Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Persephone's Descent

The Autumnal Equinox has come and gone. Here in the Midwest, the wheel turns as we embrace old harvest traditions and beautiful scenery.
Appleseed days, harvest home, county fairs, and Oktoberfest. All bring the community and warmth of autumn, along with the sticky-sweet, mischievous, and boozy atmosphere of the midway.
Colorful leaves fall until the trees are barren and their branches poke through shadows, like the gnarled hands of a monster peeking out of a child's closet.
It's a sensual season filled with rich scents, inviting textures, and magical nights that grow longer until Yule.

Candy apples and costume making.
Pumpkin carving and spiked cider.
Scary movie marathons and bonfires.
Ancestors. The Mighty Dead. The Underworld.
At this time, Persephone is on my mind.

Sometimes I think the men who wrote her story got it wrong.*
Or at the very least, left out the juicy stuff.

I can't imagine any budding young woman would want to be under her mother's watchful eye, aimlessly picking flowers forever, especially since Demeter had rejected previous suitors.
And what teenager girl never fell for a bad boy, at least once?!!

Perhaps she wanted to stay so she could finally be a sexual woman, without worry of offending mother. Perhaps she enjoyed the honor and power of being a Queen.
And since she couldn't come right out and say it, she went ahead and ate the pomegranate seeds.
Did Hades trick her, or was it a pact between two star-crossed lovers?
Either way you see it, her story is a powerful one about finding your place and power.
 I highly recommend this book if you'd like to explore her lessons further.
As much as Autumn is the dark half of the year, the "season of the witch", it's also about community. It's a hell of a time to feel/be alone.

If you are single and lonely or depressed- I feel your pain, trust me. I try to tell myself that the wheel of fortune is always turning and no season lasts forever.

All we can do is try to live in the moment and make the best of what's been given to us. Take a midnight stroll, leave the cell at home and listen to the leaves crunch beneath your feet.
Cook a new meal with exotic spices.
Indulge, and buy yourself that body oil or silk nightgown you've had your eye on.
Whatever your situation is, do something that makes you feel alive.
Seduce yourself, seduce your lover.
Autumn has a sense of urgency, as if you have to capture the even the smallest moments of life amidst the surrounding decay.

I might be depressed, but I'm not dead yet.
                    She became the Queen of the Underworld and the bringer of spring,
                                       She found her place, her balance. I can get through this.

* I definitely don't intend to disregard her abduction myth as it has been written. Those who are abuse survivors and find her story extremely useful in healing and shadow work have my respect and support.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Goth at 30 and Beyond: Insight for baby bats

Goth or not, people tend to perceive turning 30 as the magical milestone into being a "real" adult. High paying job, mortgage, marriage and kids on the way. By now, they assume you should be putting away the dreams of your 20s and hanging up your dancing shoes. NO FUN FOR YOU! You are 30 now; time  to slap on the khakis and get that middle management position you never dreamt of :/

30 year old me, before the De/Vision concert in Austin, TX

These days, I'm closer to 40 than 30 and hopefully wiser for the wear. Here are my observations and suggestions for younger goths who wonder what the future holds in terms of aging and goth identity.

- I became more relaxed about mixing and matching different goth style genres, learning to DIY, etc. I'm definitely more comfortable in my skin at 37 than I was in my 20s, and have a better idea about what styles/shapes of clothing look better on me.
You also no longer live with the paranoia that someone will notice you've worn that same old reliable Lip Service dress to the club twice in the same month. Essentially, I quit caring what other people in the local scene might have thought about my style because most of them were younger and it appeared a lot of the older people slowly quit dressing up as much, or just dropping out of the scene like flies (we'll discuss this later). I think when many of us are younger, we get too stuck in specific labels, or really struggle with being ourselves while still performing the goth aesthetic. This definitely became easier as I got older.

-You might possibly find ways to help build the community, or assist in events. When I was younger, it really was all about dancing, drinking, and dressing up. I wasn't a DJ or a musician, so I never bothered to really think about how I could contribute. Over time, however, I experienced scenes in different cities (some much worse than others), and I learned to appreciate the community that comes with being goth much more. Perhaps you'll blog, make YouTube videos, decorate for special events at your local club, or just help promote shows. If you enjoy a healthy goth scene in your area, remember that it only exists because people take time and effort to make it happen (and usually for very little pay).

