Prisoner Support

I’m consolidating several tumblr drafts with links to resources for writing to prisoners and programs that send books to prisoners. In the case of navigating around a single website, I didn’t put each individual link but showed the steps in menu selection. [These drafts were compiled in late autumn/winter of 2019, so I don’t have links about releasing prisoners or Covid-19 specific prisoner support.]

Original tumblr post: an ask about writing letters to prisoners with a reblog that mentions birthday cards for prisoners (Rebel Prisoner Birthdays For January 2020).

Books

Political Prisoners Birthday Crew (linked in above) >> Resources >> Other Groups. Second section ‘Other Prison Books Groups’ >> Prison Book Program’s list of similar programs  >> I specifically found a program that services the state I live in [Ohio]: Athens Books to Prisoners. Based on following their FB page for updates, it also looks like they do some letter writing events, but the main goal is books.

This certainly isn’t the limit. Some programs are national (Books to Prisoners), some are regional (Appalachian Prison Book Project), others serve several states (Books Through Bars), and some focus on a particular topic like LGBTQ+ material (LGBT Books to Prisoners) or serve a particular prisoner population (SWOP Behind Bars). The Prison Book Program’s list has a few international entries, specifically for Canada and Britain, but I must admit that I didn’t keep track of much internationally aimed resources being referenced or shared.

Writing

I definitely don’t have every possible resource for this because it can depend on why you’re writing and who you want to focus on. (A whole bunch of links being referenced and going across my dash had to do with anarchists and political prisoners, so those links are being shared first.) The Certain Days Collective maintains a Calendar of political prisoners’ birthdays (and other important dates) and puts out a monthly version with prisoner updates to the Prison Break column on It’s Going Down, which also has had anonymously contributed political prisoner birthday posts like Rebel Prisoner Birthdays For January 2020, which links to Bloc Party: Everything You Need To Know About Writing To Prisoners. And here’s the last version I’ve seen of a tumblr reblog chain with international prisoner support options (not solely limited to Anarchist Black Cross chapters).

Even if you’re not an anarchist or adjacent to activist groups that include people who have been arrested during the group’s activities, some of the letter writing advice can be applicable to anyone. Granted, not everyone’s really interested in focusing on political prisoners or only sending out a letter for someone’s birthday, so, some groups I’ve seen referenced for LGBTQ+ letter writing (because I get a lot of queer content on my dash): Black and Pink (US based), the Bent Bars Project (Britain), and the Prisoner Correspondence Project (Canada based, but it sounds like they match US prisoners to pen pals as well). There are definitely other FAQs, but I personally find the Prisoner Correspondence Project’s FAQ the most helpful when it comes to getting started Qs, logistics, thinking over future scenarios, and some self-evaluation around expectations. Currently, SWOP Behind Bar’s Mentor By Mail Tips and Tricks sheet has the most about JPAY (electronic mail) that I’ve come across.

This isn’t the first time that Fenrir’s given a nudge in this direction, but honestly, as of writing this post, I haven’t started writing to anyone. I haven’t done very well with maintaining communication with online friends in the past, and I just didn’t feel I was ready to commit to prison correspondence. I also got a little bogged down in having too many options and decisions, which is why I’m not trying to present every possible program or project in this post. I do have a few notes saved from a tumblr draft that I want to tack on at the end:

~ Black and Pink: Even if you don’t live where there’s an official chapter, it’s not uncommon to find informal letter writing groups (ex. some university LGBTQ Centers). They also have the option to select from prisoners in solitary confinement.

~ Kite Line: It’s a weekly approximately half hour show that covers prison related news and a certain topic or theme for each week. I’m currently working through the archives and came upon the episode for April 7th, 2017: How to Write to Prisoners. (WFHB is based out of Indiana, so some people can tune into the applicable stations and hear the show on air. I’m in the online podcast crowd.)

~ Rebel Steps: “An independent podcast that launched in June 2018. This podcast is for anyone who wants to take political action and doesn’t know exactly where to get started. It guides listeners through actions that go beyond protesting and calling your representatives.” Season 1 Episode 3: Write A Letter (Solidarity) covers writing to prisoners. (Link includes show notes and a transcript. The podcast can also be listened to on the site, Stitcher, Spotify, and other places.)

~ Solitary Watch: “A nonprofit national watchdog group that investigates, documents, and disseminates information on the widespread use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails.” Projects to bring human connection to prisoners in solitary: Lifelines to Solitary (pen pal program) and Photo Requests From Solitary. Lifelines to Solitary can be signed up for as a group (essentially starting a chapter) or as an individual (a PO box will be provided and your mail will be forwarded to your own address).

