Memories

Remember

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Fri, 08/29/2008 - 12:07pm.

Distorted Nostalgia

I have been really busy with my business lately. Almost all of my time has been spent doing web design. I have paying clients and a ton of new design work on my plate. Almost half involves me learning how to do new stuff, which is exciting. But at the same time, I found myself stressed beyond all reason with the enormity of it all. I also had this nagging feeling that I was falling hopelessly behind in everything else.

And if that was not enough, I also kept beating myself up for being stressed out. Geez, maybe I would not be so stressed, if I wasn’t also stressing about how stressed out I felt.

My next few blog entries will explore my process for getting through this difficult period.

This first one follows weeks of waking up to a mental list of everything on my plate. Sometimes I woke up with a new algorithm or a new code fragment, but after a while the message was often just “… gotta go, gotta go, now, now, now ….” And throughout this entire period, I felt this deep regret at not living up to some past level of true efficiency.

... from my journal ...

Woke up thinking about coding again or at least that is what intruded immediately to my waking mind. But I somehow knew that I had not been dreaming of code, so I settled back to sleep after my bathroom run intentional walk. And slowly an image began to emerge.

I saw myself being pulled along by a dog on a leash. A dog hunh? I am being pulled along by a dog? Instantly, I heard my father’s voice, “Never let a dog drag you!” So I pulled hard on the leash. Instantly I was awake again … then I slowly began drifting off.

nostalgic carThis time the image was of a car, an old car, an old ivory colored car but it looked brand new. It was long, spotless and gleaming. It even had fins and fancy grillwork. But something was not right about this car. The proportions seemed off. It did not seem to have room for the wheels or they were completely hidden.

The image is distorted. How would you change a flat tire for instance? It is like nostalgia, what parts that are remembered are off in many ways. Hmmm …

The nostalgic car is impractical and impossible to maintain. So whatever I am imagining of my old ways of handling things is not only distorted it is non-sustainable.

After my chiro visit, I sat with my journal in my favorite haunt and pondered the meaning of my morning images.

I remembered hearing myself arguing with myself the day before…

“Ivo has a business along with all his teaching and counseling.”

“But I am not Ivo. He is healthy and still he works really hard at keeping up with it all. Plus his store has staff and a kick ass manager. And he lives with all these incredibly talented and dedicated people who are also pulling long hours”

And.

“I like having real deadlines to work toward.”

“But not if it means nothing moves forward for me personally. And the reasons these deadlines are real are because it involves someone other than you. What does that say about your commitment to achieving your own personal goals, aspirations and dreams?”

Later that same day, my healer elder said that I needed to listen to my water self during this fiery period. Which is interesting because in my system of elemental classification, my water self is also my child. So in effect she was once again calling attention to my child self.

I decided to listen to what all the parts were saying:

Parent/Fire
“You gotta work hard and keep commitments to get ahead in this world. All this lollygagging is getting you nowhere. Get busy, time is money.”

Child/Water
“I am tired of all this work. I need more down time, more rest. Even my playtime is filled with, ‘Do this! Do that!’ I can never have time just for me.”

Adult/Air
“ I am out of balance. Yes, there is a lot on my plate but the way we handle this is by getting enough down time, rest, good food, and by focusing on home and hearth. And of course taking care of my physical self. This is not the time to walk away from Radical Self Care.”

Beloved/Shadow/Earth
“Naptime!”

So I decided to take an afternoon nap. I also spent the rest of the day relaxing and watching some of my favorite TV shows. I think I also made myself a chocolate sundae.

Next time, the morning after…

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Sun, 07/20/2008 - 12:41pm.

Ten Years

There are many accomplishments in my life for which I am proud. My academic accomplishments and awards were the high points of my childhood.

I am proud of my engineering and computer science degrees and my eight promotions/advancements at Bell Atlantic/Verizon. And in spite of how difficult it became at times, I am proud of my many contributions within YOBU, Revolutionary Workers League, National Organization for Women, Washington Peace Center, Sojourner Truth Congregation of Unitarian Universalists, and Reclaiming.

I am proud of Dark Flame Coven, Reflections Mystery School, and my web design company, Amber Eyes Solutions. Hell, I am even proud of this blog, Katrina’s Joy.

But besides my corporate career (25 years) and my coven (14 years), my longest running project is Connect DC.

