Tag Archives: reflection

Muscle Memory

I have been calling myself a pagan for a little over 20 years. For around a third of that I was very enthusiastically Wiccan. I then practiced Druidry for a couple of years while studying the Bardic grade with the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. For the past five or six years I have been a Heathen (Germanic paganism, where my initial interest had lain), but at times it has been a challenge. I would like to share something that is helping me see it in a different light.

I recently visited an exceptional massage therapist, hoping for relief from shoulder pain I’ve had for years. My massage therapist explained – in terms I could understand – that I have layers of scar tissue over my muscles. This is usually the result of an untreated injury or over working yourself. It means my muscles can’t expand and contract properly. The scar tissue also prevents blood from adequately reaching my muscles, so they can’t heal properly. Without treatment first, exercise often builds more scar tissue rather than fixing anything. I have the same problem with my neck, back, chest, arms, and legs. She even believes my hands were broken at some point, which was news to me.

Even after just a couple of sessions with her, the change has been dramatic. While moving an unused door to the shed, I realized in mid-stride that I was feeling no pain or tightness in my neck or shoulders. I immediately had flashes of a time when physical activity came so easily. Through the years, I have been slowing down. Exercise feels different and the results aren’t the same. I thought it was age or I wasn’t trying hard enough, and I practically gave up… but what if the massage therapist is right? What if untreated injuries building up over time is partially to blame? The happy ending to this story is that with her help, I am at the start of a road to health.

This physical realization brought with it a spiritual epiphany. I had flashes of a time when my budding pagan spirituality seemed to flow so easily. A few years ago I was involved in some serious spiritual drama, and everything has been more challenging since. I even considered returning to those paths where things had felt smoother – Wicca and Druidry – but I found they were no longer so easy. I think it’s because it isn’t that path that’s the challenge. It’s the spiritual scarring, making everything more difficult and preventing proper healing. I have been hobbled on this stretch of my spiritual journey.

The best news is that this story can also have a happy ending. Now that I have identified the problem, I can find solutions. Just like with the massage therapist, part of it will include asking for help from people I trust. Another part will be getting back into the routine of strengthening myself, and without the barriers it’s a pleasant responsibility. If the comparison holds true, confronting some of these things will be painful… but in the end, worth it all.

page-breakMike CMike C. is a geeky Pagan, living a quieter life with his loving wife in Riverview, NB

Leave a comment

Filed under Mike C

A Tragic Tale and a Noble Sacrifice

143

So many times we read of distant heroes and beautiful places that are brimming with history and tragedy and fascinating events. It is easily forgotten that the land we live on is also full of stories.

Middle Island is located on the southern bank of the Miramichi River just outside of Chatham, NB. It stretches roughly 350 meters long and 100 meters wide. On the South Eastern side there are sandy beaches and calm shallow water. The opposite side faces out into the middle of the Miramichi River. The shoreline is rocky, with much deeper water and docks.

Perhaps just as interesting as the island itself is the fact that a mile or so inland, there is a lake that is roughly the same size and shape as Middle Island. This has lead to local stories about the two being related. Some people credit leprechauns magic with the creation of Middle Island, and thereby the large hole which was left to fill with water and become the Lake.

Middle Island has a fascinating and tragic history. From roughly 1827 to 1850 the island was used sometimes as a quarantine station. Often ships full of immigrants would arrive in the New World containing passengers who were ill or who had died during the voyage. Diseases such as cholera, typhus, small pox and dysentery were common. One infected passenger could carry a disease aboard that would spread throughout the ship affecting passengers and crew alike. Weeks spent in cramped and unsanitary conditions made illness almost unavoidable once it was present.

In 1847 at the height of the Irish potato famine, immigrants were pouring in from Ireland, in search of food for hungry bellies and a way, ANY way to provide for their families. Cargo ships often sailed with a hold full of people rather than goods during this time. One such ship was the Looshtauk, which carried 462 passengers. Of these, it is estimated that 117 and possibly as many as 146 died at sea. Conditions were so bad that the captain was forced to head for the nearest port, which was Miramichi.

Port authorities in Miramichi did not know what to do with the Looshtauk. It was decided that Middle Island would be put to use once again as a quarantine station. Some temporary wooden buildings were erected, and three days after their arrival, the passengers and crew were finally allowed to land on the island.