Bowl Holding Tips

[Cross posted and backdated from a sideblog. Originally posted on 27 Nov 2017 and tagged #community.]

A Bowling Tutorial

lokeanwelcomingcommittee:

lokisday:

lokeanwelcomingcommittee:

*snip*

  1. Commit to a certain amount of time. Many people find that having a set goal beforehand gives a bigger sense of accomplishment and prevents guilt from pushing them to keep going past what they find meaningful. 10-15 minutes is probably a good benchmark to start with.
*snip*

OMG, IT’S ACID! 😀 The bio/chem people are always so much fun.

May I throw in my three cents (with six years of weight training experience)? I’m not a doctor or a professional trainer.

  1. When you pick something up in front of you, you are engaging most of the flexors and adductors in your arms and shoulders. These include relatively strong muscles like your biceps brachii and trapezius, but also muscles like your sterno-mastoid and lateral deltoid which aren’t very strong unless you’ve been exercising them.
  2. To generalize, the higher you hold the bowl and  the further from your body, the more those “weaker” muscles will be engaged.
  3. If you rest the bowl on your lap or prop your elbows against your chest, you’ll be able to hold it a fairly long time. That’s a great place to hold it if you like to look into the bowl while contemplating or if having it close to you feels more intimate. 10-15 min is probably an okay start.
  4. If that’s too much or too little, adjust.
  5. I like to hold the bowl above eye level with my arms at nearly full extension. That’s just what feels “right” to me.
  6. And 15 min will murder you if you start there and don’t have a history of doing similar exercises.
  7. Starting at two minutes (or less) is very legit!

A few other general tips:

  1. A burning or slight shaking in your arms or shoulders is just lactic acid build up. It the pain is getting unbearable, don’t fidget. Just take deep, slow breaths and focus on relaxing your trapezius.
  2. A stabbing or spasming pain is a RED FLAG. Stop immediately.
  3. The first 2-3 min are the worst. The lactic acid builds rapidly and your body will try to convince you that you are horrible person for making it work. Don’t worry! Your brain will start to filter out the tension as “background noise”.

Reblogging here with comment to help anyone out who is thinking of trying this for the first time.

Don’t be ashamed or upset if you can’t do the 15 minutes the first time 🙂

Mod L

Ending a Chapter on an Ellipsis

I have spent a fair bit of time compiling information on the Vanir and Jotnar that related to my path (UPG), which did include info that were seeds from others. Y’know, all that stuff that probably seemed weird – Families, Tribes, Tolkien crossover with the Vanir (including Quenya or Tolkien Elvish), the separate but interconnected calendars of holy days. People have been slowly trimming away elements that snuck in from other people, but with all The Burning and stuff, it’s been more like They just want me to walk away now.

It’s not that everything was false; it’s almost like I was getting a set of Faces where that info was true and now new Faces have turned. I’ve been hoping that I don’t seem too jaded to Them, but at a certain point, I can’t make guarantees. There’s this thing where I wind up attracting expected Faces instead of actually getting through to the Face I was supposed to, and They’ve always planned on stripping away unnecessary outside influence, and Burning and Leaving just exponentially sped this up.

I’m honestly more tired than anything. It’s like I’m in this halfway stage where all I can really see is all of the debt that I have to repay to different People before They can officially and permanently Leave. Anyways, some of that debt involves activity and final posts here on WP.

God Bothered: A Guide.

Mystical Bewilderment

I get bothered by gods, well, fairly frequently I suppose. I don’t personally see it as such myself, but that’s what happens when you live in the thick of it. However from an outsider’s perspective looking in on the vague posts I make, it could seem as though my entire life is a giant way station for some new god to appear and go, “hey, hi. I’m here,” or something like that.

I can definitely say that things used to work that way; they don’t anymore. It seemed like once a month or so, some deity was jumping off the train with some baggage and a sign that said, “Satsekhem: look at me!” At first, I tried to accommodate and wound up in that deity collecting phase that drove me up a flipping wall. I would take one look at whoever the new deity was, roll my eyes as theatrically…

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Godspousery

The topic of godspousery can be controversial. You go through a ritual marriage ceremony and interact with that Deity as a Husband / Wife / Spouse, basically. Within the Heathen (or related) communities, I think someone once said that wives of Odin were the first to speak about this, but most people think of wives of Loki. I don’t know if there was a real boost in relation to the DC movie, but it became a bit of a trend to mock presumably teenage girls for being new spouses of His.

I know I’ve seen other examples cross my dash / reader (Hellenic and Kemetic deities), but I’m not as involved in those communities. Some people don’t want to deal with the backlash and don’t talk about this, and some people want to provide resources and wind up talking about this more. I haven’t really delved into the specific communities for human spouses because I didn’t want to have to unlearn the comparisons and what others were being asked to do.

