbol of the physical maidenhead. Persephone is forcibly taken to the Underworld by Hades; but before one casts Her in a submissive, victimized role there is more to consider. Persephone's father Zeus committed criminal sexual assault numerous times, but these stories are small flecks of archaic vulgar jokes and not the poetic saga of the "Rape of Persephone." Hades was not like His brother Zeus. He could have had any number of concubines both mortal and divine, but He did not. He wanted a Queen. He chooses to woo only Persephone and it is there in the Underworld that She discovers the pleasures of womanhood. As a child goddess, She had no official standing in Olympus, (the only pure bred child without one) but as the Queen of the Underworld She becomes a true force of such power that the ancient people of Greece and Rome were frightened even to speak Her name and referred to only as "Kore (the maiden)." I find it sad that time has forgotten the stories of Persephone's power, strength and compassion for the living.

For those following my blog, you may notice that I am particularly fond of a white dress. Persephone, I believe liked it too. I wore that same dress in Finding Eleusis.

It is my belief She placed me in Terra Mysterium's path so that She and I could meet. Persephone is far from wispy and She certainly is not weak; more than that, I found that I needed Her, and that She was perhaps the only one who could heal some of my very ancient wounds. She has taught me that perhaps I don't need all of the answers as long as I keep asking questions.

Terra Mysterium's Finding Eleusis was one of the 46 performances featured in the very first Chicago Fringe Festival in 2010.

A Note on Recycling

This website is a direct result from my projects with the Reformed Congregation of the Goddess, International (RCGI). In addition to my music project, another assignment is to adopt at least one ecologically sound idea. I chose recycling. To me it's more than just a good idea, it's a spiritual practice. We are all connected to the earth; and what you put out into the universe ultimately comes back to you. Everything gets recycled in one way or another, even people. Whether you believe that your soul continues in a cycle of re-birth, or if your body simply becomes worm food, it's still recycling.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Chicago Pagan Pride

I am so grateful to Terra Mysterium for broadening my horizons in so many ways. They suggested that I contact the coordinators of Chicago Pagan Pride set for August 14, 2010.

I have to tease those lovely coordinators just a little to tell a funny story. I did indeed contact them as Terra Mysterium suggested, but as it was a very late submission, when I didn't hear back from them, I simply assumed that they didn't need me. I didn't know I was performing until I received a cast email for "Finding Eleusis" (the Terra Mysterium Fringe show in which I was cast) that announced I would be following their performance!

My performance was barely a hiccup in our plan as my son Tynan, our Au Pair, Gift and I had already planned to be in attendance. We really enjoyed Chicago Pagan Pride! They really did a wonderful job and there were many activities. I was unable to attend any of the workshops because Tynan and I were too busy making wish bracelets, magic wands, getting painted and of course watching Terra Mysterium. They are awesome! This Pagan Pride was very family friendly and had something for everyone.

My son was still talking about it the next day.

I'll be back next year for sure!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

First Harvest Fest

My first public performance in over nine years was at one of the final gatherings of the Chicago Pagan Fellowship at the First Harvest Fest Picnic. I am so fortunate I had this opportunity, as this is where I met the wonderful people of Terra Mysterium, and was invited to do their production "Finding Eleusis" at the Chicago Fringe Festival.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chicago Pagan Fellowship Disbanding

I received an email recently from the Chicago Pagan Fellowship alerting the members that they are disbanding. I find this discomfiting as I just recently joined. It was at the First Harvest Picnic of the Pagan Fellowship where I met Terra Mysterium, and then was cast in Finding Eleusis.

Christianity has never spoken to me. The teachings in my opinion are confusing and there are too many rules. Do this and thou shalt go to hell! Don't do this and thou shalt go to hell! However, What I do admire about them is their fellowship. Pagans have freer rules...if we have any rules at all, but we are so loose, we cannot seem to organize for any consistent period of time. It is good to come together to worship.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Songs (Cycle 1)

Some songs titles now have links to sound or video! Be sure to scan for the links in red.

My selection of songs is for a project for the Reformed Congregation of the Goddess. I am to study 10 different Goddess and then apply that research to a creative project. When I heard "The Voice" by Brendan Graham, I knew that I wanted to put together a collection of songs. During performance, I allow the songs to speak for the Goddesses without explanation, but in case you were wondering, here is a list of my songs with the explanation of how I came to associate them with a Goddess.

"The Voice" by Brendan Graham
When I heard this song I was completely drawn to it--the music is captivating and the lyrics are deeply spiritual. When people inquire as to why I chose to become pagan from a Christian background, I often reply that I feel that the Divine is a Woman. The fact that this song soars in the vocal range of a woman, makes it the perfect spiritual hymn for Goddess Woman. The Goddess Hecate from Greek Mythology is the Goddess for whom I sing this. Hecate is usually associated as Demeter's Consort and Persephone's Handmaiden. The true depth of Her power goes far beyond those roles. She is an ancient Goddess as old as the earth and held domain over magic. She was one of the only Titans Zeus, the King of the Olympian Gods, revered.

"The Call" by Regina Spektor
"He'e'e, A Hopi Kachina chose this song before I have even completed my research! He'e'e is a maiden who was having Her hair done by Her Mother when Their homestead is invaded. He'e'e imediately grabbed Her bow and joined the battle. She is depicted by the Hopi Tribe as having Her hair only half-done. I was drawn to Her spirit and She reminded me very much of Diana (or Artemis) who is my patron Goddess. "The Call" sings of triumphing over personal battles.