Back in 1998, Dark Flame Coven was notorious only because we were public. This is surprising when you realize that we have never had more than six members. I am not sure, but I think we had already been on the front page of the Washington Post and had been invited to do ritual at several local Unitarian Universalist churches.

But it was after I attended the Reclaiming Spring Equinox ritual in San Francisco, that I felt Dark Flame could do more. So in the summer of 1998, I cajoled Dark Flame plus members of other covens, several Radical Fairies and a few radical feminists friends such as Dr. Loraine Hutchins to join me in Eric Eldritch’s living room to plan our public celebration of the Summer Solstice right here in DC. We pulled together a ritual on a rooftop with a few small theatrics ending with the presentation of the Sun cake by my coven sister Rose and her Radical Fairy brother Nicko. It was glorious!

It was after noting the discomfort of a coven member plus several of the invited covens, that I decided to pursue my dream as a separate public ritual group. And so it was after our public Summer Solstice ritual that I began to plan for what became known as the original working of Connect DC.

Next Spring will be Connect DC’s ten-year anniversary. But yesterday’s ritual on the mall was the ten-year anniversary of my test run. Next year we will celebrate in public, but right now, I am celebrating the manifestation of a vision and the realization of a dream ... my dream … come true. And for me, this is a source of great pride.

Thank you to Dark Flame and the entire DC community, and of course, a hearty thank you especially to the ancestors and the gods.

A grateful Katrina

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Mon, 06/23/2008 - 11:21am.

Laying The Burden Down

I guess it is time for me to come out of hiding. It has been a hellish period in many ways, but I think I have finally turned a corner. So I am peeking out and coming up for air.

It is often difficult to explain a descent into the underworld to those who have not been blessed with a visit, but I kind of expect that those that bother to read my rants are somewhat familiar with the terrain.

I went down. Or rather, I came up. Or … I have been on a hellish journey.

Sometimes I feel like I need to say the following words as preface to my storytelling -- None of what follows is metaphor.

“I’ve been ‘buked, I’ve been scorned, I‘ve been talked about sure as you’re born.”

That is a refrain from a song by my friend Evelyn Harris, formerly of Sweet Honey in the Rock. It is a refrain that can be sung by most black women, yes. But for me it spoke volumes.

Sometimes, there is a terror so deep, it can take almost 30 years to build up enough strength to face it. Over the last several months, I came face to face with such a terror.

[…breathe] … In the mid seventies I was a member of a group infiltrated by the FBI’s counter intelligence program otherwise known as COINTELPRO. Their usual tactics included seeding dissension and causing miscommunication. In the movement where I was a member, they created a climate of fear and paranoia. This produced a whirlwind of violence, hysteria and endless purges.

Because of my PTSD, I am no longer sure of exactly when it happened. Let’s just say that the year was either 1975 or 1976. I think it was during the month of October.

So […breathe] … in October of 1975 or 1976, I was beaten, tortured and abandoned in an industrial area overnight somewhere in New York City.

That sentence above says it all, but it says nothing. I have shared this information before, most notably within the pages of Modern Pagans. But what I had not shared was the sheer impact of the abuse and just how young I was emotionally. Whenever I have shared this story, I always made sure to say it matter-of-factly, so as to appear tough and strong. What I was hiding was just how terrifying it was to be left out in the dark, hundreds of miles from home, with god knows what scurrying about in the darkness, and left alone by people who only days earlier had been my family, clan, kin and comrades.

In some ways it was a relief. I had already suffered countless hours of terror and physical abuse, where the psychological aspects of the torture were in fact the most painful and long lasting. Followed by hours of being locked up in a dark room filled with weeping and bleeding victims. I was finally rousted up and dragged from the room by the very people who had accompanied me from DC. I was thrown into a car and driven to an unknown location where I was even threatened for daring to look out a window along the way.

I stood in the darkness, in shock, watching as the car pulled away. At least the torture and accusations were over, that is how I initially felt. Then the stark reality dawned on me that I had no idea where I was and I had nothing to defend myself. I spent the night crying, huddled on a bench under a flickering streetlight, shivering with fear. I had money, but I was so traumatized, I was afraid to call anyone from the lone phone booth less than a hundred yards away.

When morning finally came, the dark shapes receded and revealed an industrial area filled with skulking warehouses. The day light also revealed just how desolate and unforgiving my site of abandonment had been. Slowly the area began to crawl with life, and a shuttered low building became a greasy spoon catering to the early morning denizens of this place. I bought some food and got up enough nerve to use the phone booth.