I’ve gotten hints that I should keep godspousery in mind over the past few years, and I’ve been allowed to refer to m’Lady as my Wife-to-be in some places. Recently, I don’t think that label fits us anymore. Yes, I love m’Lady, and I strive for being Her Home, and as far as I can tell, She does love and care for me. I don’t think this is limited to being a godspouse, though, and I don’t think that we need the extra ritual and Oathing that a marriage ritual would entail.

In terms of describing what we are, I’d say that what I’ve mostly used – Beloved – still stands. To me, this doesn’t carry any associations of marriage yet still conveys that this is someone I love. I haven’t really had to refer to myself in this aspect, but I guess ‘loved one’ could work. I have nothing against godspouses or spiritspouses, but I just don’t think we’re actually in line with those relationship models.

Slave v Servant

When I first started writing pieces (before #sccwriting), I was relatively fresh off reading material from other people who definitely claim the godslave label. I’ve bounced around along the path of trying to live the goal of following m’Lady since then, and it was only recently that I was asked to return to this matter. The rest of this is based on my impressions, and I am definitely not trying to be an authoritative voice on this. YMMV, you do you, etc.

There’s a mix of preferred titles, connotation / baggage, and the extent of control that a sub hands over to their Dominant when I try to mentally separate a godslave from a servant. I think of a servant as being work oriented, and they may not hand over control of an area that isn’t related to the work. The Dominant could still be an Owner, but I’m more likely to think of Boss. When it comes to godslavery, I definitely think of the Dominant as the Owner, and I associate handing over the most amount of control with this dynamic. Realistically, you can’t reach 100%, but I don’t think anyone’s talked of an area that always stayed off limits.

When we were first starting along this path, m’Lady stressed handing over control and that She owned me. There wasn’t really work per se, or an assignment, so I didn’t think that serving quite described us. However, there’s connotation wrapped in these labels that I think nudged me away from using “godslave” a lot in the beginning. There is consensual sexual slavery, but I’m honestly not sure that that’s the first association that people have with slavery because of the very non-consensual kidnapping and human and/or sex trafficking that happens. I’m aware that the people writing about godslavery initially were talking about situations in which they didn’t really have a lot of say in declining this dynamic (tied into the death / rebirth process of being a spirit-worker in their paths), but I’ve been under the impression that this isn’t the norm.

When I think of a servant, I can see someone having more say in becoming one. I have a feeling this may not be true all of the time historically, but there’s only so much history that I – someone who isn’t a history buff – can bring into the effort of defining words that seem rather recent in getting a name. I think of butlers, ladies in waiting, and people who are almost like live-in assistants in working with someone else towards a goal. I think there was a stress on Ownership and handing over control in the beginning because it was new more so than that being a focal point in our relationship.

m’Lady still owns me, but it’s not as prominent. The title Owner is in storage more so than having been discarded, if that makes sense? It seems like godslavery is a lifetime commitment, but I think being a servant can also entail that commitment. Granted, the first example I can think of entails a fictional medieval setting, but I don’t want to feel like I have to use the godslave label in order to convey this sense of longevity. I know this probably looks like drawing very particular lines in the sand when some people view these terms as overlapping and sometimes being synonymous; I’ve been trying to see if I can figure out why I’ve been drawn more to the servant label than godslave.

Spirit Guardians

* * Note: I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I err on the side of caution and use “Spirit Guardian” or something close instead of using “totem” (that term is specifically tied into certain Native American / First Nation cultures). I typically don’t write about these Beings – however you want to refer to them – so I may not be perfect in not using totem.

How I use Spirit Guardian – the representative spirit of a particular species who acts as a guardian, overseer, “Phone” answer-er, ambassador, etc. for the living members of the species. I honestly don’t know exactly where they reside, but it’s some sort of spiritual / astral / not-here realm, so I’m prone to assuming that other information about spirits and communicating with them (for example) can apply here.

My first exposure to Spirit Guardians was through Silver Ravenwolf in a section of one of her books about tapping into my personal power through interacting with them (I think that was the gist). I obviously wasn’t intrigued enough to continue looking into this at that time, and I kind of didn’t quite click with some of the dictionary styled information I found for the few times I considered interacting with Someone.

I also felt rather overwhelmed by some people talking about having multiple Serious Alliances with Spirit Guardians due to being spirit-workers, shamans, etc. I was new enough that I didn’t want to jump into such serious, committed, taboo heavy relationships with so many spirits. I’ve also found out along the way that I’m not wired for spirit-work in that capital W sense, and I didn’t really see a reason for Spirit Guardians to want to interact if I wasn’t going to do spirit-work.

