A Message From Freyja: Pretty Is Not The Same As Beautiful

EmberVoices: Listening for the Vanir

“Pretty” is not the same as “Beautiful”. “Pretty” has rules. “Pretty” has consequences. “Pretty” can tear you apart, flaw by flaw, and destroy you from the inside out.

“Pretty” can also raise you up, when it’s a path to “Beautiful”.

Sometimes I find a sequence of songs that tell a story that I need to hear, or need to share.

Here’s a story for you, in music from four powerful, pretty, beautiful women, about the difference between “Pretty” and “Beauty”, and why it hurts to confuse them. (For more of my own thoughts on the topic, read on after watching!)

“Pretty Hurts” by Beyoncé

“Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera

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Motherlines by Suzy McKee Charnas

<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/517322.Motherlines&#8221; style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img border=”0″ alt=”Motherlines (Holdfast Chronicles, #2)” src=”https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328216369m/517322.jpg&#8221; /></a><a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/517322.Motherlines”>Motherlines</a&gt; by <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/52468.Suzy_McKee_Charnas”>Suzy McKee Charnas</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1531931651″>4 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
This book felt a little slower than the first, Walk to the End of the World, and some of the way the world of the women works is a bit offputting and strangely explained. But toward the end where two societies meet, and attempt to work with one another, is fascinating. Both contemporary and remniscent of the past, the tense between assimilating what is good, and leaving behind negative behaviors born out of post traumatic stress from a life time of abuse is very well done, as is the simple misunderstanding and lack of patience on the part of the people who have not grown up in an abusive environment. The end started to feel old testament to me. I will definitely read the next two books, and that is rare for me because I usually get bored with series. Also interesting because there are no male characters in the ook.
<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/4096319-carol”>View all my reviews</a>

Page by Taora Pierce

I’m not sure what it is about Tamora Pierce’s writing that grabs and won’t let go.  Sometimes I think “oh this character is too perfect” but it isn’t just her characters, but the world she has created. I always want to linger in it. I haven’t felt like this since I first read the Darkover books.  Her secondary characters are rich and full of life. Pierce is also an expert at not letting her characters know more than tI’m not sure what it is about Tamora Pierce’s writing that grabs and won’t let go.  Sometimes I think “oh this character is too perfect” but it isn’t just her characters, but the world she has created. I always want to linger in it. I haven’t felt like this since I first read the Darkover books.  Her secondary characters are rich and full of life. Pierce is also an expert at not letting her characters know more than they should at a given point in the story.

If you like books with strong female characters, fantasy and lots of animals that even have distinct personalities, you’ll enjoy curling up with this on a chilly evening.

Book Review: We Were Brothers by Barry Moser

A meditation about a complicated relationship, Barry Moser writes beautifully and with a tender heart of his brother, with whom he had an extremely difficult relationship. The last part, when they make amends, in part because Barry called his brother on his racism and misogyny is truly touching. I give credit to his brother for being able to take in what Barry was so correctly stating, and, it appears, change his attitudes (or at the very least, vocalizing them.) This would be an interesting book to read for people thinking about racism in their families.

Book Review: Slade House by David Mitchell

Holy crap! One of the scariest, most bone chilling books I have ever read. My constitution isn’t as strong as some, so I couldn’t read it in one sitting. The different points of view he uses in the story only add to the terror. I was reminded of a fairy tale (which he alludes to in the book) except that we usually just read of the triumph of Hansel and Gretel, not of the dismal fates of all the victims before. When I started the book I couldn’t remember why I had put it on hold, but the first chapter, with the clear voice of a neuro-atypical young man drew me in. I had no idea what to expect, and the horror of realization of what was happening washed over me in real time. ( It has been a long time since I read a book where I honestly didn’t know what would happen.