I did what any frightened child would do; I called my mother. Coming from a family of psychics, my poor mother had been up all night – she knew one of her children was in danger. A bit later, after the ghetto network of my family was activated, my New York cousin, Mary, called me back. Less than two hours later, I stepped off a transit bus into her welcoming arms and was on my way to her home for a bath and meal.

Over the next several months, I was suicidal, depressed and listless. It was during those months of despair that I made my unholy vow. I had somehow decided that in an incident where I had clearly been the victim (along with countless others), that it was all somehow my fault. Not the fault of the people who abandoned me in the darkness, or the fault of the people who had beat me, tortured me and betrayed my trust. No. I had obviously done something to deserve such brutality, I had failed and so I steeled myself to never fail again.

And so I shut off my outrage, my anger, my fear, my grief, and my terror -- I toughened up.

But over these past several months, all that toughness dissolved within the supportive container of my coven, my healers and my dear, dear friends. And I let it all go and I finally broke down. I finally experienced all of the terror, grief, and outrage I refused to feel all those years ago. I am in fact still experiencing it. And so it has been difficult to write, read, sing, dance, eat, sleep, walk, talk or even breathe without triggering thirty-year-old memories of sheer terror.

And yet … still I write, read, sing, dance, eat, sleep, walk, talk … and yes breathe. Because I have already given those brutish cowards more than thirty years of my silence … they will get no more.

And so I visit with my younger self often, and I sit with her in that dark and tormented place. I hold her in my arms and keep vigil throughout the night. Her pain and terror is real. I can still feel it in my flesh every single day.

And so today, I open my mouth and I say … I’ve been betrayed, I’ve been tortured, I have been abandoned, I’ve been raped, I’ve been abducted, I’ve been dragged out of my bed at gunpoint, I’ve been stalked, and I’ve been sexually abused by a Catholic priest. I say out loud all the pain I have been carrying in silence.

And so, as of today, I refuse to carry the shame and guilt that should have been carried by those gutless cowards. Yes, I have survived, but only just barely in many ways. Today, I will not toughen up. I will not soldier through. I will not walk it off. I have simply let go of a burden that should have never been mine in the first place.

Today, I may be mad as hell, and my heart is clearly broken. But being angry and broken hearted is not a detour, a distraction or a defect. My soul’s journey often seems circuitous even to me, but I am growing and healing with every step. I am not off the path; this is my path. And as Evelyn sang all those years ago, “I’m just going to keep on moving on.” My path, my journey continues.

Thanks for listening.
©2008 Katrina Messenger

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Sat, 05/03/2008 - 3:53pm.

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Recent comments

  • Nephthys (not verified)

    I've been with Firefly for a number of years, I recently left my position at The Firefly Community to pursue other dreams but to be clear how much I was involved before I address the statements made, I was a teacher, Priestess, member of the Inner Circle of the Council of Elders, Course Contributor, Clergy, Delegate and Divination reader so I was quite involved with Firefly on many levels.

    I am offended by your statement that Firefly is cultish. Given my involvement as listed above I can safely say that Firefly members are not cultish in behaviour nor is Firefly cultish in of itself. I am no longer involved with Firefly in any strong capacity other than that of a student so I can also safely say this is not coming from a blind faith position. I will be the first to admit that part of the reason I left Firefly was because I did not agree with some of the changes Lady Iris intended to make, that being said, I don't support the idea that abuse should be turned into a political statement.

    I don't know Sean and I am not close to Lady Iris (I live in a different country) and have not commented on the situation with her marriage but some of his behaviours are reprehensible. If a President did this he would be impeached and booted so I fail to see why it should be ignored and relegated to 'personal marital issues' when behaviour like this is indicative of larger psychological issues. If Sean Bennett is allowed to use and abuse women in this fashion, eventually he would work his way through the single ladies in the OHF and what would you be left with?

    2 years 1 week ago
  • Virginia Carper (not verified)

    I for one have been pondering this question. Iris did highlight a valuable point - how are checks and balances established to prevent potential abuse and to air concerns. These are hard lessons that groups need to learn.

    Without denying people their agency, how do you set up a system that will prevent abuse by other members? How far does a group go to ensure the mental and emotional safety of the adult members?