At some point in the past few years, I wound up on Lupa’s blog and her talk of interacting with plant and fungi Spirit Guardians and bioregional / ecosystemic approaches have percolated. With various People advocating an environmentally friendly lifestyle and nature focused things, I’ve circled around to Spirit Guardians as potential Vanic allies in conservation efforts (not limited to that, though).

Having not jumped into a lot of the Wiccan / Neopagan books on this topic, I don’t think I’ll have to unlearn as much. I’ve also returned at different points to Lupa’s Totemism 201 masterpost (series isn’t complete, as far as I know):

~ Totems Are Not Pokémon

~ Why Totem Dictionaries May Be Hazardous To Your Spiritual Growth

~ Why Species Are Important

~ It’s Not Just About The Animals

~ It’s Not Just About Us, Either

~ Why Going Outside Is Important

Making a Difference

The Druid's Garden

I had a long conversation with an older close relative of mine over the holidays. He had overheard my sister, brother-in-law, and I talking about herbalism, permaculture, cultural shifts.  This conversation was framed in the context of the recent Paris climate talks where it appears that world leaders agreed not to do anything for 15 years and in some future time, stave off too much of a temperature rise. After listening to us for a time, my relative indicated that anything that we would do would make “little to no difference” and that when we were his age (he’s in his late 60’s), we’d look back on our lives and regret not being able to do much; we’d certainly regret not being able to hope we had hoped to accomplish.  The fact that we had “little money or resources” made this a certainty. He thought he was doing us a…

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A Return to Tweaking Vanaheim

unNamed People

I updated Feast of the Fallen to include:

Gorwerdë (from the Tolkien Elvish oak gorw + seed erdë) [gore-wur-day]. He is not the ‘King’ and does not hold the priest role associated with the ‘King’ as Nornoriel has described. While Gorwerdë has taken on the official role of Sacrifice, He isn’t as involved or interested in ambassador work as Frey in my experience, which is why I still encounter Frey as being the focus of this day’s activities.

Priests

So, I’ve wound up finding out that Star Mother, Horn Father, and the Serpent Twins have priests. They all  have pools of priests with One as the ‘official priest’ because I have no terminology for these levels of priests / roles. When I refer to Them in my posts about the holy days, I’ve erred on the side of not being really confusing and used “priest of X”.

The priests serve as bridges to these harder to connect with Powers, and They can tap into the Hat / Title. This means that the official priest is called by the Name of the Who They are serving. The names as given to me are in Tolkien Elvish, so the English translation is the same as Who They’re serving (if we want to get specific).

However, when it comes to how I’ve interacted with these priests, I’ve more been getting a mix of Both (Whoever They’re serving + Them) that makes it hard to differentiate. I would have to rely on Whoever I was communicating with to be truthful in being ‘priest entirely passing on message’, ‘priest filling in holes of X’s initial message’, and ‘brief message entirely from X’. I may be able to build up a differentiation, but right now, I can’t.

  • Priest of Star Mother

When I was under the assumption that I was interacting with the ‘Queen’ (as named by Nornoriel), it was actually Elenamil (from [Tolkien] Elvish star elen + mother amil) [ell-in uh-mill]. She also accepts Amya [ah-m yuh] (informal variation of “mother”) outside of formal rituals. She started out as One of the “daughters of the stars”.

  • Priest of Horn Father

When I was under the impression that I was interacting with the ‘King’ (as named by Nornoriel), it was actually Tawaradar (from Elvish forest tawar + father adar) [tuh-war uh-d-are]. He also accepts Ada [ah-dah] (informal variation of “father”) outside of formal rituals. He started out as One of the “sons of the forest”.

  • Priests of the Serpent Twins

These priests also share the names of Who They serve, but I’ve also run into the Serpent Twins going by different names than Nornoriel gave. One’s name is Coi (life) [coy], and the Other’s is Nuru (death) [ner-roo].

The Serpent Twins are the firstborn children of Star Mother and Horn Father and embody all possible sexualities and genders, but I do not encounter Them as being dead (as Nornoriel presents in his book Visions of Vanaheim). Due to being created first, They seem distant, and I don’t experience Them as being as connected to Midgard as Star Mother and Horn Father are (They Work in other Worlds more).

Their pool of priests “children of the void” are what we’d classify as gender nonconforming, not cis, and generally wibbly-wobbly, gendery-wendery. This occurs in all priesthoods, but there’s a higher rate in this one (not uncommon with Serpent affiliated People in other groups of Entities).

~

This is part of how I’ve run into personal deviations from what Nornoriel has presented as his upg.