"The Black Swan" by Gian Carlo Menotti
A song about Death is of course befitting of the Norse Goddess of the Underworld. I had learned this song years ago in college and Hel let me know that the black swan is a symbol of Hers. Norse Mythology comes from an oral tradition and it is very difficult to find written research sources. The name Christensen is nordic in hertiage and I have almost eerie knowledge of this mythology. JRR Tolkien was once reported as saying that he didn't "create" his Elvish language, but that he "remembered" it. I too think I may be remembering reverences to Hel; and although I cannot provide documented proof, the black swan is an animal sacred to Her.

"The Prayer"
I chose Kwan Yin of Buddhism as a private joke. As a single mother I rely on Au Pairs to help me with child care. I have had three beautiful young women from Thailand in my home and not one of them will eat beef. Given that vegetarianism is against my religion, it is very difficult for me to cut sacred cow from my diet. What most do not realize of Buddhism is that there was more than one Buddha to reach enlightment. Kwan Yin was the only documented female and She sacrificed Herself to save Her father's life. Her father was so horrid to Her however that he was reincarnated as a cow, and buddhists who give reverence to Her do not eat beef out of respect. Kwan Yin's compassion is what led Her to enlightenment. No song came to me and so I began scowering the internet for ideas when I came across "Kwan Yin's Prayer for the Abuser" translated into English. The next day I wrote "The Prayer".

"The Sky and the Dawn and the Sun" by Brendan Graham and David Downes
Alright I cheated on this one. I'm a huge fan of Mr. Graham and I just found this song to be so beautiful that I specifically chose Eos (also known as Aurora) from Greek Mythology just so I would have an excuse to sing it. Eos had such great love, that was what made the dawn.

"One Question"
I found "The Voice" while looking for song attributed to Diana (also known as Artemis) from Roman and Greek Mythology. But the more I listened to it the more I felt it belonged to a more ancient crone Goddess and therefore, Hecate claimed it. Diana's song above all others had to be perfect as She is my patron Goddess. She has been the Goddess I associate with the greater divine since the birth of my son. After 4 days in the hospital I went home with my gigantic baby boy (10 pounds 2 ounces thank you very much) when a blood clot the size of a softball passed out of me and my temperature sky-rocketed past 105. I was shaking and near delirium when I looked over at my new little baby and I realized, I was dying. "Diana!" I cried out, "Please don't let me die. I need to be a mother to my son." Now the doctors will tell you that the antibiotics are what saved me from the broken placenta that went septic inside me; but I swear to you my fever broke the second after my plea. I found out later Diana the Eternal Virgin Huntress is also the Goddess of Childbirth. Who knew? ...well She did. After that day I felt summoned to Diana, but as a petite 5'4" I have constantly struggled with why She would chose such a girly girl to be Her amazon. One of my heros, Dave Grossman, has great respect for female warriors and it was after I was able to attend one of his empowering lectures that I wrote this song.

"That Old Black Magic" by Harold Arlen
Next to Diana, the Goddesses of Norse mythology are of great reverence to me. Freya was heralded as Queen of the Vanier Gods and even Odin deferred to her. She is a powerful Goddess of Magic with truly awesome power, so when Mr. Arlen's popular standard was presented to me I rebelled! How could I possible sing a song so mundane for One so Great. Freya Herself, I think thumped me on the head. She reminded me that with all her power, She is a love Goddess. Her message I think is that divinity can be found in everything, even in the mundane, even in the popular.

"Ava Maria" by Franz Schubert
I have yet to perform this song in public, but obviously I chose it for Christianity's Virgin Mary. Just because I am pagan it doesn't mean that I detest Christianity. If the religion is what speaks to a person and it brings them peace and a sense of connectivity to life, then it has value. While Christians may argue that the Virgin Mary (who incentally is a mother Goddess, not a Maiden) is not a Goddess allow me to offer Merriam-Webster's definition of "God:" a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship; specifically : one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality or a person or a thing of supreme value. Mary is said to have supreme faith and if prayers to her and offering to her are not considered worship then I'm afraid I'm confused on that defination as well.

"The One Who Knows" by Dar Williams
I am also studying another Hopi Kachina, Angwusnasomtaka, the Crow Mother. She took a long time to choose a song. All I got from her was "pick a song about motherhood." Angwusnasomtaka will never ask a child to do something that she will not do herself. She is however, a firm believer in learning by doing. The things hardest won, are those most treasured.

"Persephone Waking" by Ruby Sara and Matthew Ellenwood
My 10th required Goddess is once again from Greek Mythology, Kore/Persephone.

I was singing at a Pinic for The Chicago Pagan Fellowship as was Terra Mysterium. They announced during their performance that their new original show "Finding Eleusis" was playing as a part of The Chicago Fringe Festival. The show is a modern day depiction of the Eleusinian Mysteries a pagent filled festival recounting the story of Demeter, her daughter, Persephone and Persephone's violent marriage to Hades. After their amazing performance, Terra Mysterium came up to ME and asked me to play the role of Persephone. I am honored beyond words. I believe that coincidences are gifts from the Goddess. I find it highly coincidental that I was missing my 10th Goddess when I am suddenly handed Persephone on a silver platter. I feel that I chose to study the first nine, but Persephone undoubtedly chose me. I hope I will be able to honor her.