    For example, I know with my disability (brain injury), I would deeply resent being told that the group is looking out for my best interests. It would seem to be paternalistic on the group's part to assume that I cannot fend for myself. But because of my disability, I can be easy prey for a con-artist. How do you solve a dilemma like that? Can this be encoded or is this sort of thing too nebulous to pin down?

    2 years 2 weeks ago
  • Virginia Carper (not verified)

    I have a traumatic brain injury.

    That being said, I got caught in the cross-fire in the Firefly Campaign, since I did not get with the program - i.e. Firemoon was abused by a sexual predator, who for the sake of the community had to be removed. I was shocked at how this mantra was repeated over and over everywhere it could be. I was shocked at how the Firefly folks did not identify themselves as they sought to achieve their goals. It left a poor taste about Firefly in my mouth since I started to regard them as "cultish", incapable of independent thought or discussion. Also it disturbed me how the Firefly folks who had nothing to do with DC, carried water in the campaign as well.

    Since I had lot of free time, I researched the consistent posters and everything I could find, and an disturbing picture arose. The one you described of a one-sided campaign to achieve a stated end, without proper identification or perspective.

    As for the brain injury - I got raked over the coals for making light of the issue from an avowed healer, who thought my injury was a ruse. That scared me into thinking that perhaps my impression of the "cultishness" of the Firefly group was true. (I know cult is a loaded word, but I cannot think of the word that would indicate a group of people, emotionally inflamed with one mission in mind, and not allowing any dissent.)

    2 years 3 weeks ago
  • Kali Firemoon (not verified)

    Katrina,

    I am so sorry that we have not met yet since it so obvious from your comments that you are a close personal friend of Iris’s and know all there is to know about the situation from a front row seat. I mean, after all, one who has seen a woman four months pregnant, losing weight and physically appearing to not be pregnant would of course understand the emotional, and yes, physical stress she was under. But of course, since you were there I don’t need to remind you of that. So lets move on to the rest of the story, you know where her husband chose to have unprotected sex with someone else, who I am sure was a complete virgin and posed no risk to mother or child, and then husband went home to engage in carnal activities with his wife, confident that his unborn child was never at risk. Yes, I am sure that all of your female students understand why you are firmly in the husband’s court. After all, it’s always the woman’s fault when marriages go bad. Or at least that is what I seem to glean from your article. Yes, I am Firefly, and I was one of the one’s chosen to help this woman after she was victimized by this predator who seems to have persuaded the pagan community that it is acceptable to treat not one, not two but at last count four woman as though they were simply a means to his end. And BTW I know she attempted to alert the community to her situation and apparently no one felt it worth even a cursory investigation. Oh yes, one more example of us not wanting to rock any one’s boat. I will tell you that in response to her story, several other pagan women have come forward with similar stories of abuse reported to the male members of a community met with similar disdain and an obvious desire to hide this type of behavior. Do I believe it happened this time, yes; do I believe that this community is willing, no matter the cost, to hide this type of behavior, yes. No one wants to call attention to the pagan community because we already have an undeserved stigma. But that does not mean we should allow behavior none of us condone simply because we are afraid of controversy. If one of us needs be sanctioned, then we either stand and sanction or accept the stigma so many would place upon us. We need to “police” our own. When four and probably five women come forth and tell the same story of predatory behavior against women we either act or fold the tents and go home. So I suggest you talk to all of them before you post any more pontifications. I also realize you can never post this but we both know you will have read it.

    2 years 3 weeks ago
  • Cara Schulz (not verified)

    Hello Katrina,
    Although we know one another, mostly online but also when we met at Sacred Harvest Festival, for your readers let me note that I'm the Managing Editor of PNC-News and the Co-Editor of PNC-Minnesota. I was the primary author of the PNC-News statement that you are writing about.

    The persons who contacted me asking when PNC would cover this were not Firefly members. Most were not local to DC, but were Pagans and polytheists in other parts of the country who had donated to the Pagan community center in DC and naturally had an interest in it. Why would they contact me? Because I'm the Managing Editor and people often contact me to ask if PNC is covering a story or to request that we cover a story. That's how we get many of our articles - through our readers.

    As for why PNC-News put two different situations in one statement, it's because they are related in nature and both needed to be addressed promptly.

    If anyone has any questions, we encourage them to contact us and ask them.

    2 years 3 weeks ago
  • Kat, Emralde (not verified)

    Thank you for this perspective. I very much appreciate the voice of the elders as I struggle with my own (not-voiced) feelings about this situation and its outcome.

    2 years 4 weeks ago