- Responsibilities and stress take their toll. At first, you quit going out on weeknights because you have that great job. Makes total sense. Then, you quit going out on weekends because you are just too exhausted or the bills have piled up and you could use that money for gas. Many people also experience more health issues which always equals more bills and stress. You also might find yourself in a position where you now have to buy two completely different wardrobes, depending on your work situation. Loved working at my previous employer, but they had a strict dress code and it wasn't long before I began to resent the fact that I was spending more money on office wear than "me clothes". There were times when I wanted to throw a fit like a 3 year old because I had to spend my last $60 on a nice blazer, instead of a cool vintage pair of boots I found on eBay. You learn to get over it. Wine helps :)

-Single after 30 and goth? Dating becomes a new form of hell, especially if you don't live in a major metropolitan area with a decent goth scene. And even then, it is still tricky. As we all know, just because someone is goth it doesn't automatically mean you will get along, let alone be attracted to one another.
Let's say there are 100 available people for you to date.
Subtract at least half who will definitely not date a goth.
Then, for every area in which you are considered "other" by society (BDSM, pagan, disabled, childfree, etc.), subtract another 10 people.
Finally, of the remaining people who show interest, you must subtract the ones who will treat you like a novelty toy for their amusement. This is definitely going to get it's own blog post at some point.
I really have no solid advice on this topic. I'm 37 and single. All you can really do is try to keep an open heart and believe that if you keep putting yourself out there, a good match will come along.
Baby bats, please whatever you do, do not change yourself for a relationship. In most cases, they don't last and you will eventually get tired and restful of having to give up the things you love for someone else.

- You will lose friends. Even fellow goths. As mentioned previously, around 27, the amount of my peers that still went to clubs or dressed up began to decline. As people marry, have kids or get promotions, their focus changes. And that's fine, I don't judge it (we all should follow our dreams) but don't say I didn't warn you.
As far as non-goth friends go, there is a higher risk these friendships will fizzle out as well. For the same reasons mentioned above, but also there is the pressure of "dressing your age" once you start to be around other people's kids, or just even go out in public. By this age, your friends have also found their tribe (church, country club, dance moms, whatever) and you will notice that many of them become molded by that social group in terms of how they dress, activities they enjoy, and you are likely to see a change in their political views.
I had two friendships in which the other person became increasing less open-minded and accepting as they got into their 30s. My former best friend made a few hurtful comments over the years that she swore were jokes, but I think she was embarrassed to be seen with me at times, especially once she got mom-friends. Eventually, the calls and lunch dates become less frequent. They might say they are busy, but you'll have to admit it hurts to see them post pictures on Facebook of a sunday brunch or girls' night out with their new besties, when you've been wanting to grab coffee for weeks now. Eventually, you give up calling or texting because it becomes very obvious that they no longer are putting effort into the friendship.
There may come a time when the two of you have an argument about politics or some important issue any you realize if you met her now, you wouldn't want to be friends.
Even your goth friends may change and tell you "it's time to grow up".
It's strange, it hurts bad, but it happens.
As you age in the scene, all you can do is keep an open mind. Be welcoming of the baby bats and the lone wolf at the club you might have ignored it the past. Cherish the opportunity to connect with people in your scene, be willing to say hello to a stranger.

-The dreaded normal phase. It appears to strike everyone at some point. And for most, it's either a result of, or causes, a major depressive period.  Perhaps it's a breakup, becoming a parent, or pressure from a potential partner or friends. Perhaps it's medical conditions that leave you will little energy or money. Whatever it is, it sucks the life out of you. From what I've read on other goth blogs and my own experience, this seems to last several years rather than just a few months..
 My normal phase hit at about 34. To be frank, it was 3 years of hell. It's a funny to think that when I dress normal, I feel more uncomfortable than when I'm being my strange, little self.
When they say "You know a goth is really depressed when they are dressed like a normal person", it's totally true.
Younger goths should be aware of this possibility, and if you find yourself changing, spend some time alone. Consider what is motivating you to make these changes, and if it's an outside pressure or perhaps you are dealing with depression or health issues that are causing you to be apathetic about your passions and appearance.
. It's perfectly acceptable to change if you feel that is what you are being called to do. You also absolutely have the right to say "HELL NAW!" and stand firm in your authenticity.
Either way, this can be a time of growth and introspection. If you come out of the normal phase still darkly inclined, there are some surprising benefits. For me it's been such a wonderful experiences re-discovering the scene, revisiting old favorite bands, etc. Also, I have a sense of self-confidence and inner peace that I didn't have in my 20s, which makes it so much easier to enjoy meeting people and even going out alone.