Thoughts on Raido

The below is taken from http://www.runes.info/runepiece16.htm

author Bob Oswald
Home Page http://www.runemaker.com
email click here
Copyright © 1994-2015 Bob Oswald

Riding is the joy of the horsemen
and speedy journey
and toil of the steed.

Riding is said to be the worse thing for horses,
Reginn forged the finest sword.

The second line is only related to Raido insofar as the name Reginn begins with the letter R. Reginn is a character in Sigurd’s Tales, a portion of the Prose Edda. He made the sharpest sword, capable of cutting through an anvil. This verse of the Norse poem may have had a mnemonic (memory aid) value in the original old Norwegian that is lost in translation.

The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem is – as usual – pretty clear:

Riding – to the warrior in the hall – is easy,
But very strenuous for one who sits on top,
Of a powerful horse over long miles.

My thoughts: It seems to me Raido is both a physical journey but also the spiritual journey and the journey through life. With the top poem and the second, it is indicated that it is worse for the horse i.e. the being doing most of the work, and being led, rather than leading.  In the last, we are reminded that talking about what we would do in a given situation is a lot easier than making the decisions (hopefully) yourself. One can not always be the rider in life’s journey – the person deciding where to go. And when you can’t choose, it is comforting to be recall raido, knowing that since the very universe is made up of the runes, one’s struggle, one’s journey is part of the fabric of the universe.



Movie review: Only Lovers Left Alive

Jim Jarmisch film, starring Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton.

This film is a languidly paced drama about a pair of old vampires, Adam and Eve. Despite the names there is not an indication that they are original vampires or anything like that. Maybe it is meant to indicate that they are meant to be together?

While watching the film, at times it felt infuriatingly slow. There are long drives through Detriot, conversations that don’t seem to go anywhere etc. After watching it, however, I like it more.

For one thing, the vampires mature – they don’t age in the sense that they deteriorate mentally or physically, but they gain experience, and knowledge. Adam knows how to play many instruments, and is said to be a musical genius (Although if you subscribe to the 10000 hours theory, what vampire couldn’t be a genius? They have loads of time to practice.) Eve is very literary, and their friend is Christopher Marlow – who in the film wrote all of Shakespeare’s works. And they stay in love. One of the issues I have with alot of vampire films and books is that the vampire is always attracted to a human that is 17 or 22 or whatever. I mean, if you are 200 years old, what would you talk about with a 17 year old? My explanation, to get over it, has been that vampirism is a metaphor for addiction, and the vampire stays the emotional age they were at the time they were turned. This film doesn’t do that, thankfully. And one gets the sense that they are not radically different than they were during their human life, but rather they have grown and developed. Become more themselves given the infinite amount of time they seem to have.

Visually, the film is just beautiful. The scene where Tom and Eve are asleep together, nude, looks like a painting I would hang on my wall.

The end of the film is the big pay off. If you let yourself be drawn into the world, accept the almost real time feeling of the pace, it is very much worth it. And it is a vampire film about love, change, sophistication that only Jim Jarmusch would make.

Book Review: Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac

This month is Native American History Month, and Bookriot had a list of novels aimed at a YA readership to think about reading this month.  So I looked at all of them, and used the handy library widget in Amazon to see which books my library has. Killer of Enemies was one.

A very brief synopsis: There has been an apocalypse of sorts in which electricity no longer works, which creates a huge disaster. In this world, there are people (the 1%) who are called “The Ones” who become leaders. (At least in the area where it takes place. No electricity-no phones etc) The rest are basically slaves. Lozen is a young woman of Apache dissent who is a very good killer. Some of the enemies are genetically modified animals, that can reproduce and are huge.

One of the things I really liked about this book was the world that is created. I could picture a lot of stories in different areas of this world happening, and I would want to read them all. It is pretty rare when reading a dystopian universe that it seems complete, and riveting.

I also enjoyed the way Native American myths and legends were woven into the plot, as well as the matter of fact spirituality which includes ancestor veneration. You are also shown rather than told how the religion works.

