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book catchup: #35-40 of 2006

Waaay behind on the book list. These will be short reviews as a result (especially the rereads).

#35: Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins (reread)
Only one of my favorite books of all time. (The rest of my top five would be, um, East of Eden, Lord of the Rings, and, um. Maybe Cryptonomicon. And yes, I know that's only four. Shut up.) See the quote I posted from this last month for a taste of why I love this book so much. It's got art, and why we make art, and philosophy, and politics as an outgrowth of philosophy, and magick, and mythology, and just lots of really GOOD SHIT. So there.

#36: Active Birth by Janet Balaskas
One of the many many pregnancy/birth books I've been devouring of late (gee, wonder why), only unlike most of them I actually liked this one enough to read it cover to cover rather than picking out the useful stuff. It's hard to tell how much of this is because the author and I seem to be coming from similar philosophies, but to me the book was informative without being preachy, philosophical while still being based on science, and made heavy use of the same techniques and ideas (yoga and dance, specifically) that I was looking for.

#37: Passage by Connie Willis (reread)
Connie Willis' latest novel, but it's been far too long since it was published. But it's classic Willis, with the absurdity and irony of normal life turned up just enough to leave you in silent-shoulder-shaking laughter, because no matter how crazy a character gets, you realize you know someone exactly like that. In this one, a psychiatrist takes on near-death experiences, trying to figure out what's going on at a neurological level while navigating the pitfalls of hospital bureaucracy, new-age pop psychologists, and little girls obsessed with disasters. Great fun, and thought-provoking at the same time.

#38: Birthing From Within by Pam England (reread)
This was the first pregnancy book I read, nearly two years ago, and it's just as good on the reread. It's a little shy on hard physiological information, but makes up for it on the psychological side, encouraging you to figure out what aspects of the process of becoming a mother scare you, and how to isolate them and break them down.

#39-40: Walking to Mercury and the Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk (reread)
I felt the yen to pick up TFST again, and realized that I'd never read its prequel first, always after (in the order they were written). Both books are a much richer read in this order, I think. It's also hard to really describe WtM as a prequel to the other, for all that it follows many of the same characters 60-80 years earlier - because the world in which it is set is so radically different. Where WtM is plain fiction, albeit with heavy philosophical and magickal overtones, TFST is pure utopic/dystopic fantasy, though perhaps not as fantastic as it might seem on the surface. Both books are filled with chewy, tasty philosophy of my favorite kind.

The last two also got me thinking about the differences in feel between the ceremonial and witchcraft (for lack of a better general term) paths in magick. ('High' and 'Low' magick would be possible terms, but I dislike them because it makes it sound like one is 'better' than the other. Those terms are also goal-oriented, and I believe either path can be used for either type of goal.) I tried witchcraft, and it felt good but I couldn't find enough tangible to hold on to. I tried ceremonial, and it stuck much better, but I still miss the soul and deep joy that is much easier to come by in witchcraft. It strikes me that there's got to be a better way to integrate the two.



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 22nd, 2006 06:09 pm (UTC)
change the /i to a /a
Aug. 22nd, 2006 06:15 pm (UTC)
Huh... weird, I looked at that and went scared me? Why on Earth would I be scared of becoming a mother? I may need to smash the snooze alarm of my biological clock again.

It's not entirely true, there are aspects that worry me. Energy levels, not passing on my own issues to my kids, finances, etc. But if I were pregnant, hopefully I'd have worked out enough of my issues before choosing to become pregnant (at least the finances), and so other than the chance of medical problems and the difficulty of raising a kid while disabled... no, not scared. This is what happens when you give someone weird genes and hormones such that they've been wanting to have kids since they were 2, and make it environmentally infeasible to have a kid before 30. Or maybe I'll be scared if/when I become pregnant. But right now, all I can think is eager (and tired).

I hope it goes well and easily for you. May you have a healthy baby and an easy delivery. I envy you, but I'm happy for you. :)
Aug. 22nd, 2006 07:40 pm (UTC)
Everything you listed is things about being a mother - but there's also all the aspects of the transition and the birth itself. The pain of labor, changes in your body and body image, what effect it will have on your relationships and your social life, the entirety of the life change that it brings and the fact that you'll never , ever get your old life back. No matter how much you want the change, the actual change is scary, because you don't know what's going to happen.

And yes, it does get a whole lot more real when you actually get pregnant. I believe it will be worth it a thousand times over - but there are days when it's hard to remember that.
Aug. 22nd, 2006 08:11 pm (UTC)
My old life was about preparing my life to get into a position that I could have kids. My whole life has been focused toward that goal. So, losing my old life is kind of irrelevant. The physical things, yeah, I can see that. Kind of already done a lot of that with disability issues. Plus, I'm in a weird situation, being pregnant is the one thing with a decent success rate that might improve my health (well pregnancy and breast-feeding). So, again - eager.

Labor is scary. I remind myself that if millions of women have managed it, I probably can too. But yeah, pain, scary. And possible complications... and the thought that the baby might not be healthy and such. So, yeah. But I think I'd be more scared if people were asking me what I was scared about and having me try to think about it than if I were just having a baby, because then I'd be mainly focusing on finally having my life on track and getting what I want out of life.

Yes, I am dull. I want a home and a family moreso than a career or fame or whatnot. But of the things I've experienced in life, the best things seem to be parenting, helping people, teaching people, and being loved and appreciated. And you can pretty much have all of those if things work out okay. Although not everyone will actually want all of those or have those things bring them joy.

I dunno, it just seems weird to focus on the fear, rather than on the getting things ready, knowing what to expect, and being pleased. It's supposed to be a happy thing (not the labor itself, but the becoming a parent). Be happy!
Aug. 22nd, 2006 06:29 pm (UTC)
I tried witchcraft, and it felt good but I couldn't find enough tangible to hold on to. I tried ceremonial, and it stuck much better, but I still miss the soul and deep joy that is much easier to come by in witchcraft. It strikes me that there's got to be a better way to integrate the two.

This is where I fall. While I like the good feeling of witchcraft and like they symbolism and some things I got from it (add a dash of Feri and I'm digging it) I found it slipped away too easily. Ceremonial was almost the opposite end, where it hit me upside the head with a brick and I stood stunned for a while. I too, would like to find something in the middle. Perhaps that is why I enjoyed the Feri bits that I did, while it was ceremonial like and gave me something to hang onto, to visualize, it also had the good feeling/imagery that I 'got.' For an example, reference that entry I wrote a few years ago about peeling back the layers and seeing what was at your core. (If I can find the entry, I will link it later, but being at work, I can't quite search at the moment. It was the one they published in the Scarlet Letter a while back).
Aug. 22nd, 2006 07:24 pm (UTC)
I've been playing both sides of the witchcraft/ceremonial fence for years. Many people don't seem to understand why. I don't understand why NOT! Attempting to balance the two ends of the magickal spectrum is very rewarding for me.
Aug. 22nd, 2006 07:30 pm (UTC)
I echo the sentiments about the blending of ceremonial and witchcraft. I need my Hod and my Netzach :)
I only recently found about about the prequel to The Fifth Sacred Thing myself, so I need to read that too! It's funny, on the book it doesn't mention there is a prequel.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


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Heather Keith Freeman
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