Within a week two other ships also arrived and were directed there. Between the three ships over a hundred more people died on the island.

It is difficult in this day and age to imagine the conditions that these immigrants faced in 1847. Middle island had a couple of wooden buildings, and as people arrived and grew ill, makeshift shelters and canvas open air tents were set up to accommodate the sick. These very rough shelters were not comfortable, and they were definitely not sanitary. They would offer slight protection from the elements but no shelter at all from the mosquitoes and temperatures.

Supplies were dropped off on the mainland opposite the island and those who were healthy were able to row across and pick them up. A doctor was badly needed, to treat the suffering and dying immigrants. Some sources state that port medical officers had refused to travel to the island.

A young doctor named John Vondy volunteered to help. He was 28 years old. He agreed, knowing that once there, he must remain until the illness had passed. He was aware that this could take weeks or months.

When Vondy arrived at the island he found himself faced with over 300 patients. It is said that he worked tirelessly to relieve the suffering he found there, until finally falling ill himself. In the ultimate sacrifice, John Vondy died on Middle Island.

Today, the island is a recognized historical park. A stone cairn marks the place as an Irish burial ground, and a fifteen foot Celtic cross monument bears the words “bron bron mo bron.” (Sorrow sorrow my sorrow.) There is a walking path that circles the island and an interpretive center where visitors can learn more about the history of the place.

144

page-break

kpKatie P is writer, reader, drummer and certifiable nature nut. She lives rural New Brunswick, where she spends far too much time frolicking in the bulrushes. She also blogs at Wyldwomyn.ca

1 Comment

Filed under Katie P

Reflection on Renewal

The invigorating smell of cool, crisp air you take in deep and let out in a warm haze… Snow crackling under foot as you walk down a darkened path… The ticking of a clock as it nears midnight… A glass raised in a toast… A warm kiss with the one you love to welcome a new time…

New Year’s Eve is all of these and more. Whether celebrating with a group or alone, this season always brings about thoughts of the year to come and those that have passed. As one year turns into another, thoughts of renewal come to mind. There is a stripping of the old, worn facade and a building of a new, stronger, more resilient one.

What is renewal? According to Miriam-Webster, Renewal is “the act of saying or doing over again” or “the act or an instance of bringing something back to life, public attention, or vigorous activity.” It can also be said to be a reanimation, rebirth or revitalization.

Renewal is only a single piece of the puzzle that is you.  What was once strong can become pitted over time by stress both physical and emotional, by illness both physical and mental, and by a variety of other factors.  Sometimes you can’t control those factors, but there is always a chance, a rebirth of what once was, no matter how defeated you feel. The spark has always been there; one only need identify it, and re-grow it. One only needs fight to rekindle those embers of desire – burn down those self-imposed prisons of rejection and dejection and burn brighter than ever before.

There was a time when I was a strong, able bodied woman. I had a wonderful connection to everything around me.  I could walk down a busy city sidewalk and hear nothing but the trees whispering in the breeze, birds singing a storm. I could meditate and focus on the now and rarely feel anxiety or stress. That time has passed but needs renewing.  In a time of fast food, fast diets, fast exercise, it can be difficult to get back to basics, but restarting that energy is a necessary and healthy undertaking.

Renewal has been in the forefront of my mind for most of this year, but more so now than ever.  Not only is this year coming to a close, but so is my last year in my thirties.  As I age, I feel time more then ever whilst sensing its fluidity.  I’ve allowed life to overtake my spirit and my body. Both are in need of a rebirth of their own.  Many see this time of year as a spiritual opening to renewal of vows made, oaths taken, promises to be kept.  It is the inner and outer temples that must be renewed.

As I head into the New Year, a desire for renewal leads me. I feel called to delve deeper into my own reflection and the reflection of the world I create. It will be a revitalization that will strengthen and enlighten me, as it has before. For me, it is a reanimation of myself to strengthen my body, to sharpen my mind, and by extension renew that spirit that burned so bright – a phoenix raised from the ashes.

What reflection has renewal brought to you?

page-break

Reverse Tattoo

Crowwitch is a spectacular balance of chaos and order. This energetic hockey, soccer, ringette, karate, mom works hard to keep up with her two brilliantly funny children, and enjoy some quiet time with her devoted partner in the evenings. She also maintains a personal website called Crowwitch.

Leave a comment

Filed under Crowwitch