It is always nice to read a book where the ethnic variations are a matter of fact, and not LOOK I AM BEING DIVERSE. There is a character of Arab ancestry in the story (which is important as they are in the American Southwest.)

There are some misteps in the book that a good editor would have caught, and those almost took me out of the story (because I started thinking about them instead of being lost in the story.) The writing is somewhat choppy at times, and until the end, there didn’t seem to be a lot of character development for Lozen. The end however gives me hope that she will be more fully developed in the sequel.

I definitely recommend this as a fun, thought provoking book. There is some good commentary on how modern life is lived, a strong female lead and the way the Apache religion and traditions is woven in is nicely done. I will be reading the sequel (and apparently there is a prequel too.)

lesson 1 from polytheistic druidry


This is a free course of 20 lessons. I have been wanting a more organized way, yet gentle entry into spiritual study. ADF felt like I was supposed to figure it all out at once, which is clearly difficult.

Some questions for you to think about:

What are the popular images (good and bad) associated with the Celtic countries and peoples? What feelings do these images evoke for you? Cernunnos, The Morrigan.  Cernunnos is good feelings – money, fertility, rambling. the Morrigan seems very scary to me, and not one to involve oneself with lightly – these feelings, oddly, are how I think of Odin.
The land mass now called England was once inhabited by Celtic peoples, yet we no longer think of it as Celtic. Genetic tests have shown that quite a few people who consider themselves English are descendants of the Iron Age tribes. What are the factors that form or challenge both personal and national identity? What makes a person Celtic? Is it being descended from a particular bloodline, or being able to speak one of the languages, or having been raised within a certain culture, or having a spiritual relationship with certain Gods or spirits? Is a combination of two or more of these factors, or something else entirely?  I tend toward Universalism, and while I do not consider myself Celtic (although I do have Scots and Welsh ancestors) . I do not think bloodline is important – many societies have very open adoption and clearly once adopted by a family, it is by the whole line.  I do think that heritage does play a part in whether you consider yourself as a Celt though, being what you are most familar with, or you get interested in a certain ancestor or ancestor’s culture. I think that there is a chicken and egg question with the language. but I do think one is drawn to certain Gods (or the Gods draw certain people) and that is compelling. People get drawn to music or an aspect of a culture which can lead to deep engagement to the point of calling themselves part of that culture. As culture is a living breathing expanding and contracting thing, I think all these things have a part.

A practical task:

Try to find out something about the tribe that occupied the place you live in during the Iron Age. There may be items in local museums to look at, old hill forts you could visit, or books to read about any of the more prominent members of your local tribe.

The Washoe and Northern Paiute lived here then. Wovoka, the founder of the Ghost Dance religion was a Northern Paiute.

My first readathon day

I didn’t finish nearly as much of Capt. Bluebear as I thought I would. I also didn’t participate in the other online things as much and I realized that I have a lot of “readathon” days only they aren’t 24 hours long. So I think I will do it again, and try to do the real 24 hours. And prepare better! 🙂

I also think I will pick shorter books that perhaps require less attention. Capt. Bluebear is an epic tale set in an alternate universe with many hilarious, unpredictable things happening.  I can’t think of a book to compare it to – sort of like Ulysses (by Homer, not James Joyce) with every fantasy world you have ever thought of tossed in. And it is 700 pages long. I got over halfway done, but feel like a piker!

To take a break I watched an absolutely dreadful movie called Unrelated. Apparently critics loved it but WHY? It is a bunch of people wandering around having boring conversations. The prim.ary character is a clinically depressed woman who is haning around with the teenagers in this summer home in Italy.  She thinks she is having a flirtation with the son of one of the people whose villa she is staying at. I saw no indication that this was reciprocated at all. Eventually she cries, talking with her friend and is no longer clinically depressed. Ye Gods. Tom Hiddleston dances wildly in a  disco at one point. That is the highlight.